Three Year Runniversary

In about a month it will be three years since I first laced up my Asics and stood in a parking lot with several hundred other women wondering what in blue blazes I was getting myself into taking part in our local running club’s Women’s Running Training Program. I was convinced of two things: 1) I was out of my mind; and 2) I was going to die. Clearly I was wrong on one of those two counts.

The Training Program is ramping up again, and for the third year I’m volunteering as a Coach with the Beginning Runners group. Earlier today a young friend I’ve known for a long, long time tagged me in a post on Facebook showing her registration confirmation for the program. And truth be told, I got puddled up. I am so proud of her for stepping out of her fear and putting herself ‘out there’ doing this in a group and in public.
She’s pretty convinced she’s out of her mind.
And she’s afraid she’s going to pass out, fail, or worst of all quit.
I’ve promised her she won’t pass out or fail and she’s given me permission to nag her so she doesn’t quit. Thus proving that she’s out of her mind. Never give me permission to nag! I’m good at it. I have references.
Me? I’m proud of her! Couldn’t be more full of maternal pride if she were my own child doing this.

Every year I’ve been a volunteer coach it has served a couple of purposes.
First, if my own running has faltered or I’ve begun to ‘fall out of love’ with it knowing this is coming up kicks me back into the groove.
Second, it puts me back into what my RYL (Running/Yoga/Life) Mentor calls “Beginner’s Mind”. I get that little excited/nervous flutter in my stomach. I get excited about running and all things running all over again. I start inventorying the answers to beginner questions in my mind, and in that process I ask them of myself.
How are my shoes?
How’s my running bra?
Am I eating to sufficiently fuel the maching?
Am I adequately hydrating for those hot, steamy, Memphis afternoon runs?
Have I lost my mind?

In encouraging my young friend I linked her to the beginning of this blog so she could see where I was early on in this and while I was there I scanned through some of the posts there and stopped when I came across this statement, made about three weeks shy of my own Graduation 5K: I have never, ever in my life stuck with any sort of exercise plan/program this consistently for this long! And it stopped me in my tracks. Because I am still sticking with it!
Oh there have been occasional lapses, but I’ve never quit or stopped. I’ve always come back to it, always begun again all over again.

And much of the credit for that goes to the very thing that got me started in the first place. A few weeks ago I was deliberating with RYL Mentor whether or not I was going to continue coaching with the Beginners, move to coaching with the Intermediates, or register as a participant for the Advanced training to up my own game. My personal jury was still out on the decision a bit. Until the email went out asking coaches to sign up and I decided to give it one more year and I found myself clicking the link and signing up. And today, when my young Rockstar friend tagged me in that post I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. My heart is with the Beginning Runners, and there’s a tiny bit of selfishness in that.

The butterflies are marching and I’m excited for both of us.
On Monday, July 7th when we start that first Run With Coaches it will be a beginnig for her and an amazing continuation of a beginnig for me.
Three years.
Who saw that coming?!

The Incredible, Amazing, Self-Repairing Want To

After months of worrying about it, sporadic efforts, and vacillating between “I’m going to fix this!” and “Screw it, I’ll just quit!” and finally deciding to let things Just Be until they started Just Be-ing something else, something clicked and I’m back to loving running.

Seriously.
*poof*
Just like that.
It started with a Memorial Day Race that we do not just because it’s a race put on by our favorite running store, but because it honors those men and women from our area who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.  I knew the running of the race part was going to be ugly because I hadn’t really been running, and even with an 8am start time it was going to be warm and m-u-g-g-y.  It’s late May in Memphis and “Muggy” is this city’s middle name!  But it wasn’t quite as ugly as I’d expected and – once I could breathe like a normal human being – I didn’t feel all that bad.
Of course having the store staff cheering us on by name, and the Patriot Guard Riders who came out to honor the latest name added to the existing 1,575 names on the memorial wall cheering us on telling us how awesome we were it was hard to feel bad about being out there in any way.

HCRP ended up at the Ortho Doc looking into some knee pain he’s been experiencing recently.  No damage or injury, but it’s possible he’s beginning to develop a bit of arthritis in his knee.  Not a game stopper, just requires some care and adaptation.  Anyway, we blew off running Wednesday.
Correction.
I blew off running Wednesday.  He had a note from his doctor.
Thursday came and I packed my gym bag, took it to work, and spent the day alternately adoring and glaring at it.  Around 3:30 I decided “I’m just not feeling this today, I don’t see it happening.”  Then I thought about some of the races coming up on our calendar – some of our favorites in this area – and decided “No, I’m going to run!”
And so it went for the next 90 minutes.
Back and forth.
“Running!”
“Nope. Not running.”
Forth and back.
HCRP got there and was visibly limping so it was clear that running wasn’t in his best interests, which was the precise moment I decided “I’m running!”

We run together.  Always have since I started the Women’s Running Program three years ago and told him “You’re doing these runs with me during the week!”  Unfortunately because we run together and “always have” when one of us is ill, injured, or ‘just not feeling it’ it is far too easy for the other to “sit this one out” with them.
Awww…
Such devotion!
Such love!
Such a load of crap!
And so I laced up my Asics and hit the Greenline for a couple (and a half, there was ‘and a half’) miles that felt really, really good!  AND felt good at a pace that was a full 30 seconds  per mile faster than my old reliable 12:00 minute per mile standby pace.
By myself!
I’m so accustomed to having HCRP just off my left shoulder that I think part of my brain had come to believe I ‘couldn’t’ run alone. I’m not sure why, and honestly I’m not inclined to give it too much mental space or energy.  The thought/belief was there, and now it’s not.  I actually enjoyed the solitude.

Yesterday morning we (HCRP’s knee is improving!  Yay!) headed out for another run.  He kept it short (2 miles) and I resisted the urge to increase mileage too quickly and only went out for 3.  And again, my pace was quicker than it’s been in the past and everything felt good.
I’m doing some things differently – basing my intervals on distance and not time and increasing the distance of the run intervals – which will bring the goals I had for this year to reality.

But more important than pace or time or distance is that I’m already looking forward to Monday’s run!

My Give A Dang* is fine, it’s my Want To that’s busted

First and foremost, let’s dispense with the titular earworms:
Give A Dang*
Want To
I really only like one of those songs.
And you, in the corner, stop snickering at ‘titular’. It’s a grown-up word. Look it up!

I want to run.
That’s a lie.
I want to want to run.

I pack gym bags.  Several days a week.
I actually manage to run about once a week, which I end up enjoying once I get past the griping thighs and burning lungs. I’m even (somehow) running a full 30 seconds per mile less than my standard pace.
And after every one of those runs I turn to HCRP and say “This is the last time we skip runs!” Which is generally followed closely by “And we have got to cross-train!”
I’ve even resorted to platitudes like “No excuses!” and “Were gonna ‘Just Do It’!”
I have not (yet) resorted to “No pain, no gain”.

We’re volunteering for races with our running club.
Cheering on other runners, admiring finish times I will never aspire to.
Talking running out the wazoo.
Speaking of my wazoo, it has somehow managed not to grow exponentially in direct opposition to the number of miles I’m not logging.  Not sure how that’s not happening.
(If you understood those last couple sentences, you might want to get your head examined.)

My running friends are running.  And then some!
My Tri-ing friends are tri-ing as Tri-Season is upon us.
And I envy them all the joy they get from the miles.

Me?
I’m just not feelin’ it.
I want to feel it.
I’ve even tried that whole ‘fake it til you make it’ thing through not one, but two half-marathons I was woefully under-trained for.
But I’m just not there.
The list of Races We Must Do This Year isn’t enough to get me excited.  Regardless how close (next week!) the first of them may be.  I suddenly find myself completely capable of registering and either skipping it or volunteering to work it with “Hey, they got my money for their cause and I got my shirt” as my lovely parting gift/consolation prize.

One of my BFF/RMs (Running Mentor) has even offered to coach me, she being a Certified Coach and everything.

*sighs*
Tomorrow my BFF/RM and I are getting back into our weekly yoga practice. That had to take a back seat to a greater need that had her completely gone (as in out of town) for six months.
But she’s back now.  And so is Friday Yoga Time.
Maybe that will help.
Keeping up with (or trying to) her fit-tabulousness could motivate a manatee!

WRWM is starting up again in July and HCRP and I are committed to being Volunteer Coaches again. And I have two months to get my tail – along with my legs and lungs – into “Why yes, yes I have in fact done this before” condition.

Thankfully, in addition to the return of BFF/RM, one of my ‘nother Favorite People and Running Gurus put some words on my screen this very day that said more about me than they did her. Even though I’m pretty sure she believes they were All About Her.

I also want to write. Maybe not about running, just in general.
But definitely I definitely want to write about running here.
Only it’s hard to write about something you’re not doing.

At least for me it is.

Maybe if you build the Give A Dang, the Want To will come . . .

*Edited for the sake of my mother, in case she ever reads this.

It’s only a goal if it’s your own

Assuming you know the story of My First MaraNot (if not go back and catch up, I’ll wait) . . .

Okay, now that we all know the story, there’s one line in there that turns out to be not-quite-so-true for me. When I said (repeatedly) and wrote (just the one time) “And, I still have a marathon to run!”, well, it turns out I didn’t really mean it. Okay I meant it in that ‘All the Kool Kids are saying/doing it!’ kinda way. But it turns out it wasn’t really so much a part of My Truth after all.

Those of you who are diehard, driven, The Goal is The Goal kind of folks might want to stop reading right now before you get to the ‘throwing up in your mouth a little’ part. Unless you already have and in that case: I apologize. Here’s a breath mint.

To say that I have been ambivalent about running for the past two months is an understatement of epic proportions. As I was sharing with my Sole Sister/RYL (Running/Yoga/Life) Mentor Tonia there was a day a couple weeks ago when I was sitting at my desk glaring at my gym bag when the thought “I’m just going to quit running” walked purposefully through my mind.
Followed by complete and utter silence.
There was no immediate outcry from The Parts of Me That Lurve Running.
There was nothing.
No argument.
No “But you’ve got Nashville coming up!”
Nada.
Zip.
Infinity x Zero = Crickets.
And that was the moment I realized that there was something seriously wrong.

The problem wasn’t running. I <3 Running! Really, I do!
I wrote more about running than my husband on Valentine’s Day!
If that’s not proof I don’t know what is.
But somewhere between Friday morning when I typed out that cherubic little missive to my sport of choice, and Saturday afternoon when Tonia texted me asking “Can you talk?” (or words to that effect) I realized that The Problem was The Goal.
Not MY Goal.
Rather the goal I picked up and took home that really wasn’t mine.

Here’s the deal. (Yes, I say that in actual conversation. Frequently.)
When St. Jude was cancelled I was upset.
Correction I was hurt.
Corrected correction I was hurt and disappointed.
Correcting the corrected correction: I was hurt and disappointed and angry.
I was robbed!
I’d spent six months of my life training to run that marathon and now It Wasn’t Happening!
Oh sure, I could have gone out on No-Longer-Race-Day and run the course – hundreds of people did and they had a blast!  But we had other things to take care of.
The next week there was very well put together Make Up Marathon I could have taken part of.  And I just couldn’t get into it.
I did neither of those things.
Because I spent six months of my life training to run That Marathon.
Nothing else.
Not the Run It Anyway Marathon, not the Make-Up Marathon, not even one of the three races we were given the opportunity to transfer our registrations to.
That Marathon.
The 2013 Memphis St. Jude Marathon.
And It Didn’t Happen.
Not because I couldn’t do it or because I didn’t feel like it.
The event simply didn’t happen.  (For completely valid reasons.)

In all, 100%, complete, total honesty my first reaction was “Okay, well, it isn’t meant to be.” And I was okay with that.
Until everyone around me started saying (to be encouraging and supportive) “So you’ll Find Another Marathon to do? Right? Right!! Yay Julianne! Ewe can dew eet!”
And because I didn’t want to be A Quitter, and because I didn’t want to let everyone else down, I Found Another Marathon! And I registered and I set up a training plan based on the one we’d used before and even with having to have one of my 2,000 parts forcibly evicted (removed, surgically, it was my gallbladder, not my brain) I had more than enough time to recover and train and Run My Marathon in April!
Only that wasn’t ‘My Marathon’.
It was Everybody Else’s Marathon.
I had been perfectly okay releasing my Marathon Dream to “Eh, it happens!” and move forward to my stated goals for 2014 that centered around reducing my times in shorter races and embracing my Inner Halfer.
But I said I was Running A Marathon!
And Everybody expected me to Run A Marathon.
Many of my running buddies dove headlong into the next closest-on-the-calendar Marathon and did it! Others opted to get into trail running, and some into really long trail running. I admire each and every one of them for what they’ve done.  Especially those really long trail running people.  (They’re crazy, but it’s that admirable kind of crazy.)  Sometimes admiration is the sincerest form of flattery, not imitation.
And when I finally said, out loud, to Tonia “I really don’t think I want to train for and run a marathon, any marathon” I felt like the weight of the expectation of a thousand expectated expectations were lifted from my shoulders.

Because here’s the thing: Nobody – not one person runner or non-runner – ever said to me “Okay Julianne I/we expect you to run another marathon or you will be dead to me/us!”
Nobody threatened to take away my Asics or all the miles I’d put in training or the fact that I love running or even the really cute skirt I’d bought Just For That Race if I didn’t find some other marathon to run.
*I* did that to me.
*I* put that expectation of an expectation on me. And them. But mostly on me. On their behalf. Wasn’t that good of me?

There’s nothing wrong with saying “Okay, that race didn’t happen” and taking that as the answer to “Is it part of my journey?”.
Funny thing is that when I blurted all of that out to Tonia her answer was “If it isn’t your passion – don’t do it!”. And when I shared with my ‘nother running friend Tracie on Sunday she said “If you’re not going to enjoy it – why do it?”
Yet another reason I <3 <3 <3 Runners!
We’re big fans of that whole “It’s your race!” concept in and out of our Asics. Or Brooks. Or whatever fits your footfall.

So I’m running in Nashville (and I’m still raising money as a St. Jude Hero, as is HCRP) but I’ll be running the Half. HCRP hasn’t fully made up his mind yet, and whatever he chooses to do is his race.

Won’t you be my Valentine?

Dear Running,
What to say?
I know I’ve been distant and aloof these past couple months.
Oh, I’ve flirted with you here and there.
Those quickies on the treadmill.
That long weekend in New Orleans that wasn’t everything it could have been. By the way, thanks for doing your part there even though I didn’t do mine getting ready and all.
But really, we both know my heart hasn’t been in it.
And truth be told, I haven’t missed you. Much.

Because I love being part of The Kook Kids Klub, I’ve kept up the facade that we’re still A Thing. But you and I? We know what’s been up between us. Or hasn’t.  Thanks for not blowing my cover.

And really, it hasn’t been you, it’s been all me babe.
I got my feelings hurt when that Big Date we had planned back in December fell through. That wasn’t you or me. It was that witch Winter Weather. But I let disappointment turn into a long-term pout and I took it out on you with that whole silent treatment thing.

Of course having one of my 2,000 parts decide to stop doing that voodoo it (used to) do so well and having to be evicted didn’t help. But I’ve been over that for weeks now.

I do still love you.
I promise.

I’ve got too much invested in this relationship to back out now.
And we’ve got that whole Spring Prom thing planned in Nashville at the end of April! I know you’ll be there and I have no intention of standing you up.
I’ve just needed my space.  Okay maybe not “needed” but I took it anyway.

But this morning I woke up truly and fully missing you.
Everything about you.
The sweat.
The time and distance with nothing but the two of us.
The caring about a time on a clock at a finish line and wanting to make it something different. 
The Zone. That mile or so when it feels like my feet aren’t even touching the ground and I Could Do This Forever.
And yes, even that first sucktastic mile or so when I have to remind the legs and the lungs that yes they’ve done this before.
Yeah, I woke up missing that too.

So I guess what I’m saying is it’s time we got back together.
For real now. No more treadmill flirtations or half-hearted weekend getaways.
It’s time for me to come back to you. You’re right where you’ve always been: under my laces, on the streets. Thanks for that.
See you tomorrow morning!

It’s all about the numbers

Numbers of miles run.

Numbers of calories burned that simply must be replaced.

Numbers of ounces of fluid lost that absolutely must be replaced.

Numbers of ‘other things’ you pass on because “I have to run tonight/early tomorrow.”

Numbers and numbers of numbers.

And the numbers that matter most of all? 12/7 and 26.2.

Oh, and 1.9 million.
That’s the number of dollars it takes every single day just to open the doors and turn on the lights at St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
Only those doors never close, and those lights never go off.

So all those numbers of miles and calories and ounces and “Can’t make it”s really don’t add up to a hill of beans in light of that $1,900,000.
Now do they?

One number that keeps resounding in my head, because it’s pretty huge for me, is Sixteen.
That’s the number of miles we ran last Saturday.
That’s 2.9 miles further than the half marathon that seemed like So Many Miles a little over a year ago.
That’s four miles further than than my Waterloo Distance of Twelve Miles.
And at the end of the Sixteen I felt pretty damn good!
Or at least better than I’d expected to feel.
I think I actually got a little Runner’s High around fourteen miles because suddenly my legs that had been filling with lead at Thirteen felt awesome!
I felt awesome!
The air was airier, the sun was sunnier, I think I actually levitated for a few steps!  Okay maybe I didn’t levitate, but  I can see how people get addicted to running these longer distances.

Tonight’s seven miles started out great.  Legs and lungs were working together from ‘Go!’ and everything was awesome until it wasn’t which was around four miles when my right hamstring started tightening up.  Then my left knee started humming in harmony, and by 6.75 miles both hamstrings were doing all they could to secede from the union of my legs so I walked the last quarter mile and until HCRP could get back to the car and come pick me up a little past seven.

I know what caused it.
Lack of consistent cross-training.
So we’ll be correcting that immediately.
And I’ll be getting in to see Dr. Awesome Sauce, Official Unofficial Chiropractor of Every Runner I Know, to see if he thinks taping my hamstrings will help.  Or if he, like TJ (my Running Friendtor – Friend + Mentor = Friendtor) thinks this is lack of consistent cross-training.
You know, doing what I know I’m supposed to be doing.
Another thing that adds up.
Doing + What You Know To Do = Success
What You Know To Do – Doing = Pain/Possible Injury
That’s math I know how to do.

The scale might lie – but the PJs never do!

As seen on Facebook:
Okay, I have to brag a little here…
A couple months ago I snagged a pair of summer PJs that consisted of a cute little tank top and a pair of cotton – dress shirt cotton, not t-shirt cotton – pants. Grabbed them off the rack based on (my recently acquired) no-longer-XL size and took them home. Went to put them on that evening and was mortified to find they were ENTIRELY too tight! Can’t sit down without splitting a seam tight. I was pissed! I threw them in the back corner of the closet and went back to my faithful, t-shirt cotton PJs that fit comfortably and non-judgmentally. Meanwhile, I’ve been running and running and yoga-ing, and Ye Olde Scale has remained unrelentingly stuck on A Number so I’d given up any hope of New Summer PJ pants fitting.
Tonight in a fit of morbid curiosity I grabbed New Summer PJ pants and put them on, fully expecting a seam to split.
And guess what?!
Guess!
They fit!
As in “I’m sitting in them with all seams in tact” fit.
The number on the scale? Hasn’t budged. Not 1/10th of a pound.
But something has obviously changed because The PJ Pants fit!!
I swear I’d wear them to work tomorrow if I thought nobody would notice!

Which was followed by (my own) disclaimer/comment:
The Moral of this moment of braggedness: The scale might lie, but the PJs never do! Just because weight doesn’t change doesn’t mean changes aren’t taking place in the body.

Just about the time I was going to delete the post because I was worried it would hurt or offend some of my friends who are struggling with weight loss issues, I was tagged in a post by one of the women who is participating as a Beginning Runner in the Women’s Running Program that got me started running two years ago.
I just want to “Thank” Middle-Aged-Woman for her PJ story!! I have been having a pity party these last few weeks b/c I hurt my hip and the doctor told me NO running for 2 weeks!! NO RUNNING are you kidding me?? I am on a running plan and have been so excited about the Womens Run Walk program that this is going to KILL me…Then football practice started and then I went on vacation so needless to say I am a little unhappy at the moment that I know for a FACT that I am behind in the run…So then I read your PJ post and it made me smile…It made me think to keep going no matter what (I too have been mad at the scale for not moving) and I was whining to Brian about next Monday and how I am going to suck and he said NO your going to go and run what you can. No matter if I am behind I am going to keep going….I am so lucky to have encouraging people in my life:)
And, as I commented back to her:
Oh B! You just BLEW AWAY every doubt and ‘second guessing’ I had about sharing that. It felt so ‘selfish’ and ‘braggy’ that I seriously almost deleted it as -soon as I posted it. I have so many friends struggling with weight loss and I really questioned whether or not posting that would come across as a ‘slap in the face’ to them.
I am just in TEARS reading this post and realizing I was so right to listen to that ‘still small voice’ that said “Share this”. Thank YOU for this affirmation that sharing our little victories is done for a reason and serve as an encouragement to others!
You will do great Monday. Run your pace and stick with the program and you will ROCK that Finish Line next month!!
Followed – once I was no longer all puddled-up – by:
Thank you more than I can say.
Also, thank you for redirecting me to the greater point of what happened for me with those PJ Pants. I don’t run to “fit into the PJs”. I run to run, and to remind myself of what I can do today that I couldn’t do last week.

Earlier today another online friend messaged me sharing her intention to get back into running.  She’d been a cross country runner and swimmer in high school and over the (much fewer than mine) years since she’d fallen into a more sedentary lifestyle.  Of everything she said to me in her message, this stood out the most: I joined a local gym tonight, and just wanted to say that reading your posts about the running events and training you do has been a huge inspiration for me with getting back into it and hoping that one day, I too can complete run events…  but I know I can do it, because the running/fitness journeys of you and many others show me that it IS possible, no matter how unfit I am right now. So thank you for sharing about your running and fitness, because I know I really appreciate it and find that it has spurred me on with this. 

A few minutes later I received a text from my DIL that led to a textversation about the ways our bodies change, but more importantly the way our expectations of ourselves and what we can do change as we continue our journeys as runners.

At the end of the day – and especially any given run – it is those immeasurable, un-quantifiable things that running gives us that keeps us coming back for more.
It’s running a distance you’ve never run before.
It’s a body that just feels stronger.
It’s doing A Thing we never thought we could.
It’s hearing “Your calves look amazing!” when we’ve been focused on our gut.
It’s ‘getting’ what “I ran ‘X’ miles today!” means to another runner.
It’s knowing what PR/PB means because you’ve had one.  And want to set another.
It’s having someone say “You encourage me!”  “You inspire me!”  “I appreciate your encouragement!” 

And then there are the messages that make it just impossible to ever – no matter how bad last week’s second four mile run s-u-c-k-e-d, and no matter how many doubts about finishing a marathon Saturday’s eight miles left me with – quit this thing called running.
How do you quit a thing that gives you all that?!

But, some nights, it’s putting on Those PJ Pants.
And having them fit!