I ran Falmouth again this year. This is the second time I’ve run this one. I don’t run it for the medal because they don’t give medals usually as I learned the hard way last year. Come to find out they give medals at this race every 5 years. This year was the 45th running of this bucket list race so guess what I got! Yep a medal! It’s beautiful and so worth the 7 mile struggle over hills in the heat.
ANYWAY… Today was many things. It was definitely all about the bling and the experience. As those of you who know me well understand, I love me a good medal! The race itself is always a hot one which makes it harder than other races. IT took us 25 or so minutes to actually walk from where we hit the main drag TO the starting line because in this race they do a pulse start which just means we set of in groups of like 50 at a time then they wait a minute and send the next group. It spaces us out and helps keep things moving. Even this small detail is just one of the many things that make this my all time favorite race ever! I wasn’t sure my race would be a good one because of the time of month it was. I’m always slow just before the blessed event so I was expecting it to be hard, but went into it just wanting to have fun at the very least. That I did achieve with no problem whatsoever. I wanted to beat my 1:18:15 time from last year and amazingly I did!!! I finished unofficially at 1:15:51! I believe 100% that that accomplishment is directly attributed to all the core workouts I have been doing. It definitely paid off because the hills were a bitch, especially the one at the very end that made 7.1 miles feel like 13.1. Over the 7 .1 miles I was perpetually stuck in a large group of runners the entire way so it was nearly impossible to run swiftly when you’re crowded in. I was grateful that that I couldn’t “take off” because it forced me to run a better more controlled race. Probably why I finished two minutes faster than last year. The feeling of struggling for 7 hilly hot miles seems to fade away as you give that last and final ounce of energy to push up that last horrible hill. When you crest it you can see the gigantic American flag that is hoisted above the finish line by a crane just a hundred yards below. You somehow find strength as people are cheering and shouting and you see the Jumbotron with the life finish line stream for those waiting for their loved ones to cross. The air is electric with excitement and you run to that beautiful painted word on the street “FINISH” that sits under the banner just above that signals the end of your 7 mile journey marked by a stomp on the timing mat to seal your race time. You can’t explain how it feels, you have to experience it yourself.
The Falmouth Road Race organizers, volunteers & medics are outstanding! They should get their own medal for the perfected work of making this race such a smooth well oiled event! I’m not kidding you, it is so well organized, you don’t have to search for porto o potties because there are literally about a hundred in the waiting area. Medics were visible with clearly marked signs at several points along the way ready to help those who needed it,. The police rode bikes along the route to ensure things moved along nicely. The people of Falmouth and friends / family of runners literally just line the streets cheering for you, soaking you with their hoses, giving you oranges and ice and 5 bands set up along the route and played music for us as we passed. There weren’t just a few… there were people that in some places were several rows deep just watching us come through. Some gave high fives (the little kids are my favorites to high five. They are wonderful cheerers!) Many blasted the radio, some had cow bells and others had horns. There were so many this year, more than last I thought. Any time I thought I might do some walking beyond just stopping for water I just couldn’t do it because the excitement of being there was compelling. I just cannot say enough good things about this wonderful race.
When you use the word Chaos mostly you think of confusion and craziness that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The gathering spot after the race can only be described as chaos. I’ve never seen or experienced organized chaos until I ran Falmouth. So many people all in the same spot but it’s oddly and strangely organized. From the pick up letters at the back of the field where families go to meet runners to the guys handing out the Yasso bars by the way, is by far the best at the end of a hard race! The band and the tent volunteers handing out post race goodies somehow swiftly corral all those people through with no waiting line. The whole race was start to finish amazing and something that you should do if you want to see how a good race is run. I can’t wait for next year!!
One of my favorite parts of my experience lies outside the race itself. I run this race with my friend Barbara and we stay with our friends Gary and Gail who live in Falmouth. Staying with friends who give you a ride to the busses and fight the crowd to pick you up from the finish line, who feed you and give you a place to lay your head for free absolutely makes the experience just that much better. Running this race with my friend, even though we don’t run together, is the BEST! knowing that I’m sharing something amazing with her is special. Taking selfies and pictures throughout our days there are memories that I cherish. Having someone to share what will become a tall tale that I tell my grandchildren later in life is one of those things that money can’t buy! I really love my running friend(s). This part of the experience and not having to worry about crowded restaurants, overbooked hotels, driving to the start or finding parking or worrying about my belongings while I’m racing turns what could be a crazy stressful weekend into a wonderful weekend of memories instead!
There’s just something peaceful about morning running. Maybe it’s the quiet of the day or the darkness that hasn’t quite conceded to the bright glow of the majestic day ahead. There are not many cars around nor other runners where I am or even people walking dogs. It’s just quiet almost to the point that I can hear my thoughts out loud. I love that first breath in of fresh crisp air that purges my lungs of night air and fills my soul with brightness. It calls me to it, envelops me and makes me its own for 30 minutes of bliss. I can see the glow of a dawning day in the windows of my neighbors and see those who have started their day. I can smell those ambitious enough to cook something that appeals to my palette as I run on an empty stomach thinking about the pancakes and eggs I’ll make when I return. As dawn lights my way, revealing my form I realize this is the best run that I’ve had in many days. I enjoyed it a lot and am happy I didn’t wait until tonight to go. When I run in the morning I have no worries, no problems, no distractions. My phone isn’t ringing, I’m not tied to the internet and I’m not trying to organize anything. It’s just me, in the dark blending in with what remains of the night. Free as a bird and not weighted down by life at this very moment.
Today as I make my way through my neighborhood wondering who knows I’m passing by, my mind is on my race on Sunday. I’m running The Falmouth Road Race and thinking about how the race will go and whether it will be my race. It may not be. Because of the time of the month it may have to just be fun. I’m not expecting it to be a stellar race because I just don’t do well a few days before I get my period. 2-4 days prior, my legs are heavy, it’s hard for me to breathe and it’s just a struggle. Even if it’s a struggle, I’d like to beat last years 1:18. I’m much stronger this year in my core than last year which will be helpful. Nonetheless, if I go into it not expecting too much and not trying to be faster than last year I think it will be fine. Slow it down and I’ll have more fun. My friend who runs this race with me might like company for the entire 7 miles rather than being dumped at the starting line like I usually do. I well know how not fun running alone is so that might be the way to go I think. It’s all about the fun and the experience.
So my friends and I finished the “Run The Year” challenge yesterday. We did all the miles on our own mostly although cumulatively we did some together in race miles and some fun miles too. The last 12 miles we did as a group and it was just great! It was 3 easy miles at breathing pace so we could talk and laugh and just make the most of something fun that we did together. When we finished we took a picture with our medals and felt accomplished and good about ourselves as individuals and as a new group of friends who most definitely will do other things together. We went to dinner, laughed and shared stories and future goals and had ourselves a little celebration of ourselves.
I really like running with friends and feel like I could do so much more with them than I could alone. One of us is a super athlete having run marathons, triathlons, iron man races, brave unique races and just some crazy things. She makes me feel bold and is the reason I consider running something further than a half marathon. Another of us used to smoke like a chimney and has come back from ill health to someone who reminds me that I can achieve anything I set my mind to do. The last of our quartet is someone who makes reminds me that no one can take my cookies away from me and that I deserve to do anything I want to do because this is my life. You see my friends, although they may not know it, are the glue and strength in my everyday life. Each day I know them I realize how fun life can be and how much I have needed friends. These ladies are my special friends and my crazy friends and my supportive friends. They make me strong, make me laugh, keep me realistic but brave and are the piece to my puzzle that has been missing. I love my girls because I am a better person because I know them.
We are the Bad Ass B’s!
Why is it that when we look in the mirror, no matter how much improvement we make or how much weight we lose or how much toning we have accomplished that we always see what’s not done? I did it this morning and the minute it came out of my mouth I was pissed at myself! My husband came up behind me and put his hands on my waist and the first thing I said was “Honey, look I have handles”. He was like “What?” so immediately I backtracked and made a silly joke out of it, which thankfully he let slide and accepted but I didn’t. Why did I go right to what wasn’t perfect about my shape instead of just appreciating the moment? Why did I think he was grabbing the extra flab that isn’t really there around my waist when he truly wasn’t? How insecure of me. I have worked my ass off to get where I am at so why would I automatically point out flaws when my husband actually doesn’t see them? I know that he wasn’t just being nice because if he had actually been scoping out my fat, he would have retorted something about being older and it being harder to lose weight or some age excuse to make me feel better but he didn’t. He really was confused by my handle comment. His next response in conveying his confusion to my seemingly random and uncalled for statement was something along the lines of there being zero fat on me (actually not true as I have a slight gut in front and a little extra on my core below my ribcage pretty much all around my trunk). I only say that to point out that I am not, nor do I expect to be, a super model skinny tight bodied vixen or cougar as the older woman is referred to by society. I don’t want to be a 20 year old again and I am comfortable with where I am for the age I am at and for the time I can put in to stay in shape and keep my joints and mind lucid . At that moment, I really think I got too comfortable because the old Brenna showed up and took over for the first time in a long time. I hate her! She’s the one who has no confidence and is ashamed of herself not me. She’s the one I’m always running away from because the fact of the matter is that we’ll never be buddies ever again because she nearly killed me. Today was the first time she’s crept up on me and I definitely did not like it. I have come a long way. I am strong and beautiful and in the best shape of my life. I can run 13.1 miles, I eat really well and I have a positive attitude and a wonderful family. I have friends again that I feel I can be myself around without worrying about what I say and think all the time. I am proud of me and I like having a little extra to squeeze when I’m hugged. Being happy with yourself is part of what makes life great and I know it. So bye bye fat Brenna, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. You’re not allowed back in my life. I’m better off without you. Good Riddance!
Today I ran a 10 Mile race with my friends. It was awesome having friends with me. We didn’t run together much but just having them there was amazing and invigorating and so freaking happy! We are all different in so many ways but runners are wonderful people with an amazing comraderie even to strangers. Today I had something happen to me that I’ve always feared. I missed the turn markers. This race was less than stellar in terms of most everything and the weather did a torrential downpour on us half way through. It would have been ok but my watch and phone are cracked so water is NO BUENO! So I was running respectable splits and would have hit my target finish time of sub 1:40:00 but I missed one of the turn markers. All of a sudden in the pouring rain while trying to keep my watch dry and jump big puddles and not get hit by a car I found myself all alone. I thought maybe I would see another runner around the corner but no…. I looked back and there was one of the girls I had met who came with one of my friends so I thought I was on the right track. I kept running until a woman in a truck stopped me to tell me that the runner behind me asked her to tell me i missed a turn. MISSED A TURN! uugghhhh! I thanked her and started back and it was my new friend that I met earlier at the start of the race. She stopped her race to get me back to mine. Only runners would do this.
This mishap is something that I have always dreaded. What would I do? Well now I know so it’s not so scary anymore. I have my new friend to thank for that. She’s a runner and we smile and say hello, cheer eachother on, pick eachother up, pat eachother on the back when things go wrong and we look out for eachother no matter what. I don’t know how long I would have kept running in that direction but it was far less because she stopped and helped me. It’s one of my favorite things about running. We support each other. So my overall time for 10 miles was more than I wanted but less than it could have been on the flip side. I’ll take that! I spent time with familiar smiling faces that mean the world to me and I met new friends and I’ll take that too! These ladies, this sport mean the world to me. I am so happy I started running! I love you all!
Last night I did workout #2 in my basement and my son joined me. He joined me more out of guilt for not wanting to and to avoid saying no again. He isn’t the working out type. Unlike my oldest son, he doesn’t want to work out. He does do sports in school but doesn’t want to do the work to become as good as he can be at them. Despite all our encouragement, nagging and pleading with him to stay healthy and put some effort into it, he avoids working out like the plague. He works out sometimes with his brother and preferably if his father is also working out since his brother is kind of hard on his lack of form, effort and enthusiasm. Sometimes occasionally he will go for a run between 1-3 miles on his own but usually it’s because Football season will be starting or because he is trying to get his wind for Wrestling and sometimes it’s just to keep us off his back I think. He will come with me when I run but usually takes the easy road out and rides his bike next to me. Sometimes he runs with me but not usually and definitely not when it’s hot out because he isn’t good in the heat.
So last night he came down with me and decided to ride the bike first. I did the second half of my Tabata workout which was everything but Abs since I did those in the morning. He did the bike that for about 15 or so minutes and then did two or three TRX exercises Tabata style and then he was done. It was a “Meh” workout at best in my opinion. I thought about that for a moment and I decided that it was better for him to have come down and done something than for him to have done nothing at all. I remember being his age and the thought of working out. I didn’t do that faithfully or nearly at all until I was in my 40’s and depressed and gaining weight. I needed a reason that motivated me all by myself and I assume he will get there some day I hope. It doesn’t matter how many times I ask, beg, nag or guilt or plead with him to work out because it won’t happen until he WANTS it to happen. It’s like anything we do in this life. You have to want to do it to make it happen and not find excuses not to do it. He won’t until he wants to, period so until that time I believe it is my job to keep asking and inviting him to join me. I know how hard it is trying to do something on your own without support so I will be his support system and just be there when / if he needs me to help him. That’s all I can do.
I will continue to be the best me that I can and trying to be an example and a beacon of inspiration for my kids and anyone who wants to try who might just need support. Those are the people who don’t know how to start or keep going. The ones who have to talk themselves out of quitting every day who just need some encouragement. THAT is who I feel compelled to reach out to. That’s what I feel my job is at the moment so I will do it to the best of my ability. Everyone starts somewhere and has someone from whom they draw inspiration and courage to try new things. I run for those people because I was one of those people! Those people who struggle every single day are best described by someone I admire every day and someone who makes me look forward to reading every blog and listening podcast that she puts out there for “those people” to read @KellyKKRoberts. Kelly Roberts is the Queen and Captain of the Sportsbra Squad.
I was a 3 miler until I met my friend Barbara who put it in my head that I could run 13.1 miles. That seems like so long ago but I remember the conversation clearly and I remember thinking “can I?” Turns out it sat in my ‘craw’ for a long time until I signed up for my first half marathon with encouragement from Barbara and my husband. Look at me now! Without someone to push me and allow me to go at my own pace I might not be where I am today. I want to be able to do that same thing for anyone who might need it including my son, daughter and niece.
Today I did it! I pulled the trigger and signed up for two races that I have been eyeballing. That makes 4 total that I’m signed up for and one left to register for when they open up registration. It’s an inaugural race in VT which sounded nice and although the new ones don’t always have their acts together, they can be run by people who do know what they are doing. It should be fun to find out. I’m more excited because I’m running with my friends and because the VT race which is a 10 miler will be a weekend getaway for the girls!! I don’t really go away much because most of my “getaways” over the years barring a few real vacations and getaways have been simply labelled vacations but were really weekend stays for the kids tournaments. We did what we could while we were away to make it as fun as we could for kids so they have fun memories even though they aren’t Disney every year or the Bahamas or somewhere on a boat. So I’m so excited! Another reason I’m pretty pleased about this new Jam Packed running endeavor is that it’s the most races I’ve run in a year since I started running. I’ve run as many as 3 half marathons that were spaced out but this schedule is as follows:
June 10 mile race, July half marathon, August Falmouth Road Race 7 miles, October Half Marathon ending the year with the new November 7 mile Inaugural race. All in all I will have run 6 races including the half I did in April and 7 if I get ambitious and run one in December too! I feel really strong and super capable so why not strike while the iron is hot and I feel like I can take on the world! So this will keep me busy and focused to keep my miles up and keep up the weights, cycle, resistance bands and Jump Deck to have races that are as good as they can be. I’ve already set my goal for Falmouth this year and I know I can do it and after all….the fact it’s just miles and time sacrificed so I can have fun and the bottom line is: