Boston Marathon Training Week 1- Jan 19-25

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So my journey to Boston began this week.  It was a much better week of training than last week. I think changing drugs for my belly helped settle that problem down so I have been resting better.

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The week ended with a race- The Asheville Hot Chocolate 10k.  Inside I was really dreading it and secretly trying to find a way out of running it.  Given how I’ve been feeling recently during my runs I didn’t think I had it in me to perform well. To put it bluntly, I didn’t want to embarrass myself!

The weather was looking iffy for the weekend and I thought I would be able to use an excuse of ice as a way of getting out of it. No luck. As you can see by the weather radar pick below, the storm parted with snow going north and raining heading south.  Asheville was spared and the race was on!

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The Hot Chocolate 10k is one of Asheville’s biggest races.  I think because of it being one of the first races of the year and being a 10k a lot of people come out for it (around 800 runners.) I love it because it’s a great time to see running friends that I haven’t seen since the previous fall races.

My warm up sucked. 3 miles of heavy legs. I was really dreading the race. About 15 minutes before the start I popped a caffeinated GU and did some strides and high knee drills. I was really anxious at the start line. It was then I decided to let go of any goals or expectations and just run the best race I could that day.

The course is an out and back. The first mile is a steep downhill; I had to hold myself back a little. People were passing me left and right. I locked in to about an 8:10 pace for miles 2-4. At the turn around we were met with a brutal headwind.  I asked a guy running next to me if he wanted to take turns drafting. He kind of smirked. I took the lead first. I guess I was too slow for him as he quickly passed me. I tucked in behind him and sat on him for 1/2 a mile.  The pace felt a little slow (8:20) but any time I tried to cut out away from him I was working hard to keep an 8:15. I decided to settle in behind him and relax in the 8:20 pace saving energy for the big climb at the end. A picture is worth a thousand words. You can see the hill on my Strava post. It was a beast. My pace slowed to 11:40!! Everyone around me was walking, I refused.

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My finish time was 52:48- a 2:30 course PR and 20sec overall PR! I’ll take it!  The icing on top was Top Grandmaster Female. Awesome swag came with this including the beautiful mug below.  The best part of the day was the lesson learned at the start line.  Some of the best races happen when you just run!

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This week of training- (from Zap Fitness Coach Ryan Warrenburg)

Goal 27-32 miles-  31.3 miles

Monday-4-5 miles easily with 6 x 20sec strides post run + core- 5@ 10:43.(last mile 10:03-uphill). Early morning. Strides x 6.

Tuesday-7-8 miles total; 3 miles easily; light 3 mile progression from 9:00-05 down to 8:40-45 pace; easy cool down- 8miles- 3.5 warm up, 9:00, 8:50, 8:45, 1.5 mile cool down. Ran with a girlfriend who is at same level, same stride and also training for Boston. Nice to do workouts with someone else. Helps the pain pass faster! Beautiful day. Felt good. 

Wednesday- Off + core x20

Thursday-4-5 miles easy running- 5miles at 10:18. Early morning run with girlfriends. Felt good.

Friday-3-4 miles easily with 6 x 20sec strides post run + core- Cold, rainy. 3.3 miles at 9:48 with strides x 6 plus core work. Good pre-race shakeout. 

Saturday-9-10 miles total; 2-3 miles warmup (if its below 40 make sure you go on the longer end); 10k Race; 1 mile easy cool down-Hot Chocolate 10K-10miles total- 3 mile warmup, 1 mile cool down. 35 degrees, 15mph winds. Head wind on back half. Beast of a hill at end. PR 52:40, Grandmaster. 2:30 course PR over 2014. 20sec overall PR. Splits: 7:45, 8:08, 8:10, 8:13, 8:28, (9:40, 9:20.-hill) For a comparison, my splits last year: 7:49, 8:46, 8:39, 8:36, 8:45, 9:53, 9:32.

Sunday- OFF

11 weeks until the Boston Marathon!

How was your week? Did you race?

 

#FridayFive- Five Things About Me

TGIF! Today I’m linking up with EatPrayRunDC, YouSignedUpForWhat? and MarOnTheRun for the #FridayFive. This week’s theme is, “Five Things About Me.”  I had fun digging through old pictures for today’s post. So let’s get to it!

1. I was born in Boston!  My dad was in the Air Force at the time, stationed at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. My growing up years were mainly in Texas (Fort Worth, Abilene and Lubbock.) I later moved back to Boston in my 20s.  My family roots are actually in Boston.  John Winchester came over in the 1600s and squatted land which is now Brookline (at that time called, “the Muddy District.)  In my heart I belong in Boston. It’s in my blood!  Can’t wait to run there this spring!  Love that Muddy Water!

2. I’ve volunteered around the globe for Habitat for Humanity including Costa Rica, Kenya, India and Nepal.  My favorite trip has been to Kenya. It was an all women’s build. After we finished building the homes we spent a few days on safari!

Hauling rock to be crushed to make the foundation for the house.- Kenya
Hauling rock to be crushed to make the foundation for the house.- Kenya
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Home dedication-Nepal

3. In 2001 some girlfriends and I rode our bicycles across Iowa with RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). If you love to cycle this should be on your bucket list! About 500 miles over the course of a week with about 10,000 other cyclists!  It is one wild and crazy time!  My motivation each day was to try to find home baked chocolate chip cookies in each of the towns we passed through.

Pancake break! With my best girlfriend, Diane.
Pancake break! With my best girlfriend, Diane.

4. Some girlfriends and I spent a week hiking the Grand Canyon off the North Rim. The first day my pack weighed 60lbs! It was so heavy because we had to bring in water for the first 2 days and stash water for the last day’s hike out. It was an amazing journey.  The Canyon is a magical place.  I highly recommend a trip there and if you are fit enough, do some hiking.  It’s spectacular.

image5. Last tidbit of info about me, I met my husband through Match.com!  Yep!  It was a great experience. Several of my friends have met their spouses through Match as well.

imageSo there you have it!  Now your turn!  Tell me one thing about you.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!  Be blessed!

 

 

Day 1- Training for the Boston Marathon!

Well today is the kick off day for my training for the Boston Marathon!  5 easy miles this morning with three great girlfriends followed up with post run strides (6x20sec).  These women are my core running group.  I am so thankful to have them!  No flakes in this group!  If they say they are going to show up then I know they will be there- rain, snow, dark, or cold.

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Now I know some of you are saying, “What?? You are just now starting your training for Boston?!”  Not really, I’ve been training for months working on my base.  My coach, however, likes to keep training blocks for marathons to 12 weeks.  He finds that training longer than that can be mentally exhausting and people tend to peak before the race.  I know that I’ve got three 3-week blocks each ramping up to a 20+mi run then a 3 week taper to race day!  I’ll be posting weekly updates of the ups and downs of training. Thanks for following along!

So here’s to the crazy ones!  Proud to be a part of that tribe called marathoners!

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What race are you training for right now?

 

 

 

 

 

My week of Training: January 11-17

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It’s hard for me to share this post.  I’m one that tends to talk about only the good in my life. I don’t like talking about the bad but that’s not being honest.  About a month after that race I ran a 5k and performed horribly. Well, it felt horrible. I was short of breath even on the downhills! My legs just wouldn’t turn over quick and they lacked that certain “snap.” I was confused as I thought I should have PR’d coming off of all that marathon training.  My runs in general were sluggish; I was sleeping a lot and I was irritable.  My coach suggested I get my ferritin level (iron level) checked and sure enough it was low…really low. I wasn’t, however, anemic.

Why is ferritin important to runners? To put it simply, the body needs ferritin to make red blood cells and red blood cells are what carry oxygen to our muscles. More RBCs=more oxygen=more speed. Here is a link to a good article about ferritin and it’s importance in runners.

I started taking iron pills in mid-November. Those of you who have taken them know they can cause a lot of GI upset.  By Christmas my stomach was torn up and I had to stop them and go on medicine for gastritis. With all this stomach stuff my back has become unhappy with muscle spasms from the referred pain from the belly. I haven’t been sleeping well either.  Suffice it to say, running has suffered a bit.  I was beginning to get anxious about training for Boston.

Last week I finally saw my doctor and we figured out  a regimen of drugs to settle down my stomach and I am happy to report it’s working!  Happier stomach=happier back=better sleep = happier Mary.  All that adds up to better training.  It will be a couple of weeks before I can resume iron pills so in the mean time I’m making sure that I focus on  iron rich foods like clams, oysters, beef, and kale. Vitamin C is important, too, as it enhances iron absorption but I can’t have citrus right now so I’m getting it in the form of strawberries, kiwi and sweet potatoes.

This past week of training started off rough but after seeing my doctor mid-week things started turning around. I was pleasantly surprised by my long run Saturday.

Other good things this week:

I found out I was chosen to run for Team Zensah!  I love their compression sleeves. They really make a difference in my recovery.  Be on the look out for a review and give away in the near future!

My 85 year old dad ran the Houston Chevron 5k on Saturday.  He was the oldest runner and finished 900 out of 4700 runners!  His finishing time of 27:53 was a minute faster than last year!  He attributes it to increasing his volume and adding strides (he finally listened to my suggestions!) I am soooo proud of him!  He continues to be a source of huge inspiration.

Training for Boston officially starts tomorrow!

Monday-  (4-5 miles easily with 6 x 20sec strides post run + core)- Skipped it. I had not slept well the night before and just felt poorly.

Tuesday6-7 miles with a gentle fartlek run within the middle of run of 2 x (3min-2-1) with an easy 2 min jog btw each; Rough.  Lots of hills. My quads really burned. I’m thinking it was the medicine I was on (Prilosec). My quads weren’t burning like this in November or December.  I stopped it and was started on Protonix.

WednesdayOFF + core- Rest day. 20min of core work.

Thursday3-4 miles easily-  4 at 10:15. Felt good. 

Friday4-5 miles easily with 6 x 20sec strides post run + core- 5 @ 10:03 with strides ranging 6:30 ->5:30. A good run. No burn. I think changing meds helped.

Saturday13-14 miles relaxed running- 14 miles averaging 10:16. 2:24:30.  733ft of elevation gain. I was anxious about this run given how the week started. I tried not to look at my watch because typically I would feel like I was running 9:30 and only be running 11:00. And then my brain would start the negative talk… This run, however, went great. I think endorphins played a big role in the second half. I didn’t slow down. When I reviewed my Garmin upload it showed that I had held a steady pace the entire time even on a 3 mile 300ft climb. There is hope!  I’m turning a corner! 

Sunday- OFF- walked the dog. Feeling pretty good.

It’s been a bit of a rough patch but things seem to be turning.  Have you been through a rough patch with your training?  How did you deal with it?

 

Tips for Qualifying for the Boston Marathon

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The Boston Marathon

 

Some things in life come to us by sheer luck. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is not one of them.  It takes dedication and hard work to make it happen. As I embark on my training for Boston I’ve been reflecting on how I got to this point. I hope to repeat the great experience I had at my first marathon where I  qualified – the Erie Marathon, September, 2014.  I thought I would share with you some of the reasons that I think made it possible for me to qualify.

1. I waited until I was ready.  So many people jump into running with the idea of running a marathon as their first race.  When I started running I really didn’t have a desire to run 26.2 miles.  I couldn’t see myself out on a course for hours.  As I became a stronger and raced longer distances the idea of racing 26.2 became more intriguing. Still, I wasn’t interested in tackling it until I was pretty sure I would qualify.  My first half marathon at the BAA Half in October, 2013 went well. My finishing time was 1:56. Based on the McMillan calculator I knew I was getting close to being ready. (My current qualifying time is 4:00 based on the qualifying standards).  Last January my coach and I discussed running a marathon. He felt based on my half performance and level of training at that time I should be ready by the fall to run a sub-4 hour race.

2. Choose your marathon wisely. I spent a lot of time researching marathons on the website www.marathonguide.com. On it you will find just about every marathon in the country complete with unbiased reviews. They also have a couple of charts that list which marathons for the previous year had the highest number of Boston qualifiers and the highest percentage of Boston qualifiers. I knew I wanted to run a fall race and I knew I wanted it to be small. The race that best met my criteria and would give me the best chance to qualify for Boston, 2015 was the Erie Marathon.  People, this little race (2500 runners) is the best kept secret! It is fast and flat with one of the highest percentages of BQs and so well run. I’ll write a review on it soon.

3. Choose a plan and stick with it.  I often read where people choose a couple of plans and try to mix them. It doesn’t work. Plans are designed by coaches with specific philosophies in mind and based on how the body adapts to training. Rest/recovery days are just as important as tempo runs and long runs. For me, I chose to go with coaching and I love it (Ryan Warrensburg of Zap Fitness). I didn’t have to worry if I was doing the right work out or running the right paces for my intervals. I would wake up and look at the work out for the day and go. Also, my coach pushed me harder than I would have pushed myself. I’ve learned through working with Ryan that he knows me at times better than I know myself.  He has been key in my success.

4. Commit yourself to your training.  One of my mantras I use when I’m needing some motivation to get out the door is , “Ain’t no one gonna make that PR dream come true but you.”  You’ve got to do the workouts. You’ve got to put in the miles. No excuses.

5. Train like the elites and keep your easy runs easy.  My coach often emphasized the importance of keeping my easy runs and long runs slow.  It’s important to building the aerobic engine that you need to power you through 26.2 miles.  I train 5 days a week. 4 of the 5 days are easy runs. One day is committed to speed work. Two days a week I’ll finish an easy run with strides. In the days to come I’ll post more about my training.

6. Commit to the process.  Making it to Boston requires more than just putting in the miles.  It means proper nutrition and hydration, adequate sleep, core work, foam rolling  and stretching, and even journaling. Keeping a log of everything about your training will help you pinpoint mistakes when bad workouts happen (which they will.) Journaling about what you take in during a run, what works and what doesn’t,  will help you plan your race day nutrition.

Motivational poster I made for my marathon training. I posted my daily workouts. Helped me staycommitted and focused on the goal- a BQ!
Motivational poster I made for my marathon training. I posted my daily workouts. Helped me staycommitted and focused on the goal- a BQ!

7. Mental training.  Lastly, it takes mental toughness to make through the rigors of training for the marathon as well as racing it. I developed a handful of mantras that would help me through the tough points. I also did a lot of visualization of the race course, the finish line, and the Boston finish line. These images fueled me when I was feeling like giving up. There is a lot out there on this subject. I found the book, “Elite Minds,” by Dr Stan Beecham, to be particularly helpful. Jeff Galloway also has a great book on this subject, “Mental Training for Runners.”

So by no means do I think that I am an authority on the subject of qualifying for the Boston Marathon! These are just some thoughts of what I think helped me to qualify. Everyone is different and there are many ways to get there.

Have you qualified before for Boston? What tips do you have for someone who is attempting it?

#FridayFive- Five Things I Love About Asheville

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Today I’m linking up with  EatPrayRunDC, YouSignedUpForWhat?  and MarOnTheRun   for the #FridayFive. The theme is “Five Things I Love About My Favorite City.” Well, it just so happens that my favorite city is my hometown!  Asheville is located in the mountains of Western North Carolina.  For being so small (pop. 75,000) it is packed with greatness!  Frommer’s just listed it as one of the number one cities in the world to visit in 2015! So here are five reasons why I love my hometown:

1. Location, location, location!  Asheville is located in one of the most beautiful areas of the country! Smack dab in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains it’s close proximity  to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true. Some of the best mountain biking, trail running, white water kayaking, hiking, and backpacking can be found here. World class athletes live here because of the close proximity to trails.

2. Food!  Asheville is definitely a foodie’s town! It is starting to make a name for itself on the national food scene. Whatever you are looking for it is here! The hottest restaurant in town right now is Curate’. Chef Katie Button trained at the world renown elBulli and shares her talent and passion with the Asheville food scene.

3. Beer!  Deemed “Beer City USA” there are now more breweries per capita than any city in the US!  Some big names in brewing including Sierra Nevada and New Belgium have discovered this sweet little city and are calling it home.

4. The Biltmore House!  This beautiful estate is the largest private home in the country. If you like Downton Abbey you will love the Biltmore House. I liken it to a museum. It has one of the most amazing art collections including Sargent, Boldini and Renoir.  My favorite part is the grounds. Comprising over 125,000 acres I liken it to Asheville’s own “Central Park” as the grounds were designed by the renowned landscape architect  Frederick Law Olmsted.

5. The arts! There are hundreds of artists studios downtown and in the River Arts districts. You will find every style, every medium.  Many are known nationally and internationally. One of my favorite artists is Spencer Herr.

There you have it!  What I love about my favorite city! Have you been to Asheville? What do you like about it? What is your favorite city?

*Thank you Courtney, Cynthia and Mar for the link up!

The Ultimate Playlist for the Ultimate Marathon-> Boston!

 

 

Boston Marathon

 

Well, the time is almost here!  Training for the Boston Marathon officially starts for me one week from tomorrow!  This weekend I’ve been working  on the ultimate playlist for the ultimate marathon!  It’s made up of songs that hopefully will motivate me and fuel my fire!  There are fast songs to get me going and slow songs to relax me. I won’t wear music while I run Boston as I want to take it all in but I will be wearing tunes during training. What tunes get you fired up? What song(s) would you add to the list? (Use the scroll bar in the list to see all 35 songs.)

2014 – A Look at My Year in Running

What a fantastic year 2014 has turned out to be!  12 races including my first marathon, over 1300 miles logged, a trail run with Bart Yasso and I became an ambassador for Oiselle and Nuun! Whew!  Thanks to a great coach (Ryan Warrenberg of Zap Fitness) I had a great year. We started with what seemed to me some lofty goals but I’ve learned though through working with Ryan that if he believes I can do it then I can.  It just takes me having faith and executing as the plan as directed.

Trail run with Bart Yasso!
Trail run with Bart Yasso! I had seen on Twitter that he was coming to my home town. I contacted him and he invited me on a trail run with him and a young woman who had won a Mizuno contest which included Bart as a trail running guide. Such a fun, spontaneous moment in life. Such a nice guy!

Spring training was mainly focused on the half marathon distance. At my first half marathon in Boston in October 2013 my goal was to run a sub-2 hour race. I came in at 1:56. My goal for 2014 was sub-1:55. Training went well and along the way I had some PRs at some 5k and 10k races. I ran my “A” race in March at the  Swamp Rabbit Half and came in with a new PR of 1:52.  A sweet surprise was my coach meeting me at the finish line!

Coach Ryan Warrenberg surprising me at the end of my half marathon.
Coach Ryan Warrenberg surprising me at the end of my half marathon.

With summer came training for my first marathon. I decided to run the Erie Marathon because of its size (2500 runners) and it’s historically high percentage of runners qualifying for Boston. The course is a  beautiful fast and flat 13 mile loop  through Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA. I found it by researching on the website www.marathon guide.com.

Overall training went really well despite the heat and humidity.

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In August I headed to Chicago to run the Zooma Half Marathon as a prep race for the marathon. It was my first race as a member of the Oiselle Flock! The race was a part of a 21 mile workout that day (thanks, Coach! Ugh!) Despite the heat and humidity the race went well. It wasn’t a PR but I did get first in age group!

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Chilling my legs after running the Zooma Half Marathon in Chicago. It was cold!

 

The Erie Marathon was in the middle of September. Fortunately the weather cooled off that weekend and the temperature at the starting time was a perfect 50°! I remember at about mile six thinking “What am I doing? This is going to reallly hurt!”  Quitting though at that point was not an option! Things got better and I hung in there. My coach warned me that the pain would start around mile 15 and sure enough it did. My right IT band and right knee kept me from accelerating. I was afraid of making things worse. I was able to hold my  pace and pass people through what I call “the zombie zone” (miles 24-26). My goal time was 3:55. I came pretty close with a 3:58 finish which still qualified me for Boston! image

 

635479653132746680One of the hardest things during marathon training was sharing with other runners my  goals. When I would tell them it was my first marathon and I was trying to qualify for Boston the eyes would roll. I knew it seemed crazy but I had put off running the marathon until I knew that I could run a qualifying time. My coach believed I could do it so why shouldn’t I believe it, too?  So many tried to dash my dreams. I kept the faith. I knew I could do it and I did! I’ll be running the Boston Marathon in 2015! Lesson learned: surround yourself with people who support you in your pursuit of your dreams.

So my goals for 2015:

1.  Run a sub 1:50 half marathon in New York in March! This is going to be a girls weekend getaway. I’m hoping to also meet up with some Oiselle team members as well.

2. Run a sub 3:55 marathon at Boston! My brother will also be running that day.

3. Run a 23:30 5k this summer.

4. Break the 50min wall on the 10k.

5. Work on increasing my overall strength.

6. Get to know more of my Oiselle flockmates!

7. Coach for Girls on the Run!
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What are some of your goals for 2015?

Holiday Running Playlist

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Holiday Running Playlist

I love the holidays, especially the music. Come Thanksgiving I’ve got my car radio tuned in for 24/7 Christmas music. And it doesn’t stop in the car or at home. I’ve got my  iPod loaded.  There’s something fun about rockin’ out to “Run, Run Rudolph” while out on a run! Now not all holiday music is run worthy, but there are a few good tunes out there. This season my list is a little heavy with Pentatonix. I love their fresh take on the classics and their beat is a little quicker; great for a running mix. Here are some of my picks for this year:

*Carol of the Bells- Pentatonix

* All I Want For Christmas is You- Mariah Carey

* Run, Run Rudolph- Jimmy Buffett

* Linus and Lucy- Vince Guaraldi Trio

* Sleigh Ride- Relient K

* Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree- Mary J. Blidge & Sheryl Crow

* Christmas Baby, Please Come Home- Bon Jovi

* Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town- Bruce Springsteen

Hark the Herald Angels Sing- Pentatonix

* Christmas Canon Rock- Trans-Siberian Orchestra

* Do You Hear What I Hear- Destiny’s Child

* Joy To the World- Train

* Carol of the Bells- Pentatonix

* What Christmas Means to Me- Cee Lo Green

 

So here’s the scoop on the giveaway:  One lucky winner will receive a $15 iTunes card to help them load up their favorite holiday tunes.  There are multiple ways to enter via Rafflecopter below:  follow this blog, follow me on Twitter, tweet about this giveaway daily; tell me your favorite holiday tune to take on your run! You must log in to Rafflecopter to enter to win. Good luck!

Contest runs 12/9-17.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Where it all began…

Growing up I was not very athletically inclined.  In high school I was a marching band nerd.  Team sports were not my thing.  I was always the last one chosen  for volleyball.   In college I played golf but only because I had a crush on one of the guys on the golf team.  After grad school at Duke I moved to the mountains of North Carolina where I made friends with some people who were very “outdoorsy.”  (Every other person in Asheville is very “outdoorsy.”)  They introduced me to the woods and to hiking, backpacking and mountain biking.  I even spent a few years white water kayaking and actually was pretty good!  In my 30s I tried running but it just didn’t click with me. It wasn’t the right time in my life. I had too many distractions that kept me from committing to it fully.

In 2008, I suffered a crippling back injury. It’s a long story of a massage gone bad.  For 6 months I was out of work and facing the possibility of disability.  That word freaked. me. out.  I would not accept that sentencing.  With the help of an amazing physical therapist who believed in me and stuck with me, I was able to crawl out of a very deep, dark hole.  I remember feeling so proud of myself at being able to walk a 5k!

In the winter of 2011 I got the inspiration to start running.  My dad, 82 at the time, was racing 5ks and I wanted to be able to run one with him.  I started training but it was hard. Really hard. My body hurt. I was so short of breath.  I would stop and start several times before I truly committed to training in the spring of 2012.  My dad and I had set our goal of running together at the Biltmore Kiwanis 5k in May.

Race day came and it was a blast! We both did well with podium finishes! I loved the feeling of winning. I loved the feeling of accomplishment. I was hooked!

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Running still wasn’t easy but races were fun and that kept me coming back for more.  I learned a hard lesson though that year. I was very, very competitive.  I raced to crush the competition.  After a while it started not feeling so good.  I wasn’t making many friends!  It was after reading the book, “Running Within: A guide to Mastering the Body-Mind-Spirit” by Jerry Lynch and Warren Scott, that I learned racing is not about crushing the person next to you. Racing is between you, the clock and the distance. Once I changed my perspective racing became fun again! And I started making friends!

So here I am starting into my third year of this love affair with running.  I have several 5ks and 10ks behind me, a couple of half marathons and my first full marathon this fall in Erie, PA (full report to come!)  Running has brought into my life so many wonderful experiences and people.  Most of all I enjoy the connection I feel with the world around me when I’m out running by myself.

What do you love most about running?  What lessons have you learned on your journey?

 

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