The Mental Struggle

Last month, I registered for my first full marathon.  I’ll be running the 2015 SLO Marathon in San Luis Obispo, CA, my home town.  I can’t express how excited I am for this race and to finally get to run where my family has an opportunity to watch and cheer me on.

That said, I’ve started to become absolutely terrified.  Terrified of the course.  I know it well.  There are long stretches where it’s straight.  There are long, steep hills, most notably the one you hit at mile 3.  At mile 20, you’re still out in winery country, nowhere near the downtown finish. And to top it off, I won’t know a single person racing the marathon.

That’s the scariest part.

Up until now,  I’ve been able to count on seeing someone I know in a race.  If I struggle or hit the mental dark place, there’s going to be someone to pull me out of it.  I feel like in a marathon, it’s just a given that’s going to happen.  It won’t be the same to have people supporting me on the course.  They won’t be able to run me in the last six miles.  That makes me incredibly nervous.  Not the training, not the distance.  The fact that if I struggle, I’m alone.

I’m so ready for this.  I’m excited to kick off training and start logging those high miles and just experience it all.  But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t considering moving up my first full to a race where I will know people out on the course.  I’m not sure the course would be any easier (Little Rock, for those who know that course) but I at least would have someone there to drag me if I needed it.

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Get wet. Get dirty. Run Dogwood.

Yesterday was THE day.  The day I had been waiting for.  The day I had been training for.  The day I sacrificed blood and sweat for.  The day I spent the last 12 Saturday mornings on the trails for.  It was Dogwood.  And it was amazing.

I haven’t been this jacked for a race in a long time.  Part of it was the fact that it was a new challenge: 25K and a trail race.  Part of it was this amazing running family I’ve discovered.  I felt so ready.  I was ready.  Even now, feeling how my body responded after the race, I KNOW I was ready.  I’m not sure I could have trained any harder.  I was prepared.  And I am so thankful for that because this race is NOT the kind you want to jump into unprepared.  Think I’m exaggerating?  Here’s an elevation snapshot:

Dogwood Elevation

The course: beautiful.  Picturesque.  Stunning.  There aren’t enough words to describe how the leaves looked and how well maintained it was.  Perfect.

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I didn’t stop to take many pictures, mostly because I was too busy feeling amazing.  It’s been a while since I felt THAT prepped for a race and that good in general.  Eventually my glutes started to get tired and my shoulders started to tense but after 16.5 miles, I feel like that’s to be expected.

The event directors were amazing.  The volunteers were amazing.  The course aide was amazing.  Everything was top notch.  I can’t wait to do this again.  I may take on the challenge (15K and 25K on back to back days) but I haven’t decided yet.  I do know that I’m going to be there again next year and I’ll be counting the days!

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Two. More. Weeks.

I’m now (less than) two weeks out from my FIRST trail race.  It’s also my longest race ever.  To celebrate, I took a week off from my trail training to participate in my FAVORITE race of the year, the Panther Run.  Three distances to choose from, naturally, I went with the 15K.

It was an EPIC race.  Cool temps meant PR weather!  I fell into a comfortable pace early, running alongside a woman from my running group.  We didn’t speak at all.  I think we were each racing the other the entire time.  Trail running has encouraged me to power down the hills, even on the road now.  So once we started hitting hills, I pulled away, but was never too far ahead. Eventually we ended up right back together and raced it out for the last mile.  At the end, we exchanged a high five.  I hit a PR by 14 minutes.  Maybe it’s not as big of a deal, considering my only previous 15K was over a year and a half ago, but I’m still celebrating besting my time.

As for trail racing…I now have three trail races on my schedule between now and Thanksgiving.  One 15K, one 25K and a half marathon.  I’m super excited.  Although the elevation chart for the 25K is just a little bit intimidating.  I’ll leave you with this:

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Ten Toes, Nine Toenails

Guys!  I became a REAL runner today!  I lost my first toenail.  It’s been hanging on by a thread now for a couple of days and I just didn’t have the mental fortitude to rip it off.  But it started snagging on my socks and I tell you what, wearing Vibrams with a half ripped off nail just isn’t fun.  So I made it happen.

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What do you do with your first ripped off toenail?  I have thought about giving it a name and keeping it in a box.  Bronzing it and putting it on a necklace.  I’m actually really excited about this.  I’m sure people think I’m insane and incredibly weird but I trained hard and earned this!

It feels weird.  It’s bleeding a little where I had to give it a little extra “umph” to encourage it coming off.  Guess I should take care of that…

Were you this excited when you lost your first nail?  Am I really that weird?

Hot, Hot, HOT.

Weather Shot

This is my life right now. We are currently in a heat advisory, now through Sunday. And guess what tomorrow is? Long run Saturday! Training for a trail race, there is no substitute for getting out on the trails, so I have no choice but to make sure my butt makes it to the 6:30AM training group tomorrow.

Training in the heat and humidity is a different beast. You need to be SO careful. I normally run 9:40-10:00 minute miles on the road. This was my yesterday:

Humid RunKeeper

Slooooooooooooooooooow. But you know what? It’s ok. Why? BECAUSE I DIDN’T DIE. So that’s a huge plus. I ran out of water around 4.5-5 miles. And then experienced a few chills. When you start getting chills, it’s time to say game over, throw in the towel, get a cold drink and call it a run. But I was so miserable the rest of the day. Headaches, body aches, you name it. Not ok. I know better.

If you’re in a part of the country experiencing this heat, be safe! Listen to your body, take more water than you think you might need and let someone know where you are! Take shade breaks, walk breaks, whatever you need. Allow yourself to be slower than normal because it’s totally ok! Dying is not ok.

Stay safe, runners!

Falling behind

Life. It happens. Life doesn’t care if you have a triathlon in two weeks or are just starting a 13 week training plan for your first 25K trail race. It carries on however it pleases and you have to figure out how to roll with it.

It also doesn’t care if you are supposed to be starting a new job in two days either. But this is a running and fitness blog so we’ll stick with the other stuff 🙂

When life calls, you answer. You don’t ignore what’s going on because you have something else going. When someone needs you, you go. This isn’t me complaining that I had to pick up at a moments notice and go home to be there for my family. I would do it again in an instant. It’s about how you pick up when you get back.

You can sit there and be miserable that you missed that time. That triathlon PR would’ve been great. That 12 mile trail run that turned into a 9.5 mile trail run could’ve been way better if I didn’t miss the first three weeks of the training group. But I didn’t PR and I didn’t train those weeks. It is what it is. You pick up and continue. Make the best of where you are and know that you’re going to get there. It’s just going to be a little longer than you first thought.

It’s totally ok.

In fact, it’s better than ok. It means that you are confident enough in yourself to know that you can step away for a moment, tend to what you need to, come back and be fine.

Never get so caught up in your own life that you aren’t able to answer the call when someone needs you. Running teaches us to be confident and strong. Be confident enough to step away and lend that strength to those around you when they need it the most.

Meg’s Miles

If you’re a runner that is active on social media (which you obviously are because you’re reading this blog) you have heard of Meg’s Miles.  In case you haven’t heard, here is an excerpt from the Facebook event: 

Meg Cross Menzies was tragically killed by a drunk driver while out for her morning run on January 13, 2014. As an avid runner, member of the Richmond Road Runners Club, and Boston marathoner, she was a member of the running family nationwide. In her honor, our hope is to raise awareness of drunk driving, texting and driving, and overall safety of runners and cyclists everywhere. 

 

Runners everywhere have united today to run in her honor.  I don’t belong to a running group or club, nor do I usually run with a partner.  Running today in her honor got me thinking about several things.

First of all, I am truly blessed to be fortunate enough to get out and run.  I live in a spot where I am able to walk right out my door and run in any direction.  There are beautiful, well maintained trails everywhere.  The scenery is gorgeous.  Not only that, I am healthy enough to get out and run.  Did I feel like running today?  Not really.  It was windy and cold to start but I got out there.  Why?  Because there are people out there who want to run, would give anything to run, but have had it taken from them in one way or another.  I ran for Meg and countless others who have had it taken from them.

Secondly, I ran without headphones.  Normally I’ll keep them for longer runs just to keep me motivated but I wanted to feel connected to everything around me today.  I wanted to be aware.  I wanted to be as safe as I could be.  As runners, we are unprotected.  It is up to us to do everything in our power to make sure we are seen and make sure we are safe.  And even then, something could still happen.  The very least we can do is everything in our power to make sure we get to Point B of our run in one piece.  I ran for Meg and countless others who did everything right.  (Sidenote: to the runner who I saw just dart out into traffic because he couldn’t be stopped by a red light, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!  Pausing for 30 seconds won’t kill you.  Running out into traffic might.)

Third, I was extra diligent in making sure Boyfriend knew my route and expected time of arrival to my destination.  I am guilty of not always doing that.  I try but sometimes think “oh, it’s just three miles, no big deal.”  Wrong.  Always, always let someone know where you are going to be and when to expect you.  I vow to be better at that.  

In addition to this, I always wear a Road ID, carry pepper spray, carry my ID and cell phone.  I wear my Road ID 24/7.  I didn’t always carry pepper spray, but after a strange encounter with a few dogs and some weirdos, I don’t leave home without it.  Some people think I’m weird but it makes me feel better.  I hope I never have to use it.  I run on well traveled roads where there is almost always someone about in a car.  I like to think that if something happened, that would mean someone would be driving by and could help if needed.

 

What do you do to stay safe when running, cycling or whatever your form of exercise is?  

Did you participate in Meg’s Miles today?  

Am I Training Again?

Silly me. Things have been so hectic with finishing my internship and the holidays that I COMPLETELY forgot my sub 2:15 half training started…December 22nd.

The good news? My internship is finished! My Intersession class is finished AND I passed! I survived the holidays!

And in all that, I managed to keep running, even if they weren’t training type runs.

I’ll take it.

You know, I follow a lot of body builders on Instagram. Their devotion blows me away. From food to workouts, they are on it all the time when they are training. If they deviate from their plan, that is the difference between winning or losing. Which is why I could never do it.

Running is my passion. I love it. But some days, I want to enjoy my life and I don’t have time for what is in the plan. And I think that’s ok. This is why I love running. She’s forgiving. To a point. I mean, you can’t NOT train and then go try to run an ultra. But you can miss a day or two, eat a burger and fries and not beat yourself up about it. I’m on a mission to enjoy life more this year. And running is exactly what I need to do that.

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