Thoughts on Boston

The Boston Marathon bombing happened the year I started running. At that point I didn’t really consider myself a runner. I definitely didn’t follow marathons. This year for the first time somehow I found myself googling results and reading profiles of the winners and tracking a few locals who I knew were running.

So many impressive stories came out of that windy, cold, rainy race this year! Des and the other top American women were such awesome examples of perseverance and hard work and dreams coming true. I also followed “Fat Girl Running” author Mirna Valerio as she posted of her own dreams.

All super inspiring! And it’s gotten me to thinking about my own goals. Way back when I started I had pretty simple goals – lose weight, be able to keep up with my kids. I later made a bigger list: run a 5k, run 5 miles, run a 10-minute mile, run for a full hour. I’ve checked off all those goals and more in the past five years. I’ve set new ones. Some have eluded me. I can honestly say the Boston Marathon has never even been a consideration. So what is my goal now? What am I shooting for? I feel like I spend every day trying to figure that out.

Since my “fitness journey” began I have crossed paths with so many other people who are also figuring out their own goals and making progress in many different ways, from getting to the Boston Marathon to raking in major dough selling shakes. I never wanted fitness to take over my life, and it definitely hasn’t. There are many ways I could improve … things I beat myself up about for not doing more successfully. But I also don’t want to quit or drop out of the game simply because I haven’t always given 100 percent. I see a lot of people who don’t ever sign up for the race because they feel like they won’t do it fast enough — and where’s the accomplishment in that?

So I keep making goals. They change and evolve. I don’t always achieve them.

This year at least in part it’s to run more often, consistently and farther: more miles versus faster ones. I am signed up for a half in May and for an endurance run in July. But I feel like the goals closest to my heart don’t necessarily have to do with running at all. I want to say yes to more things, experience all that I can and include my family whenever possible. My boys are now doing rock climbing, which I also tried for the first time. With warmer weather kayak/canoeing and backpacking season is coming I want to get out on the river in new spots and backpack with my family, truly backpack, for the first time. With my youngest of three boys turning 4 next week, I feel like I’m standing at the starting line of countless new possibilities.

I accidentally ran across a book at the library that outlines different trips along the Potomac River. We’d done a few of the chapters with regularity over the past years and my husband and I are very excited about tackling as much as we can of the rest this year. We’ve looked at a few other trails we might be able to do on bikes, too.

Long story short I am not the personality or physique to become a top runner and I know that. I enjoy just the doing, just crossing the finish line, just trying. And after Boston Marathon week, I needed to take a moment to remind myself that I’m actually right where I want to be and with more patience and more work, I can go wherever I want to go from here.

Advertisements

Race recap: Race for the Birds 10K

I’d heard of this race, which is a fundraiser for the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, ever since I started running several years ago, but we’ve always had other plans on the date. I love the idea of contributing to PVAS in any way – it’s an awesome organization with great nature programs and summer camps for kids that all three of my boys have taken advantage of. I was happy that this year I managed to not be booked and could tackle the 10K as a training run for the upcoming Harpers Ferry Half. I heard the course, which was new this year, was hilly, and I need all the practice I can get for the notorious hills on the Harpers Ferry course!

The setting for the race was Broomgrass, which I believe is some type of farmland community/preserve. Aside from a few houses very spaced out, the course was definitely undeveloped and scenic. The drive was nice, and it was one of the first truly hot days of spring.

The course consisted of a 5K loop that went on the gravel roads of the community, on a single-track dirt path through the woods and on a mowed field. All good practice off-pavement!

The start was pretty level with one minor hill before we dipped into the woods, where it was gorgeous running but impossible to pass. This wasn’t as much an issue on the second lap but during the first I felt a little held back. Much of the rest of the course was manageable excepting two major hills that were so steep I didn’t see anyone else running them, and truth be told it was all I could do to even walk them. Between the heat and the hills I had a much slower time than I wanted but it sets realistic expectations for the half, so that’s good.

From the moment I arrived until I left, this was an extremely organized race – parking went smoothly, and it was easy to get in and out, the course was extremely well marked, and there were plenty of cheering volunteers. Tons of post-race snacks and cold water, too!

It was my first race using the Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek running belt, too. I loved having water with me, and I even more loved having my bib pinned to it instead of my shirt! One problem was that it kept twisting sideways on me which made the pockets rub my arms, so I kept having to straighten it – not a huge issue and might be solved by tightening it more.

This was a pretty small race but super well run, challenging and local and for a good cause, so I’m glad I got to be there.

Why I run

I have hinted at why I started to exercise. Before having kids I had a job where I almost exclusively sat at a desk all day, peppered with frequent lunch outings and snack breaks. I didn’t think I had time to exercise. When I had my first son I kept working, but I breastfed him, so I spent nearly a year walking the couple blocks to his daycare to feed him and then back to the office. An amazing thing happened: I lost a TON of weight. I credit nursing, mostly. So as he got older and I weaned him, I kept eating like a nursing mom, and the weight packed right back on. I was so disappointed! I felt like I had blown this amazing opportunity. Between weight gain and struggling to get pregnant again, this was one of the darkest times of my life. When I gave birth to my second baby boy, I knew I couldn’t mess it up again. My husband and I started a Couch-to-5K program when Boy No. 2 was roughly 5 months old (which coincided with the new year as well as the beginning of stay-at-home-motherhood). I signed up for a race to keep myself accountable, and the rest is history.

But I chose running specifically for one primary reason: It was free. I wasn’t really interested in committing to a gym membership or a social group. I didn’t have to buy a bunch of stuff, and I could do it whenever I could work it into my day. I had this strange philosophy from the beginning: You shouldn’t have to have a bunch of money to spend in order to be healthy or in shape. I still feel that way. So if the plan you’re trying to sell me requires me to buy hundreds of dollars of equipment or special shakes or sign a contract, I most likely won’t  — it just goes against my beliefs. Fitness should not only belong to the upper class. And I have seen so many examples of the difference just getting outside and being more active can make. It’s something that could turn around the obesity and health crises that are so prevalent in poor, rural places like West Virginia and it doesn’t involve medicines or surgeries! What a no-brainer!

 

The picture is of me after finishing that first race – on March 23, 2013. It’s my FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!