Drawing in positive

I can hardly believe it, but this is week 15 of the 16 week marathon training program. I’ve persisted, practiced, and pushed my way to train for something that I’m just so happy to be able to do. I’m going to run my first marathon. At the start of training, I’d said it would be my only. Now, I’m already thinking that I know this isn’t the last. I also went and got pink hair last week and I love it.

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Before/After

 

I’m not suddenly healed of my depression. Working out hasn’t taken away my need to have daily medication. I still have anxiety, too. When I run, some of that goes away and I can clear my mind. It also shows me that I have something to be proud of and goals to strive for giving me a reason to live sometimes when I just don’t want to. The darkness sometimes envelops me more than I care for it to. I just try not to embrace it too much and look to my goals. My running friends also help me look forward to the long runs and things we can talk about or experience together during the journey. I’m thankful for them and for the time we have together. I get to go out and run.

I’m also thankful that I have a husband who is supportive and encouraging. I’m not always confident in my abilities. Considering the things that he and I go through as adults and as parents, it has been a blessing to have him to talk to and to lean on. My mom might not speak to me for whatever reason. My kids might say hurtful things when they don’t get their way. My husband is there with unconditional love to give freely, which is important to have when the depression hits and I don’t exactly feel loved or lovable.

All negativity aside because I’m about to accomplish something that I couldn’t do when I signed up to do it. I have trained and conditioned myself to do this and I am as physically prepared as I’m going to be. Mental strength will go a long way in getting to the finish line. Yesterday, I started seeking out inspirational quotes to help me during the 26.2 mile run November 5th. Many of the quotes didn’t have sources, but I’ll try to give credit where due. So here we go!

  • There is no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing a dream.
  • Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength
  • Let Go, Let God
  • The race always hurts. Expect it to hurt. You didn’t train so it doesn’t hurt. You train so you can tolerate it.
  • When your legs get tired, run with heart
  • The miracle isn’t finishing. It’s that I had the courage to start.
  • She believed she could, so she did.
  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
  • In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take
  • Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations
  • You’re a diamond. They can’t break you.
  • Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about dancing in the rain.
  • I believe in the person I want to become
  • Remember the time you thought you could never survive? You did and you can do it again.
  • Keep going. There’s cookies at the finish.
  • Penny gets winded walking to the bathroom (seriously, my friend Penny added this to my list)
  • HOPE – Hold On Pain Ends
  • A positive attitude may not solve all of your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort (Herm Albright)
  • Psalm 4:1 – Lord, be merciful and hear my prayer
  • The thirst you feel in your throat and lungs will be gone minutes after the race is finished. The pain in your legs? Within days.  The glory of your finish is forever.
  • 26.2 = The triumph of will over reason
  • Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life a champion. -Muhammed Ali
  • Be strong. You never know who you are inspiring.
  • Today, I will be one run stronger
  • I wasn’t planning on going for a run today, but those cops came out of nowhere. (ha, ha, ha)
  • One day, I won’t be able to do this. Today is not that day.
  • Set a goal so big you can’t achieve it until you grow into the person who can. *This one really struck a chord with me.
  • Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up. (Dean Karnazes)
  • You’re not dead yet, you can’t quit. (Kyle Maynard)

 

That’s just a portion of the encouragement I found yesterday. I will still be looking and still be repeating the ones I’ve found. I’ll probably print some off and bring them with me to the race so I have them there.

I can’t control what others think of what I’m doing or how they view the work I’ve put into it. I can control how I feel about it and decide to be proud of my accomplishments. Today, I choose to ignore the people who think I’ve done anything but improve my character and celebrate my body. I choose to see that I’m setting an example to be healthy, strong, and resilient. I could drown in the negativity that is often tossed in my direction, but I choose to let the good and the positive pull me through and keep me afloat. I am succeeding at something and that’s going to ruffle some feathers of people who are not. It doesn’t change my success.

Thanks for reading! This weekend will be a long run of 8 miles, then on to pre race week! Wish me luck! Good luck on your endeavors and in case nobody has told you, I’m proud of your hard work! Keep it up! Every time you challenge yourself, you get a little stronger. Until you’re a lot stronger.

Here’s a picture of me after running 4 miles of speed work that I really didn’t feel like running. I’m so glad I did it anyway.

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Terrible mood. Great run!

 

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Taper kick off

This week is number 14 of my 16 week training program to run a marathon. That leaves me breathless to think about how close I am to race day. I’m totally prepared as far as endurance goes. I know I am physically capable. That will be part of what I tell myself when I encounter the mental ones.

I realized I missed the opportunity to nod to Deadpool by naming my last blog post , “Should’ve Worn the Brown Pants.” It’s funny which ones get the most traffic and that one was certainly at the top of my visits. Thank you!

Near the start of our training program, I shared a photo that had the quote “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” We discussed how it would be a perfect saying to remember during the race and even a great logo for the t-shirts we get for being in the program. When I mentioned that I’d write it on my arm, Amy in my group suggested fake tattoos. I looked into it and the further in I got, the more I realized we weren’t getting tattoos unless I designed it myself in an almost unreadably small font. So, I found the stretchy band bracelets that can have anything you desire printed on them. I put in an order and they finally arrived last week, so I excitedly brought them to our Thursday run. While not every marathoner was there, the people who were put on the bracelets for a photo. I was filled with so much joy by how grateful and appreciative everyone was for the gesture. It really made my day. The bracelets were printed with the saying and ordered in the colors of the shirts that we get with the race logo on them.

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Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do!

This past weekend, I ran a 5k race on Saturday and a half marathon race on Sunday. I placed in a 5k race for the 2nd time ever. Both were during my marathon training. I got 3rd in my age group (30-39 year old female). My watch didn’t give me the PR, but I did technically beat my best time. I’ll take the win, though and work on the speed in a ‘chip timed race.’

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My award was this cool pint glass!

Sunday was the half marathon in Peoria. Last weekend, when Maureen, Jane, and I ran together, we agreed to run this race in 5:1 intervals. That is run for five minutes and walk briskly for 1 and repeat through the race. We skipped the first interval to break free from the crowd and complete a good warm up mile (which takes longer than 5 minutes…shocking!). We had a few comments from people like “Don’t stop now, you can do it,” to which most often Jane spoke up and told them that the walking was something we’d planned to do and then thanked them. My legs felt mostly fresh the entire time. The crowds around the race were incredible. There was a lot of music being played loud, organized [and disorganized] cheering, people holding signs, and people giving high fives. One group of frat guys even stood on both sides of the racers in a line of high fives. It was energizing to have such a supportive crowd. Towards the end, I was feeling a little out of breath. Jane and Maureen went on at one of the walk breaks and I used the time to take the walk, which separated us a little, but we were within the last mile of the race. When I picked back up, I was ready to finish and I was pushing myself forward while trying to encourage the people around me. Although, one of my cheers involved me saying, “Ugh, I can’t die with like 1/4 mile left, that would suck.” I’m pretty sure I got a laugh, though. My finishing time was 2:21 and my watch gave me credit for a personal record despite my best being 2:19. Again, I’ll take whatever accolades I can to pat myself on the back for a job well done. Honestly, that is a great time considering I only skipped the first and last intervals and I really did use my walk breaks and walked a few of the water/electrolyte beverage stops. Especially after I accidentally inhaled red Gatorade and spit it all over myself and everyone around me and was coughing out apologies with my red spit. I finished the race strong and actually like [most of] my race photos. Someone even complimented my physique and said that I look like I’m much healthier than I have in the past and that I look strong. I love hearing that.

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ROAR! Finishing my 5th half marathon!

No bathroom emergencies. Last weekend was a fluke, I hope. I overheard a few comments about my race belt where I carry my hydrations and gels. Yes, I’m prepared folks. I’m not sure I understand why you feel you need to mention it to your buddy next to you that “she looks really prepared [haha],” or “I don’t carry my own gels around like some people do.” I’m ignoring you to be polite,but it would also be polite to worry about yourself instead of checking out my arse while I’m trying to challenge and push myself. If you missed a gel, I might have a spare if you’re not a huge jerk about it.

I came near tears when I got separated from my other two running buddies. I was thinking about how I’d have to prepare to run alone in the full marathon if I got separated. I was thinking about how this was my last big race before the big event of the full marathon. I was thinking a lot. I got out of my head by talking to people around me who were kind enough to enjoy the small talk for a few moments. It was a day I’d expected rain, but instead had overcast skies and a warm and humid race that left my clothes completely sweat soaked by the end. I couldn’t even get my phone to unlock with the thumbprint because there was nowhere to wipe the sweat off of my hands on me. We had a couple of post race beers and chatted with other people we knew. It was an all around fun time, I’d say. There was very little negativity and it wasn’t enough to disqualify all of the positive things I experienced. I love racing in Peoria from the two races I’ve done there. I have had more fun with the crowds cheering and the support than any other town I’ve raced in. The thought crossed my mind that it was strange how much I enjoyed the crowds despite my anxiety when I’m out in public and there are crowds at the stores or festivals. I suppose its different when you need the energy to complete a task.

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We finished! *I’m working on not doing the huge eyes thing in photos.

The race is less than 20 days away. I’m into taper time where my miles pull back a little before race day. It still seems so far off, yet I feel like I need to plan out so many different things to ensure a good race day. I am more ready than I would be had I tried to do this alone. I am more nervous than I have been in the past, but I have the confidence that I’m physically prepared for this challenge and that the only thing left to overcome are mental and I’ll need to deal with them as they come.

I am going to run and finish a 26.2 mile race with friends by my side, my husband cheering me on, and a body that is prepared to cross a finish line. I am tough and I will prove it!

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, I’d love to answer them. I’m also open to suggestions on subject matters to write about. I love to share my experiences and I really appreciate any feedback you have.

Which race photo didn’t I like? This one….

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This one is growing on me, but that expression is laughable…go ahead and chuckle.

 

 

20 mile day

*Seriously, this one contains some discussion on bodily functions. I wasn’t graphic, though.

Week 12 of training went by pretty quickly. I’d done my speed work on a Tuesday run, missed my cross training on Wednesday, and did my group run on Thursday.

Thursday was when Jane approached me with an idea while we were running. I could tell it was something big. She asked me to consider it with an open mind. Finally,she asked if I wanted to go along for a 20 mile run this weekend (our training calendar is 14 miles this weekend and 20 next). I thought about it. I wanted to know that I could run 20 miles. I had already switched my 18 mile and 14 mile weekend, so I hadn’t done a very long distance the prior weekend. I agreed to go ahead and go for it so we could enjoy our half marathon next weekend without the additional miles afterward in a place we aren’t used to running while a longer race was in progress (a full marathon).

Saturday, I intended to run 5 miles, but not get up right before 6am to go since I didn’t have a group run scheduled. After attending to unexpected things happening around my house, I felt that it was too late in the day to try to run those miles. I mean, I needed to be properly rested for the long run on the next day.

Sunday morning, we met at 7:30 and set out to run 20 miles. It was going by fast and we were enjoying conversation while Jane, Maureen, and I ran together along the trail. At one point, we stopped to take our nutrition things and get a drink. There were a couple of people from our group stopped there talking with a man who organized a race in town and also runs. He was talking about his marathon that was Boston Qualifying time and how the Boston race was the year after the bombing incident. It was nice to hear such a good story while out on a tough run.

At the halfway point, we grabbed more water, had a brief conversation with Chris and Jason from our group. We decided to give interval running a try to save ourselves, and started to head further north on the trial with a plan to run 5 minutes and walk 1 repeatedly. As we began to cross by the highway, my stomach didn’t feel right. I had to tell the ladies that I was having the urge to use the bathroom and I wasn’t sure that I could just hold it for around 10 miles. We walk/jogged to a gas station where I used the restroom, fought with my compression pants to get the sweaty things back over my sweaty butt, and set back out to finish the run by walk/jogging back to the trail. We got to our turn around dodging brave grasshoppers that weren’t moving out of our way as we ran by.

We reached a point on the trail near a train station where I suddenly felt unwell again and I showed Jane and Maureen that I was covered in goose bumps. Jane insisted that we stop and walk while I drink and take some of my electrolyte pills. Once all of my water was gone, we walked a little further, then picked back up to our intervals until we got to another water fountain to refill my bottles. We set out after taking our drinks and I was suddenly overwhelmed again by the feeling I needed a restroom. We were within a mile in both directions of a bathroom. I encouraged my running partners to go ahead without me. They offered to wait for me at the next bathroom so they could stretch. I felt so strongly that I was going to have an accident, I attempted to hide behind a tree and yank my pants down. The same ones I couldn’t get up at the gas station. I saw a bicycle approaching and I realized they could see me. Yeah, so I yanked the pants up and jogged to the porta potty barely stopping to throw my running belt onto a picnic table and literally running into the door on my way in. I made it! With a little over a mile to go, I actually was able to pick back up to running again until we hit 19.5 miles. I fell behind my running partners again. I only caught back up once before needing to walk with a little over a quarter mile to go. When I got in, my friends were there and told me that I was covered in goose bumps again. I drank more and then I went to my car to get my cooler with my protein shake and electrolyte drink. We did our stretches and headed home after a short ‘selfie’ session.

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Jane, Maureen, and I “5 x 4 = 20”

When I got home, my stomach was still not right. I was cramping and I didn’t feel like eating anything, so I tried to just eat some bread and drink a fruity electrolyte drink. When I told my husband about the misadventures of my run, he briefly thought about it. Then, he told me that perhaps we’d eaten something bad the day before. He had been up and down much of the night needing to use the bathroom and had a bit of a sour stomach himself.

This was so relieving to hear. I honestly thought that I had let anxiety get to me and it was presenting physically. I was worried that my gels made me sick despite them never having an ill effect on me before. I swore I’d take an anti diarrheal medicine before the big race. I discovered I probably had a touch of the ever popular “food poisoning” that people refer to as the “stomach flu”.

I’m able to walk just fine today. My joints are a little sore, but I am not like I was yesterday right after I’d finished. We made it 20 miles and lived to talk about it.

Yesterday, over dinner, my teen seemed put off that I said we were planning on walk/running the upcoming race. Her question was “So you’re not running the whole thing?” I tried to explain to her that intervals are not unheard of and many people do it. She seemed disappointed and asked “So do you even run your half marathons?” I told her that I do, in fact, run my half marathons without intervals. I also explained that by taking the walk breaks actually increased our speed overall by decreasing the fatigue. I think it needs to be understood that moving forward for many miles is impressive no matter how fast or slow. If you finish, be proud.

I was not sure  I wanted to share my bathroom shenanigans. I mean, it was terribly embarrassing. I know I’m not the first person to have a problem on a run and I most certainly won’t be the last. I hope that you can find the positive things to look forward to in the long runs and embrace them.

2 Race Weekends in a Row

Last Saturday wrapped up the half marathon training and this Sunday was a half marathon with my bestie that lives back in Missouri. Both were pretty eventful weekends.

First up was the We Care Twin Cities Half Marathon in Illinois. This was the goal race for the training program that I got to mentor over the summer. A few of the people I had been running with were using the training program for other races and not many were going to be at that race. I hadn’t received any requests to run with anyone during the race, which I felt a little weird about, but figured I’d just run it my way if I was alone. Friday night before the race, I ordered take out from a local restaurant that has excellent pasta, bread, and salad. I headed to bed early only to experience several interruptions from sleep including the sound of my house being assailed by eggs around midnight. I woke up around 5am feeling sluggish.

Upon arriving at the race venue, someone invited me to run with her during the race and said she wanted at least a 2:30 half marathon time. I was glad to have someone ask me to run the race with them and to take my mind off of needing to get 5 more miles in after the race ended to make my 18 training miles for the marathon. The couple of hours we were on the course were cool and overcast, which was a welcome change to the weather we’d trained in. I warm up pretty quickly, so seeing people cheering on the sides of the road looking like they were struggling to keep warm was slightly confusing to see. The person who had chosen me to run with beat her personal best by 4 minutes by the end of the race. She really worked hard and pushed through the race and I got to see her get a personal record across the finish line. I was feeling a little less joyful as I changed my shirt and switched my visor out for a moisture wicking headband and the sun came out and started to warm the air.

Jane and I started to set out for our next 5 miles after a short break for refilling water and changing clothes. Jane chaffed in the chest enough to bleed onto her shirt. We headed out with things over our shirts that labelled us “Barnabas Runners,” which meant that we were to run with people who needed encouragement to get to the end. Our plan was to keep running back and getting people to try to get in the last 5 miles of our training run. I somehow almost lost it during our first mile back out. My body had stiffened and I had to walk for almost a quarter of a mile before I regained my composure. I whined to Jane, “If I can’t run 14 miles, I’ll never run 26.2. This is stupid.” She replied back that I was fine and we’d both make it even if there was some walking involved. When I later apologized to her for that outburst, she told me she knew that it was out of character and that it was probably lack of sleep talking. I admitted I am a bit of a different person when I’m tired.

We went back and found runners to encourage. We separated to help more runners. I ran a couple of people to the finish, which was down a hill. One runner asked me to tell a story to take her mind off of the running and it made my mind go blank of stories. I ran back up the hill for more people each time. Then, I ran into someone on her 20 mile day of training for her first marathon. I talked to her about time limits and mental barriers, then we ran out together to get the very last runner and bring her in. By the time I ran in the last person, I had 17.53 miles for the day. I didn’t want to leave it on the table, but I did scratch the last part of my run to walk back to the post race food and drink area to enjoy pizza, sandwiches, chocolate milk, and water with the people I’d run with. It felt like a party, really. I was in on a great celebration of others’ accomplishment on the day of my longest run to date and it made it from something I was stressing out over into something memorable and happy.

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Still my longest run 17.53 miles

The days following, my legs were sore and heavy feeling. My husband was out of town on business the entire week, so I had the 3 kids to myself. All of my running had to happen during the day while they were at school. On my cross training day, I did intervals on my elliptical along with weights for my upper body strength. I felt accomplished. That was, until I planned to do my 8 mile goal pace run on Friday, but missed it by taking a midday snooze from all the tiredness finally catching up to me. That run was scrapped because Saturday was my travel day to St. Louis for the MO’ Cowbell race. I drove the nearly 3 hours straight to the ExMO (Expo) and passed through the area where I’d lived less than 5 years ago barely recognizing the stores and homes built along the main road nearest my old home.

At the race expo, I got many goodies from different booths. I bought some new sassy headbands with sayings like “Run B*tch Run”. I love moisture wicking headbands and even better if they’re fun in appearance. Then, I had my favorite pizza and salad for dinner, Pirrone’s. I headed to bed early and briefly worried that I would have the same problems as the previous week and lose sleep. I actually didn’t have any problems and got up and ready for the race. When I got to the highway exit for the venue, people were lined up for awhile and not using the open lane on the left. Familiarity with the area came in handy because I surpassed the people waiting, passed the place they were all turning, and went down a side street and parked one block from the starting line without issue. Somehow, I had the intersection where I’d parked wrong and written the name of two parallel streets, which didn’t help me later when I wanted to get back to the van and drink my post workout protein.

I walked around for a few moments after arriving trying to find water to fill the bottles on my belt. Somehow, I’d remembered everything but to put water in my water bottles. I found someone with water coolers who filled the bottles for me and I headed off to the start line to find my spot. My best official race time is 2:19, so I sought out the 2:20 person. She was a young woman with short hair named Megan who was friendly to everyone who approached. Megan was asking people for their names and a little about themselves. One woman was from the area, but had moved to Nebraska and has recently joined the club where they run a race in all 50 states. I told her I knew someone who is doing a full marathon in all 50 states (and DC) and told her about the final race being in Iowa in 2017 for my friend. My friend Liz arrived and lined up with me at the start. I was with the 2:20 pace group and next to the 4:30 full marathon pace group.

The race had a hill within the first mile and I poked Liz and joked that, “we don’t have many of these where I live,” which is actually relatively true for my part of Illinois. We both had headphones in listening to music and occasionally slapped one another on the arm to point something out or make a comment. There was a pink bismuth colored Ford Mustang in a sales lot that had to have been from the 90’s. Cute dogs lined the streets to which we “awed” at each one and probably thanked more than the human onlookers. At one point when I went to take a gel packet, roadkill briefly interrupted my urge to actually take it. Then, when she went to take hers, Liz got to see another animal lying in the road. Nearing the halfway point, she slapped my arm to run on the side of a bridge instead of on the metal grates in the middle. I saw someone who had participated in the half marathon program on the road side and I felt a little energy from being cheered by someone I knew.

I was warned that there was a major hill inside of mile 10 or 11 and I’d been a little concerned. Especially since I’d lost a little ‘gas’ in my attempt to catch the 2:15 pacer somewhere in mile 8. I’d started telling myself how much time I had left to run. I was battling myself intensely in my head. I took a few walk breaks remembering that I need to stay in shape for the bigger race and that this was supposed to just be a training run. When the hill was before me, my music changed songs to “Hero” by the Foo Fighters. What an opportune time to hear that song. I was like “I’m my hero, dang it!” People were honking from the highway and waving at the people racing. That hill was not as bad as I’d anticipated and certainly not as steep as Steamboat (Peoria, IL). I just had to make it a little further and we’d be back at the finish with snacks, water, and beer. During mile 12, Megan and the 2:20 group caught up to me and I tried to outrun them by going full trot. Don’t go full trot when you’re still a mile away. I completely lost gas at 12.75 and tried to ‘speed walk’ to get my breath back. Megan encouraged me as they passed by and I started to jog on the last downhill and turn to the finish. I ran it in, but I had lost Liz in the crowd. I continued walking down the trail a little while to cool down because my legs weren’t ready to stop yet.

I finished in 2:22:26. So close to all 2’s! Not really a personal best for me, but I’m still ok with it. I enjoyed the race and I would do it again. I sat in the grass and had my post race snack and beer after I’d had a chocolate milk and a water. I set out toward my van and went to see if the indoor public restrooms were open. They were! I got to wash my hands in a sink before setting off to find where I parked. I went the wrong way on Main Street and realized that I couldn’t be quite as far from a certain intersection. I finally found my bearings and walked back to my van where I changed into my sandals, discovered my running shoes now have holes in them, and quickly downed a shake while I waited for the GPS to instruct me where to go. I looked around all of the small shops around me in St. Charles, MO and I felt a little sad in knowing that I hadn’t visited in awhile and it was one of my favorite places to go in the winter for their celebration and in the summer for the festival. I think maybe visiting to do this race in the future would be a good way to come back and see it once in awhile.

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I finished. My clothes and hair were sweat soaked!

I didn’t quite do the race right. I didn’t pace properly. I worried during the race that I wasn’t going to make 26.2 miles in November and even thought that I should just back out before embarrassing myself. These are the mental barriers of running. I told myself that I knew I had sufficient training, nutrition, and hydration to finish the race and that anything telling me otherwise was not real. I had to fight off the “can’t” to get to the finish. I had to get myself out of my head to get myself across the finish line. While those things are intangible, they’re real and they’re challenging to overcome.

Do you ever experience the overwhelming urge to give up? How do you break free of it? Do you have a favorite song that instantly pumps you up?