Virginia Distance Series 100k Relay

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” ~Herman Melville

Round and round we ran. On Sunday, I joined forces with three badass ladies to make up Team NoPainNoChampagne at the Virginia Distance Series 100k Relay. For 62 miles, we ran loops on a 2.3 mile path around a golf course. The day started well before dawn, and it got colder and windier as the day got later. 

 

Team NoPainNoChampagne

 
This race had nothing to do with paces. It had nothing to do with finish times. It wasn’t about winning or losing. It was about heart. It was about finding mental strength to endure hours of sitting in the cold and running on repeat for almost nine hours. 

Muscles warmed up, and they got tight again. Mentally I tuned in, and I tuned out again. Every single time I thought my body was done giving its all, I kept going because never once was I alone on the course. There were seven relay teams, and dozens of runners individually conquering 50k (31ish miles) and 100k (62ish miles) on their own. Witnessing a local rockstar runner complete her first 100k at a lightening pace of 8:45 minute miles made it impossible to not give it my all. 

Every time I passed an individual runner, I offered words of encouragement. I was truly amazed and inspired. Every time I was passed by some of the most impressive runners I know, I received praise. Regardless of time and pace, we all were running the same race with the same heart. 

There was a pulse and an energy in the air. You could feel it. Every time I ran a loop and approached the aid station/handoff, I knew I’d be created by cheers of support. 

coming into the exchange

  
As I finished the 27th lap for our team, my three amazing friends joined me on the course. We all ran to the finish line together. Not long after we finished, the first 100k individual runner finished. Then our very own local rockstar finished her final lap. Cheering her into the finish line brought tears to my eyes. 

 

To the finish

 
I needed Sunday’s run more than I realized. I needed to tune into my own strength more than I realized. I needed to feel the pulse, the heartbeat and the connection of our running community more than I realized. It’s never about running. It’s about giving and receiving. It’s about supporting. It’s about feeling supported. 

Sunday was a day for my record book. My tired and heavy legs carried me to the finish line where I was welcome and embraced by three amazing teammates and equally amazing friends who collectively exude ever quality I admire. 

2016 is a year to do more of the things that just feel good. The Virginia Distance Series puts a big check next to that objective for the year. 

 

Pain: Check. Champagne: Check

 
My portion of the run:

16.4 miles with an average pace of 9:03 per mile. 

Time Trial 

“The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.” ~Paulo Coehlo

Six weeks until the Shamrock Half Marathon means it’s go time for this training cycle. I have four weeks to being intentional with every workout. I have four weeks to push myself before I allow my body to recover. Then I race. 

This week’s training plan is a nice reminder that it is time to do work. 

Today’s plan: 

EVOFIT workout 

Warmup, 4 mile time trial, Cooldown 

Since I’m currently unemployed, I’m determined to make every workout happen. 

I haven’t run a time trail since high school. I had no expectations going into this run except I knew I was going to hurt. 

 

Today’s start line : seals at the aquarium

 
Mile 1 – My head was filled thoughts. As I wrestle with letting go of the last chapter in my life, I become energized about what is next. 

8:34

Mile 2 – If there was any chaos in my thoughts about life, they transferred to thoughts about the run. Make it half way. Beat the wind. Make it half way. 

8:28

Mile 3 – The hardest part is making it to turn around. All I have to do is finish. 

8:22

Mile 4 – crap. The wheels are falling off. Relax. Relax my shoulders. Even out my breath. Relax. Relax. 

8:11

Finish: 4.01 miles, 33:39, 8:24 average pace 

I ran this entire workout based on feel. My garmin was on my wrist, but I never looked at my watch. When I finished my cooldown, I was shocked at my negative splits. I felt myself coming undone from the moment I crossed the Rudee Inlet bridge. I gave myself permission to simply do my best. I need to fight for my finish, but it was okay if it was my slowest mile. I worked out hard this morning. I ran hard for the duration of this run. 

And then I saw 8:11. 

It was my fastest mile. When I felt like I was falling apart, I held myself together. I didn’t panic. I trusted. And I finished stronger than I started. 

This past weekend when the ladies from #jogandblog were reunited by the river, we took to the country roads to run hill repeats. While I don’t recall any of the conversations on that run (I was too busy huffing and puffing and sweating out alcohol), Kris made a simple statement and it’s stayed with me: it’s hard to not panic in the middle of the run. 

 

Chasing fast girls up and down hills

 

Perhaps this is what I’m learning the most in this transition and this training cycle. I’m learning to take ownership of the process. I’m learning to stay relaxed when the wheels fall off. I’m learning to finish strong. 

Today was the right moment to push myself. Today I embraced the obstacles on my run. I finished stronger than I started. 

Momentum (#blogandjog)

“I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world.” ~Rainer Marie Rilke 

Sunday morning I woke up early. I had more miles I wanted to run. Shamrock Half Marathon training/ Northface Endurance Challenge Marathon training is officially underway. Between now and April, I’ll be following up my J&A Racing Training Team Saturday runs with more miles on Sundays, but this Sunday was different. I had received an invite to do something a little more exciting than just logging eight miles. 

As I drove towards the boardwalk, it was the first time in along time I let my brain wander towards the cherished finish line. I visualized that final mile. I could feel the strength in my legs. I remembered last year’s celebration as I rounded the corner to cross the finish line on the boardwalk with an unexpected personal best. This year is different though. This year I have expectations. This year my goal is to own the back half of the race course. I’m chasing down my strength this year. I’m ready to let my fire burn. 

As I drove towards the oceanfront Sunday morning emotion washed over me as I visualized a finish line with my husband and friends waiting to celebrate the success of this season. While I have a goal for this race, I’m already succeeding. This training cycle is already a success. 

  
After I logged four solo miles while the sun rose, I meet three other ladies who I deeply respect and admire to run four more miles.  I received an invited from Jess at The Fit Petite to be part of her blog celebration. To celebrate the birthday of her blog, she brought us all together to #jogandblog. 

  
These ladies are fast. As we ran along the boardwalk, I held on tight. I promised myself I wouldn’t question my ability, and I’d just run. I could have (and six months ago I would have) come up with a million reasons why I don’t belong in this pack. They are fast. They are far less socially awkward then me. I ramble too much. My brain works faster than my mouth. I am way too aware of myself. My legs were already tired from Saturday. The list could go on and on, but on Sunday I never let the list begin. I’m done  with that story. 

  
As I held on during our run, something shifted. As we shared stories of why we all run over coffee, something happened. As we talked about priorities, life, and dreams, something formed. 

We all had our own unique story, yet we had a collective story to tell. We all are deliberating choosing to be our best to live the fullest life possible. Running is part of that puzzle piece, but it isn’t the whole picture. 

I went into this training cycle with one intention. I wanted to feel ownership of my body. I wanted to find my strength. I expected to find it through Evofit and through miles in my running shoes. I never expected to find it through a team. I never expected to find it through friendship. 

My greatest success this training cycle has nothing to do with miles or pounds lifted. My success is in these three ladies. It’s is in the J&A Racing training group. It is in the friendships at Evofit. My strength is my connections. 

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” ~African proverb

Being part of a team, a pack, a group of genuine friendships has given me more than I can ever imagine. The more I give of myself to all of these amazing people, the more I get in return. 

It isn’t my anticipated finish time at shamrock that make me teary and filled with pride. It is the celebration with friends. It is the joint success. It’s knowing that every step of this journey has been supported by hundreds of giving hearts. 

What started as a simple conversation in Peru has turned into one of the greatest momentum changes of my life. 

 
Read more about our #blogandjog on their sites too 

The Fit Petite 

Kris Lawrence
Megan Ulanich Overbey

Surf-n-Santa 5 miler

I was nervous going into this race, and I was over the moon excited too. After a season of getting my head straight about running, this was the first race I would be testing my new approach. Could I run strong and stay mentally engaged? While Chicago was a blast, it was far from a strong race. My nerves were quickly squashed by my excitement. This race our family was mixing it up. Instead of joining me on the race course as race support, Christian was running his first race EVER! He was RUNNING! Even though he wouldn’t let me run with him, he was still joining me on the race course. 

Papa ready to run

If having my husband on the course wasn’t excitement enough, this was my first run back as a member (and pacer!) of the Shamrock Training Team. I was proud to put my team shirt on for this race knowing I’d have a few dozen teammates to encourage along the course. As the 9:00 pacer for the team, I wanted this race to solidify my ability to execute that pace. 

 

#holdtherope

 
A few days prior to the race, Jerry called to make sure I was in the right place mentally for this race. He laid out my race strategy, refused to give me a time goal, and reminded me over and over again to have fun. 

The plan: run comfortable for the first three miles. When we turned off the boardwalk just at mile 3, I needed to focus on passing people. Finish strong. Strong, solid, consistent, HAPPY effort! 

The race: I held my race plan close to my heart. I wanted nothing more than to execute the plan Jerry gave me. (He’s been so patient with my lack of mental confidence. I wanted to show him my gratitude with this race.) 

Miles 1-3: I focused on staying in my comfort zone. I felt strong, but I wasn’t pushing. When I felt my legs starting to pull, I reeled myself back in. Be patient is what I told myself over and over again. 

8:59, 8:58, 8:56

I’m getting good at running photography

Mile 4: As we turned off the boardwalk, I knew it was time pick it up. If my confidence lacked anywhere in this race it was mile 4. I already felt strong. I was so nervous I would fade if I started to pick it up already. The last thing I wanted to happen in this race was a weak finish. Instead of going for it, I tentatively picked up my pace. 

8:51

Mile 5: By this point, we were on the final stretch towards the finish line. Standing next to mile marker 4 was a very nice police officer who looked me straight in the eyes, and said time to run. You’ve got this Kristy. For the first time, I opened up, and I ran. This mile felt AMAZING! I simply focused on passing people. My legs had so much to give. 

8:11 

I’ve never felt stronger in a race as I did yesterday. Every muscle felt engaged. My posture felt strong. My only regret is that I didn’t open up and run sooner, but that’s all part of the process. I’m learning to trust my strength, my ability, and discomfort. 

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I grabbed my medal and rushed to be a spectator. I knew Christian wouldn’t be far behind me. Watching him cross the finish line quickly made me forget that I had even run. He was all smiles, and he executed perfect negative splits as well. To say I’m proud is an understatement. 

 

finish line high


The rest of the evening was spent celebrating before we had to rush back home to wrap presents for our family Christmas. 

 

PRs for both of us


Official Race Results: 44:07

Lessons learned: I’m stronger than I give myself credit for. This race was a 1:11 faster than the 8k (My latest PR) I ran the weekend before shamrock last spring! Perhaps suffering through all that summer heat was worth it. My starting point for Shamrock training is already ahead of my finishing place last training cycle. Nothing feels better than strong, and I’m so proud of myself for having the courage to begin to find my own strength. 

This race was exactly what I needed. 

A race isnt complete without this guy!

I am Strong 

This morning in a new environment that is slowly starting to feel as comfortable as my running shoes, I was completing a serious of back and front squats. Prior to today, I have completed zero back and front squats. Not one. Ever. Prior to last month, I haven’t stepped foot into a gym of any form since high school. To say I took a step outside of my comfort zone is an understatement. 

Evofit

 
Two years ago I said I need to find strength outside of running. Two years ago I recognized the weakness that exists in my body. I said it over and over again. I’m not strong. I have zero strength. I don’t have any muscle tone. Some how these statements became comfortable. Instead of doing something about it, I wore my weakness as a badge of honor. The statement I’m not strong became comfortable. 

I took two years and one leap of faith to walk into a new gym to change the story I’ve been telling myself. I’m rewriting my script. I am strong is the badge of honor I want to wear. 

As I lowered into a back squat today, I was tentative. I was nervous. I didn’t trust my ability. If I squated as low as I was told to go, could I get back up? Did I have the strength? I looked around the room and the ladies who were with me were squating twice as much weight. Their bodies look strong. I was tentative. 

When I walked into this new gym four weeks ago I made a promise to myself. I promised myself I wouldn’t compare my ability to anyone else. I would celebrate my journey. I would focus on my progress. I would embrace my strength. When I started to question if I had the strength to go low enough in my squat, I reminded myself of that promise. I trusted myself. I believed in my ability. I squated. 

I can feel my body changing. As my muscles get stronger, my mind is transforming right along side of it. I’m starting to see my ability. I am excited about my potential. I am starting to believe that I am strong. 

“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time. Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” ~Brene Brown

This has nothing to do with lifting weights or running fast. This is about believing in myself. This is about believing I am capable. This is about recognizing my strength both physically and mentally. This is about owning my story. 

its also a great excise to breath in salty air at sunrise

108

108.

There are 108 days until the Shamrock Half-Marathon on March, 20th.

There are 108 beads on my mala.

108 is a sacred number in many religious and traditional practices. Hinduism, Islam, Jain, Sikh, Buddhism, and Taoism all reference 108.  There is said to be 108 energy lines converging to form the heart charka which can lead to the path of self-realization. Some say that there are 108 feelings: 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, 36 related to the future. The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The average distance to the moon from the earth is 108 times the diameter of the moon. The connection between 108 and life are extensive.

Today I received the first training plan for the Shamrock Training Group with a reminder that the next 108 days will be spent building a foundation for success and happiness. When I realized the connection between the days in this training cycle and the focus of my life, I giggled. Every single day I wear a mala around my neck that is a constant remind of my intention to live a rooted life. It’s a reminder that I want to be deeply rooted in my community so that I can thrive. The deeper the roots, the stronger I become. 

 

always my source of inspiration

 
Coincidence or not, I can’t help but take notice of the connection between this training cycle, my intention for living, and the path I’m heading down over the next 108 days. This training cycle belongs to the community I’ve created for myself as much as it belongs to me. I won’t be showing up every weekend to simply participate in the training process. Instead I’m taking on a new role. I will be pacing dozens of runners who are like ooking to find a personal best in their running legs.

“I am rooted, but I flow.” ~Virginia Woolf

This is new territory for me. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s nerve-wrecking. It’s a step outside of my comfort zone, yet it is where I thrive. I am my best when I’m helping others. When I got a call from my running coach asking if this was a role I wanted to embrace, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Of course I would help. Of course I would love to run beside dozens of runners as the push themselves out of their comfort zone. He has somehow magically figured out how my brain works. To achieve my own goals in running, it has to be about something besides just me. When I take the focus off of myself, I thrive. Every Saturday I will be running with a group of incredibly talented and passionate runners. I get to own the honor of pacing them, and I get the privilege of pushing myself beside them. This is my sweet spot. This is the place where my energy lines converge opening up my heart to possibility.

8:18

This number represents possibility to me. I’ve had this number written on every training plan I’ve followed for the past two years. It’s the pace I need to run to qualify for Boston. Every training run and race brings me closer to this goal. As I work on my strength, as I work on finding the best in myself, this number pulls me along. It inspires me. It motivates me. It excites me. I don’t know when I will run this magical number, but I know I will get there. Over the next 108 days, I will continue my own personal quest for 8:18.

“Embody what you teach, and teach only what you have embodied.” ~Dan Millman

The next 108 days represent everything that 8:18 symbolizes for me. They will be about heart. They will be about passion. They will be about celebrating the process. They will be about community, team and friendship. They will be about support. They will be about dreaming. They will be about success. It doesn’t matter if I run an 8:18 pace at shamrock. As a team we will all find success together. Finish lines will be celebrated. 

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” ~John Lennon

108 days until the Shamrock Half-Marathon.

Want to train with me? Sign up HERE

  

Celebrating Running 

Richmond never disappoints. I love this city every single time I visit. This weekend I kicked off Friday with a day date with my husband – enjoying sushi at our favorite spot, walking to Belle Isle, racing up stairs, and visiting a local brewery – before I was joined by my two best running buddies for a girl race weekend. 

 

Up and Over to Belle Isle

 
Saturday morning started just how I like it: chilly. We navigated our way to a parking garage, walked a few blocks to the started, took one last bathroom break, and jumped into the race a few corrals behind our scheduled started. No PRs would be chased at this race. It was simply about having fun, feeling confident, and most importantly, welcoming my friend Leah back to the running world after taking a year and a half off to have a baby. 

The race course was gorgeous. The miles flew by. We laughed. We talked. We sang along to music. I may have thrown my fist into the air one too many times. And we crossed the finished line feeling better than when we started. This race will always be a favorite. 

 

Mastering my running photography skills

 
As my fall “racing” comes to an ended, I’m filled to the brim with satisfaction. Every race delivered exactly what I needed. Running is fun again, and winter training has some really exciting things in store. My favorite half marathon is waiting to be conquered. PRs are ready to be broken. I’m taking on an exciting new role on the J&A Racing Team (more to come soon!). I’m adding an exciting new strength regiment to my weekly routine. 

I have big dreams for this sport I love so much. I’ve always had big dreams, but now I’m ready to do the work to make it happen. I’m ready to push a little. I’m ready to see what these running legs can do. 

Reunited!