Happy Marathon Monday!
No, this is not some special code. These are some very important miles. The first one, 775.5 is the amount of miles I have completed since I signed up to run the OKC marathon again. Some days I can feel all of the 775.5 miles on my body while other days I am in disbelief that I have gone that far. While yet other times I begin to question whether this is even enough. Then I gather my thoughts and just think, what are your expectations this year and how does this compare to last year (which was my very first time to run the marathon)? The answer, it’s a huge difference. I know so much more this year, how to fuel better, I have stronger core than last year, I’m running faster and farther, and this will not be my last marathon (why, because I’m insane but also insane and seeing improvements I like).
The next number, 11.5 miles, is the amount of miles I have left to go before the marathon. So really those are just taper miles which most of them are done kind of slowly just to keep my legs stretched out and get rid of this extra energy. These miles also allow me to think and pace. Practice a little more control because I don’t know about you but I go out fast which is great if you are running a 5K but not so great if you are running a 42K. I have also found that as I run these last few miles, I struggle. I struggle with nerves and side pains and leg aches. But I think this is normal. I always heard that if you have bad dress rehearsals you’ll have a good show. So that is what I’m going for because I really think most of it is nerves, I’m prepared for this.
1670 miles is the amount of miles I have to travel in order to get to the starting line, halfway across the country. I am ready to travel and see my family and friends, I know it will be great to see everyone. As I watched some of the television coverage of the memorial service that happened this past Saturday (April 19) in Oklahoma, I was reminded again why I run. As I watch television each night leading up the Boston Marathon, I am reminded why I run. For me it is for the people who cannot whether they were hurt badly in Boston or Oklahoma, or were killed by the two senseless acts, we are a people who overcome and persevere. I also run for myself. Not to be self-centered, but I run because of how it makes me feel. That feeling of accomplishment as I push through one goal and achieve another, go farther than ever before, do things I never, ever thought I could. I run to get out of my head. As a person who has struggled with past traumas and battled depression, I run for my mental health. Believe it or not running motivates me and refreshes my inner soul.
And finally there is the 26.2 miles that may seem like the end but is really only another step in this running adventure. They say the marathon does not begin at the starting line the day of the race but it starts the day you started running. I didn’t always think I could or would run a marathon but here I am signed up, trained and feeling pretty ready for this next 26.2.
Sometimes it’s the small ones that are the hardest obstacles to get over. This happens to me at least once a week. I have at least one small recovery run of 3 miles that I am supposed to complete and it’s supposed to be slow, well for me slow. I struggle with the slow part. I get it the body needs to go through the action of running, not be pushed and relax. But you guessed it, that is not easy for me. I have always been a runner who sets my mind to something, like I need to go so many miles, and then I get out there and get it done. Apparently this is a wrong method or there are better methods to use and recovery runs is at least one of them.
Today I went out for that small run, that 3 mile slow paced run and well, it sucked!! It all started with really tight legs that didn’t want to relax so I had to stop and stretch just ½ mile in. Then I started again and was about to cross the busy road and I had to stop for a two fire trucks and all the traffic that follows them. When I finally got across I made it to the neighborhood I run in all the time and ran past a little dog who escaped his electric dog fence and started nipping at my legs. So once again I stopped as the owner came out apologizing for her crazy little dog. Off again I went just struggling to make it. At about 2.4 miles in I was ready to quit. But I pushed onward and rewarded myself by actually stopping at 3 miles and walking back to the house. I was frustrated, overwhelmed and a little upset with this and of course my thoughts were “how is this going to affect my marathon” (dang you crazy mental thoughts!).
The big answer is “None”. The other answer is “A lot”. I know weird two answers to the same question and they are both different. Here is my reasoning: “None” because it was a recovery run, I stretched my legs and got out there. “A lot” because it mentally challenged me to keep pushing and keep going.
So really there is a lot to learn in the small ones…. Perseverance, strength, endurance, and possibly even ACCEPTANCE (thanks again word for reappearing when I least expect it.)
Did you have any moments like this today or this week? Moments where we realize that the small moments have a lot to teach us.
It’s important but sometimes we don’t spend as much time working on it as we do the physical. I’m talking about the mental, the things we tell ourselves, the part that keeps us going when all we want to do is quit.
Yesterday my mental toughness was tested and quite frankly I almost failed (Yippee I didn’t but I was on the edge). As a part of my training it was one of my last long runs (the last one is next weekend) and this was supposed to be good. Well in my mind it was gonna be good. I had the nervous stomach (like a race), I had the restless legs that were aching to get out there, the route was planned out, my pit crew (Dave) was gonna ride along and entertain me as well as fuel me as I went. I also had the doubt that I could actually run 22 miles because it would be my longest distance since last year’s marathon. Sounds like it’s gonna be a rockstar kind of day!
So off we went to the local rail trail. Dave dropped me off to go run a few errands and we were gonna meet up about an hour into the run, which would be perfect because quite frankly biking along side someone is probably hard because I’m not going all that fast! 5 minutes after he left my mental toughness was tested. What I couldn’t see up ahead and around the corner was the fact the rail trail was still iced over. I was thinking “great, now what, I have run or do something for the next hour because although it is 50 degrees, I’m in shorts and Dave won’t be back for a while.” So I did what every crazy runner would do, I kept running, running and hoping that the ice would go away.
Well it went away for about a total of a mile but then it was patchy, slushy, and just overwhelmingly disheartening. I wanted to quit. In my mind when I saw the first two miles on my garmin in the 9’s I started beating myself up. “oh this is great, why are we doing this, is this really gonna help you train?” That is when it hit me, it’s gonna train you mentally! If you can get through this than you can get through the marathon because this is the area you need to work on right now. I’ve spent the last 8 months working on the physical and now as the date gets closer I really need to concentrate on the mental. The mental is what is going to get me across that finish line because physically I’m ready. So I reframed it and thought, okay hips and legs, let’s get the feeling for running for a long time! Guess what, it worked. Especially when I was ice skating for miles 5 and 6 and finally turned around knowing that biking this would be no fun for Dave.
I had to rethink how to get those miles 11 – 22 instead of a somewhat flat run I had to change my mentality to where I had been training on the hilly area that I could keep running to from the rail trail. So back to Devens I went! Nothing like taking on lots of hills after you have taken on the obstacle course of ice. I kept thinking, “you will be stronger for this.”
I’m proud to say that I pushed through the hills and the garmin times that didn’t get much better, but I did it. Physically it was a challenge, but mentally it was a moment of conquering something huge. I wanted to stop about 1000 times and could’ve with some great excuses, but I didn’t. Now I look at my times and I think, if I made it through those obstacles, how nice will be it be to be on a course where really the only obstacles will be other runners and maybe the weather. Because now I’m mentally stronger and I have this run to prove that I can overcome.
This mental toughness is something that can translate into our lives. My work is all mental, teaching others to change their thoughts into more optimistic future oriented thoughts, to strengthen and discover what they are made of and make the most of it. Build up their mental toughness! Mine is on track how about yours? How do you build your toughness? Do you need to or do you have a story of how yours was built?
Yesterday, within about an hour I had a huge gash in my right thumb (okay not huge but it was a cut) and three paper cuts on the same hand. Ouch… how did that happen? I didn’t feel it happen but now my hand hurts constantly and even better when I forget and use some of that alcohol based antiseptic that sits on my desk. I am quickly reminded!!!
How about this… today I went to get my monthly allergy shots (it’s a booster which I have to do for the next year). I was sitting there reading my book because you have to wait 30 minutes after you get the shot so they can watch your reaction, and that’s when it happened. About 15 minutes in my palms started feeling itchy and I started to feel a little off. I thought it was because I was tired, after all I’d been up since 5:45am. So when they called my name to look at the shots reaction, they asked me how I was feeling. I told them about my palms and by that point my eyelids had started to swell and turn red and get itchy. I was having my first allergic reaction. This may not seem weird to others but I have been through a year of shots with most of them happening twice in one week and I have only had reactions on in the shot area. I was immediately taken into a room, vitals taken, body examined for hives or welts and given prednisone and an antihistamine. It seemed to work after a little while and I was monitored by a nurse physically watching me for a whole hour (talk about awkward!). Anyway, it was a mystery as to why it happened, they couldn’t explain it.
I had another medical issue which may not be a mystery it might be stress but for this we will call it a mystery. The week before my national exam I woke up with my right eye swollen as well as the whole right side of my face. I went to my doctor in the afternoon (the swelling had gone down) and she immediately sent me to the eye doctor because it was so strange. He said it was the beginnings of a sty which really wasn’t that big of a deal. I treated it for a few days but not real well and continued to spend my evenings studying but it disappeared even as the stress increased it went away. Wouldn’t my body keep it around while I’m stressed because believe me that did not decrease until right after the exam. It’s a mystery to me….
Then there is the running mysteries of how come one day the first three miles of a long run make me want to give up with pain and stiffness but I push through and make it 18 miles and then I can run a 5K the next day and almost get a PR. Explain that one…. I can’t.
And then of course the everyday mysteries…Who has ever figured out the mystery of how you can finish the laundry and look down and see a huge pile which is just like cleaning the house and how it only lasts about 5 mins or less if you have animals or kids!
When clients come into my office and express things they can’t understand I try and help to establish some reasoning behind occurrences, try to explain what seems unexplainable. But at times I say things like “I have no idea why that happened but is there something you learned from it that can help you grow and maybe prevent it from happening again?”
So is there something I learned from the mysteries of the week….
I think I need to wear gloves to prevent paper cuts.
Take an antihistamine before my allergy shot (even though I am taking allergy shots because I don’t want to take any meds)
I wear my stress in my face and maybe utilizing better stress/anxiety control earlier on will prevent me from looking like I went a few rounds with Rocky Balboa.
If I just keep pushing through my runs, I can tackle just about anything
And of course the biggest mystery of all, the daily mysteries of cleaning, the answer is… I have no idea why this happens but if I made more money it could be a cleaning person’s problem and not mine and the mystery would be solved.
What about you, ever had mysteries or things you couldn’t explain? What did you do?
I had one of those moments today, one of those moments of clarity that come along every once in a while when you really feel like you need it because you have been feeling off. Not really sure when it even started except I was driving home after a pretty successful day at work (which basically entails getting all the clinical progress notes written up the way you wanted and submitted by the end of the day and feel like you really listened to the person sitting in front of you.)
So anyway, back to the moment of clarity. I was driving along with the sun beaming in the car (yeah sun because it was only in the 20’s today) and it hit me. “I can do a marathon and the training will pay off”. I know, I know, I’ve been talking about it for a while but really this is the part in the training for something big that the self-doubt is the ruler at the table, the one who dictates your run (or at least my run) and when things go bad it takes quite a few days to get back on track. Well, hey you self-doubter marathon dictator, “I’m gonna beat you!” I might be tired due to the 21 miles I ran this weekend and quite frankly a little delusional from legs that feel like rubber bands (thank goodness today was rest day/tap dancing day) but I’m getting my mind directed on the right path. Yippee.
It kind of reminds me of when your favorite sports team is getting ready to enter the playoffs and they are ramping up their efforts and you are excited. Excited that they might actually pull off a big win and take it all and you feel confident. You can clearly see their path. That’s how I feel (not that I can win it all because I am not truly psychotic) but that I’m feeling inspired. A moment of clarity that it will all pay off in the end. A moment that all I have worked for is finally coming true.
I guess it really helps that I am loving what I am doing. I’m loving that I wake up each day to a great job and work with wonderful people. I’m loving that my family is around and we get to spend lots of time together. I’m loving that I am able to go the gym when it is just way to cold! I’m loving that I’m able to make my legs and body do things I never thought I was capable of. I’m loving that I get to spend some time with some of my oldest friends (24 years of friendship) in about a month and it inspires me to work harder.
A moment of clarity doesn’t just find you. I think you have to make a moment of clarity happen. You have to be putting the work and energy out there and be receptive to what is coming back. You have to be aware. You have to take it all in and live in the present moment. Well, here I am, awareness available, happiness and gratitude right at the forefront and ready to go along for the ride.
Yesterday was one of those days we long for in New England. Snow on the ground, streets were mostly dry with some melting due to the temps being in the high 40’s low 50’s and the sun brilliantly shining. It was one of those days that says, “Take advantage of me, GET OUTSIDE AND RUN!!” So after letting it warm up, putting me starting at noon (which is okay by me) I was out, out in the fresh air (sorry treadmill), out stretching my legs, RUNNING!
It was slow! I felt like the tortoise, slow and steady wins the race. Now I know my slow is other peoples fast but for me it was strange. I kept telling myself we are going for distance here not speed. But yet every time Garmin chimed, I looked down and saw the pace and then the mental had to start again. “Slow and steady is the training. You will speed up in the marathon. Leggy’s need to stretch and get their distance in!” (Am I the only one who talks to themselves in 3rd person while I run or do anything for that matter?)
So on and on I plodded away at my favorite running place. Sinking in to a comfortable pace and just trying to listen to what my body wanted to do today. The sun felt great on my face and even gave me a little bit of tan between where my capri pants ended and my socks began. (Good thing I won’t be wearing shorts anytime soon because it does look a little odd) I don’t run with music anymore but sometimes think I should again so instead I found myself thinking and singing songs in my head. The song that went on and on for a little bit was “Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day, I’ve got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way” (PS – that’s all I know of it so it was just going through my head over and over). Then of course there were some country songs going through the head to because I had just driven over to this place and that was what was on the radio.
As I got through the early miles, I had become okay with just doing this for distance. When I got to around mile 8, I felt great. I started thinking, this is my favorite mile. I even smiled and it made it feel better. I thought this is what running is about, this enjoyment right here! It carried on through miles 9 and 10 and I kept thinking, wow, I’m halfway done with my goal today, which was 20 miles.
Then the tires starting coming off, okay it was the mind taking over again and I couldn’t figure out how to shut down. I made it to mile 12 and then looked up, the hill! There was no way around it. I had to go up. I set myself up for it too. I had planned this. Why, because I’m crazy, oh and there are quite a few hills in the last part of my marathon so this was supposed to help me train. (I’m not sure I mentioned but this course I run for training seems to be nothing but hills which I hope will translate into being ready) Mentally, I decided, don’t look at your watch, just one foot in front of the other and do it. So on I went more plodding. Making it to the top in what seemed like hours but really was about 3 miles of reminding myself why I’m doing this and saying, it’s not really that bad (oh the things we tell ourselves).
There I was 15 miles in, took my last fuel and said, Yeah, only 5 more miles to go (another trick I tell myself, break it down into chunks and I’d already run 15 miles so what is 5 more!).
Fortunately I got to go down so it felt great, okay not great but doable, little slower than I wanted but doable. At mile 17 I got that side cramp, you know the one, the one your body says, “Walk” but your mind says “just breath you can do this”, then your body wins because after all it is the one who is doing the work. Not wanting to give in completely because again the goal is 20 miles not 17.5 or 18, you try the walk, jog method only to be beaten down by the body again, yelling this time because obviously you weren’t listening, “Stop, I’m done this is not a race this is training and I want to go home! Forget that it is a beautiful morning, forget that it is a beautiful day!”
So I listened (only after I pushed it to 18 miles) but I listened. I stopped, well I had to walk the half mile to my car after I stopped but I stopped. Then I began the beating myself up. You know the one, the one where you say, “Yeah you made it to 18 but you missed your goal!” I hate that talk. I tried what I tell all my clients to do, the reframing thing which would sound like this, “You just ran 18 miles on a beautiful day and enjoyed most of it! You just got outside and stretched your legs and completed the most miles you ever had in a week.” (I might have added, so shut up and suck it up buttercup right there at the end but it was my motivation talk and I think it is working today and it did work yesterday too.)
All of this to say we are hard on ourselves and I don’t just mean us runners, I mean us humans. The expectations we have are great because that is what keeps us moving forward and achieving new things. But how you move past disappointment really creates true character. I like to set another goal, rethink what I could have done differently (only to help me prepare better, not to beat myself up), look at the highlights within the adventure (loved miles 8-10), plan for another day and my word of the year, acceptance. I have to accept that this was the best I could do today and be glad that I got to do it!
One of my favorite slogans is “When you know better, you do better” and I think this really does apply to life. We make better choices with more knowledge. We speak to ourselves kinder if we realize we did the best we could today.
So my body wants to rest today due to being pushed beyond its limits yesterday and guess what, that is what it gets!
Recently I found myself talking to a client about patience. My biggest resolution about patience happened when I prayed for patience in order to deal with things in my life and understand things better and then found out I was pregnant. That is when I began to know that God has a great sense of humor, because really what gives you more patience than learning to be a parent and children!
When the word showed up again this week in several different ways I began to wonder, wonder what I would have to learn to be patient about (I think I already knew but just wanted to make sure). And sure enough now I sit waiting. Okay let’s rephrase that. Now I run. I’m running more, exercising more, becoming a little obsessed about when I can get to the gym or outside to run.
Today I waited so patiently I got in 8.5 miles. It felt pretty good but I’m not sure I can keep up this pace. It’s a little early to be at marathon pace and distance this far away from my April marathon but after all isn’t that what patience is all about. Waiting constructively for an answer of some sort whether good or bad (okay it better be good!).
Janathon 15/31 update
8.5 miles at 8:49 pace on treadmill
20 minutes of stretching and foam rolling
Happy 15th day of January/Janathon! I hope you had a good one if not wait patiently for tomorrow is a new day!