Monthly Archives: February 2015

Life is messy. So is marathon training.

Anyone who’s run a marathon, or who maybe hasn’t run a mile in their life, has given me their advice, wisdom, and two-cents since I announced that I was going to be training for Boston. Some of it has stuck. Some of it hasn’t. But there’s one nugget of wisdom in particular that has been keeping me (somewhat) sane during these last few weeks: “Life is like marathon training, it rarely goes according to plan”.

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I like planning. I like for things to go according to said plan. I absolutely hate when things are out of my control. I’m only human.

Most of us start things with the best of intentions. At the beginning of a new semester we declare that we will do every reading assignment. At the start of a new relationship we tell ourselves that we’ll never nag our significant other. On New Years Day we make a vow to go to the gym 5 days a week, to eat more veggies and drink more water. A few days or weeks in, and those plans have shifted. We get sick. We get busy. We fall behind. Life happens.

When I copied that first week into my training log I envisioned every week looking as neat as my handwriting on the page. And then injury happened. Deep freezes and nearly 8 feet of snow. Long runs cancelled. Swims instead of runs. Routes changed. Treadmill miles. There’s been a lot more crossing out in my training log than I anticipated. And that’s the stuff that tends to throw me into panic mode. There have been quite a few times where I’ve thrown my hands up and cried “This isn’t what I signed up for! This isn’t how I expected it to go.”

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Clear, safe roads in the cemetery means this is my new running view.

And then I realize what a princess I sound like, and I try to bring it back to reality. Life doesn’t always go according to Plan A or B. Sometimes it’s not until Plan G rolls around that things work out. All you can really do is hope for the best, work with what you’ve got, and appreciate the little things. A room of friends, family, and even strangers who are gathered simply to support you. Running buddies who will delay their pancake eating just to wait for you to finish your slowpoke miles. The way a hot shower and pjs feel after a run when its -2 degrees. The feeling of pushing yourself that last half mile when all you wanted to do was quit. Having someone in your life who will stay up way past their bedtime just to calm your doubts and fears. Random conversations that say “Hey, I believe in you. You can really do this”. These are the little things, the things I need to remember when training gets tough.

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My first fundraising event last Sunday.

Life is messy. Life is complicated. Life is challenging, beautiful, and tear inducing for all of those reasons.
So is marathon training.
And that’s what makes it all worth it.

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This is exhausting.

Remember just a week ago when I was all hopped up on motivation, marathon jackets and munchkins? Yeah, that’s gone now. Buried under feet and feet of snow to be more accurate. This (to quote my favorite singer and all-time girl crush) – this is exhausting.

It’s been almost a month of snow storm after snow storm. In between storms there’s deep freezes. Cross training has become shoveling snow to banks that loom far over my head. There are barely street to drive on, let alone sidewalks to run on. And in between the shoveling, pushing my little Corolla out of snow ditches, and commutes that have nearly tripled in time, I still have to figure out how to train for a marathon.

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Can you find the street sign?

I want to quickly throw in a disclaimer that I know there that there are problems MUCH bigger problems in the city of Boston than not being able to run right now. People can’t get to work, roofs are caving in every hour, and businesses are losing money. But this is my little space to vent, and this is my challenge right now. Training for Boston isn’t just something that can wait until the snow melts.

My “F this S” moment came late Saturday afternoon, in the middle of a snowy cemetery. This was now my second long run that had become a chaotic “just try and get the miles in before the blizzard hits”. I had spent the last 11 miles trudging through snow banks, out of breath from running up Heartbreak Hill and from the wind blowing another storm in. I was cold and achy and – OVER IT. I absolutely love running – until I want to stop. And then I absolutely hate it.

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I got to meet Johnny. He’s thinking warm thoughts.

I’m now three weeks “behind” in mileage. I wake up in the middle of the night frantically checking the weather to see if there’s been any updates to the weekend forecast. I haven’t run in my neighborhood in almost a month. I’ve spent more hours on the treadmill than I ever thought I would in my life. I knew training for a marathon was going to be hard. I knew that training for a marathon in the winter was going to be hard. I knew that training for the Boston Marathon was going to be hard. But sometimes this all just feels damn near impossible.

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So thankful for running buddies.

It was standing there in that cemetery that every fear I’ve been holding in came oozing out of my brain, and then out of my mouth. “What if my body just isn’t made to handle 26 miles? What if – what if I just can’t do this?” The fears have been circling in my brain long before training began but I don’t dare say them out loud. I’m the one that wanted this, I’m the one who declared “I WILL do this!” I shouldn’t be allowed to be standing among snow covered graves questioning my ability in the middle of February. I signed up for this shit, all on my own free will. But yet there I stood, wanting to be anywhere but there.

I keep telling myself that eventually the snow will eventually stop, my mental game will turn around, things will get better. But as I say this I’m stalking the weather for another storm this weekend, hoping that I get my long run in and that my fundraiser isn’t cancelled for a second time. “Spring” is just a month away, and the Marathon just a month after that. Ain’t nobody got time for this.

The things in my back pocket for a snowy day.

In case you are reading this and don’t live in the Boston area (or have been hibernating under a rock) – we’ve gotten a lot of snow over the last two weeks. A lot doesn’t even begin to describe it actually. A SHIT TON OF SNOW.

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I don’t know whether I want to cry or laugh hysterically at the fact that the year I decide I’m going to try and run a marathon Boston gets HISTORIC snowfall amounts. If this isn’t Mother Nature’s hint that I should go back to being a fat kid- I don’t know what is.

But as much as I’d like to throw in the towel, or better yet, curl up in it and take a nap until I can see grass again – that just isn’t an option. Cus’ this thing is really happening – as confirmed every time I open the fridge.

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So I’ve put together this little list of things that are helping to keep me motivated and excited during these dark, cold, snow covered weeks. My back pocket toolkit if you will.

… Searching “Boston Marathon” videos on Youtube. There’s nothing like Go Pro footage of someone breathing heavily as they make their way down Boylston to help me imagine what it’s going to feel like.

… If I wasn’t training for Boston I probably would have missed the gorgeousness of this run. I might despise winter but sometimes it can be beautiful – and a reminder of all you’d be missing if you just stayed in bed.

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… The growing “Do not wear until April 20th” section of my closet. I have the best people in my life.
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… The people I’m running for. Like this amazing woman who I think of every time I curl up with this quilt.

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… My new collection of Mantrabands. I’m obsessed.
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… This music video on repeat.

… Post long run splurges. Truth: they taste even better when shared with a best friend.

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…And of course the goosebumps I get every time I walk by this.

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…And think about one of these around my neck.

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COME ON SPRING!

Into the unknown.

It took a week longer than I planned but it finally happened….I broke past 13.1! After a few days of rest (which was strongly enforced by Mother Nature in the form of 3 feet of snow), I was finally able to do some test runs on the treadmill. And when the pain didn’t return I got the much anticipated green light for my long run. Wohoo!

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As I laid out my clothes and packed my bag Saturday night the usual nervous butterflies started to creep in. The fact that I was finally going to run beyond the half marathon distance was pretty daunting. I kept thinking about how miserable I’ve gotten towards the end of every single half marathon. I thought about how I had to run further than that. And then I remembered how I felt just a week prior, devastated that I wasn’t spending my night preparing for my long run the next morning. That shut the butterflies right up.

Sunday morning was a balmy 14 degrees, with a real feel around zero. I was pretty nervous as we headed out, especially since it had been over a week since I’d run outside. Magically my feet still knew exactly what to do. The miles ticked by painlessly. Once we hit the water stop that was my cue to turn around and head back (I was cutting off a mile since I had missed the week before). I kept reminding myself that I was already halfway done and still feeling good. And just as my legs started getting tired I hit the stretch of Comm Ave where the CITGO sign looms above you. Instantly I felt goosebumps flow through my body. Suddenly my legs weren’t so tired anymore. If there was ever a “Holy shit, I’m training to run the BOSTON *%&!-ing MARATHON!”, it was this one. I’m glad the snow banks were high enough that people couldn’t see me cackling up the sidewalk. I finished the run tired and sore, but still alive.

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Clearly not my picture as there is not a flake of snow to be seen.

 

I have a feeling that time is going to fly by from here on out. For months it felt like the Marathon was a stove pilot- there, but not much was happening. Suddenly it feels like everything is picking up. The miles are just going to get higher and higher. In just over a month I’ll attempt my longest training run. My first fundraising event is happening this weekend. I just keep telling myself to take a deep breath and take it all one day at a time, one mile at a time, one step at a time.

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75 days to go!