Tomorrow morning is Day 1 of marathon training. I’m staring at the start line of a new chapter that I know will transform me. Marathon training has a way of stirring my soul. Every marathon has a story. I can’t wait to run my way through this one.
New York City Marathon Prologue: The Day before Training Begins.
I’ve lost confidence in my physical ability. My body feels weak. My running feels clunky. Staring at my training plan scares me.
How I got here doesn’t matter. How I move forward does. My challenge at the start of this training cycle is to meet myself where I’m at while allowing myself to grow. My challenge is to not look back and compare this training cycle to the other 3 marathons I have run. This marathon is new. The good and the bad of previous trainings have nothing to do with right now.
I know the only way to start this training cycle is to write. Words are how I face my emotions, yet my writing right now feels as awkward and as clunky as my running. While I know exactly how it feels to train for and run a marathon, I have no idea how this training cycle will go. While I know how to write, my words aren’t coming naturally right now.
And that’s okay! Starting this cycle feeling insecure about my physical ability is making me want to control every outcome. Isn’t this how it always work? When uncertainty appears, my need to control kicks in to overdrive.
Tomorrow is Training Day 1. I will tackle Day 1. I’ll put a check next to tomorrow’s workout. Then I’ll tackle Day 2. The only thing I can control is the moment I’m in.
Because of work obligations, I won’t be pacing for the J&A Racing Training Team this fall. While I’ve run for myself for years prior to pacing, the last two years I’ve been pacing others towards their goals. Running for myself feels forgeign again.
I’ve always relied on my running to fulfill all other aspects of my life. Running has made me a better wife and mom. It has pushed me to explore. It has given me friendships. It has given me success. For the first time ever, I’ll be relying on my confidence in other aspects of my life to fulfill my running. My confidence in every aspect of life has grown because of running. My career is blossoming because of running.
Running will be simply running. It will be just me and my running shoes tackling miles every week. I’ll be running simply for the joy of running. I’ll be running for me. This is new, awkward, clunky, and slightly terrifying. But tomorrow it begins. Tomorrow I start training.
It’s just running. I’ll find my stride. I’ll get there, but for now, it’s simply time to start.
When this training cycle all began back in January, I wasn’t trying to accomplish anything. My only goal was to recommit to my training. I saw gaps in my previous training cycles, and I wanted to over come them. I wanted to conquer early morning runs so family time in the evening wasn’t sacrificed. I wanted to tackle tempo runs that terrified me. I wanted to be invested in myself and my family, and I knew my running shoes would take me there. I knew those early morning wake ups would result in better days. I knew tackling my tempo runs would add vibrancy to daily interactions.
With each training run, I felt more alive. I became more engaged. Work flourished. My commitment to the running community took off. Every corner of my life felt fulfilled.
When life is good, running is good.
While the weeks between the Shamrock Marathon and my race in Delaware were not picture perfect (hello Flu and goodbye husband who was out of town for work commitments), my coach was quick to remind me that there are many chapters that make up our race day story. I was ready for race day.
I was confident. I was scared. I was excited. For the first time in a long time, I wanted a personal best. I didn’t just want a strong race and a happy race, I wanted to be my best.
There is no better time to risk failing than when life is good. I had nothing to loose. I finally had the confidence to recognize that I do want a 1 as the first number of my half marathon PR. I’ve never doubted that my legs have the ability to move so much faster than they ever have, but I have always doubted that my training was perfect enough, that my body felt strong enough or fast enough for it to happen on race day.
Going into this race I still wasn’t sure, but I didn’t care. I wanted to try. I wanted to take the risk. I needed to take the risk.
Race day arrived. I had nerves, but I knew this was good. It was a sign of my desire to reach for something just out of my reach. I knew I could do it. I felt it. It was mine to claim. With my dear friend Karen by my side, our race started as corral 2 was released on to the course. We made our way north along the coastal highway. The weather was perfect. The light breeze felt refreshing. The course that was waiting for us was gorgeous. It was going to be a great day.
We were running. My body felt engage. I wasn’t having hip pain. As doubts appeared, I quickly pushed them away. But something wasn’t right. I had no energy to give. I hoped that mile 1 was a liar, but mile 2 told the same story. So did mile 3, 4, 5 and 6. By the time we crossed the 10k mark, I had used every trick I knew to keep myself going. All I wanted to do was nap. I wanted to stop, lay down, close my eyes, and try again. My legs felt great, my breathing was easy, but I was so fatigued.
In my self proclaimed year of waking up, the last thing I expected to feel on race day was a deep desire to sleep. When I couldn’t will myself to move forward any more, I walked and all those ugly doubts I’ve spent a lifetime telling to move on took my break as an invitation to move back in. I was sad. I was embarrassed. I was disappointed. I felt like I let everyone down. At mile 11 after run/walking for the last 3 miles, a sob came out of nowhere.
I wanted that 1:xx half marathon time not just for me, but for my husband who has supported my crazy love of running for longer than our marriage. I wanted it for my coach who has invested so much into me as a runner but even more so as a person. I wanted it for my boys and my parents who give up weekends so I can race.
My race plan was to place an exclamation point at the end of this training cycle for myself but also as a thank you to everyone who invests in me. At mile 11 I felt like the opposite of an exclamation point. I just felt sad. And tired.
I crossed the finish 11 minutes later than I had hoped, and I knew I needed a few minutes to digest everything that had just happened on the race course. After a few intentional inhales and exhales, I wiped the tears off my face and joined my husband (who just so happened to place 2nd in his age group at the 9k) and friends for a celebratory beer!
The disappointment clung to me on Sunday. It followed me to dinner and to coffee and to a walk on the boardwalk. It hung out through dinner and while playing scrabble with my husband. I fell asleep with my sadness, and I slept more deeply than I have in ages.
I woke up on Monday with a fresh perspective. I woke up with gratitude for everything that went wrong the day before. I woke up and loved every moment of the 2 hours and 11 minutes I spent on the race course.
On Sunday, I showed up to race day ready to take the risk. I took the leap. I didn’t fly this time, but I showed up to the race with the courage to try. I showed up with the desire to want more.
This race brought me right back to the reason why I run. I’ll always run happy. I’ll always run for the community of running. But I also run for me. I run to be the best version of myself. I run to polish my heart. Chasing dreams is what I’m made of. This race connected every dot for me. In my failure to fly on race day, I saw all the beauty around me as I made my way back to the ground.
Aiming to be your best does exactly that. It makes you your best. Just like I knew my running shoes would deliver me to my year of waking up, my running shoes will also deliver me to be the best version of myself. Whether I snag a PR on race day or not, its the journey of wanting it, going after it, and showing up for it that matters most.
Running is never just running for me, but it is also just running. This entire training cycle has been layered with so much success. My worlds are colliding in the best possible ways and this race brought that all into focus for me. I’m awake. I’m engaged. I’m loving this life of mine.
I wanted an exclamation point on race day. I didn’t get it. What I got instead was a training cycle and a life worthy of ending with a exclamation.
Perfection is found in the process.
Our best is found in trying.
Give me a life of striving!
I’d much rather enjoy the journey than simply celebrating the finish line.
As the days have grown longer, running after work on Tuesdays and Thursdays has quickly become my new pattern. With daylight illuminating every new path, I have an endless amount of new ground to cover. Each week my runs have expanded. My normal 3 mile loop has grown into four or five or six miles. On my map, my reach has expanded. More sunshine has casted light on my confidence to explore.
Isn’t this how it always works? A new running route, a new adventure, or a new chapter of life can cause me to become timid. While navigating the new course, I’m cautious. Then the light creeps in. Comfort is discovered. Confidence grows. My circles expand.
This year has been all about recognizing the ripples in life. Circles are expanding. Some of them are literal circles like my running path at work. Others are as figurative as the expansion of energy rippling outward from my heart and lungs.
On Friday I sat across from my running coach. It’s two weeks until race day. Like all the other ripples in my life , our trust and understanding of each other has also expanded. He has known long before me what I need from my running. Today I’m trusting it too.
For some people, running is simply running. Race day is the day to put your game face on, turn off your emotion and compete. I wanted this. I wanted nothing more than to take my head and my heart out of the equation. I thought to compete I needed to silence the part of me that felt too much and thought too much. In order to perform at my best, I spent many years trying to simply perform. Give me a race plan. Let me execute it. I thought that was the winning strategy because for some it is. For some runners it works brilliantly. My running coach may have always know this doesn’t work for me.
Silencing the part of me that thinks too much and feels too much is like chopping of my legs. I was fighting myself instead of racing. I had lost before I even started. Feeling too much and thinking too much is my strength.
I left that meeting with a very simple race plan. Race day is my exclamation point.
Two Tuesdays ago I was supposed to run mile repeats: three of them, four if I was feeling on fire. My legs wanted nothing to do with it. They’d only run one pace, and that was easy. I finished my run a little deflated. I had some thinking to do. Did I want race day to be an attempt at a personal best or did I want to run easy? What did I need from the race?
All week I had dreams filled with memories that made me feel alive. I had dreams that kept connecting me to times where I felt uninhibited and free. When I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and recall life moments that take my breath away, there is always one that stands out the most. It wasn’t my wedding day or the day I birthed my boys. It’s a simple night in Austin, Texas. After sitting speechless on a staircase listening to Andrew McMahon play music on his piano, I walked out on to Sixth Street. Surrounded by friends, we raced. We ran down the streets chasing nothing but the feeling of being alive. Maybe it was Austin, maybe it was the music, maybe it was the brand new territory in my life, but that night I knew what magic felt like.Because I know better than to try to seperate my life from my running, I knew there was something hidden in my dreams.
That’s the one thing.
There’s no safety in desire.
Preserving life is as good as dying.
🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close
This ripple pattern that I’ve come to notice in my life, it expands or contracts based on me. So many times I feel myself shrinking and caving in. So many times in my life I’ve felt so close to achieving it, touching it, experiencing it, and I’ve shrunk back out of fear.
And these could be the best or the darkest days.
The lines we walk are paper thin
And we could pull this off or push away
🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close
My biggest challenge is in letting go. Once I find my edge, too many times I’ve retreated backwards. How many times have I cheated myself out of enjoying the free fall that comes once we embrace the edge? How many times have I not run down the street for no other reason than it feels good to run? Once you push beyond the panic, the magic of life is waiting.
So close to giving up
So close to going all the way
So close to taking off
So close to going no where
🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close
At the beginning of this training cycle, I drove to the oceanfront with Andrew McMahom playing in my car. His song So Close playing too loudly for 6am.
As I drove I thought to myself, running is the punctuation of my life. It defines the content. It gives structure and shape to everything I do.
On Friday as I told my running coach I didn’t want a race plan, that I wanted to run reckless, that I wanted to get so close and not give up out of fear.
I wanna go there.
I wanna go there.
🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close
With every thought, every feeling, I’m showing up in Delaware. There is no plan A, B or C. There is no pace to hit for each mile. There are no bullet points outlining the details of my plan. There is only an exclamation point – the one my coach drew on my notebook after I told him what I needed from this race.
As much as I love pacing my training team and supporting on race day, I have discovered that in order to push my teammates, I need to push myself. Since I’d be on the sidelines during the half and full marathon on Sunday, I took the opportunity to race the 8k on Saturday.
I had two goals: PR (sub 44:09) and run faster than I did at the Wicked 10k (8:39 pace).
I didn’t taper. I didn’t prepare for this race. The day before I worked from 6:30am until 9:00pm. There was a lot stacked against me and if I wanted to look for an excuse to have a bad race, there was a lot I could have grabbed a hold of race morning.
Quite frankly, I’m sick of not PRing. I’m sick of having mediocre races. I was either going to hit my goal, or I was going to crash and burn. I was going for it.
Race morning I took my place in the second corral with my kickass friend Karen by my side. She was ready to be my reality check if I started to falter. In front of me in corral 1 was my husband. Given the day and our own individual races, I knew he had a great shot at beating me for the first time. I also had a shot at catching him.
Karen and I started fast. Heading south we had the wind in our face. We both laughed knowing I was too fast for a conservative start, but sometimes you just have to roll with it. The first 3 miles felt like work, but in a five mile race I knew I needed to work the entire race.
8:26 8:39 8:44
After mile 3, I was freed from the boardwalk. I may have let out a primal moan as Karen and I made our way North. I was ready to be done. At mile 4, my teammates had created an epic cheer zone. I felt like a celebrity.
As I hit my last mile, I felt the all to familiar feeling of panic. My head started spinning. Breathing felt impossible. For the first time ever in a race I said out loud “I need to calm myself down”. As soon as the words left my mouth, my anxiety followed. I had acknowledged it, and I had let it go. Mile 4 felt awful and amazing all at the same time. I knew a PR belonged to me.
As soon as I crossed the finish line, I saw my husband’s smiling face. I had forgotten about him on the course as I ran my own race, but was curious to see who won the Maute show down.
The race wasn’t even close. He destroyed it with a finish time of sub 40 (sub 8 minute miles). Christian is the official owner of the fastest Maute crown. Not too shabby for a guy who ran 11 minute miles a year ago.
My official time: 42:40 (8:33 pace). A new PR and a perfect set up for my half marathon next month.
While the PR and the pace feel amazing, I’m even more proud of my ability to mentally overcome the panic that normally takes me down. The wheels didn’t fall off. I’ve got this!
“On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think, ‘Okay, this is the limit’. And so you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high.” ~Aytron Senna
31 days until the Coastal Delaware Half Marathon. With Shamrock behind me, I plan on being selfish with my running for the next four weeks to see what my legs (and my head) can do for a half marathon. The goal is the same as always! Sub 2.
“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.” ~Mark Amend
If I could pick the shape of my heart, I’d draw a shamrock in the middle of my chest. Shamrock Marathon weekend is my heartbeat. It’s the place I discovered my strength. Over the course of 13.1 miles in 2010, I became the narrator of my own life. Prior to that race, I lived the life I thought I should love. After I crossed that finish line, I began to live the life I wanted. Shamrock Marathon weekend empowers me year after year.
This year my shamrock story began to take shape as I stood on the sidelines of the Richmond marathon last November. I witnessed “coaches” running up and down the course encouraging their runners. The moment I saw it, I knew that was the role I wanted to own race weekend.
It didn’t take much convincing for my coach to say yes. In fact I think he said yes before I finished asking. My friend and fellow pacer, Steve and I would strategically place ourselves outside Fort Story before mile 10 and mile 23 of the Shamrock half and full marathon.
Race morning arrived along with terrible weather. You won’t read a race report that doesn’t talk about how the cold/rain/snow/sleet/hail/gail force winds impacted everyone’s race. As course support, I couldn’t let this impact me. I packed multiple outfits, extra shoes, and four coats. I needed to be ready.
My job as a spectator started with the half. I watched the first half of the race head north from 80th street. With enough time to catch the front runners, I made my way to 89th street. This is when my real work began. It was time to run with my team.
Our fast runners came through. Tucked in with pace groups, they looked strong. I knew the race belonged to them. One by one my teammates came off the fort. They arrived faster than I expected.
Every half marathoner looked strong. They were focused. They had fight. Not a single one faltered. Steve and I ran up and down Atlantic Ave between 89th and 82nd street running with our teammates and cheering on every other racer. It was a tough day, and if I could give someone a boost of energy, I was going to do it.
As the last half marathoner came through, the weather took a turn for the worse. Maybe it had already been that bad but when I was running with my team I was oblivious to the weather. When I stopped moving and waited for the marathoners to make their way to us, my body began to falter. Wet, cold, shivering, and a slight shade of blue, Steve and I took cover under a tree. Time stood still, and the ugly doubt that creeps in on race day found me. Trembling, I wasn’t sure I could endure several more hours of the weather. Steve saw me falter, and like a true friend and pacer he came to my rescue. He was able to move my car from 80th to 89th so I could remove my wet layers, blast my heat, and warm my body up. He took over so I could stop shaking.
Our first marathoner came through. Seeing Steve run with our dear friend unfroze my brain. I had a job to do. I put dry socks on my feet, layered on clothes that felt the least wet, and I resumed my position on the course.
The marathoners needed us more than ever. By Mile 23, everyone hurt. Everyone was frozen. Everyone had doubts. Everyone wanted to be done. My job was to shower them with positivity and praise as they attacked their final 5k.
One by one Steve and I ran with every runner. The race course felt like a ghost town. Unlike the crowded half, the marathon felt empty. The familiar faces of our team were easy to spot. We tied shoes. We opened Gus. We dug water bottles out of camelbaks. We ran. We high fived. We didn’t stop until we found our last runner.
After nearly 8 hours of running with our team, Steve and I had crossed our finish line. The race was done.
While the logistics of the day are easy to describe, the emotion of the day keeps slipping away from my finger tips. I got to witness everything. I saw hope and strength. I saw gratitude and fight. I saw desperation and panic. I saw courage. I saw the spirit of what it means to be human for 8 hours, and for a moment I was able to add positivity to someone’s day.
While every single runner responded to Mile 10 and Mile 23 in a different way, there was one common theme amongst all my teammates. When they were at their edge and at the point of breaking, they all had one question. They wanted to know how everyone else was doing? They wanted to know if a teammate and friend was on pace for their goal. They wanted me to know a teammate was right behind them. They told me what they were wearing so I wouldn’t miss anyone. Everyone was more concerned about a teammate then themselves. At their lowest, my teammates wanted to make sure their teammates were given the support they needed.
I learned more than I ever thought I would on Sunday, and yet I saw once again the same lesson every marathon I’ve ever run has been trying to show me. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run. It doesn’t matter how many miles you conquer.
Strength matters. Be strong enough to stand alone.
Being smart matters. Be smart enough to know when you need help.
Bravery matters. Be brave enough to ask for help.
Collectively our entire team was strong, smart and brave on race day. This is the magic of our team. We are our best when we are together.
And just like that, the season is over. The bad weather moved out. The sun started to shine as the finish line came down. Spring is here, and we all endured more than we every thought we could.
So long Shamrock 2017! This year we learned there is nothing we can’t handle.
Every season of life I gravitate towards a new word. I’ve lived them all. Let it go. Rooted. Breathing room. Thrive. I am strong. And so many more. More often than not my seasons of life are attached to a training cycle.
Running imitates life.
Life imitates running.
As I welcomed the new year, I also welcome a new training cycle. The goals are the same, but I knew I needed a mental change. Chasing sub 2 hours in the half marathon has grown stale. Three years of the same goal supported by a ton of mental growth and maturity (but no PRs) makes the goal less exciting. I’m not chasing numbers anymore. I’m chasing feelings.
I know when I’ve run a strong race. I don’t need a time clock to validate my effort, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not frustrated with not pushing my potential.
Now is the time to layer back in consistent training. Now is the time to layer back in the drive and motivation to make my training plan work. I’m notorious for hitting snooze instead of waking up long before sunrise. When I get home from work, life happens. Homework. Dinner. Family.
I’ve come to recognize the gaps in my training, and while discussing it with my coach this week I mentioned that I needed to find the spark that would get me out of bed in the morning. I needed my word.
No sooner then I set out to find it, it found me too. In fact I’d argue that I already had it.
“Awakening is not a thing. It is not a goal, not a concept. It is not something to be attained. It is a metamorphosis. If the caterpillar thinks about the butterfly it is to become, saying ‘And then I shall have wings and antennae,’ there will never be a butterfly. The caterpillar must accept its own disappearance in its transformation. When the marvelous butterfly takes wing, nothing of the caterpillar remains.” ~Alejandro Jodorowsky
All I need to do is wake up and just be.
As a dream chaser this concept can be hard. Just be. Just wake up and run. Don’t focus on a goal. Just run the day I’m given. It is all I need to do to succeed.
As a working mom sometimes the hardest thing for me to do is to be 100% committed to a training plan. There are philosophies and approaches that work for everyone in every stage of life. It’s never one size fits all. There is also a difference between making excuse and prioritizing life appropriately. It’s all a delicate balance.
This year my goal is to make sure I’m throwing my rock in the right direction which means I need to find the right space for my running. If I’m going to push my potential, it’s time to quit hitting snooze on my alarm and on my running. It’s time to wake up.
Why does this even matter?
Because running imitates life.
Life imitates running.
Waking up is so much more than doing mile repeats in the dark. Waking up is an enhanced form of living. It’s mothering with an awake heart. It’s loving with an awake heart. It’s living with my eyes open.
“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.” ~John O’Donohue
“From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of each other – above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” ~Albert Einstein
On Saturday evening I stepped out of the Virginia Beach Convention Center to a sea of Santas. Our running community had shown up to attempt to set a world record. Could we join together to set a new Guinness Book World Record for the most Santa’s to finish a race?
Lost in the crowd, I was one of 5,025 Santas that ran the five mile route along our coastline. The previous record was set with 4,961 santas. While I was lost in the crowd, I mattered. Every single one of us mattered. Together we set a new record.
While it may seem to be a silly task, showing up and running a race dressed up wearing a Santa Suit for the sake of a world record, the truth is it was so much more.
The truth is showing up matters.
The truth is we are stronger together.
The truth is life is better when living light hearted.
The truth is believing in the magic of Santa is what allows us to set a record: world records, personal records, and life records.
Every single person who showed up to the race on Saturday believed we had a chance at setting the record. By mile two when I was dripping with sweat and desperate to remove the hot polyester suit, I left it on. I kept running. I pushed through the last hot and hard miles because I trusted that every other person on the course was also committed to running in their suit. I could have slowed down. I could have stopped to embrace the lights on the boardwalk, the gingerbread stop, or the candy cane giveaway, but I kept going. As much as I wanted to set this record for J&A Racing, I also wanted to do it for me.
This year I have worked hard to believe in my voice and my ability. I’ve worked even harder to share them with my community. I’ve worked hard to recognize that even if lost in the crowd, my voice matters. Slowing down wasn’t an option (for me). Not today.
“Life isn’t worth living, unless it is lived for someone else.” ~Albert Einstein
While I was only one of the 5,025 Santas on the course, the record wouldn’t have been set without me. While my voice is just one in a world of billions, my world wouldn’t exist without it.
In the true spirit of the season, the more I love the better our world becomes. The more we show up, put on our Santa suits, push through hard, finish what we start, and chase down new records, together we will change the pulse of the world.
There are so many world records begging for us to beat them. Grab you Santa suit. We’ve got work to do. It all starts with one person believing, and it becomes possible when 5,025 commit and believe too.
As we enjoy the holiday season, ask yourself what you believe in.
Official finish time – 45:25, 642/5221, 39/461 age group
There are some things in life that are always celebrated. They mark a period of time. They measure growth. The new year, holidays, and our birthdays provide us moments of reflection and allow us to set new intentions. Then there are moments in life that grow to be important parts of who we are.
Shamrock Marathon weekend has become one of the dates that “time stamps” my life. Shamrock is special.
Today one of my friends and fellow pacers posted a countdown to Shamrock.
108 days until Shamrock.
One year ago with 108 days until Shamrock I wrote about my intentions. This magical number that reveals intentions and opens the heart is a number I cherish. It’s part of my being. With 108 days of training between today and a weekend of new beginnings, growth and celebration, it’s amazing to see how much has changed in one year.
108 days until Shamrock.
Last year this training cycle opened my heart. My confidence grew. I found my voice.
Last night as I sat in my coach’s living room with the 13 other leaders on the team, a new vibration filled my heart that echoed words I already know. This time it was different. This time I believed it. This time I wasn’t trying to convince myself. I don’t need to grown in to it. This time, I belong.
I belong not only to my training team. I belong not only to my running. I belong to me.
This year I am at the beginning of a new training cycle. There are 108 days until Shamrock Weekend. Last night I sat with our team pacers, and I belong. Tomorrow night I will meet the new faces on our team, and I belong. On Sunday our entire team will be reunited, and I belong.
I belong in my running shoes.
I belong on this team.
I belong as a pacer.
I belong as just me.
I believe that this is what I’m meant to be doing, and I have the priveldge of sharing 108 days running beside my pace group. I have 108 days to help my pace group find their belonging too.
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” ~Brene Brown
I know how I got here. I know how I waded through hot summer days of being stuck. I know how I quit looking backwards and start chasing my dreams forward. I know the panic, the tears, the insecurities and the doubts. But I pushed through, and today, with 108 days until Shamrock, my heart, my head and my running shoes belong.
“Nothing to Prove. Everything to Share.” ~Eoin Finn
I have no idea what lessons will be hidden over the course of the next 108 days, but I do know my one intention is to share the road with my team.
“The more I pushed myself in running, the more I discovered the weaknesses of my mind. These were the same dragons lurking in my life. To compete is to voluntarily come into contact with your dragons so you can learn to slay them.” ~Lauren Fleshman
After watching my husband, my parents, and my son compete in the Norfolk Harbor 5k and 1 mile race on Saturday, I felt completely overwhelmed. All the race nerves I didn’t feel the entire week flooded my body.
Watching my husband set another new PR (and inching closer and closer to my very own5k PR) filled me with motivation. Nearly a year ago, he was overjoyed by 10+ minute miles. On Saturday he ran in the low 8s. Seeing my dad smile as he crossed the finish line for the very first time in a sport he taught me to love validated everything I’ve been chasing. Seeing my moms joy as she ran reminded me why I love this sport. Witnessing the fight in Cole as he out kicked another boy for 2nd place fueled my competitive fire.
As we left the race on Saturday morning, the motivation and surge of joy was quickly replaced by nerves. On Saturday I was a spectator. On Sunday it was my turn to compete. Having committed to competing (against myself) early this season, I knew there was only one goal to chase. Would Sunday be the day that I finally broke 2 hours in the half marathon distance?
I wanted it.
I was confident.
And when the nerves settled, I was ready.
I read Lauren Fleshman’s quote later in the afternoon on Saturday, and I wanted to shout out “Yes!”. I am competing (against myself) because this is how I always become a better version of myself. It was time to line up beside myself to see what work needed to be done.
There is no point in rehashing all my failed attempts at breaking the 2 hour mark on race day. I can tell you about every race. I can tell you when I fell apart. I can tell you what was going on in my life that left a void in my race day strategy. I can tell you what work I needed to do, and I can tell you what work I’ve done since each of those races. But none of that matters. Not really.
All that mattered was Sunday and the two hours and three minutes and ten seconds it took to get from the start line to the finish line.
I didn’t break two hours, but I won this race. In those 123minutes and nine seconds, I realized I’ve made it. I never let the dragons join me on the race course. When my ankle started hurting during the first mile, I thought “not today”. Today my ankle will not hurt. When my hip buckled at mile 10, I thought “not today”. My hip will not hurt today. When a doubt about my ability crept in, I thought “not today”.
I ran strong.
I felt in control.
I fought back when the wind knocked me over.
When the miles got tough, I kept going.
I finally didn’t fall apart in a half marathon.
I finally fought for my race regardless of time.
Crossing the finish line was the exact opposite of what it’s intended to be. I am no where near finished. The finish line was my welcome home mat. The finish line delivered so much more than a finish time. I finished with the same group of friends I’ve been running with all season. Our team (J&A Racing and #team9ja) ran strong because we ran together. I finished fully aware that I gave my all to race day. I finished with a renewed sense of confidence in my own ability. I finished eager for so much more.
“A glimpse is enough to initiate the awakening process, which is irreversible.” ~Eckhart Tolle
And if you’re curious, here is what my race looked like according to numbers:
Final push 9:01 pace (.4 miles according to my garmin)