And we’re running again! This week Meagan and Sue discuss their training, share some Runner Girl Recommends, and crown a new Runner Girl of the Week.
I had a friend mention that running is like a marriage recently and it resonated with me. I say this as someone who has already been divorced twice before turning 30.
I started running at 21 as a way to lose weight in my stomach that I thought I needed to. I ran my first half marathon in 2012 (and joined Runner Girls Podcast). I fell in love with running not for how it made me look, but for how it made me feel. I had never been more proud of myself or my body until I started running. I think marriages are like this, too. A lot of people are in relationships because of how it makes them feel. I know for myself, having someone else to make happy makes me happy. When I have a person to count on and do things with, it makes me happier. Running is my activity that I can count on and my Saturday morning activity.
On the other hand, running requires you to put in a significant amount of effort for it to go well- much like relationships do. You have to want it and you have to work at it. You can’t just show up to your race the morning of and expect things to be exactly what you want. There’s going to be a lot of pain at a marathon you haven’t trained for. You need to work out fueling and you need to figure out what works for you. You have to figure out how your body talks to you and what that ankle pain means. You have to figure out when your stomach makes that gurgly noise- is it telling you to stop and use the bathroom NOW or can you make it through the next 3 miles but only that long? This is what relationships are like; you have to be able to communicate with your partner and know how to talk to them. You need to know when to push and when to leave them alone about a topic. You figure out how to work your life around each other (just like I work my life around Saturday morning group runs during marathon training). You need to know what to do when something is wrong and how to fix it, running and relationship-wise.
And sometimes in your relationships, you go through a rough patch. That doesn’t mean it’s over, but that does mean that maybe things aren’t the best for a little while. This was me for most of 2017 and all of 2018. I ran 640 miles in 2016, 316 in 2017 (251 of which were in the first 5 months), and a measly 69 miles in 2018. In just that time frame, you can see my struggle with running. What is more difficult to see is the steady decline of my mental health, partially leading to my second divorce. I had given up on a lot of things for that year and a half, running included. I even changed careers and left teaching, something that I thought defined me.
That same friend equated running again to renewing her vows. When I decided that I needed to work on making myself happy again, the first thing I did was start running. I had to remind myself why I loved running again I went to my greenway and remembered all of the good runs I had had there. I took pictures of the sun and the trees while I running. I said hi to everyone and gave them a smile during my runs. I looked for the small good things. I also did things for me- I set goals to go out there and kick ass. I didn’t really tell anyone else, I just did it. My goals were for me and only me. Running is something that I do for me, regardless of how others may make me feel. My long runs are done because I have goals, but also because I feel so much better with myself after hours on the pavement. I’m not perfect, and running and I still have our disagreements, but I do love it. I renewed my vows and dedicated myself to running and all that entails again. We have to do this with our relationships as well. We need to renew the vows. We need to do the small things that bring us joy. As another running friend Pam Berg would say, we need to make the chili. (This is a story Pam often tells. I have posted it below.)
A good friend of mine unexpectedly lost her husband. A couple months later we were running together, chatting about nothing. She asked what my dinner plans were and I told her hubby wanted chili, but I didn’t feel like stopping at the store. We ran a few more minutes when she quietly said, “Make the chili.”
It took me a few minutes to realize we were no longer talking about dinner. It was about going out of your way to do something for someone you love because at any moment, they could unexpectedly be taken from you.-Pam
I ran my first half marathon in almost 2 years this past weekend. I wasn’t fully prepared for it by far, and I almost quit before I even started. There were a lot of times during the race that I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. I loved it! I loved running and pushing myself. I loved the feeling I got when I crossed that finish line and I beat the goal that I didn’t even know I had. I felt happy for the first time in a long time. I felt like myself again.
Note: This post was originally published on Beakers and Sneakers
It’s been a long time coming but here is finally an update on how my race went at the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon for anyone interested.
The 2017 NYC marathon was my second full marathon. My first was a year ago (October 2016) where I finished in about 4:57. So I am by no means a fast runner, but I enjoy it! That marathon I had a lot of knee issues through my training that made things go less than stellar. This marathon training cycle went much better for the majority and I was hoping to finish the NYC marathon in 4:30.
In the week leading up to the race I felt semi-crappy and was downing all sorts of things to starve off a cold I thought I was getting. I also woke up the Monday before with low back pain that was unexplained (non running related since I was tapering, I think I twisted wrong. I can be clumsy). It would get better once I was up and moving but the mornings were sore. By the time race weekend rolled around I was feeling ok but not 100%. My chest still felt a bit “cold-like” but I was in denial that it would influence the race.
On Sunday Nov 5th, the morning of the race, I got up early and my back was definitely sore but it loosened up on the walk to the subway and ferry. However, once I got off the Staten Island Ferry I stood in line for over an hr to get on the bus to transport me to the start village. Standing still made my back very unhappy so I stretched it out as much as possible since it was so crowded in line.
Once I got onto the bus the driver got out of the bus to ask a volunteer where he was suppose to take us….of course I end up on the bus with a clueless driver!! He gets us lost but finally we end up at the right place and I made it to the start village in plenty of time to use the restroom and sit and stretch for a bit. I noticed tons of security in the start village (NYC police officers, soldiers and counter terrorism units, as well as helicopters) and runners I talked to who had done previous NYC marathon’s said it was definitely higher than normal given the events in Manhattan the week before (driver hitting pedestrians on purpose). I felt very safe the whole day.
At 10am my corral opened (I was in wave 3). So I made my way over there for more standing and waiting. By this point my Fitbit said I had already gone about 4.5 miles before we even started the race! My wave started at 10:40 AM and we were off!
Mile 1 & 2 were on the verrazano bridge and it was neat! However, my back was sore – which never happened on a run before – so I was worrying about that from the beginning of the race. I was able to stay on my goal paces through miles 1-14 though. The crowds in Brooklyn were amazing! This was certainly my favorite stretch of the course. It was so neat to see so many people cheering us runners on – they had great energy! The cops who were protecting us were also waving, cheering and high fiving runners. It was awesome. I made sure to thank many of them as I ran past! Isaac, my husband, found me at mile 8 and I high fived him and shouted I love you as I went by.
One note, is that the course was pretty crowded for me the whole way. I had to weave in and out of people to run the pace I wanted and a few times I couldn’t pass people who were slowing down. The water stops were also chaos and I got bumped and jostled a lot there. It was a bit overwhelming at times.
Around mile 15 I started to feel off. My breathing felt harder than it should and I think it was due to the humidity and the mild cold I had all week (the humidity was getting worse throughout the race). I have asthma and I think the humidity, plus cold, tipped my lungs over the edge. I really dropped pace on miles 15 & 16. To make matters worse mile 16 coincided with a tough bridge. So I really dropped pace there. We came down the bridge into Manhattan though and as soon as we hit the ramp down you could hear the people cheering – it was awesome.
The crowds in Manhattan helped me pick up the pace a bit again. Isaac found me again at mile 17 and I told him I wasn’t feeling stellar and he shouted encouragements at me as I went by. Around mile 18 my inhaler fell out of my handheld when I was grabbing a gel. Luckily some runners noticed and caught me. I had to run back a few yards to grab it. I also decided to take my inhaler to help with my breathing a bit. So mile 17, 18 and 19 were goal pace or close to it again.
Sadly, by mile 20 my lungs and back really weren’t happy and I slowed down considerably. I also noticed some other pains cropping up that I think were due to altered form from my back issue. I stopped a few times to stretch going forward which helped, but my breathing never felt good again. By now I knew my 4:30 goal was out the window so I went to my B goal of sub 4:45. I kept plugging along at the best pace I could. I was in a pretty bad mental space between miles 22-24. Isaac found me in this stretch and the minute I saw him I burst into tears and stopped running. I don’t quite remember what I said. I think it was something to the effect of – “I blew it” and “I just want to quit” and “I feel awful”. He was amazing, as usual, and told me to keep going because no matter what I would have a PR if I didn’t stop. So I kept going.
Miles 24-25 were my slowest and hardest miles. The crowds were great though. They kept encouraging me to keep going and I did. I kept reminding myself of how far I’ve come and that I couldn’t quit this close to the finish line. It was also neat to know my friends and family were tracking me. Every time I crossed a timing area I thought of all of the amazing people I have in my life and that gave me a nice boost. Towards the end I knew everyone could see me slowing down – so that wasn’t quite as fun, but it was still neat to know I had people encouraging me from afar.
Just past mile 25 I saw my best friend Michelle and another one of our friends Lena. They screamed and cheered for me and Michelle shouted “ducks can fly” (my nickname from college is Duck – long story) which made me laugh and boosted my spirits. I was able to pick up the pace a bit again for that last mile. The last .2 miles felt like an absolute eternity but I finally finished in 4:41:06!!! I was thrilled to be done and proud for finishing with a 16 min PR!
Then I had the over 1 mile death march out of the park. That was absolutely chaotic and terrible. Isaac was waiting for me at the exit with a huge hug and then shuttled me into a warm vehicle for a ride back to the hotel.
Overall, I am very pleased with the race. I didn’t bonk in the traditional sense. My energy levels felt steady through the race and I avoided stomach issues which I had last time. So my fueling strategy worked. However, I think a combination of dealing with some health issues that coincided with race week, the humidity and the fact that we were on our feet so much before the race contributed to me missing my A goal of 4:30. I just couldn’t make my lungs work well enough to hold the pace I needed to (plus my back wasn’t going for it either) and that made the last 5 miles feel pretty awful. I am very proud of my finishing time though. I did the best I could given the day and that’s all you can ask for during a marathon.
I definitely learned a lot during this race and I am so grateful I was able to run NYC (I got in through the lottery). The spectators were simply amazing – it truly was like a 26.2 mile block party. There was music, amazing people and great signs all through the course. The only quiet stretches were the bridges. I didn’t listen to music and the miles flew by (even in the rough moments). Running over the bridges and into central park was fantastic. I’ll cherish those moments and hearing everyone shout my name. I highly recommend doing NYC at least once! I will admit though, that I prefer the easier logistics of smaller races.
My husband and I have already signed up for a spring marathon (The Fredericton Marathon in New Brunswick Canada) so I can run to re-attempt a 4:30 marathon. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about running though – it’s that you can’t gaurentee any result come race day. Luckily, I also enjoy the training so I’ll take it one day at a time and hope for the best come race day. It’s all any of us can do!
Those who have been following my training on the podcast know that this training cycle hasn’t been going well for me. I’ve struggled with heat, humidity, asthma, stomach problems, and most recently, bronchitis. I haven’t been able to hit my workout targets in months, and recently DNF’d a half marathon.
Every runner training for a big goal race is worried about getting injured and all of us get injured at one time or another. I’m no exception. Last summer, when I was training for my first marathon, I was plagued by all sorts of knee issues. I managed to get through my training, but it was sub-par. Then the knee problem reared its ugly head in full force at mile 20 of the marathon. I still finished, but the knee issue hampered what otherwise would have been a good run. This year I’m training for the NYC marathon and I’ve implemented all sorts of recovery and injury prevention tools to make this training cycle better. I foam roll religiously every night, I stretch, I’ve increased my protein intake and I do regular strengthening exercises. I’m currently 6.5 weeks out from NYC and training has been going great. Yet, every single twinge and soreness I feel leads to fear and panic that I’m injured.