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.

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Running, Or Lack Thereof

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Focused and intense during a half marathon March 22,2015.

Hello boys and girls,

I’ve missed you!  It’s been a bat crazy past week of life stuff going down… nod your head “yes” that you totally get life stuff..

kid birthdays back to back and trying to juggle in celebrating everyone, my anniversary ( say go me for rockin’ it with an amazing and awesome dude for 31 years… yeah I was a child bride 😉 then I’ve been cleaning out years of… stuff…. ( I have another word for it but I’ll keep it nice here 😉 at my parents house.

My mom passed away last year and it’s something I haven’t rushed but my dad’s health is declining so the idea is to make things as minimal as possible for him.. anyway… another blog topic for another time….

Oh, yeah, and my blog.  I love talking to all of you, and I totally miss when I’m not here with you.

But, here’s the caveat, I don’t wanna just throw anything at you to get something “out there”. If you’re gonna take your time to read, I want to hopefully offer something that will entertain you, make you think, challenge you, or motivate and encourage you to do something. Maybe at times, if I’m successful, I’ll be thought provoking.

Now… on with the show….

You know how much I love to run.

It is hands down, one of the biggest things that makes me feel  rode hard and put up wet   alive. Not just alive, it makes me feel strong and powerful. It’s built an amazing confidence in me. There’s nothing that makes you feel more empowered than knowing you can run for miles. The beauty of running is that constant challenge against yourself, the striving and pushing to know you can always go back out and try and top what you’ve done.

You… are your biggest competitor.

If you’ve followed me, then you know I had a lot of racing activity in March, pretty much the culmination of months of training.

I logged close to 1K training miles from August thru end of February…  I’ve never been leaner or more fit in my life. I love being in the peak of training…. alas… it’s not a place you can stay. Intellectually, I know my body needs down time and plenty of time to rebuild and repair after such intense work.

Mentally, it’s a different ball game… I feel somewhat stir crazy coming off all those miles.

And then… it happened… or appeared… that pain in my heel. If you’re a runner, you already know what I did. I plowed right through it and kept running. I pushed it off as nothing, rested a lil, planned another run… and that’s when it really started bothering me.

No. Just…. no.

The idea of being sidelined was something that hurt me all over. So I’ve been off it for a couple weeks. Oh, I haven’t been lazy. Being doing some cycling and hitting the weights pretty hard… it’s just not….. running.

I’ve missed it SO bad.

I feel over the top jealous seeing runners on the road. I scan over running posts on my Facebook page….and race recaps… I don’t wanna see….

is there nothing more like throwing salt in a wounded runners wound than seeing all that stuff while you’re not running ?

I have goals for this year. Some smaller races and definitely a year end marathon… I don’t have time for this….

So, I’m planning a short run ( I will have done it by the time you’re reading this… I’m writing this tonight but running tomorrow…bonus points if you sort that out 😉

My plan… slow and easy….pray things feel ok…. and totally enjoy being out there again. Not to mention, I’ve been craving a really long run like a junkie craves crack. Not yet…..

Slow baby, slow.

Do you relate? It’s so hard being at this awesome level of fitness then having to just come…..down…. I hate it… if I can be so bold. But I also know, I can get there again.

So,off I’ll go praying and hoping for the best. I’ll keep you posted.

Tell me how you’ve coped with forced down time ? Have you learned anything in it ?  Do you think in some way, it made you stronger ? What tips would you share with a runner waiting to get back out there ?

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  =)

Race Weekend Wrap Up

Hey boys and girls!

Ah my intent had been to get this written last night, but honestly, my brain felt to tired to put words together haha

Am I the only one who wishes on race day that no one wanted anything from you afterwards so you could be…a slug? Ha, actually, it’s probably a really good thing to keep moving around for good recovery =)

So, race day.  I was seriously grateful that the previous two days of rain and overall slop had stopped and the morning showed up in the high 50’s with the sun promising an appearance.

I live about 50 minutes away from the downtown San Antonio area where the race was being held ( this is with no traffic to contend with on an early Sunday morning 😉 so I was out and race bound by about 6. Race was set to go off about 7:45 but somehow they never quite get it started at that time. Anyway, if you run, then you know you just want to get to the site so you can just…chill… settle in… start getting focused and in your head. I need some time to set distractions aside and key in on what I’m about to do.

I mean, seriously, I know it’s only 13.1 miles, but then, it IS 13.1  miles…. it does require work and effort.

OK, the race itself as I mentioned in a previous post, is a 4 year old home grown event that is coming into it’s own. I love that we run through so much of old historic downtown San Antonio and that the start/finish is at our Alamo.

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In front of the historic Texas Alamo (after race)

And so you know, across the street from the Alamo is this huge monument to the men and the battle that was fought on this site.

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Alamo monument
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This is some of the wall that surrounds and protected the Alamo..

 

Ok….So the race. It’s pretty flat and they do a great job of touring you through old downtown San Antonio, along the Riverwalk, a local university and a beautiful city park and golf course…..they also throw in some trails too. As I mentioned previously, I like that this race is home grown and still smallish ( a few thousand people) they try and make it fun and offer personal touches.

And really, what other race starts with a real cannon blast ?

I knew when I started this race I was going to treat it like a long training run. A few miles in though I started dealing with some queasiness. I didn’t get it cause my morning routine had been the same as any other long run day. I later determined, I didn’t have enough fluid in me. I am a big water drinker on a daily basis and usually  push more before a race, which I hadn’t done. Am I the only one who does stuff like this ? You KNOW what you need to do, but somehow, you just fail to… and then you pay for it.

Add to it, I sweat out a lot, and I’ve learned…. that sets me up for that horrible feeling…which makes it soooo hard to keep pushing myself faster.

Although after passing the water station at mile 11 I had a young girl pull up next to me and say.. “I’ve been trailing you for miles… you’re doing great!” it did encourage me to push myself those last couple miles.  One thing I’ve learned in races… people pick me out and pace off me…. I guess I keep a fairly steady pace.

Anyway, I finished in about 2:20. Not my best time….. I’ll never be the fastest, most impressive runner on the course, but hey, I just ran 13.1 freaking miles! And then I realized after I finished and cooled down, walked back to my car to get my phone to snap pics and was chatting with people I realized, almost 40 minutes later, runners were still coming in and were still on the course.

Yeah, ok, I need to be nice to myself and know I did ok. AND I still got this super cool, 3-D medal for my reward 😉 it’s such a heavy lil sucker….

20150322_103052Oh and let’s not forget this tasty ice cold recovery drink they hand off to you as you finish….

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Gotta love Promised Land milk….

Although after running forever and then walking blocks back and forth to my car, I was pondering the beauty of relaxing in one of these…..

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Local horse drawn carriages to tour you through downtown…

 

So overall, a good race, wonderfully decent weather (I’ve forgotten what it’s like to run in shorts and minimal clothing!) good people and a good solid run to keep me loose for this Saturdays 50K I’ll be taking on.  That will be my next running adventure to share with you.

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Feeling a lil sassy and victorious after crossing the finish line 😉

Tell me… have you had any fun race adventures recently? What about the  runners bling ? Do you have a fav cool medal you earned ?

Yeah I’m a Runner With Muscles

I have a friend who always tells me….

“I’m glad you don’t look like a runner”  the first time that surprised me ’cause I’ve had perfect strangers assume I am.

What she meant was that I don’t fit the typical profile… if there is such a thing as one… (see my Runners World page on that topic)

Well, first of all, blowing me out of the running for any “normal runner” profile is the fact I’m 6’0 tall. I’m definitely an easy target and I’m often paced off of… or targeted to overtake ha

Yes, my legs are long and my stride is one to some of my much smaller counter parts two strides, I’ve had to deal with the fact I’ve got a lot more…. body… to move along and my pace might not ever be that of my smaller, whippet thin running companions.  I’m just stupid happy to be in the club…..

Besides, those obvious things, I pack a decent amount of muscle and that is what my friend means. She likes that I have muscles….  more than the average person/runner …..I kinda like it too 😉

As mentioned in another post, a few years ago, I started doing strength training on days I couldn’t run because of really bad weather ( I hated the treadmill and found it to be sooo boring) so I started doing my own “routine” I’d do some boxing and some weights. Nothing crazy, but enough to give me a decent workout.  I’d do it a couple times a week.

Well, it kinda stuck.

Over time I tried to actively incorporate that into what I do. In the beginning I was a kinda ….uninformed.. runner. I am pretty much self taught, read voraciously, and do a trial and error thing.. if it works for me I keep it… if it doesn’t I toss it out. I shamelessly talk to people who are more experienced and knowledgeable. It’s how I’ve learned.

So imagine my total delight, when I started seeing articles and suggestions that runners needed to do more than “just” run. That strength training/cross training was beneficial on so many levels. I was ahead of the game!

Injury prevention/protection

Overall body strength for those last, long hard miles.

Not to mention, it’s good to work all muscles in your body not just running muscles.

I think my body responds well to some weight training, I don’t go all crazy with it. And genetically, I might have something going on that helps.  But I do know I am more aware than ever of how all my body works together running and how I am aware of the strength coming from other areas and not just my legs/glutes.

Of course, being strong and having muscles helps greatly in my daily active life too =) and let’s not forget… summer and tank season 😛

Dec 2014
Dec 2014…..front view……..
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Dec 2014… and the back… I was surprised… I hadn’t really looked at them in awhile 😛                                                    

So what do I do ?

It’s all stuff I have at home. I have weights of all sizes which I use for upper body ( I really do prefer them over machines as I feel like it’s a little harder and makes me invest more of myself) I spend some time on that as well as core/ab stuff too. Squats of all kinds are my newest fav move….weighted and not weighted. I also use a jump rope and love explosive move exercises like jump squats….. which are not recommended to do a high volume of and then go wear heels 😛

and yeah, I end with a plank. I’m up to 3 minutes which makes me feel super bad ass crazy sweaty and breathing harder than an old horse out to pasture when I finish.

The most recent thing I’ve picked up working on is a single leg deadlift.

BOOM. There’s a move that singlehandedly kills your ass haha.

Seriously, it totally isolates one hip/glute area, develops balance (yikes) I do think I need a lighter kettlebell than my 35lb one to do this move with. I’ll keep you posted on my progress with this. It’s one of the harder things I’ve tried.

Basically, if I have only 30 minutes I cram it with constant movement…. if I have more time… I put more in. I prefer 45- to an hour if I can.

Ah……… all for the progress of becoming a better, stronger runner 😉

If you run do you strength train?  Cross train? Tell me what you’re up to incase I wanna try that too 😉

Those Long Runs

Long runs.

When you’re a runner, there’s nothing more foundational to your training than a weekly long run. They are key to building strength and letting your body slowly adapt to greater distances. They are  crucial when you’re an endurance runner.

Countless Saturdays  these past months have found me out on the road in the wee hours of the morning. Seriously, what sane person is out at 5:30, leaving behind a perfectly warm bed to go out running ? My long runs have tapered down to my races recently and although I’ll be doing my 50K on the 28th, I’m not putting in any crazy long runs before then.

I am planning a long (ish) run for Saturday, you know, something in the double digits ? 😉

Is it weird that I want to see those numbers show up on my watch ? even in my last race when it was over 10 miles I remember thinking… “yay, double digits, now we’re getting somewhere”.

I’ve gotten to a point though that I really look forward to them. Some nights I’ve been so hyped up I’ve had a hard time sleeping ’cause I’m playing the route out in my head. I look forward to them ’cause on their own they singularly offer a new weekly challenge to me.

Long runs are so  life sucking  empowering for me.

Long runs have also carved out the most intense discipline in my life. It takes a lot to leave your bed and put yourself out on the road to be prepared to go…. in the dark…the cold…….the misty drizzle…. or know you’ll most likely encounter rain before you finish. So many weekly variables to the long run. To  understand that what you’re about to do is crucial to your success as a runner mentally and physically.

But let me tell you about what goes down once I’m out.

I live in the hill country so it’s always dark and very quiet when I leave. I take my music but never use it until the last few miles and by that time, it’s nice and bright out 😉

I take off and let my body slowly wake up and settle into the rhythm of the run.

If you’re a runner, you know what I mean. It’s this zone you just get your body in.

The only sounds I hear are my feet hitting the road and the soft sound of my breathing. If I’m lucky, sometimes, the sky is bright with stars or the moon, and  it’s the most awesome, amazing, privilege  to be out then. It makes me feel so very, very small and once again, in awe of our Creator and creation. One morning I saw four shooting stars…. silent, swift, and quiet streaking across the dark sky.. at that point… you don’t miss your bed at all.

All I can think is…. “If I was in bed I woulda MISSED that!”

I pass houses, dark and silent, the owners still tucked into bed, dogs not let out yet, single quiet porch or night lights still on. There’s a part of me that feels rather accomplished at that point for being out there, already having miles under me.

The night sky gradually leaves as the new day pushes into existence. If I’m fortunate, I also get to watch a glorious sunrise too.

You know that term “break of dawn” ?

It’s a real thing. It happens. But usually we are either inside, busy, or not really paying attention to see it, to actually even notice because it’s swift and fleeting.

Yet, when you are on the road, running, it’s all in front of you. A front row seat to the new days arrival.

It’s that soft subtle move that changes the last glimpse of night, to day time.  Blink and you miss it.

Long runs also give me time to think, process, or mull over ideas. I often get some of my most creative thoughts as I pound out that pavement. Oh yeah, and the therapeutic aspect at times can’t be beat.

By the time the sun is rising in the sky and people are getting out I’m closing in on finishing my run. I’ve usually popped music in to kick me a little more into high gear. I remind myself I get bragging rights when I finish 😉  and coffee…. yes, a little caffeine too…. I’ve earned it…..so  glad my Starbucks peeps love me messy in running gear as much as when I’m all girly again…

Finally, the last couple miles are in sight….. the finish line.

Depending on the distance, my legs could be asking…. “are we there yet ?”  Knowing the end is so close, I dig in deeper to push it all the way (it’s just…..evil…… in the last 1/4 mile I’ve gotta pull this hill that seems to sometimes get taller in front of my eyes 😉

And then, I’m finished, hours after leaving my comfy bed.

I’m tired. Sweaty. Hair dripping. A proverbial hot running mess.

Long run done and as always, I feel freaking victorious.