...
Subscribe
@rungrateful
Rock n Roll Discount!
My Calendar
December 2017
M T W T F S S
« Nov    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
Running
run

"Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate." ~Unknown

Get

Archive for the ‘2015 Races’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Not too shabby…

Fun with running numbers. After my SFO parking lot experience, got curious last night about where I placed in Nashville because it was a tough race but had received some feedback that my finish time was still pretty damn fast. So went to my favorite race time site athlinks.com to check out my stats. I get pretty excited if I place in the top 5 or 10% of division, gender or overall (top 15% isn’t anything to sneeze at and it’s the single digits that really get me.) Well, I about fell over looking at my Nashville numbers. Happily surprised. So I checked out the last seven races (starting with hemithon™ #40) and am pretty happy. Amazing what looking at those numbers – and I don’t run to run against anyone but my own time and if I’ve run that course before – did to boost a tough training run last night! ‪#‎motivationformore‬ ‪#‎gettingwiser‬ ‪#‎stillgoingstrong‬

*Nashville: top 3.2% of my division, top 4.4% of ALL females, top 8.2% of ALL runners (17,631 of them)
*DC: top 8.8% of my division
*Arizona: top 4.1% of my divison, top 4.5% of ALL females, top 9.3% of ALL runners (10,604 of them)
*Philly: top 5.4% of my division, top 6.1% of ALL females
*Denver (which was a herculean effort due to a race 1 week prior and the altitude): top 10% in my division, top 10% of ALL females
*Brooklyn: top 6.5% in my division top 9.9% of ALL females
*San Jose: top 8.7% of my division, top 7.6% of ALL females (this was a week after I hiked Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon)

Shocked. Shocked I tell you. I struggle and effort and strain and wince and wheeze, and dig deep, in most of these races (and limp into a finish line or two.) And it makes me really realize what is still possible.

PostHeaderIcon The Hawthorne Effect in Running

The Hawthorne effect (also referred to as the observer effect) is a type of reactivity in which individuals modify or improve an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.
I didn’t realize all this time I’ve been contemplating something in running that actually has a name! Effectively, this Hawthorne phenomenon is why so many people sign up for a race instead of solely run on their own or with their running group at home. They may not realize it, but it’s essentially the “why” we sign up for, and so very much enjoy race day. It’s the energy of it all, no doubt. And, we all raise our game. Whether we are conscious of it or not.
How many times have I, or you, said “oh, I just get this infusion of energy on race day, it’s like nothing else during normal running or training.” And it’s so true. It’s this thing I can feel, and many times actually rely on. There have been races I have not been as well prepared for that I craved that race day to lift me higher. Or not been enough prepared for but the race day, the effect of those around me, carried me through. Or life itself ain’t going so well, but knowing I will be a higher version of myself on race day, I yearn for that.
Why am I a higher version of myself on race day? Well, I often talk about that I feel I am my best version of myself when I run – creative, powerful, empowered, healing, compassionate, grounded, heart-centered, and more. And on race day? Up that quotient times 10. And, my output effort is better too. It’s sometimes like I’m being carried forward and I don’t even know it. But I do. That’s why I do so many races. And that’s why when someone gets the taste of one, they want more.
It happens in training too. I’ll be merrily running along a trail and will either pass people coming my way, or pass them along my way, and I feel this uptick in effort – I unconsciously check my form, throw my shoulders back and make sure I’m exerting all I can. It may last the rest of the run, or the rest of the block – it definitely lasts longer than just being out of their sight. But I often giggle at that – I mean, who are these people to me? Do I care what they think? Is that why up the ante? Why don’t I go all out like that only on my own?
Believe me I do. Many many times I can and easily do push myself without another soul for miles around. It’s not that I can’t do it sans the Hawthorne effect. But effect it does have. Sometimes I’m fully aware of it, like on a training run. And sometimes it’s just something that “happens” like during race day. That’s the beauty of race day. It can lift you up when you need it and push you further than you knew you had in you.
And sometimes that’s the buoyant effect of running with people beside you. But isn’t that buoyant effect the Hawthorne effect, in a way. How many times have I paced myself with someone a little bit faster than me, or wanted to catch up to someone – and pass them for good, or had someone come up to me at the finish line and say “wow, you put the afterburners on at the end, that was great, I couldn’t catch up but you got me under my goal finish time!” Or some such thing.
I love the Hawthorne Effect. It can be used for good without a doubt, and I like how it brings together everyone to throw up their best foot forward on race day. And it’s not just the other runners that can inspire the effect, it’s spectators too. Anything from immediately shifting from shuffling the last quarter mile to leaping over the finish line because you hear the announcer say your name. Or seeing a sign you like and find inspiring, written by people you don’t actually know, and pointing at them as you run by, their look of recognition and sudden cheers for you sending energizing shockwaves through your system, making you run faster than you thought possible. Or just generally hearing the cheers of the crowd for runners all around you, feeling that sense of pride and accomplishment just for being out there.
While it’s not the only component of what makes up the excitement and unique setting, race day is infused with the Hawthorne Effect and plays a big part in how we all show up for each other as runners. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

PostHeaderIcon Their First Half Marathon

SO proud of and for, and happy for, my beautiful friend Judy P Neufeld. She just ran her first half marathon, with her amazing husband Nathan. Something they’d been work towards for six+ months. One we’d had multiple conversations about. One they were supposed to run a few weeks ago. But ran today.

See, they’d put all this hard work, training, sweat and determination into a very special weekend where family and friends came into town and everyone was super excited for. The build up was awesome. And then because of inclement (read: possible lightening) weather, the race got called. Well, truncated. To seven miles. Imagine, working so hard for so long and so committed to something big to you, and have completely outside your control circumstances throw it all off. And disappointed they were. I get it. I even tried, clumsily, to acknowledge that 7 miles is still an major accomplishment, encourage them that any finish line is still a finish line. And, I get it. Luckily I’ve never had a DNF, and certainly not one that was because of weather or course issues. My heart hurt for them, feeling so bummed about and let down by it all. And probably no one would’ve blamed them if they said f’ it, not running for a while, maybe next year. 

Not them. They allowed themselves to feel the frustration and sadness and then turned their disappointment into renewed determination to get their first half finish line done in 2015. And so they took a couple weeks off, while finding another race near home to run, dusted off their barely-rested running shoes and trusted their foundation to get ready quickly (all while in the midst of a redonkulously busy schedule of getting an MBA, work, travel, life) for the half they DID just complete. A few hours ago.

And it is glorious and they’re thrilled and yes, hooked. There is nothing like the camaraderie of race day, the energy of it all, the feeling of belonging and accomplishment. That finish line that no one can take from you, that you crossed entirely by doing the hard work yourself and putting one foot in front of the other. Running world, we got another one! And these are joyful enthusiastic lovers of the sport. We’re lucky to have them.

Congratulations Judy and Nathan, so happy for you – the smiles on your happy faces, the delight in your eyes say it all. You did it! Your unflinching determination, and enthusiasm, to make your half happen this year is remarkable, inspiring, and motivating. Thank you for reminding all runners the JOY of running. You are my hero! ‪#‎grateful‬ ‪#‎worthit‬ ‪#‎rockstar‬

PostHeaderIcon Five years older, Five minutes faster

IMG_3605

IMG_3593

Also known as, never give up.

BOO YAH BABY! That. Was. Amazing.

*That’s how to do a little homecoming to the city of your birth!

*That’s how to close out your 2015 ‪#‎halfmarathon‬ race schedule!

*That’s* how to finish out being Road Runner Sports Runner of the Month for October – last day of the month!

*My 4th best finish *EVER* in 43 half marathons. WHAT THE WHAT? Yup. My very first Rock n Roll half happened to be here in Philadelphia, 5 years ago. It was just my 3rd half race so far. Five years ago, I didn’t have ‘a’ shoe I was running in, didn’t know much about running or training, was just trying to see if it was possible for me to not only rise again after being told I’d never run again, but push further and run a few races in one calendar year, maybe prove a few people wrong about me. Didn’t know much about race day prep, pacing, momentum, nerves or how powerful not only a finishline is, but a starting line too. And so today was a race I was super excited about. I was born here. And seeing if maybe, just maybe, I could beat that great-for-a-beginner-not-knowing-WTH-they-were-doing with a time of 1:51:02. Been a while since I broke 1:50 or come anywhere near my PR. Well. Not only did I beat my 2010 RnRPhily time, I friggin smashed it: 1:46:44 BABY! Thank you RnRPhilly, for a course, a race and a homecoming that just lifted me WAY up to tackle this odyssey and get to my goal of 50 halfs next year.

*Haven’t run that fast since May of 2011. So there’s that. 2011.

*Five years older from race #3, but 40 races later, am nearly five minutes *faster*. (that’s a lot, my non-running friends!)

Here’s some possible factors:
*Run dork alert: gym to myself this morning at some ungodly hour, started playing “Gonna Fly Now” as loud as possible and danced around the gym like a laughing my ass off dork. And then, it got serious. Cause, well, you kinda have no choice but to do your own sports training montage when you have a ballroom sized gym to yourself and Rocky is playing in your ears. And so I did. God bless no cameras, right? 😉

*I dare you to play that song anytime you need a boost and not feel something!

*Every race morning shall now begin with a “Gonna Fly Now” sports-training-montage warmup!

*So freakin cold along the Schuylkill river (apparently my dad called it Surekill river. Really? Nice. Although he did “show up” with me along this course like he does occasionally), more than once I thought “run faster, so you can finish and put some more clothes on.” Seriously, it worked a little. I have more clothes on now.

*Beautiful historic grand-feeling course, beautiful fall day with leaves turning gold, red and copper everwhere. The crew house row, I remember that from 2010. Amazing. The river course. Do it if you can. But the first three miles through the crowded streets of Philadelphia? Oh my. History everwhere. Grand, beautiful and epic.

*The stories we tell ourselves. Why this race, this fast? I dunno. I honestly wasn’t expecting it given sleep deprivation and time zone issues and some stress. Blah blah blah. These are the stories we tell ourselves. This that and the other. Along the course, deciding to make sure I left everything I had on it, I dug deeeeep, deeper than I have before. I’m not taking this one for granted, I want to really see what’s possible. There’ve been times I’ve held myself back on a course, for various reasons. This time, no, no race coming up I need to preserve for or not get injured or whatever. Body felt great, even if muscles a bit cold at times. There were moments I was quite sluggish due to the cold, almost like running in molasses. Comical. I would channel that inner badass, engage my core and lift up out of my heels, out of the sluggishness. Wasn’t easy and wasn’t going to let this one go by without a full out effort. And it made a difference. A BIG difference. Yeah, I still got it. Or maybe I got something new.

*Maybe seeing the Rocky steps before the race inspired?

*Maybe cause I was born here?

*Handwarmers are awesome in your gloves for the first few miles.

*New better shoes? Love you Newton!

*I wore my black hat. Maybe I will start wearing that again. It’s the run faster races.
*I wear a necklace that, in Sanskrit, says “Fearlessness” almost every race. That will continue.

*The fall in the pitch black bedroom off a stability ball into a wall seemed to either do no harm or be the thing. I will not recreate that.

*Oh yeah, I just did THREE halfs in FOUR weeks. Hmm. (Maybe there’s something to this. Hahaha, I just thought “hmm, maybe I could do this for a living!” and then “I wish!”)

*Trending: people supporting the race, cheering me at the finish line as in Brooklyn: Brian (Go Team RWB!), Denver: Dawn & Bill and Philly: Mom. Soooooo, how many of you are coming out for the “last” seven? 😉

*I knew the sign was out there somewhere… (God bless you, Dawn, you have started something fun and special for these races!)

*I had “G-Love” printed on my bib.

*Again, start the race with a Serenity prayer and let go.

*I never once saw a clock, not even at the end. And, heard my watch clicking off the miles but for some mental reason, decided not to check. When I crossed the finish line, I almost passed out from shock. And exertion. Perhaps no clocks is good for me?

Post race thoughts:
*I’m so freakin sore but it’s so worth it. It feels so so good.

*I will wear my “Brooklyn to Philldelphia” Rock and Roll hoodie with pride!!!

*Finishing this whole thing listening to Andy Grammar’s “Hallelujah” is rocking. Good to be alive, right about now, indeed.

*Incredible way to the end year of racing – and firing me up, I don’t want to wait 2.5 months for another race! (although I am NOT sad about NOT having a 4am or earlier wakeup call for a bit)

*10 min massage post race – never stood in line for that before. Um. ‪#‎worthit‬
*Ankle, kicked myself, which I normally do, but not like this! Inside left ankle is purple-black, looks ugly and angry. That’s NOT a photo I’m sharing.

*Had my finish time engraved on my medal. I’ve done that exactly one other time, my PR. This seemed pretty important and appropriate to honor this one with that.

*Currently kinda makes me feel like ok, life, you want piece o’ this? Come and get it. Ready baby! Let’s go! (um, with compassion too please! smile emoticon seriously, that’s how I run!)

*Encouraged a security girl, born and raised in Philly, single mom of two girls, to do a race (and have her girls get involved with Girls On The Run when they’re old enough!) – she said my enthusiasm and the love of runners for runners was super contagious. That’s how we roll!

*I’m getting my run coach certification. I really really really want to help others.
*God I needed this. Didn’t realize how much until it happened. Thank you! And. Yes! And. More please!

*‪#‎Nevereverevereverevereverevereverevereverevereverevereverevergiveup‬

PostHeaderIcon Winding down #42 and gearing up #43

IMG_3435

IMG_3414

A week ago I ran half marathon #42 in Denver and a week from now I will run half marathon #43 in Philadelphia. All words I know, never thought I’d write them in that order in that sentence. Never crossed my mind.

Denver was such a graceful lesson in fears, letting go, expectations, self-compassion and being in the moment. Here’s a snapshot:

*admittedly, my worries about running 13.1 miles at that altitude scared the @#% out of me. My lungs are compromised and capacity is an issue. So what would this be like? I wanted to run in Denver to spend time with my friends but the race itself caused some very real anxiety. I took the necessary advice, precautions, tips and adjusted expectations. And got some great rewards for just getting out there to run it at all. I didn’t expect this to be a “mic-drop” kind of run but I did still want to have a really strong experience.

*my right calf was feeling a little bit better every day, and Saturday morning I woke with it feeling it’s best since the Grand Canyon and two halfs. And here I was about to thrash it again. So I wore compression sleeves. And they worked. Never ran in them the whole 13.1 miles (trained with them twice for short distances) and was/am pleasantly surprised. Calf felt great during and after the race. And now, no need for sleeves!

*speaking of sleeves, they were lilac. My shoes pink, capris grey, tank red and white, turquoise sports bra, white/red hat. I looked in the mirror before leaving the house and laughed “it looks like a Care Bear just threw up on me!” Well, at least I was easy to spot!

*Got called a “hero” for the strangest reason. Pre-sunrise, standing in line at the runners porta potties and after about 15 minutes, I’m up next. Suddenly a gal rushes up and gets right in my face and says hurriedly “Oh My God, can I cut in front of you? I don’t think I’m going to make it. Please?” And she is uber stressed. Throws herself on the ground and is clearly in distress. Of course I say “of course!” and all of us around her are immediately staring at the two units near us, willing the red on the lock handles to turn green. One does, she jumps up runs over and just as she’s about to close the door, points directly at me and says “You! You’re my hero! Thank you!” And I burst out laughing (not always easy to do pre-race mental time) and said “well, I guess a porta potty hero is a great way to start the day! Sure, I’ll take it!” So there’s that. Hero.

*Turns out this race I’m the one that got a little extra support at the start. Team RWB rocks. I was smooshed up outside the corral gate wondering how I might get in, and the local Team RWB team saw my tank and yelled “Team RWB in the HOUSE!” and pointed at me, and helped me over to take a place next to them, with them. Doing so many of these races, training and events solo, I don’t often feel that sense of belonging. And I’m starting to think I might wear this Team RWB shirt all the time! The hoots, hollers and shout outs along the course are amazingly inspiring and supportive.

*Everything felt so much better than I expected, especially in the first few miles. Yes I’ve run at higher altitude in Tahoe. It’s drier here in Denver. Feels different, tighter in breath. And it’s a race, that I plan to run the whole of. And I feel buoyant and happy and open as I’m running. Wow. One mile down and this is going to be a great race. As I pass the mile 2 marker, I have an unexcited wave of emotion rise up and suddenly I’ve got tears running down my face and I choke out the words to myself “I can’t believe I’m really doing this. Running #42. I never…I never thought THIS. Wow.” and feel extraordinary gratitude for this journey that continues to amaze and inspire and motivate me. And for my body and lungs to feel this good, at this point, in this part of it all (especially having just done one a week ago) is pretty remarkable to me.

*A little secret: I say the Serenity Prayer at every start line, before I take off. Sets me up pretty well for trusting myself and letting go.

*Having my friend Dawn and Bill so present and so supportive pre-race and on race day, including physically there, was such an incredible boon to the whole experience. There’s a system called runner tracker where she was able to put in my info and as my d-tag would crossed the various sensors set up at 5k and 10k and others points, she’d get a text saying where I was. I happily leapt over each of the road markers where the wires were, as there is something about knowing someone is there, paying attention, bearing witness to your progress that feels, well, amazing and lovely. And fun. And actually, motivating too. I know that if something went wrong, she’d see that and if I was making up time or had a great split, she’d cheer that too. I always push myself but this was a different kind that I really enjoyed.

*I was happily surprised at how not-tired my body felt through much of the race. Specifically around the fact that I’ve run SO much lately. And then, at mile 8 and again at mile 11, my legs – glutes, quads, hip flexors – seemed to rebel, as if to say “yo LADY, we just did this a week ago! What the heck?” And so I talked to my legs, thanked them for the awesome job they were doing and willed them to do a little bit more. Whatever you believe in, I promise it worked. Including making me laugh.

*A first – a few miles running through City Park and I’m on the lookout and avoidance of goose poop. A lot of goose poop to navigate. Definitely never had that before!
*At one point I pass a blind runner, tethered at the waist to a sighted runner right in front of them by about 5 feet. It’s a beautiful site to behold, and I tuck in the back of my mind that I’d like to train as one of those guides someday.

*”Channel Your Inner Badass!” – a sign I see in the first few miles. I like it. Then, there they are at around mile 12.4 or so. And I’m compelled to run near them and point at the sign, and as they see me, this group of 10 people starts cheering “YEAAAAAAAH!” and I have the craziest surge and burst of energy, as I was feeling like yeah, I’m reaching inside and connecting to the inner badass, with their help. Holy moly did that lift me up off the ground and push me the last half mile.

*Speaking of the last bit of course – hello downhill. And hello my out-of-nowhere afterburners! I had only planned to finish the race, run the whole thing. There was no thought of finish time, just feeling good. But given that almost the whole race I felt strong and awake, I decided, what the hell, I’m going for it. Ran strong, long and fast that last 3/4 mile. God that felt good, and FUN! Best way to finish.

*I can now honestly say, there is *nothing* quite like hearing friends cheering as you’re crossing, seeing them and seeing a big handwritten sign they made for YOU as you finish. Oh my goodness. Before I even got my medal, I headed over to see Dawn and Bill, overcome with emotion and gratitude (sorry for the drooling sweaty mess of a hug ;)), just so happy to see them. If you EVER get a chance to support a friend or friends at a race they’re doing, go for it. The boost you give them is indescribable and beautiful and memorable. THANK YOU Dawn and Bill for creating a pre and post race environment of love and support and for the race course support and enthusiasm. This alone is worth the effort to travel and run. Plus, best I’ve felt post-race maybe ever – cannot begin to truly express how grateful I am for all of it.

*So I just crossed my 42nd finish line. Which means I pushed myself over my 42nd starting line. So deeply grateful for absolutely every aspect of this journey so far.

*Oh, as a little bonus, I got to go see THE Newton Running retail store in Boulder the next day. My shoe haven. Or heaven. I was such a gear geek gawking at the store while there, giddy with the mere aspect of being in hallowed Born-In-Boulder store. Super grateful to Caileigh and Nicole for their graciousness.

*Let’s Go PHILADELPHIA, the town that if it didn’t exist, I may not either! Going to run where I was born

PostHeaderIcon Race #41 (never thought I’d type that!)

IMG_3375

As half marathon #41 is barely in the rearview mirror and #42 is barreling down the road towards me in four days, taking a moment to appreciate the 10/10 Brooklyn ‪#‎RnR‬ experience.

*Two races in a row I get to connect as we’re walking to gear check and the start with a woman who happens to mention she’s running her FIRST half marathon. Amanda, you rock. You were nervous, and excited – I asked her why she was running it. “I got out of a bad relationship and wanted a goal, something to train for.” I gave her a big hug. And told her how awesome it’s going to feel, no one can take it from her (not even said relationship), and the sense of accomplishment and empowerment she’s going to feel at the end will carry her forward to her next great step. She teared up and we hugged. I’m bummed I forgot to get her phone number, only her bib number and there was no service at the end to check on her, cheer her in but I hope she had an amazing experience. And I hope to meet up with lots of first time half marathoners at all my races – it’s a pretty dang cool way to get inspired and support others.

*Brooklyn – beautiful course, much through Prospect Park. Seriously, wow. Brooklyn may have suddenly and unexpectedly become the top contender for half marathon #50 next Fall. Scouting in earnest now and it may have just happened. Great course, big crowds, hot cops everywhere (okay, security was important), lotso of support.

*First time ever, went through a security detector after dropping gear bags. Lots of cops and dogs all over too. Makes sense and actually surprised that #41 is the first time I experience this. And also first time ever, race started 35 minutes later than scheduled because of extra security and securing roads and doing extra safety sweeps. Necessary, efficient, and well done. (There were people moaning and groaning and vowing to complain on the survey. And yes, my muscles and system were ready to go, and then got cold and weren’t so ready. And it’s all part of it. Plus they already know the issues, I don’t need to pile on. I’m looking for what went right, what the intention was, how awesome it was.) Oh yeah, this was the Inaugural one in Brooklyn – pretty seamless given that!

*And yes, given the very delayed start and how I’ve gotten it down to the minutes for how my run goes, I would’ve beat my May San Diego time which means I would’ve hit a 2012 finish time, but for a porta potty break. It was a flat, fast course and I was excited to be running it. And, without that finish time and knowing where that 1:17 is, I feel pretty motivated to still hit my goal times (just probably not in Denver…)

*Weird factoid but this was the best looking group of runners I’ve ever seen. Whoa. Like central casting put out a call for runners and they swarmed. I also may have just been delirious from time zone issues and two nights of no sleeping. ‪#‎zombie runner‬.

*Wearing my ‪#‎TeamRWB‬ tank again and on a long out and back, a guy is also in a Team RWB shirt. He’s about two miles behind me so we pass each other perfectly, and we wave in recognition and support. It’s seem small and insignificant but it’s actually amazing – the instant camaraderie and support of ‘go for it!’ and then seeing him the second time similarly on Ocean and the delight of familiarity upon seeing each other lifted my feet. Our mutual big smiles upon seeing each other again gave me a burst of energy up a little crest. Love love love that.

*Around mile 12, after the big long hill through mile 11, I hear some high pitched wheezing, someone struggling for air in their lungs. I look around, wondering who might need help. Then I see other people looking around. However, they’re all looking at me. Suddenly I realize that high pitched wheeze is coming from me. Hmmm. Yet a half mile or so later, new invigoration of strength grace and speed surges through. This running thing never ceases to fascinate me.

*Brandon Marshall. Wide Receiver for the NY Jets. Yes, he ran it. I swear he was practically dressed like Rocky with full grey sweatsuit and a fedora. Yes, fedora. We cheered him in. And this girl beat him by more than 45 minutes. Ok fine, so he’s a professional football player and *probably* has other things going on. And I still get to say it. 😉 (was super gracious and engaging with people too!)

*Got to see Tracy Sundlun, co-founder of the Rock n Roll Series (Elite Racing and Competitor Group moreover.) Deeply grateful for ALL he’s done for the sport.

*Post-race headliner: Nate Ruess – amazing. If you haven’t seen him live in concert, go soon. Brilliant voice (amazing recorded, and even more incredible live – no auto tuning there) and someone who so clearly loves what he’s doing. Love seeing that. Infectious and yes…fun. Seriously, check him out. I was 20 feet away.
And so, I now face something I’ve never done – a half marathon one week after I just ran a half marathon. And in mile high altitude no less. But, I’m excited to see what this ol’ bod might be capable of at the moment. Whatever comes, it will be an experience. And certainly chock full of Finish Line Moments.

P.S. Pretty sure there’s nothing to recommend walking an hour from dinner in NY back to my hotel after a long lovely dinner with dear friends but it was a beautiful weather night in NYC and I wasn’t about to jump on the subway to tempt fate at another hour stuck underground, between stops, no air…

PostHeaderIcon Getting ready for #41 – Brooklyn, Baby!

No sleep till Brooklyn! The first of 3 half marathons in the next 4 weeks. Never attempted this before. No idea what to expect.

People ask me all the time – why do I run? Many reasons. Here’s one.

I am one of the best versions of me when I run. I run because I can. I run to be me. What is a best version of myself, what do I feel like when I run?

Resilient, Powerful, Comfortable in my own skin, Proud, Clear, Creative, Compassionate, Open, Curious, Possible, Confident, Light, Strong, Learning, Lucky, Grounded, Conscious, Aware, Focused, Engaged, Determined, Chin up, Free, Vulnerable, Real, Inspired, Playful, Peaceful,Present, Connected to myself and others, Challenged, Grateful.

(Not all at all times of course, even just one is amazing)

I also get asked, or inquired, that it must be easy, do I love it, I’ve done so many halfs it must be easy.

Nope. It isn’t easy. And frankly, it wouldn’t be worth what it is if it was. I have to put in the hard work to train, I have to put in the focus to take each step, I choose to be resilient to days or steps when it doesn’t feel good, whether mentally or physically. And, like many, I believe that growth often comes from pushing our edge, being outside our comfort zone. And so, I know I’m likely growing when I’m running because I’m often outside my comfort zone while running – training or a race. If you hooked up a computer to my thoughts during a half, it’s a journey to be sure. There are miles, and sometimes only steps, that feel effortless, like I’m flying, like – yes – it’s easy. And then there are steps and miles that I have to will myself, or focus or reconnect or push myself. And it becomes a triumph. And, one of the goals many people embrace is the idea of loving what you do in tandem with knowing the growth comes from the edge of your comfort zone. Running for me is the perfect combination of that – and that’s another reason why I love it. That’s why I continue to do it.

Why three in the next four weekends?

This is a first, an experiment. And for some, this may be no biggee. Maybe those combined miles are a week total. But this is a big push for my body. Sure, part of it is to see the cities I get to race in and the friends I have there and then oops, looks like they’re all scheduled right together! And so I embraced that because I am, in fact, curious as to what my body can do now. It’s the strongest it’s ever felt and also the most pushed it’s ever been. I’m not going to be making any bad unconscious decisions for my body over the next month but I am up for the challenge, no matter the finish times. That’s almost inconsequential. I am feeling curious and open to whatever unfolds on these three very different courses and over the next month. It’s a try, a why not, a leap, an adventure. And can’t wait to gather stories, connect with people and participate/engage in one helluv an experience.

So, with a sleep deprived body (of course, it’s NYC, as it should be), a strained right calf and a whole lotta curious nerves, I head out for half marathon #41.

PostHeaderIcon Road Runner Sports

So excited to be named Road Runner Sports, a national running retailer, October runner of the month! Means a lot to me. Woohoo! Such a fun, lucky surprise and perfect timing to drum up support, motivation and inspiration for three halfs this month (#41, 42, 43):
October 10, Brooklyn
October 18, Denver
October 31, Philadelphia. (Come cheer all runners if you’re around!)
Thank you, Road Runner Sports! Love you guys and I’m super honored!
Yep, this is a Finish Line Moment for sure.

PostHeaderIcon #40 is in the books!

IMG_3128

FullSizeRender-2

Half marathon #40 turned out to be pretty darn special to me. *This* is why I run, why I still do all these races.

*So used to doing these on my own, and kind of having my head down/game face on that I almost don’t respond to the woman who asks me in the parking garage as I’m walking out “are you heading to the race?” I catch myself, smile and say “yup! You?” She says yes and asks if she can walk with me. Sure! I reply. Within a few steps walking with Mankamal, we establish that this is her FIRST half marathon. My heart races and my stomach gets butterflies, yay! So excited for her. Two weeks ago she ran eight miles, the most she’d done. A week ago she pushed herself to 11 miles, surprising herself. She asks me how many I’ve done, I say 40. She exclaims “wow! I was just planning to do this one, as a “bucket list” item to get through.” I share with her that the feeling she’s already had, of accomplishment and satisfaction from the miles she puts in is electrified and magnified when she crosses the finish line. And that no one can take it from her – that sense of empowerment is all her. She smiles and says thank you, she was nervous and now is even more excited (and still nervous) to do the race and who knows, maybe she’ll do more if it goes well. I ask for her bib number because I want to see if I might be able to cheer her in at the finish line. We grab a picture, hug and wish each other a great race. I’m SO thrilled to have met her, no matter what happens at this race for me and my time, this one is already a major success in my book. To share that with her.

*As I’m running to find the gear check, I practically run over Roger Craig. As in NFL running back Roger Craig. So there’s that. Pretty impressive how he’s retrained his body to go from the NFL to a serious marathon runner. Wow.

*Ready to go, in my corral, feeling fairly strong and content. Feeling like, you know, my body is a little tired but not terribly so and I’m thinking this race might feel good. I hear them announce Deena Kastor in corral 2. Would love to meet that amazing runner someday. As I’m kind of pushed up against the white metal temporary fencing they use to create the corrals, I notice a woman in a gold sequin running tutu hop out at one of the openings and run to the wall of the building we’re nearest. She’s crying. A lot. And leans her back up against the building, wiping her eyes. My heart leaps out of my chest. And I admit, I initially go into bystander mode. I see someone notice her, go over to her and she essentially waves them off. At first I think, oh, someone checked on her, they got it. But she’s still crying. A lot. I say “f’ it, I’m going” and find the closest opening to get out of the corral I’m in. They’re announcing corral 3, we were in corral 8. I run over to her, and thinking perhaps she’s overcome with emotion about the race and is feeling some fear I ask her “are you okay? Are you scared?” and she says no. She says “I just got in a big fight with my husband.” (in my head I think, nice, awesome timing!) and I say, oh, I’m so sorry. I ask her “what can I do? Is there anything I can do for you, anything I can get you?” She waves me off a bit, saying no, no. And I say, “well, can you do me a favor?” I have my hands on her shoulders. Will you look me in the eye and tell me you know that at an event like this, you know you are surrounded by love and very strong healthy energy? And she pauses, looks at me and nods. I think, great! I tell her to have a great race and run back to a fence opening and get back in a corral to start the race. I look over to where she is standing, and she’s not moving. Her face is wet, this is not a tear or two. Tears are streaming and she’s constantly wiping her face. My heart breaks again. Something more. I look ahead and see another potential opening. I tell myself, if she’s still at the wall by the time I get up there, I’m jumping out again. We shuffle forward some more and I hit my spot, look back and she’s still there. I bounce out of line again and run over to her. “I forgot to tell you how much I love your gold sequin tutu!” I get a smile. (better then her telling me to get lost!) And “you are such a rock star to be doing this race. You are SO strong, and that strength will carry you through this too.” Another smile. Still tears too. “You know, getting out there to run will feel so good once you do it.” She nods. And then I ask “would you be willing to start this race WITH me? For real. Let’s get in the corral and start running together. I’ll wait till you’re ready.” She looks up in surprise and the look on her face becomes determined. “Yes, I can do that.” So I throw my arm around her shoulder and we find our place in a corral again. I learn this beautiful girl’s name is Lisa, she is local, this would be her 20th half marathon (girl did 13 in one year last year!) and she a bit weary of the race. Just do what works for you, we agree. I check her bib number, tell her I would love to cheer her on at the finish if I can find her. She nods and after about a half mile, notices I’m like a wild gelding held back in a locked barn and motions for me to get running and I give her a look like, are you sure? She nods, I take off and give her a thumbs up. That experience carries me pretty much the whole race. Go Lisa, you got this!

*A couple miles in, I notice a guy’s t-shirt that says
”Bend the Body
Mend the Senses
End the Mind.”
Yes, yes, I like that. Yes please.

*Run is going pretty well. My feet aren’t too sore (until about mile 5 that is) and legs feel good too. I’m enjoying this. I’m playing a bit of what I call pac-man as I started behind a big group, but I’m enjoying the feeling, enjoying the race. The first three miles come and go fairly quickly. My whole goal is to feel “good” and not feel too much struggle, no matter what the finish time.

*Right around mile 8, feeling inspired by running for Lisa, running for Mankamal. I’m running for my friends in the Grand Canyon too. And then out of nowhere is a bright yellow Penske truck, randomly placed in a neighborhood. I smile. Yes, I’m running for Chris too.

*Pretty sure I just saw Brandy Chastain on the sidewalk talking with some friends, not running. So that happened.

*Somewhere between mile 9 and 10, I’m very much feeling tired, my feet are overly sore and I’m wondering where the rest of the energy will be to finish strong. And I look up to see the cross street name “Brooklyn” and think “oh COOL! That’s the location of half marathon number 41 in two weeks! Great sign!” and as I pass under it, the street name I’m actually running on appears: “Dana” – well, that’s just perfect. I’m running on Dana Street, one of the women I’m not only honored to call a friend but am continually inspired by who’s about to do her second Ironman in Kona. I’m at the cross street of Brooklyn, next half, and Dana, a rock star of a human being. Nice. I like this burst of energy!

*Around mile 11, I laugh a bit to myself, thinking a week ago, instead of excited I only had two miles left at the Rim to Rim hike, I was thinking “oh Lord, we still have two miles to go? This would be SO different if it were a half marathon!” And it made me smile to remember that glorious day.

*Somehow the last few miles, I gain strength. In fact, I ended up running the final 13th mile as a sub-8 minute mile. That’s ‪#‎finishingstrong‬ and then some. I’ll take it!

*After I finish, I text Steve Martin, my running buddy who I always try to see post-race. I know he runs with his phone on him so once I have mine back, I walk back to the finish line area, right around 13 miles, as the runners turn left at the last point 1. He’s just passed mile 12, so I set my stuff down to get ready to cheer for him. I pull up the live runner tracking and put in Lisa’s number – looks like she opted to run the 10k race. And I immediately think “good job, Lisa, way to take care of you and do what was best for you today.” And then I put in Mankamal’s number. She’s still going! Yes! I get to track where she is!

*And then here comes Steve – looking good, looking strong! I raise my arms and pump my fists “yesssss! Go Steve!” and high five him as he passes. Strong finish my friend, strong finish.

*I hit refresh constantly and can see the progress Mankamal is making: 12.2, 12.5, 12.7. Oh my goodness, she’s almost here. I am scanning the runners as they pass me, looking for the shirt I knew she was wearing and her bib number. I spot her. She’s now wearing a hat but it’s her, for sure. “YEEEEEAAAAAH MANKAMAL! You GOT THIS! CONGRATULATIONS!” I’m yelling for her. Her head swivels and she spots me, big grin and I’m hopping up and down like a madwoman. I run to her and give her a big high five. “You’re amazing, you got this, your first one! GO get it, finish strong girl!” She thanks me and keeps at it. I retrace my steps back to the finish line itself, eyes keenly on her and find myself with tears on my face as I watch her cross the finish line of her very first half marathon. Tears for this woman I just met. Well, I’m pretty sure I cry at every race so…

*Get to meet up with Steve briefly and we compare notes (it’s one of my favorite post-race habits, when we’re both at a race and we get to connect afterwards!) and congratulations. And after texting with Mankamal, we opt to meet back at the parking lot. How was it, I ask? “It was great, it went better than I thought. It was tough in some spots for me, but I allowed myself to walk when I needed to. It was just right for me.” she shares. Wow, quite wise for the first one! Then she says “you know, thank you so much for waiting around and finding me to cheer for me and celebrate with me. None of my friends ended up making it out this morning, and I really appreciate the effort you made to make this special for me.” I tell her, oh, my goodness. Truly my pleasure and honor, it made my day and then some. (she reiterated this in a text later that day)

*So, this is half marathon #40. Never did I aim to do this many. Never did I think this would be where I’m at with it all now. And I love it. These stories from this race made it more special for me than if I’d PRd somehow. Bearing witness to multiple people’s experience, helping and supporting them in some way. Thank you to everyone and everything that conspired to make this such a special unique experience.

*Now on to a nutty October – three halfs in four weeks!

PostHeaderIcon Chicago for Chris

It was unlike any race I’ve done before. Truthfully, it was not a race for me. It was a woozy surreal walk. It was a reason to go. The race wasn’t the point, physically. At times I felt like I was truly going through the motions – and felt entirely grateful for the ‘habit’ that has become these race weekends. The ritual of travel, of training, of the expo, the night pre-race, the morning of and the starting line. It allowed me to trust that process at least and be present to everything else. A special thank you to friends and fellow runners Chris and Steve – who have also lost best friends and found some peace in running. Your words of advice, support, encouragement and ability to relate – powerful and I’m deeply grateful. And to all who supported me with messages and sentiments from afar, you were felt, heard and also deeply appreciated. The messages on the posts here are so beautiful and I am deeply touched. And. I had an incredible few days in Chicago.

A few observations, some of them profound, some perhaps not but just to me. My brain is sideways a bit these days, as life is. This race weekend was SO not about the race. It was about one step at a time. This is so not easy, is so painful and deeply felt. Life is different now, without a doubt. Again, one step at a time.

*When I landed at O’Hare, and as we were taxi-ing and I was finishing up looking at my phone like everyone on the plane, I looked up and out and saw a gorgeous full rainbow over the whole airport. Oh you better believe I trusted it as a sign from Chris!

*Friday night I made myself go have a good meal at a restaurant right on the river, finding some peace in looking at the city lights on the water. Had a very Chris-like experience connecting with the waiter Zaid, who was so gracious and personable. I actually wrote a story about I may share at some point. Was inspired by Chris, including his being an incredible writer – who somehow liked my writing too.

*On Saturday in a taxi to the Expo to get my bib number et al, on a one-way street in Chicago and a truck comes down the wrong way, aiming right at my cab. Luckily we’re all going mercifully slow so nothing happens at all. Except I surprise my taxi driver as I start laughing because the license plate on the truck is from Arkansas. Okay, hello my friend!

*While leaving the Expo, I run into my friend Chris (this name is everywhere for me right now), who’s the indefatigable RunWestin Concierge, with his mom. If I’d done a zig or zag in the expo one minute earlier or later, I would not have have seen him to say hi. Been a long time, and he’d seen my post about this race and invited me to meet him and his friends after race for possible brunch. While it didn’t happen, I felt seen and reached out to in the brief moment and that kindness felt comforting.

*Sitting on a sidewalk in Chicago on Saturday having a hearty lunch before heading back to the hotel room. Blue skies turn stormy. Big time. And then the skies open up – real midwest thunder, lightening, and downpours. Well, calling that a downpour is an insult to the cacophony of craziness of the storm. Something big was going on up in the skies. And I sat on the sidewalk under a small restaurant umbrella and smiled up at the sky (the waitress may have worried about me), watching this hour long show. And thinking to myself, the heavens are having to work very hard to make extra room for Chris’ indomitable spirit.

*I forgot pretty much all my night-before prep work. Didn’t even realize I forgot to do my prep until the next day. So out of it. But still doing it. That’s one thing that kept dawning on me. Despite this hazy out of it feeling, I was here, still following through with it all. That’s gotta count for something.

*Morning of, I had to go back to the room at least four times before leaving to walk to the start line, as I kept realizing I forgot something. At this point I’ve pretty much given up the idea of running for time.

*Speaking of, both Chris and Steve suggested I take off the watch and not run for time. Run because I can. Run to move. Run to remember.

*I’ve always wanted to meet Meb Keflezighi – ’04 Olympic marathon silver medalist and 2014 Boston Marathon winner. And as I walk up to the beginning of the race course as I first arrive, he’s right there. Such beautiful energy in that human, I felt lucky to be standing right there as he encouraged everyone (and suggested not aiming for a PR on this humid day.)

*Start line chaos as always, I feel so “off” physically but am okay with it. Let’s just move and see what happens. Time to tie up the shoelaces nice and tight.

*I begin to talk to Chris. I mean out loud. I don’t normally do this, listen to music and talk out loud at the same time. But I’m struggling, completely inefficient in this run physically and emotionally so I ask for help. As I think about it, I may just be going through the motions *and* I’m still going.

*Mile 2.5 – I can’t believe it’s only mile 2.5. I need a sign that you’re here, my friend. Make it obvious. Mile 2.8 I trip over my own shoelace, right shoe completely and spontaneously untied. I burst out laughing and say “okay!” and get it retied. In 39 races I’ve only had a shoelace untie one other time so yes, I’m taking this as a “you wanted obvious, here you go!”

*Just keep running along. I make it all the way to mile 7 before I decide to walk – I’m not ruined by the run but I am struggling a bit in the heat. I stop and look up – it’s a restaurant we’d talked about in Chicago. I don’t know Chicago, I didn’t know that place was right there. So there’s that. I meander down the street. Wanting to prolong this run, in fact, truly not caring what I finish with, just wanting to stay this present, this aware.

*Mile 9 is out and back street, meaning you’re passing people who are ahead of you directly to your right and then coming back, passing those behind you directly on your right again before turning left onto the rest of the course. I’m jolted out of my daze by an energetic loud voice coming from a man at least a mile ahead of me in a hand-crank wheelchair “YEEEEEEEHAAAAAAAAW!” He screams. “NEVER GIVE UP! WE CAN DO THIS! DO. NOT. GIVE. UP!” It was amazing. I was instantly inspired by him, his energy, his words. Beautiful.

*When I moved to Sonoma, I arrived in a 16ft Penske truck with a car carrier. That I drove. For three days. Through three states. Chris met me that afternoon and went with me to return it all. He took a picture of me in my pig-pen status in front of the truck ’cause he was so proud of me. A couple weeks later as we were texting about life and I wondered if I was strong enough for something, he texted the picture back to me and said “Badass. Clearly.” At mile 10, I’m slowed up and walking and having a LOT of wobbling wooziness due to heat and everything else. Kind of stumbling but then I’d run again for a half mile or more. At mile 10 I look over at this random empty parking lot as we’re turning. There’s one vehicle in it. A big yellow Penske truck. Badass. Clearly.

*Passing mile 11, these last two miles feel slow and long. Suddenly Meb, THE guy, is walking upstream of the runners on the course. He’s right there, coming up on my left walking towards me. He has both hands up to high 5 whoever is coming by him. I get a perfect hand to hand high 5 with him and burst into tears. The human touch, nothing quite like it at those perfect moments. Thank you. That alone was worth it.

*The last two miles are crazy – I see at least 8 runners down on the ground being tended to by medical staff. This humidity is tough. Brutal. Keep thinking I may be about to go down. And I feel guided somehow to keep going, not falling, not needing medical attention. I enter the gateway of the last .2 miles and my legs feel numb, as if I’m just gliding. I dig in just a few more feet and cross the finish line. I am not alone.

*As I cross, a runner appears in front of me with a t-shirt that has the dictionary definition of “endure” written on the back. That seems a bit appropriate. For all.

*I did it. I finished this race without it being a race. It was truly an experience. Not one perfected or prepared for but one that was one of the most important ones for me.

*Walking through Millennium Park as I’m trying to get back in my knock-kneed exhausted way to get a rest in, I not only spot beautiful nature everywhere, but butterflies and dragonflies flying around together, as if they were partners in something. Feeling lucky to bear witness.

*Rested my head for what seemed like hours, unable to move under the weight of it all (this is not normal post-race for me.) But push myself to celebrate being in Chicago doing something Chris always wanted me to do. An architecture boat tour. “If you’re not going to do anything but one thing while you’re there, at least do that, will give you a good sense of the city.” So I signed up, and got to, in fact, see Chicago in a way I didn’t know before, with what the docent declared “this is the best weather you could have for one of these tours.”

*And then I capped it off with one of the best dinners I could’ve had – the food was truly amazing (Mr. Brown’s House – authentic Jamaican, in the Loop, and I HIGHLY recommend it – Chris would’ve loved it) and the company was divinely inspired…

Was it my best finish time? Hardly, not even close. Nor did I expect it to be. A very different heartfelt finish line moment. I am glad I pushed myself to go, feel that connection and company in Chicago even as I moved through the city in my dazed own little world. The comfort of being in a familiar setting of a race weekend and exploring a city was a peaceful unique way to celebrate a beautiful life and a beautiful friendship.