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Chasing My Shadow

5 Dec

Chasing ShadowMy shadow often scares me when I run at night. I often catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye and it makes me jump a bit as it starts to pass me. I think to myself, show off. Sure, there are times she stays behind me but she is mostly always out in front making it look so easy.

I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since I started consistently running each week. What I mean by “consistently running” is it’s been a part of my weekly routine for the last 156 weeks. I’ve run three or four times a week during that time. I’ve never been that consistent at anything that I didn’t HAVE to do. And many days, don’t WANT to do. So why do I?

I started running to get in better shape. Not necessarily lose weight, just not gain. To hold steady at a weight where I’m comfortable without giving up too much of the foods (and drinks) I enjoy. Sometimes, I get a bit frustrated that I haven’t lost any weight though. I feel like all this running should take a little off the (muffin) top but then I realize it’s kept me in a place I’m happy with and I shouldn’t complain – especially since I still hug bags of chips and cherish my wine. And cheese. Don’t forget about the cheese.

The running is holding me steady and actually making me feel pretty darn awesome. Accomplishing things I never thought I would — the miles I’ve covered, the discipline to find the time and energy to go for the run, the toughness I feel after running in the rain or cold or after falling on a trail, the stress break, the example I’m helping to set for the kids.

Run Family

It must be working because they recently ran their first official 5K because they wanted to run one. I was in my 30’s before I did that. Sure, I played softball, volleyball and danced growing up – heck, I even tested my limits when I joined Crew in college – but I never stuck with any one physical activity like I have with running. I’m even almost at my goal of running 500 miles in a year and I plan to increase it for next year because I want to keep at this thing. I’m not sure I have it in me to quit now. I have my shadow to catch, after all.

Shadow Rocks

Funny Thing Happened on the Way to 13.1

2 Nov

Running one half marathon was surprising enough to me. First of all, I can’t believe I’d set out to do it in the first place. The fact that I actually liked it and wanted to do it again is the kicker.

I did need plenty of time to make sure I was mentally and physically ready though. You know, like a year to know I was going to do that thing that requires dedication and time to training and the test to my willpower. My first half — the Savannah Rock-n-Roll — happened because Ginger made it look so fun. (That’s right. I’m totally blaming you.) I ran it and felt incredible at the end, like I had more to give. I felt like I held back on my pace because of the fear of the unknown since I hadn’t yet run a full 13.1. Training never got me to that distance. I knew that I wanted to try again as soon as I crossed that first finish line.

During the months in between those two distances, Ginger (yep, her fault again) asked if I’d be interested in a half marathon mountain trail race. We discussed how it would be different from our street miles and we should plan on taking it as easy as we could. (There was a 4-hour time limit to finish so we knew we needed to beat that at least.) It was very different so it’s tough for me to put it in my 13.1 group. I did earn those miles though — at times, painfully — so I will claim it. After that run, it was supposed to be smooth training until my second Rock-n-Roll. But then, I started seeing tempting Facebook posts for the AthHalf. Andrew was going to run in it for the third time because he loves it and Uncle Anthony said he could watch the kids so I thought, why not?

I’m so glad I did. Not only was the route and sight-seeing in Athens great, I felt strong and at 2:18 I finished 13 minutes faster than my first half. I also marked my 1,000th mile in that race. In fact, when I looked at Runkeeper after the race, my overall total said I finished on mile 1,000.

20131102-085259.jpg

AthHalf 2013

I’ve since added to that with my runs leading up to the Rock-n-Roll this weekend. I thought about running to beat my AthHalf time but I just want to take this one in without any pressure on myself. Maybe next year …

(Not Nearly) Afternoon Delight

2 Oct

I paid to suffer and that’s not the worst of it. I would do it again.

Let me explain.

When I first told Ginger I would enjoy a family camping weekend at FD Roosevelt State Park that ended with a 13.1 mile trail run called The North Face Endurance Challenge, I don’t think I really processed the words “endurance challenge” and the race’s location of Pine MOUNTAIN. Sure, I said. Sounds fun, I said. Because it did. I love hanging out on a run with my bud. We explore, we have great talks and we feel awesome after conquering a distance and crushing some calories.

It sounded like carefree fun all the way up until she emailed that her Achilles was hurting and a specialist told her no way to running – especially no MOUNTAIN trails. First and always, I was worried about her. I know how much she enjoys her runs. They are a part of her. How will she feel not running? I just wanted her to heal so she could run again soon. In the midst of my worry though, I began to realize – I’m not going to have my buddy with me on this frolic through the woods. She suggested maybe Andrew could come with me and run my pace. He’s also a wonderful running pal and a great motivator. Of course, he agreed so it was all set – and then it all hit my ignorance.

Pre-race Pose

Endurance

This event is called an endurance challenge for a reason. It is nothing like the trail I run at Fort Yargo. There parts of it that feel like only goats should be on it – cliff side, rock covered inches of footing. Muddy rocks that serve as bridges to get you across stream after stream. Fallen trees that block narrow paths. The roots of those trees, or possibly rocks, stole my feet from me and sent me down – hard – twice.

Rocks-n-Stuff

That rock slate IS the trail.

The first collision with the ground happened within mile one and I landed like a tree. The crash knocked the wind out of me and I had to jump off to the course for a minute to decide if I remembered what my name was. Luckily, I did and kept moving forward, only to fall again around mile five. Big props to my right shoulder for taking the brunt of that body toss. Ow. I was so proud when the first aid person at the water station asked me, “Ma’am, do you need your shoulder treated?” To me, it really showed what we were enduring. The whole-body soreness days after the event helped remind us of that too though …

Shoulder Boo-Boo

Challenge

I must have said “you’ve got to be kidding” or “this is ridiculous” or “choice cuss word” at least 10 times each mile. Once we started, the challenge was to finish. The challenge was to not lose my mind. The challenge was to not damage my skull that protects that mind. The challenge was to not stop climbing the hills and to stand tall to conquer them like Andrew kept reminding me to do. At one point toward the end, I began telling myself to keep my knees and feet up, pay attention and don’t get lazy. A lot of it was out loud. So was my rendition of “Funky Town” and Andrew’s duet of “Afternoon Delight” with me. (It was prompted by Anchorman quotes after I started saying things like “I love tree. I love plant. This trail was a bad idea.”)

The fun singing didn’t last long though because sure enough, we soon had to scale a hill.

Straight up.

Mountain

Being that this was a mountain trail, it was rare to have a nice stretch for a steady running pace. I don’t know how people finished this and more (some traveled 50 miles!) with such a fast time. They are incredible. It seemed to me that just when I would start to feel like a kid running through the forest (and I actually did at one point and shouted it out through breaths to the trees and Andrew), we would encounter an obstacle from nature. You know, like a mountain. Climbing a mountain wasn’t on my bucket list but I can go ahead and pencil it in just to draw the line through it. Dang.

See all the people at the top of the hill?

Gorgeous Mountain View from a Ledge

Elevation says wha?

Finished

13.1 miles equated to 3 hours and 33 minutes of adventure for Andrew and me. I know he could’ve finished at about 2 and a half had he ventured it at his pace. He didn’t once complain or make me feel bad. He carried my sunglasses and helped me up when I fell. He kept encouraging me with pep talks and coaching me with guidance to make it through.

“You’re doing great, lady.”
“Stand up tall to get deep breaths.”
“Slow it down some, your adrenaline is tricking you right now.”
“We’re married.” (That one came after I made a goofy pose when I saw a photographer on the course. He actually claimed me!)

I’m so grateful to him for his friendship and selflessness. He even stopped to give directions to hikers along our course. He laughed at my jokes along the way and when I asked him if I earned major cool points for my falls he replied, “Not for the falls but because you got back up and kept going.”

So, would I endure it again?

No. I would enjoy it again.

Ginger's Finish Line Photo

Ginger’s Finish Line Photo

I wasn’t sore yet.

That Happened

7 Feb

There’s a weekend in February I cherish. It’s filled with family, friends and frolic in a city that has my heart. It all started last year when we traveled to Savannah to participate in the Tybee Run Fest.

The complete fest is five races. A 5K on Friday and then a 10K, Half Marathon, 2.8 Beach Run and Mile Run on Saturday. If you run all five events, you run a marathon. Andrew did that last year – and although he declared he would not do that again – he did. He was really ready for it this year though. He’s been on his run streak for almost a year and trained for two marathons during that time. Last year, he finished the Tybee Run Fest races and crashed. This year, he finished the races and danced.

Ready for More Running

Ready for More Running

This 5K was special to me. When I ran it in 2012, it was the first 5K I ever trained for and I wanted my past year of running to show improvement. I’m happy to share that it not only meant a better time for me (from 34:45 to 28:36) and the first time I ever ran 3 miles in under 30 minutes, but it also meant personal records for Ginger, Lee and Andrew. Team Brew/Drink/Run doesn’t mess. (And of course we enjoyed some beer after the race.) It was awesome.

Tybee Run Fest 5K

Tybee Run 5K, Part II

I still can’t believe my average was a 9:14 per mile. That’s crazy right there. I even felt so strong when I finished. My finish line photo shows me smiling and pumped. It cracks me up. I’m such a poser.

Tybee Run Fest

Finish Line Smile

The kids also enjoyed some racing fun during the Fest. Team BDR Jr. (Camille, Ellanor, Nia and Nate) took on the mile run independently. They each earned a medal and were so proud of how they ran. Andrew and Nate got to finish together in that one because they were on pace with each other. I love that.

Team BDR, Jr.

Team BDR, Jr. Ready to Start

Tybee Run Fest 5K

Andrew & Nate Finish Fast Together

Daddy & Daughter Runners

Daddy & Daughter Runners

This visit also meant another unbelievable first for me as Andrew, Ginger and I ran high above the Savannah River and across one of the most intimidating bridges I’ve ever experienced. The Talmadge Bridge is a sight to behold. Andrew and I used to sit on River Street and marvel at it as giant barges stacked with 18-wheeler trailers passed underneath it. The bridge has been the backdrop of many of our family photos. One photo of it even hangs in a matte showcase in our house from a July 4th night of fireworks on the river. I never would’ve thought that I would RUN across the thing. It was incredible and I’m so glad Ginger suggested we use it for our Sunday run route.

I still can’t believe that all happened.

Talmadge Bridge

My View from the Top

Talmadge Bridge, Savannah

On Top of the Talmadge Bridge

Running Bridge Luvahs

Running Bridge Luvahs

Bridge Running Buddies

Bridge Running Buddies

 

I ran 13.1 miles and …

5 Nov

I loved every second of the 2:31 it took me to finish it. Really. I loved it. Just look at my finish line picture. Hilarious proof.

PUMPED

If you’re wondering how in the world I could love such a thing – here’s why I had so much fun during the Savannah Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon:

  • It was in Savannah, Georgia. A beautiful place I called my home for six years. Loved ones live there. I had our babies there. I became an adult there. It’s even more than that though. It was the view on the run. The historic city offered my eyes gorgeous homes, buildings with impressive stonework and character, and trees with personality due to their branches’ unique curves and Spanish Moss clothing. Even better? It was a sun-shiny day.
  • The people were lovely. So many came out to cheer on the runners. Their clever signs along the route – “You think running a marathon is hard, try waiting for you to finish.” “Don’t poop yourself!” “Run, Total Stranger, Run!” “Worst Parade Ever!” “If running was easy it would be called your mom!” – dotted my breathing with giggles and served as entertaining billboards. How could I pass up the small children who held out their hands for a high-five? Neighbors eating their breakfasts and even enjoying mimosas on their front lawns as they tailgated and relaxed as thousands of people passed by their homes. (One house even offered free margaritas!) Sanitation workers lined up and waiting to roll out offered high-fives and words of encouragement. That almost brought the first hint of water to my eyes. It really happened when I passed two neighbors sitting comfortably on their front porches. One was an older woman who greeted us with a kind smile and wave. “Good morning! Good morning!” she sang in such perfect Savannah style. Beautiful.
  • Andrew and Ginger. They are such fantastic running buddies and coaches. It was comforting to go through all the same pre-race, race and post-race feelings together. I didn’t get to run with Ginger the whole time but we started together and finished together – something that made the race so perfect for me. We stood side-by-side in the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd in Corral 17 as we waited in anticipation for them to set us free. We had to say goodbye to Andrew because he was all the way up in front of the thousands in Corral 4 for his first marathon. (He did amazing and I’m so proud of him for accomplishing it. When he sets his mind to something …) When it was our turn, we did our thing. I knew I wanted to keep my pace nice and easy so I held back from trying to stay with her pace. Twelve miles – and almost finished – later, I saw my friend. I kept looking for her pink skirt and her Brew/Drink/Run shirt and was so happy to see her. “My friend! My friend!” I shouted. We finished together – same time – same pace. We joke that we should’ve stopped at the finish line and said, “No, you go first. No, you.”

Finish Line Friends

The Marathoner and Me

Corral Crowds

  • I ran my race. I didn’t stop once. I didn’t walk. Not even to take off my long-sleeve shirt that was under my tank. “I undressed while running” should be a t-shirt. I just can’t believe how good I felt. Andrew said we were likely banking miles on the hills we run around home and he kept telling to “trust the plan.” All that training paid off. I felt incredible. I now wonder if I should’ve pushed myself more. I was afraid to get burned out. I wanted to enjoy it and I did. Everything from my music (thanks to Facebook friends who offered soundtrack suggestions) to my muscles – it all felt right. I have zero regrets on how I ran it but I think I will try a little harder now. From mile 8, I kept telling myself, “Don’t push it yet. Not yet.” Now that the fear of the unknown is over, all I feel is bliss. Thank you, I’ll have another.

When’s the next race?

Running Angel

18 Oct

There I was, just going about my typical interval run. Fifteen minutes slow, fifteen fast, fifteen slow. I was in the middle of my last slow interval, trudging along, when I saw her.

She seemed to be floating in her stride as she swiftly approached me. She was running, yes, but it was more than that. She was so full of spirit and life. She looked to be about my age and she was running as happily and as carefree as a child. She wasn’t wearing earbuds or a ponytail. Her long brown hair bounced wildly behind her and her face beamed the biggest smile. As she neared me, she aimed that smile my way and cheerfully said, “Hi!”

I was stunned and inspired. I actually got chills because she was doing something I feel like I’ve only ever done once before – she wasn’t making it look like a job. I wonder if I came across like that to all those drivers waiting in traffic for the stop lights to cycle through? The song “Canned Heat” by Jamiroquai played in my earbuds and I was nearing the fourth mile on my long Saturday run. I felt a blast of energy and started smiling and singing along as I ran. There may have even been air drums. It felt awesome.

Seeing this running angel made me remember that feeling and I’m hoping it will help me stop treating a run like a “have to” and more like a “want to” or “get to.”

Thank you, running angel. I only saw you for a few seconds but you left a lasting impression. I hope to see you again – and I may try to stop you to make sure you’re real and learn your story.

Run Your Race

13 Oct

It’s a motto to help you stay focused and calm about the goal at hand. It helps take me out of the competition with others and make it a competition with myself.

Run your race. I will not let another runner distract me from my goal. So what if they’re running faster than me? Who cares if I just got passed by someone younger/older? That speed walker up there is crushing my above-average pace. Can I catch up to her? Head shake, slap. Stop. Focus.

Run your race. I’m not in it to win it their way – I’m in it to win it mine. Not to cross the finish line first or fastest to win but to set a goal that keeps moving me forward in ability. Complete the goal? Success – even if your number is toward the bottom of the pack. Don’t let that bother you. Don’t compare, even though it’s so easy to measure minutes. Didn’t complete the goal? Try again and don’t beat yourself up about it. There’s always tomorrow. A better run day. A better run feeling.

Run your race. I set goals for myself for each race but I tend to pad them out a bit so that I won’t be disappointed by overshooting my abilities or maybe I’ll be really happy when I surpass the number I zeroed in on for my target time. I’m sure there’s a science to setting a new goal time but mine is all in my heart and head. It’s the number I want next.

Recently, that number was 32 minutes. My best 5K time at the point when I set that goal was 34:37 from a race in March. My want is to run a sub-30 minute 5K. Maybe someday but I thought that would be a huge jump from 34 so I split the difference – and I did it.

31:54. Through the hills, body aches telling me I was evil and other faster runners, I ran my race.

32:00 Accomplished!

Next up, a mud run obstacle course with a team of tough ladies and then the big race I’ve been training for – the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon. To run my race for that, I really just need to finish – being it’s my first half. I’m kind of hard on myself though so I’m setting a time goal too. I’m hoping I finish around 2:45. There’s a small sliver of maybe (based off my current training times) that I could finish around 2:40 but I’m not going to say that number out loud. I don’t want to start trash-talking myself yet. After all, I’ll be running my race.

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