The Importance of Showing Up

Last March, I had my first-ever Age Group win, at a snowy and slippery Big Chili 5k in nearby Danbury. Shortly thereafter, I posted this to Facebook:

FB quote after chili 5k

 

It is important to keep wise and sage people around you at all times. My husband, one of those wise and sage ones, said something to me like, “Don’t thank them, you earned it!”

While I was trying to be funny in that FB post, I was kind of diminishing own my hard work. It is absolutely true that many people (many typically faster than me) bailed due to the weather, and it is absolutely true that I probably wouldn’t have placed if they had shown up.

But they didn’t.

I earned it by showing up.

I earned it by skipping the easy thing (staying in my cozy bed) and doing the hard thing.

I earned it by pacing a negative split, so I’d have some gas at the end.

I earned it by treading quickly but carefully on the white fluff accumulating quickly on the roads.

I earned it by racing my butt off in the last mile and dueling it out with another woman in the last 800 yards (turns out she was in my age group).

The faster runners that stayed home did not do any of those things. To be quite honest, with the winter I was having last year, just showing up was actually very, very hard for me, mentally, a feat in and of itself.

Therefore, I cast my winning stoneware chili bowl high into the air and say, “Just show up, runners! Do the hard thing! You never know what spoils await you!”

 

What hard thing have you done lately?

 

 

 

 

 

Kissing 2015 Buh-Bye; Hello-ing 2016!

This runner did not write about any races this year. GASP! WHAT? A runner ran races and didn’t talk/write/blather about it! I am proof it can happen.

I had a lot going on. Some of it fell into the “extremely stressful” or even “awful” category. But once again, running was my respite. While it was somewhat accidental, I ran less weekly miles this year, but made every mile count. The result was 6 solid races, including my first sub-2-hour half marathon, and no injuries. I think I might be onto something here in the “less is more” camp. I learned something from each one, which I’ll save for future posts, as they are GEMS, I tell you!

So here’s my 6-in-1 race recap for 2015 in a nutshell. Or should I say in a #hashtag. (#lazyblogger)

March 1: The Big Chili 5k, Danbury, CT

Hashtags: #snow #slippery #PR #1stinagegroup #exclamationpoint

5k, Big chili, PR

As you can see the conditions were ideal. To you faster people who decided to sleep in, I won a chili bowl, and you did not.

 

April 26: NYRR Run as One for Lungevity Foundation 4M, New York, NY

Hashtags: #lungcancersucks

Lungevity, NYRR,

There was a giant whiteboard for notes at race central.

 

May 10: Run Like a Mother 5k, Ridgefield, CT

Hashtags: #runfairy #cameinlastsonooneelsehadto #fun

5k, mother's day, run like a mother

The start of the kids’ race. You can’t see the wings, but they’re there! (Photo by Lisa Cousins Photography)

 

May 16: NYRR Brooklyn Half Marathon, Brooklyn, NY

Hashtags: #ran3daysaweek #fastandflat #shaved9minutesoffpriorPR #soakingrain

Brooklyn Half, half marathon

Before the start with my Ragnar friend Nikki. This race was a blast, besides getting drenched for most of it.

 

 

July 12: Mossman Sprint Triathlon, Norwalk, CT

Hashtags: #perfectconditions #solidoverall #didntdrown #didntcrash #didnttrip

This was my nerves freaking out and being photobombed by another triathlete.

This is my pre-race nerves face.

 

 

October 16: Inagural SONO Half Marathon, South Norwalk, CT

Hashtags: #nogps #nomusic #sub2hrsPR #tonsofexclamationpoints

Ah, the two faces of racing. This time, Im the one smiling instead of wanting to puke. Thats a sub-2:00 smile, by the way.

Ah, the two faces of racing. This time, I’m the one smiling instead of wanting to puke. Thats a sub-2:00 smile, by the way.

 

November 21: Mima’s Meatballs 1-miler for MSV (Predict Your Time Race)

Hashtags: #charity #predictyourtime #walkedwithDad #firstimeheeverworearacebib

My dad and I did this together. No words...

My dad and I did this together. No words…

It was a helluva year. I’m happy to kiss it goodbye and put it into the record books. 2016 is going to bring big challenges. Can you guess? Hashtag hint: #70.3

How did you feel about 2015? What challenges are you taking on in 2016? Do tell in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

There Will Always Be Someone Faster Than You

Raise your hand if you’ve heard/said/mumbled the following:

“I’m so slow!”

“I can’t run as fast as you.”

“I’m afraid I’ll come in last.”

Some use it as avoidance, or maybe you have a genuine fear of coming in last in a race. Well, I’ve got news for you.

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMEONE FASTER THAN YOU.

Unless you are an elite badass runner, the above is TRUTH. And even the elite runners get their butts kicked at some point. But guess what?

They put in hard effort…YOU DO TOO.

They put in time…YOU DO TOO.

Sometimes they have great runs, sometimes they have sucky runs. YOU DO TOO.

They have goals. Big ones…YOU DO TOO.

And when you get the starting line of your race, all runners must cover the exact same ground as you. No matter what the race — a 5k, 10k, marathon —  they run the exact same course and distance that you will. (By the way, what other sport can say that? Little leagues don’t typically get to play at Yankee Stadium!)

Once you accept everything that you are, AND everything that you are not, it’s quite freeing. I will never be an elite runner. I may never break a 4-hour marathon. But I aim to get a little faster every year, avoid injury, and enjoy my running time. I’ve just accepted that in races, in training runs, and in life, there will always be someone with fleeter feet than mine. And I’m okay with that.

slow runner

If you find this funny, you’re in the right sport. Photo Credit: The T-Rex Runner

For the past few months, I was a long-run pace leader for the Saturday morning runs at our local run shop. When the runners gathered, we divided into pace groups. There were always 8:00/mile people, 9:00/mile people there. I was proud to represent the 10:00/mile peeps. When we took off on the run, it didn’t matter what the 8’s and 9’s were doing, it mattered what I was doing. Right now, my long-run sweet spot is that pace. Not too long ago I had an 12-13:00/mile pace. To get to this place (and pace) was MY journey, and mine alone. It’s MINE, MINE, MINE! No one can take that from me. That’s where I find my joy, my successes, my happy pace.

comparison-is-the-thief-of-joy

Once you truly accept that you are in charge of your running, then you can go about your business of training for your raceUnless you are on a relay team, you run against yourself. You run against your own clock. You run against the person you were yesterday.

Dont-Compare-Yourself-to-Others-battle can't win

Get out there and do it. You got this!

 

 

My Ankles Are So PO’d At Me Right Now

My husband is just the best. Not only did research my Pinterest boards to find me the coziest, prettiest sweater for Christmas, but he also got me some spikes. Running spikes. True runner love!

We’ve had just a tad of snow lately here in the northeast, so I thought I’d try them out on one of the local rail trails. Our town plows the roads fairly well, so they are clear-ish enough to run without spike assistance. But I had a new toy! I must play with my new running toy!!

They are call NanoSpikes, made by Kahtoola. They fit over your regular running shoes and give you some grip on slushy/slippery surfaces.

snow running spikes nanospikes

As you can see, they fit great, without hitting of the squeezy parts of my toes (aka, the places where I poked holes in my Hokas to accomodate my gnarly-shaped feet).

Wearing my special new running jacket, I walked to the head of the trail, and slipped them on. The first 200 feet of the trail leads to a power station, and the snow had been compacted by the utility trucks. Perfect! Awesome! I’m running on snow! The cold doesn’t bother me anyway!

IMG_0377

Then, after the power station, the snow was not compacted, merely “pressed down” a bit by some cross-country skiis, hikers/walkers, dogs, etc. I though maybe there would have been some renegade ATV or fat bike tracks to compact it more, but nope.

IMG_0378

I took 5 steps into the deeper, fluffier snow, and on the sixth step, hit a divot, proceded to turn my left ankle. YEOW. THIS IS WHY I DON’T TRAIL RUN.

Haters gonna hate. Divots gonna sprain.

Shake it off, sh-sh sh-shake it off.

I proceded. With each step down into 12″ of snow, it became abundantly clear that I didn’t need spikes — I needed snowshoes. I felt like a big dummy.

I wish I could say I rallied, found My Zone, and the rest of the run went well, but alas, I cannot. I had to hyper-focus on every single step. The effort of pushing out from the snow was not sustainable, especially as the second half of the trail is one long, continual uphill for 2 miles.

Way before my planned turnaround point, I blurted out to no one: F____ this s____! Which really means, “I have a feeling of anger and annoyance of this current activity, which is equivalent to poop.”

I turned around and headed back to the top of the trail, mostly running; some shuffling. Went home, iced my ankles. They are so pissed at me right now.

They’ll get over it. I’ve got a 5k in 2 weeks.

I do like the spikes. They did not impede my running at all. I did that to myself thinking I could snow-fairy my way through an un-groomed trail. I will try them again soon in an appropriate place.

For now I need to go show my ankles some TLC.

 

 

 

Worn Jackets and Used Tissues

I have a new-to-me winter running jacket. It’s the prettiest dark cornflower blue, fleece-lined, and wind-proof. It’s not that much out of the ordinary, except…

…it was my mom’s.

My dad handed it to me in the days after the funeral. “This would fit you,” he said. Many of my mom’s clothes do not fit me, as the top of her head came up to my chin, on a good day.

“It’s a medium, not a small. Try it on,” my dad said gently. My mother was a big-time clotheshorse. You know how people find stashes of cash around a house after their loved one dies? I found stashes of clothes in all of the closets, under beds, in storage areas, even in my dad’s closet. Needless to say, I wasn’t ready to go through all of her clothes. But my dad was rumaging through the front coat closet, and came across this jacket.

20150207-102416.jpg

“I bought it for her on one of our trips. It’s warm. She was always cold.”

I tried it on. It fit.

“You could wear it running/I could wear it running!” we pretty much said at the same time.

The jacket went into my suitcase for the trip back home.

The thing with losing a loved one is, life goes on whether you’re ready or not. I had no choice but to jump back into real life…mothering, teaching, wife-ing, etc. Running? I didn’t quite have the energy for that yet.

Two weeks later, I could not ignore The Call Of the Run anymore. My body and brain craved it. It was 25 degrees, and being the cold-weather-wimp that I am, reached for the pretty blue jacket and zipped it up.

Buried in the pockets I found a stash of tissues. One of the pockets held a bunch of neatly folded tissues, ready for use. The other pocket held, well…crumpled tissues I can only assume were “used.” (She had a constantly runny nose from her cancer treatments.) Under normal circumstances, finding someone else’s used tissues would cause me to throw up in my mouth a little. But this little treasure made me smile, as they were hers, and OF COURSE my mother would have one pocket for new tissues and the other for used. She had a system for everything.

While the thought briefly crossed my mind, I did not keep the tissues.

But wearing her jacket that day did not make me sad. It’s really, really hard to feel sorry for yourself when you’re running. Try it, I dare you. Instead, I felt like I was taking her with me on that run, literally and figuratively wrapped around me and keeping me warm. It was a damn good run.

20150207-105105.jpg

I’ll be kind of sad when the weather warms up and I won’t be able to wear the jacket for a while. She wasn’t a runner, so it is unlikely that I will magically find a tank of hers to wear in the warmer months.

But until then, I’ll enjoy taking a piece of my mom with me on my runs, used tissues and all.

 

 

First Run of 2015, With Some Extra Wings

On December 30, 2014, my mom lost her battle with lung cancer.

On January 1, 2015, I ran the first miles of 2015 for her.

I hadn’t run since December 3rd. On that particular run, my breathing was heavy and my body ached. I took a break from running and workouts. My heart needed to be with her, not my running. I just didn’t have room for both.

On that first day of the new year, I wanted to run, my heart was ready. I felt sad, but also somehow light, lifted, and free…like I had some extra wings. I miss her terribly, but I’m relieved she is no longer burdened with pain and a broken body.

We did not live in the same state, but she got to see me run some races. She was not a runner, but she was my biggest supporter.

mother marathon support

My mother and my daughter cheering the first mile of my first marathon in matching pink coats.

marathon mother support

My mom and I freezing at the start of my first marathon, 2012.

marathon mother support

Before my first half marathon in 2011.

Philadelphia Marathon

She was with me at the Philly Marathon in 2013.

This next picture is from that New Year’s Day run a few days ago. I’m making the sign (albeit backwards) for “I love you,” as she was an educator for the heading impaired.

marathon mother support It’s going to be my new finish-line hand signal.

I love you, Mom.

So Much Better Than a Chain Letter

I won something! Well, not really, but I was nominated for a Leibster Award, which means that someone other than friends or family reads my blog. I don’t know who Liebster is but I’ll take it. WHODATHUNKIT?

Thank you Darilyn at Time To Just Get Moving for nominating me. Now what? Darilyn asked me 10 questions about my running & fitness, and I answered them below. I then nominated 10 more bloggers that I love, to do the same. It’s like a CHAIN LETTER, but you don’t have to buy stamps.

What is really does is bring bloggers, who have small-ish followings, into your life. Who knows, you may pick up a great running tip, a yummy recipe to try, or a pants-peeing laugh. (You might want to go to the bathroom before reading them, just in case.)

Here are the questions that Darilyn asked me:

1.  Favorite piece of fitness/exercise gear and why?

This is actually a very hard question. I love ALL THE THINGS. Right now, I’m totally in love with my foam roller and The Stick. They should be required for any athlete over 40, because we need just that much more lovin’ on our sore muscles. And, I’m sitting on a baseball right now, wiggling it over a tight upper hamstring. You’re welcome.

foam roller, The Stick, muscles

My BFF’s


2.  Do you like to workout in the morning, at lunch, or in the evening? 

I prefer the morning, but most mornings my husband gets dibs on the exercise time, otherwise he’d never see the kids due to his work schedule. So most of the time I end up doing it right after work (but before kid pickup at aftercare) or after my husband gets home at around 6:45 PM. Never at lunch, as I teach 1st grade and I need every spare second of my lunch hour to prep. Plus, 1st graders are just unsensored enough to be like, “Ew, you stink Mrs. B.”


3.  What is the goal that you want to reach by the end of 2014?

I’m hoping to get a PR in the long-awaited New York Marathon in November, and I’d like to complete my first Olympic distance triathlon this summer.


4.  What is your go-to post-workout snack?

I will stuff my face with fig newtons from Nature’s Bakery like it’s my job. If I have some chocolate soy milk to go with that I’m in heaven.


5.  What has been your hardest training moment so far?

Fitting in a Ragnar Relay race about 7 weeks before my second marathon was way harder than I ever thought. It was so hot and quite challenging. Oh, and there’s the complete and utter lack of sleep for 36 hours. When I was done, I felt like I had run a marathon, and I had to recover accordingly, instead of jumping back into the marathon training schedule. Also, the open-water panic attack was a glorious moment in my training history.


6.  How do you find time to fit in training?

I don’t find the time, I have to MAKE the time, or else it won’t happen. I look ahead each week, see what are work and family commitments are, then schedule around it. I still can’t believe I’ve pulled off marathon training twice. I also just accept that something’s got to fall off the priority list. For me, it’s usually housekeeping. My house is a pit during peak training weeks.


7.  How do you train in extreme weather (cold, heat, rain, wind, etc)?

I dress appropriately, and then I think, “Suck it up, Buttercup. You GET to run today.”


8.  How do you respond to people who ask you “Why” (i.e. why on earth would you sign up for that event?!)?

I give them a genuine smile, mention how much I love [said event], and ask them if they want to come run with me. They may not say yes right away, but there’ve been a few people, months later, who mention to me, “I just signed up for a 5k!”


9.  What are you top 3 workout songs?

Oh, this is a Very Serious Question. I have so many favorites, it would be like picking a child – next to impossible. This answer would change with any given training cycle, but here are 3 songs of which I never tire:

  • Run by Vampire Weekend
  • All These Things That I’ve Done by the Killers
  • Keep the Car Running by Arcade Fire


10. What has been your favorite event so far?

That Ragnar Relay DC race I mentioned was effing awesome. Totally worth the heat exhaustion.

(Followed a close second by the Philadelphia Marathon and the New York Mini 10K)

Here are the 10 blogs I nominate for this award. Please do check them out:

See? Best Chain Letter Ever. 

Here are my questions for you, bloggers:

  1. What is a fitness item you’ve splurged on, and was it worth it?
  2. What do you think about when you run/workout?
  3. What is your cool-down routine?
  4. What has been your favorite race to date?
  5. What are you looking forward to, fitness-wise, in 2014?
  6. What is your favorite sports bra?
  7. How do you fuel before a race?
  8. What is your biggest fitness worry?
  9. Top 3 workout songs? (Note that I will totally judge you by your answer…jk.)
  10. What is your proudest fitness accomplishment?

Here are the rules for getting a Leibster Award:

1.  You must link back to the person who nominated you.
2.  You must answer the 10 questions posed to you by the person who nominated you.
3.  You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award who have a small following.
4.  You must create 10 questions for your nominees.
5.  You must go to their blogs and notify your nominees.

 

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