Transition time

Sunday’s Long Run done.

Boston is just 5 weeks away and I have reached the moment of a 1000 questions: How much more mileage can I push myself into?  Why am I so slow today?   Is this a real ache or is it a figment of my imagination?  Is this cold really gone?  How much longer?   The list is truly endless.

If there is one item that is more important in my training than any other, it’s the long run.  Now this may not be true for everyone, but for me it is.  I need the psychological confidence that I can handle long distance week after week.  Two weeks ago, when I found myself on meds for a sinus infection that I seemed to have been fighting for weeks, I refused to skip my long run.  Instead, I took one day off while waiting for meds to kick in, then plowed through 15 miles after work the next day.  Last week, I worked 2-3 miles around the Chilly Half-marathon.  Week by week, like all marathon trainees, I keep adding a bit more to my long run.

Despite this, I found the thought of running 16 miles yesterday overwhelming.  For whatever reason, the first milestone past 15 miles was becoming a mental obstacle.  I was also completely on my own, again, and the temperatures dropped a lot in the past week.  But I knew that I had to, absolutely had to, get it done.

Transitioning into New Balance 1080’s, my marathon shoe.

So I headed out at 8:00 a.m. in my New Balance 1080’s.  Four miles later, I stopped by the house, as planned, and changed into my new 1080’s, my marathon shoes which I am just breaking in.  Six miles later, I decided to continue to run further away from home before turning around so that I wouldn’t have to run past my house to reach the 16 miles that I was aiming for.

And it worked.  By the time I got home, I logged 16.2 miles.  The best part of this was my last four miles were 15 seconds/mile faster – planned – and I wasn’t feeling exhausted.  Even this morning, 24 hours later, I found the dreaded recovery run fairly easy to do.

Doggie kisses: proof that, even in sub-zero temperatures, I am a human salt-stick.

I wasn’t confident when I left my house, but I got back feeling great – mentally and physically strong.  Yesterday told me that I am where I need to be with my training and I will be ready for Boston 2017.

Game Time

“Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, I’ll try again tomorrow.”  Dennis Edney 

Picking my fall races is a challenge.   It’s cross-country season, there are lots of different distances for road racing and, of course, there are a lot of marathons.  There are so many great events to pick that I could race every weekend if I wanted.  I sat down at the computer a few weeks ago to try to decide on which races to run.  Resigned that I was not going to marathon this fall, I looked primarily at half-marathons and cross-country, but every single marathon listed seemed to jump from the screen.  “Pick me!  Pick me!”  I caved.

I love everything about training for the marathon distance.   Watching weekly mileage climb has a powerful feeling; every long run finished leaves me feeling satisfied; fulfilling the commitment to train, which means planning to eat, drink, and sleep around running builds mental strength.  Most of all, I love the sense of commitment that marathoners show and the confidence that they gain in training and elation of crossing the finish line.

When I made the decision to not run the Victoria Marathon, I was genuinely upset about it, but it was the right decision to make.  However, for weeks following, I was being tormented by the October line-up of marathons:  Prince Edward County, Scotiabank, Prince Edward Island, Hamilton.  All of them were doable, but how doable?  How much fitness did I lose?

After 2 rest weeks of lower mileage (40-45k) and no long runs, I had to test myself.  F

New Balance Shoes
Boldly making the switch to New Balance 1080’s

our Monday mornings ago, I woke up before dawn and finished 19K – and I felt good!  That weekend, I ran 21K, met my friend, Monica, part way through and felt not so good.  That same week,  I made a few minor changes to my running lifestyle, which included new shoes and pampering my feet a bit more, and my third long run (another 21K) felt great.   I looked at the fall racing calendar, my family calendar and my work schedule and I started to plan.  “I can make this work” I thought.  “I can be ready for Hamilton.”

 

post long-run
Post Long Run

And now it’s game time.  Yesterday, I upped my game and threw a 10K tempo into my long run (giving me a total of 25K) and ran a 12K trail recovery this morning.  In the past month, I have watched my weekly mileage climb from 40K to 66K, and I feel great about it.  This week, I get a little more serious as I add more yoga and 2 cycling workouts to my week so that I have a stronger core and quads so that I am ready for ‘net downhill’.

 

I know the next few weeks are going to be a bit crazy.  The boys are back in school, I have a new teaching assignment, and coaching soccer starts soon.  But, for whatever reason, running a fall marathon is in me and, like I tell the kids at school, “When you want something badly enough, you can make it happen.”  run over obstacles

Following the Stars

Over the weekend, several messages about a weekend run were flying between a friend and me and, then, they stopped.  Silence.  Our run didn’t happen.  And a few hours after that run that should have happened, I got another message: “Body still isn’t working and kids are being disasters….Maybe it was just not meant to be this morning.”  To that, I replied, “Yup, sometimes you just have to wait for the stars to line up.”

That’s the message that I have had to tell myself for the past week.  This summer, I have been building mileage towards a fall marathon.  My initial goal to run Quebec City fell apart because of my son’s soccer schedule so I quickly planned other options.  I really wanted to marathon in Victoria, B.C. for several reasons.   I use to live in Vancouver, and I have been itching to go back.  The timing worked because it was over Thanksgiving Weekend so I would have an extra travel day.   Finally, one of my training partners, Kelly-Lynne, is aiming to run the half in Victoria.  All signs were pointing to the west coast.

Then, last week happened.  I had been waiting for a few weeks to hear back from my employer about whether I could take an extra day, and I needed to confirmation before the end of the month so that I could book my flight.  Well, I am still waiting and the seat sale is over.  Secondly, while my two boys really want to take an early school break, my husband isn’t thrilled about making a long distance trip (3400 kilometres, or 2200 miles) for just a few days.  Lastly, my feet are starting to hurt.  For the past few long runs (22+ kilometres), I have been getting achy feet.  Like most runners, this always happens to me during marathon training, but this time the pain is different; it’s sharper, and it lasts a lot longer.  It’s the kind of pain that makes me think that I am setting myself up for injury, and I don’t want that to happen – especially if I do decide to run Boston in the spring.   And, I certainly do not want to make the long and expensive trip to run in Victoria if I am not feeling 100 percent.

All summer, my training has been going well; it has been great.  My mileage has increased the way I wanted it to, and I’m feeling power in my legs that I haven’t had in a while.  But the stars weren’t in line for my flying to Victoria in October, and I need to follow the stars.

Did this upset me?  Yes, of course.  But there is always another marathon.  Whatever the reason, this one was just not meant to be.  noneedtospeed Meanwhile,  I’ve slowed down a little and had an easy 10 days of training to rest and think about some different goals for the fall – maybe a little track, a bit of trail racing, cross-country, some road racing, or some pot-pourri of all. And who knows?  Maybe the stars will realign themselves and I will find that other marathon.

“This is Not a Race” Report: Run for the Toad Training Run

My husband, Dave,  has volunteered with the Run for the Toad 25k/50K trail race for a few years.  It’s one of the biggest trail races in Ontario, and several runners from other parts of Canada and the USA fly in to participate.  Dave has been wanting me to run it but the race always seems to conflict with my other running goals.

A few weeks ago, Dave asked me to participate in the training run weekend.  Basically, the event organizers organize a day of running on the trail loop (12.5K) so that their volunteers can practise for race day in October.  I ran the training event two years ago so running it again to measure where I am in my training made good sense.  But this time, I decided that I wanted to cover 25K and use it as part of my marathon training.

“Are you crazy?” Dave asked.  “It’s a tough course.  It’s like running 30K on the roads.”
“I’ll be fine,” I told him. “I ran 22K last week and the week before.  I have water stations and company to run with here.  I’ll be okay.”

Toad - KellyLynne and meOne of my training partners, Kelly-Lynne who eats trails for breakfast, decided to join me.  She knows the course well as her cross-country team trained on it when she was at Western University.  Her plan was to run 12.5K and, if she felt good, she would run more.

The run started at 9:00 and temperatures were going to climb to the mid-30’s.  I am fine running in heat but not when the sun is high.  We knew that we needed to slow the pace down, to run something comfortably so that we would finish and feel good.  My marathon pace is around 5 minutes/kilometre we thought 5:00 to 5:30 on this course was reasonable.  Like any other trail, though, you can’t really pace yourself other than by the “what feels right” pace.  So that ended up being the plan: run, talk, run and have some fun.

The hills: they were the challenge.  Within the first 3 kilometres, I told Kelly-Lynne that I didn’t remember the course being as hilly the last time that I ran it.  Ture to the nature of hills, though,  every hill that went up also went down.  Some of them seemed to climb forever and others seemed to go up at a 90 degree angle (especially Skeleton Hill, towards the end, which was  a complete calf-buster).  But the hills were doable as they were hiding under a canopy of trees.

For me, the toughest part of the course was dealing with the sun.  I was able to deal with the heat but when we came from out of the trails into the open, under the hot sun with no cloud coverage, I started to feel nauseous.  As soon as we got back into the shade, though, the sickness went away.

Toad - done!
Done!

Kelly-Lynne ended up running the entire 25K with me.  We realized at the end how well we actually covered the course as our second loop was only 3 minutes slower than our first – not bad with the change in temperature.  Also, quite a few runners around us dropped out during the second lap.  I think that running an easier pace played a big factor in our finishing, and the smart pacing was confirmed when, in the last kilometre, we passed a few runners who were way ahead of us earlier in the run.

 

Even though it wasn’t a race, I often had to remind myself of that.  I often wanted to pick up the pace but I kept turning the dial the other way, making sure that I slowed down and respected the heat.  It worked.

And now I have one more thing to consider as part of my fall racing.  After the weekend, I realize that I really do want to race this course one day.  Which year?  Only time will tell.

Soccer vs Marathon

Mom - soccer coachWhen I decided to coach my son’s soccer team, I looked at the dates carefully as coaching is a 14 week commitment and it’s twice a week.  I knew that the spring would be difficult as I had other things going on; from June through the rest of the summer, I have more flexibility with my time.  My only real need in terms of coaching was making sure that my obligations to the team were over before I would be running the Quebec City Marathon, my marathon of choice for the fall.  I diligently counted the weeks of soccer from start to finish and – perfect!  Soccer ends the week before Quebec.

I don’t need to marathon in the fall.  I BQ’d in Chicago last October and I plan to run Boston.  My goals in and out of a fall marathon are to build a stronger mileage base and improve my BQ time.  Running in August makes perfect sense as I won’t have to deal with high mileage during the craziness of back to school and registration for Boston is at the beginning of September.  The Quebec City Marathon, which has been on my bucket list for years and years, is August 28th.

Hubby and I started to plan a mini-holiday to Quebec City and the province with the boys, possibly travelling into the maritimes.  We looked into accommodations.  Training was going well.  Then, one evening, when going over the snack schedule for soccer, I thought twice.

“Um….why is Festival Day on the 27th?” I wondered. soccer named balls Looking again, I saw that we are scheduled to play on the week before Quebec City.  How is that possible?  I went back to the calendar and counted 14 weeks again.  “The last week ends on the 20th!  I don’t get it!”   I looked at the calendar again, carefully.  The players have a week off at the beginning of August!  Why didn’t I realize that?  Ugh!  There is no way that I can coach on the 27th and get to Quebec City on time to pick up my race kit.  Even if we play the first game and I fly, timing would be dicey.

I contemplated not going to the last two games of the season, our weekly game and the Festival Day event.   But I always teach my boys that when you make a commitment to do something, you follow through with it to the end. Volunteer work is no different.  I made a commitment to my team and the soccer club that I would coach the boys for the season.  Had the marathon date been in the middle of the season, I might take off a game.  But at the end of the season, it’s a different story.  It would look like I quit or gave up on the team.  How can I not coach for almost 4 months and, then, not be at their final game?  Even if some of the boys don’t see it that way, what kind of message am I sending them?  Is it okay for a  coach to miss the final game and your trophy day?  Not really.  So, I am not going to run Quebec City.  As I often tell other running friends when they have their own race conflicts, there is always another marathon.

Mom - team running skirts
Toughing it out in the heat during Marathon Training. Note the soccer field behind me.

So now the hunt for a fall marathon begins and there are only two conditions; it has to be in Canada, and it needs to be before the end of October.  I’ve narrowed it down to Run Victoria (B.C.), Scotiabank Toronto, and Prince Edward Island.  Before the end of July, I hope to have worked through the logistics and will register.  Meanwhile, my training continues as I work towards building my base and bettering my BQ time.

 

 

Testing 1, 2 and 3

Since mid-June, I have had my eye on the prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box: the Chicago Marathon.   I’ve run hundreds of miles, added more morning runs to my routine (to get ready for the early rise on Marathon Sunday), stretched out the aches and pains at yoga, and made an effort to eat better and sleep more.  Today, I put all of that training to the test at the Toronto Ten Miler, a race that is part of the Excel Running Series races.

I was a bit apprehensive about running this distance just two weeks before the marathon, but after missing the winter and spring racing seasons and only shorter races (5k and 10K’s) to pick from through the summer, I mentally needed to run a longer race.  The Ten Miler was the obvious choice.  It was close to home, the date worked well in my training plan, and the distance was a better choice so close to the marathon than one of the many half-marathons that were held today.  The solid reputation of the race director, Michael Brennan, also meant that there would be many strong runners on the course, and a bit of competition is always a good thing.

Ten Miler - sunriseDave and I left headed to Cherry Beach in Toronto before sunrise as he had volunteered to help with the race (and was assigned to be the bike escort for the lead runner).  I picked up my bib,  Dave left for his volunteer duties and I enjoyed watching the sun rise over the Leslie Street Spit.   By 7:30, I was on the road to do a slow 4K warm-up for the race.

I was glad that I warmed up as far as I did.  Cherry Beach and The Spit are very scenic, which draws many runners and cyclists to the area, but they are also closed to traffic and that means the roads are beat up; there were lots of pot-holes and cracks.   The mix of shade and the sunrise made for poor lighting and that made me nervous.  By the end of my warm-up, I had added a second goal to my morning: to not fall down.

Ten Miler - finish
Testing the waters in my new Lion’s Valley Athletics singlet and chevron running skirt.

My primary goal today, though, was to put the past 16 weeks of running to the test.  I had on the shoes and skirt that I plan to wear in Chicago to make sure that both were comfortable and my skirt could indeed hold a few gels, my puffer and an ipod shuffle.  I wanted to run slightly faster than my marathon pace but my competitive edge quickly threw that plan out the window.  I ran my first kilometre at 4:42 and, despite common sense to bring it down to a 5:00 kilometre, I held onto it and ran the entire race “comfortably fast.”   I only used one of the two GU’s, at 55 minutes into the race, just as I will at the marathon, and I took in fluids (water and Gatorade) at the same points I am likely to on Marathon Sunday.   The best part of the morning: I didn’t need to poop while running (and I think that is from changing my diet a bit)!

The only problem I had was with my shoes.   With about 5 kilometres left to go, the ball of my left foot started to hurt.  I am fairly certain that this is from landing on some large stones on a few rockier parts of the course and it is something to keep an eye on over the next few days.

As soon as I saw 15K, I changed gears and started to push myself home.  I remember thinking that I should hold my pace but I also knew that I was heading to a finish time around 75 minutes.  Since I was already off-pace from an 80 minute finish anyway, I figured a few seconds faster at that point wouldn’t hurt.  I was really glad that I had picked it up as I heard people cheering in “Judie” who was obviously right behind me; I turned it up another notch and finished ahead of her by 6 seconds, resulting in a second place age group finish.

As I headed back to the car, I realized that pushing harder than I needed to was not the best idea as my legs were starting to tighten.  I did a slow cool-down, Kenyan style, to loosen them up and finished the day with a total of 25 kilometres.

And now I have just two weeks of easy running left.  I have no races, no speed work and no more high mileage.  All I need now is to focus on staying relaxed and healthy.   Let Taper Week 2 begin….

 

 

What Was I Thinking?

As much as I love the marathon distance, I have never really entertained running a fall marathon.   I have a classroom to set up, students to get to know, marking and assessments to complete, an open house, progress reports, cross-country coaching – and I also have the task of getting my own two boys back into their routines.  In the fall, my family, teaching and running lives collide; building mileage towards a marathon has never been in the cards.

getting back at it.
Starting to think about running a little more seriously at the end of March.

Until this year.  I really don’t know what I was thinking back in April when I registered for the Chicago Marathon.  I really must have been going through a period of insanity.  At the beginning of April, I was just getting back to working out again and, at that point, I was only running two or three times a week (if that); my weekly mileage was barely at 20k.   Breaking my jaw in the winter meant that I was missing out on the spring marathon season and I was bitter about that. I needed to fill that void.   My dad had passed shortly after Easter, my mom wasn’t well and I needed something to focus on – something positive and something for me.  Clearly, training for a marathon would fill my time even if my plan was simply to just finish.  Training for Chicago was about to consume me.

Before that final click to registering, I did think about the September start-up.  “You’ll be fine,” I told myself.  “You’re an experienced teacher.  You know what you’re doing.” Clearly, I was delusional as I clicked “submit”.  Then, I started dreaming about chasing ponytails and distance goals and it wasn’t long before I was focussed on rebuilding mileage and fitness.  If the first half of 2015 was a test of my inner strength, the summer was a test of my physical.  By the end of August, I had caught those goals.

And, then, last week happened: back to school.  Suddenly, late nights were filled with laundry and planning lessons while early mornings became even earlier with drop-offs at two different schools before I arrived at my own.  And, somehow, I had also planned to make last week my second highest mileage week before heading to Chicago – second highest, over 90 kilometres of running during the first week of the school year.  What was I thinking?

labour day
Monday: my double-run day.

But I got it done.  By planning 8 runs over 7 days, which included a double-run day on the holiday, a late night run and a very early morning jog, I was able to reach the weekly distance I wanted: 93K done!

Am I tired?  Yes,  I am justifiably exhausted.  Running is going well, school is great, my kids are happy and my house is a mess to prove it.   But I am feeling like a rock star.

This afternoon, after my 93K week, I suddenly started to feel really tired, more like a rock star who had partied way too much on the weekend.  Monday morning is going to hurt.  And, once again, I am asking myself “What was I thinking?”

 

 

 

Will it be Plan A, B or C?

ABC
Following the ABC’s at Climbers Rock in the winter.

We’ve all had it, a busy day when you plan to run or work out and – bam! – something gets in the way.  When this happens to me, I end up feeling anxious because I have missed something important, well, something that is important to me.

In the past year, I’ve learned to have a back up plan for those days when life gets hectic.  And let’s face it: with two boys and a full-time job, life is bound to get in the way of things that I want to do.   Plan B might be something as simple as running later in the evening rather than right after work, but having it helps me make sure that I get my mileage in.

Over the past few days, we have had some “irregularities” at home.  The Littlest Dude did some television extra work in Toronto and I did some background work on overnight shoots on Thursday and Friday.   It’s fun and different but, the overnights it messed around with our routines.  When I accepted the jobs, I was a tad worried that my training for Chicago would suffer, but I also had the peace of mind that this is a recovery week for me so my mileage is a bit lower.  On Wednesday, when The Littlest Dude worked, Plan A was to run when I got home; Plan B was to not fret it because it is a recovery week anyway.  When we got home after 9:00, Plan B came into effect.

Planning my weekend runs around the two overnight shoots, though, was stressful.  Normally, I have a long tempo run on Saturday, followed by a solid recovery run on Sunday.  But knowing that I was going to get home from filming around 6:00 a.m., I wasn’t exactly sure how to fit it in?  Plan A: If I have the energy (and sometimes I do), run long when I get home.  Plan B: If I need to sleep, run in the late afternoon.   It seemed simple enough until the short term forecast was out: 25C, feels like 30C, on Saturday afternoon.

Plan A seemed crazy but Plan B suddenly became plain stupid due to the problems I’ve been having with running in the heat.  To complicate things, I volunteered to lead a training group run for the Oakville Half-Marathon tomorrow morning so I had to get my distance in today.  “Six weeks to Chicago.  Six weeks to Chicago.  You’re almost there,” kept going through my head.  I couldn’t just skip my long run.

While on the set last night, and after bouncing text messages back and forth with my husband, I came up with something new: add a Plan C.   I could run shorter in the afternoon and do my long run on Sunday morning, with the bulk of my mileage before the group training.  Suddenly the stress of uncertainty was gone.  I had a Plan A (a possibility), Plan B (best scenario), and Plan C (not ideal but got the job done).

This morning at 6:05, I put my head on the pillow and closed my eyes knowing that I had two options left.  I woke up at noon and realized it was going to be a hot afternoon.  Plan C made the most sense; having that Plan C completely removed the stress of not running long today.

Don’t you love it when a plan comes together.

Going Outside My Comfort Zone

Three weeks ago, we put an incentive program in place to encourage The Littlest Dude to stick with his swimming lessons: a trip to Wonderland.  What he didn’t know is I had already planned to take the boys during the summer; it just happened that I was able to use that to my advantage.  On Thursday, he had his last lesson (and passed – hooray!); the next day, we planned our Wonderland visit.

Yesterday was a recovery day for me so I didn’t need to build time into my day to run.  My oldest wasn’t working and The Littlest Dude was ready to drop everything for a day at Wonderland.  To make things even better for us, the weather was expected to be great.  Monday was the obvious choice.

The only problem was getting there was a huge stress for me.  Despite my age (51), I am still a fairly new driver as I only got my license 8 years ago.  I am comfortable driving and I’ve driven on a lot of highways, but I have never driven on the 401, a major highway that goes through Toronto.  It has 6 lanes in each direction, collector lanes, other highways and roads passing over it and, at times, traffic facing the lane that you’re driving in.  It is overwhelming.  Living outside of Toronto, I hardly ever have to use it and, when I do, my husband does the driving.  So when Dave said that he wanted to stay home for the day, panic set in.  I didn’t voice my anxiety.  Instead, I took a deep breath and planned a different route.  There was no other way, though.  I had to drive on part of Highway 401 to get to Wonderland.

Once we had arrived, I looked forward to spending the rest of the day with the boys, even though it would mean spending about 50 minutes in line for a 3 minute ride.  Wonderland boysBut it was time together and I was fulfilling my promise to the Littlest Dude.  I expected that I would stand in line with them, wave as they got on the rides and take some pictures.  Wrong.  What I didn’t realize was both boys expected me to go on the rides with them.  Every.Single.Ride.   It didn’t matter that I am afraid of heights.   Even when the older of the two chickened out of Riptide, a gondola which takes you up in the air and flips you upside down over water, I still sat beside the Littlest Dude because he really wanted to go on it.  Did I get pictures of my ponytail and me hanging upside down – and there were several photo opportunities?  No.  Not one.  But, throughout the day,  my sons watched me face my fears.  They watched me do things that I really didn’t want to do and I hope it is those memories, more than the memories of the rides themselves, that they took home.

Monday was a rest day from running for me but, in the end, I ended up doing a different kind of training – mental training.  While we waited for the Time Warp to begin, the three of us were lying horizontally, facing the ground, locked in a cage.  I was nervous about the ride that would take us flying through the air while we always faced down or, if we were on a curve, sideways.  As at the start of every other ride, I was worried; my heart was pounding; I was sweating; I didn’t want to be there.   Suddenly it hit me.  I realized that I was learning to get comfortable being uncomfortable.  Running is the same.  There are times when it is going to be hard and it’s going to hurt but, through practice and training, we start to get use to it.  Fast paces, longer distances: to take those on, you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.  At Wonderland, although in a different atmosphere, I took on a load of that same mental toughness.

At the end of the day, the boys and I waited for the big one: The Leviathan, a long coaster which has drops at 85 degree angles.  Without a doubt, there were several hundred people ahead of us and I made a point of telling the boys that I was easily the oldest person in line.  This was the only ride on which we agreed that I could wait with them, watch them get on  and wave them off.  Instead, as we waited together, I looked around at all the people and thought “If all of them can do it, so can I.  I’ve done the others; this can’t be much worse.”  So I did.  We got on together and I listened to them laugh and scream.

For us, Wonderland started as a family outing but it became so much more.  It reminded The Littlest Dude that I fulfill my promises; the trip was a huge deal and I am sure there are times when he wondered if I would follow through with this one.  It forced me to come out of my comfort zone by driving on the 401 and going on rides that were beyond anything that I had imagined.Wonderland Mom  My boys saw that it’s okay to be scared.  Most importantly, though, is the trip let my boys see that there are times when you have to do something that you really don’t want to do.

Will we go again?  Maybe next year.  And if we do, I’ll be able to drive, go on those same rides and try some new ones.  I am more comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

 

Time to Refocus

I don’t know why I love training for the marathon distance.  I’ve always been one to take on a challenge, as long as it’s reasonable; training for the 26.2 miles, for me, is reasonable.  It lets me do a lot of something that I really enjoy.  In fact, training for a marathon brings out that addictive side of my personality, the side that lets me eat, sleep and dream running for months.  And it gives me a fantastic excuse to get out of the house and away from the dudes for an hour or two – or three.  This summer, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve said “I have to go for a run”  and the boys just nod and smile.

Last week, something different happened.  My mileage increased, I felt the typical aches and pains and, without warning, I didn’t want to run.  Shocking.  It wasn’t so much that I did not want to run but I was afraid to run.  Whether it has been my asthma reacting to the muggy weather, a bit of dehydration or both,  I have had a few runs which just have not gone the way I wanted them to.  On Thursday morning, I woke up and just didn’t feel like going to my Lions Valley Athletics practice that night; I felt like that would just be setting myself up for failure.

My reasons were simple.  I didn’t want to run in the heat; I was tired of it.  Nor did I want to push myself through a tempo in the heat, especially after ending a hot run a few kilometres early the night before.  I had had it with feeling sick at the end of a workout.  And I didn’t want to run with the guys and finish last – again.  I needed to run on my own – no pressure.  So I skipped practice.

My oldest had nothing planned that night and he offered to ride his bike with me in the last part of my run.  So I headed out in the early evening and ran 11K on my own.  When The Dude met me, he was ready with Gatorade and water.  I only needed a bit of Gatorade; it was his company – silent but supportive – for the last 5 kilometres that lit a spark back under my feet.

Upper Middle bridgeHe rode ahead most of the time, only stopping to take a few pictures.    As I followed him, I found myself feeling like a runner again.  I felt strong, I felt fast, and I was happy.  And somewhere along the last 5K of my run, I found my confidence again.

Although I still don’t know exactly what it was, I needed to prove something to myself.   Looking back, those 16 kilometres were a turning point in my marathon training.  They made me realize that my training is going well, I’m stronger than I think, and I was indeed ready for a long tempo run on Saturday morning.

More importantly, though, it made me realize that I have the support of my family while I chase my Chicago dream.  My boys aren’t just giving me the smile and nod when I tell them “I have to go for a run.”  They get it.  They have seen the time, sweat, dehydration, aches and all the challenges that come with marathon training.  But they have also seen how important this goal is to me and my drive that has gone into reaching it.   Now that I see that, I have different kind of energy and a new focus to carry me through the last 7 weeks of my training.

#Chasingmydreams while #ontheroadtochicago.