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You’re good, girl.

September 28, 2016

“That I would be good, even if I got the thumbs down.” – Alanis Morissette

This morning, I headed out for an 8 mile run. I haven’t run for more than 4 since the half two weeks ago, but I wasn’t too concerned, since we (my husband and I) ran another 5k this past weekend and I wound up with a 26:46 which, although not a PR, was still better that the previous two 5Ks I just ran. I think it was because this one in particular was for a good cause too, so I had some extra motivation to really rock it – it was the CHOP Parkway Run to benefit pediatric cancer research. We’ve been running this one with friends for about four years now, and it’s always got such a great crowd and a great vibe – we’re all there together to support the cause, united and strong.

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good cause, good run, good friends.

Back to this morning. It was cool and partly cloudy, which makes for great running conditions. I was not planning on setting any records, I just wanted to get to eight, to help prepare me for my goal of 15 miles this Sunday, which would be the most I have ever run, consecutively. (Yes, I’m scared).

I felt good, physically, and I was doing ok with speed, but for some reason, I just felt really down and out. You would think that after the last 5k I would be in good running spirits, but in fact it was quite the opposite. I felt….like a bad runner, to put it simply. That I just wasn’t very good, and I wasn’t really sure why I continued to do it, knowing there were so many people who were so much better than me. And to top it off, a few of those people just so happened to be at the park at the same time as I was, and running in the same direction. One was a girl, probably about 15 years my junior, who was just flying. I don’t even think her feet were actually touching the ground, for real. I felt old, slow and foolish as she trotted past me, light as air. I tried to convince myself of what I ultimately know to be true – we all have different goals and it doesn’t matter if anyone is faster than me, as long as I’m out there doing it.

Well, today, it mattered.

As if that wasn’t enough, shortly after, a young man pushing not one, but TWO children in a double stroller passed right by me, like I was standing still. Really, Universe? Way to kick a girl when she’s down. I hung my head and continued to beat myself up. “You could never do that, you’re slower just pulling yourself along” and “you’re not getting any younger, you’ll never be a good runner.”

The one thing I didn’t do, was stop.

I kept going with my Negative Nancy self, and finally came to the last half mile of the 8. Still trying to convince myself unsuccessfully that I wasn’t that bad, and at least I was good at other things, I saw this older man walking towards me with an umbrella. He was strolling along, smiling. As we passed, he gave me a thumbs up:

“You’re good, girl.” he said.

Thank you, umbrella man. You’re right.

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Half Way There.

September 19, 2016

This weekend, I ran the Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. I also ran the 5k the day before. I told myself that if I can run an easy half (which I was sure I would), then I’d definitely be able to tackle the full in November. And having been training for weeks, I was sure this would be no great shakes, especially since I’ve ran 6 half marathons before this one, and trained far less for some of them.

Over-confidence is a bad, bad, thing, my friends.

I’ll start with the good part. Overall, the good far outweighs the bad, and I have to say that the weekend as a whole was really pretty fantastic. I ran with a great group of amazing, high-energy people who love running as much as I do. They really made this weekend a blast, and turned it into something I’ll remember forever. So a big shout out and thanks to them.

Also, one of the bands that played were my friends, and they were by far the best band there (and I’m not just saying that because I’m biased). They kept the runners pumped with their funky grooves and upbeat tunes. Many thanks to The Big Unkle  – you helped me more than you know.

The 5k was pretty great too – after last weekend’s 5k success, I told myself it was OK if I ran it slow, since I’d be doing the half the next day. Well, once the horn sounded, that whole idea went out the window, and I couldn’t help myself – I just started passing people, and it felt so easy, I just went with it. I finished with a 27:24. Not too shabby. But definitely not the slow pace at which I said I would go. I was pleased at the finish line, but looking back, I should have stuck with my original plan. My competitive nature got the best of me. But the medal was pretty cool, especially since I have this weird mini obsession with Ben Franklin. Don’t ask.

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This one’s going in a special place.

The first part of my plan did not go as I had envisioned, but I still felt pretty good, and at this point believed the plan was actually going better than I had anticipated. I went to yoga at my favorite studio (Yogawood – it’s a wonderful, happy place) later that afternoon to prepare my hips for the half, and as I went to bed that evening, all was right with the world.

The next morning, I woke again at 5:30, and prepared for the main part of my weekend journey – the half. My husband was accompanying me this time, to cheer me on. We again spent the pre-race minutes hanging with friends, and as race time was upon us, we all parted ways and headed to our assigned corrals.

I felt pretty good. No hip pain, no fatigue, no stomach issues. I was awake and ready to run. It was more humid than I would have liked, but I was sure I’d knock this one out of the park in no time. Heck, maybe I’d even beat my PR (2:13:32, Philadelphia Half Marathon 2014).

The horn sounded, and I started off feeling the same way I felt the day before – running was easy, and I was cruising along at an under 10 minute mile pace, which definitely would be a PR. I rode that wave for 2 miles. The next mile was a little slower, but still not too bad – I could still beat the PR. And then it all fell apart. It was really really humid. I started to slow way down. I felt like the mileage on my Garmin was not increasing and I was running in place. Like that dream where you’re running but going nowhere. I was going nowhere fast. I stopped at the first water station, which I never do, but I was so thirsty. It helped and I got a little pep back. But soon lost it and became really thirsty again. From here on out, I stopped at EVERY SINGLE water station. I felt like I couldn’t get enough to drink. I was dragging myself along, one heavy step at a time. The miles were passing very, very slowly. At least I was not alone – I’ve never seen so many runners walking. I had to walk for a bit myself at one point. But I trudged on. How could I ever run a full if a half felt this bad?? I had to keep going. I stopped for ice, and downed some gatorade. I listened to “I Will Survive” on my ipod. But even good old Gloria Gaynor couldn’t get me pumped at this point. I just had to suck it up, and keep moving forward.

There was my husband at the finish line. He called my name, and I gave him the look of death. Even his support wasn’t helping. I just had to cross the line and get this thing over with. Usually I’m good for a sprint when the finish line comes into view, but that was just not happening. I fake smiled for the camera as I crossed the line, about to collapse, throw up, and cry, all at the same time.

I claimed my medal, and found my husband, and immediately burst into tears. This was my worst half marathon to date. I felt deflated and exhausted. All my training was for nothing, and how could I run a full after this? “You still did good!” my husband said, trying to lift me from my post-race funk/shutdown. We walked for a bit, and I eventually checked my time (2:23:41), which, to my surprise, wasn’t as bad as I thought, and was not my worst half by any means. I was feeling a little better, but still disappointed – not so much about my time, but about how hard the run was. And it was only half the distance I need to go to reach my goal.

But it did end on a positive. Because I ran both races this weekend, I got an extra medal. It might be the coolest medal I’ve ever received. It looks like a guitar, and it’s really pretty sweet.

Maybe, I do rock after all.

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Don’t give up.

My “Sole” Mate.

September 10, 2016

Today my husband and I ran a 5k. It was over 90 degrees, with torturous humidity, and the race didn’t start until 10 so it was not prime running conditions by any means. While we were waiting to start, we chatted about how slow we were going to run, since it was hot, humid, and my hip hurt. We had arrived super early (for me, anyway) and had over an hour to kill while we waited to start. We walked around for a bit, then sat on a bench, which was not a good idea, because I began to feel like going back to bed. It was hot, and running (even though it was 3.1 miles and not 13.1) just didn’t sound like something I wanted to do today. So I made my husband get up and walk around, in order to keep me from snoozing or just deciding to bag the whole running thing altogether.

Fast forward to the start. My husband decided that he was going to at least try to run a little competitively, and I was still in the “I don’t care if i’m slow, it’s hot” mode. As the horn sounded and we began the slow processional toward the starting line, we kissed goodbye, and my husband headed off ahead of me into the maddening crowd.

Then, it happened. I’m still honestly not quite sure what “it” was, but as I stepped across that starting line, something came over me, and began propelling me forward at a much faster pace then I had intended to go. I was passing everyone. I was doing what I like to call the “Indiana Jones jump and dodge” – passing people on the left, cutting through the crowd with a turn of the shoulder, passing on the right, jumping over curbs, etc. I blew through the first hot mile at an 8:11 pace, with no hip pain and no fatigue.

At 1.5 miles, it was a different story. The heat caught up with me and I was checking my Garmin literally every minute to see how much farther I had to run. I finally made it to mile 2 after what seemed like an eternity, with a 9 minute mile. Still not too bad, but quite obviously slower than mile 1. Did I mention the crappy hill in mile 2? Who knew a neighborhood in South Jersey could have a hill such as this. Anyway, shortly after I crossed the mile 2 mark, I started feeling really light headed. This worried me, and I began to imagine what would happen if I passed out on the course. Would people just keep running right over me? And besides that, I was actually running at a pace that still could beat my best 5k time ever. If I passed out, that went out the window. But like an oasis in the distance, I saw it – the water station. And so the battle between me and myself began:

Me: I bet if I stopped for some water, I’d be able to finish the race without passing out.

Myself: But stopping for water takes time, you fool, and then you’ll definitely not beat your PR!

Me: But if I stop, I have a better chance of finishing at all, and I’ve never not finished a race.

And with that argument, Me won. I stopped. I drank the water. The light-headedness slowly began to subside. I lost time, but I gained strength. I kept going. I saw the finish line ahead. It was a half mile away, with no shade in sight. I was getting closer, yet it seemed to be getting farther away. I again started to feel slightly ill, when out of nowhere, my husband appeared with water, and poured it on my head. “Good job, Honey!” he shouted and ran off.

I knew I could finish now. Not only because the water had cooled me down, but my own personal cheering section was there right when I needed him. I crossed the finish with a 27:08. I did not beat my PR (which was in much cooler weather, fyi), but I did so much better than I had thought I would. (I was 8th in my age group – not too shabby for a race of 1113 total).

Sometimes, all it takes is that little bit of encouragement from someone to keep us going. Let’s cheer each other on. Together, we can all achieve greatness.

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Me and my sole mate.

Marathon Training Week 5: Going Up to Eleven.

August 30, 2016

Ok, so I skipped week 4. That’s because nothing really happened. My hip has been bothering me, so I just did a few 5 mile runs instead of one longer one. I guess I could have written about that, but other than testing out my new compression shorts and finding that they felt great while simultaneously cutting off some of the circulation to my lower leg, these were some virtually uneventful runs.

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New gear, new me.

Truthfully, even today’s run of 11 miles was not all that eventful. It was long. It was not quite as hot though, so that REALLY helped (as did my “summer hits of the 90’s” pandora station). The park was not that crowded, there were only about 3 other runners I crossed paths with for the entire time (and I was out there for close to 2 hours when all was said and done) so there weren’t really even many people for me to potentially interact with. I had no great revelation, or life changing idea. I just ran. And ran. And ran.

The only thing worth mentioning is that this is the first run where I’ve actually experienced some real pain both during and after. I have a relatively high tolerance for pain, which you’d never guess if you saw how much I fear needles, bees, wasps or anything that could sting me – I rear ended someone once because there was a bee in my car. Thankfully there was no damage. The cars were fine too (ba dum tss). Anyway, as I mentioned, my hip has been bugging out – my left hip to be specific. I’ve been doing all sorts of stretches, yoga, heating pads, icing, purchasing fancy compression shorts – you name it – and although these things are helping a little, they are not helping as much as I would like.

I ran one mile, and my hip already started to twinge a bit. But I had set out to do 11 miles, and by golly, 11 was what I was going to do (otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to use the witty blog post title I came up with) so I forced my self to keep going.

The good news was that the pain peaked around 3 miles and really just stayed the same for the rest of the run, without getting any worse. The bad news is that there was any pain at all. Usually I can think while I run about the universe, life, how to make myself a better human – but every time I started to hedge on that altered state, my darn hip snapped me right out of it. I eventually settled on thinking about work, because I knew that was at least something I could completely focus on and put the hip out of my head. But even my go-to work thoughts were only partially working. I was able to think about work for quarter mile intervals, and then my thoughts ultimately went back to my pain. Or more specifically, what will happen if the pain doesn’t go away or gets worse.

Last year was supposed to be my first marathon. I trained for one week, and wound up with tendinitis in my left ankle. I basically couldn’t run at all for months (although I did a little bit anyway – it’s that tolerance for pain thing, combined with my complete lack of patience for the healing process). I was so unbelievably bummed about the marathon. There were many tears shed. It took over 6 months to completely heal. At one point, I wondered if it would ever really heal or if it would heal but keep coming back. So far, I have not experienced it since, and I’ve changed my running shoes and done stretches to prevent it. However, once my ankle healed and I could run again, I began having issues with my hips. At first, it went back and forth – one would hurt, than it would feel better, and the other one would hurt. I began to wonder if it had something to do with changing the way I ran due to the ankle injury. That is entirely possible (according to my husband, who is like the human version of the internet). I decided that the hip pain wasn’t all that bad, and I could still run with it, so I went ahead and signed up for another marathon this year, deciding that THIS WOULD BE MY YEAR.

THIS WOULD BE MY YEAR. That’s what ran through my mind as I battled with my left hip today. “Stop it, hip!” I shouted and punched it with my fist (yes, I really did this – no wonder no one wanted to interact with me). I kept going up to 11, because I refuse to let another year and another marathon come and go without me in it. THIS WILL BE MY YEAR. I am not only going up to 11, I’m going up to 26.2 whether my left hip likes it or not.

Once I get it done, I’ll rest – but not until then, and only then. Looks like I’ll be investing in a few more pairs of compression shorts….

A Little High Five Goes a Long Way.

August 20, 2016

I went out late this afternoon right after work for a short 4 mile run. It was less humid, so I thought running at this time of day wouldn’t be so bad. I was wrong. Sure, it was less humid, but it was more sunny, and I always find that running after work is for some reason 10 times more challenging than running before work or when I have no work. It’s not like I run for 8 hours a day when I’m at work or anything, so I really don’t get it, but it is what it is – running after work feels like I’ve got a couple of 20 lb lead weights chained to both my ankles and I’m dragging them along behind me with each. heavy. step.

Anyway, I ran one mile and I already wanted to stop. I started laying into myself, like I often do, with the “what’s wrong with you, you lazy bum?” and “you just ran 10 miles and now you wanna quit after one??” or my personal favorite, “you can eat extra pizza if you keep going!” But even the lure of extra pizza was being outweighed more and more by each leaden step I took.

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Hello darkness, my old friend.

About 1/3 of the way into mile 2, I began to let the negative thoughts really overtake me. I just didn’t want to keep going. Then, like the light at the end of the tunnel, I came around the bend and was spotted by a little boy sitting on the bench. He leapt off as I approached, stood at the edge of the path, and stuck his hand out, waiting for me give him a high five as I ran by. I smiled, and high fived him like nobody’s business. “YEAH!!!!” he shouted as our hands met. “THANK YOU!!!” I shouted back. I had to keep going now. This boy was proud of me, and wanted me to. How could I give up after that?

As I reached the same curve about 1/3 of the way into mile 3, there he was again, and when he saw me, he again leapt off the bench and offered me a high five of encouragement. “Go around again!” he said. I smiled and thanked him again, wishing I could tell him just how much those high fives mattered today. I decided I would keep going for the full 4 miles, and when I passed him again the next (and last) time around, I’d tell him just that.

I trudged along, all the while hoping to see my little cheerleader just one more time on my last loop. As I came around that curve for the last time, the bench where he had been sitting was empty. He was nowhere to be found.

I was sorry I hadn’t told him how important his gestures of encouragement were to me. But I realized that even though he wasn’t there, the idea that he would be had given me hope. And it was that hope that kept me going. The hope of seeing him one more time. The hope of being able to tell him how grateful I was. The hope of a high five.

Hope is a powerful thing. It pushes us to keep going; to work harder; to be better. Never give up hope. A high five is waiting for you, just around the bend.

 

Marathon Training, Week 3: Ten Miles, London Grammar, and a Really Big Fish.

August 18, 2016

First of all, I started a new blog, dedicated solely (get it?) to my passion for running, and the various and sundry incidents and accidents I encounter along my journey. So sit back, lace up, and enjoy!

Today was going to be my big 10 miler – the training run that would really set the pace for the rest of them. I was actually a little nervous. Although I love running, it’s not like I go out and run 10 miles every day. In fact, I usually only do it once or twice a year, and that’s only when I’m running an actual race. So this was kind of a big deal (in true the Ron Burgundy sense).

I started late. And not just a half hour late, but like 3 hours later than I planned. I worked late, so I slept late, and the cat was being cute and cuddly for once, so I cut myself a break and allowed for a late start, with no guilt.

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I dare you to try and say no to that.

Then, when I was just about to walk out the door, the lawn guys showed up, and I felt all self conscious and didn’t want to interrupt their mowing, so I waited another 20 minutes. By the time I actually stepped foot out the door, it was 11am. Better late than never.

Learning from my previous two weeks worth of mistakes, this time I drove to the park and put a full, cold water bottle in the car. I also changed up my music selection, going with a London Grammar Pandora Station to give me some extra beats to pound the road to. And I made a slight change to my route. Normally, I run the 1 mile loop around the park. I really wasn’t looking forward to running the same loop 10 times, so I mapped out what a two mile loop would look like ahead of time, and seeing that the only challenge would be crossing a main road and hoping that all vehicles do actually stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, I decided to give it a go.

A little change really does do you good, and after running the two mile loop twice (with London Grammar in full force) and realizing I had already done 4 miles, I was stoked. This 10 miler was in the bag!

It was hot. REALLY hot. And REALLY humid. There were hardly any other folks in the park, which was good for me, because sometimes I feel the urge to compete with other runners, and I really didn’t want to do that on a long run on a hot day. What I did see around mile 5.5, was a man fishing. As I came closer, I realized he had just caught a really big fish (how big was it?) and he was taking a selfie with it. I started to smile. I began imagining what he was going to do with that selfie – post it to social media? Frame it and put it on his mantel? Send it to his mother? Maybe he writes a blog about his fishing achievements and he’s going to go home and post about this afternoon. Maybe he’ll mention the runner with the goofy smile who may or may not be in the background of his fish selfie (that would be me).

What it really made me think about was achievements.

Catching that really big fish was a really big deal for that young fisherman. Just as running 10 miles on an awfully hot day was a really big deal for me. We are all working toward something. We should all be proud of ourselves for working towards our goals. His goal to today was to catch a big fish, and he did it. Darn right he should frame that pic and send to his mother. For me, I texted my husband when I was done and said, “I did it!” We are allowed to share our achievements, especially when we work hard for them.

The thing is, right after the fish selfie incident, another runner blew past me – a young male with a determined look in his eye (both eyes, actually) and a need for speed. He also had something to achieve. And although he was faster than me, I began to understand that his achievement is no better than mine. We are all different. No one’s running the same race. Turns out, he stopped before I was finished. He achieved what he set out to do today – maybe set a new 5k time, or just run really, really fast. Whatever it was, it was not what I had set out to do, so there was no comparison and I was beginning to understand that. We both should have left that park proud, knowing we did what was best for each of us.

My run is not your run. Your fish is not my fish. We all want different things, we all work (and run) at a different pace. We all should be proud of what we’ve accomplished. And be ok with being passed by someone else. And be happy for them. You never know where they’re going. You only have your own shoes to walk or run or fish in. And no one else can ever take your place or catch your fish.

We have all won first place in our own race. I’m proud of you. You should be too. 🙂

Marathon Training, Week 2: A Little Fall of Rain

August 11, 2016

 

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the aftermath.

This morning, I had the intention of running 9 miles. I find that if I don’t go out there with the distance I would like to run already ingrained into my brain, I get tired and want to stop. Telling myself before the first step that I would be running 9 is the only way I will actually run 9. So, at 8:30am, out the door I went to begin my journey.

It started off great, although a little humid (and by “a little” I mean water droplets were forming on my skin and I couldn’t see out of my sunglasses because they were fogged the instant I stepped outside). I walked the .5 miles to the park, and as I was almost there, it started to rain very, very lightly. A man in his front yard shouted as I went by, “It’s your fault it’s raining!” I assumed he was kidding so I laughed and said, “yeah right.” Then I briefly wondered if maybe it was my fault. Is that even possible? As I continued my philosophical discussion with myself, I reached the park and began the actual running portion of today’s show.

The first 4 miles felt pretty good. I was worried a bit that it was so humid I wouldn’t be able to make it to 9, but the very very light rain and the fact that the sun was mostly hidden made it bearable. I was glad it was raining, and thought to myself, “gee, I wouldn’t mind if it rained a little harder. It would feel good!”

You know how they say be careful what you wish for?

All of a sudden it started pouring. Like not just raining a little bit more, but a torrential downpour. I was nearing a tree, and worried about my iphone getting ruined (I really could not have cared less if I got wet – it was all about the phone), so I ducked under a tree for cover. I hung around for about 10 minutes, wondering in true dramatic fashion if i’d ever be able to continue, when it finally started lightening up. so I continued on, soaked but determined. It was a tad cooler (or I was just so soaked that it appeared to be so), so I picked up the pace, and did two more miles, virtually rain-free. I had to ring out my shirt about 10 times, but I finally felt like I was reaching the early stages of drying out. The 4 extra pounds of water I was now carrying did make the run a bit more challenging, but I’ve done it before, so I pushed onward.

I had just finished mile 6, when I heard a rumbling in the sky – yep, it was thunder. “Please just pass,” I begged of the Universe, however my pleas went unanswered and within a minute, it was raining again. Like “raining men” raining. It was coming down so fast, that I wasn’t even sure what to do at first. I quickly regained my wits, and headed toward a tree who’s trunk looked pretty dry so I thought I’d be offered some shelter from the storm.

I waited. And waited. And waited. The water began getting past the tree’s leaves and I was soon left with nowhere to hide. So I did what any sane person would do. I held my phone in my hands and bent over it so it wouldn’t get wet. As my back began getting more and more soaked, I again begged and pleaded with the Universe to make it stop. I started bargaining – “I’ll run all 9 miles if you make it stop now!” That didn’t work. At this point, I was the only person left in the park, so I started communicating with the Universe aloud, hoping that maybe if it heard my actual voice, that would work.

Apparently, the Universe doesn’t speak english. I raised my fist in a fit of rage as the water flowed all over me (but my phone was dry!). After about 20 minutes, I gave up and started crying. I guess the Universe felt sorry for me at this point, because it finally started to let up. I quickly strapped my phone back on my arm ran my last two miles, soaked and dying of thirst.  Although I was originally going to run 9, I settled for 8.5. My soaked clothes were heavy and so was my heart.

I finally got home, opened the door and the first thing my nephew said to me was, “Jeanine, why were you out running in the rain?”

I don’t know, but clearly it was my fault.