Be Present

Two simple little words that made a huge difference on Sunday.

Sunday was my last long run before the Vermont City marathon – a planned 22 miles. And I headed out early feeling calm and ready.

But, sometimes things don’t go quite as we plan and we end up needing a mantra to get us through. And sometimes that mantra finds us.

All was well until mile 10 when I stopped to pull my gel out of my pocket. And seeing a group of cyclists headed towards me ( knowing it could get dangerous if a car joined the mix on this narrow road), I opted to eat my gel there and wait for them to pass.

As soon as I started running again, everything felt tired and heavy. And the mind games started – you know…question everything.

I told myself it would get better. I told myself, just make it to 11 and see how you feel.

But I am an overthinker. In both life and running. I’m always planning ahead and then stressing over things that are like 2 months (or 5 miles) out.

I tried to calm myself with my usual “clear your head” “let it go” “just stop” kinda stuff. And I got to 11, then 13. And then, the my mind bounced around again.

I was thinking ahead to the next gel, and how far can I make it before I have to walk. And just generally worrying myself.

Then two words popped into my head. Be Present.

Just pay attention to where you are. Be in the mile you’re in. The rest will happen as it happens.

Stop and smell the lilacs. Bark back at the dogs. Watch the birds fly by.

Just be…

And I got to mile 16. And reminded myself again. And then to 18. At 18 I decided I was going to walk 1/4 mile so I could eat my chews. But after 1/10 of a mile I realized I didn’t need to walk and started running again.

To mile 19.25. Where again I was going to walk a 1/4 mile, but was fine with 1/10.

And I hit mile 20 feeling good. And ran all of mile 21, to actually a little past it. I took one last walk break of about .15. And then ran strong to finish at 22.02.

Looking at my watch I smiled. Because I realized that I if I can do this again in Burlington, I could walk the last four miles and still finish under 5 hours. Something even a month ago I wasn’t sure I could do.

I’m ready to taper. I’m feeling really good about the work I’ve put in. And I know, when I tow the start line in 11 days, I just need to remember to Be Present. 🙂

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Love the run you’re in

Sometimes, the run you get is exactly the run you need.

Even if you maybe kinda had the mother of all meltdowns before heading out the door.  LOL  Does anyone else do that?  Get SO worked up before going for a long run?  I mean, its not like my self-worth is based on how fast or how far I go on a Sunday.  And yet, sometimes it feels like it is. So I get buried under this imaginary pressure.

Especially as its now 25 days to Vermont City.  And this training cycle has been less than ideal.  Stuff going on every other weekend, challenging weather and well, this darn hamstring thing that just will not go away.   Although in retrospect, its continually improving.  It just doesn’t always seem like it.

So yeah, facing the idea of 20 miles in the rain Sunday morning in addition to all that other stuff….I kinda freaked.  (Sorry babe!) And then went all suck it up buttercup and went.  And was greatly rewarded.

The goal was to start slow, and stay slow and see just how much of it I could do.  The 18 miles two weeks before, was a lot less running than i’d have liked.  So I had to tell myself, it doesn’t matter how slow this run is…if it helps you run them all.

I didn’t look at my watch…I felt it beep the miles, but I refused to be ruled by a number.  I saw a hawk sitting by a pond.  I saw a gorgeous fox run across the road.  I got a text of encouragement from the hubs (Thanks babe!).  I spent a lot of time telling myself to Get Out Of My Head and just run.  It got damp and it rained and my fingers became useless.  I found an aquatic creature out ‘swimming’ too.

I remembered Shalane saying at some point during the marathon it felt like she wasn’t even wearing shorts, and I knew EXACTLY what she meant.  LOL

When I hit mile 14 somehow miraculously still running, I aimed for 15.  When I hit 15 I tried for 16…  At 17, and still running (albeit likely slower) it started to become a mission.  And at mile 18, still running, I started to smile.  Cuz now it was game on and there was NO way I wasn’t finishing these miles running.

When my watched beeped the magical sound of mile 20 complete….I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.  Instead I texted my running friend (who was out running her long run in a matching outfit (twinsies, yay!)) and said “I ran the whole f@$%ng 20”.  I then slowly and gingerly ambled into the house (I finished .05 from my door – convenient!) and said “Guess what I just did!”

At that moment, it was the Best Run Ever.

I was tired.  I was sore.  And I was so incredibly happy.  Its not where I used to be…but it doesn’t matter. Because it was exactly what I needed that day.

A side note… today is also 5 years from the day I broke my hip in a running “accident”. Two weeks after my 3rd marathon (Boston 2013).  Spending four months on crutches and rebuilding almost from scratch for my 4th (Disney – January 2014) was a challenge.  Yet now here I am training for my 14th.  Its all about perspective.  Belief you can overcome anything…and that you can’t keep a good runner down.

Keeps Getting Better

I am oh…. thisclose to being back to normal.  I can almost taste it.

I was running SO much better this week that I felt almost silly for spending close to 8 weeks wondering if this is my new normal.  If i’d ever be my self again.  The non-injury is finally down to one little tiny spot that still makes my knee twinge if I overstride, but we can deal.  We have KT tape.  And its magical…

Of course this progress comes just in time…as we’re a mere THREE DAYS to the season opener of Spring Racing. Yay!

First…how did the weekend go?  Well, the hubs and I drove over to another part of town on Saturday for a 3-ish miler…and its going to definitely be one of our favorite run loops. Swans, waterfalls and just enough rolling hills to keep it interesting – and by mile 3 we had a great pace going (his fastest mile to date). IMG_7544.jpg

Sunday was my long run.  This marathon training cycle has been weird for me.  We’ve had just enough weekend plans that i’m only getting in a long run every other weekend.  But i’m trying to find that life-run balance and not freak out over missed 12-milers. Sometimes family and friends are more important.  I just plan around to get in the ‘big runs’.   So Sunday was a 16 miler – and I really wanted to run as much of it as possible, since 2 weeks ago i’d only run 10 of my 14.

I made it a full 13.1 before my legs were all WHAT?  And not only that – but I did it without needing to stretch every couple miles.  YAY. (I know – I feel silly being excited, but still.  I AM!)  But this was more my legs having lost some endurance than that anything was bothering me.

I ran / walked the final 2.9 for an even sweet 16.  And then did the runner math…which leads me to believe that if I had to run Vermont City next weekend, I could pull off a 5:30 finish.  And hopefully with another 53 days to go, I can pull off a sub-5.  A far cry from a PR…but I’m really earning this one, whatever it turns out to be. The ones you have to fight harder for, usually mean more.

Anyhoo…. like I said, its almost Racing Season and i’m so happy.  I haven’t done a race since the Dopey Challenge and what a long three months it been.  I’m so ready to put on a bib and get back out there.

I’ve got four races on the schedule between now and June 1st and i’m looking forward to all of them:

  • Newport Night Run – April 7th
  • BAA 5k (part 1 of the distance medley) – April 14th
  • Providence half-marathon – May 6th
  • Vermont City marathon – May 27th

I’ve got different goals for each but fully expect to have a blast at them all.  First up:NNR

The hubs is joining me for the Newport Night Run this weekend and i’m SO excited to race with him again.  Even tho i’m making him race in the dark for the second time this year (lol) he’s a good sport about it.  Newport encourages neon and reflective – and we fully intend to look like the 80’s threw up.  😀

If you’re running it too – come say hi, i’ll be the one in ALL the neon and a pink sparkle skirt.

Moments of Brilliance

That’s how I described my long run this weekend to a friend who asked.

It wasn’t great.  It still isn’t ME.  But it had moments of brilliance.  And that’s progress.

At this point, i’m just happy for progress.  I’ve been stretching like its my job, only running 3 days a week, doing strength work in the affected areas and still hoping that “faith trust and pixie dust” can add an extra edge.

Because, while as we face our FOURTH freaking nor’easter of the month, I know that racing season is rapidly approaching and i’m still kinda freaking out about the Vermont City marathon.  After this weekend’s run tho, i’m feeling a lot better about it.

Because see….something finally went right.  Around mile 4.

The first 3 miles were the usual – my hamstring feels wonky when I land, my hips aren’t doing what they should – but I knew i just had to work through it.

Just after I hit mile 4, everything opened up and I was running like normal.  I don’t know how and I didn’t even notice until I started down a hill and was like WHOA, nothing’s shaking.  I’m not questioning every foot placement. I’m running without thinking about running.

SWEET!

I ended up running to mile 10 – which actually is 2 miles further than the last long run – before the first walk break.  I did have to stop and stretch every couple of miles, because things started to tighten back up.  But that’s better than walking.

I did a total of 14.5 miles.  At 13.17 I stopped my watch because 1), it was 3/17 and its ‘cute’ and 2) because I didn’t want longer walk breaks to screw up my recorded overall mileage pace.  LOL

I still have a long ways to go in the next 70ish days, and I know that Vermont is going to be a slow marathon, but according to runner math, if all I can run is what I did this weekend and then walk the final 12, I can still finish under the time limit.

When I was running I had a mantra going – Every Step is Progress.  I kept repeating it to keep my spirits up.  Because its hard when you can’t run like yourself.  When your slower pace feels as hard as your faster one used to.  But attitude plays a HUGE part in running.

And while i’m calling this a non-injury (and as god is my witness I will never do standing dead lifts again) it’s still a road to recovery.  I’m still coming back from something (albeit something stupid) and I have to be proud of the fight.

Good Fortune

Don’t you just love when something really cool happens on a run?

Sunday I had 13 miles on the schedule, and since Saturday’s insane wind (and fear of closed roads from fallen trees) kept me from getting in a short run with my training partner, I decided to split it up and get the best of both worlds.

A 3.25 mile loop with the hubs, and then 10 on my own.

The “not an injury” is still clinging to life, although it’s definitely improving. So the “warmup” miles were a little slower than I liked. But, any run where you get to chat and laugh with someone is a good run. 🙂 And the hubs is becoming such a great runner – I’m so proud and looking forward to having a joint race calendar this year.

For my 10 miles alone, I opted to run into the center of my town because a) sidewalks b) its flat and c) I wanted to kind of “assess the damage” from the storm.

And about 3 miles in, it got eerie. All the business were closed. None of them had power back yet. Seeing the buildings dark and the parking lots empty was kind of “post apocalyptic” and I wanted to check over my shoulder for zombies. Lol

But I continued on to the spot in the middle of town where the sidewalk ends. And when I turned around and looked down…I saw this!

I’m not a girl to leave a fortune cookie unopened…. so I had to. And look what I found inside!

Of course, “I’ve got a dream” from Tangled instantly popped into my head.

And I spent the next few miles singing “I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream…I just want to make it to mile 13.”

And of course I did make it. And somehow, with a few stops to stretch, I managed to run it all. Yay!

Major progress from last week. (Even if we still have some rehab work to do.)

I guessed I picked the right spot to turn around… you never know where you’ll find motivation (and some luck) on a run. 🙂

Everything but the kitchen sink

When you’ve been weirdly “injured” for a few weeks, and you realize it’s oh, around 90 days until your next marathon, you kinda start to freak out.

You check the race time limit to see if you have a chance even if your training is less than ideal.

You panic, you have a bit of a meltdown, and then you go zen. And you decide to throw everything but the kitchen sink at whatever the hell is wrong with your legs.

So over the past week I’ve done yoga, I’ve stretched, I’ve foam rolled, I’ve done hip exercises, I’ve foam rolled again. Yesterday I even got on the stationary bike.

And today…I actually had my best run in 3 weeks.

It wasn’t “normal” but it was progress. I called it at 3.5 because I knew they legs were starting to get wonky and I needed a happy run more than a longer one.

So it looks like all this rehab work is working. Yay!!!!

So I’m gonna keep doing what I’m doing. Rolling and resting and running smart. That way when the bigger miles kick in I’m ready for them.

I’m realizing that my chances of a marathon PR are extremely unlikely now. But that’s okay. The goal for this one now is just to survive the training and get my legs back.

We can do this.

PS… I think it’s a hip/glute issue.

PPS…the race time limit is 6 hours. No problem. 🙂

Hot mess express

This winter has not been kind.   Between weather issues, the flu and a complete and total lack of motivation, I haven’t been logging that many miles, or even that great of quality lately.  And its hard to write a running blog when you’re…not running.  

I almost didn’t even post this, because it sounds whiney.  And that’s not who I am.  But I realized not posting is lying… and you have to be honest.  Running isn’t all sunshine and roses.  Its hard, and letting other people know when you’re struggling too is just as important as the ‘good stuff’.

So here goes….  here’s how I earned my first class ticket aboard the hot mess express?

You see…since I’m kind of in a “distance off season” I thought it would be a good time to start back into strength training.   Which I hadn’t done in oh, three months.

I thought I took it easy – I was using half the weight that I had been back in September.  But apparently, my hamstrings were not a fan.  Nor was my back.

The next day – O U C H.  Like can’t bend, can’t move, kinda laughing at myself over how just a dozen deadlifts (among other stuff) could have caused this.

So I rolled and stretched and got a massage and took it easy with my runs (ie more walking days, less running days).  And still…. Several days later…. HOLY CRUDBALLS MY HAMSTRINGS ARE TIGHT.

Plus, I was forced onto a treadmill for a week straight because…ice. And cold.  And dark in the mornings with a crazy week at work that didn’t let me run midday.

Well, apparently tight hamstrings and too many days on a treadmill are a bad combo, because it started to affect my gait.  And I started landing too hard (and flatly) on my left ankle.

And you know where I’m going with this….  It got hurty.

I noticed it at first at night, or when I pointed my toes.  Then it was ‘dang it I stepped down off the curb wrong’ and now…its KT Tape City. And watching my form.

Yes, I googled it. And yes I think I know what’s wrong.  And no, I’m not saying.  Its not BAD…its just well, I didn’t mind going away on a girls weekend for a few days and not running.  LOL

I ran Monday.  The hamstrings are still not quite 100%, and the left ankle is still, cautious, but I’ll be fine.  And I think i’ll run today – it is going to be near 50 degrees today and the river she calls me.

I’m just trying to figure out how in the world a hamstring led to an ankle injury…And planning to stick with upper body strength training for a while.  Or maybe just run….