Faux fears and the next big thing…

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Happy chance meeting! Finding friends on the trails. Out for various training runs. (L-R, Brandon, Laura (holding Patch), Drew, Spencer, me, Ana Lu and Carlos)

My favorite question?

‘What’s the next big event/race/running thing you have planned?’

First?  I LOVE talking about running and moving and being healthy. Anyone’s running, anyone’s passion for activity, anyone’s healthy. 🙂

Second?  I totally get a kick out of people associating me with running. Totally.  It will never get old.  For the longest time I denied it; I knew runner-runners.  Like, you know — the fast, sleek, athletic people?; it was not me. And that’s ALL I thought running was.  Now?  I realize the world of running accommodates anyone. Anyone.  If you put on shoes with the intent of going for a run; you’re a runner. I LOVE being able to identify with this group of diverse, brave, determined people.

I was at a gala this past week and talking with people I only see periodically.  We were having great conversations about life!  They all eventually asked me what’s up next event-wise.

‘So what crazy run do you have next?’

I answered the questions about a dozen times.

And that repetition of my own answer got me thinking…

The running and training that I do is not entirely for events.

Really.

If I strip it down and examine the whole process and my motivation/desire…  It’s not really for the events at all.  I wanted to tell them about some of the other great things I’m doing that aren’t event related…  Like trying to learn to swim.  Finding new trails. Finally figuring out fueling.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love events.  I’m a people person. OF course I like the event portion of this whole process. The event is really the celebration, the party!  The culmination of months of training and running and miles and learning should be celebrated.

And while I am not doing races to be competitive, I care DEEPLY and totally about doing my best and being as prepared as possible.  I’m doing events and races to meet people, have fun, see new terrain, challenge myself to a new adventure and test my limits/strength.

So then why exactly do I train and spend hours each week running/biking and working out if it isn’t to go to races?

I’ll let you peek at my current goals…

  • To be fit. (Fit feels so, so DAMN good.)
  • Enjoy ALL of the life that I have left to live.
  • Be ready for the next grand adventure.
  • I don’t want my fitness (or lack of…) to stand in the way of life.  At all.  It did.  For too many YEARS.  No more.

That list above, that is why I run and train and work on getting fit.

It really isn’t as simple or straightforward as just being ready for the ‘next big thing’.

Unless that next big thing is LIFE. 🙂


I’ve been picking harder and more robust challenges for the last two years.  I mean, I have been working hard and staying focused and building up to them.  They are challenges that terrify and fascinate me all in the same breath.  50K, learning to swim, 50 miles and beyond…

Part of the reason I keep picking bigger and bigger things to train for is pretty simple and obvious if you think about it…

I’m afraid.

I made a deal with myself almost 4 years ago that I would force myself to give anything that I thought I was afraid of (that wasn’t illegal, immoral or just super-dangerous…) a shot.

I wanted to see if I could teach myself to get over the fear. Feel the fear and do it anyway.  Trite saying; but at the same time a very true operating statement.  Could I face fears and go around/over them?

I wanted to form reality-based opinions of my own, not continue to be bound by the perceived boundaries of the past-me.

The answers to this point have been yes… I can (mostly) get over/around/beat-down the fear and get it done.  It may not be pretty, or well-done or even particularly smart.  In a few cases it left scars. 🙂

AND I am having a HELL of a lot of fun doing it!!!

I need to remind myself of all of that.

I need to remember just how much work I have done to get to this point, how many fears I’ve conquered…

A good friend recently called me out on my ‘fearful’ attitude.  I thought I had pretty much pushed fear to the edges of my life – and I thought it would stay there.  Turns out that fear is tenacious and strong-willed. (Sounds like me. 🙂 )  Trepidation, lack of confidence, self doubt, negativity; call it what you want — seems to be trying to creep back in…

The tell tale warning sign?  (this took me about two weeks to key-in on and discern…) I realized that when I am nervous about something, afraid or embarrassed that I might fail — I start a conversation with one simple word;

‘But…’

I’ve been catching myself using that sentence starter quite a few times these past few months.

‘But’ negates the entire comment.  It tells the listener that they don’t really have to believe anything you’re saying… Because YOU don’t really believe it yourself…

I have to kick the ‘but’s’ back out of my thinking and language.

Tackling fears is NOT linear or simple.  Nor is it ever a completed task. And that’s the lesson I’m working on learning.

There is the legit fear that we have to heed to stay alive and safe.

This isn’t that fear.

This is the fear that we allow to creep in at the edges, create boundaries, limit our work/dreams/goals and cripple our thinking.

I’m calling it my ‘faux fear’.

I am going to keep working, one step at a time, to show my faux fears the door…

What fears are you working to conquer?

Western States Training Camp. Lessons and highlights.

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Erica, Spencer and I went down to Auburn California to be a part of the Western States Training Camp this past Memorial Day weekend.

We ran long, trail miles for 3 days in a row.

It was fantastic.

Life-changing.  (Not being cheesy. It really was.)

I loved every minute of it.

OK.  Maybe not every single moment.  (Lightening, snake, exhaustion, etc…) But the less than fun moments are some of the best teachers. Looking back less than a week later, I can tell you that I do love those less than happy/perfect moments.  Those hard/un-fun moments in particular are the ones that I plan to draw on, learn from and use to help make me a better person and stronger runner over time.

This was all about experimenting, taking some risks, learning and growing.

This was my first time running this kind of distance. There were some important lessons handed my way.

One category of lessons I would have to call ‘boring running crap’.  The other category is more along the lines of life lessons.


In the ‘boring running crap’ category I either learned or re-confirmed the following:

  • Good socks rock.  Wick moisture, protect your feet. They have a really hard job to do!  Buy good socks.
  • Shoes are your main ‘tool’. No new shoes on race day. (I did not pull that rookie move.) I was entering new territory with terrain and mileage and discovered that not all of my shoes work for the kind of running I like/get/want to do. (This means… SHOE SHOPPING! 🙂 )
  • Fueling. Huge thanks to Erica for her persistent help. We worked for many hours to figure out and practice timing/quality/quantity of fuel during runs.  When we got it mostly figured out/implemented on day three – I could TOTALLY tell the difference of having gotten it right. HUGE SUCCESS!
  • Compressions sleeves are magic and not just for recovery. This big-calfed girl is a new convert to wearing them WHILE running.
  • Chafing.  Boob chafe to be specific.  It is as miserable as it sounds.  I have no idea what got me; the heart rate strap, my bra, my hydration pack… Was WAY more careful day two and three to use body glide. Liberally. Everywhere. On everything. Body glide is cheap insurance.
  • Pooping and coffee. Both are important. BEFORE the race.
  • If there is a photographer on the course they will be a) at the most significant uphill portion where EVERYONE is struggling to even walk upright/uphill… b) when you chose to blow a world-class snot rocket or c) even if you are running and feeling like a million bucks the picture will show both feet planted firmly on the ground. 🙂

In the ‘life lessons on the trails’ category?

  • Study up on poisonous plants in the area you are running in so you don’t accidentally squat in a patch of something that will remind you for DAYS that you should have avoided it…  Just sayin’.
  • When you are offered water — take it.  Top off bottles and packs every chance you get.
  • NO better sight towards the end of a cold, soaking wet, lightening storm filled run than friends waiting at the nearest accessible trailhead to make sure you are OK… And being able to tell them you are OK. 🙂
  • When someone takes a moment to say hello, say hello back. The trails were FULL of cheery greetings and encouragements.  Every single runner I encountered was friendly. Be a positive part of these temporary communities that spring up during events on the public roads and trails.  Everyone wins.
  • Say thank you to ANYONE who spends their time to volunteer. For anything.  They’re giving up their time to help YOU.
  • Laughter calms nerves.
  • Share. If it won’t leave you in a bad spot; share what you have if someone needs it.  The kindness will be returned to you in some way, at some point.
  • Never pass up the chance to use a porta-potty.  Even if it’s on a trailer, hitched to a truck.  And the truck engine is idling. 🙂
  • Stop and take a picture of the things you are enjoying in life.  You aren’t in that big of a hurry.
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Proof that Erica and I ran on these historic and storied trails!
  • You (OK me….)  WILL have moments when you aren’t comfortable or don’t feel great or are scared or aren’t happy or you wonder WHAT you have gotten yourself into. Don’t judge the entire effort by ONE single moment.
  • Everyone (OK… me again…) should know some basic survival skills. Especially if they have a strong desire to spend their life running long distances in the woods. 🙂  (Lightening, snakes, poisonous plants, etc.)
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This little bandit slithered across the top of my foot as I was running (screaming!) past…
  • Watermelon is the best fruit in the world. Period.

Epic adventure.

Great weekend of learning in the safety of friends.

Memories made, miles run and training for some really big things this summer/Fall are now underway.

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Western States Training Camp. Lightening fast.

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Stepping onto the trail…  So excited to get running.

I had one of the most epic runs of my life (so far!) this past weekend.

And one of the most terrifying moments of my running life.

All in the same day.

The Western States Training Camp is an annual 3-day bonanza of trail running out of Auburn California.  It’s a practice event designed to help the runners learn the trails for the upcoming Western States Endurance Run.  It’s a historic 100-mile trail race that happens the end of June. http://www.wser.org

This camp is open to non-racing runners as well.  New, veteran, fast, slow — as long as you have a love for the sport and pay the registration fee; you are warmly welcomed. (Endurance run-nerds should really put this well-run, flawlessly supported camp on their bucket list.)

Spencer, Erica and I went down to run.  We’re all planning big events over the next few months and this was a great ‘kick-off’ training weekend. We ran 32 miles on Saturday, 18 miles on Sunday and 22 miles on Monday.  BIG miles.  Training, new terrain, friends.  ALL GOOD!

That’s the epic part. 🙂

Back to the terrifying part of the story.

The first morning we were bused up to Robinson Flat to start the run back to the Foresthill Elementary School. Spencer took off and ran when the buses unloaded. Erica and I took off after waiting in a long – female exclusive – line for the lone enclosed commode. We wanted one last hint of civilization. There would be plenty of time for ‘being one with nature’ the rest of the day. 🙂

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Running selfie, without wrecking. 🙂

So many stories I could tell about squatting in poison oak, missed turns, the beyond-annoying chatty-chick from Maryland that we all wanted to push off the nearest cliff, great micro-chats with fascinating people, snakes, active gold mines, abandoned cemeteries, botched water crossings… Blogs for another day. 🙂

We hit the last aid station at Michigan Bluff.  Mile 26. Close to done. We quickly stocked up on water and food (watermelon for me, PBJ for Erica!) and took off to put a time stamp on this sucker.

We’re around mile 29 and starting to get rained on.  BIG, wet drops of rain.

The weather forecast heading into the weekend had said 80 and clear.  It was 55 and rainy and starting to hail.  We joked about finding the weatherperson and having a ‘friendly’ conversation with them about their forecasting skills.

THUNDER.

Bright flash of light.

HOLY SMOKES.

We were half way between the aid station (which was a tent with METAL poles) and the finish. We’re soaked.  We’re cold. We’re on a semi-exposed, raised dirt road. Trees on either side.  A 3-strand barbed wire fence next to us…

Nowhere to hide.

We heard thunder again and breathed a little sigh of relief. We agreed it was moving away from us… Whew. No more lightening…

We kept moving.

Then about 15 minutes later the storm seemed to double back.

Startlingly bright flash of light and a thunder clap that we both insist was right over our heads. Loud enough you could feel it and it numbed your ear drums.

At this point we’re talking back and forth about what our best survival option is.  And we’re serious. We’re both nervous and not liking our situation and trying to figure out how to a) not freak the other one out and b) seriously get our butts off the exposed hill and down to the school. Alive.

We kept moving toward the school with the agreement that if it happened again we would stop to wait out the storm and make ourselves the smallest of possible targets away from big trees/obvious lightening rods.

We had a plan.  And that’s about the point when the hill crested and we were finally winding down off of the hill…

Slight sidebar in the story; on the descent with rain/thunder/lightening in the distance and moving away, we came upon a fellow trail runner essentially hugging a tree (WRONG THING TO DO!).  She said she was too scared to go on. Erica gently convinced her to get AWAY from the tree. The runner asked to follow us down the trail.  We kept moving. (In a karmic/comedic twist; the runner happens to be the beyond-annoying chatty-chick that we wanted to push off of several earlier cliffs… WHOLE other story.  Longest. Mile. Ever. Thankful my hearing was temporarily impaired from the thunder. Small blessing.)

We finally reached the forest gate and were about to hit paved road to head to the school.  Several cars were there at the trail; checking on runners they knew had to be up on the hill.  One of the cars pulling up was Spencer. He made sure we were OK and said ‘you guys want to get in the car or do you want to finish this thing?’

‘Finish the run.’

This entire sport, the endurance world, is about learning about and testing your limits and strengths and boundaries.  And then finding the mental fortitude to fight beyond all of your tiredness and fears and the other BS your brain creates to try to make you stop.  We aren’t just training to run; we’re training to make our minds tougher.  Pushing through the hard, ugly, imperfect stuff creates confidence and strength.  It help you understand and believe that just about anything is possible if you work hard enough, fight long enough.  It’s what I LOVE about this sport.  You don’t have to be fast or elegant or naturally talented or have a ton of money or have a certain body type.  You just have to be tough and persistent.

As we were briefly checking in with Spencer, I realized I was starting to shake from having been scared.  I KNEW that I didn’t want this to be the ending to this epic running adventure. Come within a mile of the finish line and because something unexpected had happened, I QUIT short of the goal and jump in the warm car?

Hell no.

No way.

I did not want that narrative in my head.  I wanted to know I could keep on going even though I was scared and exhausted and cold.  It was something really important that I just had to finish.  All of that went through my head.

I don’t have a clue what I actually said out loud.

Erica and I started heading toward the school and she simply said ‘This is where our real training begins. Let’s run to the school.’

We ran.

We shuffled, jogged, hiked, ran our way back to that finish area and straight into the nearest porta potties.  (Priorities. 🙂 )

And then right into the warm car. 🙂

We ran 32 miles in 8 hours and 36 minutes.

It was a beautiful, happy, memorable day of running.

Day one of the Western States Training Camp was in the books.

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Erica and I on day 3 at the American River overlook. Over 80 degrees before noon.  TOTALLY different weather. Great day of running in the heat. 🙂

Mac 50K (Yup… That’s not a typo.)

Ana Lu and I in the finisher's chute.  Photo credit to Josh Gum.
Ana Lu and I closing in on the finish line. Photo credit,  Josh Gum.

2015 Mac 50K is in the books. (31 miles, also called an Ultra). Mac is run on scenic, stunning trails in a gorgeous forest.

This was my second 50K. Even factoring in the first 10K I walked with Hannah when I weighed 280 pounds, this race was by far the hardest physical thing I have ever done.

Climbing over hills, jumping over logs/creeks and roots, steep ascents/descents, amazing scenery, great camaraderie with other runners and amazing volunteers.

Here are a few moments from Saturday that made me smile, lifted my heart…

  • Friends I was NOT expecting to see, standing in the middle of the forest cheering all of us on.
  • Taryn and Laura with the mid-run assist of a much needed banana and hugs.
  • Patrick riding beside me as I walked up a lonely stretch of sun-exposed road.  Gently reminding me to get fuel in my belly for the miles ahead.
  • Carlos helping me load salt tabs in my pack at the aid station because my hands weren’t functioning very well.
  • Ana Lu telling me (as I was whimpering with each step up a gentle slope) that she was ‘getting me to the finish line’.
  • The high school volunteer who kindly put ice cubes in my nasty/sweaty/filthy hydration pack while it was still on my back.

Snapshots.

Happy and meaningful snapshots for my heart from a damn fine day.

I love this sport, race day or any day, because it tests the individual. And yet in a strange way it’s almost like a team sport.  We all genuinely want everyone else to win their personal race.  NO matter how they define it.  If they’re fighting their heart and guts out – we’re rooting for them. Period.

When someone was stopped on the side of the trail around mile 17 or so, all you could hear were echoes through the forest of other runners asking ‘you OK?’ as they paused on their way past.  Or you come across someone struggling and you just buddy up with them (or they with you!), distract each other and encourage each other as best you can while you happen to be on the same stretch of trail. We generously share supplies when we have what someone else needs (salt tabs anyone?).

For Mac, I put into motion the training that Spencer and I have been working on for the past 6 months. Actually we’ve really been working on foundation building for Mac for a solid year.  It all came together on Saturday.

I did encounter some serious cramping in my shins, calves and feet. It was possibly from fatigue, heat/electrolyte imbalance, my lack of experience navigating super-steep terrain or even all of the above…  It just made things a bit tougher than planned.

I finished my race in 8:04.

And even with the stupid shin cramping agony; that is a WIN for me!


Racing these long events, my biggest issue is my head.  I start to question what I’m doing and it gets more insistent as my body starts to hurt and push to the edges of my training. My head starts to battle for control.  And the control it wants is clear and absolute; it wants to shut down my body and make everything comfortable and easy and safe.  Immediately.

From about mile 20 to the finish, I was really battling my brain. Even with friends running with me and trying to distract me; my head was going for the mental ‘sore spots’.

Everyone has them.  I am NOT alone.

Spencer and I have had tons of conversations about how part of the training we do for endurance events is specifically FOR the mental battles we face.

So for every negative thought, I would conjure up a positive.

  • Focus on my breathing. I WAS very alive and totally breathing.
  • I was running and moving. There are people, some I know and love, who do not/no longer have that option.
  • Marveling that my body could work so DANGED hard for so long and WILL be able to do even more with training and time.
  • Every single step was taking me closer to the finish line, to other goals, to becoming a stronger woman.
  • Pizza. 🙂 (Not gonna lie. I think about pizza a lot when I run.)

I finished the race and was greeted by friends.

Lots of friends. Old and new. Hugs and congrats and encouragement for everyone.

We were all verbally stepping all over each other trying to inquire about others that we had lost track of during the race. Was everyone back and OK? How was everyone feeling? Loud and happy chatter!

In the interest of full disclosure; I had one mercifully brief breakdown just after crossing the finish line. I realized I had DONE it, I was physically and mentally exhausted and it was the eve of Mother’s day.  My mom has been gone for 5 years and she would be so, totally, insanely proud of me.  She was wheel-chair bound and I just happened to glimpse a wheelchair with someone’s loved one waiting at the finish line.  It was JUST enough of a trigger… I suddenly felt heartbroken and totally lost without my mom for a few moments. MAN would she have loved what my life has become and the people in it… A legitimate feeling of sadness and loss that was perched at the surface bubbled over.  I was emotionally raw and depleted anyway.  Why not just give in to it?  I grabbed a hug from my friend Jeff and maybe, just maybe, cried on him a little bit…

Dried my tear(s).  (I’m not normally a crier. And I was dehydrated anyway. 🙂 )

Grabbed some more water and some orange slices.

Went to search for more friends.

Took pictures. Hugged anyone and everyone who wanted a hug. And some who didn’t. 🙂 Even though we ALL smelled like yeti’s.

Spent some time just reveling in a sport that is as much about a new-found, welcoming family and a team environment as it is about the amazing individuals  and characters who embrace it.

I love this sport more every time I lace up my shoes.

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Close to mile 6. Photo credit goes to Jeff Sherman who sprinted ahead, laid down on the ground and let us ran at/hurdle over him as he snapped the shot. Hannah, Josh, me, Ana Lu and Kristie.

Taper.

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18 events in 2012. Most were walking events, and I was beginning to experiment a little with running. My first trail event. A 45 mile bike ride. 🙂 I knew NOTHING about being coached or running or tapering.

I’m getting close to a big race.

One of the final parts of getting ready for a race is called tapering.  (Those who have tapered are groaning in sympathy right now…)

You train, work hard, plan, focus, learn, grow for months…

Then you SHUT IT ALL DOWN.

You back things off for the week or so before the race.  (It only feels like a month or two… #tapertantrum)

OK.  That’s not true.

I haven’t shut it all down.

I’m still doing core work, running a little, stretching. And I am still trying to learn to swim… But my coach, Spencer, has me on a seriously scaled back running plan from what I would normally be doing if we were in an active training period.  (Uh… Appetite does NOT scale back accordingly just for the record.  It seems to have missed the tapering memo.)

In the past the tapering period has been a quasi-nightmare for me.  I spent the ‘down time’ convinced that I was gaining weight and losing ALL of my fitness and knew there was no-way-in-hell I would be ready for race day when I spent the days leading up being ‘lazy’…

I mean, you take the girl who fought for more than two years to learn to love to run and worked hard to make exercising an iron-clad lifestyle habit and you ask her to stop

Stop the routines I worked so hard to develop.  Stop working hard every time I put on my running shoes.  Stop being focused on food intake and energy outputs for a short period of time. Stop doing the thing that I know was almost single-handedly responsible for my ability to get off of insulin and reverse Type 2 Diabetes?

Yikes.

I’ve heard people describe the tapering period as ‘vacation’. No way.  For someone STILL trying to cement all of these notions, habits and practices into my head and life, it was more than a little daunting and scary.

Stopping and scaling things way back just seems wrong.

So tapering normally meant I was cranky and testy and started questioning all of my training and driving my friends and coach crazy with questions laced with self-doubt…

‘How’s the taper going? Have you killed anyone yet?’  — text from a friend

Yeah.  I was a peach while tapering.

So why taper if it drives me so nuts?  First, my coach says so.  Second, I’ve done it enough times now that I KNOW it works and that it’s an important part of the training process.

Quite simply? Tapering pays off on race day.

I understand now that what you’re really doing during the taper is bottling up energy and letting your body and mind repair and rest so that you can be totally ready to RUN your heart out.

When I was tapering for the North Face 50K back in November/December, I realized what a mental battle tapering really was for me. I took really good notes on the process and captured my thoughts and feelings along the way. I noted multiple times that I was feeling sincere anxiety at the inactivity.  I feared that I would enjoy the break from running so totally and completely that I would just decide I was never, ever going to run again.  I talked a LOT about being afraid of gaining weight and thought about how I would manage food if exercise was totally taken out of the equation. I thought maybe I would forget how to run.  I was worried that by sitting ‘idle’ all of my fitness was slipping away.

My brain was taking up the slack for the decreased physical activity.  And not in a good way.

Then race day came.  I ran well. Felt great.  Loved every minute of it. KNEW the morning of the race, before I ever got near the start line; tapering had worked exactly as it should have.

I finished the race and still wanted to run again. I was eager to get back to training. My weight is ALWAYS going to fluctuate. My fitness for race day was perfectly intact and ready to go to work.

So this time around I focused on NOT allowing that mental chess game to begin. I’ve focused on just enjoying it as part of the whole training process.

This is a local event.  LOTS of friends running it. It’s the ground, trails, mountains that I have fallen in love with.  It’s where I practice.  When Spencer and I talked about goals at the beginning of this year I told him that for this race, I not only wanted to do well, I wanted to enjoy every piece of the process.  Taper included.

Race day arrives in 5 days…  I will get to see my friends and people I only see at races and I will meet new friends.  I’ll lace up my Brooks and pin on my number and slip on my hydration pack. AND I will know that all the training I did is about to be turned loose and tested and used. 🙂

And the dreaded taper is officially OVER…

And I’ll run. 🙂

#runhappy

Guest Blog: Wade, Boston Marathon and running happy.

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He was FLYING down the hill. Smiling big time. As he should. The work paid off and he was enjoying the race.

Wade ran the Boston Marathon this past weekend.

He had a great race!

Wade ran a 2:44 marathon (world record is around 2:03ish)  with a 6:16 pace (that’s minutes per mile.).  Uh… That’s fast.  Just for the record.

Congrats to my friend on an amazing accomplishment, a race well run and more importantly a race run happy. 🙂

Run with it Wade… 🙂


Treadmills and the quest for happiness.

Betsy has an expression… “run happy”.

I can’t tell you how many signs I saw during Boston that had that expression on them… at least two (signs get a little hard to read when you are concentrating on not bouncing off the guy next to you and squinting through the rain, I’m sure there were more…)…  (I did see one from a Wellesley College girl about using her tongue…)

Anyways… I always tell Bets “I don’t run happy, I run hard”.  And that second part was especially true at Boston. I ran my legs off. But something else has occurred to me in the days since the race, and Betsy’s blog about ‘Force’ really cemented it for me.

In the lead up to, and since the race, people have asked how I trained, if it hurt (duh) and why I do it? All of the usual questions that Betsy has already outlined. Apparently we runners have a third eye on our foreheads… Do yourselves a favor and go read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Don’t read the reviews, just read the damn book. Then you will know why we run; to catch dinner.

One of the conversation themes has centered around the tough winter that the East coast has had, and training through it. Specifically (and this is a topic amongst both runners and non-runners), do you run inside?

NO!!! NO &$^#^#&#&&!!!!! WAY!!!!

For the record I ran ONE TIME on a dreadmill training for Boston. I never get blisters, and I got a blister. It was the most miserable five miles I have run in a long time.

So as I thought more about the race, and about Betsy’s blog on the connotations of “force(d)”, I also thought about why I submit my body to the stupidity that is a marathon. And, revelation here, it’s because running is fun and it makes me happy. Long cold snowy training runs are fun! (I don’t run on treadmills, because they suck, and it’s not fun.) I run because its enjoyable, I like it, I am happy when I run.

The exercise is a benefit, and don’t get me wrong, its an important part of the overall experience, but I wouldn’t run just for the exercise, exercise isn’t fun, its work. Running is FUN! Granted there are days where you have to embrace the suck. Hell there are weeks where you have to embrace the suck. There are days when you HAVE to go run in the cold, and the wind, and the dark, and it will not be entirely enjoyable. BUT it will beat running on a treadmill in that hot stuffy gym (treadmills are right next to Dementors in my book).

But at the end of it all, you get to run through some town, on some race, with a bunch of kids holding their hands out for a high five as you cruise (or trot, or hobble) by, and you will get to give them a high five. Their joy will give you joy. When you are at mile 22, and you are starting to hurt, you see your friends, and your mom cheering you on and you get to give them high fives (and not run into the fence) and they take awesome pictures to account for the craziness. And at mile 26.2 you will stop, and it will hurt like little else you have experienced. And you know what?! IT.IS.FUCKING.AWESOME!!!

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Mile 23.5. Family and friends screaming and cheering like maniacs. 🙂  Photo Credit to Thomas Griffin.

As Betsy said in her last blog, no one is forcing her to do this, she, and I, and Hannah, and every other person who sticks with running, or swimming, or under water basket weaving does it not because someone is making them, but because they find some joy in it, however twisted that joy may be.

“Training is what makes you into the athlete.  The ‘event’ is the celebration, the party!  You have done the WORK, put in the hours and learned a lot about yourself during training. The event is where you put it all together and see it in action!” ~ Betsy Hartley

If you aren’t a runner, its OK we understand… (But we really think you should buy some running shoes and give it an honest 3 months worth of effort… you will thank us at the end).

But understand that this is our sanity, and it’s fun. If you think it sucks then don’t do it. Life is too short to be miserable.

Go find something you enjoy, and kick ass at it.

Just so long as there is a party at the end.

Run Happy, Run Hard!