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Keeping Up With the Joneses

We all do it. Whether it be on Facebook, Instagram or real life, we look at other people’s lives. We look to see what they are up to, how they look living their lives, and then we compare. Some people let it bother them. Others have a live and let live attitude and don’t really think about it. When it comes to real life issues, I don’t really care who has the bigger house, takes fabulous vacations, or what not. I pretty much have live and let live attitude and am not a jealous person when it comes to these things. Besides no matter how fabulous someone’s life is, I don’t know what it took to get them there. I also don’t know what struggles they have that they are not posting all over social media. Everyone has a battle they are fighting and not everyone needs to share their battle with you.

In running though, many times a runner will do this too. We look at peoples posts of their training runs. We look at their finish times. We look and we look and we look. And I will say, in running it is harder not to let it get to you. Even none runners have asked me when I’ve done a marathon, “Did you run the whole time or did you walk?” So many runners, running magazines, blogs, posts are about getting faster, PR’ing, and running further. It can be very motivating…… Right up until it’s not.

What if you will never PR again?

What if your not sure the distance your body can push?

What if you just want to run to run….. Race to race?

What if it’s not all about running faster or further?

What if you just want to run to run?

Is there a place for someone who just likes to head out the door?

YES!

The problem is that for many it doesn’t feel like there is a place. Most online groups only the fastest and further gets the accolades. What if it’s hard to share your accomplishment because you feel like in comparison to others, it isn’t worth sharing? And believe me it is hard and it’s not because it wouldn’t be well received (because at least for the groups I’m in it would be). It’s hard because sometimes you feel like your accomplishement isn’t worth celebrating.

What if your wrong?

Keeping up with the Joneses is too hard not just physically but mentally too. One of the reasons that I stopped running with people besides knowing everyone has their own training plan is………….

Wait for it…….

What if I was embarrassed with where I was physically. Embarassed of the extra weight. Embarassed because I was out of breath. Embarassed because my pace was “slow” even if I felt like I was pushing it. Embarassed because I thought I should be more. So I pulled back even if I wasn’t sure why I was pulling back. I stopped running with people and while some of it is due to scheduling, I’ve scheduled runs before. It’s hard to admit that you are not where you want to be. It’s hard to realize that you might not ever get where you want to be. What is harder though is feeling like you are giving up something that you realize that you miss…..

Now don’t get me wrong, I do like to run alone. When I was doing specific training, I needed to run alone. Also my schedule is wonky and sometimes I run when I can on the fly. For me, it clears my head. I like to be a solo runner, but I also LOVE to run with friends. As I said recently, running alone clears the mind; but running with friends is good for the sole.

Yesterday, I went out for a run with a friend. We ran. We walked. We chatted. I was supposed to only run 2. I looked down and realized that I was almost at 3. Whoops. The power of running with friends.

So this year as I am finding the joy in just running again, I also plan to find the joy in running with friends again. If I breath hard, if I need to walk, if it’s harder than it should be; it will be that much easier when chatting the miles away. Besides if I’m running with a friend, they won’t mind:) I’ve got some really good friends that way.

We all know the expression, if you run you are a runner. I think somewhere along the way I forgot that.

Great Expectations

We all have expectations in life. Great expectations. We all have a vision of how we want our life to be. Expectations are good, but what happens when life doesn’t live up the vision of what we think it should be? This leads to disappoint and sand ness.

All those years ago, actually only 7, when I started on my fitness journey there was no expectations.    I didn’t know what my body could do.   I didn’t know what a good time for an event was.    Hell, I really didn’t know anything….. Except that I wanted to do something.     Because I was starting from zero, I put no expectations on myself.   I jokingly said that my only goal with my first ever race, Iron Girl Sprint Tri, was not to die.   To me that was enough of a goal and anything after that was a win.

There was no… I should hit this many miles. I should hit this pace. I should do this or that for training. I knew nothing, so I expected nothing.

When I ran my first ever half which I signed up for because I was running just to run with my MRTT (Mom’s Run This Town) Mama’s. I was running 8 miles and more just to run them. Then on one run one of the Mama’s, Janna, said, ” You should sign up for the Superhero Half. Your ready for it.”

So I did. I had no expectations. I just showed up for the car ride to the event. While in the car, the seasoned runners spoke of pacing, race strategy, fueling and such. When they asked me mine, I had none. My goal was to finish.

Thanks to Janna who took me under her wing, I finished in 2:09. She knew about pacing and she also knew that I could finish in under 2:10 and she got me there. I just ran when she made me run and had a fun time doing it.I further admit that I didn’t even know that 2:09 would be a good time for a half. To me it was just about running to run and having a good time.

Then something happened, I started putting expectations on my running.   I also became ” a serious” runner.    I learned of pacing, training strategy, and proper fueling and for a while I even had a kick ass coach.   And while I still enjoyed running, it lacked the simplicity of when I first started.  I put expectations on myself and I was able to live up to my expectations right up until I couldn’t which was right after my thyroid surgery left me with Hypoparthyroidism.   And even after I came to terms with that, I still put expectations on myself.   Expectations that I could no longer meet.

You know what? I’m done with expecations! I want to find the joy that I had when I first started running.    I want to stop overthinking, overanalyzing, and just find the joy in allowing my body to do what it can do.   No matter the pace.   No matter the distance. 

The thing that screws us up so much in life is not accepting what we have and being upset it’s not what we think it should be. Sometimes getting out of our own way is the best thing that you can do. Sometimes you have to make a conscience decision to let things go, to reassese, and just allow what is to be enough.

With this thought process, I had picked the Hal Higdon Novice 1 training plan for the NJ Half at Rutgers.   No, I admit, I am not a novice runner; but I want to be.   I want to run with no expectations.   I have been so focused on doing what I thought I should do that I was missing out on what I could do. I am going back to seeing what my body can do.   To discovering where I am today.   And while I may have had this thought in the last 3 years I really have not embraced it in my running.    I am now. 

You know what?….. I’ve been enjoying my 2 training runs so far.   I have just been running to run.   No expectations.   No watching the pace.   Just letting my body decide.   It’s been good.   The runs have felt good.    I have felt good and the bonus is that both runs had negative splits which will not be the expectation nor will it be.  

So I will be happy to run where I am today. Not where I was 3 years ago. Not where I think I should be. Not where other people are. Not about pace. Not about anything, but enjoying where I am at this point and that will be enough.

I’m Ok, Are you?

I admit that I have not yet seen Brittney Runs a Marathon…. YET!

I admit that I love the trailer! I can’t wait to see it and am planning a girls night out with my Moms Run This Town Running friends. Runners LOVE, LOVE, LOVE running stories…. We love to watch them. We love to read about them. We love to tell them. I can’t wait for this movie.

It looks very cute to me. Maybe a little bit like your typical rom com type movie, but with a running twist. Since I love running stories and also rom com’s this seems like a win win situation. I must also admit that per the trailer it reminds me a bit of me. I still remember after turning 40 when I told my husband that I was going to sign up for a Sprint Triathlon after not doing any type of exercise for years and his response was….. “Well maybe you should get off the couch first” but in a loving way. Besides it’s all good and they don’t call the program I used the Couch to 5K for nothing.

Anyway,   very excited about this movie and then I read a Runner’s World article (What ‘Brittany Runs a Marathon’ Gets Wrong About Running While Fat)…..

Hmmmm…..

I’ve been dealing with this since I started running.   I started running to get back into shape.   To take my life back after birthing 3 babies.    When I started my youngest was in Kindergarten and I claimed it the Year of Me.   And while I did get into shape, I did not necessarily look like I got into shape.    I did initially loose weight, but after my thyroid surgery I gained 20 pounds.   It is what it is.

I am healthier  (not counting the whole Hypopara thing)

I am more fit.

I no longer get winded going up the stairs.

I have more endurance (remember I was able to run a 50K running for 7 hours)

Yet……

With all of this every year when I go to my doctors for my annual physical, she looks at the numbers.

Cholesteral – Really good

Blood Pressure – Awesome

Health Questionare – great answers

Weight – What the Hell

I switched doctors once after my previous one told me that “a women your age, should have small breakfast, salad for lunch, and a protein shake for dinner since metablalism slows as you age.” Yeah, I get that whole metabolism thing stopping, but No thank you. Besides, it’s really hard to train for a marathon if you are not properly fueling.

My current doctor at least looks at the whole picture. She knows the numbers don’t tell the full story. Plus my weight minus the bump after my surgery has pretty much remained stable. On top of that…. Have you seen has muscular my legs are? lol

Told you:)

Here is the thing…. Would I like the number on the scale to be lower?   Sure.   I’m not going to lie.    Does that mean I am unhappy with myself?   Not really.    I don’t let my weight define me.   It is what it is and I’m ok with that.   If I wasn’t, I would do something about it.   So what I would say running has done for me is to give me the confidence to know (for me at least) size doesn’t matter.    And for anyone who will judge me personally, professionally, or in my running by my size……

Well they probably aren’t someone I would be hanging out with anyway

Is It Worth It?

Running a marathon is hard.   It is hard for everyone from the first place finisher to the final finisher.   It takes dedication, pain, time, and so much more to not only get to the start line, but to cross that finish line.     Often during marathon training season a runner will question their sanity, their endurance, and their sanity again.

Recently I’ve been mulling around the question in my brain…..

At What Cost?

I’m part of many online running groups and have been for years.   I will say that being part of the Moms Run This Town group is what took my running to the next level.   It introduced me to a group of amazing and dedicated runners whose experience I learned from and helped prepare and gently push me to take leaps of faith in my running.    I really owe that group to where I am today.

With any running/training group there are people for all over the spectrum….. From full Ironman competitions, 100 mile events, 5k’s and any other number of amazing feats.   There are also people whose feats are amazing just for getting out the door.   Everyone determines their own path in this world and just because someone does not take their running “to the next level” does not make their feats any less praise worthy.

Each person chooses their own path.   Their own destiny.   Their own finish line.  Some great feats are obvious to all, but some are not so easily recognized.

Recently I was taking with a woman from my Hypopara athlete training group.   We were talking about various treatment options, comparing levels, and symptoms.   She by trade was an amazingly organized person and created spreadsheets tracking her levels, dosages, and such.   Have to say that I was in awe of what she did and felt like a bit of a slacker, but I’ve never been that organized of a person.   Anyone want to create spreadsheets for me?  Ha!

During our chat,  we talked exercise.   Her doctor who is also a leading doctor for Hypoparathyroidism has different mindset than mine who is also a leading doctor. Hers does not want her to do strenuous exercise because then she must up her calcium intake while my doctor does not think this is an issue as long as my levels stay good.   I do need to up calcium levels during exercise and while I do not take a tremendous amount of calcium compared to some people with the disorder, I do adjust on days that I push myself adding almost 1000mg or more depending upon intensity/sweating/distance.

She asked me a question that I can’t seem to shake….

Is it worth it?

My immediate response was yes because I get so much from it.   Great cardio workout,  hopefully help to maintain weight which creeped up, friendships, and honestly the most important… The peace of mind it brings.   The clarity that I get when my mind ponders things during a run I have not been able to duplicate elsewhere.

Still…. I ponder….

Even with these things I need to ask myself, “Is it worth it?”

Pushing myself can be difficult.   I’ve recently realized that my calcium drops with my cycle but even at my “normal” levels there are issues.   And while I have adjusted and continued my training,  I have been pondering what to do after NYC Marathon.

The marathon is a tough beast.   It is unforgiving.   It is intense.    It is harsh, but in the end and at it’s core

IT IS A BEAUTIFUL AND AMAZING JOURNEY

For now, it is worth it.

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Don’t Think, Just Run

My town was hosting an inaugural 5K yesterday.   I had signed up for it a month ago as a way to support the event, but really was not sure if I was going to even run it.    The race was to start at 7:30 and a friend texted me in the late afternoon and I still didn’t know if I was going to run or not.   I got dressed in my running gear and figured I needed to run anyway, so I headed over to pick up my bib.

Met up with some of my MRTT and chilled out a bit.

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(This was post race, but we didn’t take a picture before the race.   Also, I forgot to tell you Happy Birthday!   My bad.)

Still didn’t know what I wanted to do, but knew I didn’t want to start in the back.   Would much rather start up front and fad to the back.   Besides it was elbow to elbow.    So I started near the front with another amazing MRTT Mama.   Then saw another one who was running with her two boys.   She was going to run with her 6 year old, but her 10 year old told her he was going to sprint ahead.

So when the race started, I sprinted behind a 10 year old the first mile.    He was faster than I wanted to run and he had no idea that I was following, but I figured I would stick with him and see where it took me.   We ran an 8:12 mile!   Oh my.  Did I mention that it was HOT too!    It was too much for both of us.   I saw him holding his side and I wanted to say something to him about how awesome he was doing, but I thought better since he didn’t know who I was and he might have thought I was a stalker:).   I was so proud of both of us, because although we both slowed for the second mile neither of us gave up.   At this point, I ran ahead as it was time to pace myself.

I will say that I didn’t really look at my watch except to see the distance.   I didn’t want to think about pace, I just wanted to run.    I pushed myself.   I was breathing hard.  I probably wasn’t smiling, but I was running.   This was a run that I needed.   This was the run I didn’t even know I wanted.   I can honestly say that I gave it my all the entire race and really don’t think that I could have pushed any harder than I did.     That really is all I can ask of myself.   At the end of the race I could barely breathe, but I did it.   I  finished in 26:26 which is a PR!

By the way, the 10 year old finished in 28:16!

So I believe the moral of this story is sometimes it is best not to think and just run.  I thought way to much in my 6K and not at all in this one.   The races could not have been any more different.   It might also have helped that this run was in my backyard, so I also knew many people.   Who knows.   All I know is that maybe overall I should just stop thinking so much, stop looking at my watch so much, and just run.

just-run

 

 PS – the only reason I looked at my watch for distance was to know how far before I could stop

 

Living the Dream!

As you read yesterday, I ran the Staten Island Half this past weekend.   What I didn’t mention in this post though is that I did it!   Now I don’t mean I did the Half because you know that already.    I mean that I completed my 9+1 plan!!!!!

9+1

Words truly do not express how I feel about this.    It is like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders as this has been months in the making having started this journey in January with Fred Lebow Half and ending with the Staten Island Half.   The cherry on top is that not only did I qualify for running THE NEW YORK CITY MARATHON in 2016, but also the NEW YORK CITY HALF!!

Now, I know that I could not have completed this task alone.  I would not have been able to do it.   As the saying goes, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”   In this case, I got by with a lot of help from my friends.   First of all this is the amazing group of women who inspired me to push myself not only in my running but to push myself to dream of doing things I would have never thought possible for me.   These are the women who showed me that with hard work and dedication I can do anything I set my mind to.   These are the women who took a newbie under their wings when I didn’t even know anything about needing actual pace for a race.   Remember my story of my first half?    I have to admit that although there is still so much that I don’t know, I am no longer a newbie.   They helped me in ways they don’t even know by never making me feel less because I am slower than them or didn’t know what I was doing.   They shared themselves and their knowledge so willingly with me.  These are also the women who without making it so fun to run, I would have stopped.   Yes, I now love to run.   Yes, I now need to run, but that all started with this group of women who got me to this point.    There is also the logistics factor because with them I was able to make it to these races.   Yes, I probably could have done it without them, but I’m not really sure that I would have wanted to or it would have been so easy to do.   These are also the women that I have so much respect, admiration, and love for.

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As we all know, I did not grow up dreaming of one day running the New York City Marathon.   I was someone who grew up hoping not to be picked last in gym class, but that is the beauty of growing up.   You realize that all that doesn’t matter because you no longer need to wait to be picked for anything life has to offer.  You create your own future, dreams and if you work hard enough anything is possible.   I may have come late to the party of wanting to run the NYCM, but I have now made that dream a possibility.   It is in my reach and I just need to wait because it will happen.   Although, I’m really not one to sit around and wait for things to happen anymore.   So in the meantime, I’ll be out chasing other dreams.

What are your dreams?