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Monday, September 24, 2012

On Personal Motivation: 1/2 Marathon Story

I'm getting older. It is just a fact that I cannot deny. In the next couple of months I will turn thirty. I will not have the youthful exhuberence of my twenties to fall back on anymore. I am no longer in a protected state. I am no longer in the phase of figuring myself out. I should know everything by now. I am an adult, without any question.

As this deadline has been ticking down, I knew that I only had a certain amount of time to do things before I turned thirty. Age is just a number, but for some reason turning 30 is a milestone for me. About two years a go I decided that I wanted to be in the best shape of my life by my 30th birthday. I am the setereotypical indoor child. I did a smattering of high school sports, none very well. During college I took the required PE course (tae kwon do- where I immediately broke my toe) and nothing more. After college, I was a depressive bump on a log for a year or so. After moving to Nashville, finishing grad school, and buying my first house, I knew it was time to start focusing on me.
I started going to the gym. I took hula hooping, dance, burlesque and belly dance classes. I tried to do yoga at least once a week. Then because of the coaxing of a great group of women I signed up to hula-hoop the Music City 1/2 Marathon in 2011. It was a great experience and I knew what my body was capable of. I wanted more for myself. I signed up with the East Nasty Running Group for their Couch to 5K program during the summer of 2011. I went from not being able to run a quarter of a mile to finishing a 5k in under 32 minutes. I kept up with the running and finished a 5 mile race on Thanksgiving day. By January, it was time to train again for the 1/2 marathon with the hoopers. You can read a bit about that experience here. When the race was over, the pink hoop packed away and the medal hanging on my wall, I didn't know what to do. I needed something else to pour myself into.
Enter the Women's Half Marathon and a group of lovely friends who wanted to train for it with me. It made sense that the next thing I did would be to run a half marathon. I thought I was ready. We had months to train. I was excited. I was ready.

Training started off well. We followed a run-walk program with long runs on the weekend and two days of short running during the week with built in cross-training on non-running days. I stuck with this for a while. I was running 5-6 miles by the end. But summer happened and the heat became unbearable. By July I moved my training to the gym and the luxuries of air conditioning. Life got in the way and the training sessions became shorter. My friends were also busy with life, and we trained together less and less. By the end of August I wasn't really training for the half marathon at all any more.
I was disappointed with myself. I promised myself I would run this. I even paid the registration fee so there was no going back. So why did I slack off? Why was I banking on letting myself down? I have no good answer for that. I'm not a great runner and it really isn't something I love to do. I know running is something I need to do for my body and for my spirit. But I slacked, and I let myself down.
I told Steve that I wasn't going to run the race. I was just going to eat the $80 and sleep in that morning. Even though I did a 5k just a month ago, I didn't feel that I could touch a half marathon. I contacted my original training buddy Rebecca and we agreed just to take it easy and walk it. We were going to try not to beat ourselves up about letting our training slide, but to enjoy a nice day out and walk the 13.1 miles. We started up again with our training, only this time it was more like what we did for hooping the half. We went for long walks between 10-6 miles in the weeks leading up to it. We timed ourselves. We figured we would finish anywhere between 3:15 and 3:30. Since hooping takes about 4 hours, anything short of that would feel like a victory, and on paper would be a personal record. But, it was hollow. I didn't seem like a real victory. I wanted to run the race, but I let myself down.
But, leave it to adrenaline, competition and motivation to show you what you can do. Rebecca and I were in our corrals waiting for the start of the race. We decided if we felt good, we would run a bit. If not, no big deal. But before I knew it everyone around us was running. So no big deal, right? We ran for a bit too. We found a nice pace and we jogged. Before I knew it, we basically had run 3 miles straight. We figured we could keep it up. We ran the flats and the downhills and we walked the uphills. I felt great. By the time we got to six miles I was getting a little bit tired, so we decided to do the run for 3 minutes walk for 1 minute plan that we did during our initial trianing. It worked well, because I made it to mile 10 using this plan.
Mile 10 was a bummer. I was trudging. I had a cramp the size of a baseball in my left leg that hurt but I didn't want to stop. I'd never ran 10 miles before and I was only 3.1 from the end. I could do it! It was only one 5k away. The last few miles were rough. I ran where I could and then speed walked the rest. When I turned and saw the finish line I sprinted. I still had a little bit left in me! I finished the race in exactly 2:45. That was the pace I wanted to finish when I first decided to do the training. I STILL DID IT. I have no idea how. I slacked at the training and spent weeks worried and upset that I let myself down. But I didn't. I'm so proud of myself. I will not beat myself up over things like this anymore. I have learned, even as I approach 30, that I can still surprise myself.
A special thanks to the lovely Rebecca for being the best training partner, coach, cheerleader and friend a girl could possibly have. Her positivity is what kept me running and her sense of humor is what kept me sane.

And to my lovely Steve, who believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself. Who got up so early to take me to the race and showed up along the way with a big sign to cheer me on. Who told me how proud he was of me and even rubbed my busted feet. I have nothing but immense love and thanks.

17 comments:

  1. That is awesome!! What a great job...thank you for sharing this :) You should be so proud!!!

    Jenna

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  2. Congrats Lauren!! So proud of you! As a runner and fellow hooper, I'm so happy to see my hoop ladies run their first (and many more) races!!!

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    1. Oh, trust me there will be more. Like pringels, no?

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  3. Congratulations on finishing - and at a personal record!! Yay!! So proud of you, boo :) You are such an inspiration.

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    1. AWWW. Thanks Lauren. You are so super sweet :)

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  4. congratulations! so happy for you and thrilled that you stuck with it and ended up meeting [even exceeding, really!] your goal!

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    1. Thanks! I have a calorie deficit (or so I tell myself). I will be making those whoopie pies this weekend!

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  5. I so needed to read this. I'm turning 30 next year and this has really inspired me to get myself into shape. I go through periods of wanting to exercise, but I always seem to slack off. I want to be a strong lady like you! Thank you for sharing. =)

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    1. You are welcome! You can totally do it. Plus, you can come up to Nashville and do some races with me!

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  6. it's incredible what your body can do for you if you're in the right mindset! i love running, and last year i really started to take it seriously again. i ran a 5k last saturday and went quite a bit faster than my normal pace, because i was determined to set a new PR, and i did! congrats on your marathon, and good luck in the future!

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    1. Congrats on your 5k! Doesn't it feel really good to push yourself?!

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  7. That's amazing, congrats!
    All I could think while looking at the pictures was, how on earth you look so cute while running a 1/2 marathon?! I would look like death for sure!

    xo
    Alex

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    1. Ha! My boyfriend said the same thing during the race. I, on the other hand, think I look like a complete and utter goober. Why am I smiling so much?!

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  8. Replies
    1. Thank you Ayzit! I feel like I can finally go on a run with you :)

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  9. Really great post! Funny, inspirational, and your pictures had me in smiles. You have a very infectious smile and a talent for story telling :) Loving your blog!

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