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!

 

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Who Inspires You?

Some days you have to dig deeper than others. When the alarm screeched this morning my mind and body were at odds. Walking around Austin in the heat yesterday, driving the three hours home and staying up till midnight watching t.v. we’re poor choices. Choices that caught up to me.

“Just skip it. No, if you skip it you”ll be pissed at yourself. You could run closer to home. No, you’re not going to be training on the road,” My mind and body we’re debating the relevance of one run as I thought about how cool it would be to run the Roman Amphitheater as my husband had yesterday. I thought about how he probably ran it in regular clothes in 120 degree heat.  I thought about the little old man I talk to on the trails, yes I talk to strangers. He told me getting to the trail is worth the drive because no one likes to staring at the street is like punishment. He’s right. I also thought about Mr. Scott Jurek and his motto I’ve recently adopted, “Sometimes you just do things”. I’ve borrowed this a lot lately and it has come to mean a lot to me. You can talk yourself out of things very easily, but you can also talk yourself into with a little courage. 

These three men inspired me today. Dedication is more about what you do when no one else is watching or encouraging you or pushing you. You will never pat yourself on the back for taking the easy road or going back to bed. 

Running and Mommy Guilt

My oldest son, who’s also a runner and gets it more than most, said something that really resonated with me. “Just because running is your top priority…”, were the words that felt like the stabbing pain of achilies tendinitis to me.

Now, before I go on, there was no malicious intent. This is the kid who ran me in for my first marathon attempt, ran half of my second attempt with me in Houston’s hellish heat and was my race support for my first trail marathon. He is my running rock! 

I also do not want reassurance that I am a good mom, because I know I am. But in reality, those words cut deep because there is such a thing as runner’s guilt and I feel it often. 

Running and training (especially) takes a lot of time. And there is a lot that my family, admittedly, fits around my running schedule. Who, besides professional runners, has a regular running schedule and spends this much time dedicated to running and running related activities? And why? 

I think about what I could do with my time and how I could be a better mom if I didn’t spend so much time running. I imagine if I didn’t run before work I could have lunch with my son at school. If I didn’t run I could probably plan and prepare better home cooked meals instead of rushing through dinner time. Maybe I would sit and watch cartoons and drink coffee on Saturday mornings with my son instead of doing long grueling runs. Possibly vacation wouldn’t stress me (and everyone else) out because I was trying to get my runs in. 

Ultimately the best solution I could come up with was making everyone in my family a runner. And how did that turn out? Well, my older son is a runner, no doubt. My husband has now run a marathon, even though he says he not a runner. My youngest runs track but I think my husband won this battle, baseball seems to fit him.

I’m not sure what the answer is. Does running make me a better mom? Does it make me more focused. Does it calm my anxiety during deployments and enable me to be a better mom? Does it make me a better multi-tasker and help me focus on a goal. Does it set a good example for my children? It does it simply take me away from them? I don’t think there’s a simple answer, but there’s many things mom’s feel guilty about and wonder if they’re doing right. Running feels right.

Running on Rabbit Food 

I just ran a freaking marathon on rabbit food!!

I’ve changed my diet a million times over my five year running adventure and have struggled with finding the right mojo. I’ve tried low carb, paleo, high protein, you name it. I’ve failed miserably. 

How hard can it be?  If you run longer you simply eat more, right? Wrong! The more carbs I ate the more gastrointestinal upset I had. The cleaner I ate, the less energy I had to complete longer runs. I assumed balance was the key to most everything, maybe I just needed to find a way to balance my diet better. 

Now for the average person revolving your diet around being a better runner seems absolutely crazy. And it can be maddening for my family at times no doubt. But, my family knows what we eat is not the only thing that revolves around running and that are all runners too. Don’t feel bad for them (too much). 

Fast forward to the inspiration! I believe we have the ability to learn new things all the time. We just have to be open to the idea of possibility. If you live with the idea that “you could never” or “we don’t do it that way”; you may never cease that opportunity for growth or opportunity.  Ah, Mr. Scott Jurek I would love to shake your hand. I read his Book, “Eat and Run” and it made me think about a whole new possibility.  

In the book Scott (first name basis) talks about his transition from a meat eating diet to plant based running. His story completely derails the stereotypes of how an athletes should eat. His account of transitioning to a plant based diet seemed realistic and was so motivational I thought, “I can be a plant based runner, I want to be”! And then after I finished the book I thought I was crazy. Who just stops eating meat at thirty-right years old? Crazy!

But I couldn’t let the idea go. Scott talked about how his recovery was so much faster and how his energy increased and fatigue lessened during runs. This is what I had been looking for with all my diet changes. Why couldn’t I try it? What rule book says I can’t? I kept re-reading parts of the book and then I decided I was doing it. It was time to break this one to the family.

Major changes have growing pains and there were some. But, five weeks into my plant based diet I ran a successful trail marathon. I didn’t crash, I didn’t have any unusual fatigue or weakness. I felt pretty darn good for running 26 miles in the Texas heat. I actually felt better post race than I have any other.  I felt the enhanced post race recovery Scott talked about. I actually went out to dinner and to a baseball game the evening of the run, willingly.

I’m well on my way to being a plant based runner. I, admittedly, thought the idea was half crazy but being called crazy is not something I’m afraid of anymore.

“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to something you’ve never done.” —Thomas Jefferson

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