Celebrating 10 Years

I cannot believe it’s been so many months since I last added to my blog. One would think that with our kids grown and on their own, life would slow down, but it just seems to get busier. Today we are having our first virtual school day, so I am home trying to stay warm, trying to keep our four dogs warm and out of trouble, and checking in with students as they complete their Elearning assignments. It’s a great day to write since I refuse to step outside.

Last week was my 52nd birthday. I don’t like to make a big deal out of my birthday at all, but I am pretty happy because it was also when I celebrated ten years of running. Ten years. When I started running, I honestly never dreamed that I would actually stick with it. I had never stuck with any form of exercising, and I didn’t really like running, so I just kept waiting to quit. And then something unexpected happened; it changed my life.

I didn’t plan to start running. My husband and I realized we were really out of shape in 2008. We were in Alaska on vacation, and everywhere we went people were biking, hiking, or running. We were struggling to hike. As my 42nd birthday approached, I was becoming more and more depressed. My dad died at 42 of a heart attack, and I just didn’t want a year of being 42. I finally decided to try running; I wanted to be proactive and take care of my heart, and of my mental health. I had always hated running, but I had a few friends who ran, and my husband had begun to run. I started by running on our gravel road. I had no idea what it would lead to. I had no idea that running would change our world. I had no idea the beauty I would experience because of running.

Running has done so much for me that I could write far more than anyone would ever want to read, so I’ll just give the highlight reel. First, running has given me confidence. After several months of trying to become a runner, I began to enter some races, starting with 5Ks. Crossing finish lines, no matter where I finish, has given me confidence in every area of my life. It has taught me that if I set goals, do the work, and get the the starting line, I can reach goals that I once thought impossible. Running also gave me the confidence to try new forms of exercise. I became a Zumba instructor, and taught several classes for a couple years. Then I got my certification to teach Tabata Bootcamp and taught early morning classes for four years. Through these classes and through Everbody’s Fitness, I’ve met so many inspirational and encouraging people. Most recently, I began to help coach our junior high cross country teams. Anyone who knew me in high school would find that hard to believe. Because I can’t keep up with most of the kids, I ride my bike alongside them and encourage (push?) them to keep going. I understand how hard running really is, and know the dedication these kids have for the sport.

Running has provided me with some fantastic experiences. I’ve not only run too many 5Ks to keep track of, but I’ve also run a few 10Ks, and 15 or 16 Half Marathons. We’ve run races in Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Chicago, and Virginia Beach, to name a few.  I’ve run while visiting Lake Tahoe, Tybee Island, and Louisville. While visiting new places, I’ve found that going for a run is a great way to check out the area. One of my favorite runs was in Chicago. I ran along the lake and had the museums in front of me, Lake Michigan on my left, and the incredible skyline on my right. In my world, that was heaven. Another favorite run was in Lake Tahoe. We were there for my step-son’s wedding, so I took advantage of being is such a beautiful place by making sure I got in early morning runs. One year while were in Las Vegas with several of my cousins and my sister, my husband and I got up early (yes, in Vegas), and ran a 5K before the others got up. We were back at the hotel in time to meet them for breakfast. The views during the race were amazing!

One of the best parts of running is the people. The running community as a whole is so supportive. Seasoned (and fast) runners cheer on the back-of-the-packers; everyone knows how difficult it is just to get to the starting line. The camaraderie of races is like nothing else I’ve experienced. The runners are friendly and excited about the possibilities of every race, no matter the difference in goals. One can see the determination and quiet nervousness of those in front who have the potential to place, and as the line goes on, one can observe the chattiness of those who are there simply to finish, or to spend those miles with their friends. I have run races alone, and with friends. Running with friends definitely makes the miles go by faster, but sometimes I like to run alone so I have no pressure to keep up with anyone, or to wait for anyone if I happen to be having a good day.

Running has given me the opportunity to share miles with my family. My husband and I have gone to almost all of my races together. We share our struggles and our victories. He encourages me to train and supports my running. He is always there for me when I need him to cheer me on. I’ve also had the amazing blessing of running with other family members. I’ve run my niece Erin’s first half marathon with her in Indianapolis, my niece Emily’s first half marathon with her in Bloomington, and my middle daughter Bethany’s first half with her in Indy. I cannot begin to express how much those races meant to me. Sharing a race experience is one of those times one won’t forget; it will always be a special memory.

Running has become something I share with my friends. The first friend I ran with was Jackie. We began together, desperately trying to add miles. In the beginning, we couldn’t imagine how runners actually talked to one another on runs. We could hardly breathe. As we became more experienced, we began to talk…and never stopped! Jackie’s sister, Kassi, then joined us. Because of schedule differences, the three of us don’t run as often now, but they have been my friends for over 40 years, and are part of my running story. They will always be my sisters. I’ve had some other running friends, but now I mostly run with coworkers after school. Kelly and Jennifer are much better runners than I, and they are much younger. They both push me to work harder. Most of the time they are a little ahead chatting away, while I follow, gasping the whole way. The three of us, along with our other friends and coworkers, Katie and Mary Jane, have run a few races together. The most important of those was the St. Jude Half Half Marathon. Katie is a St. Jude survivor, so that race is the most meaningful I’ve done.

I will never be a fast runner. I’ll never win races. I will continue to run as long as my body allows. I hope to experience new places through running, and to continue to encourage others along the way. I hope to always challenge myself and to set goals. I want my grandkids and my students to see that one is never too old to try something new or to get fit. If you are middle-aged or beyond and have thought about doing something new and healthy, do it! Know your limitations and start out small, but don’t let anyone tell you you can’t or that you are too old.

Happy Running Birthday to me!



Half Marathon #12 Training

In eight days I will be running my 12th half marathon. The Indy 500 Mini Marathon has been on my bucket list for a few years, but it usually falls the same weekend we take our eighth graders to Washington, DC. This year our trip is the week after the mini, so my daughter Bethany and I signed up. We actually signed up when we were at the expo for the Monumental Half Marathon in November. Bethany was a little freaked out that she signed up for her second half marathon before she’d run her first. But hey, we got $5 off and a free tech shirt, so how could we go wrong?

Bethany and I have been training for a couple months. Now that I am 50, I’ve found my long runs just keep getting slower. However, last weekend we ran our longest run of 11 miles, and our pace was a respectable 10:35 (respectable for me, but maybe not for Bethany). Sunday I ran five miles with my fast friends. They make running look so effortless while I am about 15 feet behind struggling to breathe. They were chatting away, and would occasionally ask me a question, but I had no idea what they were even talking about. So why do I run with them? Because I love them, and because it pushes me. Sometimes I get comfortable just getting my miles in, but I don’t really push myself out of that comfort zone. If I want to run well, I have to be willing to be uncomfortable. We ran those five miles at a 9:45 pace, which at this point is super fast for me. Jennifer had already run five miles, and then added another 3.1 after our five…at an 8:15 pace. Geez.

Fast. Something I’ve never been, nor will I ever be. When I talk to my eighth graders about my running, they don’t get that concept. When I told them I was running the Indy Mini, some asked if I thought I would win. Sure, Kids. I’m confident that out of the 30-35,000 runners, I will win. I told them that really isn’t the goal of most runners. But it’s a race. Why would you enter a race if you don’t think you can win, Mrs. Stath? I tried to explain the age groups, and how my goal is usually to place in the top 20% of my age group. But why would you run over 13 miles for that? Ummm…because we get really cool medals and a shirt. I guess from a 13 year old’s perspective, the fact that a 50 year old teacher would run 13.1 miles to get a medal doesn’t make much sense. It made me ask myself why I really do it.

There are so many reasons to run a half marathon. First, there is no other feeling like crossing that finish line, knowing I did something that not many people do. I have done the work – and it is work – and accomplished my goal. Running it with my daughter? That is a pleasure that not many moms get to experience. Running this distance has been life-changing for me. I didn’t begin running until I was 42, and I ran my first half almost seven years ago at 43. I never dreamed I could run 13 miles; I thought it was silly to even want to run for over two hours. But I did it. It taught me that even as a middle-aged mom and grandmother, I could still meet new challenges. It gave me confidence to take risks. I love the camaraderie of the running community. When we go to Indianapolis next weekend, I will enjoy being surrounded by other runners at the hotel, expo, and restaurants. There’s just a different type of energy in the air.

Running long distance doesn’t come without sacrifice and sometimes discomfort. My hip began hurting a couple weeks ago. It was fine when I ran, but hurt after. It is better after a couple trips to the chiropractor, and I have three more appointments scheduled for next week, including one right before we leave for Indy. Runners also sacrifice time. Long runs take time away from family, not only during the run itself, but when I am crashed on the couch afterward. Thankfully my husband is supportive since he was also a runner. Knowing he will be there when I finish makes me look forward to the finish line even more.

Bethany, thank you for taking time to train with me and to commit to this race. There really is something special about pounding the pavement with you. I am so incredibly proud of you. Let’s rock this race! Do you think we can win?

Half Marathon #10

On November 5 I will run my tenth half marathon, the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. It’s been two years since I ran an entire 13.1 miles; the last three I worked some walking in for various reasons. I need to know I can still run the whole route – that my knee can endure 13.1 miles of pounding.

However, accomplishing that goal is not the most important aspect of the race. This race is special because I will be running it with my daughter Bethany. She began running in January of this year, and has since run a couple 5Ks and a 5-miler. She decided this summer that she was ready to take on the challenge of running her first half marathon, and I agreed to train and run with her. When Gary and I began running almost eight years ago, our hope was that we would be a positive example for our kids and grandkids. We wanted to show them that it is never too late to live a healthier lifestyle; it is never too late to set and achieve goals. Since that time, all of the girls have worked fitness into their lives. Gary’s daughter Tamara and her girls have participated in Girls on the Run; Morgan has run a few races and was recently certified to teach yoga; and the youngest, Addie, has now begun running and hopes to work up to a half marathon. Gary’s son Bryce has always been active. He and his wife run, ski, and climb. I don’t know how much we have influenced our children’s choices, but I hope we’ve had at least a little impact.


Training for this race has been interesting. I haven’t worked as hard as I should. It stayed hot so long that my runs suffered. Our long runs have been slower than I would like, but we’ve kept running. This past Saturday we ran 11 miles, our longest training run. It went better than our previous long runs, and I feel that Bethany is ready for this race and will run well. I feel that I had better quit eating junk for the next two weeks and increase my water intake or I’m going to struggle. No matter what, I wouldn’t trade these past weeks of sharing this experience with my daughter. I cannot wait for her to experience crossing that finish line because I know it can be life-changing. I know she will gain a confidence she’s never experienced. I know she will feel a sense of pride that is unlike any other. I know she’ll want to sign up for another!

I have had the unique pleasure of running two of my nieces’ first half marathons with them, and felt so blessed that they wanted to share that time with me. After running a couple 5Ks and a 10K together, Erin and I ran the Monumental two years ago – it was 15 degrees that day. Emily and I ran the Hoosier Half Marathon in Bloomington. Despite being held April 9, it was 20 degrees at the start, and it did not warm up (I won’t even get into the hills). Now I have the honor of running 13.1 with Bethany, which I hope will take place on a perfect 55 degree day. There is something special about running a longer race with someone. If you run, you know that some of the best, most honest conversations take place when we are drenched in sweat, our muscles are aching, and yet we carry on…together.

I’ve written before that sometimes a race is about so much more than a PR or personal goals. My best runs have been when I’ve run for a greater cause, whether it was to help someone complete her first half, or to raise money and awareness for St. Jude. The medals earned represent time spent training and sharing in a common goal. The medals represent not giving up, even when it hurts. They represent achieving something that a few years ago seemed impossible.

Bethany, I am so proud of you! You’ve accomplished so much this year, and it is truly my honor to run with you. I pray for clear skies, perfect temps, strong legs, and settled bellies. Heck, maybe someday you, Morgan, Addie, and I can run one together. That would really be a miracle! Let’s eat healthy foods the next two weeks, okay? Good Luck, Bethany! Thank you for allowing me to be your running partner. Thank you for loving yourself enough to take on such a monumental challenge. Now go #BeMonumental!

Sometimes Running Sucks

My running has been less than stellar recently. Considering I ran a 10k this past weekend, the timing is bad. I haven’t had a run that felt good in quite some time. Even three miles is somewhat of a struggle, so running over six was much more difficult than I anticipated.

I was thrilled to be in Chicago with my husband visiting my niece. Being from the ‘region’ in Northwest Indiana, which is only about thirty minutes from the Windy City, Chicago has always held a special place in my heart. I love the skyline, Lake Michigan, the museums, the shopping, and the architecture. It’s truly a beautiful city. I registered my niece and myself for this race a few months ago; we decided on the 10k rather than the half marathon, which turned out to be the perfect decision. Though I have run along the lake while visiting the city, I was excited to run a race there.

Gary and I arrived in Chicago Friday afternoon, dropped our things at Erin’s, and hopped on a bus to go downtown and get our race packets. That might sound simple, but we were slightly anxious that we would end up in the wrong neighborhood nowhere near race headquarters. As we exited the bus – on the right street – we began to take in life in the big city. Gary and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to country life versus city life. As he was commenting, “I could never live in this city,” I was saying, “I could so live in the big city!” Realistically, it would probably get old, so for now I’ll enjoy visiting Erin. That evening we met up with Erin for a pasta dinner, and went for a walk down to the lake. Since we had to get up early for the race, we were in early. One of us practically passed out while talking. I won’t mention a name, but it wasn’t one of the old ones!


Saturday morning the three of us caught the bus, and took off for the race. While I am usually really grouchy the morning of a race (my nerves get the best of me, and I don’t like to talk or be talked to), I felt unusually calm. Even when we realized we had missed our stop and had to walk about 1/2 mile back to the start, I didn’t get stressed out. In my highly-anxious mind, that’s impressive. As we approached the starting line, there was a sea of pink. Although I typically wear pink, I went against the trend and wore yellow. This was my first all-female race, and I didn’t want to over-do the girliness. Tutus were not an option for Erin and me. No way.


My goal for this race was to run it in under an hour. If we kept a 9:30 pace, we would do it. Our first mile, we ran a 9:08 pace – perfect. The second mile we ran a 9:13 pace, which was still good, and left us room to slow down during the second half. The third mile I began to struggle. STUPID. This was a 10k; I have run five half marathons; this should be easy. One huge mistake I made was not drinking any water on Friday. STUPID. In my mind, I was only running a little over six miles, so I didn’t need to worry about hydrating or nutrition. STUPID. I always need to worry about hydration and nutrition. Third mile: 9:40 pace. Crap. I told Erin to go ahead because she was running well. She wasn’t going to, but I told her I didn’t want to feel guilty for holding her back, so she went on. During mile four, I kept telling myself to enjoy the beautiful day; I was running in CHICAGO! I had the gorgeous blue lake with sailboats scattered about on my right, and the picturesque skyline on my left. There were runners everywhere. This race was different than any I have run because the course wasn’t closed. There we literally hundreds of other runners who were not participating in the race along the course.

Mile four….9:27…back on track. Lord, I was tired and my legs felt like I was trudging through wet sand. Mile five…I could do this. It was only a 10k. What was my problem? Why did I feel like I was not going to finish? And I was definitely not going to register for the Indianapolis Monumental Half that Gary and I had planned to do. No freakin’ way. Mile six. The last full mile. 10:05. For Pete’s sake, I just kept getting slower and slower. But I was not going to stop. The finish line was within my reach, and I was not going to walk. As I approached where I thought the finish line was, I picked it up a bit because I thought I was going to meet my goal. When I realized where the finish line actually was, I knew I wasn’t going to make it. My official time was 1:00:22. I missed my goal by twenty-two seconds. If you don’t run, that might not seem like a big deal; if you run, you understand just how frustrating that was. But it was over, and I hadn’t walked. (Erin and decided to walk the three miles back to her apartment. This picture shows her cooling off in a random fountain. Yes, I dared her. I didn’t even have to triple dog dare.)


What I don’t understand is why my running has gotten worse since I quit running every day. Shouldn’t my legs be rested and ready to race? The last 5K I ran, my pace was 8:47. My pace at an August two-miler was 8:04. Now I am trying to decide if I want to keep trying to increase my distance, or if I want to stick with shorter distances and work on getting faster. On the way home from Chicago, I read an article about the benefits of 5Ks. Perhaps that was my sign.

When the results were finally posted, I saw that overall I placed 133 out of 977, and in my age group (40-49) I placed 33rd out of 301, which isn’t too bad. Erin placed ninth in her age group, and 75th overall, which is outstanding! She doesn’t usually run races, which makes it more impressive. So in the end, it was worth the effort. For our efforts, we got really nice jackets, necklaces, and medals. We also got to share some special time together. And we celebrated with Giordanno’s pizza that evening; I’d run another six miles for that.


So, what’s next? Right now your guess is as good as mine. We are going to go watch some friends finish at the Evansville Half Marathon this weekend. I will likely attempt another long run Sunday. And if it sucks, I am never running again. At least not until the next week…or day. I hate running. But I love it, too.

For the Love of Running

Along with most US citizens, my heart has been with everyone who was affected by the bombing at the Boston Marathon Monday.  As a runner, I ached for those runners who had family members – who were there to support them – injured or killed.  I was so sorry for the over 4000 runners who didn’t cross that finish line.  Their dreams were stolen by a couple of thugs.  The countless hours of training they had put in, seemingly wasted.  Time away from families so they could log miles…all for naught.

One of my favorite aspects of being a runner is that I belong to an incredible community.  Runners are truly supportive of one another.  It doesn’t matter if one runs a 6 minute pace or a 13 minute pace, we are all runners.  We have all had fantastic runs that we can’t wait to post on Facebook, and painful runs that make us think we will never run again. We cheer just as loudly for the last person to cross the finish line, as we did for the first.   We all watched in disbelief as two explosions rocked the finish line at the ultimate marathon, The Boston Marathon.  While I will never run Boston, I feel a connection with those who are able to, for they represent the epitome of running.  When they are hurt, I hurt.  I might not run Boston, or any other marathon, but I know what it feels like to run my race with the crowds cheering, and I know what it feels like to cross the finish line, meeting a goal I set for myself.  I know how special it is to have family and friends on the sidelines, clapping and yelling as I run past.  I do not know what it is like to have evil show up at a race.  And, dear God, I pray I never do.

I assume (and have been told) that non-runners don’t really ‘get’ us.  Why do we love running?  I actually wondered that myself this morning as I drove home after my 8-miler.  I was having a bad allergy day; my left eye was red, swollen, and dripping.  I have struggled with an IT band injury for months, and it hurt beginning at mile 5 today.  I have had a hip injury, stomach issues, and terribly sore muscles.  I have put in hours upon hours of time, just to run.  Life without running?  It would suck.  It’s what I love.  I ran with a good friend this morning, and the miles passed quickly as we caught up with one another’s lives.  I was able to enjoy the beautiful morning.  Running makes me happy.  It cures a bad mood, celebrates accomplishments, and feeds the body and soul.  It’s time with friends, time alone, and time for reflection.  Running is exhausting and invigorating, frustrating and fulfilling.

This week when I visited my orthopedic doctor, he told me my IT band problem could cause me to have to stop running.  Completely.  Those words cause panic.  Not run?  But all of my friends run.  What would I do if I couldn’t run?  I enjoy other forms of exercise, but nothing as much as running.   It is such a huge part of my life; I cannot even imagine not running.  Sorry, Doc, I can’t stop.  I will do whatever it takes to continue.

One week from today, 15 of my friends, my husband, and I will be running the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon (my husband is running the full).  For many of my friends, it will be their first 13.1.  While I am excited for my run, I am even more excited for them.  I know what it feels like to complete 13.1 miles in a race, and I want that experience for them.  I can’t wait to hear about their runs, and to hear the excitement and pride in their voices when they say “I did it!”  And I can just about guarantee they will all do it again.  We will all run for Boston:  for those who didn’t get to finish their races, for those who were injured or killed, and for those whose lives were forever changed.  We will run because we will not let the evil in this world steal what we love to do.  They will not win.

To Our Running Group:  Kick Ass!  You will all do great!  I have so much confidence in each of you.  You have done the work; it’s almost time to reap the rewards (which happens to be a highly-valued race medal).  Best of luck, Lisa, Kathy, Kassi, Jackie, Breanne, Tyler, Breanne, Blair, Heidi, Derrick, Debbie, Danielle, Patrick, Jennifer, and Kara!!

To My Husband:  I hope you know how proud I am of you!  A marathon?  On an artificial knee?  You rock!  I wish you the very best, and can’t wait to meet you at the finish.  You are an inspiration to so many, and I am blessed to be your wife!


Running a 5k with daughter – check!

Another goal met!

About a year ago, I began to create a bucket list.  I had always had some ideas, but hadn’t taken the time to write them down.  I believe that we are more likely to meet our goals and go after our dreams if we actually put them in writing.  Some of the items on my list that I have already checked off include earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, ziplining, running a half marathon, and publishing a book.  I have many items left such as visiting Salzburg, Austria, having an in-ground pool, learning to swim well, and meeting some cousins that I haven’t seen since we were little.

One of the goals on my list was to run a 5k with a daughter.  I didn’t specify which daughter because I really didn’t know whom I could convince to run with me.  When Gary and I began running, one of our objectives was to model a healthy activity for the kids.  They just thought we had lost our minds.  None of the girls had any interest in running.  Gary’s son Bryce already runs (and skis, climbs mountains, and a plethora of other super-challenging activities), and Tamara began running last fall.  My girls still weren’t convinced that running could actually be rewarding.  Morgan actually detested most any exercise that didn’t involve a yellow ball and racquet.  After giving birth to her son and trying to get back to pre-pregnancy form, she began exercising.  Her boyfriend is in the army, and is into all types of exercise, particularly crossfit, so she had support at home.  After the first of the year, she decided to try running.

Morgan lives in a rural area in Louisiana, and her road is rather narrow – not ideal for running.  She kept at it and gradually began adding some distance.  When she could run three miles, she decided she wanted to run a 5k when she was home for Memorial Day weekend.  I looked online for a race, but could find nothing in the area.  She looked online, and found the Strawberry Fest 5k in Beaver Dam, Kentucky, which is about an hour and twenty minutes from here.  We registered.  Early Saturday morning, Gary, Kyle, Morgan, and I took off for our first race together.  Bethany came along to care for Layne while we ran.

I didn’t know if I should stick with Morgan through the race, or run my race and cheer for her at the finish line.  After talking with her, we decided that I would run ahead and see what I could do.  I think it would have made Morgan feel pressured if I ran with her, and she said she can’t talk while running anyway.  She was clearly nervous while we waited for the race to get started.  I remember my first race; I had no idea what it would be like.  I wondered if I would finish, if I would be last, if I would puke.  I finished; I wasn’t last; I didn’t puke.  Morgan had the same thoughts running through her mind.

It was finally time to line up.  The four of us wished one another well, and lined up.  Despite it being 8:00 am, it was already hot and humid.  Doesn’t it just figure that the weekend Morgan is to run her first race, we have record temps?  After some last minute instructions, we were off.  And my hip hurt.  I occasionally have trouble with my right hip, so this was not unusual, just uncomfortable.  After about a mile, it felt better.  I had no major goal for this race; I haven’t been running fast, so I knew I would not PR.  I spent most of my time wondering how Morgan was doing.  As her mom, I so badly wanted her to feel good about her run.

I felt pretty good about my pace as I rounded the last corner.  I am pretty good at maintaining a steady pace, and though I was not fast, I wasn’t too slow either.  When I was about 20 feet from the finish line, I felt someone coming up to pass me.  I said (probably a bit too loudly), “NO WAY!”, and took off.  I was NOT getting passed at the finish line!  And I didn’t.  Lest you think I am exaggerating, I included a picture:

You are NOT passing me, Lady!

The picture is a bit fuzzy, but you get the idea!  I am not sure why my arm looks so buff; it isn’t.  It’s actually getting pretty flabby.  Notice my competitor is younger, taller, and more athletic – but I nudged her out at the finish.  Ahh…sweet victory!

I crossed the finish line, but am not certain of my exact time.  It was something over 28 minutes.  I went to a spot to regain my composure and to make sure I wasn’t going to puke.  Then it was time to watch for Morgan (Kyle had finished long before I).  Bethany, Layne, and I waited for Morgan to come around the final corner.  I was so proud as I watched her approach the finish line.  She was going to do it!  I knew that she would have such an amazing feeling accomplishment, and isn’t that what we all want for our children?  I believe her time was just over 31 minutes, which is outstanding.  I think she will be more apt to stick with running after experiencing a race.  It is so wonderful to see people of all ages, shapes, and sizes running races.  It is inspiring to be part of strangers meeting their goals.  Morgan didn’t have to walk and she wasn’t last – not even close.  She was very proud of her run, and is ready to sign up for more races.  Mission accomplished!

I think I will add another entry to my bucket list:  Run a half marathon with a daughter.  Morgan will do it.  Who knows, maybe I should just put ‘Run a half marathon with my daughters’.  Or I could really stretch it and put ‘Gary and I will run a half marathon with all five kids’.  Now that would be an accomplishment!

The day after the Strawberry race, my family got together at my sister’s house.  Morgan and I decided it would be really cool if we all wore our race shirts.  Gary and Kyle did not think it would be cool.  They wore them anyway.

Gary, Joyce, Morgan, and Kyle

What is on your bucket list?  Write it down and make it happen!  My list is a work in progress; as I think of something I want to accomplish, I write it down, then I think about what I need to do to make it happen.  I hope when I am 80, I still have goals and dreams – they make life so much more fun!

Running a Mini

First, let me say that this is my second writing of this post.  I wrote over 2000 words, hit post, and it disappeared!  I had spent a lot of time on that one, so with any luck, this one will go through.  Anyway…here goes round two…

As I was lined up with 18,000 other runners awaiting the start of the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/Mini Marathon, I began to wonder how I could describe what it is like to run a mini marathon – 13.1 miles.  I know that a few short years ago, I would have wondered why any somewhat sane person would even want to run that far.  What fun could it possibly be to run that far?  Now that I have experienced it, I get it.

Even before the official race day, one can feel the energy building.  Gary and I arrived in Louisville Friday afternoon and checked into our hotel.  We immediately saw many other runners in our building.  We headed to the expo, and found that the city was filled with runners.  We were excited just to be a part of such a big race.  Race day morning we awoke before the crack of dawn, donned our running garb, and began the trek to the starting line.  The start of the race was 6:30 am our time.  I am never much for small talk the morning of any race.  My thoughts are on trivial things such as the weather and what exactly to wear, whether or not I will need my sunglasses, if my stomach is going to hold up, and did I pee enough before leaving the hotel room.  Gary has learned just to let me be.  Despite my obsession over, well, everything, I still took in all the runners around me.  The anticipation was building as we marched closer to the starting line.

Lining up in my designated corral, I kissed Gary and we wished one another a great run, and then I was on my own.  With 18,000 other people.  It was crowded!  I kept my crowd anxiety in check, and scanned the runners around me.  Runners come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and abilities, but we all had one thing in common – we all wanted to run our best race that day.  For some running their best race meant just enjoying time with friends and checking another race off their lists; for others it meant breaking a personal record; and for those elite runners, it meant winning.  There were people running for charities or in memory of loved ones.  Some were celebrating recent weight loss.  I even saw a few who were celebrating weddings.

Once the national anthem began the crowd quieted.  We were all enthralled by the emotion of the moment.  It was almost time.  Our time.  A time we had trained for for months.  The weather was perfect, the runners excited, and the crowd supportive.  The energy of all involved provided the boost I needed to start strong.  The gun finally sounded, and the fast runners were off.  Me, well I had to wait about five minutes for the not-so-fast runners to begin.  And so it began.  I embarked upon my journey.  I started off fast <for me>, but had decided I would just listen to my body and run fast if I could, and slow down if I needed to.

There are many things that inspire and encourage runners along the way.  The crowd support in Louisville is incredible.  Many spectators hold signs, and I try to read most of them as I run by.  My favorite sign of the day was ‘Your training lasted longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage’.  Another thing that kept me going was bible passages.  Many runners had scriptures on the back of their shirts, and I seemed to come upon them at just the right times.  One of my favorites, which I not only saw a few times during the race, but my friend Amy also sent me before the race, was ‘They that hope in the Lord shall renew their Strength, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow faint.’  Isaiah 40:31.  How inspiring that was just when I was feeling weak.  I do thank God every run.  I am so grateful to Him for the strength, endurance, and good health to complete every run.

Along with God, Elvis also provided some much-needed inspiration.  And not just one Elvis, but five.  I was just running along, when suddenly I spied the five Elvises running ahead.  They looked awesome!  I ran beside them for a few seconds just so I could say I ran with Elvis.  There were also some young ladies who wore small versions of the fancy derby hats, and two female spectators who had put a table on the sidewalk, complete with a tablecloth and a vase with flowers.  They were enjoying tea while watching the race.  There were small children cheering on parents, and senior citizens reminiscing about their youth.  There were also DJs and bands spaced out perfectly.  Nothing like a little music to put some pep in your step!

After running through Churchill Downs, which is amazing, the marathoners break right, and the mini marathoner head back toward downtown.  That’s when it started getting hard.  Really hard.  I was getting tired, and I was starting to hurt.  Thankfully, it was about that time that the police yelled at us to move over…the first of the marathoners was coming through!  These two men, presumably Kenyans, were running at about a 6 minute pace – they were flat-out flying!  It was just an extraordinary moment when as they passed us, everyone started clapping and cheering them on.  I still get teary just thinking about it.  The energy from that sight carried me a bit further.

It took some serious effort to run the last three miles.  I had to keep reminding myself to look up and hold my shoulders back.  I kept staring at the ground in front of me, which would cause me to slump.  Slumping isn’t good.  One cannot breathe properly when slumped over trying to drag her body along.  As we ran toward downtown, the crowds grew.  I hope they know how much their cheering helps the runners.  Whether it’s true or not (in my case it most certainly was not), someone yelling, “You’re looking strong!” makes a runner feel just a little stronger.

We finally turned right onto Main Street.  Only one half mile to go!  I was so tired, and I wanted it to be over.  At that point I no longer cared about my time; I just wanted it to end.  I pushed hard, and finally crossed the finish line.  I had done it!  And, of course, I immediately checked my watch – I had beaten last year’s time by over a minute!  I was excited, but I also had an overwhelming urge to puke.  Really.  I didn’t, but it was surely questionable.  I grabbed a water, got my token race photo taken, and bypassed the food.  No way could I have stomached a bagel or banana at that point.  And beer?  No way.  They had beer at the post-race party.  I don’t like beer on a good day, but just the thought of it after the race was nauseating.  Apparently I was in the minority because the beer line was terribly long.  Gross!

My race time was 2:04:11, which is an 9:29 pace.  Last year I ran a 9:37 pace.  I was beyond thrilled.  I placed 94 out of 602 in my age group – woo hoo!!!  I was 1534 out of 6939 total females, and 4074 out of 12,104 total runners.  Maybe 4000th isn’t anything to brag about, but I beat 8000 people!  Considering I am not an athlete, and I just started running three years ago, I think I rocked it!

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that someone accused him of boasting because he posted about his recent weight loss.  Really?  I’d hate to hear what they’d say about me.  Why shouldn’t we all be proud of our accomplishments?  I think he should announce his weight loss from his roof top!  He worked hard to reach a goal and to become healthier.  Yeah!   I believe that by sharing when we meet goals, whether it be weight loss, career goals, earning a diploma or degree, or running a race, we can inspire others to continue to reach for dreams and to tackle that which intimidates them.  I would much rather read about achievements than read complaints and harsh words about others.  We should take pride in living life to its fullest, and continuing to set goals even in later years.  We should celebrate with one another and be happy for our friends!  I am certainly happy for all who saw their dreams come true in Louisville!

I must also ‘boast’ on my husband, who continues to inspire me to lace up.  His goal in the mini marathon was to finish in less than three hours.  His time:  3:00:02!  He was not happy – at all – about those 2 seconds, but he did it!  He knocked three minutes off his previous half marathon time.  We were both happy with our performances, but gosh, we were sore and tired!  We treated ourselves to a steak lunch after checking out of our hotel, and then headed home to hold down the couch the rest of the day.  Today we managed to limp into church, and as the day went on, we began to loosen up.  Was it worth it? Absolutely.  I wish I could etch every special moment along the course into my mind so I could share it with my friends, but there are simply too many of those moments to try to remember.  There really is nothing like the camaraderie of running.

So what’s it like to run a mini?  It’s tiring.  It’s envigorating.  It’s exhausting.  It’s inspiring.  It’s painful.  It’s fulfilling.  It is life-changing.

Okay, I admit it…

This weekend there is a 5k and 10k race in Owensboro.  My friends are running it, and I should be running it.  I really should run the 10k with Jackie and Kassi, and I want to, but…I haven’t signed up.  I can run the 6.2 miles.  And there is supposed to be an awesome pancake breakfast following the race, and I love pancakes.  The temps are going to be in the 70s.  That’s pretty perfect for a morning run.  While I certainly don’t need another race t-shirt to add to my collection, I am rather proud of that collection, and it wouldn’t hurt to add just one more.

So, why the reluctance to register?  At first it was because for a couple weeks, every time I ran I would run into (ha ha) stomach problems.  I have no greater fear than being out on the road mid-run, and suddenly needing to find a bathroom.  Along with that little issue, my left knee was also giving me some problems.  It hurt.  Not every run, but when it hurt, I just couldn’t continue to run.  For the last week, both problems seem to have gone away.  I ran six miles Saturday, and it felt pretty good.  Today I ran eight miles after school, and though it wasn’t fast, it didn’t feel bad.  Well, it felt a little bad in the middle when I suddenly had to pee.  I was behind the floodwall on the greenway, and I began to obsess.  Those are the times I wish I were a man.  But I’m not, so I decided I just needed to make it another mile to my sister’s.  Even if she wasn’t home, I know where she keeps her key.  She was home, so I did my business, got a drink of water, checked out what she was cooking for dinner (if it weren’t turkey burgers, I might have stayed), and ventured on.  I managed to get my eight miles in; I didn’t feel like the rock star I had hoped to feel like, but I did it – after working all day, I might add.

So, it seems my excuses for not running the 10k are pretty much invalid at this point.  So what is really holding me back?  Pride.  Ugly, ugly, immature pride.  I have run a 10k before.  I was in better shape then.  I ran rather fast.  I happen to have a spreadsheet of Gary’s and my race times that I always refer back to before a race, and I know that I cannot run Saturday at the same pace I ran my last 10k, and that will piss me off.   I know that a reasonable person would run for the sake of running a fun race with her girlfriends and enjoying some breakfast afterward.  A reasonable person would run because it is going to be 70 degrees in March, and we just never know what the temps will be around here anymore.  I am not really reasonable. 

In the end, I will probably sign up.  I know that I will enjoy the race with my girlfriends, and I will happily devour some syrup-soaked pancakes and make up for all the calories I burned.  I will be proud that I complete 6.2 miles because that in itself is something to be very proud of.  Isn’t it?