Monday, December 29, 2014

Never Give up, Never Give up, Never Give up

          Running tries us in so many ways. I feel like a "runner" some days, yet, on other days I feel like an outsider in this sport. Last month, while in the midst of holiday planning hell and all future days seemed booked for weeks, I truly, truly came to believe that I was indeed a stranger, an importer in this world of running, "surely I did not belong" I thought. I was so convinced of my duplicitous status that I was ready to turn in the towel and go back to my life as a non-runner. Just that day I get a very gracious post on my Facebook page from a friend thanking me for inspiring her to run outdoors in winter. I was reminded by this gesture that we are not only on this earth for ourselves, but that we are also here to service others. Just as I may have inspired my friend last winter with my posts about the "hows" and "whys" of winter running, she now inspired me to play my part, not just in running, but in life.
            This lessons of not giving up has helped me in so many other ways lately. Just this week, after eating holiday foods for days at a time, each run has literally felt like I was running through peanut butter with a sprinkle of pain for the first 3 miles. In addition, my pace has slowed down enough to make me, again, wonder if I should even call myself a runner. But the answer came swiftly and decisively this time. "Yes, I belong, this is my sport and all this will pass, never, ever give up". Whatever comes out of this "never give up" endeavour, it certainly will be a heck of a lot more positive than what happens if I simply chose to give up. In essence, LIFE is about never giving up.
             Robin William's suicide always comes up in my thoughts in relation to the subject of giving up. I wonder if he had a clue how many people saw and felt his movies to be a lifeline, a ray of hope. Him taking his life, in essence, left a lot of people feeling hopeless. For example, his movie, "What dreams may come" helped me deal with my friend's suicide 8 years ago, and therefore William's own suicide left me feeling betrayed, even hopeless. The take away from his death is that we all look at each other for hope, we all seek through each other and the messages we send through the way we live can very much be the lifeline to other's hope and dreams.
            For all these reasons, I can't give up. My pace has slowed to a crawl in the past week, my legs hurt more than usual for the first 3 miles of any run, I have gained some weight due to stress and holiday treats, but, one thing has become clear this up is not an option.

Rehoboth Beach Marathon

                    We get to the hotel and my only concern was how I would get to the race the next morning. I get this number and call it to set up a pick up. Took about 8 minutes to get there in the morning and was surprised at how easy it was to get to the start line, get my bib and my t-shirt. The race had this tubs for people to put their belongings in but we were told right off they would not really be keeping track of them much. 
          I walked to Dunkin Donuts and they had a holiday tree there with donuts on them. 

            I was early enough that I could walk down the beach and see the sunrise. I met three very nice ladies who took my picture. I wish I had gotten their contact info, but as it most often goes in these races, you make friends and then forget to share your information. I was surprised how close the beach was to was a very nice morning.

             Me having a banana and half a peanut butter sandwich with my Dunkin Donuts coffee before the race.

                     T- minus 20 minutes....
                   After the race Rehoboth Beach Marathon threw a big ol' party. I had previously paid for my husband to also get the post-race lunch and kids ate free. The music was amazing and we all had a great time....oh, did I mention the FREE BEER....all you can drink? 

            The medal....I am finally a Marathon Maniac!! 3 marathons in 41 days. 

        Big boys always have a good time, as long as there is food. 

        Enjoying my free beer and meal....

              My son, who is rarely allowed to drink soda, gets to drink soda.....very fun. 

             Family photo.....we should have turned the other way I know....but my legs were too lazy and tired.
                At night we go out to the town to a family dinner....Nora, orders soup with me. A rainy cold night, not like the daytime....which, lucky for us, was a very nice day. 

       I love rain and I love overall this evening was so nice. The next day was so, so cold, we were all thankful that the race was not on Sunday for that would have been way too cold.....hopefully next year the weather will be the, but not windy. 

         Next morning we go to IHOP for breakfast. 

            Luke of course orders a chocolate pancake, the adult size....

I am absolutely going to do this race was so much fun.....very quaint, friendly, awesome volunteers, awesome course, great after-party!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Richmond Marathon Recap

This will be as informal a recap as they, I apologize in advance.

I am trying to do 3 marathons in 90 days in order to qualify for The Marathon Maniacs. Knowing nothing about Richmond I opted to drive there that morning, park, run, then drive back home. Chris watched the kids and all three were texting me all morning with encouraging words. I got to Richmond and was very lucky to find parking right on 15th and Main Street, walked uphill to the race start and met a wonderful new marathoner in the bathroom line. Below is the machine where you get the info to park. I got my cell and it cost $5 for parking.....sweet!

These are the few pictures I did like of me of the many I noticed were taken....from mile 1-13 it was amazing....Richmond is beautiful this time of year. The leaves have fallen or are about to fall, the houses look interesting, the neighborhoods were very welcoming, lots of unofficial stops for anything from candy, beer to vaseline. at around mile 18 I was feeling to demoralized and exhausted, mile 24-26.2 I was my fastest....I have no idea where all the pain from earlier went, but it went away and I pretty much bolted to the finish line....I was so pumped at the end, even the person who gave me the medal even had to tell me, "you can stop running now"

I think I am going to leave behind my hydration pack next time. Maybe it will save me a few minutes on time.

Texting back and forth from the kids and hubby

         I walked 1.3 miles back to my car. A wonderful way to help recovery happen MUCH faster.....and this tree just looked amazing at the top of this hill.....

The medal is gorgeous and heavy....lots of fall leaves, even on the strap. My students on school really liked my medal and some even wore them during class. 

The clouds were very cool at the end.....and look at this public art.....

Me trying to be creative and take pictures of myself in the cylindrical reflection. 

Inspiration goes around and around

                 I was going through the "poor me's" a few days back. The "poor me's" means I was spending a lot of time feeling bad about myself. Distance running does a funny thing to ones perspective of personal achievement. Last week I ran and finished my 4th marathon ever, yet, the celebratory feeling never even got going. The last 2 miles, all I could think of was getting into my car and going home and getting this race behind me. What was I feeling so bad about? I was feeling bad about my time. It took me over 6 hours to finish this one. almost a whole hour slower than my fastest and 20 minutes slower than my previous, #3.  

                 What had caused me to be slower? I had gained some weight, 20lbs to be exact, and I was mad at myself for allowing this to happen. But share that gripe, about not being happy with your time, with any non-runner and they will pretty much tell you how proud you should be. Not even that, if someone were to tell me they just ran a marathon in that time, I would absolutely celebrate their accomplishment and make sure they knew how impressed I was. So why can't I do that to myself? Why am I holding myself up to a standard so above others?, why can't I just be happy with the fact that I ran 26.2 miles, non-stop....?

                  Just then, I get tagged on a Facebook post from by friend who had just run in very cold weather and she was thanking me for inspiring her and for teaching her to like running in the cold.....I can't give up after a post like that? No matter what my time is, running is a part of me and sticking with it, doing the journey with it is what it's all about. My slow, curvy, relentless racing self has a place in this sport, no matter how much my various self-doubts try to convince me otherwise. It's not about acing each and every race and getting a PR each time....It's about how you go about dealing with the injuries, and the tough cold morning runs, and negotiating what food choices we make, or don't. From this point forward I will simply ignore the self-doubts that creep in after these tough runs, or tough races. I will remind myself that my part in this sport is absolutely essential, if only to inspire 10, 5, 2 or even one other person to go out there and run.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

As simple as it gets...

Running is so simple. You put on your shoes, and out the door you go. 

       I have found that surrounding yourself with simple things, simple relationships, simple love, simple jobs, simple and uncomplicated friendships can add to my general happiness. Too often, when I've met people who have all sorts of drama in their lives, the phrase, "Oh what a tangled web we weave" keeps crossing my thoughts.  Too often these people have often taken the few large decisions they could make in their lives and all the way through they've chosen the most painful, complicated paths, instead of the more simple ones. Make no mistake, I've been there too. I chose to stay with a very wrong person for EIGHT LOOOOONG years before I chose to save ME, my sanity, my future, my vision of my future. People who choose sanity over chaos have my deepest respect; and too often the ones who live the simplest lives have walked through the worse types of hell. 

      But there is good news..... The very simple act of running and making room for this sport in our lives can truly come in handy to help us, in essence, take the garbage out, make things less complicated. 

      How you ask? Let me explain. Running has the power to change one's life. It not only has changed mine, but millions of others all over the world. Just read any blog about running, you will quickly learn that running has allowed people with all sorts of living hell to simplify their lives and find true happiness and hope.

      On a more technical level though, when you go out and sweat, let the wind blow on your face as you run around your neighborhood, you are teaching your body to crave this very act of moving through space. During every one of my runs, at about mile 3, I start beaming, a huge smile comes across my face and all is good with the world for the rest of my run and hours and even days after. It is about mile three that my body has gotten over the initial stiffness and is now smoothly moving though space and I realize just then how amazing this gift of running is.....All things fall into place and all that does not below is clearly seen as extra.....

So just get out there. Forget paces, races, speed, other runners....just go out there and do your best. Afterwards, bask in your triumph. You'll see that within a few weeks you begin crave how good you feel after every run and naturally fall into a pattern that works for you. The rest works itself out, I promise. Your daily runs, like as in meditation, will allow you the clarity of mind to know what needs to be done next. Your runs will allow you to learn on a very real level that nothing is impossible.  

Perhaps I am truly unable to express here in this post just HOW it is that running changes lives, but I just know it does....One thing I do know, it's that running is so important to my own personal sanity, and to my physical and emotional well being. It is the activity which shines on a light on life itself. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

I run my own race.....I don't want to race you.....

                   We all run for different reasons. I may run for sanity, you may run for speed, some may run for health, others may run to connect with something bigger; the reasons are unique as each runner. Coming into running not particularly fast or fit, or young for that matter, has allowed me the freedom to very much define and mold the sport of running as it best suits ME, with very little care, concern to regard for how others might define it for themselves. 
             All that aside, there are some runners out there who fail to see the endless array of possible ways in which people might relate to running, aside from just "speed". Some of these more nearsighted runners seem to think we all have similar goals and dreams when it comes to running. For example, I have encountered a few runners these past 2 years whose initial response to knowing my obsession with running is putting up an immediate competitive front; they might bring up times and even go as far as labeling certain finish times as "fast", or "slow", or ask if you "jog" or run? 

           You can tell you are dealing with an overzealous, competitive runner in 3 ways. One, the runner will often not ask you any personal questions about your own running experience EVER, such as why you started running, what you get out of it, etc. This is simply because they assume they already know this information about you. Two, the runner will immediately bring up times, paces, past races, number of races and you will immediately know by what they say, what they think is "fast" or "slow". Three, you might not feel so good after talking to them. 

           To this day I am not quite sure what to do with these types of runners. I have never pretended to be fast so I could care less if you are faster. How does one go about telling an overzealous runner you are not interested in stealing their show? 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Marathon #3 in the bag...reflections...

                  So, marathon number 3 is in the bag!! I am sitting here basking in the warmth of my bed and so happy to be resting. I will post all my pics soon...but for no I am taking a rest. My medal is a heavy piece of art and I am beyond delighted....I could be like one of those Debby-downer women we all know too well and start picking apart my success, but I will save you the sob story and just what that I've gained some weight, which in turn brought my time up some....I will not let that ruin my great feeling. Marathoning has never been about speed. In trying to pin point what IS marathoning about I started to make a mental here it goes:

* we ALL have had this feeling that we are just off somehow. The whole time I am training I have to roll back these self-deprecating thoughts that gnaw away at my confidence, that little voice that says, "you don't belong here.", the voice that says, "you will fail at this.".....the ONLY thing that makes the voice go away is the triumph of the marathon. I went into this race with 2 main goal....1, run all the way and 2, finish. I accomplished these goals and I have once again succeeded in rolling back the voice....crossing that finish line is proof that I am exactly where I need to be. 

* Marathoning is about being part of this amazing tribe. When I meet another runner I immediately have a higher level of trust in them....there are some very specific lessons that running teaches all of us, the lessons about perseverance, trust in our bodies, listening to our bodies, trusting in the process, the ideas that bad days almost always followed by good ones.....marathoners carry these gifts in them and therefore the connection is one of immediately trust and camaraderie. 

* When preparing to run for one marathon you learn a lot about your body. But when you train for one or several marathons yearly you learn an enormous amount about your body. You learn how your body heals, how food can make or break a run, how sleep affects your performance. You also learn how to distinguish between severe and less severe injuries...marathoning teaches you to simply work with your body better and better each time. 

* Marathoning also allows you to experience and meet an constant flow of inspirational stories, truly the best of human nature. This past race I ran right behind a lady who had a picture of her son whom she lost in battle, some were missing limbs, some were elderly folks barely able to walk smoothly, some were in hand cycles...marathoning is a rich array of survivors, people who have met hell and have come back triumphant. One could easily be surrounded by all types of people in this life, but how rich it feels to constantly be surrounded by these amazing people with stories that will just break your heart.....You always come back to the thought, "If they made it after what they've been can I."

Monday, October 13, 2014

20 miler done......

                  Being a full worker and full time mommy does not allow much absent time for marathon training. On this day I woke at 4am and was out the door at 4:30am....not a soul in sight for the whole first hour. And even when I did see a human being into the first hour, I did not see another for a whole 45 minutes. Lots of people out a bit later, in groups, doing their long runs. Absolutely beautiful day! I have started off with a very tight and demanding training schedule, but as like started to happen I realized just how little energy I had left each day. So, now my goal is simply to finish. A secondary goal, and not much of a priority is to beat my time from my first marathon, which was also a road race.  More later. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Running- Beyond the Gadget Stage

                I have come to the point in my training where I have everything I need gear-wise. I have my summer shorts that easily pair off with one of my race shirts for when it's warm, I have a slew of expensive running socks that work well to prevent blisters. I have half a dozen Sweaty Bands that look amazing on my head. For winter, I have my favorites too, all the way down to the warm hat and ipod-friendly gloves. Therefore, except for the occasional shoe replacement and weekly GU's and s-caps for my long runs, I am pretty much all set. I liken this stage to getting past the 'honeymoon' stage in any endeavor, from house buying, marriage, having a baby, buying a new fancy car and on and on. Now is when the real running begins. Now it's when I get to appreciate running for running's sake and not for the cool things I can get as a runner. 
                  A few weeks back we dug out a slightly deflated basketball from one of our toy boxes and we decided to take it to the park. From that day on my daughter, who is 7, has become close to obsessed with shooting hoops. But being a shop-a-holic that she is, she immediately goes online and looks up basketball sneakers, and basketball shorts, etc.... She starts driving me and my hubby crazy about buying her the "proper" attire for the sport. Hubby and I try in vain to convince her that no such gear is needed to shoot hoops, and ESPECIALLY at her age, but no, she had her mind set. The parallel here is an obvious one. I too, at the very beginning of my running journey, have felt that I could not possibly be a "real" runner without all the gear. My husband, who has been running for much, much longer than me has always found it sort of silly that I was spending so much money to, in essence, become a runner. "You don't need all that, I've been running for 25 years without a tech shirt", he'd remind me daily, in a lighthearted tone. But I needed to do it and I did and now I am on the other side of this buying frenzy with nothing else to squeeze from this obsession, but plain ol' running and nothing more. Now is when my relationship with running actually begins. 
                    As a practicing Buddhist I work on myself daily to find value in the present moment and in our common daily tasks. Thich Nhat Hanh explained in his book The Miracles of Mindfulness: 

             “To my mind, the idea that doing dishes is unpleasant can occur only when you aren’t doing them…I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware of the dish, the water, and each movement of my hands.  I know that if I hurry in order to eat dessert sooner, the time of washing dishes will be unpleasant and not worth living.  That would be a pity, for each minute, each second of life is a miracle.”

                Running is just now taking on its proper place in my life, away from all the inner celebratory fanfare experienced as a new runner it will take on its place as a 'common daily task'. Focusing on getting the proper attire for the sport is not at all a bad thing, that is not where I am going with this. But I do feel that we may lose or never fully gain a full appreciation for the sheer joys of running if we never step down from the 'honeymoon', gear buying stage of running. Now that my 'honeymoon' stage with gear-buying is over I can begin to fully focus all my energy on finding joy in learning more about my body, my breathing. I wake up daily now looking for wind on my face, and trying the catch that moment between mile 2 and 3 where I actually feel sheer joy, gratitude and humbleness at being able to run, nothing more. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Runner's World Front Cover Contest

Hey all! I just entered the contest and if you feel like it, would you please vote for me? Thanks. Here is the link...If you are a runner and want to enter the contest the link below will also take you there.
also find other runners and rad about their stories on twitter....just search #RWcovercontest



I started running the week I noticed I was 38 and just knew I could not run a block without getting winded. I had also gained a lot from my two pregnancies and needed to lose some of that extra weight. I no longer run for weight loss, but had gained confidence, tons of leg muscles and a true sense of peace and happiness that only running daily could provide.
I completed a very tough and technical 50K in West Virgina mountains even before running one marathon. Now I have completed 2 marathons, 3 halves, 1 50K and I am due to complete 2 more marathons in the fall. But what I am most proud of is the new way I see and relate to my body. This c-section scarred curvy mommy body has gotten me through so much.....I can truly say I have a very loving and compassionate relationship with my body.
Running is my sanity, my daily triumph, my mood adjuster, my problem solver, my special all-around friend. Running has brought me so much happiness, I can see myself running until I am an old, old lady. In fact, I aim on breaking Harriette Thompson's 91 year old record someday.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Far Distant Future Goals

               We all get old, then older, then we slow down.....having my 94 year-old mother-in-law staying with us for almost two weeks has made me think a lot about my running goals for the far distant distant future. My mind keeps going back to Harriette Thompson, the 91 year-old (above video) who just won the world record this year for being the oldest woman (age 90 and over) to run a marathon. THIS is what I want to do, I want to continue to be active and never give mind also thinks of Joy Johnson daily.....she is the elderly woman who, after running her 25th NYC marathon, died in her sleep the day after....I have no plans to slow fact, once my kids get older I fully plan on doing more adventure-style races, races in which I can actually travel to.....can't wait. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Training plan for 2 marathons in the fall...3 weeks apart

            I am running the Marine Corps Marathon (marathon #3) and the Anthem Richmond Marathon (marathon #4) in the fall  of 2014 and basically chose Hal Higdon's 18-week Intermediate training plan and then to be ready for the second marathon I repeated the last 3 weeks to make it into a 21-week training plan with small adjustments to week 19 to allow for healing from the first marathon. I am actually starting on week 3 with 27 miles for the week and could not be more excited about this plan.
Notice on week 19, instead of doing a week with 5/8/5/4/ and 12 miles...I will allow myself to do a week with 3/5/3/4/ and 12 miles.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Anthem Richmond Marathon----all you've ever wanted to know!!

Runner's World Magazine named us a "Must Do" marathon in 2005 & 2009 and twice selected us as the site of their Marathon Challenge!
The January 2005 issue of Runner’s World magazine had this to say in touting Richmond as one of the 12 must-do marathons that offer “big fun, big scenery, big rewards”:
This marathon starts and finishes in charming historic downtown Richmond, once the capital of the south. The scenic, fast loop course takes in all of the city’s old neighborhoods, traveling up Monument Avenue, past statues of Confederate soldiers and Richmond native and tennis star Arthur Ashe, through the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, then alongside the James River. Along with the typical water and sports drink stops, this is probably the only race in the country that offers junk food stops, at miles 16 and 22, stocked with Gummy Bears, cookies, and soda. There are also two wet-washcloth stations, at miles 17 and 23, perfect for cleaning up for your finish-line photo. Three party zones set up along the way with free food, prize giveaways, and noisemakers for spectators and family means lots of enthusiastic, cheering support. The last mile features a fast downhill to the finish in the trendy Shockoe Slip area, where there are plenty of postrace goodies, including bagels, fruit, and pizza, and a band to celebrate your finish. (Runner’s World, January 2005)
-I got more food during this race itself than any other I participated in. 
-Spectators not many but very supportive 
- Wet towels during the race were very nice touch! "

Online Race Recaps:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Running in the heat and humidity

When running in this heat I practice allow

I allow sweat to happen, 
I allow my heart rate to dictate my pace, 
I allow my face to get red and not worry about it, 

Overall, I have found that I love running in the heat and skin looks amazing during and right after my runs....nothing like seeing my arms, legs and neck glistening with sweat. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

North Face Endurance Marathon - 06/07/14

                  Went to The North Face Store in Tysons Corner to pick up my bib. I looked at the directory and guess where The North Face Store was listed.....? Under T for THE North stupid....

Getting ready the night before. Earphones, sunscreen, vaseline, 14 GU's, 7 S-caps, visor, bug spray, Road-ID, chafing stick, smart wool socks (got free as part of race packet), hydration pack, bib, safety pins, TP in a baggie, advil, $, water, wallet, car keys, credit card, address to place to park for race....

 I am off!!

Wore my 50K t-shirt for good luck. 

The day is absolutely beautiful!! 

Shuttle to race from parking lot was a school bus....the shuttle back to our cars after the race was so STINKY, even with the windows open. 

Got there an hour early so got a chance to look at the water for some time. 

What a beautiful day to go for a LOOONG run!!

Muddy them....I call them feet spas...I LOVE mud...but better yet, I love stream crossings....only way to get through them is getting in...

Running through mud here!!! 

View of the course.....How can one not want to trail run. I did not need my music at was the PERFECT running weather...

Got my medal!!! ran the whole way, the whole time (except steep hills and when I needed to use the potty once)....But I felt so strong the whole way and my feet and legs complaints...

Met Dean Karnazes!!!

Okay, I feel like a total groupy now!! Karnazes' book, Ultramarathon Man was the first book about running I read and he makes running seem so easy, accessible....such a super humble man.

The medal looks nice....I wish they had the milage on the medal itself, but I see how economically this makes more sense. I need to get myself a medal rack now.....

My shirt....okay, I think they were not that creative with the logo, but I am wearing this all day Sunday....and no, my chest is not really that big.....:(, just the angle of the picture...

I need to give my sneakers a bath today. We had 2 stream crossings that were about knee deep and dozens of muddy passes. I am so doing this again next year!!

 Having a blast....!! I am also so happy with my time....I ran an average 4 minutes a mile faster than my 50K....!! Feeling strong and loving it.