The Gift Of Running

running giftRunning. Let’s talk running. I like it a tiny little bit haha

I shared with you awhile back I had picked up an injury that was really putting the breaks on my running. It seems like pushing it to a certain point just stirred it back up again. I’m starting to feel like it will never go away and get better. This isn’t a whining post, but more a reflective one.

As the photo states … running is a gift.

I had always thought that but never more than being sidelined and having to watch running from afar. This is the first season in the past few years I’ve been running I’m not doing a half or full marathon.

It feels weird not training. I love training for an event. I love the structure and planning of it. Probably more I love the discipline it requires to train well. Yes, I am dedicated to my daily workouts, but it’s a whole different animal to me when I’m training for something specific.

I haven’t always been a runner. I didn’t start easing into it until about the end of 2010- first part of 2011. And when I say “running” it was short running mixed in with more walking… but I started… and it moved on to full fledged running.

And one thing I love about running is there is never a limit on new goals to tackle and accomplish. You can always run a little faster, go a little longer, set your sights on bigger races. There is always the challenge to beat your own personal best and the huge satisfaction you get in doing that.

Running has taught me so much.

Perseverance. Dedication. Sacrifice. Big goal setting. Overcoming obstacles and challenges. Not being content to stay in one place without wanting more. It’s built a mental toughness in me that should scare you.

Running put a confidence in me that I really could tackle anything in life.

Along the way, I guess I just started identifying with it.

I’m a runner.

Of course for years, I was in the same non-runner shoes many of you are and many of my friends are. The concept of running unless my life was in danger seemed completely foreign and crazy to me. I laughed about running and admired runners in that way of awe and craziness.

Then I became one.

And I see those words “running is a gift” and I never realized it more than now…. now that I can’t. Now that I have to watch from a distance. Sometimes I’m left wondering if I’ll ever be back out running the miles I was running only earlier this year.

When I hear people joke about not running and know they have the physical ability to do so… I think… you don’t know what you’re missing.  You have the ability… it’s a gift…..

Yeah, running is hard work… not gonna lie about it. But it’s the most rewarding kind of hard work I’ve ever done. And because it is hard people don’t want to step into that uncomfortable zone. It takes time and effort to build strength to make running …look…. effortless.

I went out this morning wanting to be on the road.

Wanting to feel the familiar things I’m used to… my running shoes under me.. the feel of the road under my feet ( and not my tires as it has been so much lately) embrace how my legs feel in that form of activity from cycling and have the familiar feel of sweat building up on me in a way that it doesn’t when I’m on the bike.

I vowed to walk briskly and only do small segments of “running” .  After all, I started out as a walker, I figure I can push myself with brisk walking ( and a 12 min per mile pace, I think, is fairly brisk) I also set a short distance, a little over 3 miles and no more. I had no agenda and kept reminding myself that for now ( or a long time) easy, easy, easy is the plan.

I didn’t need to run the whole time, but for the love of all things running, I needed to feel my body go through those motions again. I was  a good girl and kept my running segments very short. I have to. Oh how good it felt to be in that zone.

Yet, how quickly your running fitness can drop when you aren’t actively working it! I want to be back at that level of fitness I had earlier this year training for my 50K.

When 20 mile runs were starting to feel “normal” and I felt tired but exhilarated after finishing them. When mid-week longish runs were 10 miles that I crept out at dark thirty to get done before the kids were off to school. When my body had that lean, chiseled look from burning more calories in a day than I was taking in.  I’ve never been at a more strong physical peak in my entire life than when I’m in the heavy part of training for long races.

And  I love it all. I miss it like crazy.

I will get back to where I want to be.

I still have marathons to conquer, I want another shot at a 50k, I want to see if I can ever, ever get my half marathon sub 2:00. I want to get my personal best on a 5k down from 27 minutes to 25 or less.  I want to do a duathlon and that requires running and cycling.

Gosh, I want a lot, don’t I ?

I’m determined and stubborn… it will happen…. and when I’m well and back at it again full speed… I’ve already reminded myself I will never, ever, forget this truth…..

Running is a gift.

I’m An Ultra Girl!

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My one token picture taken after I finished my run =) I’m still standing…..
Hey boys and girls…
Have ya missed me ? I’ve had a busy weekend…. and as you know… my Saturday was kinda hogged by my 50K run. Half the day running, the rest of it, dragging my carcass home, getting cleaned up ( I never thought the act of showering and washing my hair was an athletic event, but it felt like it)  and allowing my body some much need rest time. Oh yeah, and a lil food to replace the 4,037 calories my Nike+ watch told me I burned off.
You gotta drop 3500 calories to lose a pound of fat…. so… that’s interesting….did I accomplish that too ? Multi-tasking in a new way 😉
I was….so….very…. tired.

Wow… it’s not …usual…. for me to run a half marathon, a full, and an ultra distance all in one morning 😉

Holy mackerel Batman…… I’m now an Ultra Girl!

(So you know, if you don’t, anything over the full marathon distance of 26.2 miles is considered “ultra”) a 50K is 31.7 miles although by the time I got to my “finish” I was close to 32.

Yes, the weather was amazing, but that wind was a blessing and curse. I seemed to always be running into it, which dries out my head in the worst way, not to mention, it’s so hard to run into the wind! I am now however, sporting a really good start on my tan 🙂

The best way (for me) to tackle this distance, or any really long run, is not to focus on the miles in front of me, just take them one at a time, otherwise, I might run kicking and screaming the other way……..

All was well and good, miles were going by, overall feeling good. I had left the parking lot at Starbucks ( my turn around point to start going….back… the way I had just run) and a mile down was the big hill I had just run down.

My legs were begging for mercy. I was almost at full marathon distance at this point. By the time I crawled to the top my “support team” came zipping up.

I will be honest…. I wanted to get in. I begged hubby to tell me to keep going. I was hot. My quads were threatening to leave my body after the hill not to mention almost 26 miles on them.

I cried a little on the side of the car. 

 Those voices were talking. Those horrible, damn voices.
I know them. They’ve showed up when I’ve run both marathons about mile 21-23. Those voices talk to you and try and convince you that you can’t do it, maybe you should quit, give up, take the easy way out. You must use every bit of mental muscle to stomp them down….sometimes you have to stomp hard.

I had already given myself the pep talk that I was counting down single digits to finish. I wasn’t gonna quit. I don’t quit.

Besides… he locked the doors on me 😉

The other crazy thing? In both marathons, and today, I started craving a Coke in the….worst… kind of way. Crazy ’cause I never was a big soda drinker, and haven’t even had one in… I don’t know how long. That simple sugar your body runs on… when you’re in the midst of long distance running… you aren’t focused on being all healthy… you just need energy. During the marathon I have to let the feeling pass and when I’m done I don’t want it anymore. Today though… I sent my support team off to get one….

talk about a shot in the arm … it was…helpful 😉

Anyway, I was having to double back on my run route to get all my miles in and decided to run a side road which was a mile back and forth and off the main busy road. I knew I had a little over a mile back once I got on main road again.

I won’t lie… those last miles were brutal…. hard and brutal. Seriously, I was praying for strength to finish what I started. Those legs….. were seriously protesting further movement… I know I took them to a whole new level of exertion…

Oh, and this side road I was on, in the beginning, hills, and then running back down… the quads were crying…legs were starting to feel fully trashed.

Finally… my watch hit 30 miles… which seemed surreal ’cause I’ve never seen that before… I would’ve done a happy dance if I could’ve moved my legs better…. it was finally time to head to my finish line..my mind was pushing my body at this point….

Although, it wasn’t the “race” I had originally planned out and there weren’t the crowds, and spectators with signs, or a time chip on me, my body didn’t know that… it still ran/crawled haha almost 32 miles…

My 50K in the books. A huge personal goal for this year. My official virtual race form has been submitted to the race committee and in a few weeks I’ll get my ultra medal and t shirt =)

Will I do another next year ? I’m not sure. It’s hard to not always want to take things to the next level, know you could do it a little better.

The challenge of running…..

I will tell you… I got home…and crawled onto my bed in the fetal position, not sure if I had the energy to get in the shower.

I’ve never….been so tired….ever.

My son came in and offered to carry me to the shower… nice try kid… I’m a package to pack… 😉  I assured him I could crawl in on my own when he grabbed me and said…

“Why are you so white and gritty feeling??”

Salt. Dried salt all over me. Crazy. A human salt block.

So I’ve had some rest time, been good friends with my foam roller, made dinner ( actually movement really is good for recovery, you have to push back against the desire to do…absolutely…..  nothing  the rest of day :-P) and managed to get cleaned up without calling 911 to rescue me haha

I slept well…. can you imagine ? I think you could’ve moved the house from under me….

And now… I’m plotting and planning what’s next….but first… the body definitely gets a little down time to recover…. the hardest part for me. I read an article suggesting you take one day off for each mile of your race you ran.

Yikes… I don’t know about that….
Overall, a pretty productive running month with two half marathons and now this 50K under me. I know some down time is essential, but mentally, I will admit to struggling with it.
What about you? Do you like having time off ?  When you do a big run, is the recovery time easy ? or frustrating for you? What are some things you do to help the process along ?  Share with me.

Saturday, 50K Day!

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So this was my official kick off and count down to my 50K… it’s still going down in March… just not the 1st 😉

Why yes, yes I did recover from my owl eyed syndrome, thanks to those of you who asked me… ( I had my eyes dilated yesterday which always makes me feel owlish ) so if my typing tonight is crappy I have nothing to blame it on 😉

So I was cooking along on this cool new topic for you and realized…. Nooooo….. I gotta shelf this for a few days to do a quick post on this exciting  topic….

My virtual 50K is on Saturday!!

If you’ve followed me you will remember my scheduled “real” race on March 1 got cancelled ’cause parts of Texas wanted to go all North Pole looking…..

Anyway, the race event committee gave registered runners the option to do a virtual run, submit a witness form, and get your finishing goodies. I was down for that.

Let me say this… virtual run or not….. my body will still be running 31.7 miles!  Saturday in Texas land promises a low temp of 49 with highs reaching low 80’s….. yeah…. it’s gonna be a super warm run.

So tomorrow evening I’ll be zipping all along the route I’m running and will be tossing water and sports drink bottles into the bushes ( my own aid stations haha)

My plan is to be on road 530ish to get things rolling…

My mileage has really been cut down to not much in the past few weeks but maybe that isn’t a bad thing…. I’ve trained up to 28 miles before my scheduled race I just need to kick back and take it mile by mile.

I have no one I need to impress. I have no agenda other than to accomplish this distance and know I did it.

Oh yeah, and so I can officially add my new 50K sticker to my Expedition that I’ve been holding on to 😉

The only negative ? No medal at my “finish line” I’ll have to wait for that to show up in my mail….

Make sure you check back for my follow up on my first ever ultra run  =)

50K’s, Color Runs and Mud

OK… this is my disclaimer to this post… it’s meant to be a fun thought process/commentary and not meant to offend anyone who enjoys the following events… ( you should be hearing this in like a…. Morgan Freeman voice 😉

I’m semi-squinting at the screen ’cause I had my eyes dilated today and it totally makes me feel awesome  jacks with my head the rest of the day/evening. I look like an owl for the next 24 hours….I’ll do my best to keep typos and such to a minimum 😉

I came into running all the wrong way.

I wasn’t a school track athlete. I wasn’t a trendy 20 something wanting to be cool and do the “jogging” thing in the 80’s.

The idea of running for the sole purpose of… running….. was a completely foreign concept to me.

But then as I’ve shared with you in other posts, it just kinda evolved, and then, one day…

I’m a runner.

I was a runner who was popping off 6-7 mile runs as the normal routine. I mean, isn’t that what you did ? I was happy in my new little running world oblivious of things like intervals, and tempo runs and hill repeats or being happy with negative splits (what was that ??)

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Hills anyone ?

THEN….. one day… a well meaning friend said…..

“You should run the Rock n Roll half marathon in November”

I laughed. I told her other people did it, not me.

And when I stopped laughing she said, “well, you’re already running over half the distance.”

That was June and by July I had committed and was officially registered for my first half marathon.

I trained myself and took it on in November. I couldn’t believe I actually ran 13.1 miles.

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Tired and scraggly after my very first half marathon in 2011. And I gave up running in these types of shorts a long time ago….

I’ve learned a lot since then. I follow a structured training plan now (thank you Hal Higdon) I’ve learned lots of running terms, become particular about what I like to run in, and learned how my body responds to various things.

I also learned this: most people start with a 5K as a first race…. not a half marathon… haha

Like I said….. I came into this running thing kicking and screaming    in not the most conventional way.

All this to say, I’ve taken what I do pretty seriously since I started. I’m intense and every run matters to me. I am horribly competitive with myself…. and hard on myself to.

When I sign up for a race, I’m serious about it. Yeah, I get the world won’t stop spinning based on my performance, I’m still kind of intense about it.

That competitive thang…..

Which brings me to these other “runs” that are cropping up faster than weeds in the spring time.

Color Runs, Foam, Neon, Music, Inflatables,  Zombies, Mud, Obstacles……

I’ve been invited to participate in them all. I haven’t….yet….

Why?

Can I breathe this out loud ?

I guess, that serious, competitive part of me is focused on running and so many of these seem like a big party.

Nothing wrong with that. People running happy in costumes, snapping selfies, no worries about PR’s or negative splits. Running is in addition to other stuff going on.

This is what I decided one day. I fall into the “serious” runner category…. not the play category.

I mean someday I’d like to do a Tough Mudder or Spartan runs… that let’s  your total athletic self  get used…. but then I think… what if I injured myself in mud…or on a barb wire fence 😉 it would mess me up running.

See? Serious runner.

As a runner, I’ve tackled multiple half marathons, two fulls, and a 50K run this Saturday.  To me, personally, these aren’t fun and game distances.

When I mention this to my fun running friends they get this deer in the headlights look on their face and laughingly tell me……. I’m crazy.

Maybe I am…. I kinda prefer the word…serious though 😉 although, crazy IS  a pretty cool compliment to a runner…..

What do you think? If you’re a runner do you consider yourself “serious” ?  or do you just like to go do something fun and playful? Do you see a difference ?

Have you ever done a fun run ?

You Run What ??

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My view looking up the hill I was about to run….

Hills.

Is there anything that can make you cry like a baby tougher, stronger, and more of a beastly runner than running hills ?

I know a lot of runners shy away from them, hate them, or grudgingly do them. In the few years I’ve been running I’ve actually come to love hills.

In a practical way, they are speed work in disguise, but they also build strength and power in our legs like nothing else can.

In a  “I feel pretty freaking proud of myself”  kinda way I love that I can power up hills.. not walk or crawl… but let those powerful muscles I’ve built do that work. It’s especially nice in races to nail those suckers 😉

One of my neighbors once told me, “I see you running those hills and I don’t even think I could walk up them!” well at one point I couldn’t powerhouse up them either.

Training. Training gets a lot done.

When I tell people or post that my workout was hill repeats, they have this idea of a gentle sloping hill dancing in their heads.

Mine are literally mountains that have been paved over.  I don’t kid you.

The picture in this post is one that I run. It’s ironically called… Little Hill…. someone’s warped sense of humor?? It’s crazy steep, but running to the top, and down the spine of it into a cul de sac and back over again gives me an even half mile. So I often go to this place and do like… 4 miles… of repeats.

Can you say… butt kicking ?

Yesterday’s workout was hill repeats. I’m pretty much not pushing myself hard since I have a half marathon coming up in a couple weeks and then my 50K on the 28th.

If you read my other 50K posts, you know unfortunately, the race cancelled due to weather issues. I determined I was just going to run my own personal 50K.

Dang it I didn’t train so hard to not make it happen. I’m so stubborn and hard headed… the idea of coming so close… wasn’t something that set well with me …at. all.

Anyway, that being said, the race committee sent an email letting runners know that they could do a virtual race for what they signed up for and still get their runner goodies =) How nice.

So, March 28 it’s going down. Stick around and stay tuned for how all that plays out.

And as mentioned, I’m going to be running these next couple weeks but my training is done for all intents and purposes. It’s been carved out for months now. Long runs in the wee hours of the morning. Cold miles. Wet, cold miles. Hot, humid, sweat filled runs that left me drained. Strength training. Short runs. Slow. Fast.

I finally totaled my training miles…. roughly 995 from August till March 1! I feel like a machine.

After I wrap this month, it will be time to reduce the miles and give the body some rest time. I don’t mean doing nothing. Just less mileage in my week, then adding some biking and more strength training. My goal is to keep my long run base at 15 miles.

I’ve toyed with the idea of maybe doing a duathlon later this year. So definitely some brick training days too. And of course, I’ll have my sights set on a marathon at the end of the year =)

What goals do you have set for yourself in this upcoming year ?

Share with me.

50K Road Adventure Continued……

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My first ever ultra bib…. and my first time to have my name on it!

20150228_14023920150228_14515820150228_144823-120150228_141130Hey boys and girls!  It’s been a busy couple days and I’ve missed writing and talking to you… time to make up for it 😉

Warning… this is kinda like a mini novel…..

As you learned in my last post, I was road tripping it to Ft. Worth Tx. for the Cowtown Marathon/Ultra Marathon race. I was super excited to be heading into the event that would be really, the culmination, of my months of training and essentially kicking my own ass… (oops, can I say that??) Not just that, months of making sacrifices, pushing myself in new ways, training in all kinds of weather, taking on more and more mileage, managing my nutrition as well as mentally training myself for the task before me.  I’ve learned so many things about myself preparing for this endurance run.

I’ve learned I have great strength, determination, a strong will, an unwillingness to “settle” without asking as much of myself as I can, that my mind is a huge factor in my success, and that I really can, always, do a little more.

I headed off on my road trip as prepared as I could be………

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Excitement and eagerness at a high octane level…..also helped along with some caffeine……

I had scaled my mileage back to taper and really focused on eating good carbs days out. I hydrated constantly ( well, that I always do) I increased my sodium intake ’cause I sweat out a ton when I run, I was getting to bed earlier… basically doing everything I could physically to ensure I went to the line as prepared as possible.

It was almost show time.

Saturday it was off to Ft Worth….  as we got closer…. the weather started looking different….. there was ice on roads and bridges….. and snow blanketing roof tops and filling fields. I had received e-mails Friday saying that they had cancelled Saturdays races, but Sunday’s half, full, and ultra were still on.

Ok, no worries, I had googled the weather for Sunday and it promised chilly with some precipitation but nothing horrible.

I am… always … the eternal optimist.

But then Saturday going to expo to get my runners pack and number ( see my first ever ultra bib …with my name.. how rocking is that ??)

I see this…. which is basically the area the race starts in……

20150228_145951do you see those streets? Ok… still upbeat…  hoping that stuff would go away ….magically…. overnight….

I kept checking my e-mail for updates like a school girl waiting for a message from her boyfriend. About 5:30 an update came through.

It was simply stated: The Cowtown Marathon and Ultra Marathon…are cancelled.

It took my breath away. My chest felt tight. My stomach felt like I had been punched. I tried to choke tears back….pointless…I was trying not to cry like a baby…..

Even typing this now brings tears to my eyes.

I wish I could fully describe all of what I was feeling.

Frustration. Major disappointment. Agony realizing…. all… of my work for these past few months… to this one… single… moment…. gone. The culmination of my efforts… to not take place.

Don’t get me wrong… I understood why. I had seen many of the streets…. can you say….slushies ?? This was one of the areas the race was scheduled to go through….

20150228_170122see those streets?

But still….. I wouldn’t be running the biggest event of my life the next day. I felt crushed. They were running the half and offered it to the full/ultra runners to participate.

I hadn’t gone all that way NOT to run.

But I’ll tell you , the next morning, waiting in the corral with temps lurking above freezing, my ultra bib on amid mostly half marathoners and some marathoners, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I tried not to think how different this day was playing out from what I had imagined. Or the comment from another runner… “oh, this will just feel like a warm up race to you” ( I didn’t want to tell him that was pretty true)

I was going to run but definitely going easy because even though I had trained in cold and pouring rain and heat, this day was literally my first time dealing with slush and ice. They had done a good job of mostly clearing the course but there were still lots of areas to exercise caution.

I will honestly say there were moments of emotion in that race I had to just work out.

Coming around the corner to the finish line….. another moment I had imagined so differently. I did shed a couple tears crossing that line… I just couldn’t help it.

But I did it. I ran the race. I did my best.  I didn’t back out or quit because it wasn’t what I had planned to do. On the bonus side… I got the coolest medal I have to date.

20150301_14484220150301_112614-220150301_125045 You can see my pics….. one is obviously post-race cold and sloppy look…. and my “hey I clean up ok!” look. Being all comfy in my fav RBX gear.

Sooo there you go….. my 50K…… crunched….. I will freely admit I’ve struggled with frustration … and tears have even cropped up writing this.

I don’t know what my next steps are yet. I already had a half marathon I was aiming for at end of month. 50’s are a bit harder to find.

I will do it though. I’m strong. I’m a fighter. And I don’t flippin’ quit.

I will do it even if it means I take off on my own and do my own personal 50k… I will do it.

Oh and before I go… I gotta give kudos to this amazing guy in my life who supports my craziness…cheers me on…and loves me when I’m sweaty and stinky 😛

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and thank you reader for sticking with me this far.

Come back and check in and see what life lessons I’ve pulled out of this situation…. because I know there are lessons to be learned…. it’s how we grow….

Running, eating, and other crazy things going down

Hey Boys and Girls =)

Ok, so I’m kinda new here in blog world…..

No, actually, I’m VERY new in blog world…. but it’s exciting and fun and I’m finding it a wonderful way to let stuff…. outta my head…….. which contributes to my overall sanity…. which in turn benefits those I come in contact with on a daily basis 😉

So what am I overall about ?

I consider myself…. primarily…. a runner.

And often find myself pondering……

“How in the heck did that happen”?????

But happen it did, and I love it. I will talk about it a little  tons here in blog land.

But there’s a lot more to me as well. I love doing other active things like weights, some biking, and boxing. I think it’s really made me a stronger runner doing all that cross training.

Not only that, it’s given me arms the boys get jealous of 😉

Needless to say on my journey I’ve also learned more about nutrition and eating better…. ’cause how the heck can I run for a stupid number of miles if my poor body isn’t getting good fuel ? I still totally dig Peanut M&M’s… it’s just a few usually do the trick to satisfy me.

And along the way I’ve learned the best way to lose weight and keep it off successfully is not to go all crazy and do stupid stuff you hate and want to quit like… in 24 hours…. but to make small daily changes… every single day… and I found if you do that…. in time… things happen! And because you’ve not done anything crazy but have been doing things that make it sustainable to you… you have success…. that will last!

My formula…. eat good the majority of the time… find a physical activity you want to do .. and then…. own that sucker….. do it most days of the week. Find another activity to toss in to keep from possible boredom AND to make sure all your muscles are getting worked out.

Seven years later…. 55lbs gone.. a ton of inches…. 5 pant sizes smaller….

Shhh.. I think it might be working…….

So yeah, I will be talking about everything from nutrition and goodies, to practical ways to lose weight, be healthy, and do it in a way you want to keep plugging along in day after day, oh, and then there will just be randomness thrown in ’cause that’s just how I roll at times.

But then… there’s this…. running thing.

As in my upcoming adventure this weekend.

I’m taking on my first ever….. 50K….. because 26.2 miles just weren’t enough to run 😉

My plan is to blog and post all about my adventures from Ft Worth and the whole Cowtown experience… writing and photo stuff… ’cause I really dig doing pics with things… and it’s more fun for you than just staring at all my words…….

Soooo I hope you’ll be back and hang with me… and live vicariously through my antics on the road…

Keep it real out there.. see you soon!20141001_212847-1