The Year I Put the JOY Back in Running…

Running is hard.

It’s hard on your body. Your mind.

Some days, it’s the perfect retreat that allows me to refuel my sanity tank. Some days, it’s a lonely, mentally challenging battle.

Some days, the miles fly by. Some days, the miles draaaaaag.

For the first time, ever, I couldn’t finish a run. My run Sunday, ten miles on the books, sucked. I can list a number of reasons why, but in the end, it just wasn’t one of those glorious, Nike-commercial-esque, sweat free, no jiggle endeavors. It was a funky, sweaty, plodding, grimacing affair.

And I began to wonder why…

I’ve done the train to finish thing.

I’ve done the train to PR thing.

Yes, PR’s are indescribable. You train hard, you sacrifice, and you meet your goal, hopefully.

But you are often ALONE.

Crossing the finish to your own applause.

To this day, my PR races are memorable, but the MOST memorable are those run with friends. AND finished with friends.

There was a time not so long ago that training and running was my number one. I ran at all costs. But I didn’t foresee the burnout. The effect on my body. I didn’t understand how people could train for 13.1 and NOT race. Heh.

Much like everything, you don’t understand until you do.

Nearly every hat I wear in my life: mother, sister, daughter, wife, friend…presents a multitude of challenges everyday. Some are won, some are lost. Some set aside for another day…

This year, my runner hat will only present me with JOY. I will not let it get me down. If I miss a run, I will not feel guilty. If I run a personal best, I will feel proud. If I don’t run a personal best, I will feel the joy in the process, in the moment, in the being there. If I enter a race with friends, I will ENJOY the moment, cherish their company, and thrive in their presence.

As hard as it will be for me, I will not let the numbers dictate my love of running. Instead, I will put the time spent with friends and memories made first.

Bring on the happy, BRFs.


Expectations

It only takes one…

One missed run to throw you off track.

One sick kid to throw off your routine.

One traveling husband to throw off your training.

One bad run to throw off your mental game.

The truth: I am not where I had hoped to be at this point in training. Mentally. Physically. Pace wise. In all honesty, I am nowhere near where I had hoped to be. Between our family travels, sickness, and the husband’s travels, I just don’t have the long runs under my belt to realistically hope for a PR. Funny, I assumed as the boys got older, finding time to run would get easier. Not so much.

But I won’t give up. I need to let go of former expectations and embrace new ones. Easier said than done, but running has taught me that much. Sometimes merely getting to the starting line is the victory. In every race I have run to date, the starting line is more emotional for me than the finish.

It only takes one…

One laugh to make you smile.

One good run to get you back in the game.

One good run to make you see the possibilities.

One good run to make you remember why…

Ran 9.1 on Sunday after a horrendous week. My first long run of the season.

Grateful that my body remembered how. Grateful for the reminder that 13.1 is possible. Grateful for the newfound outlook towards the May half.

Old expectation: sub 1:50. New: embrace the journey. Take pride in the journey. ENJOY the journey.


Running Magic

Sometimes you need a little EXTRA motivation to get those miles in. Sometimes new music works. Maybe a new piece of gear. At my favorite running spot, there is a magical view that motivates me every single time. As you round the corner of the last hill, hill FIVE, I have counted many, many times…

Getting closer…

You are gifted with this magical view. Even more magical on a 70+ degree day in FEBRUARY:

And the best part is sharing this with my littlest little man. Every Wednesday after we drop big brother off at school, I ask him what he’d like to do. The last two Wednesdays he wanted to walk and “expore”, so walk and explore we did:

Magic.


An Ode to My Running Homey-Mama-Girlfriends

There are many concrete truths about running:

* It’s hard. It doesn’t matter if you run a 7 min/mile or a 14 min/mile, it’s hard.

* It gets easier but NEVER easy.

* The first five minutes are often the same torturous endeavor for every runner.

* You get out of it what you put in. Every single time. Consistency is key.

* Properly fitted shoes are imperative.

* I never thought I would be a runner = the famous last words of almost every runner out there.

* It’s ALWAYS easier with friends.

There are few things I vividly remember these days. Ask me what I had for dinner last night and it will take me a few minutes to conjure up an answer, if at all.

Wedding day. The birth of my boys. And crossing the finish line at my first Half Marathon. Vivid details, to this day.

What began as a fluke challenge after the birth of our second kids has turned into something far greater than the three of us could have imagined. Training for, and conquering, 13.1 miles is truly a journey. A long one.

But doable. Especially if you are fortunate to have a best running girl. Or TWO.

There is a bond built over hours and hours and miles and miles of pounding pavement. Stories are shared, souls opened up, and magic happens. Somehow the impossible becomes possible, the hard becomes easier, and the miles pass by. We have run through some of life’s greatest challenges, proved that busy doesn’t equal impossible, and set forth an example of strength and health for our children. Some days the miles represent an oasis of kid-free calm, other days, the miles represent some much needed girl time while solving the daily woes of what to make for dinner when you have a kid who won’t eat anything of the non-beige variety.

For years, I avoided running like the plague. It wasn’t for me. It was something that I’d do, if needed. If being chased. If my life depended on it. Yet, now, I can’t imagine my life without it. Running is a funny thing. It’s a constant challenge, and sometimes that gets old. However, there is always a small thrill of victory when finishing a run of any distance. A twinge of jealousy as I drive by another person running out on the street.

It is easy to lose the ME in Mommy: kids, husband, house, dishes, laundry, everything else…YOU. Running has opened the door that allowed me to find a love of fitness, find strength I never knew I had, and find a reason to put ME back in Mommy.

But more than anything, running has given me the priceless gift of friendship. Of two special, inspiring, amazing running girlfriend-mama homies. Without them, I know I wouldn’t be here training for number seven.

Everyone needs at least one best running homey. Someone to inspire them. Encourage them. Push them. Talk to. Come race day, no matter when we finish, how we finish, we’ll be crossing that finish line together. In spirit. A triumvirate of determined, dedicated, likely tired, Mamas. Victorious. Let the official training begin…the journey to number seven.


Mermaid Half Marathon Recap

I have started and deleted this post so many times…

I went into this race with completely mixed feelings: unsure of my training, not as confident as usual, excited to get it over with. Life proved to be a major training obstacle this go round. I knew that training for a race that fell immediately following the end of basketball season would be hard and it was.

I went into the training strong. Cross training. Strength training. Long runs early. And then our car broke down. Our sitter became consistently unavailable. Testing and evaluations really picked up for the big kiddo. Fundraising and end of the season events picked up for the Husband. The little kiddo decided he wanted to make the 2’s fun for EVERYONE. It was a constant state of overwhelming obstacles and challenges with very little reprieve. And all the while I was trying to push my body and mind further and harder than ever before and REALLY train for this race. Naturally, it wasn’t possible. Something had to give. It did. I got sick. Missed a full week of training only three weeks before the race. With the momentum I had gained in the weeks before went my confidence.

I picked up as much mileage as I could pre-race and woke up race day having no idea what to expect. Hoping Rachel, Melissa, and I could push through. Finish together. Watch Rachel get her elusive sub-2. It was COLD. And then the start was pushed back 5 minutes. Then 15 more minutes. Then 10 more minutes. I am not an elite, world record setting athlete but I time my meals and water according to the start time. Plan out my Gu stops and water breaks. It all helps the mental aspect of running. Type A personality: check.

Initially I thought I would hold back. Race for fun. Save the legs for the See Jane Run Half in three weeks. Put a bib on me, surround me with racers, and holding back isn’t something I can easily do. I had a game plan: sub-2, average sub 9 min/miles, and attempt to pick it up at the end. I am a terrible pacer. Have no clue what the minutes feel like and often just run with my body setting the pace. My splits are typically all over the board.

The three of us started out strong. Holding on to our 8:30-ish pace. We lost Rach, boo, no team finish. Melissa and I fell into a comfortable pace. And ran, and ran, and ran. It had to have been one of the most BORING courses I’ve ever run. I find my home route more interesting. And more FLAT. I did, however, find it inspiring to be surrounded by so many women completing the same challenge. All different goals. All different levels. All different stories, I am sure. But we were all THERE. Doing it. We all made it to the start line, which is a HUGE victory in and of itself.

I know there are women who run in spite of circumstances far more difficult than mine. I know there are women who are running who have far less time: Rachel and Melissa inspire me daily. I know there will always be women who run faster and further. But I also know that today, for this race, I was among them, running with them, running as far as them.

I hit a wall shortly after mile 10. My longest run to date before the race was 10 miles. I had no idea what to expect. I immediately began thinking of my boys. Repeating their names over and over. Repeating to myself that I want them to SEE a strong mom, one who works hard to meet a goal, one who doesn’t give up, one who can push through…and make it to the finish line. One who always finishes something she starts. I know they will face hard times, numerous challenges, they will have times when they want to give up and they’ll likely turn to me. I want to be sincere and true when I tell them to keep going. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. Running has given me immense strength. Training for months on end is not easy. Running itself is not easy. But the rewards, the feeling as I turned the corner to see the finish line…priceless. And worth the pain, sacrifice, and hard work.

It was a very emotional finish for me.

I knew I had PR’d. I was happy. And so so so sore. As we were shopping away at the shirt table, the age group awards were being handed out. NEVER in my wildest dreams did I ever think my name would be called. Sure enough I hear an award going to a 32 year old woman from my hometown. And she even has the SAME name. Get out. Third place in my age group. Unreal.

Half marathon number six in the books. PR 1:50:01. 3rd place finish in age group. Don’t think I could have asked for more.

While I walked away giddy and excited, I also walked away mentally and physically drained. A long winter and fall at home, long three months of training…not sure what my next running move is going to be.


Before and After: A Visual

A Visual of the Running Necessities Before the Kids and After
Because it’s quite comical…
BEFORE the kiddos, which in all honesty seems almost a lifetime ago, the absolute bare necessities I needed for a good run were my shoes and i-pod:
AFTER the kiddos the absolute bare necessities include: a sippy for Jake, a sippy for Ty, water for me, shoes for Jake, shoes for Ty, shoes for me, snacks for Ty, snacks for Jake, snack cup for Ty, snack cup for Jake, sweatshirt for Ty, sweatshirt for Jake, blanket for Ty, and a blanket for Jacob. Note the absence of the i-pod. For some reason I chose to submit myself to the whines, complaints, and fusses of unhappy children in the stroller. I tell myself I need to HEAR the surroundings though one day, I am sure, I’ll figure out that maybe drowning out said whines, complaints, and fusses may actually make the run more enjoyable:
And perhaps the biggest difference BEFORE and AFTER- the Beast (aka the double jogger) loaded and ready to go. Note to BOB: it would be nice if you had considered that those pushing a double jogger would likely have TWO water bottles of some sort for each kid. Therefore, it would be NICE if you could have added an extra slot for an adult beverage. ESPECIALLY as you charge extra for said holder after already taking one of my arms and a leg for the actual stroller. Just sayin:
My attempt at “in ride” entertainment: books, toys, more books
Snacks:
One kid loaded and ready to go. Bink bink: check. Book: check.
Second kiddo loaded and ready to go. Book: check.
And in the time it took to take one picture, Ty has decided he’s already had enough:
And as always, it’s downhill from here…and we haven’t even left the driveway yet:
Having spent the better portion of the morning packing up for the run and preparing snacks, we still headed out. Ty was miserable. He read each and every one of the books. Ate snacks. And suffered through a 2.5 mile run. I cursed myself the entire way…between snack refill stops. Dropped toys. Book handovers. Binky recoveries. Blanket slips. Fire truck sightings…and subsequent barrage of questions. Dog sightings. Whines. Fusses. I often see moms running on the trails with kids in strollers. THOSE kids are sitting happily. No toys. No snacks. Often a blanket. But I hear nothing. No whining. No complaining. No crying. ?!@#$

Consolidating…

I bid farewell to my Scrapblog. It is hard enough keeping up with ONE blog, let alone two. AND I have started, like *just* started, a NEW blog with some girlfriends and am SUPER proud of it. I am super proud of us and can’t wait for the running adventures ahead.

Check us out:
Eat? Sleep? Shower?…Run?

If WE can do it…anyone can.


The Making of a Reluctant Runner

For the longest time I swore up and down that running was bad for women. Therefore, not one to go against medical evidence and scientific information, I didn’t run. Somewhere along the way I had heard that there was something about the arches in women’s feet that made running difficult. Or so I believed. It’s not that I didn’t like being active, I loved sports, I just hated running. Why would anyone in his or her right mind choose to run…unless being chased in which case it wouldn’t really be a choice. It is actually possible that I may have made up above said scientific information to get out of running events in high school…but I can’t remember for sure.

And then I got engaged. Searching for a way to become a “Buff Bride” I started jogging. Slowly. I managed to run a quarter mile. And thought I was near death. And then worked up to a half mile. Then one mile. Eventually I was running three miles. I would love to say I was running with ease but I don’t know if anyone ever truly runs with ease- there is always some sort of challenge whether it be the first mile, getting started, or finding the time. The upcoming wedding was motivation enough. The thought of hundreds of eyes on ME freaked me out and pushed me to get out and run.

After the wedding, I continued to run. I often ran the local reservoir- a hilly, challenging, 3 mile loop. In my head, I told myself that once in my lifetime I would like to run a half marathon. It sounded cool. Was fun to say. I never thought it would become a reality, especially as I had never really run more than six miles and was firmly aware that one DRIVES 13.1 miles. Again, it sounded really cool and was fun to throw into conversations. After all, “life goal” meant I had the rest of my life, duh.

After having Tyson, I ran to lose the baby weight. I ran when I could, often running on very little sleep and pushing a very unhappy baby in the jogging stroller. There were many days when a nap trumped running. As Ty got older the thought of running while trying to feed/console/entertain/block out the whining/crying/fussing trumped actually getting out to run. After having Jake, I ran to lose the baby weight. I ran when I could, often running on LESS sleep than after having Ty. Going for a run now meant packing a snack for Ty, toys for Ty, books for Ty, water for Ty, water for me, snack for me, diapers for Jake, wipes for Jake, Hooter Hider for me, toys for Jake, blankets for Jake…by the time I was done packing up to go out for a run I often found myself faced with dirty diapers, hungry children, or a child in need of a nap.

And then a couple girlfriends mentioned they wanted to run a half marathon. I jumped on the opportunity to train and run with friends. Half serious. Not sure if it would become a reality. It sounds REALLY good but really…run 13.1 miles. In a row. Without dying. Voluntarily. AND pay someone for the “honor”…not so sold on this. After all, we all had two kids. Two of us had infants. None of us were getting full night’s of sleep. What were we thinking…but we continued to train. We ran through the heat of the summer. We ran through the fussing. And whining. And tears. We ran through the exhaustion. And doubt. And we all crossed that finish line.

As I ran around the corner towards the finish line I had to hold back tears. I couldn’t believe I was about to cross the finish line and complete something I had seen as impossible. Somehow between the sleep deprivation, diaper changes, toddler tantrums…I had done this. I. Did. This. WE did this.

And we’ll do it again…in JUNE.

Somehow. With a busy husband, busier than in the fall, an active-HATES-the-jogging-stroller 3 year old, and an on-the-verge-of-walking-also-HATES-the-jogging-stroller 1 year old…I can do this again. Don’t ask me how many times I have run since the October Half. It’s a shame really. I desperately need to find my running mojo again…however, it seems really hard to find at 5 am. Or in 40 degree weather. Or in the rain. Or when it’s too foggy. Or when…*enter weather/sleep/kid/time excuse*. And you wondered why I put “reluctant” in the title…the one thing I wish I had done differently the last time is chronicle my training. The ups and downs. So here starts the chronicling…day one.


I Did It…

You know that list of “Life Goals” you keep in the back of your head. The ones that you remind yourself about every once in awhile. The ones you say out loud but don’t necessarily mean to ever accomplish. The ones that you give yourself the rest of your life to finish because it’s easier to say them, or think them, than to actually try to accomplish them. You say, “At least once in my life, I’d like to yada yada yada.” Well, I can now say that I have officially checked one such item OFF my list. And I honestly still can’t believe it.

I did it. I completed my first 1/2 Marathon. Of all the times I thought I would do this, after having had a second baby wasn’t really one of them. To say training for this with a newborn/infant and a 2 1/2 year old was easy, would be a lie. There were many times I thought it was a crazy idea. Impossible. People DRIVE 13 miles. Not RUN them. To be exact, it was 13.1 miles. And trust me, that .1 makes all the difference. I always considered myself a casual jogger. I ran for fun. Never with a race in mind. Or distance. When people called me a runner I shuddered. Not me. I suppose now, I can truly claim that title, “runner”.

I was fortunate enough to have two amazing ladies train with me. Both of whom overcame a number of obstacles and challenges to cross that finish line as well. We made an awesome team and I am so lucky to have had their support throughout this journey. Seeing the finish line was a much more emotional experience than I thought it would be. I had to hold back tears and push myself to run through it. I was overcome with pride. Accomplishment. I had ACTUALLY done this. And I ran it faster than I ever thought I would.

Official chip time- 2:22

I am the schmuck with the crooked hat. Apparently my head went numb or something and I couldn’t tell it was askew. All the pictures of me are with the hat to the side. Sigh. I don’t think I have ever been so excited about a ribbon medal. It’s currently hanging, proudly, on my computer screen. A reminder of all that we accomplished. A reminder that we are capable of far more than we think:


Tyson has already started training for the next race: