Featured

Off to a running start!

Running to feel the calories burning or is it a yearning?

Advertisements

So, here I am finding myself starting a blog about my running. I’ve been asked by people why I started running especially after I told them that I used to hate running when I was in junior high and high school.  They wanted to know my story. For some, running isn’t their thing which is fine. I get that. 🙂 For others, running is a means to an end, such as losing weight or reducing stress.  Running, for others, is actually fun (LOL) but want tips especially as the mileage increases.  I used to be in the second category and used running as a way to de-stress (more on that later) but I can confidently say that I am now in the third category.  As of this post, I have run in almost 70 organized races totaling about 700 miles, which includes a little over 30 half marathons and 4 marathons.

I’ll share why I started running, share some of my current runs, and share tips from shoes to chafing, socks to cliff blocks, and gels to PR (personal record) bells.

Speaking of PR bells, I rang one on Saturday when I hit a sub 2 half marathon!  I have been chasing a sub two hour for years but thought it was an impossibility for me. So, lesson learned…have faith and confidence in yourself!

IMG_1341

Runners’ struggle and the internal dialogue…it’s real

Runners’ struggle…it’s real

In April of this year, I had a ten mile race. It was actually a pretty good running day. It was in the low 40s and I knew my body would warm up by the second mile. However, since it was still early in the race season, I did not feel quite ready to run long distances yet. So, when I was about eight miles in, I wanted to walk. My thinking was…I’ve run 8 miles nonstop…that’s pretty good considering that it’s early in the season, right? Then I had mini conversations inside my head. “Why do I really want to stop and walk?” I came up with yet another excuse…”well, I’m tired of running!” I had this battle inside my mind. I told myself that being tired of running really isn’t a valid reason to stop to walk. 😂 So, I assessed my body. My breathing was nice and steady. My HR was good. Nothing was sore so I told myself to “suck it up, buttercup!” I forced myself to keep on running…ugh.  I knew from running this race last year that once I ran up the hill, I only had to run a quarter mile flat run around the track to the finish…damn…where is that hill?!? I kept looking for that hill. Ok..got to the hill…finally! Why does it seem that the hill is at the end? In this case, 9.7 miles in! 😆 Oh damn! It’s harder than I remember it being! I would not allow myself to walk up that hill. I heard my trainers in my head. It’s okay to slow down.  I would not allow myself to walk though. Oh yes! I got up and over that hill!

EB246B3E-3507-4C47-AAC6-3B2D24702AB4

Next up…the track! One time around that track and I’m done.

9B4C1E1F-EED2-4B2C-B33A-CB7E796196ED

That finish line looked so sweet to me! I grabbed my post race food and drinks while waiting for my best friend to cross that finish.
While I was waiting, I checked out my results on the laptops made available to us runners. OMG! I PRed! I stood there both shocked and proud. If I had walked, I wouldn’t have PRed. Not only that, I’m in a large running club in Chicago. I get points if I come in the top 15 in my age bracket. I looked at the placing for this race. I found out that I also came in the top 15 in my age bracket. So if I had walked, I wouldn’t have come in the top 15, and I wouldn’t have earned any points. I was so glad that I didn’t cave to the self talk. I’m glad that I pushed myself through it and felt the sweet success of a PR.

A94364BC-BF98-4F16-8342-15AE6333394B

How I found myself running…and temporary war wounds

When I was grammar school age, I was a tomboy. I was always outside playing football, baseball, and climbing trees with the neighborhood boys when all of the neighborhood girls were playing with their dolls.

When I was in elementary school, I remember playing kickball during PE in the school gym. Up to kick was one of the strongest boys, Mike R. He always kicked hard and he always scored by making it back home. No one could get him out. Ever. Until…one day! He was up to kick. The kickball headed in my general direction. I shifted towards it and was going to make an attempt to catch it. I felt the rubber ball hit my chest, my arms flung up to secure it before it would bounce out. I grasped hard. I knew I had to or it would drop. The ball stuck! I got Mike out! My team was jumping up and down and hugging me. Mike gave me a look of disbelief. My arms were stinging and they were still red hours later. War wounds. I liked these war wounds. A temporary reminder to those around me of my accomplishment that day.

So, I was good at kickball. Another day in the school gym, I was up to kick. The ball was rolled towards me, I set myself up, and I kicked it. The ball hit the far back basketball backboard on a fly. An automatic home run! I was in shock as I ran around the bases.

What is it about these stories? I was athletic but not once did I call myself an athlete.

As I entered junior high and high school, I focused on scholastics instead of athletics. Athletics seemed like a thing of the past for me now. In junior high, we had to run a mile on Fridays in PE. I HATED Fridays. I wasn’t the fastest but I wasn’t the slowest. I was somewhere in between. Even so, I hated running.

Now, fast forward a lot of years…and I mean a lot of years to my late 30s. I was going through my divorce and started working out at a gym with my best friend.  She loved the treadmill, and she would hop on it. I hated the treadmill but only went on it so I could walk and talk with her. One day, she said, “let’s try running half a mile.” I laughed and said, “half a mile? Seriously? I haven’t run in decades!” She convinced me to run it. I struggled. My breathing was labored. My legs felt like lead weights. My body screamed for me to stop. Despite my body seemingly telling me to stop, we continued to challenge ourselves in our running. We built a base. One night she said “let’s run a mile.” Ugh! The pure thought of running a mile brought me back to junior high. “Fine” I said as I reset my treadmill. My first mile wasn’t pretty but it felt strangely great to accomplish it. As I continued to run daily, I felt the stress of my divorce was peeling off of me. Did I like the post run bliss? Absolutely! That was what hooked me. Running actually helped relieve me of my stressful divorce. Endorphins. Those were my drug.

Eventually, my best friend and I worked our way up to running an hour nonstop. Then, I dropped a bomb on her. I told her that I signed up for a half marathon. This was 2008. That was my first of now over 30 half marathons. I still wasn’t fast but I enjoyed running. Placing in my age group seemed like an impossibility…only athletes place, right?

In 2016, I found that I actually started placing in my age group. This was something which I thought was reserved only for athletes. In 2016, I placed 4 times. I came in 2nd place for a 5k and a 10k. I came in 3rd place for a another 5k and a half marathon. In 2017, I found myself placing first in my age bracket for a half marathon. First? Really? Pinch me.

I started to realize something when I started placing, I broke through two decades of inactivity of my 20s and 30s. I shredded off those layers and rediscovered the athlete I used to be. A few years ago, someone called me an athlete. I laughed in response to their description of me. I now think they were right. They saw it in me before I saw it in myself. I am an athlete.

My childhood temporary war wounds from grammar school kick ball used to be the stinging and red arms.  My adult temporary war wounds from running are the chafing on my inner thighs, lower back and maybe a blister here or there. I am proud of them. They are temporary reminders of something I fought for and symbols of pushing through something which is not always easy.