Thursday, October 19, 2017

Niceness is Rare

Today has been so hard for me. It's not often that I have days this terrible. Did anything in particular happen that was so horrible I couldn't handle it? Not really.

Nevertheless, I had a panic attack. I simply could not handle everything that had irritated me over the last few days (irritable children, messy house, too many doctor appointments, stupid drivers, school demands, negativity everywhere you look, you name it), everything I still needed to do, and what everyone needed from me, and it completely derailed my sanity momentarily. I even broke out in hives, the stress level was so high.

That sense of being completely overwhelmed doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's debilitating. I absolutely loathe having an anxiety disorder. It makes me feel weak and worthless. I canceled the plans I had tonight, for no other reason than I just couldn't fake being okay around people. I feel terrible because it was going to be a fun evening. But I simply had to tap out for the night and be home where I feel safe (at least when the kids aren't being complete ogres). I did go for a run in the hopes of exhausting myself so much I stopped worrying about everything.

When I got home, I grabbed the Reader's Digest (don't laugh, I love that magazine), sat down on the couch, and became immersed. The Editor's note in the beginning was written for me, I swear. Mr. Kelley verbalized exactly how I've been feeling for the past few weeks regarding one of my bigger stressors, and that's the rampant negativity and meanness in the world right now. I seriously think it's been having more of a negative impact on my mental health than ever before. Here's what he said:

Reader's Digest has long been neutral about politics, but one thing we will never be neutral about is niceness. In a democracy where free expression is the rule--and where the internet, talk radio, and cable news provide enormous megaphones--niceness has never been more important. If we want to live in harmony along with our competing ideas, we need civility, empathy, and a sense that we have each other's backs. Niceness is the glue that will hold us together.
Yet it's not-niceness that's on the rise. The bitter call-and-response of our political exchanges has long pummeled the promise of "E pluribus unum." In a recent poll, 75% of Americans called incivility a "national crisis." It's no accident that Americans' faith in their institutions is scraping bottom. 

Yep.

It's a tough balance of wanting to be informed of what's going on globally, and yet being completely sick and tired of the rampant negativity, name calling, and ignorance. It's really screwed up my head in the past few weeks. I need positivity and feel good stories, but it seems those are few and far between, shunned in favor of shock value antagonistic stories. So sad. I'm enjoying the Reader's Digest piece regarding the Nicest Place in America contest, where citizens actually go out of their way to be generous and kind, not expecting anything in return. That type of attitude fosters a sense of belonging and contentment.

If only people (and the media!) could take two seconds to think, REALLY THINK, about what they are saying and how it can be received, not to necessarily censor themselves, but to understand whether or not their viewpoints in that moment are helpful or cause further division and incivility. Maybe they ought to go pet a puppy and then come back to their keyboard and see if they still feel like saying it.

Maybe if there was more of this, people like me with anxiety disorders might just be okay way more often than we are. Turn down the noise a little for us. Please.





Tuesday, October 17, 2017

All the Colors

You know what? I am so tired of summer weather.

It's October, so you'd think I'd be in the clear, but nope. Texas hates me!

We got some great temps during the week last week, and the last two mornings have been spectacularly perfect running weather. But Sunday morning? 70s and 100% humidity with the threat of thunderstorms. Also? Race Day!

For crying out loud.

Of course, I conveniently forgot that on the same exact weekend last year, I ran a half marathon in Central Texas, in the same exact weather conditions. And it was my second worst road half marathon finish ever. Fun times.

But, being the badass that I believe myself to be this year, that wasn't going to stop me from running that damn race. Was I going for a PR? OH HELL NO. The race course was 900 feet of elevation gain over 20 different hills and inclines, so a PR was a long shot anyway, plus I had decided running that far under my marathon pace for nearly two hours probably wasn't a wise choice. The weather made that decision much much easier to take.

The plan, after careful consideration and lots of feedback from friends, became pretty comical actually.

NO WATCH.

WEAR A COSTUME.

FIND A CHALLENGING PACE, BUT NOT TOO CHALLENGING.

MAKE IT A TRAINING RUN.

SCREW THE WEATHER.

HAVE FUN.

That, my friends, is exactly what I did! I showed up to that miserable race in all the damn colors. Rainbow zebra sports bra, rainbow tutu, rainbow compression sleeves, rainbow kinesiology tape, bright shoes, bright hat, no worries.





I was a big fat rainbow about to run my very first tutu race. Luckily I had friendly faces all around me, as several friends were out there to run as well. Nobody was "racing" it, which made my decision even easier to take.

I was quite happy to see I wasn't the most ridiculous looking person there. Close, but not quite. After all, there were dudes dressed as unicorns. Winning!



Despite the fact that I knew I wasn't running super hard, I was nervous anyway. I wasn't wearing a watch, so my new fear became running slower than it felt and totally embarrassing myself with a slow time that would be online forever. To hopefully prevent this from happening, I positioned myself at the start with the 2:00 and 2:10 pacers (thank you, baby Jesus, for there being pacers to sort of help me keep track of my mediocrity). I wanted to be sure I didn't start out as fast as the 2:00 pacer, but never allowed the 2:10 pacer to pass me. A 2:05-ish time seemed reasonable to me. Faster than a usual long run, but not so hard that I couldn't recover quickly. Embarrassingly far off my PR pace, but it is what it is. Is "embarrassingly" even a word?

So it started off without much fanfare. I found a decent pace that wasn't hard, got into a bit of a groove for that first mile. A group of girls near me were talking about the course, and I made the mistake of mentioning hills. They actually asked, "there are lots of hills?" Oh, dear, were they in for a surprise.

By the time I saw Greg at the two mile mark I'd already run up three of the damn hills, but I still felt really good. Of course I did....I was only two miles into a 13.1 mile run. If you don't feel good then, you're really screwed. But in all seriousness, I felt just fine. This was pace I could keep doing, whatever pace it was....but I actually had no clue because I wasn't wearing a watch. A girl running with me for a few miles almost blurted out how long we'd been running, but I told her NOOOOOOO. I didn't want to freak myself out if I was running too fast or too slow. I had found my groove and I wanted to hold onto it for dear life.



Years ago Greg ran a half marathon on this course, actually the only one he ran at race pace because all his other half marathons have been with me, a much slower runner. He still to this day is traumatized by the course, but I always rolled my eyes at him because I've run some pretty hard half marathons with just as much elevation gain. No way could this course be harder.

It's harder.

The damn hills WOULD NOT QUIT. See, I should know this because two of my triathlons were out here, and the bike portion was this exact course. I know the hills suck and they don't quit. But I always figured it would be easier to run on it than ride on it.

That's debatable.

It was right about the half way mark when I realized that this was getting a little difficult. My heart rate appeared to be under control, I wasn't breathing particularly heavy, my legs weren't fatigued, but I think my head was getting in the way of my badassery. When you start seeing practically every person walking up the hills, it starts to bug you (NO, I DID NOT WALK UP A SINGLE DAMN HILL). I think I was ready to be done. But I still had like six miles and eleventy billion hills to go. It was around this point that a tutu unicorn dude was leapfrogging with me, alternating running and walking. As I passed him during his walk break, I mentioned that it kinda sucked out there. His response was, "but at least we look good!" You know what? We did look good!

Greg always talked about the hill along the toll road as being particularly atrocious. I remember having an asthma attack on that hill during one of the triathlons, so the thought of this beast loomed over me as I approached it. But, I actually caught a break here. When I made the turn onto that road, I felt a breeze. It felt a little cooler out, and it made me so happy I got a second wind going up that hill. It really wasn't bad at all! I was badass again!

Until the next hill. Dammit.

I was being deliberately slow at the aid stations, taking a little bit of extra time to refill my water bottle. I didn't want to take too long and rack up too many extra seconds onto my finish time, but I also didn't want to run anymore, so it was a little bit of a mental battle.

Once I saw the 11 mile marker, I felt a little better (not physically, because give me a break, but mentally definitely better). My legs were now fatiguing and all the damn hills were catching up to me. That's actually probably really great that it took so long for my legs to start to feel the effects of the hills and it gave me a bit of a mental boost that technically I was holding up okay for it being the worst weather ever. I only had two miles to go and I thought I might even be able to speed up a little bit. Not that I would know, since I wasn't wearing a watch.

On one of the last turns, we got a headwind that was actually kind of strong. I had to hold onto my hat to keep it from flying off, and although the wind made it feel cooler and less humid, I wasn't particularly appreciative of it being in my face. I mean, seriously, can this race just be over now?

You have no idea how great it was to see the 12 mile marker and know that I actually really was ALMOST DONE. I was passing people! I was running faster! I wasn't having an asthma attack! And I was pretty sure I wasn't going to embarrass myself since the 2:10 pacer never caught me. I lost sight of the 2:00 pacer by mile 4 so I knew I was several minutes over that mark.

As I approached the finish line I caught sight of the clock and it said 2:05. THANK GOD. I was totally okay with a 2:05 on the books, especially since I actually, if I totally admitted it to myself, felt just fine. Ready to be done, but still very much in control of my run.



Still felt awfully refreshing to cross the finish line AND FINALLY BE DONE RUNNING. Then I drank all the water I could find and wanted to lay down in the grass and take a nap.

The morning, however, wasn't quite over. I discovered that I actually got 2nd place in my age group. Are you kidding me? I run a 2:05 half marathon and GET ON THE PODIUM? Were there like 3 people in my age group? (actually, there were 11 so I legit did well for my age in that particular race....go figure). Mediocre time or not, I was damn proud of that second place medal! First time ever that I have placed in a half marathon, and I was going to take it!

My two teammates who ran also got 2nd in their age groups, so it was a good day for Georgetown Triathletes and our "training runs."





The next morning it was 50 degrees out and 60% humidity. This morning? 46 degrees out. I ran a progressive tempo run this morning and totally killed it.

This coming weekend is my first of three 20-milers. The forecast? THUNDERSTORMS. Shoot me now.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Running is simple

People love to make things complicated.

You have to eat like this!

You have to take these supplements!

You have to lift weights like this!

You need to go to this gym!

You must get this treatment done!

You have to buy this for your bike!

You must sign up for this! And that! And this, too!

You have to believe this way is right!

Good grief. No I don't.

I long for the days of simplicity sometimes.

When there weren't countless tech gadgets out there. When there weren't eleventy billion fad diets out there. When everybody wasn't selling something that will "change your life." When we weren't so vain that we needed an expert to shape every aspect of our lives, and our appearances. When we could have an opinion that differed with someone else's....and it was okay and that someone else moved on instead of debated every detail. When you could read the news without having to see every single person's angry opinion about it. But I'm starting to digress...

People REALLY make things too complicated.

I am in agreement with Bill Rodgers that running is a simple sport. Put your shoes on, go outside, and run. But every single one of us runners likes to make it way too complicated sometimes.

Matt Fitzgerald summed up running in 14 words:



When we are in the midst of big goals and wanting improvement and wanting to be totally awesome, we forget about those last four words: Learn. Keep it fun.

Sunday is my half marathon. I've gone back and forth about how I want to approach this race. I've been frustrated and upset and confused and conflicted and all the emotions in between because the damn weather is going to be hot and humid. The race doesn't start until 8am, it's a very hilly course, and the sun will be out. It won't be PR conditions at all, even in the great running shape that I'm in right now. 


I guess I could've stayed mad, and scrapped running it at all like I had been thinking yesterday. Instead I asked for advice from my triathlon teammates. Have I mentioned lately that I love them? 


Leave your watch at home.


Run it as a training run.


Start off easy and then see if you can ease into marathon pace.


Wear a costume (it is a Halloween theme after all).


Forget about being upset about a slow half marathon being on the internet forever.


Have fun.


Their advice completely turned my attitude around. I'm not sure if I can keep myself from hating a permanent slow race result AGAIN, but I can do all of the other things.


I came up with a costume.


I'm not going to wear my watch.


I'm going to start easy and then see how my legs and lungs feel.


It will be a training run and I will get benefit from it. 


And then, 7 days later, I'll be ready for the first of three 20-mile training runs on my schedule.


Y'all, I'm going to wear a costume for the first time in a race ever.


Back to what Matt Fitzgerald said about running:


Build step by step. Push yourself, but not too hard. Learn. Keep it fun.

Isn't that perfect? You set a goal, you build methodically up to it, pushing yourself when you need to, holding back when you need to, learning what works and what doesn't and how you can keep improving, and when you do this you're able to keep the whole process fun and enjoyable. If that's not how you approach running, then it's time to embrace these fourteen words. 

Did I mention I'm running in a tutu? Oh, my....

Friday, October 6, 2017

9 more weeks

When I wrote my training plan months ago, and revised it a million times, and added volume, and questioned my sanity, I was mildly freaked out over the daunting task of running 800+ miles in 6 months. We are now 9 weeks out from race day and so far, so good.

Last night was our first track night of the season. I have a few track workouts I wrote up for the few weeks prior to race day, but I wanted to let Coach Christine ease us into track so I deferred to her last night, figuring she'll have us start with a few miles of 400s or 800s. Oh heck, no....we started right off the bat with 1600 meter repeats. And she told me I needed to run them in 7:40. With 1 minute rests (although she said it was okay to push to two minutes, and I did).

Well, crap. Last year I couldn't break 8:00 minutes for 1600 repeats (albeit, last year sucked).

Did I mention it was 85 degrees out?

Okay, fine, Coach, let's do this crap....

Because I'm constantly doubting my ability, of course I nailed the damn workout. My 1600s were 7:20, 7:33, and 7:38 (I suppose I was getting a wee bit tired). I honestly couldn't believe when the first one came in at 7:20 because no way did I feel like I was running that fast. It wasn't easy, my heartrate was inching up a lot, and I had to dig, but it was totally doable. I actually got to work out in Zone 5 heartrate for an extended period of time.

Continuing to see the tangible proof that my training is paying off is a huge motivation for me, no matter how much I tend to doubt myself.




Leading up to last night, I've been running pretty well. September had 163 miles, my second biggest volume month ever. My interval and tempo workouts are coming together, with Tuesday's workout producing 3 tempo miles at 8:08 average pace and 7 miles total. I'm up to 18 miles for long runs and can still keep my average heartrate under 140 while running under 10 minute pace average. We've had a return of summer temperatures and high humidity after being teased with some 50s and 60s in early September, so that part has been hard to deal with. I was looking forward to my "easy" pace quickening up more than it has, but I still have to be patient until these temperatures are gone for good.

My half marathon is coming up next weekend. I've gone back and forth on how I want to approach this race. My first thought was to go balls to the wall and really race it, but with further thinking it makes more sense to try to do a race simulation at marathon pace instead. But then I noticed the forecast for that day get worse and worse. It will be in the 70s and high humidity at the start.

Forget that! So a progressive pace training run it will be. I guess. Whatever. I have the worst race day weather luck in the whole freaking world, I swear. It gets incredibly annoying, that's for sure. But I've been running in those temps for months now. I can push the pace a bit and see what happens, but a PR is absolutely out of the question.

The next few weeks will really see some serious commitment. 170 miles in October, 190 in November, and then tapering to December 10 race day. Tempos, long runs, track work, easy days, strength work, balance work....did I mention serious commitment?

This shit is so good for me. It's hard and I love it. I'm scared as hell of failing at my goals, but dammit I'm going to do everything I can to get myself to that starting line in the best shape of my life.

My friend (and badass Ironman) Troy of C4 Endurance recently explained what the 4 Cs of his business name mean: Courage, Commitment, Confidence, and Conviction. It's time for me to print that out and tape it to my bathroom mirror so I can remember that every single day before I hit the streets.


9 more weeks, y'all.

9 more weeks.


Friday, September 15, 2017

It's the strangest thing...

For this marathon training cycle, I've gone all in on being a very intentional with each and every run. I didn't always trust the process and thought my Garmin had gone absolutely nuts for analyzing the training data the way it does.

But then we had a couple weeks of cooler temps and my body was so happy and things just got EASIER. I ran faster, my heartrate stayed even lower than normal, and I wasn't totally exhausted. It's like all the experts were right or something.

My Garmin doubled down on its craziness the other day. I ran 16 miles this past Saturday at about 20-30 seconds per mile faster overall than what I'd been doing my long runs. It was the longest run I'd done since January, I had a 5 minute second half negative split, and it was right around the overall pace of the previous week's 14 mile run, a run which incorporated 4 race pace miles. It felt good. And my heartrate average was 5 beats per minute LOWER than the 14-miler. So then my Garmin tells me this:



Could it be? Am I officially in badass shape? Apparently my Garmin thinks so.

No way am I getting anywhere near a 3:27, but I don't think the analysis could be so far off that I can't run that 3:52.

I read an article titled "Change your mindset to improve your race times." It couldn't have come at a better time, right when I'm starting to incorporate race pace miles into my long run and I'm pushing myself harder during hard workouts now that the weather is better.

Be mindful of the deceptive paralysis that can take hold when you become intimidated by your increasingly faster paces.

Basically this means that we allow the fear of the faster paces we are running, and the daunting thought of actually running that in a race, hold us back on race day. We are physiologically capable of our goal, but our minds work against us and we fail to truly believe in our ability. We fear going "balls to the wall" and then failing.

I need to go Balls-to-the-Wall no matter what and just hold on for dear life and not let my brain tell me otherwise and suck up the pain and just cross that finish line three minutes under my Boston qualifying time.

Maybe if I keep writing that down, it'll imbed itself in my brain and the deceptive mental paralysis won't happen to me in those later miles of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon.

During our Tuesday interval run, the plan was to run 6 x 6 minute intervals at 8:15 pace with a 1 minute recovery. With warm up and cool down it would be a 7 mile workout.

The weather was nice out and I ended up running on average 7:53 pace for those 6 intervals. I could've run another one. I wasn't really all that spent during the cool down. Because of the warm up and cooldown miles and the recovery periods, my average overall pace for these Tuesday workouts is usually pretty high, but when we were done with the intervals this week I was under 9 minute pace. I don't ever remember that happening during an interval workout. When we do tempo runs, sure, but not intervals with recovery walk/jogs. I ran 7 miles at 9:10 average and it was fantastic. Over 4.5 miles of that was sub-8 pace.

My Garmin still thinks I'm a fast girl.

I'm running a very hilly half marathon in 4 weeks and I'm going to incorporate this "go all out" attitude. I think it'll be a good race tune up and will tell me where I'm at both physically and mentally 8 weeks out from the marathon. The difficulty of this course is intimidating, and it's not exactly normal to set a personal best on it. But what do I have to lose? Except my breakfast?

Shit is getting real, y'all.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Trying to see the light

Four weeks into official marathon training.

Nine weeks until a half marathon and 17 weeks until my first marathon of the season. My first shot at a Boston Qualifying time.

It's sometimes so hard to see the possibility of doing that right now, in the worst part of summer. On the positive side, I am doing pretty well running in the summer. I never thought I'd be relatively comfortable doing 2 hour runs and 30+ mile weeks in the height of summer in Texas. But despite the whining I do in the last 30 minutes of our long runs, I really actually am doing just fine. My average heart rate is consistently staying under 140 and I'm running negative splits.

But it's just so slow. Intentionally slow, but slow nonetheless. It's right where I should be hitting my long runs when the dew point is well over 70 and the starting temp is pushing 80, but wrapping my head around that is still a bit of a problem for me.



I'm doing just fine with intervals, tempos, and hill repeat pacing. I can see all that improving, I can see my cardiovascular strength improving, and I know I'm making progress. But those 10+ minute long runs....ugh....I think realizing the benefit of long SLOW runs is a tough thing in general for marathoners to deal with. It's hard to see that when you run so much slower than goal pace, you're actually doing something good for yourself.

My goal race pace is 8:58 to hit a Boston Qualifying time. I need to aim for more like 8:52 to have any shot in actually making the cut off for entry into the 2019 race, however. My top goal is just hitting the BQ time of 3:55...making it into the race itself will be extra awesome, but is not my main goal. I know this is still such a lofty goal when I've been a relatively crappy marathoner until now, at least compared to shorter distances. Not many people make that big of an improvement in such a short amount of time.

I know that my biggest strength right now, besides my improvement in cardiovascular strength, is my attitude, and while I am struggling to push a few doubts away, I do really believe in myself. Most of the time, at least. But I'm also human and have anxiety and need to take a few deep breaths now and then to calm myself down. My attitude is a thousand times better than it's been in recent years and I'm trying so damn hard to hold onto that!

I've been using my new Garmin for about six weeks now and it's still totally stroking my ego. Its race predictor has me solidly at 3:31-3:36 for a marathon time, way way WAY under my goal. This goal is only truly attainable if one actually seriously trains and that race day weather is on target for a good finish time. I like the fact that my Garmin loves me so much. I think it's a liar about what it says about my ability, but it's still nice to be loved. I figure even if it's way off, that 3:55 goal sounds completely reasonable.

I signed up for a half marathon in October. It's on a notoriously tough course, but I'm not a stranger to tough courses. It's not any harder (I don't think) than the San Francisco (First) Half course, and I PR'd (at the time) in that race. I want to PR my October half, running under 1:51:36. I figure if I can do that with 900 feet of elevation gain, I can hit a 3:55 marathon on a flat course. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Running a 1:51 or faster on this course will be a bit insane for me. It will NOT be easy. I have nine more weeks to figure it out, to hope the weather is at least a little agreeable, and to try to strategize those hills to even come close to running under 8:30 pace. If I continue to work hard and chip away at my pace, to build my cardiovascular endurance so I can hold a faster pace for longer, and the weather cools, I should be able to do it regardless of the hills. I've been told people just don't PR on that course, but whatever. I haven't ever really been good at listening to people.

When we were on our long run this morning, my teammates and I talked about how it will feel when the weather cools and the humidity cuts us some slack. I have a feeling we are going to be pleasantly surprised at how much faster "easy" pace will be. I'm getting excited about that. I remember last year when I headed to California for a half marathon and the temp and humidity were perfect for race conditions and I felt fantastic. I was comfortable at a much faster pace than I had been running and it was wonderful. I want to feel that again!


Step one in getting better - Find great running partners!

Friday, August 4, 2017

8 years later

Began on Tuesday, August 1:

It's that time of year again. The first week of August. It snuck up on me this year. I had been doing okay lately, keeping my grief episodes from overwhelming me. But yesterday it snuck up on me. My day was not so good, but I can't pinpoint exactly why. I had a sadness and a lack of motivation that was very hard to shake, that I was feeling incredibly guilty about because I didn't get done all the things I wanted to get done. I think it was grief, which comes and goes still eight years later. I can hold it off a lot better than I used to, but because time doesn't really heal all wounds, it's always there in my subconscious.

I spent a bit of time thinking about what my life was on August 4, 2009, and then all the things that have happened since August 5, 2009.

On August 4 I had a sister who was very sick, but who we thought was getting better. I was worried but optimistic. My sister was in good spirits on the phone when we spoke that evening. I was looking forward to another phone call the next day.

I had a 4 year old daughter and a 7 year old son. She had a 9 year old daughter. She was a writer and worked in a law firm. I was a stay-at-home mom who had just started on an athletic journey, having run my first marathon a few months prior. We were young. I was 35 and she was 37, just one month prior to her 38th birthday.

Fast forward 8 years and life is very different. My kids are now 12 and 15, and her daughter is about to start her senior year of high school. Her widower and daughter still live in the Seattle area and we still live in the same house in Round Rock. I am now 43, 6 years older than she was when she passed. She would be turning 46 next month. I've now run 12 marathons and am training for 2 more.

The part that really blows my mind is how old our kids are now. I can't wrap my head around the fact that my daughter only has one memory of Aunt Trisha. We had just seen her two weeks prior while in California and my daughter remembers vividly the time she spent with her. But she's 12 now and so many years and so many changes have happened in that time, so many things that I couldn't talk to Trisha about.

Her daughter was going into 4th grade when she lost her mother and now she's one year from starting college. She went though all those years with mother figures surrounding her, but no mother who tucked her into bed each night. So many milestones and life experiences, but thankfully she could share those with her dad.

I've written many blog posts over the years about my grief. My loss doesn't define who I am, but it does guide me on how I want to live my life, on why I do some of the things that I do, on why I'm extra sensitive and introverted during certain times of year. Most of my friends and family understand this.

Ironically enough, I was becoming a bit of a grief expert back in college. Grief was a topic I spent a lot of time on, taking classes, completing my internship at Hospice, and even writing my thesis on the topic. Unknowingly, it was a precursor to more loss than most people experience in young adulthood. The next 12 years were not easy with several difficult losses. Recently, I found a copy of that thesis and decided to convert all 84 hard copy pages into a soft copy. It was a very important research project of mine and one I was quite proud to have written. Reading through the chapter on normal grief and complicated grief was even more meaningful now, 20 years after I wrote it. It made me realize two things: (1) I made it through the normal grief cycle long ago, and (2) it's okay to have grief relapses.

I see the bickering around me in the world, in my community, and among my friends and family and I want to shake them. I want them to stop and to appreciate what is around them. I want them to appreciate who is in their lives. "What if they are gone tomorrow?" I want to say. They always think there is a tomorrow. But we know better, don't we? Stubbornness, narrow-mindedness, anger...these things can be toxic and unfortunately for many, by the time you clear your head of the negativity, it's too late. I'm incredibly sad about this.

*unfinished*

Fast forward to today, August 4:

After I began this blog post earlier this week, a friend died. It was not an unexpected death, but are those really any easier to take? He was only 30 and had been married for six months.

I'm angry. I'm so tired of this. I'm so tired of the suffering and the loss that people are experiencing. the sadness has been all encompassing since I found out on Wednesday. The celebration of life is tomorrow, on the 8th anniversary of my sister's passing. Of course I will be there, but my heart feels like it's in a vice grip. It hurts.

Go give someone a hug, buy a coffee for a friend, pick up the phone and text or call a loved one, smile at a stranger. My late friend wrote on his Facebook page "Just trying to let my light shine as brightly as I can."

Be a light.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Why don't I run trails more often?

Last week the husband got up extra early and drove into Austin to do a few miles at Walnut Creek Regional Park, a pretty cool place with miles and miles of trail. It's popular with runners, mountain bikers, walkers, and dogs and we've been out there for hikes a few times. I've never run it, however, and I didn't go with the husband last week because I had run very hot hill repeats the previous night and just wanted to sleep in. After seeing his photos, though, I regretted staying in bed!

So this week I told him I'd suck it up and, even after running hills last night, I'd get up with him this morning and run a few miles there. I got home after our tough and REALLY FREAKING HOT hill run last night and rehydrated and refueled, foam rolled, and relaxed. When that alarm went off at 5:40, however, I had the thought to just say screw it and go back to sleep.

So glad I didn't! We only ran for about 40 minutes but it was worth the drive into Austin. Getting in some slow recovery miles off the asphalt was good for my legs. I paid no attention to pace and just kept my heart rate down (only averaged 129 and mostly stayed in zone 2). Running right after sunrise was peaceful and such a great way to start my day and since I don't get to see the husband a lot during the week, I was glad to get this extra time with him. He's a pretty good running partner.





I have lots of trails close to my house so I don't know why I don't get out there more often. It's a very peaceful and fun way to get in some recovery miles and to just get a change of scenery and some quiet time.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Intentional Training

Every year I learn a little more about myself, about marathons, and about effective training. For years I merely trained to finish the race, occasionally with a time goal or the goal of a new personal best, even if by only seconds. I knew in my heart that I had more talent than what is shown in my race results. Sometimes weather was the factor, sometimes illness (yes, I have plenty of bad luck on race day), sometimes I ran with friends, and sometimes it really was "for fun" or to finish happy. I was definitely better at coaching other runners than myself.

Last year, after a two year marathon hiatus and some health problems, I got back into the marathon game. Because I had lost speed and fitness, I was not in personal best shape when I set out on my journey to Louisiana. Through hard work and a tough training schedule I turned it around and knew that I could beat my 4:17:53 best time, but probably just barely. While race day weather didn't allow for that, and because I was still in the process of figuring out how best to handle my asthma in humid conditions, I couldn't push myself as hard as I wanted to without it being detrimental to my health. I am still happy with the race, although it was very far off my goal. It allowed me to come into this current training season with more mental strength than I've had in all previous marathons.

Back in April I made the choice that this was my year to be in my best shape ever. After feeling so miserable on our relay at the end of March, I knew it was time to make big changes. I got my medication problems figured out, I got my nutrition figured out, I lost weight and gained muscle, and because of all this work over the last three months, I am a much better runner. I've written about my progress a bit in previous blog posts. My training officially starts on Monday and I am ready for it. I have spent the last few months building my aerobic fitness in the warm summer conditions and slowly building speed through our interval and hill workouts. I got back on my bike and I got back into the gym on a more consistent basis. While our weather has decidedly taken a turn for the worse over the last month, my ability to handle it has increased positively. I am running just as well in the heat as I did in the cold and I'm still gaining speed. It's the first time this has ever happened to me in my decade of running in Texas. I no longer dread our workouts when it's 80 degrees out and the dew point is in the 70s. I know it will be uncomfortable, but I also know that my body can handle it....FINALLY.

You really have no idea how incredible this feeling is, not only physically, but MENTALLY. Knowing that I don't have to necessarily suffer through the summer is huge! Don't get me wrong...it is very uncomfortable running Thursday nights in triple digit heat (even though we do run in the shade), and I'd really prefer not having to try to beat the heat by running my long runs at 6am. But I am definitely more comfortable with the uncomfortable than I have ever been. Please let this feeling last!

I've also become much more intentional and focused with all aspects of my training. I'm better about wearing my heart rate monitor to be sure I'm not overdoing it in the heat, and to see if I'm adapting to the training. I'm analyzing my splits more than I probably ever have to look for improvement, even small improvement. I had to purchase a new multi-sport Garmin and finally upgraded to a Bluetooth capable model, the 920xt (thanks to my dear friend Doug!), and it's changed everything for me! My data analysis is now on a whole new level and I'm not sure why I suffered with the 910xt for as long as I did (okay, I didn't suffer. That watch was fantastic. I just sucked at syncing it to Garmin Connect). Being able to see how the watch can estimate my VO2 max (47!) and laugh at its race predictor (3:31 marathon my ass) is pretty darn cool. I've only worn it for a few runs so far, so I'm still assuming that marathon prediction will increase significantly with more run data, although it keeps getting faster so far. Strange watch.

Training like this has taken so much weight off my shoulders. I'm not stressing about my long run pace at all anymore, whereas I used to be so bummed if I didn't train at a certain pace all the time. By focusing more on my heartrate and cadence I'm able to steadily improve my aerobic fitness. Looking back on runs from years ago, my heart rate was ridiculous. I was burning myself out and not even realizing it. I'm consistently running on average with a heart rate probably 20 beats per minute less than I was back in those early marathon days. By being so specific with my easy/long run training, my body is efficiently feeding its muscles and burning fat as fuel. This is where the bulk of marathon training should fall. Because of the summer heat I can't always keep my heart rate quite this low (my target is keeping it below 140, or at least under that for the average), particularly running up hills, but that's okay. A heart rate a bit higher will help me build my cardiorespiratory capacity and improve my muscle strength and this is the zone I'll probably spend the most time in on race day. Several of my long runs down the road will include portions at race pace in order to simulate the feeling for race day. Then there are the tough runs...intervals and hill sprints. This is where I get into the anaerobic zone, and therefore improve my lactate threshold and performance. Proper recovery from the tougher workouts is vital (yay recovery runs!) to be able to continue to perform well during those particularly hard weeks. I'm just continuing to chant that mantra of "easy pace, easy pace, easy pace" (no matter how much my teammates laugh at how anal I've become). My long slow runs are paying dividends during hard workouts and will (hopefully, oh pretty please) pay off on race day.

Being okay with that pace and with that heat index is a long process

The crazy thing about analyzing the data is being able to quantify how I'm getting more efficient, while still getting faster. Tuesday's interval workout was a beast, but my heartrate never got into the red zone, not even once! My highest heart rate was 163 and the average stayed under 150. I was working very hard and practically threw up a couple times from the effort, but knowing that I technically was not overtaxing my system is a huge bonus (I'm going to chalk the pukey feeling to the Gatorade I drank after the previous night's bike ride....I have very little sugar in my diet but really needed the rehydration after the heat, so Gatorade it was....and it was so delicious). Being able to see this kind of data is helping me during each hard run. Even through the discomfort I know I can do it, even when my brain is trying to tell me I need to give up. I also realize that I can push myself even harder at our next interval workout.

Shit is getting serious starting on Monday. Every week my miles will increase. There are some weeks when I am running 6 days, and I'm not going to like it very much. But there's a Boston Qualifier inside of me and I need to find her and push her and make her do what's she's capable of doing.

Also, please be good to me on December 10, Mississippi weather. Pretty please.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Duathlon? Sounds great!

Every 4th of July, my triathlon team hosts an informal triathlon/duathlon for our members. Two years ago I did the triathlon and last year the duathlon. This year I again tackled the duathlon, and it would be only my second duathlon I've ever done.

I came into this year feeling much better about working hard in the heat, so I felt like I could do a decent job "racing." I wasn't so concerned with racing my teammates so much as racing my time from last year. I wanted to see that my fitness had improved and with the weather this year being so similar to last year, it would be a good gauge of improvement.

Armed with my lovely new multisport watch, I was ready to go race morning. We had a big turnout, way more than usual. Nineteen members total raced so it was going to be a very fun morning. Lake Georgetown looked beautiful at 7:30 in the morning and I was almost a bit envious at those who were doing the triathlon. The lake was calm and looked so refreshing. Perhaps it's time I got my butt back into the water?



The first run of the duathlon was about 1.1 miles just around the picnic area at the lake. We shortened the first run this year so it better coincided with when the swimmers would be coming out of the water and we'd all be on the bike course about the same time. For this first run, I wanted to be "comfortably uncomfortable" with my pace, so I figured right around 9 min or just under would be great and then hopefully I'd be able to push it harder on the second run. I was feeling pretty decent and got down to about 8:30 pace within the first few minutes. I kept that up and finished the that loop at 8:33 pace.

A quick transition and I was on my bike. The course for the bike is actually not all that easy. It's short...9.55 miles...but it starts out uphill. My heartrate spiked right away, hitting 160 within 3 minutes of ride time. But I stayed with it, knowing I'd get a good downhill in a couple miles. Every opportunity I got on a downhill I shifted into a tougher gear and tried to make up some time speed lost on the uphills. I want to be better with shifting, so this was good practice. By the time we got to about 7 miles I knew I was riding much better than last year. I felt a lot more comfortable and my heartrate was staying more in control overall. I ended up riding 1.1 mph faster than last year, coming in at 16.7 mph. A win in my book. It probably helped that at the turnaround on the dam at about 8 miles into the ride, I saw my friend Esther right on my butt, probably only about 30 seconds behind me. Although I didn't want to view this as competition, seeing her that close to me definitely got me moving my butt a little bit faster.

Another quick transition (where I thoroughly messed up the lapping on my watch and accidentally hit the button too many times. I had to look back on the data to estimate my transition time versus my actual run time, but I think I got it figured out based on the elapsed time of the workout. Both my transitions came in at about 40-45 seconds. Not bad for being so out of practice!

I knew I could get the second run done in under 15 minutes if I pushed myself and remembered it was a very short distance, only about 1.7 miles. I glanced at my watch to see that it was right at 44 minutes total for the workout. I remembered last year's time was 1:11:xx so even with a shortened Run 1, I was definitely doing better this year. I just felt so much stronger! I kept thinking Esther was going to blow by me right before the finish so I sped up to about 8 min pace for the last half mile. It got hard but I knew it was almost over. I ended up coming in at about 14:48 (if I estimated correctly from my watch mishap).

I finished in about 59:50 total for the 2.8 miles of running and 9.55 miles of cycling. Last year I ran 3.4 miles and cycled 9.45 miles in 1:11:33, so it was a definite improvement. I had so much fun! My entire team did a really great job out there, with speedy times for everyone. They're all very worthy competitors and they keep me on my toes day in and day out.

Informal team races like this are a great way to get into that competitive spirit, gauge where you're at in training and fitness, without the expense or nerves from an actual organized race. Teammate Amanda even made up medals for the fastest of us out there so that's a very fun keepsake.

Looking forward to the next one!

Team pre-race

The medal winners, although every single person out there killed it!



Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer has arrived

It's amazing what a difference a week can make in the weather around here. Last Saturday (the 10th), I finished my 10 mile long run as the temp hit 73. Not exactly comfortable with the sun out, but it didn't feel unbearable at all. I had a pretty good negative split on my out-and-back route and my heartrate averaged 138. I was pleased with the effort. This week when I finished my 10.4 mile run, it had hit 83 degrees, and yet still kept my heartrate at 137 average with a negative split. But it was decidedly warmer out, that's for sure. The summer arrived!

Yay for patient running partners and metal dinosaurs
Not sad about my run or the fact that I cool down in my pool.
Sad about the weather!

What's weird for me right now is throwing pace out the window on these long, slow runs. For so many years I was obsessed with my pace and felt that I needed to be hitting certain long run paces while marathon training to convince myself I could finish a marathon and not embarrass myself. With the exception of one training cycle back in 2012, I never had a lofty time goal in a marathon. That marathon didn't go as planned, but that had to do with the 80 degree temps and not my fitness. Had it been 40 degrees out I actually do think I would have broken 4 hours like I had trained to do. My other time goals over the years have been much more conservative. Basically I was in it more for fun (yes, I called marathons fun). There's not really anything wrong with that, and many people enjoy the journey and don't give a crap about the time on the clock. This attitude usually translated to running my long runs faster than my marathons. By the time I got to the start line, I was in great shape, but held back time and time again. In some cases I think I had trained too hard and just wasn't ready for the 26.2 mile distance. I could overanalyze it to death if I wanted.

I will say that I did get my half marathon training right way more often than my marathon training. I could toe the line at a half marathon and hit my goals and run very well, and usually faster than my long runs were ever ran (this is the way it's supposed to be done).

Well, I don't want that kind of crap anymore. It's time to run a marathon like I can run a half marathon.

So last week my long run was at 10:08 pace average. I used to rarely run my long runs over 10 minute pace (and yet only two of my marathons have been run at under 10 min pace). That was pretty dumb. There's absolutely nothing wrong with running this pace when your Boston-qualifying marathon pace goal is 8:58. It's actually perfectly fine, especially since I kept my heartrate exactly where I needed it to be. As I get closer to my goal race in December, and the weather cools off, my long runs will speed up naturally. I'll be fitter, the weather will be more conducive to what is comfortable to me, and I can inch closer to a 9:30 pace without overtaxing my body. Right now? I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

This week I ran 10:15 pace in 10.4 miles. It's not much slower than last week considering it was 10 degrees warmer. My heartrate tells the tale....I didn't push myself harder despite the heat, but I didn't lose too much pace. So just like with last week's long run, this week's makes me very pleased. But again, I can't lie when I say it's weird for me to be running over 10 minute pace on these long runs.

There's a time and place for race pace and faster runs. Long run weekend is not one of those, especially in this part of my training cycle and in the summer. I'm building up my base so my body is ready for more mileage. I added a fourth day to my running last week, and I have 4 weeks until the difficult training technically starts. As I get deep into training, some of my long runs will incorporate race pace miles, but usually no more than 30% of the run, and the rest of the miles will be at long run pace. Speed will happen during interval runs, tempo runs, races, track nights, and runs like those, but in order to properly prepare oneself for the rigors of the volume of marathon training, you have to allow yourself the luxury of recovery miles and long, slow miles. If I ran 8:58 pace day in and day out, at 40 or 50+ miles per week, I would be depleted on race day.

I have to be deliberate, I have to monitor my heart rate so I can track my effort and adjust as necessary, I have to respect the weather, and I have to take care of myself. I want this goal so badly and there's just no reason why I can't hit it (for the love of God, don't let it be hot on race day!).

I follow a lot of runners on Instagram (and check out a few popular ones) to see how they train. To be honest, so many of them make me CRINGE. Day in, day out they are running goal pace for every run, including long runs, and getting praised for being "so fast, so inspirational, so amazing." They complain about every run being "SO HARD." And then for many of them, they blow up on race day or (like me) their marathon times don't match up to their training. I know "slow" runs don't make you look as badass and that you want as many "likes" as you can get, but it's not worth it. If every run is done at race pace, and every run is hard, and there are no recovery miles in there, of course your body will blow up. Then I find the super fast runners who sometimes run their long runs at MY pace, yet hit super fast times in their marathons and I soak it all in. That's what I want. I want to be SMART about my training, I want to be done with my long runs and feel GREAT. I want to arrive at the start line in Pass Christian, Mississippi, and feel like I can fly because I threw down 50 mile running weeks exactly like I needed to to be successful.

That means that I'll see 10+ min pace on my watch and I can't bitch about it.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Progress

It's getting warmer out, folks. Summer in Texas is just around the corner. Oh, boy.

Tuesday morning interval workouts have been warm, but not unbearable. The humidity has been sky high (yesterday it was 98% at 5:30am), but I can't complain too much when the temp is hovering at 70 degrees instead of the usual summer 80 degree morning temp.

Can I just say the last two weeks' interval workouts have been FANTASTIC?! Neither have been easy...not at all in the least, no freaking way. But overall, I feel like I nailed the workouts and am seeing improvements.

Last week our workout was 6x5 minute intervals at mid-to-short progressive tempo pace with 1 minute recovery (oh that goes by so fast), with warm up and cool down of about 25 minutes total. With the exception of the uphill interval (I loathe that section of our trail), I ran each interval very strong and was faster than my goal pace. It got a bit warm but I never felt like my lungs were compromised during the intervals. My heartrate was getting pretty high, up to 169, and it didn't really go much below 150 during the short 1 minute recoveries, so it was an effort run for all 35 minutes of the intervals/rests.

This week we ran 3x9 minute intervals (progressive from long tempo to short tempo) with 3 minute recovery at easy pace, with about 25 minutes total of warm up and cool down. Again, I felt great during each interval and nailed my paces. Even the last interval didn't feel exceptionally difficult, and it was my fastest of the three.

Our coach Christine reminded us after the workout yesterday that if we are hitting our tempo/interval paces in these warmer, humid runs then we are definitely seeing fitness improvements. Normally we slow down a bit during the summer months, but I haven't slowed down yet. It's probably time for me to do another 5K time trial (although that's pretty painful during the summer).

I know this means that all the work I'm putting in with regards to my nutrition and consistency and effort is paying off. My head is telling me I can do it and my body is responding. Huge boost for my mental game, that's for sure. Knowing my body is stronger and my lungs are working better than usual tells me that no matter what crazy workout Christine gives us, I can do it. This also means she's probably getting wise to me and will make me run faster.

I'm going to need to add a fourth running day into my schedule soon. My marathon training technically starts mid-July and I want to build up more of a base. I'm only running about 20 miles per week right now and I need to increase that very soon. Before long I'll be running 45-50 miles per week and I need to be completely prepared for that nonsense!

I'm still the world's worst triathlete and haven't even given much thought to when I'll do another one, but I'm just having so much fun with this running thing and enjoying seeing my body transform into something I can truly be proud of.

Oh...and yes, I'm still doing an Ironman.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Gratitude

I often complain about the weather during the summer months here in Texas. It is pretty unbearable to train in, with high temps and high humidity pretty much every morning. Throw in asthma and it is a struggle to maintain decent fitness.

I need to work on my gratitude that I can even do what I do.

I have a friend who just got a double lung transplant after spending 103 days in the hospital because she had gotten too ill to leave without the transplant. She had interstitial lung disease, and to put it simply, she just could not breathe on her own anymore. The amount of oxygen it required to move at all was unbelievable and we were all very scared for her.

Thank God there was a selfless person out there who was a donor, and a family willing to honor that request. My friend got her lungs and life is full of optimism again.

She couldn't walk down the hallway without a massive amount of oxygen, and here I am complaining about the humidity while on a 2-hour training run. Perspective, right?

Since she received her lungs, my friend has been so positive about the little things in life. Her first time outside again, taking deep breaths without the aid of oxygen, hearing the silence around her instead of the constant hum of her oxygen tanks. Things you and I never had to worry about because we could live unencumbered without disease.

She would have given anything to just be able to run one mile. And soon, she will be able to do whatever she wants.

I want to be thankful for everything I'm able to do. It might hurt to do hill repeats in 93 degree weather (hello, last night's workout), but I can do it, week after week. I might have to slow down on my long runs because it's 97% humidity out at 6am, but I can still do it all summer long.



Every time I breathe in and my lungs have been taxed to capacity, I want to think of my friend and remember that I am so lucky to be healthy, even with the bouts of asthma I encounter. And I want her to be over the moon every time she breathes in with those wonderful, incredible, amazing new lungs.

Speaking of gratitude, have you made an effort to express your gratitude for the little (and sometimes big) things that your friends and family have done for you? There is so much negativity in our world, and people are so quick to complain about such insignificant things, that it's easy to forget the little things that make our lives better. I am really trying to make every effort I can to tell people thank you and to be positive and to be sure they know how much I appreciate them. I do hope it makes them smile and feel good about themselves. I know that when someone tells me thank you, I feel like I'm on top of the world.

Kindness goes a long way!




Monday, May 22, 2017

Tests+Trust+Time

So it's been a few days...

My mind is still blown that I would so drastically change my mind about Ironman. I'm still weirded out by it. I lost count how many times the words "NEVER" came out of my mouth....for years...and I meant it.

In my last blog post, I went into some detail about where I thought this change of mind came from. My reasoning seems to be becoming clearer, especially after our church sermon on Sunday.

The new sermon series is called "Oh the Places You'll Go" based on Dr. Seuss, and the topic of Pastor John's sermon this week was "Tests + Trust + Time = Friendship with God." To be completely honest with you, my faith has been tested dramatically in the last few years. I have dealt with so much adversity and have questioned the Christian faith so many times. I have struggled to understand my relationship with God. But I've stuck with it, I've prayed, and I have continued to have faith.

But it's not enough. My relationship with God needs a big fat tune-up. The message behind the sermon centers around three tests we go through in order to have a friendship with God (or to rediscover and strengthen our friendship).

Test #1: Comfort Test - Will I step outside of my comfort zone?
Test #2: Patience Test - Will I wait on God's timing?
Test #3: Allegiance Test - Will I let go?

As is true for so many of the sermons, this spoke right to me. It brought tears to my eyes. It was guiding me to my next journey.

Okay, so you're thinking, what in the world does Ironman have to do with God?

For those of us with faith, we know that we can't do anything without God. Physical endurance goals are one of those things. If I take on this enormous challenge, it will require that I seek God's guidance, strength, and unending love. I will have hours of time to speak with God.

Could this be how I find my friendship with God? As I analyze the three tests, I can see myself being guided to this huge endeavour. First of all, the Comfort Test is clearly in play. I will be so far outside my comfort zone, I won't even be able to see it in the distance. The Patience Test is requiring me to wait nearly two years to embark on this journey. I could so easily just sign up for the race next year, but I know in my heart it is not the right timing. I have to believe that this delay is exactly what is supposed to happen. The Allegiance Test will require me trusting in the process and turning to God to allow Him guide me, and to believe that I can do it.

I have no regret for changing my mind about this race. It still feels right to me. But I'm going to further explore the lessons I learned on Sunday. There are a few circumstances outside of racing that these tests apply to as well, and I'm also seeking understanding in those. So much to think about.




Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ridiculously Huge Goals

I have a new list of goals. There was something about the last six weeks that has made me see my world in a completely different light.

In the beginning of April, I was in a very dark place. Certain circumstances in my personal life that I really couldn't process beat me down. I retreated, cried everyday, reassessed, got stronger, and took a good hard look at where I was vs. where I wanted to be.

Then I watched the Boston Marathon Documentary...

And then I went to Ironman Texas...

And then it just all came together.

I'm ready to talk about it.

I confided in a couple people what I had been thinking about, and because these people are freaking awesome, they were excited for me and ready to support me in whatever final decision I made. (Side note: everyone needs people like this in their life)

I've already made it very well known that I want to qualify for Boston. But here's the thing...I'm pretty far from that ability, although it's definitely not out of the realm of possibility. I would love to run this race in 2019 and I have my first shot at qualifying at Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon. I don't want to sell myself short, but I also want to have realistic expectations. I need to run a 3:55, which is more in line with my half marathon pace. It's a stretch for me to improve to this ability by December 10...but it's still possible. 

However....we all know that merely qualifying is never enough to actually gain entry. In reality I need to shoot for a 3:52. That doesn't seem like a lot, but when you're already talking about a big drop in time, it seems like an overwhelming difference. I'm very pleased with the progress I've made in getting my body stronger and leaner so I can continue to get faster. I am going to continue to focus on all the things I can control...my nutrition, my sleep, my workouts, my mental strength. The improvement will happen as long as I keep my eye on all these factors. It just remains to be seen how much improvement it will entail.

If for some crazy reason I actually pull off this feat of crazy, I'll run Boston in 2019.

HOWEVER....and here's where my next goal comes in.

I have another idea for April of 2019. If Boston has to wait, I am most likely (I had to put in a little "maybe") going to sign up for a different kind of race.

I am going to do Ironman Texas.

2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run

An Ironman. You know, that thing I said I'd never do. Up until April 21, I absolutely positively was never going to do an Ironman. NEVER.

Something changed in the few days after volunteering at this year's race.

I honestly was totally shocked the thought even entered my mind. SHOCKED. I have never had any desire whatsoever to do this kind of race. A ridiculous entry fee, the travel costs, the training commitment....THE FREAKING TRAINING COMMITMENT OHMYGOD.

Yet, it suddenly made sense.

I was terrified of telling Greg how I felt, but after his initial "Oh F&*K" reaction, he was supportive. If I really wanted to do it, I could do it. I was so scared of telling him that I told him over text.

I've had a few weeks to process why I suddenly had this desire. Like I said, the last six weeks were bad. Things are still bad, but I think my mind is processing it all very differently. I had been feeling like a huge failure as a parent. My daughter is especially struggling and I feel like it's partly my fault, that if I had just been able to be a better parent to her she'd be so much healthier.

In the last few weeks, that mindset has started to change. I feel stronger. I feel like I really am doing everything I can for her, everything in my power to make her better, and that I'm a damn good mom.

Do you have any idea how empowering this feeling is?



I've taken stock of just how destructive my mind was being, how I wasn't giving myself the respect I deserved, and how I was letting all this bullshit eat away at my self-worth. I was letting external bullshit cloud my judgement and rob me of the positivity I desperately needed.

Screw that crap.

I'm damn worthy of this goal.

If it weren't for the incredible team I am a part of, this goal wouldn't be feasible. But I know that everyday I'm out there training, I will have phenomenal people pushing me to be better, making sure I know that I can do it.

So there you have it. Will wonders never cease?







Tuesday, May 16, 2017

26.2 reasons for running a marathon

I saw a post recently on Facebook about our 26.2 reasons for running a marathon, and I thought "heck yeah, I need to list those out!"

So here we go....

Steph's 26.2 Reasons for Running a Marathon

1. My mental health
2. My heart is happy
3. For the challenge
4. To experience the outdoors
5. And get some much needed Vitamin D
6. Explore a city in a unique way...including exploring new places in your own city
7. The Runner's High is addictive
8. To honor my sister
9. Remind myself of my strength
10. Be a good example for my kids
11. Maintain a healthy weight for life
12. To defy my age
13. Stress relief for those extra tough times
14. Something to focus on
15. Spend time with like-minded friends
16. An excuse to travel
17. Those leg muscles
18. Forces me to treat my body like a temple
19. To be surrounded by inspirational people
20. For a good cry when I finish
21. To earn that post-race cheeseburger
22. Keep people guessing on the level of my sanity
23. It's a celebration of LIFE
24. To bring awareness to a cause
25. Good excuse to nap regularly
26. Because I can...
26.2 ...12 times and counting...




Thursday, May 11, 2017

What's your legacy?

There's nothing like attending a funeral to put your life in perspective.

My husband and I attended our good friend's father's funeral Tuesday morning. It was a wonderful remembrance of his life, and brought about some emotional self-reflection, as funerals often do. 

The pastor challenged each of us to look at our own lives and to think about what we thought might be remembered about ourselves at our own funerals. I didn't view this in any morbid way, but actually a very real need to do some reflecting inward. It's never a bad thing to step back and look with more objectivity at our lives, and the contributions we are making to society.

Hopefully it will be many decades before my own passing, but then again tomorrow is never promised. We do not know when it will be our last day in our earthly bodies. We can only hope for a long and healthy life.

How do I want to be remembered?

Because I chose to raise a family, they are of utmost importance to me above all other things. The very first thing I want my children to feel when they think about me is that I loved them, unconditionally and without fail, that I loved them no matter what, with grace and forgiveness. If that is what stands out to them, then I have succeeded as a parent. No matter the mistakes they might make in life, I always want them to know I am there for them, arms open. I should be their refuge when they are struggling, their support system, their guide through troubled times. They are at very difficult ages, but I do hope they feel this way right now. I have so many bad parenting moments, particularly in very stressful times. I need to check myself when I feel overwhelmed.

I want people to feel that I've made a positive impact on their lives. The non-tangible things that make up a person's life are so much more important than anything material. Love, compassion, grace, humility, fairness...so much more important than the size of your home or the price of your car. I am a woman with pretty strong convictions, as anyone close to me knows, and that's important to me as well, but I also like to view things with fairness. I don't always get it right, and I'm working on that. I would hope that the first things people would think when remembering me are positive things.

As I'm writing this, I'm finding it's really hard to articulate my thoughts. This is a tough subject to reflect upon. It's making me feel a little like I've failed up to this point in my life, and that I need to work harder on my relationships, both within my family and outside. Being a genuinely good person is not exactly easy, and the "genuine" part is, frankly, especially difficult nowadays. There are a lot of negatives thrown at us daily, a lot of stress we need to wade through, and it's difficult to come out on top with a positive and joyful attitude. Our good attributes can be buried under this negativity and stress, and I often allow this to happen (well, it's not always within my control...my brain doesn't exactly work in a normal way all the time). But overall, I will continue to do my best, in any circumstance, to reflect positively upon people's lives.

If today were my last day, I'm hopeful I've done enough for the legacy I wish to achieve.

How about you?