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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?

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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.

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.

Baseball Brain

18 Aug

Silly momma. I thought it would be fun to test Nate’s baseball knowledge one night at dinner. I spoke it to him like a math word problem while he spooned up the last of his peas on his plate.

“If you’re playing Third base and there’s a runner on First and the batter hits a grounder to you and the First Base runner is coming for Third, what should you do?”

I was expecting a simple response like, “Throw it to First.” Instead, Nate replied, “I would tag the runner and throw it to get the batter out or I could throw it to Second so he could get the batter and then he could throw it back to me so we could have the runner in a pickle.”

Of course he’s always thinking about making a double play! How could I have expected anything less? What I love most about his answer is that he thinks about baseball in the same way I used to act out my Barbie scenes as a child. His imagination comes to life with such different subjects than I’m used to. His “pickle” was my Barbie cliffhanger.

Love his baseball brain.

 

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.

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