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Archive for the ‘endorphins’ Category

What an amazingly beautiful day!  33 degrees and sunny.  Amazing running weather and perfect to get the endorphins flowing.

Here’s the best photo I found of what this day looks and feels like.  Wish I had taken it.  But my run felt just like this, even though it was on the city street.

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Even though my eyes were more ambitious than my legs (2 runs in less than 15 hours, ouch!), I’m glad I got a chance to get out there and breathe in the beauty of that cold, sunny mile.

Hope you get the chance to get out there and enjoy some of this gorgeous winter weather too.

Last of all, my Big Thought on today’s run:  We’re not promised a tomorrow.  Love and appreciate every minute of today!  (Trite, but true.)  Enjoy!

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No snow today in our area.  In fact it was warmer than usual, but still just perfect temp-wise for this cold-weather running junkie.

No slush or mess (darn), but cool enough to make the run fun and slightly crazy.

If felt like this:

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And no, this isn’t me.  (Not hardly.)

My route was through my neighborhood with enough crumbly curbs that I just decided to run in the asphalt bike path to avoid injury.  I’m not in quite as great shape as this chickie.  (Ha!)  But I can tell you, my shoes sure did look better than hers!

In any case, I decided early on in my running adventures that I wasn’t going to let how I looked determine how I felt when I ran, or whether I had the nerve to get out there and run at all.  Several years ago, a local chiropractor had encouraged me to get active and gave me some tips on running, since I’d tried that a few times in my life.

The biggest obstacle for me at the time was getting out there at all.  I had let myself get so out of shape that I was completely humiliated.  I wondered how hard it would be to run under cover of darkness or in the very early morning so that I wouldn’t horrify innocent bystanders.  I couldn’t look in the mirror and deal with myself, let alone imagine the awful spectacle I was sure to become if I began running where people could see me.

The other option, of course, was trail running.  But since at the time I was terrified of encountering the axe murderer if I was alone on some trail, I opted out of the alone-in-the-wilderness opportunity.  (FYI:  Still terrified of the axe murderer.  I do trails now, but not by myself.  Call me paranoid, but I’m still here!)

Eventually, I made the hard decision to care more about my health and well-being than about how I looked and whether I would become the daily entertainment for potential rude pea-brains who probably never ran a half-block, much less a half-marathon.  I decided that what mattered to me was my plan for my life and health, and what that meant to me as a mother, daughter, wife and friend.  I decided that rather than focus on how things might appear to be at the moment (bad and blubbery), that I would focus on my vision for my health and my future (bright and vital).

And what happened was amazing.  I was able to go from walking to short runs and then long runs.  I never became a fast runner, but I was cool with that as an adult-onset athlete.  I became determined to get those runs done.  The more challenging the weather and terrain, the better runner I became.  I grew stronger physically, mentally and emotionally.  And years later, even after breaks from running, I know that lacing up my shoes and heading out onto the road holds the promise of that strength.

And I came to realize that even though my route may not be as beautiful as Chickie’s route in the photo above, and even though my bod may not be as fit as her 20-ish little self, I have something better for myself day by day.  Because I keep on going and keep focusing on my vision, every run becomes a championship run for me.  Every run really holds the possibility of feeling like this photo on the inside, regardless of my circumstances.  And on days like today, where the weather and the circumstances and the emotions of the day and the endorphin cocktail combine just right, the Strong is even Stronger.  And the experience is something absolutely Beautiful.

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I hate thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve sat down to write here.  Even now, I feel like I’m sitting down with a long, lost friend.  It’s great to be back.  Thanks for missing me.  I’ve missed you, too.

You know this.  Moms-Who-Run wear many hats.  You can wear lots of them at once.  But not all of them.  Still, it’s easy to forget that your head is only so big and only so many hats will fit up there.

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Then, when Life lifes you, as mine has this past year, you realize what’s most important.  And those are the hats you wear.  And those are the things you do. 

So it was that as a Mother-Runner-Daughter-Wife-Writer-Teacher-Reader-Student-Knitter-Saleswoman-Public Speaker-Trainer-Cheerleader-Chauffer-Cleaning Committee Member-Moving Crew Member-Chief Laundress-Referee-Wound Treater-Hug Giver-God Lover-and Glue that Holds It All Together for My Family, with the application of enough pressure, heartache and disaster, some of these hats had to be taken off and thrown onto the pile with the dirty laundry for awhile.   

If you asked my daughters, they’d tell you exactly what I need:  “You need to run.  And you need coffee.  After God and us, of course.  And your running is good for all of us, Mom.  Seriously.  Same with the coffee.”

So what does Mom-Who-Runs do?

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with financial disaster, she runs. 

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with heartbreak, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with the loss of a home, a friend, a dream, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs realizes she can no longer write, knit, dance, play, because there truly is no longer time for these luxuries, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with ending her kids’ homeschool experience and putting her kids back in traditional school in order to get a job and help her family survive, she runs. 

When Mom-Who-Runs has a husband in intensive care, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs hears her own mother and number one support system has been diagnosed with stage three cancer, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs switches roles and cares for the mother who’s sacrificed so much caring for her all these years, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs gets to pack and move an entire household with her own hands and the help of her two cherubs and a few very loving friends who come through when it counts, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs gets to choke back her own sorrow while she wipes the tears from her daughters’ eyes as they say goodbye to the only home they’ve ever known, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs turns into a puddle (finally breaking down under the pressure) just because someone has been nice to her, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs is surprised by her own medical diagnosis, shares it with her boss, and is fired coincidentally the next day, she runs. 

And she runs.  And she runs.  And she runs.

And she loves her children and her God with a love that is fierce.

And she runs.

And if she doesn’t run, then you know that something is wrong.  And if you love her, you move heaven and earth to get her back on the road or the trail or the treadmill again.

Because the running will bring her back.

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During the time I’ve been away, I’ve run a full marathon, two half-marathons, an ultra and several 5Ks and trail races.  I’ve logged hundreds of miles.  I really haven’t gotten any faster or skinnier. 

But thanks to the running and my kids and the prayers of my family and friends, I am BACK.  Along with my Writer Hat.  And I think we might just stay awhile. 

 

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I’m running my Longest. Run. Ever. today.  14 miles.  Kinda freaked out about it.  Now, I’ve BEEN out there longer, having run a 5-hour how-far-can-you-go run and an 8-hour ultra.  But both of those longer distance runs also involved lawn chairs and a change of socks.  This run involves me, my shoes, my water bottles (binkies) and hopefully, a stop at Mom’s Halfway House Potty Stop.  

I. Can. Do. This.  

Last week’s long run was only 6.5 miles, so I’ve officially done the “backing off” portion of this cycle of the training program.  The verdict:  yuck.  I need a long run, for sure.  I may be getting pretty far gone with this running sickness thing.  Possibly.  Perhaps it’s too soon to tell.  

What’s that?  You want to know where the heck I’ve been for the past 10 days?  Besides whining about my not-so-long run?  Well, I’ll get into that story on a different post if you really want to know.  But for now, I gotta get out there and hit the pavement… 

 

Photo Credit~Again, This ISN’T Me~Hardly! 

THE PLAN:  14 mile run today.  Longest ever to date.  Woo Hoo! 

PREDICTION:  Awesome, of course. 

THE REALITY:  To be determined.  I’ll update you all afterwards, assuming I survive. 

 [UPDATE]:   Well, 14 miles is a very, very long way.  But I made it!  And I was able to run the whole way (of course, be mindful that I run very sloooowww, so I was out there a loooooooooonnnnnnggg time!).  

The weather was perfect for me.  Not messy enough, mind you, with the dry pavement, but in the 30’s the entire run.  Only felt too cold at an especially windy stretch.  

I was at the 13.1 mile point (half-marathon distance) a full 10 minutes faster than I ran in VA Beach in September, so that’s a big improvement for me.  

[GUY ALERT: I don’t care at all if you’re a guy and read the next three paragraphs, but you might.  I’m just saying…]  The biggest challenge, though, was the dreaded PMS that I’m SO sick of dealing with.  My family, they love dealing with it,  but me, I’m sick of it!  You’d think that when you’re perimenopausal, you’d at least be able to get rid of some of the more obnoxious PMS sidekicks, like the Zit Monster and the Desire-To-Eat-Everything-In-The-House Monster.  But NO.  It’s like you’re being squeezed in from both sides of nature’s timeline.  Monsters everywhere.  Just. Not. Fair. 

The delightful PMS sidekick that went with me on my run today was the Water Monster.  More appropriately, it would be named the Water Retention Monster, but that doesn’t sound nearly as scary.  Now, back when I wasn’t watching what I ate with any real consistency, or before then when my favorite method of dealing with stress was diving headfirst into a family sized bag of peanut butter M&M’s, I really didn’t notice the Water Monster much.  But now, when I’m doing Weight Watchers and sticking with the plan for REAL and STILL end up putting on a pound and a half in the course of a week, I am acutely aware of the villain that is Water Monster.  So today, I ran 14 miles with the equivalent of several water balloons happily sloshing along for the ride.  

 

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Not the most enjoyable way to spend the morning, but hey, it was beautiful and quiet and generated a supply of endorphins that are sure to help me doing battle with the Mood Monster, Water Monster’s ugly twin.  And that’s a win.  Any way you look at it! 

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Nope, this isn’t a picture of the rain that’s been falling and falling and falling and falling in my hometown for days.  But it could have been.

And nope, I never ran on this particular road on this particular day in these particular conditions.  But I would have, if I’d had the opportunity. 

Used to be, the gray, rainy, windy, cold conditions of late Fall and early Spring, really got to me.  And not in a good way.  At one time, I even considered the possibility that I might have that sunlight deficiency syndrome–whatever it’s called.  I would be moody, crabby, blue. 

This year has been different.  This year I have encountered the Running Transformation.  True, the body hasn’t been entirely very transformed, but my attitude is getting quite the overhaul.  Here (in part) is how:

I discovered that I really love to run in the rain.  The colder and wetter and windier and messier, the better, really.  I think it’s absolutely awesome and my attitude, coupled with the endorphins that flow during and after a decent run, have caused me to have a Pavlovian response to a rainy weather forecast.  I actually feel better when I know it’s going to rain and I can get out and run in it.

I know, it’s Just. Not. Right.  But I can’t help myself.  I love it.

Partly, I think it helps that I’ve got a few pieces of couldn’t-run-in-the-cold-and-rain-without-them running gear that have made a humongous difference in the enjoyment department.  For instance, the right shoes and socks have kept my feet cozy dry in downpours and while running through puddle-laden streets.  (I promise I’ll do posts on my very useful gear pieces separately.  And soon.  Don’t give up on me…I’m just random like this.)

Also, I think it’s kinda cool to feel cozy, warm and dry, even when the cold rain is splashing on my face.  I love the contradiction.  Plus, it’s perfectly fine for me to have people think I’m a little crazy.  I rather enjoy it. 

Then there’s the idea that I hate being told what to do.  When the weather guy tells us how cold and rainy it’s going to be and the darling little anchor sitting near him becomes all sad and says in her sweet little voice, “Brrr…No fun…Bring your umbrella and bundle up…Stay inside if you can,” I think, “How stupid.  They can’t tell me what to do and how to feel about this weather!”  Yet, this was the first year I actually had a viable alternative to rainy-day-misery.

When I run in the rain, I feel like with every step I take, I’m crushing all that negativity and with every swing of my arm, I punch that doom-and-gloom attitude right in the nose.  When it’s cold, I am awake, alert, and alive–and I often don’t even need that second pot of coffee.  When it’s windy and messy and muddy and sloppy, the challenge is invigorating and (dare I say it?) fun.

And my times are actually better in the rain.  Not that my times matter (like, AT ALL), since my running times still put me well behind most runners, albeit ahead of the walkers.  Still, the contradiction thing keeps sparking my interest–lots of runners have slower times in the rain.  Once again, I am the opposite of normal.

Anyway, just wanted you to know that as we all deal with the downpours together, there’s somebody out here really, really happy about the weather.  If you really hate the weather, I promise to do my best to enjoy it for you!  No need to thank me. 

And just think.  Soon, I get to try my feet at snow! 

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In case you didn’t catch this last Friday, I am training for a marathon, so once a week I go on a long run.  Each Friday I’ll post my predictions and results here, so you’ll get that feeling of running with me.  

I thought for a moment of posting the results of my weight loss adventure on Fridays as well, assisted by your awesome recipe entries in The Contest, but then another thought occurred to me:  I actually have to COOK those yummy things.  I won’t actually get healthier and lose any weight by just reading the recipes and wishing.  Oops.  Well, that will be an adventure for next week and surely, I’ll post about it. 

But I digress.  Back to Long Run Friday.

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THE PLAN:  9 mile run today.  In my cold-weather trail shoes. Assuming it’s cold enough.  (Have I mentioned I love running in cold weather?) 

PREDICTION:  Awesome, of course.

THE REALITY:  To be determined.  I’ll update you all afterwards, assuming I survive.

[UPDATE]:

I had a great 9.5 mile run cold, but gorgeous-weather today. 

I had a few obstacles, most self-imposed, that caused it to be a little tougher than it needed to be, however.  Like, I ate meat last night and I’d already learned the hard way NEVER to eat meat within 24 hours of a long run.  I’ll save the details of how I came to that knowledge in a different post, but suffice it to say, once I thought through the potential impact that my dinner would have on this morning’s run, I called my mom, whose home is at about the halfway point, and asked her to leave her door open in case I needed to stop and potty at the halfway house.  (I did.)

I ran in trail shoes, because of the cold and because I really wanted to try them.  Note to self:  trail shoes belong on the trail.  Or in the snow.  Or in the rain.  They’re heavier and don’t breathe as easily, so the experience wasn’t quite as awesome as it will be in more extreme conditions.  I’m excited to try them in the snow!

I also tried new water bottles and wore gloves today for the first time.  Definitely too many firsts to even be able to discern what accounted for my slower time.   But really, these were my biggest problems, so I am definitely NOT complaining.

Still, I was pleased with myself for getting out there and doing it.  I ran the full distance and only stopped for a very brief time at the above-mentioned Mom’s halfway house. I even took time to stretch afterward!   The first time I ran the 9-mile distance, my knees rebelled and I had a hard time walking for weeks.  Today, I’ve managed to recover reasonably well without the need for ibuprophin!  We’ll see how things continue as the mileage ticks on.  (I’m sure I’ll yield to the ibuprophin later–I do need to be able to move tomorrow!)

Oh, and I have a BIG announcement to make.  It’s super-big for me.  BUT I’m going to wait and make it later this weekend.  (Do you feel the suspense building?)  Stay tuned!

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I am training for a marathon (THERE, I said it), so once a week I must go on a looong run.  I figure I’ll post my predictions and results here, so it’s kinda like you’ll get to go running with me.  Minus the sweat.  And the sore muscles.  And the chub rub.  And the blisters.  And the many other delightful running benefits, of course. 

Onward:

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THE PLAN:  8-mile run today. 

THE PREDICTION:  Awesome, of course.

THE REALITY:  To be determined.  I’ll update you all afterwards, assuming I survive.

[UPDATE]:

Beautiful 8.4 mile run.  I felt good most of the way, only got a little tired around mile 7.  Sunshiny and cool.  Great running weather. 

Was able to run the whole way, though it’s frustrating to see my time after following my training schedule which demands that long runs be slow and easy.  Can’t seem to stop looking at my watch.  Kinda like the scale.  I guess I’m a numbers girl.  My pace was a 12.77 minute mile, which wasn’t bad considering it’s the farthest I’ve run since VA Beach on Labor Day weekend. 

My back is still hurting from my injury two weeks ago, which is frustrating, but the soreness does cause me to stretch and stretch and stretch, which I know is good for me.  I’m usually not very good about stretching–too busy and on to the next thing.  For now it’s a have-to, so that’s a silver lining with the back pain thing.  And, thank goodness for my Top Secret Crosstraining Workout, because that’s kept me more limber as well. 

Challenging to figure out what to wear and carry on days like today.  The temp was 41 when I started out and 57 when I got back.  These temperatures ideally call for different kinds of gear, but I stayed with my tried and true (but hideous) compression pants and shorts and a long sleeve T (neon green, so cars will be able to see me to avoid hitting me~a nice touch). 

There.  More running detail than you ever wanted to know about me.  As always, I’m glad I did it and I’ll be swimming along in these endorphins for quite a while yet today!  🙂

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