Monthly Archives: August 2013

The healthiest year of my life

So I turned 29 yesterday. I looked in the mirror a few times and thought “Holy shit! The last of my twenties!”… as anyone approaching 30 does. But for the most part, I spent the day looking back on how much I kicked 28 in the ass. And then some.

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Who are we kidding- I will ALWAYS want a birthday cake made of chocolate 🙂

I’m sure it doesn’t surprise anyone at this point that I started my birthday weekend with the End of Summer Classic 5 Miler because really, what better way to celebrate the year I’ve had than getting sweaty with the friends who got me sucked into this crazy world?

It may surprise you to learn however that up until a few hours before the race I was pretty sure I was going to skip it. As I’ve somewhat mentioned in my last few posts, especially since running Falmouth, I’ve been feeling blah and unmotivated. I even slept in the other morning instead of getting up for my run, which I know is a bad sign for me. Running, bootcamp, all of the things I love have just felt like going through the motions lately. I’ve been feeling disappointed with myself and I figured this race might be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

As reluctant as I was about running that night- I am so thankful that I did. We couldn’t have asked for a better summer night in a beautiful place to run. And for the first time in a very long time, once I started running I found my zone. As far as I was concerned there was no one else there -just me, my playlist and my fancy new GPS watching (thank you, best fiancee ever). There was no one there coaching me, encouraging me, or pushing me except myself and shockingly- I was more okay with it than I thought I would be.

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I paced myself along for the first three miles and then started to pick it up for the last two. With every person I passed I felt a rush of energy the feeling of “I want this.” And it rocked. I crossed the finish line a minute and half faster than my first 5 miler and immediately felt a sense of accomplishment. It may not have been the fastest time in the world, but it meant that much to me. I needed to have that reassurance that yes, I can do this…  I have been doing this. And I’m going to keep doing this. I think somewhere in the craziness of the summer I got caught up in times and details and feeling like I need to be on par with everyone else. When in reality, I should be celebrating how much of a bad ass I’ve become in such a short amount of time.

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After the race we all headed out to celebrate a great race and a fantastic summer of running with margaritas and a Mexican feast. As I looked around the table at this amazing new group of friends I grinned. A year ago I never would have imagined this was how I’d want to celebrate my birthday and yet here I was: smelly, crumpled race bib, my skin as salty as the rim of my margarita glass. And in that moment- I couldn’t imagine anywhere else I’d rather be.

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Nothing about this past year was expected- but I guess that’s what made it so great in the end. Every day was a new adventure, some days thrilling and some days petrifying. At 28 I accomplished a milestone of losing over 60 pounds. At 28 I ran 17 races (And previously stated “I will never be a runner”). At 28 I found my healthy balance. I found what makes me strong. I learned what keeps me going every day.

And with that, I say goodbye to 28. I’m so thankful for all you taught me. As for you 29, I’m embracing you with open arms. I can’t even begin to imagine what you have in store for me.

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What I learned during my summer vacation

With the End of Summer Classic on Friday and my second triathlon Labor Day weekend, my summer of training is officially coming to an end. What a summer it’s been. I remember looking at the calendar pages for the first time and instantly regretting everything I had signed up for. So much writing, so few blank days, so ambitious for me to take on. Dutifully I chipped away at it day by day. Standing in front of the fridge every night I’d proudly cross that day off. I’m know it’s lame to admit, but it gave me such a sense of completion. After coming home from Falmouth I woke up the next morning and headed to the calendar to see what was on the schedule for the day and there it was… nothing. Blank days for weeks. No scheduled bike rides, no swims, no interval runs, no bricks. I nearly had a panic attack… what do I do NOW?

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The front of the fridge looks so bare now…

I have mixed feelings when it comes to these blank days. I think my last few posts are a tell tale sign that I am tired, and am on the verge of a burn out- and I know that that means it’s time to slow down on the training. I mean in one summer I more than doubled my mileage, spent 6 days a week training, ran 5 races, became a triathlete, and coached a run group for the first time. If there was ever a time I deserved to “take it easy”, I’d like to think it’s after completing all that. On the flip side I know that I’m not very good when it comes to taking it easy and I’m already feeling antsy without something to train for. I like goals, I like plans. I don’t do “take it easy” very well.

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That’s a VERY good question, RunKeeper. I’ll let you know when I figure it out myself.

For as much time as I spent bitching and complaining about how much I had to do this summer, the truth is that I couldn’t be more grateful for every second of it. I took the body that I worked so hard for last summer, and I made it do some pretty amazing things. I started my mornings with sunrise bike rides, and ended with dusky nights at the track. I went to sleep with the smell of chlorine still on my skin, and woke up with damp hair from late night showers. I got a LOT of bug bites. I didn’t go anywhere without my purple backpack, which is now full of every day necessities.

Brick workouts while camping. Because tri training doesn't take a vacation!

I learned more this summer than I ever thought I would. Last summer I learned portions, I learned control, I learned how to combine eating and exercising to make the pounds disappear. This summer was lessons in performance, athleticism, endurance. I learned what happens when you don’t fuel properly before a race, and what happens when your training falls perfectly into place. I learned the importance of hydration. I learned that beach days are even more sacred when they come after a hard week of training. I learned that it’s okay that after losing over 60 pounds I still can’t run in shorts. I learned how to not drown in the middle of a lake. I learned how to use my arms when attempting hills. I learned that arms are more crucial to running than one would think. I learned why gears are so crucial when it comes to riding a bike up a hill. I learned a lot about hills this summer.

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Fueling properly = happy runner

I learned that sometimes the sweetest gestures of friendship can be found in mile countdowns or ecstatic bear hugs at a finish line. How a bag full of bananas and bandaids can make you cry from overwhelming love. That support systems are critical to success. That trust is just as critical. That tough love helps shape you just as much as comfort does. That sometimes having someone run patiently alongside you can provide more motivation than words ever could. That having someone tell you “You can do this” is great, but being able to say those words to someone else feels even better.

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I learned that while I’ve come so far this summer I still have a long way to go, I still have so much to learn. I learned that I want to continue to work on being stronger, faster, and better at what I now love to do. I learned that scary isn’t always bad, and that facing challenges head on can sometimes lead us to discover our greatest passions in life. Before this summer I never really had the mindset that anything is possible if you want it bad enough. But now I get it- and I know that I’m a lot stronger than I used to think I was. I know that when the next challenge comes along, I’ll be ready for it. Who knew you could learn so much in just one summer.

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What makes you a real runner?

I feel as though anyone breaking into the running world constantly finds themselves asking “When will I be a real runner?” Is it the first time that you run a mile without walking? Your first race? When you run more than a 5K? A 10K? A half? A marathon? Is it when you lose a toenail, have a fancy GPS watch or need hydration belts and energy gels because you run for so long? I don’t think there’s any one true sign of what makes someone a real runner but this weekend- I started to feel it.

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It was the number pickup and race expo. Laying out my gear the night before. The nervous butterfly feeling the morning of. The buses to the start line. The corrals. All of it made me feel like such a real runner.

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And as we made our way to the start line it was the crowds of people around us, the sea of runners that I could see ahead who had already started out on the course. Knowing some of my friends were already out there, moving along the route I would soon follow on. It was the countdown, the goosebumps, the horn, and the first cautious steps I took as I crossed over the start line.

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Those first miles were beautiful and scenic.  The crowd was enthusiastic, the signs were hysterical, the kids stretching out to slap my hand as I ran by… I combined the energy of the race and what I had been taught to conquer the first few miles of hills and I felt so proud of myself. “This is what being a real runner must feel like” I kept thinking.

And then somewhere around mile 5, it got hard.  Really hard. The crowd became overbearing, the signs became nauseating to look up at, the kids were annoying. My legs felt tired and heavy and it took all the willpower I had to just look straight ahead and keep moving. There are very few things I remember about this part of the course, I barely even noticed my fiancee jump in and start running with me before I yelled at him to leave me alone. I just kept thinking to myself “This is so hard- how will I ever be able to run any further than this?” I didn’t feel like a real runner anymore. The stretch between miles seemed to never end and when I saw the final hill before the finish line I almost started crying in panic. They may say that running is a solo sport, but there is no way I could have made it through those last few miles alone.

P1010968After the race was over I laughed and celebrated with everyone but a part of me felt so sad inside. I felt like a poser, a running wannabe just tagging along, trying to fit in. I hate that that race was so hard for me, I hate that I feel so far behind from my friends, I hate that I can’t do and train for all of the things they are training for and doing. A part of me thought “What if this is as good as it gets? What if I never make it further than this?” I understand that I have been barely running for even a year, and to go from a lame excuse of a jog last summer to finishing a 7 miler this summer is one HUGE accomplishment. So don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly proud of myself. But I’m also very impatient, and I hate feeling so new and naive. There’s so much I need to and want to learn and I feel like it’s going to take forever to get there. I wish there was a fast forward button I could hit and catch up.

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My fiancee and I had decided to turn the race into a mini vacation and the next morning we headed to our favorite breakfast spot in Wood’s Hole. I threw on a pair of shorts, my glasses, and my race shirt before we headed out. As we waited in line I heard a voice in front of me say “Did you run yesterday? How’d you do?” I quickly realized he was talking to me and my head shot straight up. “Great course isn’t it?” he said before turning around to place his order. “Yes it was” I said with a proud smile.

I know that I am a runner – I think my legs would have to argue with me if I tried to say otherwise. I am a runner despite never having lost a toenail, or run further than 7 miles. I am a runner who doesn’t have a full calendar year under her belt, yet has over a dozen race bibs. My long runs are shorter than some runner’s “easy runs”. I don’t have a 13.1 or 26.2 sticker on my car, and I’m not sure when, or if I ever will. I am a runner who has come a long way but still has so far to go. 

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Mind Games

The high I felt after T-Day was so incredible I was convinced that it would never end. For over a week I left my wristband on proudly, clicked through all the pictures at least once a day and as we all know, quickly signed up for my next triathlon. I was on a cloud that seemed untouchable. Then suddenly I woke up one day and realized that my bracelet was getting tattered, my sharpie tattoos had faded and I was left with this gaping “now what?” feeling. Glory days = officially over.

I mean, could you blame me for not wanting to take them off?

I mean, could you blame me for not wanting to take them off?

And with the end of my triathlon high came a whole lot of complete lack of motivation. After literally spending almost every waking (and sleeping) moment of the last several months planning, worrying, training and talking about Iron Girl I suddenly felt empty and without direction. Even with another triathlon on my calendar, my brain developed this “Eh I don’t have to really try” mentality. No bueno.

The good news is that apparently this is common, and after doing some research online I learned that it happens to marathoners and real athletes. It’s a relief to know I’m not crazy- or alone. The bad news however, is that Falmouth is oh, THIS WEEK. And with all the biking and swimming that I had been cramming in lately my running has gotten well.. pretty shitty. Not to mention I’ve spent an entire summer training and to be honest- I’m getting tired. I put every last ounce of myself into that triathlon and it’s been hard for me to regain momentum. Signing up for this three weeks after it now seems like a terrible idea. My last “long run” almost resulted in a trip to the emergency room for some hydration issues and I’ve had a nagging pain in my hip ever since. I’m not even sure I can run 7 miles. Combine all of this with my new “EH” mentality and we’ve got ourselves a recipe for disaster.

Suddenly that little voice has crept back in- remember her?She likes to show up when I’m feeling unmotivated. She’s in my head saying “Running up this hill is hard.. let’s walk“You don’t want to run 7 miles? Screw it- me neither” And unfortunately- my body has been doing exactly as she says. She sucks, she tries to persuade you that running is miserable, and she’d undo all the hard work you’ve done in a moments notice.

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Ugh hills. So painful I have to write them on my hand so I remember where to go.

So somehow in the next couple days I’ve gotta rally up, and get her out of my head for good. Falmouth is an experience, a bucket lister, a race that many people wish they were running this year. Not to mention that in the beginning I was running it by myself, but now all of my favorite running friends have gotten numbers so I won’t be alone. The voice has shown up for a few races before- and I don’t want this to be another time where I cross the finish line and feel regret. Go away voice in my head, you are NOT invited to Falmouth this weekend.

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