A Running Tradition

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Many cities around the country host a Thanksgiving race. It is a wonderful pre-meal celebration where you get to burn calories in preparation of the pending meal. Families kick off their festivities by gathering for a run. Friends come together for a morning run before they part ways for their own holiday celebrations.

I can’t think of a better way to start the Thanksgiving holiday than to go on a run. It’s nice to know, I’m not alone.

Yesterday we joined hundreds of other runners converging in Newport for the annual Pie Run. This race does bring out the competitive spirit in some, but for others it is a way to be with family. Lots of parents bring their kids to do the five -mile course. Some walk, some run, and some get pushed in strollers, but they do it together.

Our family wasn’t a running family until a few years ago. But after we started running we started this Thanksgiving tradition. We started with a Turkey Trot in Miami and we make it a priority to do a run every year. It might not be an official race, but it doesn’t matter. We even get our non-running but very talented at running daughter to join us.

This Thanksgiving was no different.

We don’t run to win the race. We do it to spend time together as a family. We do it to spend distraction free time together, no cell phones, no iPads, no laptops, or television. We try running together but our daughter is pretty fleet of foot and now she runs ahead of us. Unlike when we started and we had to encourage her from start to finish. But I guess it is to be expected, it’s time for her to run ahead and run her own race.

At the finish, we say hi to friends. And we are reminded that we have so many things to be thankful for, like the huge meal we are about to eat.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, even if you didn’t do a race yesterday, don’t worry there is always today.

I am not fast

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I am not fast.

People often look at me and mistake me for a fast person. They look at my build, their minds leap to she’s really tall and lean, and therefore she must be built for speed. But my pace is not like the cheetah. I aim to be slow and steady, like the proverbial tortoise.

 

While I do recognize I have the potential to be swifter, I actually enjoy running the steady race. I enjoy being with the middle and back of the packers. I like seeing people who are striving to make a big accomplishment such as finishing their first race. I also love being able to enjoy the scenery and to take pictures. And after really long runs I like to have energy so I can still enjoy my day.

 

So maybe one day I will call myself fast. And possibly in the eyes of some I am fast. But fast or not, how about I just call myself a runner.

What I learned from the MCM

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In 2010 I set my sights on doing the Marine Corps Marathon. I printed the course map and had it pinned next to my desk as a reminder of this goal. Other obligations kept me away from the race until this year. You would think because of how long I had been planning to run this race I would be filled with excitement as I prepared.

 

That was not the case. Something was different this time, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I trained for many weeks but my busy schedule and some injuries kept me from following the training plan I wanted to do. As my training got derailed I never really got back on track. Jim and I ran the Rock n Roll Providence. My hope was this race would get me excited about running again and propel me to really get into training mode for the MCM. Unfortunately it didn’t.

 

Instead I would go running two or three times a week. During the week I never went more than four miles. And on the weekend I would go for long runs. I increased my mileage and logged two 20 mile runs. The day of my long run varied. The biggest factor was not the weather or my schedule, but the surf report.

 

 

Most of my runs took me past the beach. Instead of finding inspiration in the water, I found another reason to stop running. On the days when the waves were perfect, all I wanted to do was stop running, grab my surf board and sit in the water for the next two or three hours. I guess in a way I was cheating on running with a different and much more fun activity.

 

I was putting on the miles and they were not pretty. I termed my training runs as slogging. I defined slogging as really slow jogging that is not fun at all. The word itself doesn’t even sound fun.

 

The thing that really struck me is how much I was not enjoying running and training. Prior to this race I would get so excited at just the thought of going for a run. I would be dressed and ready to go and couldn’t wait for Jim to get ready so we could hit the pavement.

 

Another difference I noted was how excited I used to be about getting a new Runner’s World magazine. I used to read the magazine nearly cover to cover and would get so excited when a new one was in the mailbox. The magazines were left stacked on a table, untouched.

 

Even though I wasn’t having any fun, I had made a commitment to run this race. The training was hard, the race was hard, and there were plenty of times when I really wanted to quit both before and during the run. I cried more during the Marine Corps Marathon than I have during any other race. But what I realized is even though it was hard it was still worth it. Something happened as I plodded along during the race, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. One that had been missing since my first race in 2009.

 

I still don’t have that feeling of attachment with the Marine Corps Marathon. I’m not sure if it was because I wasn’t having any fun with it or because Hurricane Sandy kept my mind elsewhere, but it really doesn’t matter. In the end I learned to push through the really hard stuff. Somehow when everything around just sucks, you need to find a way to keep moving forward.