finding your kickassimus.

kickassimus

Yesterday, I got to flex my kickassimus.  I discovered that I actually have that muscle on a Saucony ad that I saw the other day while in all places– a running store. Who knew??   It’s not every day that you find out that you have a new muscle–and especially one this cool!  😉

Seriously, though….yesterday was Saturday, and that is the day that nearly all runners hold sacred for the Long Run.  It’s the day we push our limits by nearly doubling our weekly mileage in one morning.  I used to fear the long run.  I’d spend many-a-Friday-night anxiously tossing and turning, dreading the extra-early alarm on Saturday morning, and the seemingly daunting number of miles I would have to be running.  Back then I was running 6, 7, 8 miles….yesterday morning I had 12 on my schedule, and I didn’t even blink as I typed that.

Part of becoming a runner is being able to embrace the Long Run rather than dread it.  That takes time, for sure.  The body needs to build up a tolerance for increasing mileage,  of course.  But once you do, there is something about hitting that “sweet spot”.  There is not other feeling like getting to the point where you feel as if your body is working like a finely tuned machine and you could run forever.  It’s that and the rush of endorphins that keeps you just coming back for more..and more….and more.

One of the benefits of the Long Run is that you get to run the majority of them SLOWLY.  “Long and slow is the way to go” is the mantra we often use when it comes to putting in the serious miles.  Slow runs can actually be relaxing.  Yes, I really did just write that.  It’s also time that you can choose to either spend time alone in your head, or do with a group.  A benefit of running slow is that you can actually talk, and talking makes the miles go by oh-so-much faster if you’ve got some buddies out with you.  We did our 12 in 2 loops of six yesterday, and with all the chatting, the second 6 were over before I knew it…now that was awesome.

My favorite distance is really about 10 miles, though up to 14 or fifteen when I’m in good condition is not so bad that I am navigating stairs backwards the next day.  Of course during marathon training, when mileage is climbing on a weekly basis both during the week the long run it starts to become a little more mentally challenging, but it doesn’t scare me anymore like it used to.  I actually anticipate it now that I know I can trust that my body will rise to the occasion.

I’ve had several friends try running in the past few years, and while some have stuck with it, many have not.   I’ve often thought that if everyone could just get to that “sweet spot”–that point at which you feel like you could run forever–EVERYONE would run.  For me, that is somewhere between miles 4 and 5.  I think the problem is, everyone trains for that first 5K, and once they run it, they quit because at 3 miles they are still feeling pretty much like crap.  Their bodies have never had a chance to get past the initial warm up and into the active phase of running.

I think it’s because of this that it is hard to coax people past that 5K mark.  It’s 100% mental for most people, because in their (and a lot of other people’s minds) 3 miles is a LONG way to run–and for a newbie it truly is. Breaking through that physical discomfort and pressing forward when you want to stop (at 3 miles) is not about getting your body to keep moving forward, it’s about convincing your mind that you actually can.  Believe me, I get it–I was once there myself not so long ago.  But if they (they being YOU, if you are not yet a runner…) could just go for a little bit longer…get a little bit stronger….finding that kickassimus is right there, ready for the taking.  Find that muscle and it will take you farther than you ever thought possible.  Maybe even to 26.2.

…and so it begins….AGAIN.

you have to forget first marathon

I saw this earlier today and it made me laugh, and momentarily think about how those words ring somewhat true.  Not that I want to completely forget my last marathon–which coincidentally was my very first marathon–The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.  There were parts of it that were just completely and utterly awesome.   The excitement at the start line, the friends and family cheering me on along the way, and hitting the 20 mile mark, still feeling strong….those are things I would like to remember.

But there are also parts I would just as soon forget…..like the entire last 6 miles, 5 3/4 of which were entirely uphill.  Those of you who have run Twin Cities, I’ll just let you nod your heads in agreement, and feel free to cringe a little bit as I mention the word “Summit“. (Yeah.  NOT. PLEASANT.)

Many of you warned me about it, and some of you even went so far as to make sure to tell me to leave something in my tank in reserve for it.  For the record–I did not, and that was my undoing.  I foolishly put everything I had into those first 20 miles, and when the steady incline to the finish line began, I was already being propelled forward on mere fumes.  That whole thing about your legs feeling like lead pipes and your feet feeling like cement bricks??  Yeah, it’s pretty much true.  Next to giving birth to my children those last 6 miles were, by far, the the greatest physical and emotional challenge I’ve ever faced…and now I’m about to do it all again.  My mother is right.  I must be crazy.

On that note, I did read somewhere once that the greatest compliment you can give a runner is to tell them that they are crazy, right??  We wear it like a badge of honor.   That’s why we fork over some serious jing in entry fees, travel and hotel to run 26.2 miles for fun and nothing else but a medal and banana at the end of the Herculean effort that ultimately killed the first guy who ever did it.  Sounds like fun to me, but hey–it’s not for everybody.

Seriously, now…I know I can do it.  I’ve done it before.  This time, I want to run it faster, though I don’t know if my motivation to shave over 20 minutes off of my finish time is to really to PR or just get it (or maybe just those last 6 miles) over with much more quickly.  I’m sure it has a little to do with both.

Today is Day 1 of Week 1 of what will be 16 weeks of training.  While I have spent a good part of the winter completing a round of Insanity (which on most days made running look really easy), I did try to get a long run in at least 3 weekends a month to keep up my base as much as possible.

I couldn’t get myself run all week long for a while, though I do love running and missed it.  After Twin Cities and then running the Monster Half Marathon 3 weeks later, I was pretty burned out.  I really also needed a diversion, because I knew that today was coming way back in October, when first thing  Monday morning after I ran Twin Cities, I registered to run Grandma’s Marathon.

Not quite sure why, exactly.  I am still pretty impressed with myself that on a day when I was still navigating stairs backwards I actually had the kahunas to register for another race, let alone another marathon.  Most likely, it was a combo platter of being afraid that if I didn’t do it right then and there, I would never run another one,  and (more likely) that my pride was a little hurt and I wanted the chance to redeem myself for those last 6 miles that completely annihilated any possibility of a sub-4 hour finish at Twin Cities.  As I pressed the “Complete Entry” button, I kept myself from hyperventilating by continually reassuring myself under my breath, “Grandma’s is FLAT.  Grandma’s is FLAT.  Grandma’s is FLAT.”

So today, on Day 1 of Week 1 of training for Marathon #2, I found myself on the treadmill at the club  getting those obligatory first 5 miles in–the first 5 of many, many more to come.  I had planned on 6, but I did not run at all last week, as I spent 7 whole days trying to get over some pretty serious upper respiratory crud that would just not go away.  My distance range for the day was 4-6, and so I decided to split it down the middle, though I have pretty much committed to myself that I was going to try to train at the higher end of my mileage ranges.  I didn’t want to push too hard today, or this week, even.  I’m older (although not much) and wiser this time around.  I’ve got 15 more weeks to go, and burning out now is not going help me 10, 12 or 13 weeks from now when my mileage will be at it’s highest.

Truth be told, finishing those 5 miles today was a struggle, kind of like the final 6 of my last/first marathon.  I’m still not feeling 100%, and I’m not a good ‘mill runner.  Part of the reason I love running is being outside and losing myself in the distance of the run.  You just can’t lose yourself on a treadmill, you know??  My friend runs on her treadmill watching continuous episodes of Desperate Housewives on her Ipad.  Hopefully the weather is going to start to cooperate, otherwise I may have to steal her idea…although I don’t think I can watch Desperate Housewives.  I might have to fire up some Big Bang Theory, instead.  Or maybe How I Met Your Mother,

June 21 seems so far away right now, and thankfully the 25 miles on my training schedule this week sounds  a lot less daunting than it did the last time around.  That’s a good thing.  When it is all said and done, I’ll have run between 600-700 miles in training by the time I toe the line the morning of the marathon.  That’s a lot of freaking miles.

Luckily, the majority of them will be enjoyable, and those that aren’t are the ones that ultimately are making me stronger.  That’s the cool thing about training for and running marathons.  While you may need to use selective memory to forget the not-so-fun parts of the last one you ran, it’s not all bad.  For me, at least, there is more good than bad, otherwise I’m quite sure I’d ever do another one.  In the end, it’s all about proving something to yourself–and of course the bragging rights.  😉

After all, 26.2 miles is a crazy amount of miles to run in one day, as fast as you can run them.  All time goals aside, making it across that finish line is something only 1/2 of 1% of the American population can add to their resume.  That’s what makes it crazy.   But–that is also what makes it great.

feeling 44.

Image

Today is my 44th birthday.  More than once today, I joked about the fact that I was turning 29–AGAIN–for the 15th consecutive year.  You want to know something??  For all the joking, I would never trade my 44 year old self in for my 29 year old self–EVER.  And let me tell you why…

First and foremost, my 44 year old self is BADASS.  Part of that is because I’m a runner.  I challenge my body to do things I never would have thought possible before I started running.   I run in the cold.  I run in the heat.  I run hard and I run long.  I do what I need to do to get my body to reach goals that go above and beyond being the right size or shape.  I strive to be strong, healthy, and as fast as I can be.

Secondly, my 44 year old self respects the machine that is my body,  and realizes that running and being disciplined about my diet and adequate rest and recovery are far more important the outward changes that it all has made to my physical appearance.  At 44, it’s all about what my body can do for me, and in return, what I can do for my body.  Being healthy and strong have become the priority, and a very liberating one at that.

Finally my 44 year old self is much more forgiving.  It knows that it is okay to take a rest when I need it, have cupcake and a glass of sangria on my birthday to celebrate, and yet go out there the next day and work even harder than I did the day before not because I HAVE to, but because I WANT to, and more importantly, because I CAN.

15 years has passed since I’ve lived in that 29 year old body, but when I do remember her, often I feel sorry for her. Why??  Because she spent far too much time focusing in her physical imperfections, constantly comparing herself to others and using them to determine her own self worth.  What a sad way to live, looking back.  I’m so glad that 44 knows much better.

This February 14th, I wish my 44 year old self could go back in time 15 years ago today and whisper some things gently in my 29 year old ear:  You are beautiful.  You are strong.  You have no idea of all that you are capable of achieving.  You have the potential to do great things, and please, Please, PLEASE stop doubting yourself and your ability.  Take risks.  Overcome your fear of discomfort.  Stop worrying about what you see in the mirror and start focusing on how you feel.  Trust in your ability to persevere, and ignore anyone around you who tells you that you can’t.  Most importantly, believe in yourself.  What today may seem impossible is indeed possible tomorrow.  Don’t fail to set a goal because you are afraid you’ll never achieve it.  Rather, commit to it and chase it furiously and relentlessly until it is completely within your grasp.  Love the life you live, and be happy.  Most importantly, love yourself.  You deserve it.  Oh….and Happy Birthday.

motivation is running high!

i dare you to train for a marathon

I’m not one for puns, but I couldn’t resist the title I chose for this blog post.  While the ground is still covered in oodles of snow and the temps are consistently hovering at or below zero, the beckon of spring races flicker brightly through the dense grayness that is a Minnesota winter. Not snow, nor sub-zero temps, nor risk of severe frostbite can keep those of us running a spring event from embarking on the journey that will get us there, 16 weeks from now:  spring marathon training is upon us!

For those running the Mother of All Spring Marathons–Boston–training actually began weeks ago, with long runs at this point probably up in the high teens (and even low 20’s) for mileage.  For later events like Grandmas Marathon (which is the race I happen to be running), there are actually still a few weeks left to get in gear.  Regardless, it’s this time of year that re-ignites the fire under all of us who will voluntarily spend hours upon hours getting our weekly miles in in order to prepare our bodies to run as fast as we can for 26.2 miles while still being able to make it to the end and cross that line.  Let the physical and mental conditioning commence!  🙂

Being a runner in Minnesota is a badge to be worn with both honor and pride, with a little bit of “crazy in the head” thrown in for good measure.  More than any other place in the country, finding the motivation to train here at any given time of the year can require a person to dig deeper than they ever thought possible. As Minnesotan runners, we have all pretty might resigned ourselves to the fact our state has an optimum running climate for only about 10 days out of the year (if we are lucky):  40-50 degrees and sunny, with little to no wind.  The rest is divided between scorching hot and humid summers, and brutally cold and endless winters.  That says a lot for us, as athletes:  we take on a lot more than just the immense amount of miles to get our training in.  We persevere through the weather that would rival the fortitude of even the most dedicated of Postal Carriers.  Drive down a street in the Twin Cities on any given day, in any given weather, and I guarantee you will see at least one–if not more–runners.

Yesterday, I went to the kick off for Lifetime Fitness Run’s Spring Marathon Training at StartLine Running store, and it was a BLAST!!  TONS of runners getting ready to train for full and half marathons this spring, and it was inspiring and motivating to be in a room full of people who “get it”–who understand the dedication and drive it takes to put in the hours and miles needed to get to the start line.  Here we are just before heading out for the optional group run:

kick off group shot

As if this wasn’t fun enough, USTAF running super hero Katie McGregor was also there to hang out, speak a few motivational words and to inspire us as we begin our race training.  She was even nice enough to take a picture with li’l ol’ me–notice her scooching down to my height.  What a sweetie.  😉

katie and I

After a great time on Saturday morning, all I can say is I’m pumped for training.  I’ve got the goals (to run a sub-4 hour time), I’ve got the tools (a training program and a group of great fellow runners to run with over the next few months), and I’ve got the motivation (I’ve done it once.  If I can do it once, I can do it again, and this time I will do even BETTER.)  Time to tweak my training playlist, break in my new Brooks and get out there….the snow may not be going anywhere any time soon, but I sure as heck am!  Grandma’s Marathon, here I come!

Wow….it’s been a while!!

Well here I am, ages away from my last post.  What’s happened in the nearly 6 months that have passed??  Well, I ran my first marathon, made it through a hectic holiday season for work, and am now gearing up for training to start for marathon #2:  Grandma’s Marathon on June 21st.

While my secret hope is to qualify for Boston, my predominant goal is to run a sub-4 hour marathon, which means shaving 21 minutes off of my time from Twin Cities.  Yowzers.  In order to make sure I’m giving myself the best chance possible, I’m making a few changes to my training this cycle:

1.  I am re-vamping my diet.  Last summer, I trained on a high-protein and even higher-carbohydrate diet, and found that my energy levels were very hard to maintain.  I’d crash and burn nearly on a daily basis, and it made living the rest of my life (meaning the entire day before and after my run) pretty much exhausting.  My solution?  I am going to try going Paleo to see how that works for me.  I’ll get into exactly what Paleo is in a later post, but for now, know that it is a low carbohydrate eating lifestyle that is rich in high quality protein, vegetables, quality fats and some fruit.

2.  I am changing my training up, and using a plan that has a bit more mileage and definitely more speed work.  I actually signed up to train with a group this time through Lifetime Fitness, and am looking forward to having people to train with (especially on long runs!) who run at my pace, and who are working toward the same goal.

3.  I am going to try to spend more time focusing on the positive, rather than the negative during my training.  When I was training for Twin Cities last summer, I spent way too much time and energy focused on what I felt I wasn’t accomplishing, instead of celebrating what I was.

Sound like a plan??  I hope so!!  That’s all for now….look for most posts to come, as I try to jump back on the Blog Bandwagon!!

i lift, you lift, we lift.

th_WeightLifting gerbil

As runners, we love, loveLOVE cardio, don’t we?  That’s why we do it every day, come Hell, high water, injury, illness, snow, icy terrain, gale force winds and whatever else gets thrown at us.  We crave the rush it brings:  the elevated heart rate, the sweat pouring from our pores, and the endorphins flooding our bloodstream.  It’s the feeling that keeps us coming back for more, right?

Addicted to running myself, I originally  took it up to advance my weight loss goals (nearly 40 pounds in the past 2 years),  and even as being a runner has slowly become my choice of lifestyle, I’m still a true believer in the power of lifting weights.  I personally feel that –especially for women– in addition to a healthy diet, strength training is the key to significant, permanent weight loss.

This may sound odd coming from a runner, since the focus of most of our workouts tend to be running, isn’t it?  Currently in training for a marathon, I am running anywhere from 30-45 miles per week, with long runs ranging right now from 11-15 miles.  Yet, I still make time at least 2 times per week to lift weights, and plan on doing so for the remainder of my training.

Strength training increases overall muscle mass, which is a metabolically active tissue, meaning that it burns more calories, even when we are sedentary.  What this translates to a faster metabolism, causing us to burn more calories on a daily basis.  Furthermore, while muscle may weigh more than fat, it is much more compact in size, taking up less than half its space by volume.  Building muscle burns fat and makes us smaller.  It is a win-win situation, don’t you think?!

Why lift if you are a runner?  The benefits are numerous, and not all of them may come to mind immediately.  The first reason that I can think of is for muscular balance.  Many runners tend to have over-developed quads (the true badge of an avid runner, aren’t they?).  With repetitive joint movement activities such as running, this imbalance with opposing muscle groups such as the hamstrings and glutes can lead to injury in areas such as the hip.  By balancing out those muscle groups, there is a significant reduction in the risk of injury.

Secondly, lifting improves running efficiency and endurance.  As an anaerobic exercise, it trains our body to perform better in situations when we are exceeding our anaerobic threshold:  the point at which our body stops using oxygen to burn fuel.  When we run, this often happens when we are doing speed work such as sprints, or running up hills.  Consistent lifting helps our bodies to learn to “flip the switch” more efficiently This contributes  not only to a smoother transition into an anaerobic state during shorter, tougher workouts, but makes longer, aerobic workouts easier as well.

Thirdly, it builds core and upper body strength, which helps us to conserve energy during longer, more demanding runs.  Runners often use buzz words such as “efficiency” and “energy conservation” when referring to our long runs.  When we have a weak upper body and core, our bodies not only have to expend energy to keep our legs moving, but it also has to work nearly twice as hard just to keep upright.  When our core muscles (the girdle that encompasses our abs, lower back, glutes and hip flexors) are strong and stable, they don’t require as many calories to keep us vertical, allowing us to reallocate and budget that energy to our legs.  When simply maintaining a good running posture requires less effort, it ultimately contributes much less to  overall fatigue during demanding distances.

Finally, many runners don’t realize that our pace is determined not by our legs, but by our arm swing (yes, it’s true!)  We can only run as fast as our arms can move.  If we don’t have strong biceps, triceps, and shoulders to keep our arm swing strong and consistent, it affects our overall pace and ability to maintain it long-term.  (Plus, nothing looks more athletic than a runner with great guns!  🙂 )

I have to be honest….this blog post has taken 2 days to write, and at the moment, I am pretty glad to be nearly done, as I am about to head down to lift–day 2 of three times I have planned for this week.  If you are currently not lifting to supplement your running, I  encourage you to try it out, and give it about 8-12 weeks before you evaluate the impact is has on your running. Training sessions don’t have to be long.  Only about an hour twice a week.  If you do, I would be seriously willing to bet that the positive benefits of strength training will compel you to add it to your lifestyle, for the long run (no pun intended).

in the heat of the moment.

We runners are a group of crazy, crazy people, aren’t we??   When it comes to getting our miles in, we run through painful injuries, bitter cold, and this time of year, blistering heat and air so thick that you couldn’t cut it with a knife if you wanted to.  While we may be driven, determined individuals and willing to do just about anything to get our miles in, I’ve got to be honest:  my last couple of runs have been brutal.  Having had a particularly hard winter here in Minnesota (with a non-existent spring and unseasonably cold temps that dealt us 40 degree weather into nearly the middle of June!), my body simply has not had a chance to acclimatize to the higher temperatures and rising dew point.

guess who's having a field day in the once frozen north this summer!  :)

Just so ya’ll know, this is not who I would choose as my ideal running parter–for starters, I’m pretty sure he’d smoke me!   🙂

At first, this scared the bajeezus out of me.  To step outside with the intention of getting in 5-6 miles and having to walk less than 3 miles into my run was a real shocker.  A year ago at this time, maybe I could have understood that.  I had just started seriously running, and 3 miles was an accomplishment, not a warm up.  Now with a 10K and half marathon under my belt and in the midst of training for my first 26.2,  5 miles should be an easy run, right?!  Alas, at 85 degrees and 80% humidity, it was a challenge that I never saw coming, with Heat Miser doing his little dance and singing his little song.  Ugh.

When talking to my husband Tom (also a runner)  about it yesterday, he said he had jokingly quipped to a clerk in a local running store, earlier in the day, that he had waited all winter to be able to run without layers upon layers.  Now that the heat and humidity has finally hit, he can’t wait for winter again to be able to run outside without fearing depleting his fuel belt mid-run and ending up with heat stroke.  Talk about weather whiplash!

Personally, I do not like running outside in the wintertime, primarily because last winter on Christmas Eve morning I fell on some ice.  I ended up with a hematoma the size of the state of Texas, a right butt-cheek that Kim Kardashian would have paid good money for, and the long-term effects of Compartmentalization Syndrome (not fun).  For the remainder of the winter and well into spring,  I ran endless circles in our local sports dome, which is ice-free and maintained at an optimum 55 degrees.  With about 4 laps per mile, it certainly beat the dreadmill (although it did become a bit mind-numbing after a while).

Now, I stand faced with either finding a way to deal with the heat and humidity, or resigning myself to the dreadmill for the remainder of the summer.  Some people love treadmills, but I call it the “dreadmill” for a reason.   I am not one of those people who can spend hours and hours putting in miles on a moving belt (going nowhere) to train for a marathon.  Don’t get me wrong–I have a great amount of admiration for anyone who can and truly wish I could.  I just don’t have the temperament for it.  I actually need to feel like I am getting someplace.

I recently read an article that has helped me understand why I am struggling so much with the heat, and that has made me feel a bit better.  (If I have peaked your interest, you can find the article here.)   Initially, I assumed that I was regressing.  Learning that there is an actual, physiological reason caused by several biochemical processes (and not that I’m just a wuss) was of some amount of comfort.

Now that I have a reasonable idea as to what I can expect from my body while running in high temps/high humidity (and knowing that I will eventually adjust over time), I have resolved to switch my focus.  Rather than concentrating on the negatives I can’t change, I have decided to home in on the things that I can, like trying to run at cooler times of the day and watching my hydration and electrolyte levels.  I’ve also accepted the sad reality that sometimes my body will just not be able to handle the heat, and that it is okay to walk.  (My ego can’t believe that I just wrote that.)

I actually have a six miler planned for tonight.  It may not be at my normal 8:43 pace, and I may have to schlep up some of the hills, but with some determination, a Gu, and my Fuel Belt, I’m heading out there soon to get ‘er dun.  My immediate goal is to make it through my runs anyway I can.   But, in a few weeks I’m pretty sure that the table will turn, in my favor.  There will be no more singing and dancing for Heat Miser.  Oh, and he will be the one eating my dust.

a reunion!

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to read about my epic search for the other runner mother who helped me finish (with a sub-2 hour time!) my very first half marathon during the Minneapolis Marathon/Half Marathon on June 1, 2013, you can catch up here.  Allison and I met at the 9 minute mile per minute pace marker about a half hour before the race started on that cold, cloudy morning.  Here is a picture of us  before the gun went off (and yes, we were as cold as we look!):

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Needless to say, we were FREEZING, and I was incredibly nervous, but chatting together helped pass the time and took the edge off of my nerves.  It was so nice to meet up with another mother who shared my passion for this crazy little obsession called running, and who had a mutual appreciation for Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea’s books Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother.  We’d both read the books, used the training programs and listened to the podcasts.  Allison recounted meeting Dimity and Sarah last year at the Twin Cities Marathon Expo, and I instantly regretted not having sought them out when I was there as well, picking up my number for the Twin Cities 10k (my very first race–ever!), which I ran the day before the marathon.

All in all, my summary of my first half marathon is that it was HARD.  Truth be told, I didn’t follow my original game plan and went out way too fast. All the downhill was hard on my body, causing a pre-existing IT band injury to kick in, and the converse uphills were brutal.  Never having walked during a training run, it was a very humbling experience, and had Allison not been there riding my shoulder at key points throughout the race, I seriously doubt that I would have crossed the finish line running, never mind meeting my sub-2 hour goal.  As we parted ways when we neared the split between the end of the half marathon and the second part of the full, I was so focused on moving forward through the pain and fatigue that I didn’t have the state of mind to look back and thank her, let alone get her name and contact info.

Two days after the race, I emailed Dimity and Sarah with the hopes of getting some help finding the woman who had helped me finish.  Dimity responded  by posting my story on the Run Like a Mother: The Book  Facebook page.  The response was nothing short of astounding.  Over 1650 likes (almost 800 in the first hour alone!),  nearly 200 shares and countless comments later, Allison was waiting in a reception area for a post-race massage when she saw on Facebook that I was searching for her.  In less than 2 hours, we had found each other!

Finding her was an exciting and joyful experience.  Seeing all the shared “mother runner love” that laced the string of posts that followed our story was amazingly emotional.  In the end, I was so thankful for the opportunity to finally be able to thank her personally for all she had done to help me make it to the finish line that morning.  As a jewelry designer and the owner of a small jewelry company, I knew I could give her something special to not only thank her for the help she so graciously and selflessly gave to me during the race, but to serve as a momento of the mutual bond we shared from start to finish that day.  Here is what I came up with:

allisonnecklace

We finally met for coffee yesterday morning in Minneapolis to chat (mostly about running, of course!), catch up on the rest of her race (she had run the full marathon), and for me to  give her this heartfelt gift.  She loved it, and it was such a pleasure to see the joy in her eyes as she put it on.  As it turned out, she didn’t make her goal of a sub-4 hr time for her full 26.2 (though she did PR).  I was instantly guilt-ridden, but she assured me that her slower pace when she was running with me at the end of my half was not the cause.

She shared with me her own race struggles filled with relentless hills, fatigue and self-doubt that plagued the second half of the marathon.  They echoed mine as she recounted points when she desperately wanted to stop running, and even considered quitting.  In the end, with the help and encouragement of her family and her own mental fortitude, she also crossed the finish line running, adding the notch of marathon #3 to her belt.  It was a bittersweet finish for her, as that sub-4 hour time remained frustratingly elusive.  Still on her quest to break 4 hours, I told her that when she finally nails it to let me know, and we would create another charm to commemorate that amazing, hard-earned accomplishment.

As we are both training for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon this coming October, we agreed to do one of our 20 mile training runs together.  Finally, when we got ready to leave, we snapped a picture together:

allisonandme

On the ride home from our reunion, I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of having a new friend who had showed so much support and compassion to me on race day, and with whom I could now continue to share a mutual passion for running and training.  I’ve read, time and time again, that as women, runners, and mothers, we are so fortunate to be a part of an endless web that connects us all, regardless of ability or age.  Meeting Allison has helped me realize that the benefits of running extend far beyond the physical changes it makes to the body.   Rather, it is also an incredible opportunity to become part of a community that exists not only to perpetuate a love for the sport, but to boost the common spirit of all of it’s members.  It supports and encourages us all  to constantly  reach beyond ourselves and what we think we are capable of.  In return, it affords us the opportunity to celebrate together as we continue to achieve far more than we ever thought we could.

…and I’m off and running!!!

 After a year of encouragement from family and friends, here I go as I jump feet first (running, of course!) into the world of blogging!

motherrunnerMplsmarathon

me with my game face during my very first half in Minneapolis on June 1, 2013

Life may be all about balance, but when you are a mother, wife, small business owner, fitness enthusiast and a runner, juggling all those hats and still staying on your feet can sometimes feel darn near next to impossible.

But, if running has taught me anything, it’s that we’re all capable of so much more than we think we are.  Reality is that life is big, and for me, it encompasses all of these components in order to be full.  Giving up any of those parts is simply not an option.  Learning to fit all  the pieces of the puzzle together to make it work may be a demanding at times, but it keeps me on my toes, and I certainly thrive on a challenge!

I once read somewhere that the hardest thing about running is simply starting, and actually getting out the door.  With this in mind, it is extremely appropriate that my inaugural blog post should happen as I embark upon my quest to run my first marathon–the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on October 6, 2013.  Running 26.2 miles may be one thing, but for me the training leading up to it is going to be the true challenge:  16 weeks of logging miles upon miles,  avoiding (in my case) inevitable injury, and all the while trying to maintain some semblance of harmony between life, family, work and my training.

How does one go about doing that exactly?  Well, I’m banking on that it is all a learning process–and one that I will become adept at sooner rather than later.  5 years ago I had my sights set upon the very same marathon, and I had my hopes and goal dashed mercilessly by injury and lack of mental steel.  Looking back upon my mistakes, I am coming into things a bit more prepared than the last time:  a little older, much stronger, and a lot wiser.

Oh well, here goes….and as my husband says, this is just another one of life’s little adventures!  I’m hoping that over the next 16 weeks (and beyond) this blog becomes filled with anecdotes, tips, recipes, and anything else that excites me as I gradually make my way toward race day while still keeping my family, marriage and business intact.  Please feel free to contact me with suggestions, and comments are always invited as well.  Hold on tight, my friends–it’s going to be a fast and bumpy ride!