Tag Archives: half marathon

Epilogue

“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.”
– Robert Green Ingersoll

So, I wrote a blog last week. It was about a race I ran. But it wasn’t just any ole race, mind you. It was a race in which I finished…DEAD LAST.

Now, I struggled with whether I should hit the little “publish” button when I was finished, but in the end decided to go ahead and bite the bullet.  I blog plenty about the great moments in my life, so I figured it was time to blog about one of the not-so-great.  Time for a little honesty, ya know? A little humility. How would it be received? I didn’t know. But I did know that I was putting myself out there for public embarrassment. And yet, somehow, I didn’t seem to care. I felt like I had something to say, and so I said it.

So, what happened?  How was it received?

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Hunter’s Heroes race – Mile 9

I was blown away (to put it mildly) by the response. It has been viewed almost 8,000 times now and shared and posted over 1,000 times.  A women’s running site featured it.  Many running groups on Facebook shared it and a few even contacted me requesting me to join. I was contacted by runners all over the world who thanked me for being the voice of so many “back-of-the-packers.” I was even contacted by one person who ran the actual race I was blogging about.  He was one of the first finishers and admitted that, even up there in the front of the pack, he felt so many of the things that I felt too.

Wow. I’m in awe. All this time, I’ve been trying to do awesome things so I could blog about them – and it turns out that blogging about a “failure” is what ended up resonating the loudest. Who knew!?  I guess suffering through misery and embarrassment and then rising back up to tell about it maybe isn’t quite what you’d call “failure” after all.  (I think a lot of us need that reminder every now and then in our lives – we don’t give ourselves enough credit for all the times that tends to be the case.)

So I decided it was time for a little epilogue. What happened to that runner who finished last in that race? Did she ever run again?

Yep. She sure did.

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Just before the start of the MOJE race (Mount Jefferson is behind me.)

In fact – only 6 short days after that race, I ran a race called the MOJE. This is a 6.6 mile race, in which 3.3 of those miles are straight up a mountain.  (The other 3.3 are back down – but I probably didn’t have to clarify that.) MOJE is short for Mount Jefferson – which is a 1,342-foot climb. (Add 100 more feet to that for the training I did because I thought the course went even further – leave it to me to make a hard thing even harder!)

Now, I’m not going to lie. That MOJE race was front and center on my mind as I finished last in the race less than a week prior. I remember thinking there was no way I was actually going to do that race. I was going to show up, get my shirt, and leave. Now, I’ve never actually done that before, but this time was going to be an exception. No mountain climbing for a last place race finisher, sheesh. What was I thinking? I couldn’t hang with the big dogs. Was I insane?

But, like it always does, time healed the sting of that last-place finish and by the time the MOJE rolled around, I knew I could do it. I trained. I trained hard. And now, I had learned what it felt like to be last. I already knew that being last was not the most horrible thing in the world that could happen. I survived – big deal. And I would survive this one.

MOJE3I wasn’t last in the MOJE, but I was close. And you know what, who cares? As the faster runners were making their way down the mountain while I was still hoofing it up, I got more “good job”s and high fives than I could count from them as they passed by. This was the friendliest race I’ve ever been a part of. And I finally…FINALLY…earned one of the coveted MOJE race t-shirts. (And we all know I only do races for the t-shirts. I’ll pretty much do anything for a t-shirt, but that’s a blog for another day…)

You know, I ran my first full marathon back in November and I can honestly tell you that I was just as proud (if not prouder) of myself after I finished this mountain race as I was of that one. Not only because it was tough (and that’s an understatement!) but because it followed a time in my life when I could have easily given up, yet chose to keep going instead. Like my shirt says in my race finish photo, I made the choice to keep moving.

And I’m so glad I did.

And that, my dear friends, is what it’s all about. Truly.

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MOJE finish line. Time: 1:21:31

***
“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Aaliyah

“I run because I can.  When I get tired, I remember those who can’t run, what they’d give to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them.  I know they would do the same for me.”
– Unknown

Hey there, Blog World.  I would like to introduce you to someone.

Ladies and gentlemen: meet Aaliyah.

Aaliyahblog2Is this not the most gorgeous little soon-to-be-5-year-old you’ve ever seen?  And now, I’m going to tell you the story of Miss Aaliyah, and how she came into my life.

As some of you may know, I’m a runner.  If you’re new to my blog, you may not realize that fact since I haven’t really talked about it in a while.  I just ran my second half marathon in November (after running my first in May), and have been a bit of a slacker ever since.  As I’m sure a lot of runners will understand and relate with, I was having a bit of a post-race slump.  But as the New Year approached, I started to remember some promises I had made to myself.  One promise, in particular.

Last year, I insisted that 2014 would be the year I ran my first marathon.

I even started a training plan and had a race picked out for April 2014.  Well, I’ll just be quite honest with you…that idea fizzled.  If you’ve never trained for a distance race, let me explain what happens.  Pretty much everything in your life has to take a backseat to training.  I’m not kidding.  Even when you’re not running, you’re thinking about running.  The things you eat and drink change, the amount of sleep you get changes (or at least you stress over the fact that you’re not getting enough), your weekend plans have to revolve around your ‘long run’ day.  Etc. Etc. Etc.  And I only know all of this from training for a half marathon.  Training for a full marathon?  Yeah, double all of that.  It’s a commitment.  A big one.  Because of the holidays and the cold weather and the release of the book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game, that contains my story (woohoo!) and all of the hoopla that went with it, I decided I didn’t quite have the time to devote to training for a marathon just yet.

And then, I found Aaliyah.

irun4A few months ago, prior to my running slump, I stumbled across the Facebook page for a community called IRun4.  After I started doing a little research, I found their website and got pretty excited about the whole idea.  Basically, this is a program that ‘matches’ runners with children with disabilities.  You strike up a friendship with the child’s parent and you dedicate your logged miles to the child.  It’s really a way to motivate both sides.  The parent and their child (if they’re old enough to understand) know that there is a practical stranger out there in the world who cares about them and what they’re going through, and the runner is provided with a reminder of how blessed we are to have the health and ability to do this thing we love to do: run.  Another benefit?  It increases awareness.  Awareness of some of the illnesses we’ve never even heard of that these beautiful children (and their parents) are living with everyday.

Well, yesterday, after an almost 3-month spot on the waiting list, I received notification that I had been matched.  With beautiful little Aaliyah who lives in Texas with her mommy.   After speaking online with her mom, I was introduced to a disorder that I had never heard of.  Little Aaliyah has what is called Rett Syndrome.  The best way I know to describe this is to use a phrase I have found on many of the websites I’ve researched:

Imagine the symptoms of Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s, Epilepsy and a variety of anxiety disorders all rolled into one little girl.  That’s Rett Syndrome.

This is what Aaliyah has to battle every day of her life.

Now, this is all new to me.  All I know about the disease is what I’ve read since hearing the term for the first time yesterday.  I don’t live with it every day like Aaliyah and her young mom do, so I don’t really know what life is like for them.  But I plan to learn.  And I plan to do more research and I plan to become more aware of what little Aaliyah’s life is like.  And until I can find another way to support the disease itself, I will do the only thing I know to do here in my little world half way across the country from her – I will run for her.  Each time I put on my running shoes, I will say a little prayer for Aaliyah and her mom and send good vibes and love their way.  And I will hope that they feel them.

AaliyahblogAnd….I will start searching for my first full marathon somewhere this fall.  What better reason to go the distance, right?  First on the agenda:  training for another half marathon in early May (the same one I did as my first half last year).  With Aaliyah’s little spirit cheering me on, I think this is going to be a successful running year.

So, little Aaliyah in Texas – I am going to do my best to not let you down.  I will earn the distinction as your running buddy and will do all I can to promote awareness of what you are going through.  I will keep you in my prayers and in my heart and will remember you and your mommy and hope that you know that each step I take from this moment on, is for you. 

Because, after all….

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One little girl out there in the world is going to know that she is thought about and loved.  I won’t let you down, kiddo.

Here’s to a 2014 filled with running successes and wonderful new friendships.

***

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” 
– Albert Schweitzer

Get Over It

“Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them.  You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.”
– Norman Vincent Peale

So, for the past few days I have been sitting here wondering what my next blog topic would be.  My last blog about my dad was pretty heartfelt and emotional, and I wasn’t quite sure how to follow up after that.  How do you switch gears after writing about something so personal and moving?  How was I going to find something else to rival that kind of emotional response to spur me to spill my guts in another blog entry?

And then, (grrrrrrrrr) I saw THIS.   An article called “Ok, You’re a Runner.  Get Over It.”

And I got PISSED.

(Should’ve known it wouldn’t take long to get my blood pumping over something again…)

I can’t even believe I’m lowering myself to post a link to this nonsense, but I didn’t know how else to comment about it without allowing you to take a look for yourself.  In case you don’t want to take the time to read through all the B.S. (for which I don’t blame you one bit and wish I had been smart enough to do the same), let me give you a basic rundown on what Mr. Jerk Face was saying in his rant.  (That is, if I am allowed to use the word rundown.  Because, ya know, it might look like I’m broadcasting that I’m a runner.  And we can’t have that, right, Mr. Jerk Face?)

So, Jerk Face (who has a name, but I don’t care what it is) says, among a bunch of other crap, that runners only run “to be seen.”  Or, in his words:

“There is no more visible form of strenuous exercise than running. When runners are dashing down a street in the middle of town or through a subdivision, they know that every driver, every pedestrian, every leaf-raker and every person idly staring out a window can see them.  These days, people want more than ever to be seen.”

042812101008_edit0Oh, dear God, Jerk Face, do you have any idea how wrong you are?  One of the sole reasons I remained a non-runner for as long as I did (aside from being lazy) is that I did not want to be seen.  It was such a struggle to don those running shorts and t-shirts and go out on public roads and plop my flab up and down for all the world to see.  And I don’t think I’m alone in saying that.  So many of us want to become healthier, but we are embarrassed by how we look in the process.  We see those runner magazines with the tiny little girls with the six-packs stretching their tan legs out as they glide effortlessly across some trail…but what we don’t see is the majority of us who are the ones holding these magazines and poring over these articles and debating whether to get up the courage to take those first steps out the door.  We are the 30-something year-old moms with the stretch marks and love handles squeezing over the top of our spandex.  We are the real women, the imperfect women, who want anything but to be seen.  We are the out of shape, somewhat chubby runners who try to hide in the back of the pack at our first 5k race and pray that our sports bra is tight enough to not cause an embarrassing scene as we waddle down the course.

mebrrrAnd then, ever so slightly, over time, we become the slightly less lumpy, slightly more energized, slightly more confident women who can now run three miles without stopping.  And then, before you know it, we’re the woman who hesitantly clicks the button to sign up for her first half marathon, wondering what on earth she has just done.  And then we become the woman who pours her heart and soul and dedication into pushing and pushing and pushing until she can run 4 miles without stopping.  And then 5.  And then 6, 7, 8….  And with each mile, our pride edges up ever so slightly and little by little we start to realize that we are capable of so much more than we ever thought possible.

And then…we become the woman who has mastered her first half marathon.  Who has put all of her energy into succeeding at something she never thought possible.  We become the woman who purchases her first little oval “13.1” sticker and, with a tear in her eye, places it right there on the back of her car to remind her that she did it.  She did it!  racecollage4And she wants all of the other women out there passing by in their cars to look at that little oval, and then see the normal, every day, non-magazine model driving the car that proudly sports said bumper sticker and see that she looks just like them.  And she wants them to think, “Hey.  If she can do that, maybe I can too.” And before long, we become the women that have inspired others to go out there and get some of this beautiful thing called self-confidence.  This beautiful gift of knowing what it feels like to be proud of yourself.  This beautiful gift of coming out of hiding and showing the world that we are survivors and can do anything we put our minds to.

So, Mr. Jerk Face, to sum it all up – I salute you.  Thank you for writing this article.

Yep, that’s right.  I said, thank you.

Thank you for reminding me that I have a passion.  Because some days I forget.  Some days when I feel tired, or slow, or lazy, I forget that I’m a runner.  ME2And then I see something like what you just wrote…and the intense pride for who I am and what I do swells up inside of me and pushes me forward.  Your article makes me feel more motivated than ever to go tie up my shoelaces and earn more and more of those little stickers to plaster all over the back of my car.  Because you know why?  Not because I’m a bragger.  Not because I’m mean or spiteful.  But because I have succeeded.  I have overcome much more than little puny articles like yours that have tried to stand in my way.  I am a two-time cancer survivor.  I am a divorce survivor.  I am a single mom.  And I am a RUNNER.

And you can bet your sweet ass that I am proud of that fact.  Finally.

And you know what you can do?

Get over it.

***

“Press on.  Obstacles are seldom the same size tomorrow as they are today.”
– Robert H. Schuller

Mayberry Half Marathon

“The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.”
– George Sheehan

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  • Second half marathon = *check!*
  • Goal time met = *check!*  (Well, my goal was 2:30 and it ended up being 2:30:44.  Those last 44 seconds don’t count, right?)
  • PR = *check!*  (My first half marathon took 2:43)
  • Miserable pain in legs and hips afterwards? = *DOUBLE CHECK!*

So, today, I completed my second half marathon in Mount Airy, North Carolina.  It was called the “Mayberry Half Marathon.”  Yep, that Mayberry. blog If you aren’t familiar with the area, this is the town that the Andy Griffith show was based on.  And buddy, let me tell ya, they sure use that as a draw to the area!  (As they should.)  You can see everything from Wally’s Service Garage to Floyd’s Barber Shop.  Pretty cool stuff.

So, my day started with a 4:15 a.m. alarm.  (Whaaat?  Seriously?  I’m getting up at 4:15 a.m. to go make myself miserable???  Yep.  Welcome to being a runner.)  blog1And not only did I get up at 4:15 a.m., but so did my boyfriend and his kids to come along and be my cheerleaders.  If you’re a runner, you know how very much this means to us.  Yes, we’re running for ourselves and it’s a very private, personal sport, but when it comes to races, there’s nothing like a cheerleader.  And I had three.  His kids had the option of staying home, but they chose to go to support me.  Talk about warm fuzzies. 🙂  They’re just as sweet as their dad.

So, after our 2+ hour trip to Mount Airy, I get all signed in and get my sweet shirt. blog3 (I was also given the shirt and goody bag – complete with running socks (super sweeeet!) for my Australian friend Zoe who earned hers as well from across the world.  Read that blog here if you missed it!) So, I’m checking out my awesome long-sleeved silky moisture wicking shirt and suddenly I notice this little phrase written up the arm.

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Um.  Say what?

Now, although I don’t live “too” far from Mount Airy (about two hours away), I wasn’t extremely familiar with the terrain.  And let me just say…. Holy. Cow.  They weren’t kidding.  The hills were insane!  I started out thinking this was going to be a pretty chill course.  blog7I love looking at the little smile on my innocent, unassuming face as I took off from the start line.  That smile started fading right about the 8 mile mark as my legs started screaming at me that this was the worst, stupid, most idiotic idea I had ever had in my life.  And I couldn’t help but agree with them.  Yes, the course was beautiful, but who the heck cared!?  I was too busy looking down at my legs to be sure they were still there because the numbness was starting to make me doubt that fact.

blog6“Oh, dear God, please let me finish this thing.  I’ll do anything you say from now on.  Scout’s honor.”  (I was never a scout and God knows that, so I’m sure he realized I was just kidding.)

But alas, scout or no, God followed through and allowed me to cross the finish line.  Barely.   Nah, I’m exaggerating.  Without knowing what the course was like, I had hoped for a 2:30 finish and I finished in pretty much exactly that.  2:30:44.  (As I mentioned before, those 44 seconds totally don’t count.  I was right at 2:30, so I’m going with that.  Bam!)

Note the distinct difference in my face from before the race to after.  Ha!

Am I proud of myself?  You bet I am.  Why?  Well, lots of reasons.  One – I finished.  Two – I started.  Three – I got this awesome medal…

blog2

(There’s that mention of hills again!  This time I knew why!)

But aside from all that stuff, you know the deeper, more real reasons that I’m proud?

“Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week. It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too.”
– Richard O’Brien

Keeping that quote in mind – here’s one of those reasons.

blog11That picture is the result of my friend Zoe’s half marathon that she ran, in part, because of me.  Our training together for the last few months led her to run her first half marathon all on her own in Australia.  Together, we helped each other get to this point, and she SMASHED it!  I’m so proud of her.  And I’m proud of myself for helping to inspire one other person out there in the world to feel this intense feeling of pride in herself.  There’s nothing like setting out to complete a goal, and completing it.  There’s a strength there that can’t be explained.  But trust me – it’s good stuff.

And on that same note:  I also got to witness a couple success stories at the race itself.  I spoke to one woman just before the race who was telling me that she was unsure if she would even be able to run.  She had trained hard and had started experiencing some serious pain in her hips and knees just a week or so ago.  The pain wouldn’t ease.  She said she was just going to do a little warm up and then make her decision whether to follow through with the race.  This conversation occurred in the bathroom line just prior to the race, and I lost her after that.  Throughout the race, I thought of her and wondered if she had been able to do the race at all.  At the awards ceremony, I got my answer.  She finished THIRD OVERALL.  How do you like that!?  I felt so proud of her it was almost like I knew her personally.  And that’s another reason why I love being a runner.  We are as proud of each other’s accomplishments as we are of our own – even when we barely know the person.

I spoke to another guy who was completing his 11th half marathon of the year.  One per month.  And he was from Nashville, TN, and is planning to run the Music City Marathon in April – the same one that I’ve got my sights set on for my own first full marathon.  Eh, we’ll see.  My legs still hurt too much right now to make that decision.  But either way – small world.  I just love the conversations that take place among runners.  We’re a family of sorts.  We get each other.  And we all see each other as equals – whether we finished 1st or 120th.  That’s one of the most beautiful things about this sport in my eyes.

And finally, to wrap it all up.  You know what really, really, makes me love these races?  This.

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I am so lucky to have my biggest fan by my side through it all.  He is always, always there.  With an encouraging word and a congratulatory kiss, he is part of the reason for my success.  Yes, I believe in myself – and I know that is the reason why I keep progressing.  But to have someone believing in you along the way?  That sure does add to the sweetness of the whole thing.  I’m so incredibly blessed.  I hope he knows how important that is to me.  I’m in a women’s running group on Facebook and I hear of so many stories that don’t always work out this way.  So many significant others don’t understand what it’s all about.  And without the understanding, they don’t follow through with the support and the encouragement that these women so desperately need.  I saw one woman mention that she has done everything she can think of to show her husband how much running means to her.  She has posted her bibs and medals on their bedroom wall – begged him to come to races – and still.  Nothing.  I feel so bad for her.  Support from our loved ones is a gift that we eagerly open like a kid on Christmas morning.  I am so sorry for the women like her who have nothing to open.  Thank goodness she has that women’s running group on Facebook.  Hopefully it can put a little salve on her wounds as she receives the virtual back pats from those of us who understand.

But for the grace of God go I, man.  I’m tellin ya.

blog9So.  Half marathon #2 is in the books.  I’m a happy camper.  Another success to tuck under my belt…..until next time. 🙂

Thanks for joining me on the journey.  And if you haven’t started your own journey, my request to you is this.  Start today.  It’s out there.  There is something that is going to make you feel the pride in yourself that running has allowed me to feel.  You need it.  Trust me on this.  You need it.

Find it.  And don’t stop searching until you do.

***

“Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about.”
– Patti Sue Plumer, U. S. Olympian

Compliments

compliments

“Like most girls, Emily can’t take a compliment.  Around here, if you don’t show outward signs of hating yourself by the 5th grade, everyone calls you conceited.”
– Brian Strause, from the novel Maybe a Miracle

Ok, so am I the only chick on the planet that absolutely can NOT take a compliment?

I saw the above quote in a novel I was reading a while back and it was like a spotlight shown around the sentence with big flashing neon arrows pointing to it saying, “This! This! This!”  One little seemingly innocent sentence tucked away in the middle of a paragraph hidden deep inside a novel seemed to be the answer to this conundrum that had plagued me all my life.  Maybe that’s why I can’t take a compliment?  Maybe it’s just that it has been ingrained in me from an early age not to because I might appear conceited?

Hmmm.  Something to think about.

Are you like me?  Do you get all weird when someone says you look nice?  Do you “pssssssh” it away like I do?  I’d be willing to bet you do.  Well, let me tell ya a story.

This past weekend, I ran a 10K race early Saturday morning.  And, if you don’t mind my saying so, I did pretty darn awesome. mebrrr (Heh…no worries about sounding conceited about that one, huh?)  I didn’t get any medals or place in the coveted top 3 of any of the categories, mind you (in fact, I was dead last in my age group if I’m going to be honest), but ask me if I care?  Go on, ask me.  What’s that?  Do I care?  NOPE!  Because you know why?  The only person I was there to beat was myself.  And not only did I beat myself (not now, secret 12-year-old-boy alter-ego-self, this is not the time to make your childish jokes…let me finish my story…), but I blew my old record away.  I generally run at an 11-12 minute pace (yes, I know, I’m slow), but my average pace for this race was 10:10, with the first 3 miles all being in the 9 minute range.  Dude, I was booking it!  And you know what?  I was pretty darn proud of myself.

So, fast forward a little later in the day.

My boyfriend’s kids were in a play at the local theatre, so I had rushed home after the race, showered, straightened my hair (that’s what I consider “getting dressed up”), and hit the road again to go watch the two back-to-back performances.  Now, as most of you know from my previous blogs, the theatre is my home away from home.  I know so many people there, and most of their kids were going to be in this production.  So, walking into this little mini-reunion, I started running into people I hadn’t seen in a while – at least not since our last production a few months ago. And, in those past few months, I have been training my hind end off this upcoming half marathon next weekend.

I was immediately greeted with compliments.

“Wow, that running is look great on you!”  “You look fantastic!”  “Oh, Melissa, you’re just glowing!”  “Look how toned you’ve gotten.”

It was like a compliment smorgasbord.

And, oddly enough, instead of blushing in embarrassment like I normally would, I just graciously accepted their compliments.  I genuinely thanked them (no ‘psssssssh’es allowed) and let the compliments do their intended job – make me feel good.  Later, I thought about that, and wondered why I didn’t have my normal response.  Why was I able to accept compliments this time with such ease and gratitude?  Before long, it finally dawned on me.

I accepted their compliments….because I believed them.

That was the difference.  running2I have been working hard for the past few months.  I have felt my pants getting a little loose and saw the number on the scale dropping slightly.  Although those things are not at all the purpose for my running, they have been a nice bonus.  And, this particular day, I had put forth a little effort on my hair and makeup, and was probably still riding on the high from my race accomplishment earlier in the day, which probably showed on my face.  I was feeling pretty darn good about myself that day and accepted those compliments with open arms.

Boy, wouldn’t it be nice if every day was like that?

Hey, I have an idea.

Let’s make sure they are.

Let’s all make a silent little promise to ourselves to try to make every single day a day in which you are proud of yourself.  Let’s make every day a day that you believe the compliments that are tossed your way.  Seriously.  Let’s do it, people.  It may not be all that easy at first, but with practice, it may start eventually coming natural to you.  Just like my running.  I didn’t start out with the ability to crank out a 10-minute pace 10K.  It took lots of time and effort and, most importantly, belief in myself.  That’s all we need, right?

Easy peasy.

So, get out there in this big ol’ world and strut your stuff today, why don’t ya?  I mean, you’re looking all good and whatnot, so you might as well, right?  Come on, beautiful people.  We’ve got some work to do!

***

“For once, you believed in yourself. you believed you were beautiful and so did the rest of the world.”  
– Sarah Dessen, Keeping the Moon

Journey to Mayberry

“As an athlete, when you least expect it, you may find yourself standing on the threshold of an accomplishment so monumental that it strikes fear into your soul. You must stand ready, at any moment, to face the unknown. You must be ready to walk boldly thru the wall of uncertainty.”
– John Bingham

It’s time to talk about running again.

So, as you may remember, I’m currently in the middle of training for my second half marathon on November 9.  And, training with me, is my training partner from afar, Zoe in Australia.  (Read that Cool Story here.)  As a quick recap, Zoe and I met online through this very blog and have decided to train together for her first and my second half marathon.  Mine is an “official” race (the Mayberry Half Marathon – a small race in Mount Airy, North Carolina), and she will be running on her own there in Australia.

Well, let’s do a quick update, shall we?

We are officially 17 days pre-race.  Yikes.  SEVENTEEN DAYS.  That seems so soon….

I have spoken with the race director and he has pulled some strings and worked it out to get me a bib to send to Zoe so that she will have an official number to wear as she races (and she better wear it too – you hear that, woman??) 🙂  Here’s a picture of it before it is shipped off to Australia to its rightful owner:

bib

Goodbye, little bib.  Enjoy your journey halfway across the world.

Once I have completed my half marathon (which I will do – and hopefully with a time of less than 2:30), I will be awarded two medals.  One for myself, and one for Zoe.  I’ll ship her medal, together with her t-shirt, of course (hey, we all know we only do this junk for the t-shirts…) to her in Australia as well.  Eeek!  Sounds exciting, right?

Well, it is.  But it’s also scary.

This little “project” of mine has put a lot of pressure on both of us to succeed.  And let me tell you – this process has not been an easy one.  She and I both have been through quite a bit getting to this point.  At the beginning, we had our training plan all laid out…4 runs a week with gradual increases in pace and distance…we were ready to ROCK this thing.  Stick to the plan…no variances.  Go team!

Yeah, well.  That hasn’t happened.

We’re both thirtysomething-year-old moms.  While it’s easier on me having teenage children; her, not so much.  She has small children that she has to arrange to have cared for so that she can squeeze in her training runs.  And on top of all of that, she has battled the head cold from hell…TWICE.  I, too, had said head cold once myself.  (Hmmm…wonder if you can catch a head cold from 9,000+ miles away?  Ahhhem…excuse me…15,000+ kilometers away.  Google’s “miles to kilometers” function is my new best friend these days…)  And, on top of that, I got an acting gig that I hadn’t been expecting to get during training (read that blog here if you missed it), which took a little chunk out of my training…  Oh heck.  I could list a million things here, but I’ll give it a rest.  The point is this…

Life has happened.

It just has.  And it’s always going to.  There have been times that even if we were able to squeeze in our runs, we weren’t able to go as fast or as far as we had planned.  Mental ability is just as important as physical ability…and some days it just hasn’t been there.  For either of us.

But you know what?  We’re still here.

We both still have our training plans in front of us every day.  We both still check in with each other, and build each other up when we’re feeling down.  We give gentle pushes when needed, and give the little e-hugs when a push just isn’t going to cut it.  We have understood each other’s frustrations and virtually held each other’s hands, not only through the not-so-great runs, but also through the reasons that have accompanied the not-so-great runs.  In other words, we have become friends.

And that’s pretty awesome.

So…seventeen days from now, I certainly hope to report back here and tell you that my friend and I have finished the Mayberry Half Marathon.  Together.  And, if the sickness prevails with Zoe and she’s not able to complete it on November 9 as planned, then I’ll come back here and tell you on November 10.  Or November 11.  Or however long it takes for it to happen.  Because it will happen.  (And I’ll be holding her medal and t-shirt hostage until it does!  Yep.  Holding the coveted T-SHIRT hostage.  That’s runners’ blasphemy right there, but you do what you have to do…)

The point is this.  She’ll be ready.  Sometime in the near future, my friend Zoe will have completed her very first half marathon.  And she won’t have a giant group of people to run with and to cheer her on.  She’ll be doing it entirely on her own.  Her own course, her own pace, her own journey.  And that, blog-readers, is some serious bad-assery if I’ve ever seen it.

So, thus ends my “Cool Story” recap.  Tune back in here in a few weeks for another update.  And until then, whether you are a runner who is training for your next race distance goal, or just a human being training to get through whatever struggle you’re currently facing, remember these words:

runblog1

Keep moving forward, friends.  We’re all in this race together.

***

“It’s important to know that at the end of the day it’s not the medals you remember. What you remember is the process — what you learn about yourself by challenging yourself, the experiences you share with other people, the honesty the training demands — those are things nobody can take away from you whether you finish twelfth or you’re an Olympic Champion.”
-Silken Laumann, Canadian Olympian

Cool Story

“Nothing’s better than the wind to your back, the sun in front of you, and your friends beside you.”
– Aaron Douglas Trimble

So.  Wanna hear a cool story?

Ok, see this pic?

MEZOEblog

That’s me on the left.  And on the right is my friend Zoe.  [Isn’t she gorgeous!?]

Ok, so it’s a picture.  No big deal, right?  Just a pic of two chicks who are friends.  Both women, both in the same age range, (both, incidentally, feeling silly taking a ‘selfie’ pic…), both smiling and happy and healthy.  I can hear you now – “Yeah?  So what?”

Ok, so we’re both runners. Is that a tad more interesting?  No?  Ok, how about this….We’re both runners training for a half marathon.  Slightly cooler, right?

Still nothing earth shattering?

Hmmm..  Alright, let’s try this – we’re training for a half marathon together.  Now, is it cool story?   Sure it is.  Two friends training for a half marathon together.  That’s intriguing, no?

Oh shoot.  Silly me.  I almost forgot the most important part.  The part we writers like to call the twist.  You ready?

Zoe lives in Australia.

I live in America.

Yep.  You read that right.

world-map

With 14 time zones, an ocean or two (I sooo didn’t pay attention in Geography class…), and a boat load of cultural differences between us (people use kilometers?  Really?  I know about the 5K and the 10K, but you mean there are others??), Zoe and I are training partners for our half marathon on November 9.

So, how did this all come about?

Well, it’s pretty simple really.  In early May, just a few short months after starting my blog, and just days before my first half marathon, I received my first comment on here that was not from someone I know personally.  It said:

Good luck! From Melbourne, Australia!

I just wanted to let you know how much I’m enjoying your writing- I found you when I was searching running blogs as I’m a new runner myself and totally obsessed. You write so evocatively and thoughtfully, and I often find myself smiling or nodding along to your musings! Best of luck with your half, you’ll smash it!

Warm regards,
Zoë

I’ll never forget how thrilled I was to get that message.  Not only did it make me realize that other people were reading this stuff (besides my ever-loyal friends and family in real life), but someone was actually reading it in Australia!?  What?!  How cool is that?  This message was the first in what would become a banter between two women all the way across the world from each other over the next few months.  And then, when I announced that I would be training for my second half marathon in November, Zoe suggested that we train together.

So, here we are.

We’re only in our first week of training, but I intend to post a few updates along the way to let you know how we’re doing.

Isn’t this great?  Someone way over on the other side of the map is my buddy.  My training partner.  We’ve never laid eyes on each other in person, never heard each others’ undoubtedly cool accents (ok, her cool accent – my southern drawl is nothing much to brag about if you ask me…), and have never even shook hands.  In many ways we’re still strangers, but in many other ways – the ways that matter – we’re friends.

We’re just truly never alone, are we?  No matter how much we may feel like we are at times, something like this reminds us that we’re not.  Somewhere out there, there is someone not only going through whatever you’re going through, but willing to go through it right beside you if you let them.

Yep.  That’s good stuff.

Ok, so now is this a cool story?  😉

And guess what?  It’s just going to get even cooler.  So, stick around!

***

“In union there is strength.”
– Aesop