Anniversary time

I was married on a Saturday in April which turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day on the eve of an Easter where it snowed in the morning in the Midwest. Nope, not that anniversary. Though, that is a great memory to have of a wedding day.

I ran my first half marathon last September on the last Saturday of the month. By then, I knew that my body could propel itself forward for 13.1 miles, but I was still tentative about doing it in a setting where I was being timed. This weekend, I’m running that race again. Except the 12 weeks before this race, I was in the program running as a mentor. I got to watch other people meet and even exceed their own expectations of themselves. Somewhere in there, I started training for a full marathon and I’m more than halfway through that training now.

So, I’m reflecting on the things I’ve learned as time has gone by and as I’ve experienced things myself and learned from listening to other people.

  1. Every run is not a race. While you are going to want to see how fast you can go or you just want to get it over with, slow runs are necessary for training. Learning to run slower requires discipline as well. Those people that say you recover more quickly from slower long runs…they’re actually right. Look up the way aerobic vs anaerobic works on the body in running. It’s really interesting if you’re into the science of running.
  2. What you look like isn’t as important as how you feel. I still have to remind myself of this. I’m self conscious. When I’m not thinking I look like I’m a sausage squashed into a casing, I’m thinking about what people think of the accessories I carry. Compression clothing is an amazing invention and I will wear it because it works wonders. It doesn’t actually matter what other people think. Besides, when I need a gel or a sip of water, I have it right there on my belt. Come at me, bro. I might offer to share and then you won’t need to question why I have a lot. I like to be prepared and I am resourceful.
  3. You’re only competing with yourself. Don’t let yourself take away the joy of completing such a difficult task by comparing yourself to others. Your first 13.1 (or any distance) is a PR (personal record). Set out to beat that when you’re out there.  You might be somewhere in the pack where you see someone else you want to beat and that day will come, but worry about doing better than yourself and analyze how you can get better than you.
  4. Arm yourself with distractions. Is the run getting in your head? Count your foot falls. Count poles. Try to recall the most digits of Pi that you’ve ever recalled. Remember that poem you wrote in English class 15 years ago (geez, it’s been awhile since school). What are the lyrics to that song you love? Much of the battle in moving forward in distance running is mental and overcoming those obstacles will require you to distract yourself. Make sure you have some positive things to say to yourself or things that have nothing to do with running to think about. Remember to appreciate the little things.
  5. Running is fun! If you find yourself saying that you “have to” run, you need to think about changing what you do. I “get to” run 5 days a week. Nobody is forcing me to run 26.2 miles except for me and I don’t really have to do it. I get to do it. Each run is an opportunity to listen to music I love, talk to a running buddy, smell nature, see little woodland creatures (make chipmunks run away while I squeal “you’re so cute” at them), or just work things out in peace and pray. I get that time to run. YAY!

I hope that helps a little. It isn’t a complete list and I’m sure it isn’t all things that everyone can use. These are just things that I’ve learned through the experiences I’ve had over the last year in becoming an endurance athlete. That sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? Don’t forget it.

Are you preparing for a race? Do you have an anniversary race? Thank you for reading! I am really receptive to questions and requests for subject matters. Someone recently told me she read my blog and appreciates my honesty. I love hearing from readers!

Speaking of distractions, I saw this tree being highlighted by the sun and had to snap a shot of it.

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What a weekend it was!

Wow, it’s Monday again already? This weekend was so full, I’m at least a little surprised that today is only Monday. I mean, what a weekend! My parents made the nearly 3 hour drive here and brought frozen Pirrone’s Pizza with them. If you go to the St. Louis area, try their pizza and you might get hooked like me. That isn’t even the best part, but I had to mention that I got a favorite treat in addition to the rest.

Saturday morning was rainy and gloomy. I set out earlier than usual to drop my teenager off at her school to ride a bus to her cross country meet, then decided to put gas in the car and head out to the half marathon training early. I got there and a few people were already gathering to start out earlier than the group. I chatted for a few minutes and went through the warm ups with them before seeing them off and waiting for the rest of the group. This meeting was 2 weeks ahead of the goal race we’ve been training for and a preview of the course. Many of the people in the group were running the longest they’ve ever run and their first half marathon distance. I got to witness this and cheer for people in their accomplishments. The clouds cleared away and the sun began to shine. Then, the other mentors who have been training for the marathon set out for our additional 3 miles. The fresh sunshine brought with it heat that seemed much warmer than the rest of the morning. I started to feel tired and worn. At one point, I started walking. Jane told me to at least jog instead of walking. I really tried and Jane was reassuring and positive despite my brain and I arguing. She told me that it was impressive what we were doing and that it wasn’t easy, but that I’d been doing so well and really putting in the work. I started feeling chills on my arms and no more sweat trickling down my face or body. It was no longer a mental battle. My body was not going to cooperate. When we were about 1/4 mile from completing the additional 3, I stopped and got my water refilled and an electrolyte drink. We had run to Chris’s house (he’s in the marathon training with us) with the intention of having him drive us back to our cars. Once I felt less woozy from running, we went bac to the cars where I had my ‘recovery shake’ in a cooler. When I finally got home, I couldn’t let the 1/4 mile hang out there despite 15.75 being the furthest I’d ever run. I set back out on the sidewalk and ran .13 miles and back to my house to ensure I’d have my 16 miles in. I iced my legs and I rested for later.

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Jane, Myself, Hubby…Pre Glow Run!

Later? 

So three of us from the marathon group: Jason, Jane, and myself signed up to run a 5k that evening at 8pm. Chris had run the 16 with us, but was a race volunteer instead of a participant.  It’s a Glow Run put on by Fleet Feet and we get to run through a golf course on the cart path in the dark using flashlights and glow sticks. Jane and I agreed to not go all out for miles 17-19 of the day. We stuck together for the race and ran the uphills and downhills and shone our lights on the marked hazards on the course to ensure an injury free race. We talked about the pasta, cookies, and beer waiting for us at the finish line. We got away from a group of young people that were having a really boisterous time. Then, we were behind 3 young ladies on the course and I was at a comfortable speed. They were kind of blocking us from being able to pass easily on the path, but they started going erratically fast and slow. Jane asked me what I wanted to do and I said we’d hang back. Then, they slowed down and I said “forget it, let’s just go,” and I pulled myself next to one of the young ladies who looked directly at me, then at her friend and said “oh, I’m filing that under nope.” I was like….”Hey….” (but in my head). I opened my stride and pulled far enough ahead to clear the distance and ensure that her “nope” was clearly contested. Jane was right there with me and seemingly amused by my reaction. We finished the race, grabbed our water, and went inside to wait for our after run food and drink. Jane insisted that I’d placed in the race and I shrugged it off thinking it was hard to read a cork board with bibs tacked to it. We posed for a picture to show we’d completed 19 miles in one day. I filled my plate without realizing I couldn’t actually fit that much food into my stomach. It all tasted good. Award time came. They called my husband for 1st place in his age group, then moved on to females in that age group. 3rd place….me! What? YAY! It was surreal. I’ve NEVER placed in a 5k race before and I finally did it! Jane placed 1st in her age group. Jason placed 3rd in his. We’d all run 19 miles that day. That 5k was hours after we’d run 16! So, if “nope girl” happens to read this….I’d also run 16 miles earlier that day and still came out ahead in the end. Hard work and determination are my secrets if you want to use that next time you’re in a race.

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Jane is the “1” and I’m the “9” c’mon guys…that’s a 19! 

So we got up and ran 4 more miles in the morning. Well, Jane and I did. This time, we ran to a house because it was Julie’s long run day and she left an important part of gear at her home that was only 2 convenient miles from our parking and water stop. We got to see different scenery, pass the 4 miles by doing it to run an errand, and realize we weren’t too bad off for having run 19 miles the day before. Dare I say it was ‘fun’? It was fun, though.

Less than 2 weeks left until the half marathon training group is over. I’m more than halfway through training for a full marathon. I feel like I’m embracing running. There are moments where I’m digging to find a sliver of reason to go on. That’s certainly a bonus to having a partner to run with. It is much harder to give in when someone else is there. Especially when they’re cheering you on and they count on you for your company and cheering when they need it. While I am looking forward to finishing a marathon in November, I look forward to each experience I get to have running. I just keep trying to make sure I’m really enjoying the experience (and I am).

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My award was a squishy cup that glows in the dark….SO COOL! *Glow Run = Lots of glow sticks on me.

 

Mid Training Hiatus

I took a planned vacation this past weekend in Wisconsin. I moved my long run to my usual day off (Friday) and I brought one running outfit along with me. The plan was to complete my scheduled 7 mile run somehow while on vacation. They say that “man plans and God laughs.” Well, that’s not far fetched.

Friday morning, I set out in the cooler temps and somewhat gloomy sky in the morning. I set out to run 12 miles. I didn’t have a route in mind that would take me exactly 6 miles out and back. I was going to take a few paths along the trail to keep it interesting and be more spontaneous. The  place where the trail branches off is referred to as “the triangle”. I headed toward the state college and train station on the trail until I reached construction that I couldn’t figure out how to get past. I turned back and took a different path than I had thought I was going to be on. At the point I turned around, I was at 5.75 miles and decided there was enough trail to make up the rest after I passed my starting point. I miscalculated. I wound up running along the trail, through a nearby subdivision, and back down to the park where I’d started from. I don’t know if it was that I was relieved to have less than 15 miles to run, but I actually picked up speed in the last mile and felt energized. I got back to my car and did my stretching in the grass right behind my parking space while relishing in the time I was spending alone listening to music I enjoyed and doing something I enjoyed. After going home and cleaning up, it was time to head to Wisconsin for vacation.

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While the sign didn’t run with me, it supported me during standing stretches. 

I didn’t run for the few days that I was away from home and I opted not to run my first day back from vacation. I enjoyed taking a little time off from running. I felt a little guilty for it and worried I’d lose some skill in 4 days. I was back to it by Tuesday for a speed workout in the intense heat with the half marathon group. I’ll be back at it again tonight, but it isn’t as hot outside today as Tuesday.

This weekend, the half marathon group will be running the race course as a preview. My marathon training has me on the hook for 16 miles for a long run. I’ll be running 3 more after completing the training run, then I’ll be doing a 5k race in the evening. Let’s hope I get enough rest in between. Jane is doing the same thing and has asked that I assure her we won’t die from running 19 miles in one day. I hope not, but only time will tell. There are only a couple more weeks left in half marathon training and I’ve completed half of my full marathon training. I’m still confident that I can really finish the full marathon in good condition. Who knows how I will feel as it gets closer? I’m hoping my positive outlook will be of assistance to my mind and to my legs in the struggle to move forward for 26.2 miles.

I feel like each run is a chapter in a great story that I’m watching come together and I am grateful to be a part of it. I don’t know that I would have imagined myself running endurance races and really enjoying it. Now that I’m doing it, I will always tout that I cannot imagine not doing it.  It didn’t take away my major depressive disorder. I didn’t suddenly become thin and start loving life. It wasn’t magic and I didn’t start it overnight. It has been a long process and a lot of hard work and I am still working at it. I enjoy running and doing it helps me better deal with the things that are inevitable in life. If you find something good for you that you enjoy, why not embrace it and even immerse yourself in it? I run. I’m a runner.

Bonus pic of a bird on my head on vacation and my husband laughing about it:

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