Monthly Archives: December 2014

The good, the bad, the sweaty: another year of running.

Today I will bundle up and head out for my last easy 3 of 2014 which brings my total miles run this year to … 713. 713 miles for the girl who never thought she’d be a runner? Pretty awesome. What I’m even more shocked about is that this year I logged 54.26 miles IN THE POOL! That’s pretty much a mile a week. That’s like swimming to New Hampshire (okay so I didn’t swim all those miles at the same time- but you get my point). This number really impresses me because I was incredibly anxious about really learning to swim, and now it’s become routine to me.

When I filled out this survey last December I was still on my new runner high. I had just finished an impressive year of firsts and PRs and figured that rush would just spill into a new year. And then came injury. Setbacks.  Learning you can’t build speed and distance at the same time. ACCEPTING that you can’t build speed and distance at the same time. This year has had a lot of ups and downs, but I think I’ve learned a lot. After a year of 14 races (5 5Ks, 2 5 milers, 2 10Ks, 3 half marathons and 2/3rds of a triathlon) I’m ready to take what I’ve learned and work towards new challenges, new accomplishments, and as few niggles as possible. Here’s to a 3rd New Years Eve without resolutions, but with a commitment to keep moving forward.

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Best race experience: I have two favorites here. The first being the Hingham 4th of July Road Race. I had just (barely) finished a miserable half, was in the middle of injury land, and felt terrible about my running in general. It simply took two friends sticking back to run with me, a few patriotic facts, and endless jokes to turn it into one of the best races I’ve done.

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The other is the Timberman Half. The combination of a double out-and-back, a mid day start, and the first 13.1 I conquered on my own still give me goosebumps of pride. A challenge that seemed so impossible at first, but somehow I crossed that finish line grinning from ear to ear.

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Worst race experience: Although there were a few “memorable” (for better or worse) races this year the Pilgrimman Tri definitely wins. A few weeks ago I slid into a lane at the pool with a guy wearing the yellow swim cap I threw away, and immediately felt my face turn 50 shades of pink. I’m still ashamed,  still angry, and still a little shaken over the whole ordeal.

Race I will never forget: The Old Koloa Sugar Mill Run! From the half marathoners showing up shirtless with their numbers pinned to board shorts, to when I turned my head to find horses running alongside the course, this was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I go back to it in my mind when my nose won’t stop running and my cheeks hurt from the cold wind. 🙂

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Best run: My wedding morning “shake out” run. I’ll never forget heading towards the beach as the sun came up, letting the familiarity of “right left right” calm the nervous energy flowing through my body. I arrived back at my house excited, refreshed, and ready to be transformed into a bride.

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Best new piece of gear: With Christmas less than a week behind us I would have to say all of the awesome winter gear my husband got me for marathon training. Which he wrapped in individual boxes. With motivational quotes on each of them. Have I ever mentioned how much I love this guy?

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Best piece of running advice I’ve received: “Do it for you”. My PRs are never going to impress anyone, there will always be someone out there who is faster than me, and the majority of you could give two shits about my goals for 2015. Not a soul could read my weekly posts and I would keep writing them. I do it for myself, as a journal of my progress and a way of holding myself accountable. And if someone happens to read it and feels motivated to do the same that’s just a bonus. At the end of the day only I know where I’ve come from, only I know what I’m capable of, and I’m the one who gets to celebrate those wins, as tiny as they sometimes may be. My motivation can’t be to prove to someone else I can do something, I’ve got to prove it to myself.

Most inspirational runner: I have to take my answer from last year and firmly stick with it again. Because in fact, there’s still no one who inspires me more than she does. For a girl who is often so afraid to challenge and push herself, it’s crazy to observe someone who does it over and over again. I need someone to hold my hand and jump off the ledge with me, and she just dives in head first. She pushes and challenges herself without hesitation, at least in my eyes. The great thing about this relationship is that watching her dive in helps me be a little braver. Makes me want to try it too. And that’s turning out to be a pretty great thing. 🙂

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If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? Learning. Foam rolling. Stretching. Persistence.

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I get by with a little help.

I’m now two weeks into marathon training and day by day this “let’s get nutrition back on track” plan is becoming more routine. It’s certainly not easy but just like in running – it’s one foot in front of the other. Today’s blog post is a compilation of the things that have been making it all a little easier.

We moved to a new neighborhood this fall, which happens to be a lot hillier than where we were living before. In particular there is one miserable hill that sits smack dab in the middle of this summer time 5 Miler (Which if you have been reading my blog for a while, is the race where I don’t exactly remember crossing the finish line of in 2013). Now that it practically looms over our house there’s not many running routes I can take without avoiding it. So I run it. And let me tell you- there’s nothing better than taking a bad day out on a run, plowing up that hill and turning around to give it the finger (which I do, every time). Bill Dunn, I’m coming back for you this summer!

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I’m pretty embarrassed to admit that I just discovered podcasts. More specifically Serial. Even more specifically – THAT I CAN PUT PODCASTS OF SERIAL ON MY iPOD! GENIUS! I could easily binge on the entire series in a day, so I’m only allowing myself to listen during long runs. I was almost giddy over my 9 miles last Sunday because I realized I could get in almost three whole episodes. Is there anything better than solving crimes and pounding miles simultaneously on a Sunday morning?

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The chiropractor has become my new favorite person, and not just because he snaps, crackles, pops, and scrapes my body back in place. My long run last weekend left me in pain which naturally put me into a panic. With a quick phone call we moved my appointment up to the next day. As soon as I walked in he calmed my fears, asked about my mileage for the upcoming week, and gave me some new stretches to add to my routine at home. I love how involved he’s gotten in my training in this short amount of time, and it feels great to have someone else on my support team. It’s going to take a village to get this girl to a marathon and I am eternally grateful for this village I have.

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Nutrition is definitely always going to be a struggle for me. For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to get in the mindset that what I eat for Boston is just as – if not more- important than what I run in preparation for Boston. This whole mindset of “eating like an athlete” is still a weird concept for me, but I’m working on it. And there’s nothing like spending the Sunday before Christmas making egg muffins and DIY granola bars while everyone else is baking Christmas treats to make you feel like one bad ass, goal oriented athlete. 🙂

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Click here to learn more about who I am running the 119th Boston Marathon for and how you can help 🙂

 

Goal setting.

This week kicks off the official start of marathon training. So far I’ve run 3 miles and had a rest day, so I can’t say anything has been anything drastically different. There is however an excitement in the air which I’m hoping sticks around as long as possible.

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Kicking of Boston training in my Boston Strong shirt – of course.

Besides marathon training there was another note on the calendar for this week- I was supposed to reach my goal weight.

Say what again?

Yes you heard me. My goal weight.

Obviously things this fall got a little… chaotic. I got married. I took a break from training. I went to Hawaii for two weeks. I got a little careless. Actually to be quite honest I know I started getting careless over the summer, but I was chasing it with exercise which for the most part covered up my imperfections. And that is not a good habit, nor is it a healthy one.

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Hawaiian 5K one day, Hula Pie the next…

It’s only a few pounds, but enough that matter to me. And from what I’ve been told and what I’ve been reading, marathon training is often accompanied by weight gain. I can’t imagine anything wore than achieving this crazy accomplishment and hating my body when I should be celebrating it.

It was shortly before we left for Hawaii that I acknowledged the slide and made a goal to be back at what I consider my “ideal” weight for Boston training. And so I started my 17 hour journey over the Pacific with the intention to be mindful. And I was for a few days. But eventually the Mai Tai’s and shaved ice got the best of me and I stopped worrying about it. I could start fresh when I got home. This would be easy.

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I don’t regret one sugary, delicious bite of this. Or the other 6 oops.

And then it wasn’t easy. Things are different than they were two and a half years ago. I’m an active person. Back then my body was shocked that I was sweating from something other than walking to the train after work. These days my body thinks I can run 3 miles in my sleep. The first time around I was just trying to lose weight, now I’m trying to do it while training my body to run 26.2 miles. It’s both awesome and frustrating at the very same time. And the hardest part of it all? Admitting it. Putting this, and myself, out there is the worst part of it all because it feels like failure. I feel like I’ve learned nothing in the last two and a half years. I feel like I shouldn’t be allowed to stand here and say “Look at me, look at what I’ve overcome!” when clearly there’s still so much work to be done. It’s just one more reminder that this journey never ends, it just changes direction.

 

More than words.

“Why am I doing this?”

It’s a question that keeps surfacing, one that I’m supposed to be thinking about and solidifying to be the great motivation behind why I want to train for and run Boston. What’s going to get me out the door when it’s negative 10 degrees and I have to run 20 miles? What’s going to be the thing that pushes me towards the finish line on April 20th? And every time I’m asked it, my brain hurts. My tongue hangs out of my mouth. I freeze.

Which is odd for a girl who loves words. When I was little I would tell story after story without taking a single breath. When I ran out of material I would simply start all over again. I give descriptive paragraphs to questions that need one word answers.

So why does this question leave me completely baffled? Why do I stumble so hard? I could give the obvious, pre-fabricated answers such as that this is a logical progression after 13.1. Will run for medals. I want to prove to all those who doubt me that I can actually do this. Marathons are bad ass. I’ve got an incredible group of individuals who I am raising money and running on behalf of.

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All of those answers are great. And true in some form. But they’re not “it”. They’re not the answer that fires up the grill. They’re not the answer that brings me to tears when I try to picture April 20th. And it frustrates me to no end that I can’t find the right words.

In the last month or so my hip pain started coming back… and just for shits and giggles in BOTH hips, which clearly isn’t a good thing when you’re about to start training for a marathon. In a weak “I’ll try ANYTHING” moment I agreed to see a chiropractor. And (knock on wood) so far it’s been doing WONDERS. If this shit really works, I will gladly start the process for this guy to be next on the canonization list.

During my most recent appointment I laid on my side with my pants halfway down  (classy, right?), grimacing as this tool (which I’m pretty sure could double as a vegetable peeler) was literally scraping into my hips. Which made me think “This is crazypants. Who puts themselves through this kind of torture? At this point wouldn’t a normal person just throw in the towel and move onto a new hobby?”

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Why am I doing this again?

Crazy people. That’s exactly it. Crazy people who want to run 26.2 miles. Crazy people who want to run from Hopkinton to Boylston Street. Crazy people who want to put themselves through all this hard work and miles and suffering and PAIN for an experience they can’t even imagine! Crazy people who know this is one of the most important things they’ll ever do – even if right now they can’t find the words to justify it.

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Happy hips = happy runner.

Little things make up the big things.

Like so many other Americans my Thanksgiving morning began with freezing my ass off at a turkey trot. The same race that I can now say I’ve run three consecutive years. And the same race where two years ago, I ran 3.1 miles without stopping for the first time .Which in my short little running career, is still my proudest moment. Although the Feaster 5 is absurdly crowded and an hour away, it’s now a tradition I simply can’t break.

Last year I decided to run the 5 Mile option with a friend, which to this day stands as my 5 Mile PR. I registered for the 5 Miler again this year with the direction to add on an extra mile to make it my “long run” for the week. (Is it lame that I always feel a little bad ass when I’m out there doing extra miles before the race even begins?). This year I wasn’t going for speed, but simply to enjoy myself and get in a good, solid run (which clearly hasn’t been happening too often lately).

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My husband surprised me and signed up for the 5K last minute. Luckily this year there was no ER trip in the days following 🙂

As usual it was a freezing cold day, and this year had the bonus of being my first run in the snow. The first mile is chaotically crowded, and then the 5 Miler splits off for a bit and there’s finally space to breathe and think. It was a perfect time to look back at what I’ve accomplished since I was here two years ago, about what this race means to me now.

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For the last mile the two distances sync back up and share the road to the finish. I don’t think that last mile will ever get old for me. It gives me goosebumps as I remember the feeling of pushing myself, knowing I wasn’t going to let those legs stop for once until I crossed the finish line. Or the feeling of my lungs bursting and my legs aching, but looking at my watch and knowing I wanted to finish faster than I ever had before. And even though this year didn’t bring any of those exciting firsts with it, it still put an extra pep in my step.

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About to “really” finish my first 5K in 2012.

It’s clear that the lack of “exciting firsts” directly correlates to my lack of enthusiasm lately.  And while Thursday didn’t produce any shiny new PRs or challenges, in reality I ran 6 solid miles in preparation for training for a MARATHON. The BOSTON marathon. On that same road two years ago I could barely run 3 miles and yet, here we are today, about to dig into this crazy new challenge. And that’s something I’m incredibly, incredibly proud of.

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