It’s All About Gratitude

I have to start with an apology for my lapse in posting.  I plead guilty to being overwhelmed with work, holidays, training and life in general.  Unless you are the shiny object of the day – or the person clamouring the loudest for my attention – well, you got ignored. So why has this become the shiny object du jour?  Simple.  I’m on an airplane with no other option.  (Unless you count the option of paying Southwest $5 for Internet connectivity for the remaining 90 minutes of this flight, which even I can’t justify!)

Yes, an airplane to Jacksonville to meet up with my parents, brother, and sister-in-law to celebrate a major birthday (one of those with a 0).  Oh, and to run a marathon.  I’m celebrating my advancing years with an in-your-face, I-won’t go quietly, 26.2 mile run, and I’m happy about it.

Just to catch you up since my last post…I ran the Richmond Marathon and had a great time.  It’s billed as the country’s friendliest marathon and I believe the hype.  It’s a relatively small race (but not as small as the one I’m about to do), the course is beautiful and the crowds were awesome.  My husband was able to bike the course and was never more than a 1/2 mile from me.  I am absolutely blessed with the best cheerleaders/partner/trainer around!

My IT band was the real challenge in Richmond.  Thanks to Juli-a great PT at Union Memorial-I run relatively pain free these days.  Steroids, massage, weights and Kinesio tape did the trick!

Training has been odd for this race.  My schedule not only did not coincide with my training group, it often actually conflicted.  They would be stepping back, I would be doing 20 miles.  Travel took me away from some major workouts.  I found myself in the gym (again with that ever-supportive husband), pushing myself to compete with the taskmaster that is the treadmill.

Then I started watching the weather.  If you know me well, you know I don’t run in heat.  I was a DNF in the 20-miler last fall because I couldn’t manage the heat and humidity.  So when I saw that Jacksonville was experiencing the same abnormally-warm winter we were, I began to panic.  I am glad now of the hot treadmill workouts instead the comfortably cool track sessions.  But that meant I missed the support of my “tribe” (as my husband would say).

But all’s well that ends well.  Granted, I haven’t actually run the race yet, but I’m going in pretty excited.  The weather gods are smiling- clear weather forecast Sunday with a high in the 50s.  I’m feeling well-prepared, although not quite as rested as I would like.  I went to the track Tuesday to get some energy from the group, and even though I was doing an easy taper workout while they were kicking a**, I got what I went for.  A previous runner  posted a webcam of his run, so I saw the beach section and was able to purge the 2009 Maryland Half finish from my brain. I’m good to go.

This one’s not about time.  This one’s all about gratitude.  There are going to be some tears Sunday.  Sunday wasn’t supposed to happen at all.  Twenty-five years ago, I thought I would be in a wheelchair, probably still alone.  Over seven years ago, I thought my mother would not be here.  Yet we will.  I’ll be running because the people who love me never said never.  Mother will be here because she has lived by that maxim her entire life.   And as for that “alone” prediction” – well, there’s a guy who took a chance that he was marrying someone who might curtail his physical activities who is going to be chasing me on a rented bike cheering like a madman tomorrow.

I am truly blessed !

One more note:  My mother is also here because of the amazing research being done all over the country to find treatments and ultimately a cure for breast cancer.  Not by mistake is the marathon being run in Florida on my birthday a fundraiser for breast cancer research.  Nothing-absolutely nothing-happens by mistake.  To contribute to 26.2 with Donna, go to my fundraising page here

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Trust Your Training

So the Richmond Marathon is in the books.  It’s a beautiful course with the spectators to justify the “America’s friendliest marathon” moniker, great support, and – perhaps most importantly to some – a downhill finish.

I started the race feeling good, but not overconfident.  One fear almost immediately came true:  the left IT band was not really interested in running a marathon today.  The first 10k was really, really, really painful.  (Did I mention it was really painful?)  My fault for postponing making the appointment with a PT.  Around mile seven, the pain suddenly became bearable.

Then, I managed to somehow lock my Garmin.  Now, I’ve done this before, and usually I make sure that I look up the key combinations needed to unlock it, but for some reason, I didn’t do that today.  So I handed off the watch to my husband, and said, “guess I’m just going to run this one.”

Which gets me to my favorite sign of the day.  “Trust your training.”  What a simple sign – not cutsy, no reference to Chuck Norris – but how very important.  I told the guy holding it that it was exactly what I needed at that moment, and I meant it.  It’s what Katie told me last night, it’s what I told myself this morning, but I just really needed that reminder.

Someone said one time that the way to live is to, “Suit up, show up, and leave the results to God.”  I suited up by training for months, even though it didn’t go the way I wanted.   But I tried to listen to my coach at Charm City Run and make the adjustments that my injury warranted.  And I showed up at the starting line, said a little prayer, and ran.  The outcome would be what it would be.

The lesson and reminder for me today – suit up and show up.  It’s not about the gadgets, it’s not about the mental game.  I have been well trained to run long distances.   Without a fancy watch, I maintained a relatively constant pace for 26.2 miles because that’s what I’ve been trained to do.  I just put one foot in front of the other, and was actually passing people, especially for the last 3 miles.

And now I have to ask the question in other aspects of my life, “where am I not trusting?” Why do I think that I am responsible for the outcomes when I’ve done everything I was supposed to do?

I love to run.  I learn lessons every time I put on my running shoes.  I’m not supposed to be able to run, much less run a marathon.  I just ran a marathon.  So what do I know?

One thing I was reminded today:  Trust your training.

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Trust, faith and the marathon — today’s the day!

Now it’s time to simply believe in yourself and trust your body to do what it’s been trained to do.  (Facebook posting from the SunTrust Richmond Marathon)

It’s finally here-race day in Richmond!  After months of training,lots of loops around the track, muddy runs on the trail, long runs in Timonium  and Loch Raven  (up and down the “dam hill”),  a trip to the Under Armour headquarters (thanks UA!),  one broken scaphoid, an annoyingly persistent IT band problem, and travel interruptions, it’s time to put on my running clothes and just run. It’s going to be a beautiful day, on a lovely course with the trees in the height of color, at the “world’s friendliest” marathon.

I won’t be running alone, either.  I’ll bring with me the awesome coaches (especially Ericka) from Charm City Run, all the friends I’ve made in my training groups, my friends and family.  The supportive emails, FB messages and texts (especially from the girls) will all travel te 26.2 miles with me.  The great last email from Shelton, putting the whole thing in perspective.  My friend Katie who will be here on the half marathon course and at the finish line (she’ll have plenty of time to shower, change, and check out of the hotel!)  And then there’s my amazing husband, who will be stalking me on a bike, the ultimate cheerleader.  How can I not be thrilled to be running today?

I was brought back to reality at dinner last night.  My last few runs have been great – it took 4 months, but at last I felt that all the parts were moving together.  While I talked about all the runs were that wasn’t the case, Katie kept bringing back to the ones for which it was.  After one kinesio taping meltdown (sorry, Joe!), I slept pretty well and I woke up ready to do this thing.

Lingering doubts melted away when I popped onto Facebook (who doesn’t at 4:45am?) and saw this post from my friend Kerry.  I remembered that right now, everything is exactly as it should be:

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Is 40:31

Let’s do this thing!

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Richmond Marathon Preview

Thanks to the Richmond Times-Dispatch for publishing this video preview. My nerves can only be calmed by seeing what I’m getting myself into!

Richmond Marathon Course Visualization

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Start with a Single Step

23 days.

I’m paralyzed with fear.  Overwhelmed.  Feeling a little sick to my stomach.

It’s 23 days until my next marathon, and I feel like the whole idea is just too much.  It seems like I’ve been training forever, but that my progress has been nil. Starts… and…stops… and…travel… and…heat… and…pain… and…yadda…yadda…yadda.

23 day and counting.

So that’s where my thinking has been for a while.  Every day, I try to ignore the countdown widget on my cell phone.  I just look at the day’s calendar and try to figure out when I can possibly squeeze in the scheduled workout.  Now, I find myself on a long flight back from Phoenix, and I realized that the ebook I wanted to read isn’t synced on my laptop.  So I just picked up on the book I had available:  Switch:  How to Change When Change is Hard, by Chip and Dan Heath.  Hrrrrmph.

I think I have wanted to sulk and fret and basically beat up on myself for a while now.  I’m not sure why that is, but there it is.  I have not yet gotten “into the groove” with my training.  I want that feeling, but the reality is that it’s just not there right now.  The challenge is to change my perspective and expectations so that I can do what I really want to do.  And that, my friends, falls into the category of “change when change is hard.”

Of course, as the universe would have it, I read just those sections of the book that I needed right now.  First, there was the part where they discuss that negative feelings constrict my entire world view .  When I am in fear, all I become razor focused on the negative.  When I experience a positive emotion, I expand mentally and emotionally.  I know from experience that if I focus on feelings of pain or hopelessness or inadequacy, I see/feel/hear/think of nothing else.  I see only what I can’t do – not what I can.  Often, that translates into a shortened training run, which virtually guarantees my fear of inadequacy on race day.   On the contrary, when I feel relaxed and confident, when I’m seeing the trees and sky and hearing the birds, I find the miles just go by.  And isn’t that why I run???

Then, of course, I had to read the part that I could have written so I can remember that it applies to me, too.  In fact, I probably have written it as a suggestion to many a friend.  It’s all about breaking big objectives into micro-milestones.  How many times do I tell people that I set my watch to only see the mile that I’m currently running?  It’s all about the quick wins, the mini-accomplishment that starts the snowball down the mountain.

I get what I need, and I needed those reminders tonight on this bumpy flight home.  I’ll do another 20-miler this weekend, just one mile – or one minute – at a time.  I’ll try to remember to celebrate the quick wins, then do them again.

I don’t know if the Heath Brothers meant their book as an inspiration to a frustrated runner, but tonight, that’s exactly what it was.  Let’s get this Elephant moving, and Ride it to the finish line!

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Perspective check

Once again, Runners’ World quote of the day is dead on for me:

“Every time I go out there, I win. Every time I finish the task that I’ve set before myself, I win again.”—-David James Elliott, actor

I haven’t posted in what seems like forever because this training session has not gone the way I wanted.  I feel like I don’t just hit the wall, I slam in before I even get a good start.  So this quote – the day before a half-marathon for which I feel completely unprepared – is a good reminder.

So I’m going to get a good night’s rest, and win twice tomorrow.

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Did they make this for me?

One of my favorite inspirational websites is “Lift Your Sole.”  My friend Katie gave me a bracelet from there that I wear to all runs over 10 miles.  And now, look what they’ve added to their collection!  I guess you’ll be seeing me wearing it soon.

Focus on the Journey Necklace

Check out all the cool items available online at http://www.liftyoursole.com/

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