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Broadening My Horizon

9 Sep

Well, that wasn’t so bad. I’ve had a lot of firsts these past few weeks with my running and so far, so good. This is notable because my anxiety level with such things always has me expecting the worst.

When I first started running, I was afraid to leave the treadmill. Just the thought of running on the street made me nervous. Then, I faced my fear and tried it. I told myself, I can do this. I’ll just keep it to the neighborhood. That worked splendidly for months until my training for a half-marathon kicked up my time and distance. It’s compelled me to leave my familiar streets (and unleashed dogs) and venture out for more miles.

It seems running has given me more than feeling healthier, it’s given me confidence. One example of that is when I had to step back on the treadmill a few weeks ago because Andrew was traveling and it was the only way I could get in my training. Before street running, I would never let go of the treadmill bar. I wouldn’t really run. This time, I never touched the bar. I felt like, “Look ma, no hands!” I also ran faster and longer. I had confidence on the machine.

I’m certain that new confidence carried me out to the city streets. The unknown of it all is what concerned me the most. Cars to watch for, new unleashed (and possibly bigger) dogs, more people seeing me, random routes, uneven sidewalks, fast food smell distraction … you name it, I worried about it. Turns out, I’ve had a really great time enjoying my city’s scenery during those runs. I’ve also learned new things – like where our new doctor’s office is located and that the house of my desire has a tree house in the side yard.

Pretty City Houses

Cool City Events

My new running adventures also took me off-road. When one of my dearest friends (and one of my running inspirations), Ginger and her family, came to stay with us, we braved a first together – trail running. We hit Fort Yargo and encountered surprise patches of mud, water puddles to hurdle, steep hills, tree roots, weedy nature that tickled our ankles, bicyclists, and a lot of fun.

Fort Yargo Trail Hill

Ginger and the Trail

I know my adventures will continue each Saturday as my time gets longer until the half. I also have another first, an obstacle course team run (with Ginger and friends), coming up in October. It gives me something to look forward to as I work on improving my time on the shorter distances. The next test for that is this Friday as I try for a personal best to finish a 5K in 32 minutes.

Horizons like these would have seemed unreachable to me all those months ago. I really am glad I braved the unknown and discovered them.

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Didn’t Look Back

11 Aug

I had a goal. To finish my first 10K. Then, I made it tougher on myself. In my head, I made a time goal. I’d be happy to finish in 1:15 but I’m really shooting for 1:11.

I’m ecstatic to say I actually did more than meet my goals. I surpassed them.

I finished the run at right around 1:08. I can’t even believe it.

First 10K Results

I was really worried about this run too. First, the farthest distance I’ve ever hit before this was 5.3 miles so the fear of the unknown was heavy. Secondly, Andrew and the kids were supposed to be there with me. Andrew was even going to run it as well but things happen and poor Beanie was sick so Andrew made the selfless choice to sit the race out and stay home so I could have my turn. That all made me feel sad because he couldn’t run it and I was also sad to do it alone. The last thing that caused worry for me was that I did not sleep well last night. There were storms and the dog was a nervous wreck. The lack of sleep hit me hard in the morning.

When it was time to run, I started in the way back of the pack. In fact, I was the only one without a stroller – and I was actually behind them. I didn’t want to get caught up with a speedy person because it would make me feel like I need to be faster and I knew I just needed to keep my pace like I’ve been doing with my training. Slow to start, then gradual increase.

When the RunKeeper voice told me my first 5 minutes was an 11:40/mile pace, I knew I was doing good for me. But then, a few more minutes in, she spoke in my ear, “10:18 per mile.” Whoa, I thought. I better slow my tushie down. That is way too speedy for me. I’ll never make it. I still have about four miles to go.

During that time, my pace managed to take me past a few people but it didn’t matter to me. I wasn’t racing them. I was racing me. I never looked back and tried not to think about the distance between myself and the group ahead of me. I just did my thing and it felt so wonderful. The hills were tough and I needed a few short walk breaks but they didn’t keep me from making (and doing better than) my goal. Some Red Hot Chili Peppers helped bring me across the finish line. Rocking.

I’m so thankful to have all the support I do from Andrew. Not only did he really want me to run and give up his race for me, he kept refreshing RunKeeper from home so he could see when I finished almost as soon as I did. I love that, just as I am his biggest fan, he is mine. I suppose that’s how it should be. One of the questions he asked me was if it was as hard as I thought it was going to be. It wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever done but  it ranks up there. I’m pretty sure my next big run – a 13.1 in November – will be much harder. I may have to take a look back at this 10K, just to remind myself I can do it.

Matter Over Mind

9 Aug

That whole “I’m my own worst enemy” thing is such an a-hole. I find myself encountering it in my head before many of my runs.

You don’t have to run up “the hill” tonight. Just run to the bottom of it.

  • This is what my mind starts to tell myself at about 5 minutes into a run when I don’t feel like being out there. “Don’t run up the hill, just turn around and run the flatter parts again.” Although the thought sounds wonderful, I fight against it. I focus on the positive things – the longer blades of grass that often tickle my ankles as I run by them, the pretty sky I’m enjoying, my rockin’ tunes, my time for me. Before I notice it, I run the hill.

Maybe you aren’t a runner.

  • This is usually said to me after I talk about how I often whine about running. Some days, it is just so difficult to get out the door and start my run for whatever reason. I’m tired. Hungry. It’s raining hard. My leg hurts. I don’t want to run intervals. I try to talk myself out of it. I tell myself that I can just do it another day. I know I likely won’t want to do it then either though. When I finally get on my way, I think about the notion that maybe I am not a runner. It’s actually really motivating and helps keep me running.

Maybe you should try something else.

  • This is said to me after I vent about not losing any weight. They suggest that I need to do more than run four times a week. Maybe my body just isn’t responding to the running like it would something else. The funny thing  is though – I do actually enjoy my running. I do feel stronger and leaner. Something is working. I may need to add in a few old fashioned Phys. Ed. calisthenics to help build my core better but I don’t want to give up on running. (Even when I feel like I want to give up on running. It’s a twisted emotion.)

If you don’t feel like running, don’t run.

  • Said to me to ease my pout and support me in my anti-run feelings that intensify right before I’m about to head outside. The most recent one innocently came from Nia. She wasn’t trying to be unsupportive or discouraging, she was trying to help me feel better. It’s just, that is the time I need to be stronger than the temptation to not go. Andrew gets my evil eye as he tells me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. “Just go. You’ll be fine once you’re out there. It’s only x-amount of minutes. You got it.”

No matter what I’m feeling or hearing before my runs, he’s right. I am fine once I’m out there. In fact, I feel good. Not only because I ran and the sense of health and accomplishment, but also because I overcame my mind. Told it to shut it, I’m doing this. Matter over mind really makes me feel like I’ve defeated that enemy.

Run Crier

22 Jul

Well, that was a first. I started blubbering during the start of what was supposed to be my 50-minute run this morning. It wasn’t because of anything sad, painful or inspirational. Those are understandable reasons to get worked up to tears.

No, for me, it was because my music wouldn’t work and because I’m getting sick to my stomach thinking about the looming 10K (my first) that is three weeks away and I have yet to run more than five miles in any of my training – or ever in my life for that matter.

I am a bag of nerves and it all exploded during this run. Here it is:

Cry Run

I gave up. Quit. Walked home. Bawling. Andrew gave me a sincere and supportive pep talk, I pouted and beat myself up for quitting. I thought, “Why am I doing this to myself? Don’t I have enough pressure with the day-to-day stuff of work, home and family? I’m voluntarily adding to it with running? Shouldn’t this be fun?!”

Smack, smack. Attitude adjustment. I gave myself a few minutes to cool off and told Andrew I wanted to try again. My music still didn’t work and it was so hot and humid but I pushed myself on – with a few walking breaks.

Do Over

The 6.2 mile run is in three weeks. I am two miles away from running it during these training runs. I don’t want to even feel the inkling to quit – even if my music does.

I want to cry during that run because I’m proud of myself. A happy, strong cry. I feel I can do it and I know the pressure I put on myself is because I want to be stronger in spirit and body. I want to be a proud run crier.

Hurdled

18 Jul

They may have rattled me but I didn’t let them deter me from my 30 minutes of training. It turns out, the hurdles made my run far more entertaining than usual.

  • The Rain – It was a challenge before it even started because of the sprinkles. My attitude was already whiny and the rain almost swayed me out of lacing up my sneaks. I didn’t let it win though and set out on my damp 2-point-whatever mile jaunt around the blocks.
  • The Dog – Well, at least it was a friendly, jumpy dog. I made a turn and then thought I heard yelling. I made a quick about-face and came snout to hip with a happy Lab mix. Its owner came running after it and told me how sorry he was – that the pup just has a lot of love to share. Besides the change in my pace (I was averaging a good time for me when it all happened) and the doggy drool on my sleek black running shorts, I didn’t mind it in the slightest. After all, it was a friendly dog. (Phew.)
  • The Middle School Hecklers – I’m not quite sure what exactly they were screaming at me from the window of their house but  I made out that it was pretty funny by their laughing fits after shouting. I think I heard something about me “really running fast now … whatever!” I thought about all the ways I could react as I ran by again (because my route requires me to). Should I creatively give them the middle finger? Should I stop and face them dead-on and yell like a lunatic about how hilarious they are? Should I just ignore it and pretend like I didn’t hear it? Of course, I chose that one. I actually thought to myself how I remember doing stupid things like that when I was in middle (*ahem, high) school. Cruising by Burger King’s drive-thru with my friends screaming, “I want a Whopper!” at the top of my lungs comes to mind. Also, I mean, why should I stoop to a middle schooler’s level? I know they were middle schoolers, by the way, because their voices haven’t quite made that turn to high school male yet. (Ok, so I had to get one shot in … what?)
  • The Music Fail – One of the reasons I could hear them shouting those sarcastic words of praise and support at me is because my music failed. This is probably the main mental jolt that bugs me the most during a run. It frustrates me to the point of cussing. Granted, I had some things to distract my brain during this run …
  • The Perky Runner – And boy, was she perky. I encountered this new neighborhood runner at about 20 minutes in. I was tired and had just endured all the other earlier hurdles and then she made an appearance. She was bouncy. Really. Bright pink tank top. Ponytail dancing. I breathed a weighted smile at her and slouched by. My music then decided to work again. “Clocks” by Coldplay. Baby Nia’s favorite song. We would play it and she would just chill. I was better now. I ran up the “big hill” in the neighborhood and my earbuds informed me “25 minutes.” I turned to head home – and saw pink tank top in the distance. Only, her ponytail wasn’t in jazz mode. It was more in a calm ballet. She was walking. I know (I know) I shouldn’t compare. I am out there for me and to get healthier for my family. It was just a slap in my attitude that I needed. When I saw her all perky, I let it make me feel less than. When I saw her minus the perk, I felt upset with myself for letting another person influence my spirit.

It was an adventurous 30 minutes. Reflecting, I’m glad the rain didn’t keep me inside – hurdling mental obstacles feels healthy.

Propelled

12 May

Acting on inspiration and motivation isn’t always easy. Sometimes, the moments slap you in the face and wake you up from a funk or rut. Sometimes, you fight them off and resist giving in to their magic. I would say I lived in the world of resistance. I just didn’t feel like being inspired or motivated and I didn’t have the confidence to really try to act on it.

Then, after months of watching others who felt like they couldn’t do it succeed, I thought to myself, “What the hay? Might as well give it a go. Worst that could happen is I look ridiculous or injure myself. If I don’t like it, I’ll just stop and try something else.”

I knew I would be bummed if I gave up so I set my expectations low. So low, that I didn’t make it known that I was attempting to follow the inspiration. So low, that I didn’t invest in myself or set high goals.

I put on my very old trail sneakers and well-worn yoga pants and stepped on the treadmill.

I started there, nervous to be seen on my neighborhood streets. I would walk and run and walk and run. I would try to run for an entire song. Rock! I did it. The next time, I would try to run for two entire songs. Oh yeah! Ten minutes straight? Man, that felt so good.

The treadmills at my gym automatically stopped at 45 minutes so I had a small goal to beat that time. Run/walk a 5k before it boots me off. I got so close one day. So close. I felt proud of my attempt but still frustrated. I thought maybe I should step out of my comfort zone a little more and try running through my neighborhood.

It was wonderful. I loved it. I felt faster and less focused on my running. It made the distance and time fly. (To me.) I started to understand why my husband and my good friends loved running. Inever thought I would love running – and there are times when I really hate it, but I keep going. Propelled by my determination to succeed and feel healthy.

For true runners, this is like breathing for them. I am not a true runner in the sense of speed and distance. I do now feel like a true runner in the sense of my heart is in it. It makes me feel empowered. I am accomplishing something I never thought I could. (I even bought real running shoes and running clothes!)

I am writing about this because I understand when someone says, “I am not a runner.” I was there. I still feel like that sometimes. But now, I’m on a mission to prove myself wrong. I may not be as fast as many people or have incredible form or able to run as far, but I run my race and I’m getting stronger in body and soul.

It’s moving me forward.

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My farthest run so far.

Passion to Play

1 May

Sometimes, all I can say is wow. Wow. Did Nate just do that? How was he so quick? How did he see that happening? How did he know to do that?

At 6 years old, Nate knows more about the rules and design of baseball than many adults. (I still don’t get that infield fly rule.) Nate pays attention. He knows where the runners are and what he needs to do to help make the out. Tag the base. Tag the runner. Throw it to Second. Cover a base. He thinks without hesitation. He watches every move on the diamond, even when he’s not on it. In the dugout, he and his buddy, Jack, cling to the fence,  focused on the field excitement and anxiously awaiting their turns to bat.

I know that as they all get older, more and more players will grasp, practice and perfect all that is baseball. Now though, I just stand jaw-dropped watching Nate’s passion to play guide him out there. I was so amazed at a recent catch he made for an out while playing shortstop that I missed the immediate second out he made when he ran to Second Base to tag the runner heading toward him.

I did manage to capture some pre-wow pictures during that game. He just has so much heart and intensity. The love of the game is an incredible thing.

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Makes a Catch for an Out

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Super Stretch to Make the Catch for an Out

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Finally, time to hit!

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Got It!

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Played Hard

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