Miles High, Mentality Low…

…That’s pretty much been the story of my past 2 weeks.  I’ve now had 2 tough back-to-back long runs, doing 20 miles last weekend and attempting 18 this past weekend but only hitting 11.67.  Sure I’ve had some aches and pains on the runs, but something rather new for me has been the consistent negative talk creeping in during the runs.  I have not been able to get out of my own way, mentally speaking.  To say I’m frustrated is an understatement.  To say I’m getting stressed as my marathon is now just a mere 25 days away….well, here’s hoping that’s enough time to snap out of this!

You all know I post a lot on social media around running so not surprisingly some relevant articles started popping up in my news feed on Facebook. (I’ll spare you my conspiracy theories regarding Facebook’s infiltration into our lives i.e. I really think it’s reading my text messages!)

Feel Amazing While Running reminded me of the importance of reflection.  While I don’t have a Gratitude Journal, per se, this blog was founded when I took on my first big running adventure, the 2014 Boston Marathon, and has captured almost my full running “career.” Part of my delay in writing a post this week was I found some time to reread some of my posts and reflect on the awesome Journey I’ve had since taking up running.  This reflection has really helped me gain some perspective, mainly that these past 2 weeks do not define me and who I am as a runner.  Part of running is that it will be hard, and truthfully in some ways that is why I do it!  I know I’m a completely different person than I used to be.  The health and weight benefits are of course critical in building a long and happy life, but running has helped me find a whole new appreciation for my strength which has further helped me in all areas of my life, socially and professionally.  Physical strength you can build, but recognizing my mental strength and resilience has not always been my forte.  Guess what I learned reading about some of my past training? I have previously had sucky runs! Kudos to me that when I talk about running I am not focusing on the bad that I have been able to run through.  Generally speaking I talk about running with a sense of passion and motivation. The fact that I don’t immediately go to “Running=Bad” tells me that this is something I really enjoy and that it is something that gives me a real benefit.  It sounds so simple, but in recognizing this, and now writing this, I already feel like I’m gaining a different perspective.

I know I put a lot of pressure on myself, with this training schedule, in particular. It laid out 2 attempted 20+ mile runs, the second of which is supposed to be this coming weekend.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this coming weekend and admittedly have had some anxiety. What’s my plan? Do I still try to do this? How am I going to feel if I have a THIRD week of not meeting my goal? Am I really not meeting my goal?  Really “the goal” is to finish the Marine Corps Marathon; I’m going to be able to do that, right?  All signs of my training to date suggest yes.  While not perfect (perfect is boring!) I have stuck to training and overall should be ready unless I just use these next few weeks to regress to a bon-bon eating, story watching couch potato (hmmm….. kidding!)  But I think where I get caught up on myself is that last week my “plan” said to run 18 and I did not hit that mileage.  Sometimes I’m too concrete for my own good.  I sign up for races and then I immediately lay out my training schedule on my calendar.  I do this as a source of motivation, in addition to organization, but what if I don’t do what I’m supposed to do?  Does that mean I’m completely off the mark for my ultimate goal?  It’s not like I’m skipping 5 long runs in a row!  I find that if I don’t hit my miles or I miss a midweek run, seeing  my incomplete training task floating on my calendar makes me feel a bit like a failure.  I have realized feeling that way is not particularly fair to myself, and certainly propagates way more negative talk than I want.   I’m really considering this in looking forward to my next marathon and I need to find a way to organize a training plan but in a way that will leave less room for feeling as if I have failed.  Because I finally am realizing I am not failing.  Overall I am a HUGE success!  I originally set out to run one marathon and now I’m training for a second.  While many folks do way more than that, for me that’s a great accomplishment and I need to regain that sense of pride.

My run buddies have been invaluable this training season. Without them, there are many weekend runs I would not have woken up for and I either would have slept in and gotten myself into the pickle of running in 90 degree, 100% humidity weather or making excuses to put the miles off until the next day, or worse yet put them off to never!  That said, this weekend I’m going to break away from my pack and hit the road solo again.  I miss going out on the run alone and being able to think without a worry of who I’m with and what pace they are trying to run.  My goal will be to run long with myself and for myself.  I don’t care about the time. I honestly never have. It’s nice to see my speed increase but the reality is while I’ve been pretty good about training this summer, I’m not so regimented that I’m expecting miracles with this marathon finish (sorry folks, but I won’t be winning!)  But what is important to me is that I am able to enjoy the experience.  I want to enjoy the final part of this training journey and then show up on marathon day feeling mentally ready to tackle this next challenge and with a positive attitude about looking towards the future and my next big race. I also need to have my head in the game because this course runs by all the monuments in the D.C. area so my run selfie game has to be on point!  I’m proud of the commitment I make to myself when I sign up for a race and I have worked too hard this summer to get down on myself now.

As beneficial as this reflection has been, I’ll end with some pics from the weekend and early this week because it certainly has been a busy one!  While running has been a source of fun for me, so is finding other things to keep life fun!

So even thoughIMG_9974 Saturday’s run didn’t go as planned, I still needed to take a few pics along the way.  I love that the selfie is really just me in focus, ha! Unintentional, promise!  The second one I thought came out kind of cool.  We ended up on the Minuteman Bikeway starting in Cambridge and running towards Bedford.  It’s a great path that I hadn’t run in quite awhile.  No one I was with had ever run over here, so I was happy to be able to share this new route with everyone!

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Later in the day on Saturday, I went to my friends’ event for their non-profit, Empower Spinal Cord Injury.  It was an adaptive mountain biking clinic and I got to try out this bad boy!  Let me tell you, awesome stuff!  I have never apparently done legit mountain biking. I tried getting on a 2-wheeled bike and the fact I fell in the flat parking lot told me that I should probably go ahead and not attempt a legit trail on that piece of equipment.  This trike, however, was incredible! It’s still leg powered but I went over some pretty tough stuff including rocks and tree roots.  Looking forward to the next chance I can try to get out on the trail with something like this!

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Sunday was Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s Set Sail event to raise money for our adaptive sports and recreation program.  I was there all day with my dog, Scrimmage, who is also a therapy dog regular at the hospital to play with folks in the Bark Park.  The event was a success and also a ton of fun! We also got to snap this photo of our Race for Rehab Alums.  Few things are more motivating when you’re in a running funk than seeing past teammates and fellow runners.

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Lastly, I started of my week with the final Cardio Pilates on the Greenway in Boston.  It was an awesome summer series run every 2 weeks and I made it to every class.  Now that night is setting sooner, it was a neon glow theme, complete with glow bracelets and necklaces.  By the time we finished we were basking in the city lights which made for a couple cool shots.

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Alright folks, I’m looking forward to a great post after this weekend’s long run.  Until next time, happy running!

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Shake It Out!

So after yesterday’s tough 20 miles, it’s no surprise I woke up this morning pretty tight and sore.  (I also went to bed at 8:30 p.m. last night.  I debated whether to share that or not, but there it is.  Raging Saturday night!  I feel like waking up in the 4’s and trudging through 20 miles allows me to go to sleep whenever I want! Anyways…)

I seriously woke up feeling like why are you so dumb signing up to do a 5K after your longest training run for the season to date and how am I seriously going to do this without hobbling and hurting myself?  I was really excited, though, because today’s run made history for my friend, Breanne, as it was her first ever 5K!  I totally get that running may not be for everyone, but I like everyone to at least give it a try before definitively saying “no.”  This has been an ongoing discussion between Breanne and I and after much motivational coaching (i.e. friendly threatening/peer pressure) she agreed and signed up and I was not going to drop her on this big day!

I’m super proud of her given her evening of Bachelorette Partying last night.  For someone who was saying she hasn’t been running enough and expected to finish around 40 minutes, she ended up rocking it with a time of 32 minutes and change!  I had not gone out with her recently so after I finished I was waiting at the finish trying to capture the triumphant finish when fortunately another friend texted to ask where I was and when I said I was waiting to capture Breanne’s finish she was like, “oh yeah, we’re already at the beer.”  Ha!

I wasn’t exactly sure what she was going to say about the experience, but I was happy to hear her talking about how it was more fun than she expected.  She admits she didn’t want to talk it up too much because she knows I’ll have her doing every 5K in the area, but I think I’ve made at least a partial runner out of her.

As for me, I admit that my post long run rituals are probably less than ideal.  I often feel so spent (e.g. 8:30 p.m. bedtime) that it’s really easy to fall into a keep it easy, a.k.a. barely move day, and I know that’s like a runner’s no-no.  I definitely felt tight (it’s particularly on my right side, butt and hamstring) but by about mile 2 toay I felt pretty awesome considering.  While the soreness was still a little evident, the tightness had essentially melted away.  I didn’t expect my best 5K time, but I was kind of expecting my worst.  Well surprise, surprise I averaged at 9’50” pace and finished with a time of 30:40.  So I’m feeling pretty great about that and I can feel the benefits of being active the day after the long run since my legs are feeling much better as I’m writing this (or is that the result of the beer? hmmm…)

We didn’t quite get our 20 people team for a private beer tent, but we had fun nonetheless.  On to the pics!

Jess (left) and Breanne (right) pre -race.  (Breanne boycotting the pony tail as long as she can ;) )
Jess (left) and Breanne (right) pre -race. (Breanne boycotting the pony tail as long as she can 😉 )
Obligatory start line selfie
Obligatory start line selfie
Breanne's finish pic!!
Breanne’s finish pic!!
Celebratory selfie
Celebratory selfie
[Insert Creative Team Name] runners
[Insert Creative Team Name] runners
Spaulding Rehab Co-Workers
Spaulding Rehab Co-Workers
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With my new running bud! Can’t wait until she takes on her first marathon 😉

All in all, it was a great way to spend a Sunday morning and some much needed movement for my weary legs.  I’ll take tomorrow as more of a true rest day and hoping to set myself up with a solid week of training to tackle 18 miles next weekend with the goal of feeling strong by the end!

Until next time, happy running!

20 Miles, 20 Selfies!

So I’ll get it out of the way.  Today was TOUGH.  In fact, I’m pretty convinced the only way I got through this run was because I mentally committed to this “20 Miles, 20 Selfies” idea before I started. (What’s funny is you can totally see the decline…it was only fun for like the first 10 miles, but more on that in a bit!)

It’s been awhile since I have not only had SO much internal negative talk, but also that I’ve not been able to overcome it.  I don’t know what exactly happened. I’ve been thinking about it for awhile and have gotten no further in my efforts to try and describe what I felt. I definitely wasn’t feeling physically awesome, especially by mile 16, but I just could not mentally get out of my own way.  I did more walking than I wanted, but hey, I finished!  That was what was really important to me.  Second in line for importance was I hoped to finish before the course officially shut down (4 hours).  I expected to have more wiggle room, but I finished with 4 minutes and change prior to the shut down so I’ll count that as a “win.”  The course was tough.  The loops we 20-milers did was not super scenic.  The volunteers were great as were the other runners, especially the other 20-milers. It was kind of like a special club, tackling 20 miles together.

So let’s enjoy the 20 selfies, because that’s more fun than my continued thinking about how tough today was (though near the end, you’ll start to see the shift from excitement to “Oh my god I hate everything right now”).

Arriving at the start, bright and early!
Arriving at the start, bright and early!
Nice view near the start
Nice view near the start
Mandatory pre-race selfie
Mandatory pre-race selfie
Mile 1, let’s do this!
Mile 2, still "fun"
Mile 2, still “fun”
Mile 3
Mile 4, kinda cute! (minus the shaky wobbles)
Mile 4, kinda cute!
High Fiving at Mile 5!
High Fiving at Mile 5! Kirby’s CLIF Gel time!
Mile 6, Amanda’s on to her nutrition and I’m starting my cute faces
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Mile 7, Getting our selfie on with some water in the background
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Apparently 8 miles gets me so excited I strain my entire face! (PS I don’t have a double row of top teeth)
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Mile 9, trying to capture some scenery
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Looking pretty good for Mile 10!
Yeah, this is where the run started to lose us both, Mile 11
Yeah, this is where the run started to lose us both, Mile 11
Mile 12…speaks for itself
Mile 13, buddies break off
Mile 13, buddies break off, but I gained a double chin for this pic 😉
Just anything to keep me going at Mile 14
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Mile 15, lost Amanda for good d/t the dizzies and I legit am not amused with this run!
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Mile 16, pretty sure I was trying to optimistically “thumbs up” but honestly only thinking about hitchhiking (or Ubering, actually)
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Mile 17, rallying for a selfie. (For the record, totally faking the happiness)
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Mile 18. Yeah…
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Mile 19. One. More. To. Go….
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Mile 20. Done! Cute medal and I’ll receive my 20 mile tag in the mail.

So in the end, I got it done. It was not the pace I was hoping for (I certainly wasn’t hoping to walk!) I wanted to feel better, mentally and physically, but I have to deal with the fact I didn’t and just move on!

I have a “shakeout” 5K run tomorrow with the Cambridge Classic 5K which I’m really looking forward to as those are always a fun event.  Next weekend I’ll go for 18 and the following I’m going to attempt 22.  Part of my training this go around was to do 2, 20-miler runs, so we shall see!  Trying to keep positive because I have been putting in the work. Sometimes running is just tough and nothing productive can come from being hard on myself!

Until next time, happy running!

Race Route
Race Route