Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Why I run

My story is actually long and quite complex. I could probably write a book. This will be the cliff notes version.

I was born in 1978 in Alabama (yes I turn 40 this year) and have two older brothers, 9 and 12 years older than me. I was born with medical complications, a duplication of my left kidney and collecting system. I was in and out of the hospital with seven surgeries by the time I was seven. My family also moved to North Carolina when I was 9 months old. When I was ten my parents divorced and my brothers where older and for the most part out of the house. I felt a bit lost, alone and my life and lifestyle significantly change. I had no real goals or direction after that. Through High School I worked but wasn't real sure what was next for me. I enrolled in Community College and watched all of my friends leave town to pursue their dreams. Within 6 months of my high school graduation I was pregnant with my first child Madie (more on that here). I made the big and scary decision to be a mom. This sounds so simple but I remember making that simple decision "I am going to BE a mom" like it was yesterday and in that moment a transformation happened within me. I was 18 years old and I would not be the stereotype. I was 18 years old and I would not settle for accepting what was expected of teen moms. In 1997 at the age of 19 I became a mother. I had no idea what that would mean but I have spent the last 20 (almost 21 years now) figuring that out. By the age of 20, I was pregnant again with Tess and in 1999 just after my 21st birthday I was a young mom of two girls under the age of two (more on that here). I was a single mom by the age of 25 and I remained single for eleven years until I married my incredible husband in 2014 (more on that herehere and here). Being a single mom was hard; life was wonderful and difficult all at the same time. I worked hard over the years to provide for my family, I went to school when I could to complete my education and better myself for my children, I raised two incredible little girls and I became the best mom I knew how to be. My girls and I beat the odds and I am so proud of US! It's because of them that I am where I am today! The road was long and windy with some switchbacks along the way but I wouldn't change a thing. We are exactly where we are supposed to be. 

I was never ever a runner. I did not run in school, in fact I did everything I could to avoid running or anything athletic for that matter. I actually did have pretty bad back/side cramps from my aforementioned surgeries and so I just avoided any strenuous activities. When the girls were little I did enjoy walking and would walk with friends whenever I could but I did not have any set schedules or routines. When my hubby proposed in December 2012 my girlfriends decided that we could start getting in wedding shape by running. I was sure they had lost their minds but decided to humor them anyway. 

I bought my first pair of running shoes, laced up and showed up. We met at a local park and ran lamp post to lamp post working our way up to the mile.

In April 2013 I ran my first mile. I ran one mile nonstop. One. Entire. Mile. The whole thing. Without stopping. I did not die. It was a moment I will remember forever. It's the moment I fell in love with running. 

One mile was hard, it was a long way and I was so proud. I ran one mile at a time from then on and worked my way up to my first 5K in October 2013!

We ran several 5Ks for a while and then started running longer.

Two years after my first mile I ran my first half marathon and today I am anxiously anticipating my first marathon this coming weekend. 

Sometimes I don't love the run, sometimes it's hard, sometimes I am tired, Sometimes I am discouraged but I always always always love the way I feel once I am done.

I have never, not ever, regretted a run. I always find that pushing through the hard things makes me stronger, both physically and mentally. This has been true my entire life.

I always find that my cup is filled up through the run.

The quote "I lost my mind and found my soul" rings so true! I had no intention to ever run further than 3 miles and here I am today ready to run 26.2. This has been an incredible journey, one that I am so thankful to be on. 

I think much of why I love to run is because I love more than anything being outside. On the run I am seeing the trees, smelling the flowers, hearing the birds, tasting the air, feeling the sky.

I have defined myself for so long as Madie and Tess's mom. Now they have both gone off to college and I am forever going to indentify myself that way. I went from being a child to being a mom.

It never occured to me at 19 and 21 that one day I would need to re-discover me. After having lived my entire adult life as a mom running has helped me find a piece of myself that I didn't know before. I look forward to getting to know this new version of me better.

Running opens the door for me to experience all the beauty of the world and I find the best version of myself through the run!

Here's to my first marathon and here's to many more happy miles! To be continued... Stay tuned!

Monday, March 12, 2018

When the universe speaks ~ My First Marathon ~Training update and wrap up

I have just wrapped up the last of my long runs for marathon training! I have been, for the most part, following a Hal Higdon plan. Hal had me do the 20 miler which I did on February 24th and then the next two weekends were to be a 12 Mile Run and then an 8 Mile Run. 

After the 20 miler last weekend I started to doubt the plan. How in the world was I going to go three weeks without another really long run and then somehow run a marathon? 

The next day after the 20 miler we had decided we’d run “16ish” instead of 12 and by the day before our “16ish” we had decided maybe we’d do 20 again…

On Saturday the 3rd we planned to go to Moses Cone Manor and run some of the carriage trails there. I had mapped out 20 miles and had every intention of doing just that. 

Do you ever have those things that happen and you wonder "Is the universe trying to tell me something"? This was one of those days. 

Moses Cone is about an hour drive away, up, up, up, the mountain. We decided we'd leave my house at 6am and get there to start our run at 7. 

Universe said no...

The parkway that we needed to take to get there was closed. We were re-routed around which added nearly another hour to our drive. We were already this far so we just went with it. 

It was soooooo cold and soooooo windy. 26 degrees with steady 45-65mph wind. 

But it was gorgeous! 

Running at Moses Cone is also on my 40 for 40 list, a list I made of 40 things I want to do in this my 40th year 2018. More on that later. 

We started out on our run and the universe said no...

Ok so we are rebels and decided we'd risk it. We ran out a few other trails before coming back to this one and enjoyed a beautiful run. 

As we headed further and further into our run we started talking about maybe sticking to 16 miles. The universe said no...

Ehhh so we scaled the tree and decided to defy the universe lol. 

We made it to Bass Lake and the wind nearly knocked us over. 

The wind litterally took my breath away!!

We pushed on face first against the wind.

Ok, ok enough with the songs, I just can't help myself lol!!

The wind though was so much that it completely exhausted us! 

We finished a strong 13 miles and I feel like it was totally the universe telling us to stick to the plan and trust the process. So we did.

Until this past weekend...

Saturday the 10th we set out for our last weekend run before the marathon. The plan said eight miles. We decided otherwise. 

Once again we decided we'd alter the plan slightly and instead go for 13 miles. 

We stayed in town and ran our familiar streets and greenway. It was perfect. We reflected a bit on this journey and the beauty of friendship. As we were nearing the end of the run we decide to stop at 11 and trust the process. 

We finished with a 2 mile cool down walk with our friend Elizabeth who is due to have her first baby any day now! Considering it was her who I ran my first mile with I am so glad I got to have her with me as I wrapped up my training for the full marathon. It was perfect!

I know they say "the hay is in the barn" and I believe it! Next weekend is going to be great!

It really has been an incredible adventure and I am so honored to have an incredible support system of loved ones and friends that have encouraged me all along the way!! 

“As your training integrates Mind, Body and Spirit, enjoy the process. Your journey to the marathon finish will last a few hours. Your journey to the start will influence a lifetime.” ~ Gina Greenlee

Many happy miles!

Friday, March 2, 2018

20 Miles!! Can it really be??!! ~ A marathon training update

Can it really be?? I ran 20 miles???!!! My longest run of all time ever!

Last Saturday was an absolute beautiful day! We headed up to run at Brown Mountain Beach as we have done in the past. It's a great spot for a good long run. The course is gently rolling and mostly packed dirt/gravel road. I think it is a great road to condition our legs and feet and mind for running various surfaces. The Asheville Marathon is also varying surfaces, some pavement some gravel road. 

Carly, my marathon training partner, and I were joined this run by another friend Kim. We all met up at my house and then rode together to the starting spot. 

We were a little uncertain as to the weather. It was cool that morning but looked like it would really warm up later in the day as we were running! I opted to stay in my tank and running tights and hope for the best. 

We set out and the course was incredible as we already knew it would be. Running these long miles puts me deeper in touch with the earth. I feel incredible on this course, so connected to the ground beneath me, to the air around me and to the water beside me. 

We ran out 11 miles which was "just ahead around that curve" then "ok maybe it's just ahead around that next curve" lol!! We then turned back to complete the 20 mile run. We planned as usual to stop at 20 and then walk a cool down mile at the end. 

At mile 10/11 we met four other runners also from our town who were out marathon training! We ran and talked with them for a bit, stopped and fueled up and then went on our separate ways. 

At about mile 14/15 I am not sure what happened to me. I felt very suddenly super hot, as if my legs were filled with lead and as if I was running in sinking sand. Was that "The Wall"? Oh man the struggle was really real and I was starting to feel disappointed in myself. My girl Carly, always the encouraging one, said "Let's get up ahead to the restrooms and fuel up REALLY well". She sure knows her stuff when it comes to marathoning... Up ahead about a mile from where we were (seemed like 40 miles from where we were to me) would be the visitor center with great bathrooms and a great covered porch. We'd get to potty, refresh, refuel and take relief from the sun. It was just what I needed and I felt pretty amazing after that! Picking up pace,  I managed to run the last 5 miles faster than most of the previous 15 miles, and finishing that course strong!

We ran along the rest of the course still pretty hot, the sun was beaming down, the temperature was by now about 80-85 degrees and there was no solace of a tree canopy of shade that we had hoped for. 

I am still learning all things marathon and I am still uncertain as to what to expect come race day. I am working HARD to stay out of my head about pace. I am reminding myself constantly that I really have no idea what that day will be like. I have run the half before but never the marathon course. I want to not set up these great expectations and then for some reason not meet them. That would be very deflating for me. My goal is to finish. I don't want to set up a time goal other than beat 6 hours. We ran this 20 miler in 4 hours. So I feel certain I can knock out another 6 miles and finish the marathon in under 6! Anything more than that will be the icing on my cake!!

Speaking of cake, in addition to this being our longest training run it was also Carly's birthday!! We surprised her after the run with a picnic on the rocks by the creek. It was so refreshing to slip our shoes off and walk around in the freezing cold water and hang out for a bit in the sun celebrating our friend!

So far one of my favorite things about marathon training has been all the different places we have run! We have another big adventure planned for this weekend too and I cannot wait! More to come...

Many Happy Miles!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Feeling these days like TGISundays - Marathon Training Update

The weekends are no longer what they once were. Training for a marathon has taken over! I am still loving it but I do kind of feel like TGISunday these days! Sunday is my day of rest, sort of. 

We are in the pile on the miles stage of marathon training. I am currently running four miles on Mondays, Yoga on Tuesdays, walking three miles on Wednesdays, running four miles on Thursdays, running three miles on Fridays and then Saturdays we run long! Sunday is usually a rest day except that it’s now my only real “weekend” day which means I am cramming all the stuff I need to do into that one day and all the other stuff I need to do just isn’t getting done… 

This past Saturday I ran 19 miles and then Sunday threw a baby shower from my very best friend! 

Yes I did just say that I ran 19 miles!!!! 

I kind of can’t believe we actually ran that far!!! This is the furthest I have run in my entire life! I never even ever imagined that I would ever run that far! These feet and legs amaze me!

We covered these 19 miles in 4 hours and I am pretty darn proud of that! I have not set a pace goal for this marathon. It is better for me to set the goal of finishing. The fact that I am still running at the end of a 19 mile run and the fact that my last mile was as fast as the first mile is pretty darn impressive to me! I have run half marathons before that I couldn’t hardly walk in the last few miles let alone run! I feel like this is the first time that I am really training well!

As with most of our long runs my training partner and I work ahead through the week planning and mapping out our run. We have tried to alternate terrains and elevations so that we are constantly working other muscle groups and ensuring that we are challenging ourselves each week. The Asheville Marathon has varying terrains that we will run on both road, trail and gravel and it has steady uphill climbs, downhill and flat sections. Trying to find safe places to log serious miles in a small town is challenging. 

We decided this week to stay in town and so we planned out our route. After looking at the map I thought it would end up looking like Yoda from Star Wars! 

There were going to be some double loops to get the miles we needed and so we decided to go out a little farther on the greenway than initially planned to be sure we got in a full 19 miles. I love this town we have some really beautiful places to run!

It was rainy but I was in good company and as always we had so much fun! I only annoyed Carly once (I think) when I forgot to start my watch after having stopped for a second to fuel and so I made her turn around with me and go back so I could start my watch in the right spot so I wouldn’t mess up my map! LOL!

When I got home and looked at the map I actually saw Casey from the Snorks and could totally hear her saying ”Yeah, I look like a princess.” LOL!

Carly and I in our post run delirium got artsy lol! Casey and Yoda and another amazing run is in the bank! It is always a fun adventure with #rundandc 

I am so blessed to have Carly inspiring me and encouraging me to do the hard things and doing the hard things with me! If she says I am ready for my first marathon I believe I am ready!! I can only hope for all my runner friends that they find someone like Carly to run with! She's the best!

We are #ashevillebound

Many Happy Miles

Monday, February 12, 2018

Marathon Training Run "Not As Described"

Note to self: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.

On Saturday's I run long. I have to run long on Saturdays because long runs these days, while marathon training, take four hours of my day or more. I work office hours Monday through Friday and Sundays I have church, grocery shopping and laundry to do. The only day I can carve out those four or more hours are Saturday's. 

My marathon training partner and I have been on a mission to find new and interesting routes and boy have we found them...

We originally were going to travel a bit this past Saturday to get in 19 miles but I had afternoon plans that would have pushed us on time. So instead we decided to stay local. Finding 19 fun and interesting miles however is no easy task. 

I found several trails up by the lake near our houses that all connected and when added up equalled the 19 miles we needed. Luckily Carly was familiar with the first 6 mile loop, Homestead Trail, Paddy’s Creek Trail and Mills Creek Trail, so we decided to do that first and then head on down to pick up the rest which were to be the longer portion of the run. 

As we are running along we see ahead the next turn but when we get closer we see a closed gate and a clear sign that the trail was closed!!! 

It’s also raining and we need to regroup and come up with 13 more miles somewhere...

It felt for a moment very deflating. I was so excited to try out this new route. Luckily I remembered another trail on the map close by and pulled up the Trail Run Project App and found what I was looking for!

We ran out a bit on the Over Mountain Victory Trail, it was gorgeous! Carly taught me about Shinrin-yoku which we totally experienced on that section of trail!! 

We then ran highway for a bit and circled back to the second half of the Over Mountain Victory Trail. We then ran highway for a bit again, circling back and running the previous 6 mile route in reverse and then finished off with a little under a mile on the Discovery Trail.


Considering we spent the bulk of our morning re-routing, re-thinking how to add mileage, in the rain and while running some 1,600 feet of elevation gain, in the mud finishing strong with 16 miles instead of 19 was just fine with me!

I could stress that I missed a long run but I could also argue that 16 miles IS long, very long and I am in great shape within my training plan. I feel good about that!

Quote of the run: “Oh look it’s one of those painted rocks! Oh nope it’s a poop bag!” 💩

We ran with deer and bunnies and enjoyed the music of the birds!! I look forward to forest bathing again soon!!

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