So my last Half Marathon is now done. It was a very hilly race in cooler weather that bordered on raw by the end of the race. I was happy that the nasty rain held out pretty much until I was finished. Deep down inside I was a little disappointed that I had to walk a few times. Well, it was more like wanted to walk most of those times except for a few times getting up another hill. I hate it when I walk because it makes me feel so damn defeated but as I tell everyone I know, no one…I mean NO ONE in the world cares if you walk. There were lots of walkers yesterday and walkers in places where I didn’t really understand why they were walking at that very spot. I always feel a little like I don’t deserve the finishers medal when I walk. I know I still finished 13.1 miles but I didn’t run the entire thing and I certainly didn’t treat it like a race and push myself anywhere except to the finish line. I was disappointed but disappointments are only temporary. My wonderful son was waiting in the stinging cold rain for me with a giant bear hug at the finish line. That was my actual reward for running yesterday’s race. I always look for my kids if they come to the race because it’s like a huge surge of adrenaline that kicks in when I round the corner. I can’t wait to get to them and hug them. All I think about the last 2 miles is the kid who came to my race. So far that has only been James and it’s kind of nice to have him volunteer to come with me and sit around for 2+ hours while I run. My hips and knees and legs were not in the greatest shape when I finished. My right knee especially must have had some serious internal swelling because it was killing me. The backs of my legs ached especially on the long drive home 7 hours later from spending the post race day with my son John at URI. Driving was more and more awful as the hour home went on. I couldn’t wait to put my feet up for the night. I am disappointed that the new tights that I bought specifically for leg, joint and muscle support didn’t work. It could have been the hills and I suppose that today had I not worn them I could feel a whole lot worse, but yesterday I was disappointed in the $75 investment that didn’t make a difference when I needed it to. Live and learn I suppose. Maybe I need to do a long flat run to see how I feel but I feel like I shouldn’t have felt so bad after this race because I had my tights. Maybe I’m just old. Today I’m over it because disappointments are temporary as long as you use them to improve yourself and your situation. Overall yesterday was a success in that I finished and I’m proud of myself for finishing. I certainly am happy that I only have one more race to go next Sunday but I’m nervous because the hill I’m about to face is 10x any hill I took on yesterday and it’s 4 miles long straight up in the predicted cold weather. Only time will tell how it will go and only a good attitude will see me through. I’ve got at least one of those under control, the rest I’ll take as it comes. Bring on VT and the best race that I can do.
In my endeavor to improve not only my physical self but my eating habits and discipline as well, I have learned that there are some things you have to do sometimes. This week that something is to do single workouts daily instead of double sessions. I could use the excuse that I have my period and I’m tired, which I really am but I won’t. I am choosing to take this week to stay on track but to give my body a little respite from hard days. Body needs rest and while I’m working on the eating plan and the fitness plan I’ll make this an easy week. My brain doesn’t like it but hey that’s too damn bad. I know it will be good for me and at the end of the day that’s all that matters. So discipline and hard work are the name of the game for the next four months. I wish I had a goal that this plan supports but alas, it’s just a general plan. Going hard for several months may just come in handy next fall if I am brave enough to do it. I may have to recruit a friend of mine who I know is crazy enough to say yes to give me some accountability to not chicken out. We’ll see. I’m not there yet but I will be. So cups up to better fitness and more discipline for the Fall!
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!
One of the things I like about being in my position having come from a weight problem, depression, eating issues and lack of motivation is my ability to speak from experience. It’s one thing to try and make someone feel better by telling them that they will get there but it’s entirely another to look them in the eye and tell them with complete conviction that only they can reach their goals through making a change. Telling someone that they have to change their habits and be motivated and determined and focused. Assuring them with the tone of my voice that it can in fact be done but they have to WANT to do it. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it till I die, unless you are in a wheelchair, dying or dead, where there’s a will there’s a way. Blind people have run marathons, people without limbs compete in all kinds of sports, fat people lose hundreds of pounds without surgery and why? Because they have sheer determination and will power to do what it takes to get it done. It’s funny how having experience changes how you say something to someone looking for advice. Not having experience makes you want to tiptoe around feelings and impressions. Having experience waives all that because you know how to get it done because you’ve done it and you didn’t accept excuses from yourself and you’re not about to accept them from anyone else. The bottom line advice is Just Go Do It! Period. I did it and so can you! What are you waiting for?
Progress is slow it’s as simple as that. As much as we would like to see results right away it just can’t happen that fast unless you’re Mama June and even that took time. I’ve been taking progress pictures of myself since November and some of them look like I’ve made good progress and others just don’t look different at all. Some days I wonder how I can do more. Other days I try to switch it up so I am doing some different things so my body is confused and doesn’t get complacent. Then there are days where I wonder why I do all that I do because let’s face it, I’m 48 and probably not turning too many heads any longer. I mean I look nice outside thanks to hair dye and makeup and staying fit. Clothes hide cellulite and sometimes bulges in bad spots so to see me with clothes on is sort of an unfair picture. I’m not complaining at all because I know how I feel and in fact still hear from people that are impressed with how I do look. It’s the bathroom mirror that bothers me and all the work that I do that isn’t doing enough that can sometimes be a downer. My answer to myself is if you want it, work harder. That really is the answer that I need to own if I want it bad enough. I want it but I’m not willing to really do a ton more than I am because I care about good health and feeling good, which I am in and do, over trying to look like someone that I’m not. Even with this realization and understanding I still have the days where I feel defeated. It doesn’t last long because I live with a child fighting the weight and good health battle. When I see her trying so hard right now I remember how far I’ve come and remind myself to appreciate where I’m at and do what I can to support her.
I wrote today’s blog because last night she said sort of jokingly that she wished she could see results in a week. Yeah, don’t we all! That would be great but as we all know, it takes 30 days for you to feel a difference, 60 days to see the difference and 90 days for your friends to see it. That fact is with a LOT of hard work, dedication and determination. It will happen but it just takes time. We have to be patient and do our due diligence to get there plain and simple. I have always believed that you have to want it bad enough to sacrifice all that you need to in order to get it. That is where I find that many people struggle because we have become a society of instant gratification and unwillingness to work hard for what we want. Where there’s a will there’s a way plain and simple, we just need to find it and get it done. Remember to use the 21 /90 rule to cement your commitment and to go from attempting it to in the habit of it to having a new lifestyle that changes your life!
How bad do you want your goals and what do you sacrifice to achieve them?