Tag Archive | running

Life Since the Marathon

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since the marathon. Part of me feels like it just happened, the other part feels like it took place months ago.

After such a tough training cycle – between injury and illness – I knew I wanted to recharge after the race. I forced myself to take a full 6 days off of running, which was needed as my hip ached for a few days after the race.

My first run back after 26.2 was pitiful as every muscle in my body ached. I ended up only going 2 miles before calling it quits. The next day, I attended a hot yoga class that focused more on recovery and balance than intensity, which helped loosen up my hips. When I tried running the following day, I felt much better, although I did notice some minor pain in my left ankle and hip. I shrugged this off, figuring it was just leftover soreness from the marathon. I ran quite a few more times that week, including a 5 mile tempo run at sub-8:00 pace and an 11 mile long run with friends that included steep bridges. 

I honestly felt okay on these runs, and I loved the long run, especially the company. Sure, I had aches and pains while out running, but I kept telling myself it was nothing to be worried about, that as long as I took a couple more rest days during the week, I’d be okay. 

I don’t know why I felt the need to keep pushing myself so hard. Perhaps it was a bit of obsession – I am desperate to get back to the paces I was running last fall, and I think as soon as I finished the marathon, a part of me wanted to jump right back in. Another part is that I read about all these amazing bloggers who run multiple marathons a year, sometimes a month, and I guess I, naively, thought that if others could do it, I could do. 

Lesson learned: when it comes to marathons, it really is important to respect the distance AND your body, and that means taking the time you need to recover. 

Needless to say, after 1.5 weeks of pushing myself too much too soon after the marathon, I developed intense pain in my left hip flexor that resulted in an awful limp and the inability to run at all. I haven’t been able to run in a week, which is driving me crazy. 

But, there is some good coming out of this little injury: I am finally, finally learning how to properly swim. It’s been a goal of mine for a while now, and I am committed to getting more comfortable in the water so I can have an alternate form of cross training. 

Today, I headed to our local pool with two friends who helped give me tips and pointers on how to get familiar with freestyle swimming and breathing. I can’t lie – it’s very strange for me, and I feel like I look insanely ridiculous, but I’m excited about the new challenge. Plus, I know it’ll make me a stronger runner in the end… a runner who (hopefully) smartly cross trains to prevent future injuries. 

Because… one day… I will run another marathon, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any time soon. :)

 

 

 

Marathon Training: Peak Week

It’s about time for an update. Right after my first, amazing 20 mile run, I came down with a sinus infection and bronchitis. My doctor asked me to cool it on the running, suggesting I take a full week off. With only 7 weeks til race day at that point, I completely panicked. I began emailing and calling all my running friends, asking for advice on how to mentally and physically handle this break in my training. Everyone said I’d be okay, that I could still get to the start line of my first marathon.

My first runs back after being sick were terrible. I did not feel 100%, and knew I’d lost a bit of my fitness. That week, I went out for my second 20 miler and it was the opposite of my first one – I felt sluggish, tired, and in pain. But, I finished the run, and tried to focus on the positives: that I could run again, and that I pushed through yet another tough long run.

The next weekend, I ran a local half marathon on a challenging course to test my fitness level. With the exception of one sub-par mile, I stuck to my goal pace the whole time and even managed to squeak out 3rd place in my age group.

I went into my peak week of training feeling confident and knocked out some quality runs, including a 10-miler and 6 miles of speed work.

Yesterday, I ran 22 miles. By far a PDR (personal distance record) and one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. Early in the week, I emailed my friend Mary to see if she wanted to head to Clearwater to run part of my route with me. After some quality peer pressure on Mary’s part, I decided to drive to Tampa early Saturday morning so that we could run on Bayshore Blvd. as the city prepared for the Gasparilla Pirate Festival happening later that day.

At around 6 AM, I took off by myself for the first part of my run – a nice, quiet 8 miles along Bayshore, where I nodded silently to other runners and took in a beautiful sunrise over the water.

Sunrise on Bayshore Blvd.

Sunrise on Bayshore Blvd.

As my Garmin beeped for my 8th mile, I turned the corner onto Mary’s street and picked her up for the next portion of the run. We headed out to Davis Islands for a big loop, through the stunning neighborhoods filled with gorgeous homes. There are so many houses on that island that blow me away, it’s easy to get distracted from any sort of pain one might be feeling during a 22-mile run… We chatted the whole time, and it was nice to catch up with Mary.

After our loop around the island, we swung back by Mary’s house to pick up her husband, Marcus. He wanted to join us for about 5 miles so he could take in all the sights along Bayshore Blvd, with crews setting up booths and people already arriving to stake claim as close to the front of the parade route as possible. We decided we loved being able to run on the wide road rather than the sidewalk, as it made for a different experience and gave us plenty of people-watching opportunities.

At this point, my mileage was well over 15, and I was starting to feel it – my legs were aching and I could tell I hadn’t taken in enough water, especially with the sun starting to beat down on us. Luckily, Marcus is an excellent entertainer – he told me lots of pirate jokes and funny stories to keep my mind off of running. Mary was also doing a great job motivating me.

We dropped Marcus off, and I continued running around the block while Mary went to grab our next running buddy – her adorable pup, Winnie, who I just love! I was really excited to have Winnie join us for those last two miles as I really needed a distraction. During mile 19, I kept thinking, oh, I maybe I should just call it – 20 miles is good enough, but I knew I’d feel terrible if I didn’t finish what I had set out to do almost three hours before. With Mary and Winnie at my side, I pushed through those two miles and finished my first ever 22-mile run.

When I finished, my legs immediately began to tighten up and hurt. I could barely hobble my way to my car! Usually, when I”m done running, there are very few people around. This was not the case during Gasparilla! I’m sure everyone thought I had started drinking REALLY early, because I was definitely stumbling around and barely able to talk.

Mary and Marcus were kind enough to let me use their shower and feed me breakfast and show me hilarious YouTube videos while I worked up the strength to move my legs again. For some reason, I had agreed to meet my boyfriend on Davis Islands so that we could go to Gasparilla together, even though all I really wanted to do was take a nap.

I am happy to report that I made it through the whole day, with only a couple episodes of “my legs are going to fall off if we don’t sit down right now” or “if you don’t find me water/food/shade right now, I will kick you.”

The craziness that is the Gasparilla Pirate Festival Parade

The craziness that is the Gasparilla Pirate Festival Parade

With all the walking during Gasparilla, I officially did a marathon yesterday. But, I’m more excited to run a marathon on February 17th. Now, let the taper begin.

18 Miles of Confidence-Boosting Awesomeness

My mileage is creeping up, and it seems that I’m hitting new personal distance records regularly. This past weekend, I had 18 miles on my training plan. For some reason, that number has really freaked me out from the beginning of this training cycle.  There’s something about seeing “18 Miles” that has been giving me quite a bit of running anxiety for a couple months now.

Friday, after work, my boyfriend and I drove up to Jacksonville from St. Pete to spend the holiday weekend with my family. I kept getting nervous when I thought about running 18 miles – my stomach started to flutter and my mind wouldn’t stop racing. To help calm my nerves, I used my iPhone to search for blog posts from people recapping their first 18 mile runs. It actually did make me feel better. I love running blogs!

Earlier this week, when planning for the long run, I knew I’d have to get it done very early due to a slew of family birthday parties starting right at 10 AM. A 5 AM wake-up call didn’t sound all that fun, especially after a long, traffic-filled drive the night before.

Also, I wasn’t looking forward to the potentially boring route I’d have to run. My mom’s house is in a very residential area that can make for some dull runs. For long runs, I usually drive to other spots around Jacksonville to get better scenery, but I  couldn’t afford the additional hour of driving to/from a running location this time.

This is when having another long distance runner in the family comes in handy. I asked my uncle if he would be up for getting in a few miles with me on Saturday, and I was surprised when he said he wanted to try to run 14 (his longest run ever!). A quick check on MapMyRun.com showed that his house is exactly 4 miles from mine, so I could run there, pick him up, and complete another 14.

To make the run less mentally daunting, I broke it up into three segments: 4 miles to my uncle’s house, 7 miles out, and 7 miles back.

The first leg of the route went by quickly – I had to keep slowing myself down because I wanted to stay close to 9-minute miles for the first 5 to prevent my famous positive splits.  It was also really, really dark at this point, and I had to focus on not tripping or falling.

Mile 1 – 8:38 (too fast!)

Mile 2 – 8:50

Mile 3 – 9:00

Mile 4 – 9:00

My uncle was waiting outside for me, so we took off quickly. I told him I needed to keep a slower pace for a couple more miles, and he had no problem settling into pace with me. Once we turned out of his neighborhood onto a long straightaway, our pace picked up, and I surprisingly felt great – much better than the 17 miler a couple weeks ago. My uncle and I chatted the whole time, enjoying being the lone “crazy people” out on the road. The sun didn’t start to rise until around the 10 mile mark, which made it feel very peaceful.

Mile 5 – 9:00

Mile 6 – 8:48

Mile 7 – 8:39

Mile 8 – 8:43

Mile 9 – 8:41

Mile 10 – 8:42

Mile 11 – 8:45

We turned around and I told myself, “only 7 miles left!” At this point, I did cut back talking as I tried to fall into a steady rhythm to focus on not hitting a wall. I think the wall is my biggest fear, and I’m also scared of that feeling where your legs tighten up and you just want to stop.

Around Mile 13, I found myself falling into the whole, “Ugh, I still have X miles left to run” mentality. I worked at fighting back those thoughts, and instead kept my attention on not falling too far being my uncle (he was doing a great job of making sure I was drinking water and staying close to my desired pace).

Around Mile 15, little aches began to pop up – my calf, my knee, my quad. Nothing too bad, just little reminders to say, “hey, you’re working hard here.” I never had feelings of wanting to quit, though… I just kept going.

When my watch ticked off Mile 17 signifying one mile left, I don’t know what happened, but I found another gear. I could tell that mile would be my fasted, which gave me strength to keep trucking along and gradually speeding up the whole time.

Mile 12: 8:50

Mile 13: 8:54

Mile 14: 8:54

Mile 15: 8:49

Mile 16: 8:54

Mile 17: 8:53

Mile 18: 8:22 (!)

Mile .2 @ 6:54 pace (!)

I am most proud of that last mile… I hope I can find that strength again come February 17th!

When we stopped running, my legs instantly tightened up. Despite that, I knew I could have kept running if I hadn’t stopped, which gives me confidence for next week’s 20 miler and, ultimately, the marathon.

After a quick bit of refueling at my uncle’s, I rushed home to grab my boyfriend and siblings so we could head to my cousin’s 6th birthday party at Rebounderz, a trampoline gym that involved 90-minutes of jumping. Not exactly the smartest way to recover post-long run, but it was so much fun!

I really needed that run to boost my confidence as I approach peak training time. I’ve got some high-mileage (for me) weeks looming on the horizon, and I’m ready to tackle them.

San Francisco Half Marathon 2012 Race Recap

On Sunday, I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon 15-Miler. Even though I read numerous race recaps, Aron’s fantastic course preview (bookmark this page and read it if you’re ever doing this race!), and reviewed the official course countless times, I still managed to miss the turn-off for the half marathon finish line and continued running with the full marathoners for almost another mile.

image credit: business wire

The good news is that I was on track to set a new PR in the half marathon despite the challenging, hilly route, which means the changes I made to my training are working. I felt amazing the whole run – in fact, I think I might have conserved too much energy in anticipation of the infamous hills and probably could have pushed myself more earlier in the race.

The bad news is that I still feel like a total schmuck. I keep picturing the course signs in my head, wondering how I could have ended up going the wrong way. Looking back on that final [extra] mile, I don’t know how I missed so many clues that I had ended up on the full marathon route. Clues like:

  • the signs themselves – the course was very clearly marked.
  • the water stop (I even remember thinking, “Weird – why is there a water stop with only about 1200m to go?”).
  • that no one else was noticeably picking up the pace.
  • that it felt like the longest mile ever.
  • that everyone else had a different bib color than me.

I’m not sure when it finally clicked that I’d gone too far, but I finally looked at the guys next to me and asked, “This is the full marathon, isn’t it?”  Internally, I kept willing him to shake his head and say, “No! You’re right where you need to be!” but instead his eyes filled with pity as he explained that I had gone the wrong way.

Instantly, I burst into tears as hopes of setting a new personal best in the half marathon slipped away. Slowly, I turned around to make my way back to the course and to the  finish line. When the balloons above the finish came into view, I picked up the pace to cross the line feeling strong. I’d had a great run on a beautiful course, and I wasn’t going to let a little mix up ruin the experience.

As the volunteer hung the medal around my neck, I felt more tears fall down my face. I was upset and angry and disappointed, sure, but I kept trying to remind myself how wonderful the race itself had been. I’d had the privilege of running through some gorgeous scenery along the waterfront, through the Presidio, and over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, all while pushing myself on a challenging course.

I’ve certainly learned my lesson to pay better attention in split races, and I already have plans to redeem myself by running the second half of the race next year as part of the San Francisco Half It All Challenge.

Evaluating Your Training to Overcome Burn-Out, or, How to Learn From My Mistakes

This year, every time a new month appears on my calendar, I find myself thinking, “How is it already [fill-in-the-blank]?” 2012 is going by quickly, which means that the fall racing season and my upcoming first marathon next winter will be here soon.

I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on how my training has been going so far, and thinking about what I need to do in the coming months to make sure I’m ready to toe the line at my “A” race this fall and be healthy for that big 26.2-miler in February 2013.

A few weeks ago, I ran the Lawyers Have Heart 10K here in D.C. I did not have a good race. At all. I was almost three minutes off my PR at that distance, and just two months earlier I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler at a pace that was 40 seconds faster per mile.

After dwelling in negativity about running and myself for a couple of days, I realized I’d suffered my first bout of “burn out.” Packing my spring schedule with race after race (3 half marathons, 1 10-miler, 2 10Ks, and 2 5Ks) finally caught up to me, and on June 9th, I bonked – big time.

The biggest battle I lost that day wasn’t physical, though, it was ALL mental. Excuse after excuse overpowered my thoughts, and it took all my strength not to stop.

I crossed the finish line, but it’s been a long time since I was that happy for a race to end.  That got me down.

I love racing! I love setting out all my gear the night before, I love envisioning my race strategy before falling asleep, I love not being able to sleep because of nerves and excitement, I love  the adrenaline of race morning, I love getting to a start line and seeing how many other people love doing these things, too.

At every race I ran this past spring, I felt those unabashed “true love” emotions. Until the Lawyers Have Heart 10K – I had absolutely no love at that race…

With countless running highs still in my recent memory, I forgot that there are also lows in this sport. It’s how you handle, and eventually overcome, the valleys that makes you a stronger runner at the peaks.

When I realized I’d burned myself out on racing, I ordered a “cease-and-desist” on clicking any “Register Now” buttons. I took time to go through my training log, really reading and evaluating my entries to see exactly when things started straying from smiley faces and sunshine to repeatedly selecting the depressing “alright” icon on DailyMile.

I read some popular running books about proper training, and dove into articles I found online about reversing burn out.

As for training, I cut back my mileage for a few weeks and incorporated more cross-training and scheduled (because I’m really bad about giving my body a break), complete rest days, both of which I plan to keep in my program as I gear up for the fall. My revised program now follows this weekly pattern:

  • One Tempo Run
  • One Day of Speed Work (Track Intervals or Hill Repeats)
  • One Long Run (some with goal pace miles, many without)
  • Two Recovery Runs (one short with drills & strides and one medium-long run)
  • Two Strength Training Workouts (paired with cross-training or recovery days)
  • Two Cross Training Sessions (one is almost always free community yoga at Lululemon)
  • One FULL Rest Day

There’s enough variety to keep me challenged and entertained, which I know I need to stick with any sort of plan. And, now, I understand the importance of flexibility in training. There are days where some workouts haven’t happened, and I’ve accepted that rather than berating myself.

Reviewing my training log also made it clear the areas I needed most improvement so I tried to find “fun” ways to work on them. For me, this included finding local groups I could join for organized track workouts, tempo runs, and bootcamp-like strength training. I always thought of myself as a solo runner, but I noticed a pattern in my logs – every time I ran with a group, I pushed myself harder and ran more consistently. Plus, not ONE of those runs had been designated a “blah” or “alright” run. So, I sought out more ways to run with other people using good-old Google.

Another big change I’m made is that, much to the dismay of my boyfriend who loves waking up before 6 am to cheer for me, I WON’T be signing up for every single race this fall. Right now, I’m aiming for no more than one race per month and a couple of those will be disguised as training runs for the marathon.

Now, I feel like I’m back on track (looks like I picked an appropriate name for my blog…) with my training. I’m excited to see how the changes I’ve made affect my running leading up to the fall racing season because even though it’s only the first week of July, September will be here before we know it.

Memorial Day Weekend: Saucony Fun Run and Lessons From My First Bike Crash

This long weekend served up the perfect mix of “doing nothing & doing something,” leaving me refreshed and ready to tackle a busy summer. My two highlights from the weekend were a Saucony-sponsored fun run with my local running store and my first biking accident (I’m okay!).

Yesterday, I kicked off the Memorial Day holiday at 7 a.m. with a Pacers fun run around D.C.’s National Mall. Starting early allowed us to beat the heat and the tourists. Our group leader planned a route that would take us past many of the iconic memorials and monuments, bringing a somber reminder of the real reason we had a day off yesterday.

Before we started the run, we got to hear from Jeff Caron, Saucony’s DC/VA field rep who partners with local running stores to plan lots of great events like yesterday’s outing. Everyone had the opportunity to try some Saucony shoes on the run, and I, of course, had to sport the lime green and hot pink Kinvara 3s.

The brighter the colors the faster you run, right?

These community events continue to have a positive effect on consumer engagement by doing two important things (among others): 1. they give the brand personality and 2. they allow product testing in the natural environment.

It’s no secret that I love events like these, mostly because it shows there are real people behind big brands. Yesterday, Jeff’s passion for Saucony and the sport really shined, making our group feel a little bit more connected to the company. Additionally, after the run, Jeff connected with many of the runners on social media channels, which will help sustain the relationships he built and allow Saucony and running-related communication to happen naturally and easily in the future.

Since I’ve gotten more involved with the running community (instead of just being a solo runner), I try to take full advantage of events that allow us to test out shoes and other products so I can make better informed purchases.  Going for a full, outdoor run is so much better than doing a quick, forced jog around a store.

“Finding Our Strong” Outside the Lincoln Memorial

I currently run in the Saucony Kinvara 2 and have been eager to try the newly-released Kinvara 3. Being able to try the updated model during yesterday’s 6-miler proved the shoe still fits my foot well, even with the updates. Now, I can safely say that I will buy the new version at some point in the near future (what a marketing success story!).

After such a great start to my morning, I knew I wanted to keep the fun going. My friend and I decided to bike on the Mt. Vernon Trail out to the waterfront in Old Town, Alexandria and back.

We made a couple stops on our way home and were approaching a 20-mile ride when someone abruptly swung open his car door into the bike lane. With no time to react, I slammed into the door head-on and flew off my bike, landing in a heap on top of the bike in the middle of the street. Luckily, I had been wearing a helmet and no cars were driving down the road… otherwise it could have been much, much worse.

In those few moments immediately after the crash, I could only think about the intense pain in my hip and what it might mean for my running. At first, I was unable to get up or move. Looking back, I now realize this was because of shock, but it is still a terribly frightening position to be in as all the horror stories I’d heard about cycling accidents flashed in my mind. I tried to figure out just how badly injured I was, and after a few moments, I could stand up with the help of my friend and the driver.

As soon as I realized I’d be okay, I felt such relief, mainly because I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t run. Is it sad that’s what I worried about first?

I tried my best to assure the driver that I was fine – he was really, really worried – and we checked out the damage to the bike. The poor bike sustained much more damage than I did, but that’ll get fixed soon enough.

The driver made a comment that stuck with me. He said, “We really take the bike lanes for granted. I’m still not used to them, and I need to always, always check.”

It’s so true – bike lanes aren’t common in a lot of places and it’s easy to forget they exist, which can lead to preventable crashes and accident.

Today, I am very sore and quite bruised, but mostly, just feeling lucky and blessed. You can bet I’ll always wear a helmet and will be much more observant when on a bike and when opening car doors. I hope this will remind everyone out there to do the same!

 

 

 

I Didn’t Set a Personal Best… And I’m Learning That’s Okay

I’m still getting the hang of this racing thing. My biggest challenge so far is realizing that not every race is going to come with a personal record… and being okay with that.

It’s no secret I’m competitive, more with myself than others. I am Type-A, constantly striving to improve and exceed expectations. This is why running is a great sport for me.

It’s also why running isn’t a great sport for me… sometimes.

When it comes to races, a lot of external factors can have an impact on performance. Even if you’ve trained perfectly, you still might not run your fastest time or win the race (heh, winning a race…). With my personality type, this is hard to grasp.

On Sunday, I ran my third half marathon and fifth race in less than 90 days. Going into the Iron Girl Clearwater Half Marathon, I knew I shouldn’t go for a PR. The course is infamous for being challenging. The forecast predicted heavy rain and strong wind along with higher-than-I’m-used-to temperatures and humidity.

image credit: Meals and Miles

You probably figured out that I did not set a new personal best in Sunday’s Iron Girl. In fact, I finished 3-and-a-half minutes off my PR and ran my slowest half marathon.

A part of me is honestly (and surprisingly) fine with this! My family came to cheer for me and it made me so happy every time I saw them along the course. I had fun running the gorgeous route with stunning views of the gulf, and the steep causeway bridges didn’t kill me. I saw runners faster than me stop to walk the bridges, but I kept powering up them. The storm held off until I crossed the finish line (literally, the second I stopped my watch it started to pour). At the end, I received a sparkly, beach-themed medal that makes an awesome addition to my collection. Overall, I finished in the Top 5 for my age group and 32nd out of 1500 finishers.

All said, I should be thrilled with Sunday’s performance.

But, it’s hard not to get down when I feel like I trained well for this race and still didn’t run my best time. As I lined up at the start, I felt strong. I put in more miles and got in some quality long runs over 15 miles. I focused on hill repeats to prepare for the mountain bridges.  I didn’t go out too fast, though I paced myself right, and never hit a wall.

Yet, that finish time has me questioning my training and, worse, my abilities.

Did I push myself to my limit on Sunday? What if I didn’t try hard enough? The race certainly didn’t feel easy, but there were times when I felt like I might be holding back in an attempt to save energy for the bridges. My boyfriend said I was “smiley-er” than in the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler or Disney Princess Half, that I looked “too happy to be running hard.”

So, of course, the past few days have been filled with some seriously ridiculous self-pity and self-doubt:

Did I get too overzealous with my spring racing schedule? Did I not try enough in the race? Did I count myself out because of the weather and difficult course before I even gave myself a chance? Did I push myself too hard or not hard enough in certain workouts? Did I peak too early? Did I give myself too few recovery days? Were the other races just flukes? OMG, am I never going to be fast(ish)?

And, now, it’s time to stop fretting over the race and accept it’s okay NOT to PR, that you can run a great race and still not hit your fastest time. Reading Lisa’s post, 7 Ways to Rid Yourself of Negative Thoughts, helped me get back on track, mentally.

The bottom line is I love running and enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes with racing. Even though I didn’t break any records on Sunday, I still had fun. Until that feeling goes away, I’m going to keep filling up my bank statement with registration fees.

When it comes to racing, there are a lot of unknowns and this is what keeps the sport fun and challenging. As the old saying goes, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

Marathon Monday

Today, I will not be writing about public relations or marketing or campaigns or brands. Today, I am writing about running and me.

Like most distance runners, I spent my morning listening to the live broadcast of the Boston Marathon and tracking my friends as they tackled the 26.2 mile journey from Hopkinton to Boylston St. in 80-degree weather. With my love of all-things Boston and running, I’ve always appreciated Marathon Monday. In the past, I’ve passively acknowledged who won the race and smiled at runners sporting offical B.A.A. race gear.

Now that I’ve gone from casual runner to half marathoner, I finally experienced that emotional tug of the Boston Marathon. It’s no longer just another marathon. It has shifted to being the quintessential marathon – the one many runners spend tireless hours training for the competitive qualifying times, let alone the race itself.

For me, Marathon Monday capped off a pretty exciting weekend. To celebrate my birthday, I traveled to New York City with a good girlfriend. On Saturday, we woke up at 6 a.m. (yes, on vacation) for a 16-mile long run. We made our way around all of Central Park, dominated (term used loosely?) Harlem Hill, and worked our way back downtown to Battery Park via the Hudson River Greenway. When I finished the run, my third 16-miler this spring, I was tired but I also felt strong and confident.

Sunday morning, as we strolled through Central Park, we stumbled upon the More/Fitness Women’s Half Marathon and decided to cheer on the runners. As cheesy and embarrassing as this is to admit, I got a little choked up watching these women cross the finish line. I understood their pain, their joy, their accomplishment.

That’s why I love the sport of distance running. There is no such thing as a comfort zone, yet there is nothing quite like the happiness felt after finishing a long race – happiness that you’ve set a new PR or that you ran more than most people will drive that day,or that you had the strength to finish when you didn’t think you would.

Which is why I decided today to give myself a belated 26th birthday gift:

On February 17, 2013, I will be attempting my first marathon in my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida – 26.2 with Donna: The Race to Finish Breast Cancer. I’m nervous and scared, but I know that I’m ready for this next challenge and I’m looking forward to the training process.

Happy Marathon Monday indeed.