Running is my anchor.

The “catch-phrase” of the challenge weekend I did this past weekend was “running is my anchor”.  Meaning that running keeps you exactly where you need to be. Such a wonderful view of such a wonderful activity.  And even though this weekend may not have been overall every single thing that I wanted- both days it was completely true.

I went into the weekend looking for two personal records.   This spring/summer was comprised of hard workouts that were extremely plentiful and long for the half ironman, but as soon as that was over I went to a somewhat “burned out” version of what my fall work should have been.  I skipped workouts right and left because I just did.not.want.to.  Also, most of my long runs were “coaching” runs…meaning there was a lot of start and stop and fast and slow. And to expect personal records after that is a bit unrealistic.

Saturday’s weather was not my favorite.  I can’t stand the cold.  I had a throw-away coat that I bought in Kentucky at Goodwill that I brought with me to wear until I got too hot.  I ended up not tossing it, but instead tying it around my waist while running to have in case I got cold again.  I went ahead and named it “Myrtle” because I feel like it’s an appropriate name for it. And now that it has a name, I will probably never be able to throw away this throw-away coat.

I had decided to run completely on feel. I wouldn’t check my watch for pace, for time, for anything. I was going to just GO.  And I did. I remember thinking while I was running- these miles feel a little difficult so I think they’re in the 9s…but what if they’re in the 10s and they feel difficult? Or the 11s? I have my watch set to beep every half mile so I knew when I was at the halfway point ,and I was starting to get tired. I wanted to walk so badly, but I kept telling myself that I knew I could do this, so keep doing it.

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When the beep for what was around the 2.5 mile marker hit, I tried to kick up my pace a bit- knowing there wasn’t much left and the faster I got there, the faster I would be done. I crossed the finish line and then turned off my watch- and on it was a shiny new PR.  Not by much, but I had no idea I had even come close the entire time and that felt like such a victory.  I hadn’t PRed because I saw the potential to do so on my watch, I PRed because I did what I felt like I could. I even got to ring the awesome PR bell. I felt amazing.  My first and third mile were exactly the same pace, and the 2nd one was a little slower (probably where I was trying to convince myself that I could really do this).  So it wasn’t negative splits, but more like a pace parabola.

But, Sunday.  Now, Sunday’s weather was much more of “my taste” of weather.  Well, everything except the wind. But, honestly even that didn’t bug me even though I almost lost my sweet hat twice.  I started out behind the 2’15 pace group a bit because my PR was 2’23 and I wanted to get below that.  I wasn’t sure that 2’15 was the right pace so I stayed back a bit and let myself “feel” my run.  I quickly caught up with them and realized that if I settled into their pace I could have a great run and a great PR.  The first four and a half miles were spectacular and I felt like I could run forever.  Towards the end of the fifth mile, though, my stomach bottomed out and I needed a bathroom break.  I tried not to let it break my spirit because I had plenty of time. PLENTY.  I even remember joking with myself thinking “How funny will this be?  Back to back half marathon PRs both including a potty break.” As I set out into the 6th mile I was still doing pretty well (I felt completely better)- even into the 7th…but then I just couldn’t.  It’s not that I was tired, or that my legs were hurting or anything.  I was just deflated and that grit that kept me going on Saturday just wasn’t there.  I had PLENTY of time to play with. And could easily have bounced back at any point for that PR- even a course record PR, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  This picture says it all.

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At the finish line I crumpled into a pile of self-proclaimed failure and cried self-pity tears. But, I shouldn’t have done either.  I had just completed a HALF MARATHON. The day after a PR 5k.  And with a time that I used to have to work very hard for.  It wasn’t the goal I had set for the day, but it was an accomplishment nonetheless.

My friend Liz had us read a book called How Bad Do You Want It? for book club one month and I feel like having read it helped me quickly put it all in perspective.  I had psyched myself up for something that I had not been willing to put the work in for.  I had spent the fall traipsing around training as I pleased- not the plan of a person who wanted a half marathon PR.  I was ready to run a half-marathon, but my grit wasn’t there for the struggle, the push and ultimately the success of a PR. I equate myself to a balloon.  I began the race with a slow leak and by the end was so deflated I could barely float.

I had said before that “running is my anchor” was perfect for both days- and I think that’s extremely true.  It gave me the boost I needed on Saturday to keep my spirit where it needed to be…and it gave me a reality check on Sunday to make sure my motivation and effort moved back to where they need to be.  I don’t walk away from this weekend feeling defeated….I walk away from this weekend feeling inspired.  I have the grit, as I could see in the 5k, but I also have work to do.

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Super grateful for the Lizs who complete my running trio.  We vacation so well together, and accomplish so much together.  Triumphant return to running after breaking her collarbone for Liz with the skeleton shirt, and a DOUBLE PR weekend for Other Liz.  How bad did she want it?  Well, she got exactly what she deserved. 🙂

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Next up, anniversary trail run with my husband on December 3rd!  10 miles to celebrate 10 years!

But first, marathon training starts TOMORROW.

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