Running scared



A few years ago Jim and I were training for the Disney Marathon. We were up in North Carolina visiting my parents and needed to keep training so we would be prepared for the race. We woke up one morning around 0430 to run the Cape Fear Trail.


That time of the morning is people are pretty quiet. Most people are still sleeping. The animals however are active, trying to do their business before the rest of the world wakes up.


While we were out on the trail we did see several deer. It was do dark that the only thing you could make out visually was their white tails, but you could hear them.


As we ran Jim and I did not speak. We waited until light broke which was about the ten mile mark in our run. As the sun rose we began to get more comfortable and we both shared what we had been thinking about as we ran. Jim and I both had fears about someone with night vision goggles ambushing us. Not only did we both have the same thought about some murderer in a ghillie suit, we were both coming up with survival plans.


Our plans ranged from knowing our escape routes to attack plans.


As the light shined on us we felt much safer and much more comfortable, so comfortable that we got to share and laugh at our morbid thoughts. The most frightening thought is that there are dangers in running. It is not very likely to get attacked or abducted while you are jogging but it could happen. Trust your gut, be aware, and stay safe. And maybe find a partner in crime who will help you escape from the person who might be in the woods with NVGs and a ghillie suit.


To Team in Training?????


This week I tried a few new things. One was pretty simple; I finally used the fitness center on base and took advantage of one of the free classes. It was fun; sans the 5:15 wake up to make it to class by the start time. (I could sleep in a little later but I have certain pre-work out rituals I like to follow, like pooping).


The other new thing I did was attend a Team in Training meeting. For years I’ve seen them at races and race expos. I’ve talked to them. I’ve learned about the organization. But the most commitment I’ve done is give them my address and email.

I’ve received countless invites to informational meetings. My email inbox is full of races that Team in Training participates in.

Team in Training does great events and they raise money for such a great cause. Unlike some people who are motivated by the training program, I have already proven to myself I can manage running a distance race.

The main reason I have never done a Team in Training event is………I am afraid of the fundraising.

For those of you who don’t know when you sign up to run for Team in Training you commit to a fundraising commitment. Different races have different commitments. Team in Training covers things like hotel, dinner, and race fees. So it isn’t a bad deal, if you can fundraise.


Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem fundraising. When we were in Miami, Team Run Fat Boy Run would raise money for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. On a good event I would raise $300. (The team total was always higher.)


I’ve been assured by numerous people that the fundraising really isn’t that bad. And I want to believe them. But my fundraising track record is not that great.

What do you think? Have you done Team in Training?

What I learned from the MCM



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.

Mind Over Body


George Patton once said, “Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You must make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”


During my training for the Marine Corps Marathon I discovered just how accurate George was. I haven’t been able to put my finger on why but my training runs have been hard, really hard. Up until now running has been fun and my training has been challenging but I still found joy. This time something is vastly different. The only thing I can attribute it to is my mind. My body is fine, I am physically able to accomplish each run, but my mind is another story.


I spent the past few weeks trying to diagnose my issue with this race. There is one common thing on all my bad runs, after I pass 10 miles I get in a funk. My mind shifts focus and I begin to wonder why on earth I am still running and what is the point of all the running. As soon as I drift into this type of thinking there is a change in my body. I go from being light and airy to having legs to heavy a crane would have difficulty lifting them. I shift from having no pain to having everything hurt.


During my last 20 mile run I had another discovery. Your body will only go as far as your mind will take it. My plan was to do a 20-mile run. Unfortunately I was a little off when I mapped my mileage. I finished 20 and still had another 1.5 or so to go. I intended to keep going but shortly after my watch beeped indicating I finished my last mile, my body shut down.


This training has me terrified about the race. I wonder how I am going to finish 26.2 miles when I barely get 20 in before I quit. But I guess it’s time to shift my thinking. I know I am capable of finishing the race. I know my body has the capacity to go even further. I just have to get my mind to believe this. So on race day I know it might hurt like hell, but if my mind doesn’t hurt my body won’t. And if my mind doesn’t quit, neither will my legs.


Semper Fidelis, MCM 2012 here I come.

Vacation Runs


Vacation, it’s a time of rest, a time of relaxation. It is a time to break from the normal routine and diet. For many this break also includes a break from working out. While a break from exercise is good, you want to make sure that you are making a temporary break not a permanent one.

I recently got back from a week of vacation at Disney World and a few weeks later, a cross-country road trip from Rhode Island to Colorado and back. Jim and I did get a big break from our normal running and workout schedule. The break felt good on the body, but we both knew too much of a break would make it that much more difficult to get back into the routine at home. We are also in a training cycle for upcoming races, the Rock n Roll half in Providence and I am gearing up for the Marine Corps Marathon. This meant a complete break was not really an option.

Jim and I both knew our training would be hampered because of our travels. This helped us temper our expectations for getting a goal time for our upcoming races. Instead we are going to focus on the fun of running and enjoy the sights and sounds of Providence and DC.

Travel and vacation puts limits on your time. You want to be sure to enjoy time with family and friends, so the long run was not an option. We were also well aware that the altitude in Colorado would be a factor on our running ability. So instead of sticking to a hard and fast training schedule, we opted for maintenance.

Our goals were defined by time and not distance. We wanted to make sure we were getting out for 20-30 minutes so we would maintain our cardio. This would keep us in good enough shape so when we returned home, we could resume our training.

Aside from getting in a workout from time to time, we were combating vacation eating. Of course we indulged in eating and drinking. So instead of not eating things, we tried to use moderation. There were times we failed, but it’s okay. The other thing we both tried to do, we keep up with hydration and eating fruits and veggies as often as we could.

Our travels have left us a little less prepared for our upcoming runs that we would like, but I’m confident we’ll be ready to cross the finish line.