Monday Mantra: Determined Women

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This Saturday we completed our longest run to date for Baltimore Marathon training – 20 miles.  There is a lot of debate about the length and timing of this last, long run before tackling the 26.2 within the runner community. But lots of reading and chatting with experienced marathon runners has me confident we can get across that finish line having “only” gone to 20.

We decided to start out west in Purcellville, VA where the trail ends (or starts, depending on your perspective).  Laura’s hubby was lovely enough to drive us out there so we didn’t have to deal with a car shuffle situation after our run.  We convened at 6am and 6 of us began the journey back to Ashburn.

It was quiet and dark at that hour of the morning (and the potties weren’t open!), but it felt so good to be running in cooler temps.  As we headed further east, the sun began to peek out and we caught glimpses of farms, cows and mist rising over the countryside.

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We were disappointed to find that our first planned pit-stop had a knocked over port-a-jon, so we had to press on into Leesburg.  Along the way, we came upon some pretty bridges that had just completed construction and, since it was finally light out, posed for some photos.

Eventually we reached Leesburg (around mile 10) were we stopped to fuel, etc.  I was so happy with how we were doing I went for the jump – knowing that by mile 20, that was not happening.

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As you can see, I decided to take on the long run in my sparkle skirt.  I wanted to make 100% certain I could manage the sparkle for longer mileage than I was used to.  I also went with the same sock, tank, arm warmer and visor combo I was planning for the marathon.  Luckily everything felt great as the temps warmed up and we continued on our adventure.

By this point we were on a very familiar part of the trail and all started joking about which parts drove us the most nuts.  The good news was that we knew where every water fountain and bathroom was located AND almost exactly how long it would take us to get to Trailside Park, where we would pick up the road and head back to our meeting spot in the neighborhood.

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Miles 15-18 were tough – mentally and physically.  My body was getting tired and we all took turns keeping one another going over the course of that last stretch.   At mile 19, I started looking at my watch every .10 mile, until my experienced marathon friend, Kim, told me to stop.  Nicely, but firmly – of course.  And our last mile was 9:14 (we’d averaged 10:04) because I think we were so happy to see the finish!!

We posed for pictures, including one with our 20 mile sign, and for many of us – it was our longest run EVER (for me in 13+ years!).

We stretched a bit and chatted before heading home to refuel and rest.

I got home and took a 20 minute ice bath followed by a shower and a 20 minute epsom salt bath.  I had a huge breakfast and when my husband and son headed out, snuck in a nap.  We all texted throughout the day chronicling our aches and pains, but the excitement amongst our group was palpable.  We ARE marathon ready and headed to the starting line of the Baltimore Marathon on October 15!

Today I am a little bit sore going up and down steps, but most of all I am SO grateful for this group of women (and the others) who inspired a new adventure to 26.2.

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Out of the Darkness


I remember the very first time.  I was 12 years old.  Bad perm. Too skinny. Clothing that was not from the right stores. And a home life that was a little different from my friends.  I had watched an after school special about it and thought – that’s my way out.  That’s what I can do.  When I’m old enough.  That will stop my pain.

I didn’t do it because I didn’t know how. 

The second time, I was 21.  Sitting in my loft bedroom of my very first apartment. The pain and loneliness I had lived with for so long had been masked for those first three years of college by classes and parties and Greek life and activities. But my heart had been shattered and I did not know what to do next. I held the bottle of pills in my hand and cried. I told myself that when I stopped crying, I could take them.

Instead I called my mom. 

The third time, I was a new mom home with a baby who had not slept more than 5 hours at a time in 9 months. I could not stop shaking or crying.  This was different than the hormones my friends talked about.  I thought about leaving this miraculous boy home with his dad and just driving off of a cliff.  

Instead I went to my doctor. 

As I write this, I am crying for that girl – at 12. At 20. At 35. I want to hug her and tell her that she is enough. That she will be OK. But, you see, she wouldn’t have listened.  The thoughts were too powerful.  The feeling of worthlessness and despair too overwhelming.  

This morning I was reading a story about suicide.  About how it is hidden from shame or embarrassment or fear. And I was reading, I realized that those of us who have been in those dark places NEED to tell our stories. Because someone might hear and someone might pause.  And pick up the phone or go to their doctor  or put down the pill bottle. 

Those in the darkness need to know there is light. That there are solutions and they look different for everyone. 

I have shared here that I was NOT an athletic kid.  I loved the escape of books and quiet.  When I found running in my late 20’s, it was like this whole other person had been hiding somewhere inside of me, waiting to get out. 

And in those first miles, I started to find the light. 

When the despair returned in my 30’s, after stabilizing with my doctor, I laced up my shoes again and that feeling came back. And this time, I found friends just like me who have no idea that they helped save my life. And helped my beautiful little boy keep his mom. 

I run because miles and goals and endorphins, along with medication and yoga and self care, keep me here. They keep my mind, body and spirit in line so I can be a mom and a wife and a friend.  So that when bad things happen or challenges arise, I have the toolbox to go to. I am calm enough and present enough to get help when I need it. I can recognize the dark before it fully envelops me. 

This is not the first time I have shared this story, and it will not be the last.  But I know…

That I am here.

That there is always a solution.

That life is a beautiful miracle. 

That I am worthy of love.

And you are too. 

Small Race Shenanigans

As part of our Baltimore Marathon training, we decided to mix up our weekend runs a smidgen and throw in a couple of half marathons.  The goal was to be able to run somewhere different and, let’s be honest, add some hardware to our medal racks along the way.

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This past weekend, four of us set out to run the inaugural Herndon (VA) Half Marathon.  We knew it would be smaller (it was competing with some of the biggies in the region – Ragnar Road, Dulles Runway 5k/10k and the Navy-Airforce Half Marathon) and that was OK with us.

We arrived around 7:15 on Saturday morning for the 8am start.  I had picked up our packets on Friday night, but we could have gotten there at the same time and grabbed them upon arrival.  After using the restrooms, we caught up with another MRTT friend, Annie, for some pictures by the historic train car in Herndon.

After some more jumping around, we lined up at the start line for a welcome and “wave start” for the 39 half marathoners onto the W&OD trail.  The four of us happened to be standing at the front and when 8am hit, the race director said “OK, ladies – GO!”.   SO off we went, doubled over in laughter for the first 5 minutes of the race.  After a while, much faster runners began to pass us and we fell into our 10ish rhythm that has dictated our training runs all summer. We, of course, made time for silly selfies along the way.

The course did not have mile markers, but it did have blue arrows to guide us, which were very helpful as we navigated our way through the back woods of Herndon.  We crossed a very lovely stream four times and had to pause for some additional photo opportunities.

As the sun started to come out, it got a little rough out there and we all agreed that we had to force ourselves to run in the sun for the remainder of our training.  It was super humid, but luckily not as hot as it has been throughout the summer.  After lots and lots and lots of winding, we found ourselves back in Herndon headed toward the finish line.

Where there was a local high school drum line, the faster runners who had gotten WAY ahead of our first wave start, and some delicious cinnamon buns.

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There was also a raffle – I won a shirt and Liz won a water bottle – so win/win for us!!!  Not sure if I will do this one again next year, but we had a good time and enjoyed a sparkly Saturday morning seeing another lovely set of trails on in Northern Virginia.

Onto 20 miles this Sunday and it’s TAPER TIME!!!

What do you think of small races?

Have you seen a difference running in the heat this summer?

 

 

Mantra Monday: Courage

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This perspective on courage was so appropriate for this past weekend’s 18 miler.  I had been doing ok with the idea, knowing we’d done two 16s and lots of strong shorter runs.  BUT as soon as I put out my gear for the run, I started to panic.

Northern Virgina’s humidity was yet to break.

My legs were SORE and could not seem to get un-sore.

We had to start at 4:30, so we could get to various and sundry kid’s activities on time.

But after lots of wonderful comments from my MRTT friends, I arrived at our meeting spot at promptly 4:30am to begin our 18 mile adventure.  We picked friends up, dropped them off, dodged dear on the trail and were ALL drenched with happy sweat when we turned off our GPS watches.

We did it.  And although I was a little sore on Sunday, I am that much closer to my Baltimore Marathon goal.

 

Marathon Training, Macronutrients & Weight Gain – Oh My!

Just about when we decided to train for the Baltimore Marathon, I came across this article on my Facebook feed: I Trained for a Marathon and Got Fat.

And I immediately thought to myself,
“That is NOT going to happen to me.”

Until it did.

Over the past two months I have gained almost 10 lbs. When I stepped on the scale and found a number staring back at me I hadn’t seen since 2011 (when I lost the last of my post-baby weight).  I wasn’t shocked, seeing as the weekend before I had literally been licking salt out of the bottom of my popcorn bowl, but still.  OMG.

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Leesburg 20k (Photo by Potomac River Running) – It was a great race and so much fun, but I can see the weight gain in my face and arms.

 

So I did what I always do when faced with a dilemma in the information age, I googled like crazy, read a bunch of articles and texted my expert marathon friends for opinions.  No one was surprised (many had been there) and all were so supportive –

“You look great!”

“You are working so hard!”

But I was beginning to feel YUCKY and my pants did not fit properly.  And I still had, at that time, 10 weeks of training to go and a vacation to the Outer Banks (7 minutes from Duck Donuts).

It was time to call in an expert.

I reached out to my friend, BAMR, and certified nutritionist, Katie Heddleston. Following a quick text chat, I signed up for her nutrition plan.  To get started, Katie had me track my food consumption for 3 days, including a long run day.  After analyzing my diet she gave me three VERY SOLID observations (and lots of other advice, but you will have to reach out to her to get that…)

  1. My calorie intake wasn’t terrible, but I needed to take in less on days I wasn’t running super long or super hard
  2. My macronutrients were completely off (and yes – I had to google the term too).  I was getting WAY TOO MUCH FAT and not enough carbs.
  3. I was not eating at the right times after my long runs.  Since I wasn’t hungry for several hours, I wasn’t eating for several hours.  And by the time mid-afternoon came around I was eating my entire kitchen.

Katie designed a plan for me based on my training plan and where I needed to adjust. She warned me that I may not lose the weight I’d gained, but that I would at least not gain any more.  AND I’d have the right nutrition to really maximize my training.

I am happy to report, after really following the plan after vacation beginning August 22, I feel SO MUCH BETTER.  And I have lost 3 lbs. My energy is up, my runs feel better and I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.

Onward I go, friends.  Namaste.