First Trail Run

imageTrying new things to improve my running is something I am slowly becoming accustomed to. Today I completed my first trail run and I absolutely loved it! Why did it take me so long to get out there? The impact to my joints was so much less than pounding the pavement. It was also a challenge, I can see how this might replace speedwork for me. Next trail run is Thursday, stay tuned, I have a feeling I may be hooked!

 

I’m a trail runner

I feel excitement and anticipation but no fear, anxiety or pressure that race day typically brings. It’s packet pick up day for my second trail race and I’m waiting for the “why am I doing this feeling” to come on.  Mile 2-3 is usually when it hits and I swear it will be my last race. 

Trail running has been like moving to a new town and finally feeling like you belong, it feels like home. It could be that the change in pace and atmosphere came at the absolute perfect time for me but the trails are my running sanctuary. 

I’ve run two crappy marathons and still don’t consider myself a marathoner, really. But I was a trail runner even before running an actual trail race, it’s in my heart. It’s funny, I grew up on dirt roads in northern New Mexico and I fought hard to get out of the country. I never would have guessed a piece of my heart would take me back to the dirt. 

I’m stoked to be kicking up dirt Saturday with three trail sisters, Nicole (first trail race, Madeline (first trail race), Veronica(too experienced to count them all)! 

Photo cred Boston McGahie 

What’s Important to you?

“I have more important things to do than spend two hours running”… (or some  version of this) a coworker said this to me recently and it struck a nerve. 

I thought about what she said and why it bothered me so much.  Was I being selfish? Are there more important things that I’m neglecting? I went to bed pondering it. 

After yoga (oddly enough) I came to the conclusion that there are absolutely things more important to me than running. These things are probably similar for most people; they are my family and my sanity.

Luckily we are a family of runners and running is what keeps me sane! To each her own, I say. I believe life is a bit more enjoyable if you have your thing whatever it may be. 

Run on sister! 

Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable takes a lot of getting used to. There are so many variables. Maybe it’s about trying something new, pushing harder or going further than you have before. Whatever it is, it’s the thing that makes you feel unsure and maybe even a little afraid but know you really really want. It’s called a goal. After all, if your goals don’t scare you probably need a bigger goal. 

I’ve got a goal and I’m not exactly confident but I’ve been really excited. It’s been in the back of my mind, but I’ve had a lot of excuses. The timing hasn’t been right, I need a sitter, I’m semi-injured. 

I want to… no, I’m going to complete my first trail race before my husband comes home. So, with a little peer pressure (because that’s what runners do) instead of pounding the pavement for my upcoming half marathon road race I’m going to kick up some dirt on a half marathon trail race. Not exactly an equal trade. 

The trail sisters are an inspiring group of women, I feel fortunate to be part of such a supportive and encouraging group of strong women. —(Who knows what they’ll talk me into next) 

Imperfect Conditions

Runners plan and we prepare and we practice and then we do it again. Practice makes perfect. Or does it? We attempt to perfect our fluid intake during the long run as to avoid too many bathroom stops. We attempt to figure out the perfect carb loaded meal pre race. We plan life around training a lot of the time. But is it ever really perfect? We certainly can’t control the weather.  Injury or illness can come about as well.

There will always be less than perfect conditions, this is why we train in the wind and the rain. We know this will make us stronger on race day, we will be prepared. It is inevitable that sometimes life will toss you something that you are not prepared for. I had a packing list that I had checked over and over, I was prepared for the Houston marathon. What I wasn’t prepared for was the flu.

I was confident that I had enough time to recover from the flu. After arriving in Houston two days before the marathon and four days into the flu, recovery seemed bleak. I still felt weak and fatigued, not ideal for marathon running. The plan remained the same, rest and hydrate. The day before the marathon things seemed to worsen, how was this possible?  I couldn’t eat without feeling nauseated and energy still hadn’t found me. For the first time I was worried and doubtful. My husband finally asked me if I was 100% sure I was going to run. 100% sure, I repeated back. I told him I was going to give it my best shot, not really knowing what that meant. Gatorade! I drank a bottle of Gatorade and I felt a surge. Optimism began to return, I felt possibility return. I will never bash that sugary drink again! Another bottle of Gatorade and I ate my pasta dinner.

Race morning came and I was terrified. Can I do this, kept going through my head. Pace, splits, etc. all went out the window. My plan was to just run as far as I could, and that’s where it ended. The first five miles felt like an out of body experience (pretty sure I had a fever), then things fell into place. I felt pretty good, I was running! I was running on pace with my just run plan. The crowd was amazing, the course was great. As I ran toward the half marathon and full marathon division point I knew I could simply take the half route, but I still felt confident.

At mile 13 I figured the smart thing would have been to take the half course. I felt myself fading. By mile fifteen my energy had deflated just like a balloon. Miles 18-25 were painful in too many ways to describe. The last mile is comical to me now. I remember stopping to walk (again) less than half a mile from the finish line and thinking, what is wrong with you, why can’t you run a mile? I finally did manage to run through the finish line. My first thought was, that’s it? I did it?

Not one of my family members attempted to ever talk me out of running. My son ran twelve of the miles with me. My reason for running is not something everyone understands and that’s ok.  Running this race ill absolutely has a consequence and I knew that.

“Strength does not come from physical capacity, it comes from indomitable will”—Mahatma Gandhi

Keep Paddling 

Brief blog update today, no one really appreciates rambling anyway…

Current situation is as follows; I am in a canoe filled with holes and I’m paddling up stream, but I’m wearing a nifty life jacket so I know I will not drown. It’s really, really hard work but I know when fatigue sets in I can flip over on my back and just float if I need to. 

I’m just starting out up steam, I’m no where near the end. I’m not close to the end zone, or about to sprint to home base. I’m not close to crossing the finish line. I’m currently running my mile (freaking) one of 26.2. But, I know I’m not going to drown. I’ve got my life jacket. 

Fear 

We have this need or desire to feel like we are facing our insecurities and conquering  our fears because we hear that’s what makes us strong. 

But sometimes strength doesn’t conquer and it doesn’t roar. Sometimes we don’t feel this immediate sense of gratification that feel owed when step up to plate. 

It’s hard and most of the work is done when no one is watching and no one is cheering you on. This applies to a lot of things in life; the job you really want, the college seemly out of reach, the marathon that feels too damn far. 

Fear is healthy, it reminds us that there is necessary work ahead. What makes us strong is continuing on despite the fear. Doing what’s necessary when we feel the most uncertain of ourselves. 

I always tell my college kid that things worth having are not easily obtained. So how bad do you want it, enough to face your fears or insecurities? Enough to try something new, look less than perfect, feel silly? 

 I’ve read all about the benefits of swimming for runners but it’s just not my thing. Cue, the insecurities…I don’t even know how to swim, why would I throw something new into the mix? It’ll probably make me too sore to run. Looking like a jack ass isn’t appealing to me. Swimming really messes up your hair too. 

Well I want it, I want it really really bad! Today was my fifth week swimming. I told my running friend once that I’d probably drink pickle juice standing on my head if someone told me it would make me a better runner. 

Do the thing you said you couldn’t, because you can. 

Can I borrow your baby? 

We are always our own worst enemy, our harshest critic and potentially the very person who will crush our own spirits. 

As a runner you’ve read all the wonderfully uplifting (meant to truly be  motivational) quotes about being better than you are today. And it’s also true as they say, comparison is the killer of joy. Even if the comparison is to your former self.

Today’s run started off as mine typically do, slow… as my hubby says, I’m a slow starter and I hate it. But my pace soon felt pretty good, natural. I glanced at my watch and I was running much faster than I thought. As I was getting ready to turn around at mile two  I thought, “I’m back”! Finally! 

Just as I turned I narrowly missed a collision with a guy pushing a stroller. Really, was he that close to me and I didn’t even notice? He stopped and was talking, turned back and had to take my headphones out. “Don’t stop now, your pace is good. I’m keeping with it.” 

And just like that, comparison killed my joy. Seriously, I thought! You’re pushing a giant kid in a stroller. I resisted the urge to kick him in the shin and finished my run.

Crazy runners, the expression is definitely not without reason. I wondered (only for half a second) if borrowing a kid and stroller would likely make me faster. 

Nah… I could totally just use a doll! That’s not crazy at all!