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Posts Tagged ‘don't quit’

The past few days have been a real challenge to get my mile-a-day minimum run in.

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On Saturday, I took my turn as SuperMom and helped chaperone a bus full of middle school girls at a show choir competition.  For about 16 hours.  With freezing rain scheduled for the day.  I was faced with the devil-and-the-deep-blue-sea decision of whether I wanted to run at 4:00AM or whether to run outside in a strange community, during unpredictable weather, without fully knowing the schedule in advance.  Full disclosure:  I am NOT a morning person.  At all.

At 4:10AM, I was pounding out my mile on the treadmill dreadmill.  I was grateful for that decision by the end of the day, because we were later getting home than expected.  One of our students had won a solo competition and the team stayed later to support her performing.  (Did I mention that student was MY kiddo, Princess?!  Yay!  Shameless proud mama moment, pardon the digression!)

The next day was f-u-l-l of activity and recovery.  I got to drive four hours to pick up Ninja from her ice hockey weekend, where another family had taken her on the adventure two states away.  It was one of those torn motherhood weekends where both children have Big Deals happening and you can’t be both places at once.  In any case, Ninja had a stellar goaltending weekend (Her coach said it was the best 4 games he’s ever seen her play!  Oops, did it again.  More mama pride.  Sorry!)

The amount of windshield time spent with a daughter in travel hockey is great for one-on-one conversations with your teenager, even if it is hard on your running schedule and the size of your behind.  So of course, this chauffeuring caused a dilemma with my running schedule.  No problem, I thought.  I’ll just hit the dreadmill before midnight.

Please understand.  I despise the dreadmill.  I am an outdoor runner through-and-through.  But this night, when I got home at 10:45PM and it was 18 degrees and ice-covered outside, I was grateful for it.  I pulled on my running shorts and sped down to the dreadmill, only to discover–shock and horror–that the stupid thing had bitten the dust.

Flashing an error message and stubbornly refusing to be reset, the dreadmill had been turned overnight into the oversized clothes-hanger that is its sole remaining function.  Which meant, either I was going to break my resolution, my streak, my commitment to myself, OR I was going to go out into the icy, black, now 15 degree night and get that mile done.

Racing now, to beat the clock and make it out and back before midnight, I donned my eskimo-running gear, my reflective vest, and pulled out the leash for Hyper Puppy, who was thrilled by the chance to accompany me on my unfortunate run.

In the end, I managed to make it back without freezing or falling (no thanks to Hyper Puppy, who surely kept me from being mugged, but whose excruciating enthusiasm about knocked me over many times).  And I made it back on time.

I went to bed that night after the very long and un-restful weekend, with that highly satisfying feeling that comes from stretching out beyond what’s comfortable for me and doing what’s hard, just because I’d committed to it.

I know the earth would not have stopped spinning on its axis if I’d just blown off my mile.  I know that with all the Really Important things that are going on in the world right now, my little mile is very, VERY low on the list of importance.  But I also know that in spite of the fact that it was a Small Thing, it was a thing I’d promised myself I was going to do.  And as a mama, those promises-to-self have always been the easiest to break, especially when I was taking care of everybody else.

But this weekend, I managed to take care of everyone else AND I also kept my commitment to myself.  Which is a soul-strengthener every time.  And as I keep this up, day by day, 2013 looks like it might be a pretty darn good year.  Because this year, while doing everything that needs to be done, I’m  remembering that my things are part of that “everything.”  I’m remembering (at last), that I matter too.

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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 64 days away from the 26.2 with Donna starting line and I’m possibly starting to freak out, just a teensy little bit…

I’m just wondering, if you have ever run a marathon, if you had similar experience to me while training for my first one… 

See, for the first time, yesterday, my training run was over half the distance of my final race.  And I happened to notice when I finished it, that the training run had SO kicked my fanny.  Seriously.  I had the fleeting thought that if this run was so exhausting, how on earth was I going to run 26.2 miles and finish it EVER and in ANY condition, let alone in the time limit and without medical attention.

I’ve heard that there’s a portion of the training where your mind sometimes plays tricks on you, but if you stick with the program and get those long runs in on the weekends, that you absolutely CAN and WILL finish the race.  Frankly, I’m counting on that.  Kinda like I imagine a pilot relies on his instruments to fly when it’s dark.  ‘Cause I don’t even know what I don’t know.  I’m just trusting that the plan will work if I work the plan. 

I’ve also heard that the training comes together in the end.  That the race, while grueling, if you’ve trained well, can be conquered.  Relying on that too.

Would love to hear some wisdom from marathoners (or 1/2 marathoners, or ultra runners, or triathletes…) who can still remember their First Big Race and possibly had thoughts during the training as to whether they’d be able to get to that finish line.   And maybe there are some other novice runners out there that are having their own little freak-out sessions.  Your pearls of wisdom will help them out too! 

Thanks in advance for your wisdom and encouragement!  🙂

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Running Shoes: BEFORE

So here’s the thing. 

I had this whole post planned with the title:  You Don’t Expect Me to Run Up THAT, Do You?  And the post was about the Wild Wild Wilderness Run hosted by the Kennekuk Road (and must.not.forget.the.TRAIL) Runners a couple months ago. 

That trail featured 7.55 miles of pure running torture.  (So terrible that I plan on running it again in the arctic weather we surely can expect during the Sibearn Express on January 2, 2010.)  Seriously, though.  It was terrible.  There was a nearly vertical hill that only mountain goats or really nimble deer should ever be expected to climb, one that hugged an earth wall and where a single step to the left would leave a person pummeling hundreds of yards to their demise in a thornbush-infested ravine.  There were three or four miles of challenging, but bearable terrain that initiated the uninitiated WWW trail runner.  Then (surprise, newbie!) the turn-off to the hill-from-hell.  Only to be followed by three or four miles more  of Really. Hard. Trail Running. 

Now, I love running hills.  But these weren’t people-hills.  They were animal-only hills.  And those super-runners who could just prance up them with ease–well, I’m astounded by those people.  They need a special category of fitness just for them.

As for me, I was so proud of Finishing Without Dying that I floated along on that experience for quite some time.  It mattered very little to me that I was near the Very End of the pack.  I was thrilled beyond words to have finished on my feet instead of a stretcher.

So that was the essence of the post I was going to write.  Because that was the craziest trail I’d run so far.  Until today.

Today I was introduced, quite accidentally, to the Backpack Trail at Forest Glen.  I personally believe they call this the Backpack Trail because most normal humans would need to bring camping supplies (or at least a meal!) in order to traverse the sucker, because it takes SO LONG and is SO HARD to finish this monster of a trail.

Now the introduction to the trail was only partially accidental, I confess.  Because I planned to do the 4.5 mile trail.  You know, the “this-11-mile-trail-intimidates-me-so-I-want-a-shorter-version-of-the-Backpack-Trail” trail.  What I did NOT plan to do was the 11 mile version of the Backpack Trail. 

Had I completed the 4.5 mile version, I’d still have had plenty of material to share with you, believe-you-me.  But the fact that just one teensy-weensy turn to the left rather than the right had us move our bodies over 11 miles of terrain instead of 4.5 miles is just plain wicked.  Indeed, we made the left vs. right decision because some Very Helpful (sadistic) Campers advised us that everyone had headed toward the left.  Thank you campers. 

What followed was an adventure that my two running buddies and I certainly had not anticipated.  We were told that we’d be heading over a creek.  Indeed, we headed over multiple creeks.  “Creek” is a highly subjective term, apparently.  I’m thinking, it’s a little thing you can hop over.  Nope.  It’s several big things that, even if you don’t fall off the slippery rocks that pose as steps across the current, you’re going to be wading in the water at least up to your ankles.  (Before you Florida readers think me a wimp, now, please remember that it was 33 degress when I got in the car to drive to this adventure!). 

And there were hills.  So many hills.  This trail wasn’t playing.  And let’s not forget that it’s been raining for, like, 952 days straight here in Central Illinois, so it was Mud City everywhere we went.  Read that:  No Traction.  Slip-N-Slides are fun when you’re eight and in your front yard with your neighbor buddies.  When you’re 43 years-old and trying to find footing climbing up a Monster Mud Hill, there are few humans that would call the exercise fun. 

Indeed, as we got to the bottom of our 382nd hill (perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but not much) we stopped thinking, “surely this is the last big hill we have to deal with” and started thinking, “surely this stinking trail has to end at some point.” 

Who knew that any trail, anywhere in the known universe could have So Many Gigantic Up’s and Gigantic Downs?  One after the other.  (Of course, happily interspersed with flowing creeks throughout.)

And the downhills.  I believe they were even worse than the uphills.  I’d always had the strategy of running on the downhills whenever possible.  It’s just that it was Very Rarely possible on this Sadist Trail.  The first bad boy that we faced, I remember clearly thinking that we’d taken a wrong turn.  People aren’t supposed to go straight down hills that steep with NO earth on either side.  Just a little mountain goat path straight down with an occasional tree mercifully situated for holding-on-for-dear-life on the downward descent.  I remember thinking after that first hill that the worst was behind us.  HA HA HA HA HA.  No.

All three of us in our brave little what-in-the-blazes-are-we-doing-out-here-without-a-GPS-or-a-cell-phone party fell nicely on our touckases at least once during the adventure.  We kept a good eye-out for each other and never got too far apart while out there.   We learned the difference between a shriek of  “Woo Hoo!” (“We’re awesome!  Look what we’re doing!”) and a shriek of “Woo Hoo!” (“Heaven help me, I’ve just fallen into the biggest mud pit in a five state region!”).  We learned the difference between this-hurts and this-sucks-but-let’s-keep-going-because-we-still-have-daylight.  And we most certainly learned to love the signs with the little red arrows and how to look for the red splotches on lots of trees. 

Most of all, we learned that there was more within us than any of us bargained for when we set out to Forest Glen for a little run one cold Saturday morning in November.  We learned we could do it.  At least for me, I surprised myself that I could do it.  And any one of us could have gone the 13.1 half marathon distance–so we learned that we were able to do that too!  I had another chance to give one something that had intimidated me a beat-down.  And we were blessed with the commraderie, the friendship, that comes from battling those stinking hills and creeks and elements together. 

Overall, it certainly was a day worth having.  Maybe even a day worth repeating.  A great adventure by some unlikely adventurerers.  And a great achievement by some tough-as-nails women who, though total newbies, were ready and willing to give it our all.  And we did. 

Three other Very Important Points: 

1.  Hats off to the Kennekuk Road (and Trail) Runners who gave every one of us a round of applause as we staggered off the trail.  These Super Runners had been done for well over an hour, but were still glad to cheer on the lost-little-newbies that somehow finished that 11 mile beast without dying! 

2.  My trail shoes are now officially trail shoes.  Here’s the after picture: 

Shoes: AFTER

3.  WW Activity Points mean I can EAT after today.  Yes!

4.  I’m certain I’ve forgot to mention much more than what’s been said here already.  I’m sure you’ll get more tidbits as the days and weeks move on…

For now, here’s proof of the mud: 

Muddy!

And proof of the buds:

We Made It!

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It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.   ~Theodore Roosevelt

Today was a “rest day” in my marathon training schedule.  But it wasn’t restful at all.  And I’m glad.

We spent the greater part of this day screaming our lungs out at our local high school, where our team, the Danville Vikings, were in the 6A state semi-finals.  An hour and a half before the game, the stands were packed.  Packed.

Not so long ago, our local program was in the cellar of the state.  Then native son, BJ Luke came home and accepted the head coaching position.  The team began to win and Viking Fever was epidemic.  The entire community embraced the team and rallied around these players.  Their hard work, their passion, their toughness, their fight, their refusal to quit was contagious.  The entire community has a shared pride in these valiant young men, whose efforts went way beyond football and caused hope to burn bright in our little corner of the world. 

I pass this house on most of my training runs. Funny thing. After seeing this sign, I don't give slowing down or stopping a second thought.

You would have thought they’d won.  Sadly, the Vikings were defeated in today’s game.  After the clock wound down and the season was over, the crowd grew still and…didn’t leave.  The crowd waited quietly until the Viking players had respectfully choked back their personal heartbreak and congratulated their opponents.  Then as the team turned to run back to their locker room, the crowd erupted in a roar of pride and encouragement. 

This team had given our town so much hope and passion and vision.  This undefeated season had been a win for the entire community.  Written-off, and yet, coming back and winning.  Again and again and again.  Underestimated, and yet, giving it all.  Again and again and again.  These young men reminded us all that it is possible to overcome obstacles and be victorious.  They reminded us what it means to be valiant. 

And for the next days, weeks and months, we’re going to have a whole lot of valiant people in this community.  Valiant teachers.  Valiant runners.  Valiant parents.  Valiant secretaries.  Valiant waitresses.  Valiant students.  Working hard.  Giving it all.  Refusing to quit.  Exceeding expectations.  Setting new standards.  Working and playing with heart. 

For that, this community owes Coach Luke, his staff, and especially each member of the DHS Vikings a debt of gratitude.

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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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This quote is on my bathroom mirror.  I heard it playing over and over again at mile 12 in Virginia Beach when my legs screamed at me to walk and I willed them to run.  I hear it when I want to quit, when I refuse to quit, when I WILL NOT QUIT.

Nobody is hurt.  Hurt is in the mind.  If you can walk, you can run.”

Thank you Coach Lombardi.

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