Mother Runner

Got the Love

imageYears ago, when I was in high school running cross country there was a Nike commercial that featured the tag line, “Got the love.”
I didn’t get it at the time, I didn’t understand what it meant but my parents did and they referenced it often when they were trying to push me to do something great.

It wasn’t until I was training for my first marathon that I really got it.

Got the love means working hard, pushing your body through pain and your mind through torment to achieve something you didn’t think possible. It means total dedication both in mind and body. It means doing things that other people would find crazy and still wanting more. “Got the love,” is a wonderful three word phrase that perfectly describes how I feel about running most of the time.

Lately though, I’ve struggled. After some tough training for the Houston Half and now six weeks into training for my second marathon I’m battling some burn out. My runs haven’t been fun in a while, they’re a chore. Every. Single. One.

Just getting out the door takes every bit of will power I have. Each run is completed because I have to not because I want to. For me running is fun and this hasn’t been fun in a over a month.

I thought I could power through it. Just suck it up, put on my big girl panties and deal with it. I tried for six weeks to push though it and finally decided that I really just needed a break.

So, somewhat reluctantly, I decided to take all of this past week off. My schedule was going to be messed up anyway because of the holiday and our camping trip (post coming soon!) so it was the perfect time to take a little running break.

I didn’t run at all. Not one step. Was it hard? No. Not at all, a sure sign that it was a much needed break. I had an extra hour every day to do other stuff – prepare for our camping trip, cook food for Thanksgiving and play with my kids. It was great!

Yesterday, a full seven days after my last run, I was actually happy to put on my shoes and go for my morning run, six miles on a gloriously warm December morning. Unlike all my runs recently, I actually enjoyed it. The sun was out, the wind was brisk and the air was fresh. I took it slow since I hadn’t run in a week and even enjoyed some conversation with my overly chatty passenger. We stopped at the playground on my route and Evie got to enjoy some running time of her own.

I do feel like I lost a little bit of fitness during my week off but whatever I lost physically I made up for mentally. 

We talk a lot about physical injury in the running community. We talk about shin splints, runners knee, IT band syndrome and plantar faciitis but we rarely talk about mental injury and that’s what I think this was. So much of running is about attitude, confidence and determination, the love. You need a strong mind to build a strong body.

I don’t feel that my mind is completely healed but after a week off I’m in a much better place than I was. Now it’s back to marathon training!

Only Shootin’ Stars Break the Mold

Occasionally, you do something in running, or in life, where you challenge your own perceptions of what you think you can do.

My little story begins Sunday morning at 5 AM. I woke up to prepare for my long run, a scheduled 14 miles.

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Through the window of our bedroom I saw intermittent flashes of light so I rolled out of bed and checked the weather. A fairly heavy thunderstorm was brewing but thankfully it was in another county. I started my pre-long run routine. I fed the baby, pumped, drank a cup of coffee, ate a banana and got dressed. I got in the car and drove a bottle of water out to my turnaround point. Once back home I parked the car and walked down the driveway toward the street to begin my run.

I was just about to push the start button on my Garmin when…

*flash* BOOM!

Eeeeeek! I scurried up the driveway to the covered area of our patio and realized that my run was officially cancelled. Bummer.

This left me with quite the dilemma. I really wanted to get this 14-miler done before the half. It was my last long run before the taper and I didn’t want to miss it. I could always do it on Monday but I had the kids with me. How could I run 14 miles with the kids? The furthest I had ever pushed the double stroller was 6 miles, there was no way I could push them the entire 14.

I finally decided to split it up and do two 7 mile runs – one in the morning and one in the evening.

Monday, I left for my morning run with an open mind, so open in fact that I threw a packet of Gu in the double jogger…just in case.  A mile into my run I felt great! I began to think about attempting the unthinkable, pushing the kids the full 14 miles. Just about then Smash Mouth came on my playlist and All Star came blaring through the speaker of my phone.

Didn’t make sense not to live for fun
Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb

So much to do so much to see
So what’s wrong with taking the back streets?

I started thinking a little harder and evaluating the day. The weather was warm but not too humid. A slight breeze came in from the coast. It was overcast which means I didn’t have to worry about the sun zapping my energy. Both the kids slept well the night before and the baby had a great feeding before we left. I had rested legs and a positive attitude.

You’ll never know if you don’t go
You’ll never shine if you don’t glow

I slowed my pace and allowed my heart rate to settle around 150. If I completely ignored my pace and just focused on maintaining my heart rate I could do this. I COULD DO IT.

Hey now you’re an All Star get your game on, go play
Hey now you’re a Rock Star get the show on, get paid

So that’s what I did. At mile 3, I committed. I made a left turn to get on my long run route….and I took this picture.

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The baby slept most of the time and Evie just watched the scenery pass. At mile 4, I got a text message from my running partner asking if I’d run yet. I told her what I was doing.

She told me I was nuts.

At mile 6, I took the Gu and drank some water.

At mile 9, my running partner met up with me and she ran with me the rest of the way.

Sometime during mile 11, Evie started to fuss so I surrendered my phone for her to play with. She proceeded to take 15 pictures of our run…and three videos of her legs.

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A half mile from home the baby started crying but I didn’t care. I was sweaty, exhausted and had blisters between my fingers but I did it. I challenged my own perception of what I was capable of doing and I learned that you never know what you can do until you try.

All that glitters is gold…
Only shootin’ stars break the mold.

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A Stop at the Park

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There’s a park in our neighborhood. It’s a beautiful park off the road in a grove of trees with a killer playground. At least it looks killer from the road.

I’ve never stopped at the park but I’ve jogged by it at least 60 times. It’s on my longer running routes around our neighborhood (longer means 5-8 miles). Toward the end of marathon training when all my runs were over 5 miles I ran past the park four times a week. Each time I ran past I thought, That looks like a really cool park. I should take Evie there sometime, maybe this afternoon.

This afternoon turned in tomorrow, later when it’s not so hot or after I run these errands. We still had never been, until this morning.

I was four and a half miles into my six mile run and the park came into view.

I should take E to the park this afternoon.

Wait.

No. Because I’ll get busy and I never will. I’m not gonna wait  I’m gonna take her to the park RIGHT NOW.

I veered the jogging stroller down the sidewalk and made a beeline for the infant swings.

Just as I suspected, it is a KILLER playground. A huge pavillion with picnic tables is in the center with three different play areas surrounding it, one designed just for toddlers! I can see many an afternoon spent eating lunch at the picnic tables watching E play. What a great thing to have so close to our house!

Why have I not stopped at the park before? I’m not entirely sure but I think it was mainly because during training I didn’t want to be interrupted. During marathon training each individual run was important and had a purpose. The runs were all about the running. It’s all I would think about. How’s my form? What’s my heart rate? That little pain in my left knee, should I be worried? Can I push myself a little harder?

At no time did I ever think, I’ll just stop in the middle of this run to check out this cool park! 

In a way, I’m glad marathon training is over. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it. I will do it again, soon. But honestly post-marathon running is more fun. Now I run not because I HAVE to but instead because I WANT to. While on morning runs I now spend more time looking at the scenery, waving at the other joggers, listening to the birds and talking to E. I don’t dread my morning excursion, I look forward to it.

Today a new tradition was born. We will stop at the park again, likely the next time I go running…which is tomorrow.