I finished my 1/2 marathon. It wasn't the result that I had originally hoped for, but with an injury that kept me from running for nearly a month leading right up to the race, I was more than happy with my results. I ran the whole thing in 2:57 -- meeting my most basic goals of running it all and completing it in under 3 hours. I did it! Woo hoo!
Now the question becomes, what do I run for now? I have kept myself busy by scheduling shorter races, but I need to keep my motivation up. I need to remember that I am doing this for me, for my health, my sanity, and for my daughter. I so desperately want her to grow up with the confidence to try things without the fear of failure. I want her to learn to define success in her terms, something I'm just learning to do myself.
My running has become about so much more than seeing if I could complete a half marathon. It's become a social outlet for me, a way to relax and connect with people, to destress. It's become an identity for me -- people are starting to see me as a runner now, and I think I'm actually considering myself one, too.
I still love and hate running. I still have to drag myself out to run somedays -- many days -- but it's becoming more automatic, more natural.
Maybe Clare will grow up knowing her mother as a runner after all.
The Princess Half Marathon is this Sunday, six days away. I haven't run any considerable distance in what will be three weeks due to injury, so I am just hoping to finish. I have gotten reassurance from many people that my fitness should still be there -- I'm just hoping the injury feels completely healed so that I can at least feel I'm doing my best. Light cardio training this week and one more chiropractor appointment -- here's hoping and praying it all works out in the end.
I have been very remiss in posting blog entries, but I'm still running. On November 20th, I ran a 10k. It was an inspiring and humbling experience all in one. I had only run five miles at that point, a good 1.2 short of the distance, and I'd only done that once. The 10k would be my new long run, but I had committed to a friend that I would do it, and I refused to back out. I figured that in a worst case scenario I'd have to walk some of it, but I hoped not to.
I didn't walk any of it -- I ran the whole darn thing. And it was hard! The five mile marker came at the end of a bridge over a tidal bay, and as you looked hopefully at the marker declaring only 1.2 left, a hill rose from it. And this was a HILL. It sat there mocking -- like a huge middle finger in the road. I was running alone. I had several friends all running the race, too, but as they were faster than I am, I was now trudging along on my own. To make sure that I didn't run too fast, I had kind of fallen into a pace behind a man (who I later learned was 64, ding to my pride). As long as he kept running, I did, too. But, when we go to that hill, he started to WALK! I wanted to scream, "No! Please keep running! If you walk, I have no reason to keep running." But then, I dug deep and just kept running -- on my own -- with no one to tell me to, no one watching or judging -- I did it for me.
And I did it. I ran the whole thing. It was a milestone for me in my training journey, and it really helped confirm that I will be able to do the half.
So, almost three months later, I have completeted two 10 mile long runs. I ran another 5k where I took 3 minutes off my first time and broke 10 min/mi. Today's long run wasn't as good -- I was supposed to do 11 and ended up doing 7 due to a slight back injury. But for once, I'm not freaking out. I'm confident that I will be able to run 13.1 in just three weeks, and I can't wait to cross that finish line. My daughter will be there waiting for me, and that will make all the training worth it.
I did it. I ran my 5k on October 10th. I had just two goals -- run the whole thing and do it under 40 mins. I met both goals.
I loved it. It was a perfect fall day, and the atmosphere was fantastic. I couldn't believe that I was standing with all these runners and that they considered me one of them. On the way to the registration table I got speaking to a 66 year old man who ran a half marathon the week before. He was so inspiring in his accomplishments, and yet, he was so excited about my first race!
The course was great -- rolling hills, but nothing I couldn't handle. As others walked the hills, I slowly trudged on. The clocks at the mile markers weren't working, so I had no idea what my pace was. I just kept on going. As I came into the last stretch, I saw the clock at the three mile mark. I could make out the three, but did it say 38 or 33? Did I have to sprint to make it under 40? NO! It said 33 -- I could not believe my time. As I came across the finish line I saw the clock -- 34:45 -- yes! My official chip time was 33:40. I was psyched.
The 5K boosted my confidence tremendously. I did it, and I killed my goal time (admittedly a padded goal). I was elated and sure my training was going to take off with ease from there. I took Monday off and headed out Tuesday. My legs were dead, so I only eeked out about 1.5 miles before I called it quits with plans to come back stronger on Thursday. And then, something I would never have imagined happened.
On Wednesday night I receieved a phone call from my mother. My dad's younger brother had suffered a massive heart attack while driving and hadn't survived. Of everyone in my family, my uncle was the last I'd expect this to happen to. He was an active golfer and hockey player -- in fact he was driving home from a hockey game that night. Needless to say, the next few days running was on hold.
When I got back to running, I felt like I was in a no man's land -- I have a 10K I'm running on Nov. 20th, but I didn't have a concrete plan to follow between the 5 and 10Ks. I gave weak efforts to some runs during the week and attempted some "longish" runs on the weekend. I tried to run 4 miles last weekend with a bit of a cold -- my nose ran much longer and faster than I did. I was in a slump and had to do something to change things up.
Thankfully I have a good friend who is the assistant cross country coach at the high school I teach at. She had offered to do a long run with me, but our schedules hadn't worked out. And, to be honest, I was afraid to run with her. I am slow, and I know that. I really am mostly okay with it, too, but I didn't want to FEEL slow. However, I decided to ask her to run with me. I knew it was time to shake things up. So, I asked her to pick a route of at least 4 miles and not tell me how long it was. The idea was for me to hit 4 and maybe even go beyond without the mental issues that plague my training, and it worked! The first 2 miles were hell -- nearly half of it was uphill, but I did it, and as I ran, I started to feel really good. When she gave me the option between the shorter and longer run, I chose the longer, still not knowing the distance. At the end of the run she gleefully told me, "You ran 5 miles! You're awesome!"
Awesome. I ran 5 miles. Never in my life would I think I could run 5 miles. It was slow. It was VERY slow, but it was my run. My 5 - freaking mile run. I did it.
That feeling like I can't do this is creeping in again. I've never been a great, or even a good, athlete. I have no business pretending to be a runner. The Brooks tank and Mizuno shoes might make me look the part, but I'm not fooling myself. This isn't who I am. I don't run races. I am not a runner. This isn't me.
I had a particularly bad run today. Put it this way: I intended to do a good trial run for the 5K I'm registered for next week. It started out as a decent run; it turned into a lovely walk. Well, not that lovely, really, because I spent the better part of it psychoanalyzing myself.
Me: Why can't I do this?
Voice: You just can't.
Me: But I should be able to. I ran 2.5 outside less than a week ago and 3.12 (a 5K) on the treadmill two days ago. I really should be able to do this.
Voice: Well, you can't. Your coaches always said you were inconsistent. Here's just more proof.
Me: Well, maybe it's just a bad day. I can try again tomorrow.
Voice: And what if you have a "bad day" on race day? The 5K is only a week away. And the half marathon in February? How are you ever going to do 13.1 miles when you can't even do 3?!
Me: I wonder if there's a way I can get my money back for the 1/2 marathon registration. . .
Luckily I still had a mile or so to go before I got home, and the more positive me came back and started to talk the voice down. I was probably having a bad day because I hadn't gotten to bed until 1:00 AM and hadn't eaten much today. That might explain why my legs felt like lead when they usually feel GREAT at the start of a run. And of course, the voice was having a particularly strong showing today. I let it get fueled by lots of things -- the looming 5K that I am really excited and nervous for (reality is setting in that I am actually going to do this), my husband's much more rapid success in becoming a runner (he started running a month ago and is already doing three miles), and just many other insecurities that I am dealing with (like comments of people who don't get what it's like to be a struggling athlete). As bad as my run was today, the voice had a great one. But in that last mile or so to home I got rational, logical even. I have had bad runs before, and they are almost always followed by great ones. There were real physical reasons why I might not have done so well today and admittedly some mental ones, too. I am still in decent shape to do the 5K (I hear race day energy really helps), and the 1/2 marathon is five months away. I can still do this.
Unfortunately, my logical rational side ran out when I got home and saw my husband. I opened the door and announced, "I didn't run." He looked at me, and as though I were speaking Greek said, "What do you mean you didn't run?" (Side note: As logical and rational as I was, I am a woman whose emotions sometimes get the better of her, particularly when talking to my husband.) I had intended to calmly rehash my shortcomings with him, but I am pretty sure that comment set me off into the emotional windstorm that followed. I even tried to take a minute to calm down and told him I was upset and didn't want to take it out on him, but . . .
My husband and I are wired very differently. He's rather competitive. I am not. If I had half of his competitiveness I might have been an exceptional soccer player. I had the skills, my coaches would always say, I just didn't have the killer instinct. If I were as competitive as my husband I'd have been an All-American. Regardless, he listened well to my semi-rational mostly emotional tirade and was very supportive. We did have a bit of typical male/female misunderstandings in the course of conversation, and my husband needs to remember that just telling me to "keep your head from getting in the way" doesn't work for me. I have many years of legitimate "head" issues, ghosts, that I am running against here. If I could just keep them out of the way, this wouldn't be so damn hard.
Still, he's right, and I do know that. I have to get out of my head. I can't let the ghosts catch me. They're trying really hard, and today they won the practice race. They will not, however, get the better of me. I'll be back out there again soon, and they won't catch me. They tell me I don't run races, let alone a half marathon -- that's not who I am. They're right. That's not who I am, but it's who I want to be -- who I will be.
Two and a half miles -- done! I am running my first 5K on October 10, and I'm actually excited. I am proud of what I've done and how far I've come. I'm even looking forward to the rest of my training.
I came upon an interesting thread on a different website. Someone posted about how he saw a 3.1 sticker on a car and thought it was hysterical. Others wrote in also joining in on the joke. While I get that 3.1 miles is a drop in the bucket to many runners, but I had really been encouraged by the fact that I thought most of the running community were supportive encouraging people. There were even some who thought 13.1 stickers were amusing. Now, I do have to say that many people wrote in defending the 3.1 sticker owner, but I was a bit disgusted by some of the other posters. We all have things that we're great at, but that doesn't mean we have to look down at others who aren't at our level. How about applauding the fact that the sticker owner is doing something active and getting out there?! I will PROUDLY display my 13.1 sticker when I complete my 1/2 marathon in February, and if people want to laugh, bring it on. Haters.
To all you slow, struggling runners out there, take heart in this: we are doing something the majority of the population is not. When I complete my half marathon, I will have done something that most people I know have not. More importantly, I will have accomplished a goal I set for myself, and no laughter can kill that.
I didn't complete my run tonight, and I am actually okay with that. A few weeks ago that would have sent me into fits of self-doubt, but not tonight. I will try again tomorrow. No big deal.
Sunday's run was pretty good, and so my progress is still good. I am trying to figure out how my running is going to fit into my schedule now that I am back to work.
I will be running three miles in just under a month according to plan, and I am excited. I am running my first 5k in October and a 10k in November. Setting these goals is helpful to me in maintaining my commitment.
Yeah, I don't really have much tonight, but I wanted to get on and write. Routines, after all, are very important right now.
I am at a bit of a loss of what to write tonight. I was supposed to blog yesterday, but I wasn't feeling it then either. I had a great run yesterday -- W6D1 of C25K is complete, and I have just about a month left to go. Tonight's blog is just a bit of scattered thoughts.
I have a weird issue with sharing my running progress with my friends. For whatever reason (my own insecurity), when some of them ask me how my running is going, I feel stressed. If they suggest we run a race together, I nearly shut down. It makes no logical sense, I know, but I guess I feel patronized. Again, this is entirely in my own head. My friends are kind and sincere in their interest; it just triggers some sort of feeling of inadequacy in me. However, I have two friends with whom I can share my progress and not feel this way. We are all comparable in ability and progress, and we are planning to run a 5k and 10k together. I am excited and energized when I talk to them, and I am so glad that I have them.
I am frustrated that I haven't lost weight. I used to be able to just increase my exercise and pay a little more attention to what I eat, and I would drop weight easily. Now, I have maintained the same weight for six months. It feels like it just won't budge. I have started using http://www.myfooddiary.com , and I hope that will help me to realize what it is I really am eating. Otherwise, I am heading back to Weight Watchers. I know it works; I was just hoping to do it a different way this time.
I think I have Success Avoidance issues. I learned about this yesterday at a workshop (I teach high school). It was supposed to help us see how we can reach our students, but I really ended up diagnosing myself. I have sabotaged my efforts to accomplish things time and time again. I don't know why exactly; I think it's a combination of a few things, but I definitely have the issue. So, I am recognizing it, but I am not engaging it. I refuse to fail this time. I will run that half marathon. I will finish. I will succeed.
From Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you notto be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about s.hrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
For the glory of God, for my daughter, for me . . . I will succeed
Today, I think I became a runner. I ran two miles today without walking, without stopping, and without dying. Two miles may not be much in terms of distance, but it is monumental to me. Two miles is respectable; it requires more sustained effort than scraping out a mile. It's 2/3 of the way to a 5K -- a respectable racing distance. Two miles, for me, is an accomplishment.
It felt great running today. Legs, lungs -- everything felt great. Repeating W5 of the C25K program was a good decision, and now I won't feel discouraged if I need to repeat another day or week as I go forward. I killed today's run. There was no doubt that I would finish, no shuffling out the last half mile, no clutching the rails of the treadmill. In fact, I could have kept running. If someone walked into the gym today and saw me for the first time, they might have even thought I was a real runner. So, then, maybe I am. . .
The thing I have realized as I have gone along is that the only thing holding me back is my mind. My body wants to move, to shed its extra weight, to run. My mind keeps trying to tell my body that it can't do those things. It reminds my body that I have always quit before and that it's inevitable that I will quit again. That voice seems to want me to fail because it's familiar with failure -- with settling for mediocrity. But my heart and my soul are ready for something better, and that voice will not get the better of me this time.
My mindset needs a makeover. Instead of even the lukewarm thinking, "I'm going to be a runner. I'm almost there," I am getting used to the empowering idea that I AM a runner. I do, in fact, run, after all. Therefore, by definition . . .I am a runner. If I can just keep that ugly voice in my head quiet, my heart and my soul can start to really feel that in every part of my being. I'm a runner.
Years ago when I first started my attempts to become a runner, I read an article that made a claim I have held onto ever since. Our bodies are made to move. Anyone can run.
This statement became particularly important to me in these past two weeks of training. Week five of the C25K plan beat me down -- at least temporarily. I didn't finish the third run of the week, but tried to move onto day one of week six with bad results. Up until that point it had felt great. I could feel my legs and lungs getting stronger each day, and I loved how I felt after. Week five, all of a sudden, was hard. I didn't want it to be hard. I wanted to be a runner with little effort. I wanted to sail through my training all the way to that day in February when I run my half marathon. I liked the exhaustion after a good, hard workout, but I didn't want to have a lot of trouble getting through it. Week five was a wake up call from reality. While anyone can run, not everyone does. That's because it's not easy. It's hard. And if I truly want to be a runner, to embody that word, I have to get used to it being hard. And, what's more, I have to learn to love it.
The last time I tried this program, I quit -- after finishing week five. It seemed week five was again threatening to kill my progress, the first (and probably not the last) setback on my journey. But this time, I am doing this not just for me, but for my daughter. I want her to grow up knowing that most things in life worth having only come with hard work. If I quit because things get a little difficult, I am failing myself and her. So this time I decided to change the outcome. Like so many things in life, I realized that moving backward was necessary to move forward. I restarted week five, and, with two days down and one to go, I am killing it. I feel great, and I am looking forward to taking on day three on Sunday. And if Sunday doesn't go well? I will run W5D3 as many times as necessary until I finish it.
Anyone can run. It just takes putting one foot in front of the other -- and knowing sometimes moving back is indeed moving forward.
Today, I restarted week 5 of the Couch to 5K running plan (www.coolrunning.com) . After two rough runs, I decided to go back a week and refocus my efforts. As I headed out the door, I told Clare that mommy was going for a run. "Momma, run, run, run!" she answered. How could I not have a great run after that?
My run today was a turning point. I was frustrated that I had to go back a bit in the program, especially since it's the furthest I have gotten before. But today felt great! My legs were strong, my lungs felt awesome, and I felt like I could have kept running. What a difference a day can make.
Having inspiration beyond my own personal motives is helpful. My husband handed me a picture of Clare the other day after a particularly emotional breakdown. He told me to put it on the treadmill when I run. Glancing down at my baby girl's face helps when the minutes seem to slow. And it seems to be touching others, too. Today, as a woman walked by my treadmill she stopped and looked up at me. "I love your inspiration," she said, nodding at Clare's picture.