New Goals, New Adventures

Life certainly has thrown me some twists and turns lately. Hello homeownership and all that comes with it…. thank goodness for the bf and friends and family who know how to fix things… water leaks, a broken washing machine, a fence that fell down, a broken garbage disposal…. please, oh please, let this be it for a while…. my emergency fund has been swallowed whole this summer.

On the flip side of things, I have truly brainstormed aloud with a lot of close friends, family members, and individuals within the running community whom I highly respect, and have found my focus. For the longest time, I have had tunnel vision about running marathons. I wanted Boston. I wanted to qualify without raising money for a charity. I wanted to run fast enough, far enough, and long enough to prove myself. But to whom? Most of you who know me well, know that my mom passed away when I was 12. 12 is that crucial pre-teen age where “the sky is falling,” yet everything is great the next minute… I feel like it’s the moment that a pre-teen is really starting to see life for what it is. Some are still naive at that age; surely, I was, but I was also wise beyond my years in other respects. With losing my mom so young, and being tossed into a whirlwind situation that hurts WAY too much to talk about, my brain and my body turned to the flight or fight mode. If I couldn’t fight my way through something, I would take flight… I would RUN.

Typing these words are far from easy… I feel like the “whom” that I have constantly been proving myself to has been my mom. My hope is she is watching from above, and is proud of the person I have become. My fear is that I am not all she ever dreamed of. The reality is that I could live in this middle ground, living in fear of the unknown, or I can take hold of my life as much as fate will let me, and fight.  I have proven TEN times that I am capable of running a marathon. TEN. I am very capable of running the distance. I can put in the hard work that training requires to successfully complete the distance. I have the endurance, I have the mindset, and I have the heart to do it. Do I need to keep proving myself time and time again? NO. No, I don’t.

Here comes my new focus and my new adventures. Life is WAY too short. The closer I get to the age that my mother was when she passed away, the more I fear what I may miss out on if I don’t surpass that number. I try to squash that fear whenever it comes up. It’s hard to not think about it, but it does fuel my desire to keep chasing goals and to mark off items on my bucket list. My new focus is short distance. I have been a short distance runner my ENTIRE life. To my marathon friends, this may be new news. They know me as a multiple marathoner; as someone who just keeps busting out these 26.2 mile races. But in reality, I am a sprinter. I LOVE the ladders on the track. I love the thrill of a race where you can see the finish line from the start line. I love the idea that I can run 10x or more the distance as a warm-up for a short distance event. I love that feeling of victory when I cross the finish line, knowing that I left ALL I had on the asphalt. My focus is short distance, efficiency, and SPEED. Did I mention how much I love to run fast? Just typing this is making me grin like a Cheshire cat from ear to ear. I am ready!

My new adventures include these shorter distances, a different kind of training, and the willingness to travel when I can to see friends, family, and new places. I have also started a new adventure with this cute and sassy company called Perfectly Posh. That in itself has been exciting for me! Send me a note if you are curious about that one, and I will share more!

So right here, right now, instead of asking “Why?,” I am asking “Why not?,” and taking life one sweet second at a time.

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The Itch

Did somebody say speed?

There always comes a time that this wanderer has the itch. The itch for a new goal, a new focus, a new thirst for success. After a disastrous marathon, my thoughts have been going a million miles a minute. Once I settled some from dealing with the aforementioned race, I realized that I was not fueling the fire properly. I originally chased the marathon distance in 2011 because I was told I couldn’t do it. I then chased the 50k distance  in 2012 just to prove it could be done. After the 50k, barely 3 weeks later, I broke the 2:00 mark for a half marathon for the first time ever in the 7 years I had been racing road races. My strength and endurance don’t disappoint me, but they don’t fuel the passion for running like hitting a hard track workout spot on. They don’t leave me so spent, yet so thirsty for more at the same time. They don’t literally and figuratively kick my ass so hard that it truly becomes even more non-existent than it is. (Don’t you know I’m captain of the tiney hiney club!) The angrier I got about the not to be named race, the more I want to focus on something new. My love of running hasn’t shifted, but my goals have. My itch is to find my efficiency, my threshold, and to push beyond it. Insert my new focus, and new goal here: shorter distance, better efficiency, and hopefully, the paces will make me feel like I am flying. I’m not afraid of running the distance. I’m not afraid of running over mountains. I’m itching to hit the track, and do so many ladders that my legs feel like jello afterwards. I want to quit feeling like I am trudging through peanut butter, and feel like I am flying! BRING IT ON! #focused #fearless #fierce #fuelthefire #skirtsportsambassador

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Grandma’s Marathon 2017

Sometimes the words just don’t come. Sometimes they come at me so hard, it’s like a freight train hit me, I crash landed, and a tsunami hit. Bare with me as I try to elaborate on what an awful mess this race was for me.

Let me preface this entire story with these thoughts in mind: this past week was the last week of school, the kids were behaving horribly, I was sleeping very little because I was stressing about getting everything done before I flew to Minnesota for this race, and I’ve had weather triggered headaches plaguing me for about a month. Everything gets done. I check out of school smoothly, pack my fish tank and my fishies in my car and head home on Thursday. I finally pack all my stuff for my trip to Duluth in my backpack and carry on bag.

I go to bed at a semi- decent hour. I proceed to wake up every hour or so terrified that I have woken up too late and have missed my flight. When my alarm goes off at 4:30 am, I have been awake since 3 am, and groggily get out of bed and get ready to go. I get to my flight in plenty of time thanks to the bf.

Flight 1 of 3 leaves on time, and I land in Atlanta with time to spare. I find myself starving and consume a lovely chocolate frozen yogurt at 8am because that’s the only seemingly fitting alternative to the fact that no one has pizza out at that hour. (Leave it to me to want pizza at 8am.) Flight number 2 goes smoothly as well, and I land in Minneapolis with only 20 minutes to spare to get to terminal B. No one reminded us of the time change to CST. No one told us we would be landing in terminal C; the far end of terminal C. No one mentioned the fact that the tram only goes from one end of terminal C to the other and that you have to walk the rest of the way to terminal B. I sprinted my way to terminal B, and made it there at 12:18. Fortunately, they were not boarding yet, and I could snag a pizza from the shop right next to my gate. Pizza craving solved. Shakeout run also solved. They don’t board us til nearly 12:40…… I sprinted for nothing. At least I got pizza. I then got weird looks because I was sitting on the floor with my legs in a butterfly position to stretch out my hips. No runner needs tight hips before a marathon. Then comes the disaster known as flight #3. We board the plane and it’s hot. Like sauna hot. The flight attendant gets on the speaker and tells us that the engine isn’t turning on, so they have to shut off all power, get plugged in, and essentially get jump started. This means no air until we get moving down the run way. Ok, fair enough. That air never really returned. We get in the air, and not only is it hot, it’s turbulent. Only they don’t call it turbulence anymore. They call it “rough air.” Since when do we water down vocabulary??? We won’t ever be able to compete with other countries academically if we can’t use higher level vocabulary words. Anywho- turbulence plus extra hot, sauna like air equals me getting sick. Not pretty and not awesome the day before a marathon. Enter dehydration city.

We land. I maneuver myself as quickly as I can to get my stuff and get off the plane. I find the closest, coldest air vent, and literally stand over it for ten minutes trying to not be any further sick or hot. I’m sure I looked crazy and sheet white, but I wanted to not get into another moving vehicle without getting my nausea under control. Once my body finally calmed and cooled down, I walked outside and grabbed a cab to the convention center to pick up my packet.

The DECC is laid out kind of strangely in my opinion. You have to go through the entire building in order to get to the packet pickup. So, you pass all the vendors, the spaghetti dinner area, and the guest speaker hall in order to get your racing bib and goodies. Once I got my racing bib, made sure the timer worked, and asked where to get a spaghetti dinner ticket, I made my way through the vendors at the expo. I only managed to stop and purchase one thing at one booth before I fed my, once again, growling belly. The spaghetti dinner was amazing! Meatballs with sauce atop a mound of spaghetti served with buttered bread, a salad, choice of drink, and little tiny packages of Ben and Jerry’s for dessert. Thank goodness I ate my dinner at 3pm. There was no way I could’ve eaten all that food even if I wanted to. I ate until my stomach felt content, drank some more water, and walked away knowing I would need a snack later before I went to bed.

I had stalked the weather for Duluth for weeks up to this point, and opted to look one last time before I called it a night. I checked my little weather underground and it said low of 57, and high of 73. Not ideal weather, but tolerable. Better than I could ask for back home at the beach, at this time, in June. I could make this happen in a tank top and a running skirt and be fine. The pep talks from my friends and family were running through my head as I got ready for bed. I drank one last glass of Nuun, and had some trail mix right before bed. I wanted to be sure I had electrolytes in my system before I even woke up at 4am the next day. I set three alarms: 4, 4:15, and 4:30. I needed to make sure I did not miss my taxi ride to the DECC to catch the bus to the starting line.

I tossed and turned most of the night. I even woke myself up out of a very vivid dream where the race directors had cancelled the race due to lightning. It was so real that I checked my alarm clock to find it at 3:52am. I was mad for believing the nightmarish dream and for waking, yet again, before my alarm clock went off.

My alarm went off at 4am, and I got up and got ready. I made my normal protein shake with protein powder, blueberries, spinach, and milk. I laced up my Brooks Launch running shoes and double knotted the laces. I did a quick once over to make sure I had all I needed on me before the taxi pulled up: bib ✔️, headband✔️, headphones✔️, fuel✔️, one Nuun in a full water bottle of water and one extra Nuun in running belt✔️, two pieces of gum✔️, 3 packages of shot blocks✔️, hat in case it rains✔️, sunglasses in case it’s sunny✔️, Garmin✔️, RoadID✔️, inhaler✔️, chapstick✔️. All is there and I’m ready to head to the start line.

I get in the taxi, confident that I’m ready to run this race. I meet some gentlemen at the DECC, who are also waiting for the bus, who have run 25+ marathons. One guy has run over 400 and paces them regularly. They make my ten marathons look like child’s play. I am in awe. I also realize they respect the distance and continue to thrive on the challenge as much as I do. We all have an end result in mind, and that is to cross the finish line with one foot in front of the other.

The bus ride from Duluth to Two Harbors takes about half an hour. I worried about getting motion sick on the bus so I positioned myself in the very front seat, looking easily out the side window. Once the bus got going, my anxiety about getting there on time to the start lifted. The bus I rode was the second to drop off runners, and it was nice to know I had plenty of time to stretch, use the porta potties a bajillion times, and walk around. I met another Skirt Sports ambassador before the start line, and her light conversation kept my mind off what we were about to do. Thank you for that Alison!

Before I knew it, it was 7:15 am, and it was time to drop off my dry bag and get into the corral. It had already been raining, so I put my hat on and left my sunglasses behind in my dry bag. I checked my dry bag and made my way into the crowd. I positioned myself between the 4:45 and 5:00 pacers. This marathon wasn’t so much about time as it was about being strong through to the finish. While I didn’t really have a goal in mind, I figured the people between these two paces would be close to my own. It turns out, I was right. The horn sounded and we were off. I kept a pretty steady 10:30-11:30 pace for the first 14 miles before I felt like something was wrong. After the first 3 miles, I introduced myself to another Skirt Sport ambassador, Julie, who was playing tag with me on the course. We ran a good number of miles together before I had to slow down and listen to my body, which was screaming. My legs felt tight from the get go, but I figured it was just getting warmed up that needed to happen. When the tightness didn’t subside, I just kept pushing forward, making myself sip Nuun along the way. This is the first marathon where I carried a water bottle the entire way, and I am grateful I had it. It didn’t seem to matter how many fluids I was intaking, the tightness in my body wasn’t going away.

Somewhere between mile 16 and 19 I felt really sick to my stomach. The race started at 63 degrees with 90% humidity, and increased to a hot 80 degrees by the time I felt overheated, was no longer sweating, and walked myself to the medical tent at mile 19.11. I walked up to the first medical person I saw and told her something wasn’t right. I was hot. I was sick to my stomach. No amount of fuel was helping. No amount of water or Nuun hydration was helping. I had stopped sweating. I started sobbing. I didn’t want to give up and give in to the elements out of my control, but I no longer felt like it was safe for me to continue.

Even the beautiful scenery and the texts to my running buddies and bf could not get me to let go of the thoughts that something wasn’t right. The medical people took my temperature. It was at 101. My normal temperature is about 96.8. This was a problem. I got wrapped in icy cold towels. I was told to drink v8. I was given more water. I was asked to eat several pickles. I asked to get up. I couldn’t stop sobbing. I wanted to keep going. I wanted to finish what I started. I didn’t train this hard to stop during the race. The medical staff understood my concern, but wouldn’t let me leave when I got dizzy and lightheaded the first time I got up. Back down I went on the cot. Feet up, covered in a second layer of icy cold towels, and fed more juice and more pickles. My sobbing subsided. I focused on the goal of continuing. The staff said they would let me try to continue if I promised to walk the rest of the race. I promised. I started to tear up again, and they slowly got me to my feet. No dizziness this time. I could go with a cup of ice in hand and some ice under my hat.

I walked the remaining 7.1 miles of Grandma’s Marathon in the blazing sun and Wicked humidity. I met a girl named Alyssa, who kept me company for the remaining miles. It was miserable to not run. It was even more miserable knowing what could happen if I did run. I kept eating whatever was offered. I kept drinking Gatorade, Nuun, and water. I walked as fast as I could to get closer to that finished line. It hurt like hell, but Alyssa and I ran that last .2 miles to the finish. My legs protested every step of the way. I got nauseous again a few minutes after getting my medal. I was and probably am still dehydrated. I have been consuming so much liquid that the bathroom has become my bestie. My body is trying to recover, and it’s telling me how hard I worked to finish. I’m stiff and sore and achy.

This race was my personal worst time. I spent 30 minutes in the medical tent. 30!!! But I finished. I finished because I said I would finish what I started. I finished because this race wasn’t about me. I finished for those who can no longer run. This was harder than the hardest, most physically challenging races I have ever run. All the variables were against me: stress, lack of sleep, dehydration from getting sick on the plane, and weather. The only thing I could do was listen to my body. So I did. And then I challenged it to a mental game of let’s see how far I can go because quitting is not an option. This may have been my worst time ever, but it was the most challenging race. I am thankful for all of you who have supported me along the way in my training runs, in your prayers and positive thoughts, in your pep talks, and in your mental support when I feared the worst. You guys are my support system and I couldn’t have done this tough race without you. Love to you all. Marathon number ten is done.

#grit #gmas17 #skirtsportsambassador
#skirtshavemorefun
#badassrunner
#mountainsdontscareme

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Strong

Strong is one of those words that can be associated with many things. A strong cocktail, a strong tasting coffee, a strong chemical smell of a cleaner, or a strong towel that holds up to tug of war with your chocolate lab. Strong can also be associated with a state of mind, mentally and or emotionally. Lastly, strong can be associated with how physically strong a person is or can be. As I did my shakeout run yesterday (Sunday), I was thinking about how many times in my life I have been told that I am strong. Just this past Saturday, two days ago, my massage therapist told me my body was strong, and that he thinks I am definitely strong enough to tackle this marathon on June 17th. It made me think of all the times my running buddies have shared with me how strong I look on any given run they have seen me on lately. My thoughts navigated to when my running coach ran past me on the trails just a few weeks ago, and said the same thing about how I looked 10 miles into a 16 mile run. My thoughts then jumped through time to when my mom passed away, 24 years ago, on June 3, 1993, and how my friends and family told me to be strong for my brother, and my family that still remained.  My mom would want me to be strong.

Strong is something that I feel is relative. Relative to the time and space you are in. The mental state and the emotional balance within you dictates how “strong” your character and mindset are at a given time. The work you have put into your workouts: runs, strength training, yoga, etc. can determine how strong your body is. Strong can be something you push past when your brain wants you to give up. It can be the point just before a breaking point for a muscle. It can be a compliment. It can be an insult to an emotionally shattered child grieving for her mother. It can be a pick me up when a run really sucked, but you gave your all and then some anyway to get it done right.

Strong. Strength. Relentless forward progress. I personally took the comment from my massage therapist, who is also an athlete, as a compliment. I AM strong. I AM mentally strong and prepared for this marathon. I have the strength to move forward, relentlessly, to complete marathon number 10. I CAN do this, because I AM STRONG!

Marathon number 10 is happening in 5 sleeps! Bring it on!

 

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Reset, Recharge, Refocus

I’ve seen a theme amongst my fellow runner blogger friends: time to check out, recover, regroup, and refocus. I too took a time out when I chose not to be a pacer for a local training team this past fall. While I absolutely loved being a pacer, and met some fantastic people and friends along the way, my body had grown weary after four full seasons of non-stop training. I had taken a hiatus from marathon training since October 2015, but it didn’t seem to be enough. It was excruciatingly clear that I was in need of a personal time out when I crossed the finish line of the Norfolk Harbor Half in November 2016 with both hamstrings literally seizing up to the point it was a challenge to even walk to get my Gatorade and banana. I remember practically collapsing on the floor of the team tent, sobbing uncontrollably, unable to speak, trying to massage those too tight hamstrings back to some normal feeling instead of the shooting, sharp pains I was feeling. I was so mentally and physically drained that I refused medical help, and just laid on the floor. It was a confusing moment for me, my teammates, and my two best friends, who had never seen me succumb to the pain and emotions rolling through my body. It was then and there I decided, enough is enough. I need a break from goals, from running, from pushing past the pain and tightness, from the lack of rest and recovery. I ended up taking nearly 6 weeks off from running altogether. I had zero urge to lace up my shoes. I wasn’t envious of the runners I saw alongside the road. My heart had hardened to the sport I have loved and done my entire life. I clearly needed a vacation from the hard work I demanded of my body weekly, and a chance to recharge. I slept more than I ever thought I could. I ate well, and splurged on a sweet or two. I spent time with friends and family. I played with Murphy way more than usual, and enjoyed his cuddles, his antics on our double walks, and his puppy kisses. I refocused. As 2016 came to a close, I found myself at home in New York, with family. It wasn’t until the second to last day before I headed back to the beach that I reached for my phone and texted my best friend. “Why did I leave my running gear at home? I want my running shoes!” I knew then that I was ready to run.

Once I returned to the beach, I got my running gear out and insisted on a run with my best friend on the trails asap. It was a fun, exhilarating, semi- warm run, and just what I needed to jumpstart my training for Grandma’s Marathon in June 2017. Grandma’s Marathon was looking for someone to write a short paragraph of advice for new marathon runners, and I opted to submit some words to be considered. Well, not only was I chosen, but they used my words of advice in their social media! I was invited to come run Grandma’s Marathon in June, and jumped at the chance to try a second time at tackling the course. As I write this, I am in the second week of taper for this very race. This will be the first time in 20 months that I have run a marathon. My body knew what was coming as I tackled mile after mile, trail after trail, and bridge repeats weekly. My mind has been challenged as I remind myself constantly I can do this, but the negatives and doubts still creep in. I remind myself that bridge repeats are my favorite, and I feel strong every time I reach the crest of the bridge. I think about how each time I nail a negative split run I hit the save button on my Garmin with a smile on my face because I finished strong. I think about how each long run has been a challenge, but I haven’t backed down even when I puked up my chomps and had a throbbing headache. I knew those were minor setbacks, and my body proved capable and able to push forward to complete the runs. I learned that when I focus on someone else, I can run through the doubts rolling through my mind. I’ve learned that when I acknowledge things on my runs that make me happy, and smile, that I instantly feel a little more perky.

I’ve learned that marathon training isn’t about the time on the clock for me. It’s about feeling strong, capable, and running for those who no longer can. This will be Marathon number ten for me, and I will be running it for my parents. Both have had their own struggles and successes. Both can no longer run. I hope my mom will be watching from the heavens above. And I hope my dad will be able to recognize my voice through the fog of his advanced Multiple Sclerosis, and be as excited as I am when I call him when I’m done. I hope my stepdad will be just as happy as me to know that I also will run for him because he’s been just as much of a supporter and cheerleader in this running journey as anyone else!

Grandma’s Marathon, I am coming for you in 12 days, and believe me when I say, I’m strong and I’m ready to kick your asphalt!

#grit #gmas17 #runforthosewhocant #skirtsportsambassador
#realwomenmove
#badassrunner
#hillsdontscareme

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Street Smarts for Any Runner

One of the things I have learned through my lifetime of being a runner is being smart about when and where you go running. You should always be aware of your surroundings, and this includes being familiar with where you are running, making sure you are visible to those who are driving, walking, or riding a bike, and having ID of some sort on you in case the unthinkable happens.

If you are running in unfamiliar territory, ask someone from the local community, preferably someone knowledgable of running routes, to share some locations with you. For safety reasons and to help in case you get turned around, be sure to carry your phone with you so that you can turn on a map app to find your way back to where you started.

Being aware of your surroundings is so important so that you, the runner, are safe at all times. Look for landmarks that you can easily remember in a down and back route or that you could recall if you get turned around. Be sure to have one earbud out at all times to listen for emergency vehicles. Better yet, run without music and enjoy the sound of the location where you are running!

Visibility is super important when it comes to any time of day while running.  Be aware that most drivers are NOT looking for you on crosswalks or as they turn onto their streets to come from or go to work. You have to be aware of this and make yourself as visible as possible. One of the many items that can help make you visible is by wearing clothing that has reflective stripes or designs on it that shines brightly when light hits it. Another way to make yourself visible is to wear reflective straps and or blinking fluorescent lights that will also stand out amongst the normal atmosphere. My favorite thing to wear during night runs is a white shirt with reflective stripes and my headlamp turned on at a brightness that’s appropriate for where I am running.

Last, but certainly not least, is the importance of carrying an ID with y0u at all times in case there is an accident or medical mishap.  I personally have asthma and have to carry an inhaler at all times in case there is an emergency and I need it. I also keep my Road ID bracelet on me at all times so that if something were to happen to me, my family could be notified, and I can easily be taken care of. Road ID is a fantastic company that came about because of one of those unfortunate accidents. You can read more about their story here: http://www.RoadID.com. I personally have my full name, and contact information for my 3 closest family members on mine. I also have my favorite quotes on it: Live. Love. Run. and RFP!  If you are interested in getting $5 off your very own Road ID, please use this link here: Get $5 off your Road ID! Click me to do so!

Be safe out there runner friends!

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Project Reset Commences

IMG_6661.JPGAfter 37 days of not running, the last 11 bronchitis related, I have been itching to run. I kicked myself for not taking running gear with me on my trip home. Although getting outside in the “feels like 19” and flurries might have been fun, it would have been short lived!

Fran joined me for some miles on the Narrows trail and day one of Project Reset. It was exactly what I needed: a run, some walking, and lots of photos for the #RunChatHunt! The skies were so blue and the trails were beautiful. It couldn’t have been a more perfect way for me to hack up the remaining junk in my lungs….. oh, wait, I mean to start on this next training cycle!

As I thought eagerly about this run on the LONG and chaotic drive home yesterday, I considered my focus and my word of the year: grit. My goals this year are for me, solely me, selfishly me, because I can. I want so badly to focus on time goals, but I want to finish a race feeling strong, like I dug in with all I had, and I beat that asphalt up as I forged toward the finish line. I want to kick the dirt, to fight hard, and coerce my body to be a safely strong as it can be from the inside out. Grit is where it’s at. Grit is what that’s all about. So grit is my word. My mantra as I move towards my bucket list goals in 2017! And dear body, listen up, as this little guy is singing to you:

 

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