When I started running again a few years ago, I ran because it was the only form of cardio I could do and enjoy. Treadmill running was my only option then, so I made the most of it by scheduling my runs during Ellen so the 1/2 hour I spent running went by quickly.
I got bored of the "dreadmill" so I started running outside once the weather changed. Living in Florida at the time made it very difficult to run outside because you were either dealing with heat or the humidity or both. But in order to stay "fit" I suffered through it.
Once we moved to Enid, Oklahoma, I was back to having to run indoors on a dreadmill at our local YMCA. To make it more bearable I would sign up for 5K road races so I would stay motivated to keep with it. I quickly learned that a 1/2 hour on the treadmill that tells me I have run 3 miles was INCORRECT. My 5K (3 mile) road races were telling me I could do that in 27 minutes...so I gave up the treadmill again. Then luckily when we moved to OKC, the Y here had a 1 1/2 mile track around the facility. It was a great option for me because they offered a 2 hour child watch and allowed members to run the track while the kids were in their care. GREAT! Finally. But then of course I got sick of running laps of the track and feeling discouraged that I would only be able to run 5Ks. I just couldn't stay motivated to run.
I was working out at the Y 4-5 days a week, regularly, and would see the same people day after day and eventually befriended them. Once knowing them and listening to their stories I realized these women had a lot in common with many other MOMS I knew in my life. It seemed like there was this trend of women I knew, who were moms, who were training for some kind of running event. Some big (marathons and half marathons) and some small (5ks and 10ks). I soon realized there was this movement: the RUNNING MOMS.
I was completely inspired by everyone I met and talked to (hence the formation of the RUNNING MOMS facebook group). I was impressed with their determination, their newfound ability to run longer distances, their dedication to the sport, and their desire to want to do something for THEMSELVES. These are people I can relate to. I NEED to do something FOR MYSELF. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING in my life is dependent on someone else's schedule and interests. So by listening to them and seeing their progress and their desire to want to better themselves, I joined their movement. However, my biggest hang up, of course was mentally thinking I could ever be in the "marathon club". Granted, I have absolutely no desire to ever complete a full marathon; 26.2 miles, but the 13.1 sounded more appealing and maybe more "doable" for someone like me who liked the 5K road races.
So last year, January 2008 I started training for the half marathon with my friend Dawn, who had completed her first marathon the year before. We trained in the rain. We trained in the sleet. We trained in the ice. We trained in the snow. It was a horrific winter to start training and to remain motivated and excited about our end goal; which is precisely why I stopped. I could not overcome my mental block of doing more than 4 miles, or for that matter finding the "runners' groove" that so many of the Running Moms talked about. Partly because of the conditions we were training in but also because frankly I just wasn't all that motivated to wake up at the wee hours of the morning to endure those temperatures and conditions. So I gave up the training and stuck with my 5Ks.
I completed the Race for the Cure in October of 2008 and met my friend Kristina down there at the starting line. Little did I know at the time that she was a seasoned runner. I only knew her from the MOMS Club meetings we would see each other at each month. So after the race we discussed other races we had been in and she mentioned she had completed her second half marathon that year. She said "If I can do it, anyone can", which is a common response from most Running Moms. So we decided to start running together and see where that relationship would take us.
Well it took me to the Turkey Trot 5 mile Run with Scott on Thanksgiving Day (Nov 2008) and The Frigid Five with Kristina on Valentines' Day this year. And let me just tell you: brrrr! It was our first race together; it was five miles long and I credit her for pushing me through our training. Granted, this winter was far more mild that last which definitely helped keep me motivated and inspired to see where my running could take me.
So we / I decided "you know what? I didn't think I could ever run five miles, so let's see how much farther I can go?" That was when I decided this was the year to train for the half.
Our training program was probably more unconventional than most. We didn't necessarily follow any schedule. We just would run a 1/2 mile further each "long run" day, and run easy 4-5 milers on our "off days". We'd also add in some speed work outs and some resistance training, just to make sure we covered our bases. It pretty much depended on our mood that day which is probably why the training was fun, and not so DEMANDING!
Once March hit, it was ON. We had a month and a half left to really get our focus on. We started reaching 6 and 7 and 8 mile runs! I was SO EXCITED. Never did I think I could do this just a year prior and here I was PUSHING Kristina to run them with me! (she loved me for it! )
Eventually we started experimenting with GU and other energy supplements and I decided on a GU supplement at mile 6 and then again at mile 10.
I was feeling good about our training. The weather conditions this year, compared to last, had been perfect: we were running in 40-50 degree temps. That may sound cool to you but to a runner it is IDEAL! I had found "the groove" and was finally able to share my experiences with my fellow "Running Moms". Things were looking up! I had even convinced myself, based on our training together, I could complete the half marathon in two hours (or possibly less) if I could maintain my 9:00-9:10 minute mile. I was feeling GREAT!!!!
So I'm all psyched up to run this race today. I have my GUs. I have my trusty running tights. My Nike +, hubby and boys at the finish line....Today is the day I would complete my first half marathon. My first 13.1 mile run, in fact. Our training only took us to 11 1/2 miles so to think about finishing another 1 1/2 miles on top of that would be exhilirating! This all sounds good right?
This week, of all weeks, OKC decides to go SUMMER on us. We had temps up in the high 80's...and it's been HUMID. It's just awful! Because this is also "taper week" (meaning running is at a minimum) I haven't even "trained" in this....we've been training in much cooler temps.
So off goes the starting gun and every runner around me at the Starting line wonders "will I make it to the end without dying of dehydration first?". A valid concern, let me assure you.
I won't go through each mile with you, but I will say that this was a TOUGH day for me. All that I was hoping for to "kick in", didn't! Firstly, my pace, which is normally in the 9 minute miles was instead averaging anywhere between 9:30-10:20 minute miles; my GU didn't take; I could not find my groove; the heat was exhausting; the hills were never ending. And of course, just this week, as I mentioned above, the weather has changed. In the last 48 hours, we've been warned of an impending storm which is literally blowing in (and tornados all around us in neighboring counties) and into our face for over half the course! I'm here to say we runners felt the brunt of that today! If it wasn't because of the heat, my pace was clearly affected by the HILLS. Every time we had an opportunity to get on a straight-away and find our groove, we would turn the corner and there was a hill. Once we got to the top of it, there was another corner, then another hill. It was very frustrating. Now one would think: there's hills in Oklahoma? I would ask the same thing.....and would answer NO....but apparently they decided to put all the ones they had in this course. It was awful.
I am a bit disappointed with my pace...and with my overall feeling about the run; I was hoping for all this joyous moments and to experience the "adrenaline" rush of being in the race and finishing it successfully; however I had none of that. I had no kick at the end. I had no kick during the race and I WALKED THREE TIMES! I never walk....well not "never" but I rarely walk. When I took my GU at mile 6, I was hoping to "sail" into my 10th mile...when it didn't happen, I knew it was going to be a long second half of the 13.1.
Overall, I'm happy to be among the Running Moms and to be included in the "marathon" group of people I know. I am glad I did it and I'm glad to see my body could carry me all that way. I am trying very hard not to dwell on my time, which really isn't all that bad (2 hours, 7 minutes, 25 seconds) but when I thought I could do it in less time and know my body wasn't responding the way it normally does, I can't help but feel a little disappointed. But like I said, I am happy I did it...and so glad it's over.
I'm retiring from running for awhile. It has consumed most of my mornings at the Y for the last few months and it had preoccupied my mind and the way I think about things for weeks too! It will be nice to just "go for a run" next time I do, without having a purpose but to actually enjoy it and not focus on my time. I have even decided that it's OK that I am more of a shorter distance runner, or maybe even a multi sport athlete (we'll find THAT out this fall when I complete my first duathlon: run, bike, run). I'm perfectly happy saying I completed ONE half marathon and then sticking to shorter races. I think 6-8 miles is my happy place anyway ~ you would have NEVER heard me say that last year!
Thanks to ALL OF YOU for reading my blogs and encouraging me to stick with it and do the best that I can. I love that you have such faith in me. It has shaped me into being a better person and to finally love myself for the things I am able to accomplish.
(Pictures to follow)