Travel day home

We made it home in record time-6 hours 45 minutes. Frankly we traveled 489 miles in about the same amount of time it took me to complete the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon. Sort of a sad and disheartening thought as I type.

Despite the quick travel time home, I realized as I sat in bed how tried I truly am. Usually when I get that tired I end up with some sort of verbal vomit ailment that results in my thoughts spiraling into some out of control rabbit hole.

As much as I tried to balance my training and family obligations, I feel that my training has a negative impact on Jesi. So much of our life revolves around when I need to train, when and what I can eat, what I can’t eat. While I try to better about things I know that it is usually my go to answer about things when making plans on the weekends. There are scads of humorous memes about the age old what are you doing this weekend question. But for the spouse of the person whose automatic response is “Running of course” it’s not quite as funny.

I so desperately want to improve my time so that my finish time and my driving for a state 5 states away isn’t the same. I want to improve my form and how I feel mentally after completing a race that 7 years ago took me a month to recover from. Sadly in that single mindedness I become selfish. It was inadvertent, I didn’t mean to put my needs/goals/desires above all else.

At the root of that desire is the fact that I have never had a goal that was mine-that I was permitted to see through without some dissuading or “You can’t do that” or some other statement. I can remember my lifetime of dreams about taking part in the Olympics-all kids have that dream I know-but I felt such a pull and a drive to excel in athletics. But I was never given the opportunity to follow out and try, even for a season many of the things I wanted to do.

That wasn’t meant to be a whining or poor me pity party paragraph, but instead an explanation of why I want so badly to do well. I want to achieve something I was told I could never do because I want to see this goal all the way through. I want to improve each year. I want to inspire others to try the sport.

I am not an Olympic athlete-and I feel strange acting as if I am training for the Olympics or somehow are of that caliber. But I will never achieve my goals if I don’t have some degree of confidence that I will make the Olympics-even if my Olympics is a qualifying time for Boston.

Training is selfish especially for a sport that consumes all aspects of life from sleep, nutrition and time management.

I am incredibly grateful that I have an amazing wife that accepts my selfish desire to achieve the seemingly unachieveable. I think that’s why I struggle with my balance because I want to give back to her all the love and support she has given me. I’m not entirely sure she realizes the gravity of the gift she has given me by supporting my wacky goals.

Are there days you feel selfish? How do you handle that?

Happy Running!

Didn’t do half…or did half. It’s all about perspective I suppose

I was supposed to do six miles this morning. I was supposed to get up at 4:30 so that I would have more than enough time to do the full six miles. However a late bedtime and three snooze buttons later, I realized that I wouldn’t have enough time. Rather than not run at all, something I would have liked to have done in favor of sleep, I decided to work with what I had.

I ran my usual morning route of three miles, but I did go a little extra…I went to the next block. I felt a small degree of victory that while I didn’t run the scheduled amount, I at least ran more than half.

It definitely showed the importance of a good nights sleep. According to my FitBit I only got 5 hours and 18 minutes of sleep, with 11 minutes of restlessness. This is a couple hours less than I typically get. I definitely could feel it when my alarm went off. The first mile and a half really was a struggle to keep going. I honestly wanted to quit before I got to the end of the street. My eyes were just heavy and my bed was so warm, I swear it was calling my name.

However, I started listening to Ellen DeGeneres’ Seriously…I’m Kidding. After the drudgery that is the introduction/forward and listened to her chapter on advice from a super model (herself) I found myself a little lighter on my feet. On the way back I actually found myself laughing out loud. (To the neighbors on Market Street, I apologize if I woke you or freaked you out laughing).

On the upside, I had negative splits. They weren’t as fast as yesterday BUT they were negative. Also, if I had stayed in bed I would have missed the amazing full moon and the stars. It is rare in the  city to see the stars so vibrantly, but this morning for some reason I managed to see the stars shining brightly.

The struggle to get up and push through really is, in some ways, more important than the mileage. Training myself mentally to get through that which I don’t really want to do will pay dividends come race day. While I’m frustrated that I didn’t get my full six, I will try and focus on the aspects of the training today that will get me where I want to be. Tomorrow I will improve on those areas that may have been overlooked today. All I can do is keep moving forward….and get a little more sleep.

Happy Running!

Purpose

After running with John yesterday I spent the evening and most of the day today thinking that I have perhaps found a purpose to my running. I have always felt (and said) that I run because I was told that I would never be able to again. It was my way of thumbing my proverbial nose at the establishment.

Now that my health issues have taken a backseat to most things in my life, I have felt that I need to redefine my purpose. As I began to run for the Semper Fi Fund, I realized that I was defining my purpose as one that focused on others. I have quietly made my purpose for running a desire to run for those that can’t.

There is a part of me that feels this new purpose is slightly egotistical.

“Who am I to represent those that can’t run?” A question that my inner voice asks.

I don’t have an answer to be honest. But I just feel compelled to run-to represent those that can’t because I have been there. I have been trapped in a body that refused to operate as it should. I have had to sideline my dreams and goals because I had a body that did not allow me to follow through with them.

My journey is still continuing-I still am not where I want to be and I still have setbacks as a result of exhaustion and a body that is more prone to injuries and pain. But I keep moving forward. While I can run-there are many that can’t that would like to. Because I can, I should.

The truth is, those that can’t would love to run, even at the slow pace that I complete most of my races in. I feel grateful that I am able to do what I do-personally I would like to do it better but I recognize that to others what I do is sufficiently excellent.

And it is for those, that I run for. Those that can’t but want to. Training for the Semper Fi Fund and running for the injured service members pushes me forward to not give up even when I want to.

In my brain this sounded far more philosophical and well put together-as I reread it, it sounds flat and self serving. I am in hopes that the intention and desire is clear. I just want to help those who can’t.

 

 

Persistent vs. Stubborn

Sunday’s sermon at church was about persistent vs. stubborn. It was a really great sermon, as many of Pastor Mark’s sermons do it spoke to real life issues. He has that knack of being able to speak about something that is ruminating in my brain without realizing it.

Being persistent usually has a positive connotation while being referred to as stubborn usually has a pejorative meaning. Interestingly the phrase has been used interchangeably to describe me throughout my life. I have worn the badge of stubbornness with pride.

The sermon was timely given that the day before I had done the practice fitness test to horrible results. My “sprint” was nothing more than a fast jog. My legs were heavy and I just couldn’t make my body go any faster. It literally hurt to move my legs any faster. My hip flexors were screaming at the strain and as a result my knee and hamstrings would not cooperate. It was beyond frustrating and bordered on heart breaking.

However, I suppose there is slight humor in the situation. For six years I have been forcing myself to move from a sprinters mentality to a distance runner mentality. It has been a true struggle to get my brain to stop thinking in meters and instead think in miles. Literally this year I finally get in the zone of being a distance runner and then suddenly find myself having to flip the switch back the other way….with less than two weeks before the marathon no less. It is definitely a crazy situation to be in.

I struggled the rest of the afternoon on Saturday, emotionally fighting and railing about how I have fought so hard to get here only to fall short of the physical requirements. I rambled off all my accomplishments and how it seemed patently unfair that I could get this far and fall short. I was angry that I had allowed my marathon training to take over my PFT training. I muttered about all the time I wasted “studying” or “sitting at the office.”

During what could really only be described as a pity party,  Jesi reminded me that I am persistent. I have never given up, in the five years I have working towards my dream goal of being a federal agent I have never given up. I always step back and regroup and then find another way. She reminded me that through it all I have never, ever given up or even thought about giving up so I shouldn’t start now.

Jesi’s reminder could also be applied to my running. Numerous times in my life I have been told that I would never physically be able to lead an active life or that I would never walk again. I have been told that running a marathon would not be in my best interest. Despite that I have continued to persevere and achieve that medal at the end of the race. Each successive race seems to have some improvement, maybe not necessarily finish time but something about the process improves.

I guess the sermon made me wonder am I persistent or am I stubborn? Or am I both? I have to be persistent in achieving my goals. I have to continue to fight and change those things that need improvement. And I have to be stubborn in my execution of that. Stubborn to the point of nearsightedness. Stubborn to the point of throwing caution and the naysayers to the wind.

On the persistent side I reached out to Regina and asked if we could do some sprinting practice in addition to some distance….low and behold with an adjusted mindset and some insight from Regina I managed to shave nearly 11 seconds off my  sprinting time. I kept chanting “sprinter” as I took the laps around the track.On the stubborn side, I refuse to give up until someone says that you are done. You can not go any further in this process.

Being persistent is great and despite the negative connotation that goes with being stubborn, I think there needs to be a grain of stubbornness included in the mix in order to achieve anything that you are striving for.

On an actually running/training note, I have been keeping up with my training plan. I have been juggling a crazy class schedule with training and have been so focused on that I often forget to blog. Well not often, I do forget to blog. During my runs I think of all the insightful things I will share when I boot up my computer but then I usually roll or hit the books and my blog thoughts go by the wayside.

I think that is a side effect of the taper. Things are going well but I am tired. My taper week will look a little different since I am now having to refocus on my PFT which occurs 48 hours before the marathon. It is an interesting exercise (literal and mental) in juggling two incredibly important things, the give and take has been a true test of my persistent stubbornness.

How is your training going? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Happy Running (or sprinting)!

Sometimes You Have To Rest

Monday was not suppose to be my rest day especially given my hectic class schedule. However, the day at the office was emotionally draining and my Sunday sleep was just not wonderful. Also I was still feeling some soreness in my calves from my lack of hydration this weekend.

I was self-talking myself in every possible to talk myself into going out running. But the feeling of overwhelming, out of nowhere exhaustion, just kept pulling me back. I used the “I only have a few weeks left” and the “I need to run because I can’t run again until Wednesday” and even went so far as to say “SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP” The capital letters weren’t for visually dramatic effect, I actually said it loudly and authoritatively, sadly (or humorously) it was said while Jesi was driving so there is a slight possibility that I scared the lights out of her.

I ended up agreeing with Jesi that if I had to fight that HARD to motivate myself and that the exhaustion was so deep that I should listen to my body and just take a rest day unexpectedly. While I do need to get the miles in and there really are only a few weeks, I won’t get to race day if I run myself into the ground now.

Even though I haven’t always hit the exact miles I need through this training plan, I still continue to go out and train and get in what I can. Jesi gently reminded me that this is the most consistent and focused I have been in the six years that I have done marathons.

I feel like I am vacillating between accepting that I needed a rest day and fighting the feeling that I am making excuses because I didn’t want to run. It is a struggle, especially with less than a month to go. I am finding the mental struggle is becoming more of an issue than the muscle soreness that is beginning to set in.

For the next few weeks, I am going to work on my mental strength as well as my running strength. I’m going to work on finding that place deep inside that will help me push through the dark places that creep up when I am tired and feeling like a petulant two year old.

Have you ever had those days were you felt like a toddler needing a nap? How did you push through? Share in the comments below.

Happy Running!

Sunday Run Day

I still felt gnarly on Sunday. Not AS gnarly as Saturday but I still didn’t feel 100% better. But I pushed through choir (a heavy polyester robe is bad on a cool day but when the church is hot and I don’t feel well I was fanning myself like a little old church lady) and the task force meeting. Interestingly or ironically enough we had pizza at our meeting. Jesi and I giggled that we could have waited a few more hours and our pizza craving would have been fulfilled and with far superior pizza.

But despite not feeling the grandest of grand, I struck out on my run. The temperatures were cool and there was some sun but some clouds so it wasn’t a horribly warm day or particularly cool. It was like Baby Bear’s bed, just right.

One thing that I am finding most exciting about my long runs, or really my runs in generally, is that I am going for longer distances without stopping. I still have the desire to stop and walk but I find that I either slow my running pace down a little bit and push through or manage to walk for much shorter periods when running is no feels longer possible. It is exciting that I can go miles without stopping where I use to focus on minutes running versus walking.

I struck out on a different route towards the Mt. Olivet cemetery. I incorporated last weekend’s long run with the route Becky and I took on Thursday. It was a great course that mixed some flat spots and some increasing elevation. By the time I got to the cemetery I had almost half my run done, I stopped and tinkled and decided that I would go visit my friend Sara’s memorial marker.

One thing I did not share on my September 11th blog, was that this year also marked the one year anniversary of the passing of our best friend Sara. After a three year fight she lost  the battle with beast cancer. At 37 she was a force of positivity and love. She was a true hero and warrior, both as a cancer fighter and as a Sergeant in the sheriff’s department. Her loss has left a huge irreparable hole in the hearts of all that knew her, but especially the heart of her “best friend” Noah.

Noah is the son of Sara’s life long best friend, he always saw his Aunt Sara has an overly tall 3, 4 or 5 year old. He just assumed that Sara was his best friend and his age. The loss has been particularly hard on him because he doesn’t quite understand why Sara no longer comes over. He often asks when Sara will come back from heaven.Navigating grief is hard enough at any age, but it is especially hard for someone so young.

On the anniversary of Sara’s passing, Noah and his parents and younger brother made the trip to the cemetery. While Sara is not physically laid to rest at Mt. Olivet there is a memorial marker placed there. Noah picked out the most beautiful flowers he thought Aunt Sara would like; a fun and patriotic mix of red, white and blue flowers. He also picked out his most favorite photo of he and Sara together. Noah and his mom carefully put the photo in a couple of plastic bags to protect it from the elements and then carefully adhered it to the lower corner of the marker.

Tara (Noah’s mom) shared the story on Facebook. I replied that when I run I always visit Sara so I will always make sure that Noah’s photo is in place. Since this was the first day I had a true long run, it was the first time I had visited Sara in a few weeks. I was sadden to see that the flowers and picture were gone. And then angered when I found them in the trash. The photo crumbled in the bag and the tape removed. The flowers split apart.

I’m not quite sure what led me to the trash can, though in my heart I could hear Sara guiding me to save Noah’s carefully crafted offerings. Initially I thought it was the wind/Mother Nature. However knowing a bit of the back story of her familial dynamics and seeing the condition of the  items I had a hard time blaming  Mother Nature.

I put the flowers back as best I could and safely tucked the photo away in my running pouch. And for the 6 plus miles home I seethed. I was so angry that I actually texted Jesi, something I rarely do when running so that I can concentrate on training. I texted her a picture of the trash can and incredulously texted what I presumed had happened.

On my run home, I felt the anger bubble inside. I was angry that someone would be so callous towards a small child. I was angry that someone was attempting to control others outward expression of grief and love. I was angry that Sara had been taken far too soon.

Through the anger came the feeling of gratitude. I was grateful that I had decided to stop at Sara’s site. I was grateful that I had been lead to the trash can to retrieve Noah’s precious picture.

Grief comes at you strange ways and in strange moments. It rears it head at moments when you least expect it and in ways you never thought imaginable. And I was reminded that grief was part of the reason I began running. I was trying to figure out a way to work through my grief at losing the life I thought I had built with a woman who threw it all away. The life that I thought was waiting for me six years ago was merely an illusion at that moment in time. I am grateful for those moments of grief because it opened the way for something more beautiful and special. In that those moments spent thinking of grief and loss, I ended up running a negative split home.

I used the fire that burned to drive my legs home. The exhaustion and dread I felt early seemed to have evaporated. I felt lighter and more surefooted. My stride picked up and the miles home seem to melt away. I ended up running 12.25 miles in 2 hours and 30 minutes. I had hoped to finish a bit quicker, but taking into consideration how sick I felt Saturday and that I had a full stomach of food I don’t typically eat before a run I was pleased. Mostly I was pleased that I ran more than I walked and that my walk breaks really were just brief interludes designed to help me catch my breath, recenter myself and begin again in a more consistent stride.

After an email exchange with Noah’s mom, we decided that the best course of action was for me to carry Noah’s photo with me. Since I run by Sara’s memorial marker every week I promised to take Noah’s photo by for visit; while we are both trying desperately to convince ourselves that it was nature NOT something else we both feel that rehanging the photo is the best course of action. I have placed the precious photo securely in my hydration pack and will lovingly and protectively carry it with me.

This blog didn’t quite go the way I thought it would. But as with life I can plan my blog but I can’t always plan how it will turn out. My run on Sunday started out as a simple run but turned into a wacky, wild mess of emotions, thoughts and discovery. But that is running and I wouldn’t change a damn thing about it.

Happy Running!

 

 

Well That Didn’t Go As Planned

It wasn’t the food, I swear. Or the adult beverage. Or the adorable cats and visiting. I woke up Saturday ready to tackle my 12 miles, possibly more. However when I got up I felt kind of nauseous and light headed. I felt like my stomach was rebelling against me in all means possible. Despite feeling crappy I decided to get up and move around a little bit thinking I would be ok in a minute. I assumed that whatever it was would of course be cured in one minute.

I made my pre-run oatmeal but the more that I moved around the more fuzzy and sick I felt. What was one minute turned into ten and the feeling wasn’t getting any better. I ended up curling back up in bed after eating what I thought would be a magically restorative bowl of oatmeal, but when I woke again to strike out for a run I realized that it wasn’t at all a good idea.

I honestly couldn’t tell if sudden movement was going to make me vomit or the other end. Sorry for the TMI!! Deciding that I didn’t want to strike out and possibly shat my pantaloons or yak in front of traffic, I thought postponing until Sunday would be a better option.

It was a very strange feeling, I was nauseous and gassy and my head felt kind of heavy. I’m not sure if there was too much sodium in my meal or if there was some ingredient in my meal that hadn’t been there before that was interacting oddly with my system. My whiskey sour wasn’t particularly potent and I spent a couple hours nursing it between sips of water. But whatever the reason I ended up spending the day under the covers in my pajamas.

Jesi was kind enough to make me soup and for some strange reason, by the evening I was craving pizza. We ordered Pizza Hut and it was the most delicious pizza I have ever eaten. Jesi was excited because she had never, in her recollection, ever had delivery pizza. Again, I’m not sure why I was craving it or why it was so delicious.

As frustrated as I was that I was unable to run, I did some time thinking of my training route for Sunday. I thought about the best route to tackle for the training that wouldn’t be able to commence until the afternoon; between choir responsibilities and our church’s O&A task force meeting afterward I knew that I wouldn’t be starting until mid afternoon. I tried to think of how I wanted to frame my training. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have as many hills as I have in previous weeks. I began to visualize the route that I would take and how I was going to feel. I visualized how that route would correspond with the actual marathon course. I tried to figure out how to incorporate the new route that Becky and I had discovered on Thursday. I really analyzed my options all while trying to keep the world from spinning.

As we get closer to the race, I notice that I visual the course more and more. While there were some changes made to the course there are still aspects of the course that have remained unchanged through my 5 years running. It is those unchanged portions that I often find myself struggling with. I try to emulate those sections, whether it be in elevation (why I typically plan for a steep hill by mile one) or a particularly mentally challenging part (the Blue Mile on Haines point leads me to make sure I have a portion of my run that is isolated and flat with nothing to visually distract me).

For the next few weeks I am going to select my routes with a little more focus and care, ensuring that I hit all the points that I struggle with so that my body and brain are use to them and can easily push through them.

I still wish I knew what exactly it was that invaded my stomach but I guess I will never know. On the upside I got pizza AND a well planned out training route.

Happy Running!