Category Archives: 6 Month Running Challenge

13.1…my way.

Today, I ran ‘my own’ half marathon.

Almost exactly two years to the day since my first half marathon (that was, in my mind, botched).

Just over a year since my second half marathon (that proved that I am *not* a racer).

I finally proved to myself that I can run 13.1…my own way, in a time that I knew I could (yet never quite achieved in aforementioned half marathon race environments!).

It was my do-over that I have had in the back of my mind ever since that botched second attempt at a half marathon.

And I did it with no fanfare, no stated goal, nothing. (just a few quiet sherpas pushing me along – thank you ladies, you are truly, truly the best. Especially that 5:30 am text message from this one, who I love so!)

Because that’s how I roll.

Some say a goal isn’t ‘real’ until you write it down.

I call bullshit on that and say a goal is a goal no matter if it’s on paper or not.

So, I give you…13.1…my way. 

***

Up we woke, at 5:30, pitch black, but thankfully, relatively warm (57 degrees), clear skies, no rain (windswept rain in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow, egad!).

Out the door by 6 am, and it was still dark, and honestly, that first mile in almost darkness felt so bad ass, I loved it! (though I was straining my eyes to find bunnies, since I knew it would be prime time for them!)

I probably went out a little too fast, feeling all bad ass and stuff (LOL), and after the second or third mile, I started to go into mental brain mode, but a spate of 6 bunny sightings perked me up.

I started to break the run up in my head into pieces, and just think of the next ‘spot’ along the route I’d created that I would be happy at, while chanting ‘let the run come to you’ (also a la this girl!) and ‘run the mile you’re in’ over and over in my head.

Somewhere around mile 7 or 8, I started hitting a wall. Too early, in my book, and I started to wonder if last week’s 12 mile redemption run would be my best run of this ‘secret’ training and this one would soon turn shittastic.

Well, it didn’t hit the shittastic zone, but there were a few miles in there that I was thisclose to a bit of a hissy fit. My legs felt so.tired. And I stupidly (in hindsight) wore my new replacement Brooks Ghost 4s (thinking – same shoe – shouldn’t matter that I haven’t worn them yet) and was feeling blisters forming. On. Both. Ankles.

A different fueling strategy (one Honey Stinger around the one hour mark, a Healthy Bite a la this girl around the 8 or 8.5 mile mark, and one more Honey Stinger around mile 11, with water, of course) seemed to helped, but I just kept burning out fast.

Saving grace was a bit of a walk ‘stop’ as M got two pages (did I mention he was on call last night and this morning? trooper, my sherpa, isn’t he?) and I tried to talk myself down. I was again, thisclose to hissy fit status and almost wanted to cut out the little loop add-on I added to get us to 13.1 (reasoning that 12.8 was ‘close enough’ even though I knew I’d be pissed at myself after). What did M say to that?

“We are running 13.1 miles today. If we don’t do that loop, I’d call that a fail, wouldn’t you?” <-man, does he know how to turn my mental wacked brain back on to myself, doesn’t he?!

After that tough love talk, we powered through the last of our run, two bloody heels and all, and did it. Stopped, held hands, caught our breathe and realized we did it….

In 2:18. 

My ‘secret’ goal? Anything under 2:30 and I would have been thrilled.

2:18? 

Frigin awesome.

Today, we ran a half marathon. 13.1 miles. My (our) way.

And I couldn’t (again) be more proud.

Perfect 10.

Today, M and I ran 10 miles. 

I hit my ‘secret miles’ goal of 10 miles today and didn’t tell a soul (well, except M…and maybe my sis, hehe. but that’s a given!).

It’s a complete switch for me. To set a goal for myself and well, keep it to myself, primarily, until I accomplish it (I *may* have mentioned it in this post, but sort of snuck that in there, didn’t I?). And I did it this way because I wanted to do it quietly, no self-inflicted pressure, nothing. Do it, then share it.

I think about this time last summer, I was beating myself up after a craptastic half marathon performance (my second – and likely – last ever) and floundering with my run-goals. Where to go from here, what to focus on, what do I want my ‘run personality’ to be? I was in heavy comparison mode. Total compare-itis.

Fast forward to now? To running happy miles. To running to run. To enjoying every run, and run sherpa’ing my sister and anyone else that jumps in to this wonderful group of women we’ve cultivated (Dorry, Lindsay, Heather, Spabettie, Amber, Melissa, Meaghan, and of course, Jess!).

And most of all?

To supporting Jess and Scott in their marathon 100%. And then some. When she told me she was running a marathon, my first reaction was “I wish I wanted that. I wish we could share it together” (and in the back of my mind…fears that my old comparision-itis fears would come back to haunt me and I’d be jealous, to be quite honest). But you know what? We ARE sharing it. Just in a different way. And I honestly think that ‘quiet support’ I’ve found, combined with really focusing on happy, smart runs, has made all the difference.

The lightbulb has flicked and I am running happily and most importantly, running well, almost every time. Sure there are still mental runs (running is naturally just mental, let’s face it!), sure some are better than others, but I run because I love it and love what it does for me, not because of any other outside factor (cue run-mesia!).

This morning’s run was a perfect 10. Perfect 10 day (low humidity, cool morning in the upper 50s (!), rested legs). Perfect 10 miles. Perfect 10 time spent with M. Who sang to me, hopped like a gazelle over trash or sticks (man, I hate when he looks so damn oblivious to the fact that we are running and running wicked far – heehee), and kept me going the entire time.

When we walked outside to get started, still slightly dark, a little baby bunny went scampering right in front of us into the bushes. I squeaked and whispered ‘hi bunny, hi bun bunnnn, so cuuuuute’ and M proceeded to shake his head and call me crazy, saying ‘even the bunny is a little uncomfortable at how happy you are to see him’ <LOL! But then said ‘that bunny is a sign that this is going to be a good run.”

And good run it was. Perfect 10, in fact. 

On run sherpa’ing.

Today, I ran 9 miles with M.

9.

Suddenly, my mileage has crept up without even so much as planning, just quietly adding on to our usual route the past few weeks, one more mile each week.

And why? 

Because I quietly want to support my sister Jess and brother in law Scott, on their quest for 26.2.

So I anointed myself ‘virtual sherpa’ duties. To run ‘out of my comfort zone’ every Tuesday morning as they set out for their long runs, runs that each week set them out of their comfort zones into continued PDR territory. 16, 18 and today, 20 miles strong.

I’ve gotten up, laced up my sneakers and simply ran, these past few weeks, in particular, strong(er), happy, and sending as many vibes, strength and faith their way as they conquered more miles.

And unintentionally and unexpectedly, I’ve found myself embracing longer distances. Slowly ticking away. Gaining confidence. And wondering. How many more can I tack on? M and I ran quietly much of the time today, calling out bunnies (fewer and farther in between lately, sad face. But I told Jess I sent them her way this morning, as they saw NINE bunnies on their run. See? Even the bunnies are sherpa’ing!), and having my own personal jukebox as M sang out random tunes that were stuck in his head.

I ran proud. For my sister. For my brother in law. For M. And last but not least, for me

Quietly sherpa’ing. Quietly supporting. And being the proudest sister I think I have ever been. The spotlight’s on her, and I love it. I love every minute of it. No comparison games, no ‘wishing it was me,’ just support. And that feels incredibly rewarding in itself.

On any given run (with M).

On any given run (with M) inspired by one of my best runs in quite a long time (fitting given yesterday’s post, huh?). One of those could-run-forever runs. One of those, wow-my-legs-feel-awesome runs. One of those BUNNY SIGHTING runs! (given we live in ‘squirrel-ville <–M’s technical term for it – this was a rare, beautiful, fluffy, wanna-pat-it sighting!)

On any given run (with M)…

…he’ll probably hop like a gazelle over a branch or a curb and I’ll give him the ‘show-off’ evil-eye-glare (when really, I love that he runs so happy. I need to take a page from his book!)

…he’ll stop if I need to catch my breathe, but he’ll keep me going and push me when I want him to (and sometimes, even when I don’t).

…he may blame a fart on a duck quack (note: we don’t live near any ducks…#justsayin).

…he’ll sing songs, or make up a song, like ‘running with a backpack on….oooh oooh, running with a backpack on…’ <-backpack is code for ‘gotta go to the bathroom ifyaknowwhatimean (TMI alert!)

…he’ll make me laugh when I might struggle, recite the pledge of allegiance (complete with hand over heart), or just about anything to make me laugh and focus less.

…he’ll slow down to my pace when he starts creeping past me too far (even if I have to remind him sometimes)…and sometimes, I’ll attempt to race HIM at the end of our run (he loves that. Not.)

…he’ll ‘people watch’ and start looking to the left or the right at a house or a yard or whatever it may be and get so distracted that he almost twists his ankle. True story. Happens far too frequently, and he’s definitely rolled his ankle before this way! (I swear, he’s an 8 year-old boy at heart sometimes! So curious!)

…he’ll point out the houses he wants to buy, and we’ll daydream about our yard, and our porch, and having a drink on the patio (mind you, these houses are million dollar+ homes…as if *that’s* affordable…but that’s what daydreaming is for, right?!)

…he’ll run next to me and slide his hand over my butt and pretend he’s not copping a feel, just ‘pushing me along’ (smooth move, Paco).

…he’ll always run with me. Even if he was planning to go to the gym. My ever-loyal running partner that he is.

And no matter what? He runs happy. He runs with me. He runs for me more often than not (before we met, he wasn’t a runner, more of a walk/runner). He’s bloomed into a strong, speedy, happy runner before my eyes and I truly think he’s a natural. And I’m lucky enough to have him as my running partner, and my partner in life. What could be better than that? 

Happy weekend friends, make it a good one. Cheers!

My 6-month run challenge: a retrospective.

So, my 6-month run challenge came (quietly) to an end last week and I have been racking my brains on how I wanted to recap my journey. As I look through post after post of the last 6 months of running, I see a few common themes:  consistency, run-volutions and…as much as I hate to admit it, the frustrating head case that I *still* am from time to time whenever I run.

I do, however, think the biggest progress for me in this journey has been this: being at peace with running happy miles and not *for* mileage. Yeah, there are days that I wish I had the endurance and distance in me that I once did. Sure, my mind meanders to ‘what-if’ I try again (to work towards another half marathon). But at the end of the day, I really really still have a big issue with running a mental run. Even though I have improved substantially in not panicking, steadying my breathing and focusing on…less focus when I run, it still happens. It still rises up in me in certain instances (heat, and conversely, cold!), up hills, on longer runs, etc. And until I really beat that, I honestly think that running another half marathon will end up in the same result – frustrating, panicked and running a race I am not proud of.  Not that a half marathon is even my goal or end-all-be-all. Because it’s not. We all know racing is not for me. But it still is something I want to do. There, I said it. It is. I won’t deny it. But it’s not the main goal. The main goal remains…not to run a mental run.

So while I still have a problem with the mental (run) game, this challenge has done WONDERS for me, because I have finally gotten to a point where I embraced the dreadmill (in the winter), AND intervals (and rocked them several times), AND running outside IN the winter, AND sustaining some good mileage (5-7 mile range in the winter whereas previously, it would have been 3-4 – max). I am also finally at a point where I trust running to be my main cardio source (with a dash of spinning sometimes to mix it up), because not only do I truly LOVE it, it is ultimately the best workout for me and magic bullet with barre n9ne. 

This challenge…is not over. I am still a work in progress. But I am okay with that, because a physical challenge should always be just that: a challenge. It should never get ‘easy’ and it should also push me out of my comfort zone. Thus why I love to run. And thus why I *will* rock the mental game too.

Thank you for all of your support, friends, I have loved sharing this journey with you all, even if you aren’t a runner, because I truly think some of the messages and learnings here are universal. Now I think I will pick myself up and dust myself off and go for a kick ass run tomorrow, with M by my side. Pushing myself just a little bit farther.