Another 13.1 in the Books

Yesterday I got out on the trail and put 13.1 miles away.

A year ago yesterday I ran my first half marathon, and yesterday, I ran my second. No crowds, medals, cameras, starting lines, or finish lines. Just me, my music and nature.With the Houston Half Marathon cancelled, I still wanted to test myself. No reason to wait for the next opportunity since I’m off of work.

It was unofficial, but I believe that the act of getting out there was what counted. I didn’t meet my time goal, which was slightly disappointing, but I did get out there when I didn’t have to, and I did finish.

With the storms that had come through, several parts of the route were actually flooded and I got some interesting photos. The weather was wonderfully cool and crisp, just cloudy enough to stay cool with the sun out. It was a great reminder of one of the things I love most about running – the opportunity to be out in nature.

Once again I felt free, and have a renewed joy for running. I love that running can be so difficult at times but it is so satisfying in the end.Oh, and I can now wear my race shirt feeling like I at least earned it.

Have you ever had a race get cancelled? How did you handle it?

Cheers to more chances to run and race!

After the Storm

As I mentioned a couple of days ago on social media, there was a 90% chance of rain on the day of my Half Marathon. Well, that chance became 100% because of a little hurricane named Patricia.

Yesterday (Saturday) was kind of a rough day. Due to the storm’s trajectory and high risk of flooding, traveling from Austin to Houston was not feasible, so I wasn’t able to make it. In the end, I was somewhat glad I didn’t risk my safety because the race ended up getting cancelled, with parts of the route underwater this morning. The rain continued all day, making it a dreary Saturday. Then, we watched the Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss game on TV, which was also a huge disappointment because the Aggies (my team) couldn’t even get a touch down. By the end of the day, I felt dejected.

However, today was a new day, and so is tomorrow. The Houston Half Marathon committee posted today that they are looking at “options” for how to move forward, so there is a chance they’ll still give us a way to earn our medal.  I got to sleep in, the cooler weather finally kicked in and it was even a bit chilly out today! And I made some delicious pot roast and had time to reflect on training this time around. Amazingly, it also appears that no one has died yet in the wake of this storm. Today offered perspective, and I have much to be thankful for.

Regardless of this weekend’s mishap, I’m planning to run 13.1 tomorrow, here in Austin. I had several great long runs over the last couple of weeks, despite being generally underprepared for the race. I want the opportunity to prove something to myself, and I have that opportunity every day.


I was reminded this weekend that even when things are tough, there is always a chance to start over, to start fresh. Your attitude dictates your opportunity and tomorrow is what you make of it.

I’m looking forward to sharing the next steps of my running journey with you, and hearing of your successes and struggles, too. And I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes tomorrow.

Cheers!

#NationalRunningDay and My Runniversary!

Happy #NationalRunningDay!

It’s all too appropriate for me that this day falls right around my runniversary. I’m not sure when the actual date was when I decided that I was going to run a marathon, but it was sometime in early June (before this post on June 10). In fact, I remember reading posts last year on National Running Day and thinking, “are you sure about this?” This day holds a special significance from me, because I’ve come so far in just a year.

Running has changed my life. What I love about running is that it’s so challenging, yet calming. I love the sense of community and encouragement among runners. I love how healthy I feel after recovering from a good run. I love that I have focused more on being healthy since starting running. I love the endless parallels of running to real life. The list goes on.

But why do I run? “Why” is another story entirely.

Every run brings its own challenges, as does every day. Two years ago, I would have laughed if someone would have told me I would be a marathoner by 25.  I just didn’t think I could do something like that.

  
I run to define what I think is “possible.”  

I love the side effects, but the road to self-discovery is what’s most important to me.

If you set your mind to something, you’ll find it within yourself to make it possible.

Why do you run?

Monday Motivation – June 1, 2015

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Let’s face it: everyone feels like quitting sometimes. I want to encourage you all this week to keep going. Whether you’re dealing with an extremely difficult week at work, trying to conquer creative burnout, or running a marathon, a breakthrough is always around the corner. Keep pressing on. You got this! 😉

Cheers to another week (and the first week of a new month)!

Yes, running a marathon will change your life.

Around mile 17 of my marathon, the miles got hillier, seeming to drag on, and the spectators and energetic aid stations became more sparse, sapping me of my physical and mental energy. With nearly 10 miles left, I started to doubt myself.

Then, from the other side of the course, other runners began yelling to me, “you got this,” and “good job,” with a few thumbs up here and there. I thought it was strange at first, but soon realized how much their words were sinking in as truth. When I started running down the other side (around mile 18 or so), participants were still coming from where I just was. “If they are out there trying their best, running to the finish,” I thought,  “I can, too.” After all, they had even further to go than I did.

In that moment, I also made a decision to focus on encouraging them, which helped me shift my focus from my own personal struggle to something positive. The other miles flew by, to a point where I knew I could finish, even if I walked.

Then, another woman came up beside me and started walking and running with me. She told me her story – she had negative influences in her life and ran to overcome them, to do something positive for her health – which inspired me. We chatted and alternated running and walking the rest of the race. And then we crossed the finish line together!

It was nothing short of inspiring. The runners on the course didn’t have much of an audience, so we all had to step in and encourage each other. This wasn’t about who was running the race more quickly; it was about finishing and pushing each other to accomplish something we could all be proud of.

A little over a week later, that’s what has affected me most about the race.

A lot of this experience has been about pushing myself and my limits. I knew the hours I put in had to be done, but they pushed me in more ways than I thought. While I haven’t been alone by any means (I seriously have the most supportive husband, family and friends), many times the process still felt lonely; I had be my own encouragement and push myself during the hours of workouts, without much outside support. As an individual, training for the marathon was one of the most challenging experiences of my life.

What was life-changing about running the marathon was seeing the encouragement within the running community on the day of the race and realizing just how much I needed it to keep going. It helped me be at peace and gave me a deeper sense of accomplishment.

I was fortunate to share the joy of my accomplishment with so many of my personal friends, but I couldn’t believe the outpouring of support from complete strangers. Maybe everyone just had a “runner’s high,” but I prefer to think it was because we all needed each other.

Most importantly, it has been a great reminder of how simply being kind to others can make a greater impact than you realize.

I hope that everyone gets to experience this feeling. For me, it’s reason enough to run a race.

Thank you again to everyone who has supported me through this process – from my family and close friends who have listened to me talk about running, of all things (because that’s what was on my mind a lot), to all of you who have offered kind words, advice and support. I cherish the marathon as a personal accomplishment and feel fortunate to share in the joy of finishing with so many people. I’m enjoying the break from training for now, but am looking forward even more to what’s to come and hope to continue getting to know you all better as well!

Irving Marathon 2015 Recap

This past weekend, my first marathon took place in Irving, Texas! It was a life-changing, exhilarating experience that I will cherish for years and years and years.

After giving myself a few days to recover and enjoy the Easter holiday with my family, I want to share a recap of the weekend with y’all.

On Good Friday, Chris and I drove to Irving and checked into our hotel room. I was fortunate to be able to get off work a few hours early, so we could make it in time to pick up my packet and bib at Luke’s Locker. While this made me feel a little more relaxed, knowing that we could take our time to check into the hotel and that I would not have to pick up my packet the morning of the race, I still was feeling pretty nervous. Thankfully, Chris is very good at helping me remain calm.

Anyway, we found an Italian restaurant and grabbed dinner. They had the best bread, which helped in my carbo-loading efforts. Then, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few food items and some Advil, headed back to the hotel and got ready for bed.

To give my breakfast plenty of time to digest and to have enough time to use the restroom, take my time getting ready, etc. I planned to get up at about 5 a.m. However, I set my alarm for the wrong day and ended up waking up an hour late – around 6:15! I stayed calm, tried to get ready quickly without stressing (Chris decided to snap a quick picture to document the morning), and we walked out to the starting line, which was about a 10 minute walk from the hotel, around 6:45. The race was scheduled to start at 7:30, so we had plenty of time, which was nice, and we even got to see the beautiful sunrise. I think oversleeping actually ended up being a good thing because I didn’t have time to psych myself out.

Soon enough, it was time to find my corral and say goodbye to Chris… Can you tell I’m not a morning person?

The gun went off and the race began!

The strategy I mapped out for myself was to run 5 minute intervals with 1 minute of walking for the first half, and increase the intervals in the second half if I felt good. During the first half, I felt like I was making good time, not wearing myself out too much, and taking it relatively easy. It seemed to fly by and the volunteers were all so nice. There were water stations every mile or so throughout the course for the first half, so it was easy to wash my fuel down with water regularly. This part of the course also had the half marathon runners, so there were lots of people and it was great to feed off of that energy.

Then came the second 13.1 miles. The way the course was laid out, the marathon course had an out and back leg that split off from the half marathon course. This was nice, as part of it ran through parks and trails, but then it got to the point where it was in a hilly neighborhood. I was doing pretty well until about mile 17 or 18.

All of a sudden, I felt so drained, and everything hurt, including my hip, which never bothers me. My knee was actually feeling fine, which was a blessing. I stopped doing as many intervals and just ran as much as I could and walked. It was a small race (under 400 for the marathon), and because I was at the back of the pack, there were less and less people out there around me. The water stations were also further apart, which made it difficult to stay motivated. This was tough when I was already hitting a wall, feeling overwhelmed with 8 more miles to go on a hillier course than I anticipated and few people around, most of whom were also walking (but then again, running a marathon is supposed to be tough). I’ll have more on this later, but I honestly didn’t know if I could finish at this point and resolved to take it one mile at a time and see if I could focus on my music to make it to mile 19, then 20, and then 21.

I eventually made it to mile 22, when I finally felt like I could do it, even though I was totally beat. At that point, I made a new friend and we ran and walked together for the rest of the race, talking and trying to encourage each other. I will also have more on this, later.

Finally, the convention center where we started was in sight off in the distance. We took one final walk break and pushed ourselves to run the rest of the way to the finish line.

The finish line was such a blur. There were some people who stayed for a long time, and who I’m very grateful for. They cheered as I was coming in, though I was also listening to music and trying to savor the moment. I finally saw my husband and gave him the thumbs up – I was almost there.

I sprinted to the finish and then it was all over.  A volunteer insisted on putting my medal on me and I found Chris and gave him a huge hug. I shed a few happy tears. I found my friend, who didn’t have anyone to meet her at the finish, and congratulated her and thanked her for running with me. And then we left to go eat.

Chris took this photo right after I was handed my medal!

I honestly felt so accomplished and tired and happy all at the same time. It was a strange emotion. I didn’t want to take my medal off, even though we were the only ones from the marathon at the restaurant. Part of this came from my desire for people to understand why I was limping everywhere and walking so slowly. 😉

It was certainly one of the most accomplished feeling moments of my life. I felt like I gave the race everything I had and was absolutely giddy with joy and excitement. I even shed a few more tears of joy on the way home.

Thanks to everyone who has been supportive of me since I embarked on this endeavor. What’s made this experience so exhilarating is having people by my side to share in my joy.

I’m so grateful to have made it to the finish line and still can hardly believe it’s real… but it is! I’m a marathoner!

Monday Motivation – March 30

Maya Angelou Quote

It’s race week and I’m counting on courage (and a whole lotta the grace of God) to get me through. Getting nervous… but we all have to conquer our fears at some point and for that part of it, I am excited.

Have  a great week, y’all!

29 Days…

Until April 4.

Well, technically 30 if you count today, which is basically done.

Honestly I am so happy I could cry!

As many of you know, I have been fighting off burnout lately. Training has been intense for me, and I’ve been dealing with some random little injuries. All of this culminated in a feeling of not making much progress and runner’s high amnesia. To those of you who are new to running, runner’s high really is a thing. It is equal parts wonderful and necessary.

Then I got new shoes last weekend and have been running pretty much pain-free. Then tonight happened.

I just ran 5 miles in under 54 minutes and I could happy-cry.

I feel so accomplished. I have never run 5 miles in this short amount of time. This truly came at a time when I needed it most. I was really worried about my 20-mile run this weekend, and now I can go into it with confidence that I can achieve it.

Friends, this is what it’s all about. Accomplishing something at your most vulnerable point delivers strength and builds courage.

And now I’m tearing up. I really needed this. I wish I could bottle this feeling for the tough runs, like a little bit of Felix Felicis (for all you fellow Harry Potter fans) for good luck.

Cataloging this moment will have to suffice.

Now to watch House of Cards and celebrate. And be grateful for my new shoes, and thank God for this blessing of a day.

On Fighting Burnout…

Those moments where you want to give up? Yes, they do happen (and sometimes very often).

This past month, I ran over 100 miles – more miles than I’ve ever run before. I’ve been trying not to let it get to me, but, to be honest, it has. Not only has this been taking a bit of a physical toll on me, but it has been mentally tiresome. Though I love to run and I look forward to accomplishing my goal, I feel like running has consumed my life as of late.

Given that the task of running a marathon still seems like a large feat at this point, I thought it would be helpful to share with you some of the things I’ve been doing when I feel like quitting.

Fighting Burnout

Set Aside Time for Rest
There is an appropriate time for everything. Set aside a clear time to work and then rest. For example, I want to rest now, but I can’t because it’s not the right time yet. I told myself I would do this and now I have to keep going until I finish. It’s okay to sit on the couch for a weekend and watch House of Cards, but get the hard work done first so you can savor it. Side note: see the beach up there? Well, I found it all-too-fitting for this post, since it’s my idea of rest. I’ll at the beach soon, actually, and it’s the carrot in front of me for the next two weeks of intense training.

Focus on Small Landmarks
Set little goals for yourself and celebrate a small victory when you achieve them. It keeps you mentally engaged.

Mix Things Up
I’ve been running a different variation of the same route almost every time I visit the park, which has surprisingly made the miles fly by a little quicker. It keeps things fresh and I stay alert in order to track my mileage.

Find Your Person
Remember accountability? It’s vital. Find a friend, coworker, redditor, spouse, whatever works for you. Just find someone who knows you well enough to discern when you need a break, but isn’t afraid to call you on the carpet if you truly are not working to your full potential (like Meredith and Cristina from Grey’s).

Think Positive
I saved the most important for last! Personally, I am struggling with thinking negatively about running, and worry that I’m constantly injuring myself, which gives me an excuse to procrastinate and put off runs. I have been voicing these negative thoughts with an unfortunate frequency, so much that my husband has noticed and had to call me out on it in an encouraging, supportive way. While expressing your honest emotions isn’t a bad thing, it’s all too easy to cross the line between expressing honesty and bathing in negativity. The practical way to handle it? Yoga teachers are always preaching it – acknowledge the thoughts, then let go of them, reframing them in a positive light. This mental practice serves us well in so many aspects of life. Prayer helps, too.

My point is that we all have doubts. We all have moments where we are our own worst enemy. I want to encourage you all and remind myself – don’t ever give up!

These times teach us perseverance, and perhaps that is why they are so important in the training process.

How do you fight burnout? I’m genuinely curious.

Cheers to persevering another week!

(Photo Credit: Kimberly Richards)

Motivational Monday

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Yesterday after 14 miles, I got a little freaked out about how exactly I’m going to run 26.2. I was really tired and barely over halfway done. I was quickly reminded that we all have our fears but we simply cannot give up! I will not let fear stop me from reaching my goal when I’ve come so far.

Looking forward to a productive week. Happy Monday and happy February!