20 Miles

This past Saturday I ran 20 miles. 2-0! It’s the furthest I’ve ever run, aside from the SF Marathon last year.

I get pretty anxious and nervous for long training runs. The night before any scheduled run longer than 10 miles I don’t sleep well (as in I wake up every couple of hours, typically in sweats, etc.) because I’m so anxious. And I’ve typically done the mileage I have scheduled many times before. But just because I’ve run a half marathon before doesn’t make the next any less daunting. Because I’m always trying to do better. And the risk of not being better than I was yesterday is scary. Because if I’m not improving, what does that mean? Am I injured? Is it a set back? Was my last run a fluke?

This past Summer I got really into running. Okay, I’ve been into running for the last 7 or so years, but this Summer I’ve become more social in my running. I started listening to podcasts, officially joined Strava, started going to workouts at Fleet Feet, trained my butt off with Team in Training, and joined the Oiselle Volee team. It’s been extremely fun and rewarding to connect with others over our shared passion.

My dear friend Peggy (she is one of my biggest running motivators) introduced me to a podcast called Run Selfie Repeat a few months ago that has changed my perspective. What Kelly Roberts, the host of Run Selfie Repeat, talks about in her latest podcast is giving yourself permission to succeed. Something that really resonated with me is this: “If you can give yourself permission to succeed… sometimes that means not giving up. Sometimes that means just showing up. Taking the time to believe that success is more likely than failure that’s a muscle we very rarely flex.” This. is. so me! I am always procrastinating my runs because I think it will be a bad run. Why? Why do I foresee a run ending badly? Sometimes it takes me hours to even get the courage to go for a recovery run. When I’m supposed to go slow and not hit any milestones. Why do we project or plan for the worst? Why are we always surprised when we succeed, even though we’ve practiced and trained to do just that? Why do we downplay our success? Is it because we are supposed to be humble in our accomplishments? I get that, definitely. But at what point are we allowed to be proud of our dedication to our goals and achievements?

Channeling all of this, I changed my perspective for my last very long training run. On Friday I made a conscious effort to stay cool and try to remain calm. Sure, I still woke up at 3 am, then 4:30 am on Saturday morning, but I calmly talked myself back to bed. When I got up at 5:45 I did my typical routine: coffee, with toast + peanut butter + 1/2 a banana. And I just chilled. That’s the thing, too, about training with a team. It’s still hard to wake up so early when you’d rather be sleeping, but you do it for them. So that you don’t let your teammates down.

What I’ve come to realize during this training cycle is that at the end of the day we are the drivers of our own success; no one else is going to do the dirty work for us. When we dare to dream of goals that seem out of this world, and then work our butts off, it’s a privilege to honor that dedication. How daring and bold it is to even dream up big dreams.

Despite the soreness, missed vacations, parties, and dinners, waking up at an ungodly hour every Saturday, physical therapy, etc. this is why I run. To know that I can dream up a goal and dedicate myself to achieving it. And I’m working on knowing that when I do achieve my lofty goals, it’s okay to be proud of myself. And if I fall short, remembering that it takes a daring dreamer to even put myself out there.

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Confidence & Perseverance

There are officially less than 8 weeks until the Chicago Marathon, and I’m feeling great about my training so far this season. I ran 18 miles this past Saturday (!) and the rest of my training includes running the Giants Half Marathon in a couple weeks, another 18 miler and concluding my long runs with a 20 mile long run. This leaves room for a 3 week taper and then the big day on October 8th.

I know I’m not alone in that I get nervous about my long runs. The thought of running that many miles at once is physically and mentally intimidating. I follow this training plan, and on this plan the long run distance starts at 6 miles and in the course of 13 weeks advances to 20 miles. Again, that’s 6 miles to 20 miles in 13 weeks! To reflect and think that your body has become strong enough to run 14 more miles in a single run is crazy and completely amazing.

That is why I love running so much. Because running is the development of both physical and mental strength. Running forces introspection; it teaches you to really listen to yourself. You are the only person at the end of the day who can make all of this worth it. What you put in, you will get out. No one can run the miles for you.

There’s an honesty about marathon training that gets overlooked. We need to listen to our bodies, treat them well, and know the difference between true fatigue and doubt. It’s often the most difficult part of training, making that rest day call. The days when your body is worn down and needs to recover. I’m sick right now, and it’s hard for me to accept when I have a 6 mile run on the schedule. But I’m listening to myself and trying to be kind.

More often than not, it’s not fatigue. Our bodies have become stronger. Instead, it’s doubt. It’s the place in your brain that will manipulate you to believe that you can’t hit your paces, that 18 miles really is too long, that you’ll just wing it at the end or the adrenaline will carry you on race day. So what is it that overcomes doubt and second guessing? You guessed it: confidence and perseverance. People start running for different reasons, but these two lessons are in my opinion the most valuable outcomes when you train for a race. Confidence to overcome doubt. Perseverance to try anyway, keep going and overcome. Listening to yourself, doing what’s best for you, accepting that you are human, and knowing that you are still strong and bad ass to even try in the first place is a gift.

I’ve loved being more involved with my Team in Training group this season. In case you missed it, I’m running the marathon with Team in Training to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. On Wednesday nights we have track practice at Kezar Stadium and Saturday mornings we meet up for long runs. While it’s challenging getting to the other side of San Francisco after work some Wednesdays and difficult to pump yourself up at that notoriously windy and foggy track, it’s thrilling to feel myself get faster each week. Our coaches, Joe and Megan, come up with the workouts and plan out our long run routes, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the variety. When I was training for the SF marathon solo last year, I would procrastinate my long run until 10 or 11 am and run the same route over and over. Our Team in Training long runs start at 7 am, and knowing that I have other people to run with and am done by the time I used to start has been a game changer.

I have some donations that I haven’t submitted yet, so I’m over halfway to my fundraising goal, too. I’m getting pumped for Chicago and have appreciated your support tremendously, checking in on how I’m feeling, asking about my shin splints, how my run went, etc. If you’d like to donate, I’d be so grateful and you can do so here.

Running does so much for my body and soul, and I love sharing my journey with you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support.

Global Running Day

I love Global Running Day. I get sentimental on this day ever year, as it’s a time for me to reflect every year on my running journey, where I’ve come and where I started. I also hope it encourages at least one person who thinks they can’t run or running isn’t for them to give it a try. Because that used to be me, in a big way.

Running is such a big part of my life, and probably more than I realize. I obsess over, prepare, practice, train, and think about running every single day. When I’m not running, I’ve made the conscious decision not to run because my body needs recovery.

I get emotional when I think about running because I never thought I would be a runner. I’ve been running for 7 years, and up until last year I wasn’t comfortable labeling myself as a runner. I always thought running was something outside my wheelhouse; something that only people with a certain body type, who are naturally fast, confident, or gifted could do and do well.

Running is hard- there is no question about that. It hurts. It’s uncomfortable. It’s frustrating. But it’s accepting uncomfortableness that has been one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from running. I can’t knock seconds, or even minutes, off my race times without pushing myself to new heights. I have to be vulnerable and take a leap of faith to achieve higher goals. If I want to run faster splits or run farther distances, I have train faster and run more miles. I have to trust the process. Which is another valuable life lesson; as someone who likes being in control it’s scary to put your heart, soul, time and energy into something when you can’t be 100% certain of the outcome. We’re at risk of injury, sickness, bad weather, etc. We’re human after all. At the end of the day, when it comes to running the only thing you can control is the effort you put in. Even if numbers don’t prove it, when I train harder I gain so much; I have more discipline. I am stronger. I am healthier. I feel more like me.

I love geeking out over stats, the feeling when I know I’m going to PR, but most of all talking and bonding over running. Admittedly I prefer to run by myself; I can’t really talk when I run so it just suits me better to run independently. But I never regret it when I run with friends or attend a running meet up. I love hearing about other people’s accomplishments with running; to me, running isn’t competitive. We’re all just trying to beat ourselves; to be better than we used to be. Shoutout to my ladies Peggy and Kate, for the shared encouragement, understanding, love and support with running 🙂

More than any thing I’ve ever done, running has taught me so much about myself. Running has taught me discipline. It has taught me tenacity. Perseverance. Confidence. To be brave, proud of myself and my accomplishments. Running has made me stronger, both physically and mentally. It has guided me through some of the darkest moments of my life. Running has made me a better person.

So that’s why, after I swore I was “one and done” with the marathon, I’m running the Chicago Marathon this fall. My training officially kicked off this week, and I’m all sorts of nervous and excited. I’m also partnering again with Team in Training, which benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If you’d like to donate to my training page, please do so here.

And if not, that’s okay too. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support and encouragement. It means the world to me 🙂

 

2016 Running Recap

One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 was to run one race a month. I’m happy to say that with the exception of August I stuck to my resolution! These races were a combination of painful slow running, sensational fast running, frustration, weaving between crowds, cold and hot weather, etc. Some were unexpectedly easier than others, while some were annoyingly harder. I considered sleeping in and ditching a lot of these races, but I held myself accountable, which is another unexpected accomplishment from this resolution. Here’s my list of races for 2016:

January: Hot chocolate 5K

  Foster City 5K

February: Chinese New Year 10K (3rd year in a row!)

March: Get Lucky 5K*: 25:13/top 2 women!

April: Guardsmen 10K

May: Girls on the Run 5K

June: San Diego Rock n Roll Half Marathon*: 1:56:22 (first time breaking sub 2hours!)

July: San Francisco Marathon

August: No race, still miserable from the marathon and was seriously debating if I ever wanted to run again

September: Giants 10K*: 53:37

October: Run 10 Feed 10

November: Oceanside Turkey Trot 10K

December: Timed 5K on December 31: 26:02

*PR!

As I admitted above, a lot of these races weren’t exactly pretty. In particular, the half marathon in June was the toughest; not from a physical aspect, but because I was in a really emotional headspace. I was going through a lot of change that left me in a sensitive state of fragility and self conscious with uncertainty. I also added on the pressure that if I wanted to do well in my first marathon in July, I had to run this half easily. The combination of my vulnerable state of mind and PR stress resulted in me using the race as a way to hold on to the part of my identity that I was most proud of, while simultaneously fighting feelings of nervousness and doubt. Every race I repeat to myself not to give up, but this race that voice quickly turned into nagging and reminding myself that in 7 weeks I had to run double the mileage. The internal competition within myself reached an extreme point. I was pushing myself so hard. In most of my other races, it’s typically my mind that gives me the extra push when my body feels exhausted. But this race it was my mind that was trying to keep up with my body. Giving up wasn’t an option, and my body was stronger than my mind. It was a time where I was truly appreciative of all of the training I’d ever done that had lead me to that point.

The best and most surprising race of the year was the Giants 10K. To be honest I was pretty hungover, as the day before I was celebrating Erik Davis’ birthday playing some good old fashioned sloshball (aka keg kickball aka drinking lots of beer while playing kickball) in Golden Gate Park. Considering it was my first race since the marathon, I had no expectations for this race (quite the alternative since June). Maybe it was all of the carbs from the beer or the fact I was running a familiar route, but I quickly found my stride after mile one, and continued to feel better with each mile. I didn’t wear my Garmin for this race (that’s how much I was winging it), so when I looked up my race results and saw that I PR’d by a full minute, I was pretty stoked.

These two races ended in PR’s and were so obviously different. It just proves that at the end of the day not every PR, accomplishment or success was traveled on a yellow brick road to get there. I guess that’s a metaphor for life too, right?

Admittedly, running has taken a back burner the last few months. To put it simply, I just haven’t been into it. I’ve felt and seen changes in my body as a result, and feel sluggish and slow. Quite the contrast from this past Summer when I was in maybe the best shape of my life. But it’s not all about how I look physically. As a creature of habit I feel so much more stable when I have a routine. It feels SO good every time I cross off another interval, fartlek, track, tempo, or long run. Training for a race and goal, and knowing what I need to do to get there gives me a sense of security and accomplishment.

I’ve made it no secret here that 2016 was a tough year, for many reasons. So in an effort to make 2017 better, a couple weeks ago I decided I would start training for the Kaiser Half Marathon on February 5th. I look forward to sharing with you all a bit of my training progress in the new year!

Here’s to more miles, happiness, and health in 2017 🙂