We Did It!!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of running 13.1 miles with my middle daughter, Bethany, at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. It was truly a memorable weekend. We took off for Indy Friday afternoon, checked into our hotel, and then walked a few blocks to the Convention Center for the expo. Bethany had been to an expo with me, but not as a runner. While there, we got a little caught up in the excitement and signed up for another half marathon, the Indy 500 Mini in May. We got a free tech tee for signing up early, and who doesn’t want a free shirt? It was fun just to explore the booths, but it was more fun to carb load afterward. We chose Scotty’s Brewhouse for our last big pre-race meal. While most runners would choose a healthy, carb-filled meal (Is that an oxymoron?), I wanted to try something different: a grilled cheese with pulled pork and mac and cheese on it. Yup. It was messy, but delicious. And on the side? Cottage fries with cheese, bacon, and sour cream. Hey…I was going to be running over 13 miles the next morning; I needed energy. Bethany chose grilled chicken. Boring. But that might be one of the reasons she beat me!

indyprerace

When running a long-distance race, there is so much that can go wrong, starting with the weather. Two years ago when my niece, my husband, and I ran the Monumental, it was 15 degrees. It was miserable. Yesterday the weather was perfect. It was chilly while we were waiting to start, but not unbearable. Once we began running, it was gorgeous. Indy is a beautiful city in which to run, and on a sunny day, it’s even more brilliant. Another obstacle to a successful race is stomach issues. Without going into gross detail, yesterday went well. Even my playlist was put together perfectly, which was a total fluke. I had tried to put ‘Living on a Prayer…Halfway there’ at about the 6.5 mile mark, and it landed exactly where I wanted it to.

Bethany seemed to enjoy every moment of the race, which is what I had hoped she would do. I told her ahead of time to take it all in.I didn’t want her to worry about her time or about whether or not she’d finish; I knew she would. The joy of the race comes not only from achieving a monumental goal, but also from enjoying the small moments, the cheers from the spectators (who were amazing yesterday), the sounds of music along the course, the funny signs, and the other runners who all have stories about why they are there. The joy comes from the scenery, the gorgeous neighborhoods, and the pounding of thousands of feet, all working toward the same goal. The joy comes when you see a firefighter in full gear, including his tank, running a marathon, runners with pictures of loved ones ironed on their shirts, and children along the route offering high fives. A few miles into our run, Bethany said, “This is so much fun!” And at mile eight she said, “Mom, I think it’s so cool that you run. If you didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.” That was my favorite moment in the race. I don’t know if she even knows how much that meant to me. We, as parents, never know what our children will learn from us. Knowing that I had a small part in her achieving something she never thought possible, and that gave her so much confidence, was indescribable.

bethanyrunning

As the race went on, I could tell that Bethany could run faster. I was settling into about a 10:35 pace, which was fine with me, but she kept easing a little ahead. At mile 9, I told her to go. I did not want to hold her back if she could go faster. She hesitated, but then a lady running near us also encouraged her to go. She told her that it would make it harder for me if I knew she was waiting, and that if she felt good, she should take advantage of it because it might not happen again. She took off, and I relaxed knowing she was running her race. I was tired those last few miles, but kept a steady pace. Crazy things can run through a runner’s mind when exhaustion sets in. At one point I thought maybe I’ll get a 13.1 tattoo after this. It’s my tenth half marathon, and geez, this is hard. I deserve to have a tattoo. When I told my husband that had run through my mind, he just rolled his eyes. At mile 11, I reminded myself that I was NEVER going to run a full marathon. I couldn’t imagine having another 15 miles to go.

Bethany ended up finishing about five minutes before I did. I am so proud of her! Running is hard work. It takes dedication and determination, and it’s physically demanding. It takes time to train, and with our busy lives, carving that time out isn’t always easy. Completing a race can be life-changing; it gives us confidence in all areas of our lives. I am so thrilled to have shared this journey with my daughter. Congratulations, Bethany!

bethanymomrace

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.

bethanymom

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!

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!