Breathe, Stretch, Shake- Let it Go!!

I had to give myself a couple of days to be able to sit down and write my wrap up without just spewing off how disappointed I am in myself.

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That isn’t how I want to end this.  I can’t change what happened, but I can change the way I think about it.  So I am.  Slowly.

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Running for the strongest woman I know- my Grandma<3

I’ll start with the race itself.  To be honest, besides the perfect weather, it didn’t even begin good.  I had a searing cramp that lingered in my upper stomach from the start for the first three miles that made it hard to breathe in all the way.  I was furious and tried channel it until it finally disappeared.  I got into a little bit of a groove until mile 13 when we split from the half marathoners.  Boy that finish line looked so good.  Uh oh, don’t think that, I thought.  I could tell at that point my legs weren’t where they were supposed to be.  I smiled at Emily (who is a freaking amazing runner herself) as I went by and then really tried to focus.  I caught up to the 3:35 pacer around mile 16 and worked hard to stay there, but around mile 18 my legs would not do it anymore.  I literally watched Boston run away from me as I ran slower and slower.  Then I watched the 3:45 go by…then 3:55.  I ran/walked the entire last 8 miles, defeated.

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Those last eight miles were awful.  I felt like I could barely even walk.  I became so thirsty I couldn’t stop drinking which in turn caused my stomach to slosh around.  I wanted to see Brian so bad- to just fall into his arms crying.  I literally pictured that. Then I thought of Grandma and how she’s told me she wants to give up on her chemo because she’s tired and we won’t let her.  I thought how my “fight” for finishing a race is absolutely nothing in comparison to what her body is fighting.  I ran for her. And in the last few miles I just wanted my babies.  I ran as fast as I could at the moment for the entire last mile- I needed them that bad.  It was so emotional for me.

When I crossed the finish line I could not even walk- my leg cramps were ridiculous.  I sat on the curb and took in my time of 4:06:03 and cried.  Not one other part of me hurt- just my legs and my ego.

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Actually smiling- packet pick up!

Now I realize that if my biggest problem is not qualifying for Boston, things are pretty good.  In fact, 4:06 isn’t even a terrible time- if I had run that in Syracuse, I would have been happy with the PR.  Boston seemed like a crazy dream then.  But when I almost achieved it there, I guess I didn’t even consider not doing better next time.  I am always in competition with myself.

The worse part is that I know exactly what I did wrong.  I over-trained.  I kicked my ass in a half marathon race the week after a 20 mile run and my legs never recovered.  I should have never run that half because when I run a race, I put my heart into it.  I try to cross every finish line feeling absolutely spent and deliriously happy. If I am going to pay for a run, I’m going to give it my all.  That is how I finished Syracuse.  I did that in Corning- too close to race day. That is not how I finished in Philadelphia.  In the weeks of tapering, I swear I could feel my muscle tears repairing themselves little by little, but it just wasn’t enough time.

My legs were too exhausted to do what my mind and heart wanted because I didn’t train smart.

I do not take many risks- probably because I’m scared of setting myself up for disappointment.  I clearly don’t handle it well.  But how would we ever grow without facing challenges and setbacks?  I think I needed a little blow to the head (or more accurately, legs) to bring me back down to reality.  Things don’t always turn out like we want and that’s ok.

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Pretending to smile- finished!

I am going to look positively at this and learn from it.  It obviously has taught me a huge lesson in training.  It has taught me a lot about myself as a runner.  It almost seemed like for a little while I was thinking “well I didn’t qualify so I might as well discount the entire thing.”  Like running 26.2 miles is just all in a day’s work- giving myself no credit for the time and effort I did put in.  I was being way too hard on myself and I had to let it go. I will have many more opportunities to make it happen- and it will someday.

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The day itself was perfect marathon conditions- cool but not cold, sunny, and dry.  In fact, the entire weekend was amazing.  We had a fantastic time in Philadelphia- it is a beautifully historic city and I am so happy I chose there to run.

The crowd was AWESOME, the course wonderful, and the fellow runners inspiring.  I was called many variations on my name (Jerma, Janice, and Joanna my favorites) which gave me some needed smiles.  And I keep laughing at the music a girl was blaring as I ran by her. I can only describe it as fairies playing the chimes.  I guess whatever pumps her up.

Anyways.  When I got home and could reflect through the pictures, I felt so much better.  I had let that one moment of sadness consume me for too long because there in the memories were happy smiles of myself and my family- the people who love me regardless of marathon times.  They just think it’s pretty cool I run and they get to reap the travel benefits.  Thank you to Brian, my babies, Hannah, and Emily/Nick for being there and just being wonderful.  And everyone who well-wished from afar.  I am so so so so so so so lucky to have the family and friends I have<3

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So here ends another chapter of my marathon adventures.  Not the way I’d hoped, but still with a smile.  I finished my third marathon on Sunday and that is an accomplishment.  Congratulations to all the 8k, half marathon, and marathon finishers in Philadelphia this year- I’m grateful to have been among such great company.

Thanks to anyone who encouraged, supported, read, and ran with me along this journey- you keep me going!

Now I can finally relax.  Rest these weary legs.  Eat until my heart’s content.  Watch a little…

Oh wait.  B & C don’t rest just because their mom ran a marathon.  They steal the medal and run away from me.

Better go chase those babies…

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Love

Until next time…

Stressing the Blessings

A friend and I were out the other day and she told me of her new task.  Every time she felt angry towards something, she was going to try to overlook it and instead find something she is thankful for.  (It is important to note that she had just had a crack in her windshield fixed.)

As we drove, she became angry with the driver in front of us.  “What are you thankful for?!”  I quickly asked.

She paused and replied, “Well.  I am thankful for this new windshield SO I CAN CLEARLY SEE HOW TERRIBLE THIS PERSON IS DRIVING!”

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It’s working well.  Honestly though, she is the best.  Another blessing in my life, actually, and an inspiration.

When I first began writing this last post before the big race, it was all about how I am so stressed out with everything coming together all at once.  But as I wrote, I realized how silly it all sounded.  Everything I was stressing about were things I brought on myself- and all of them incredibly lucky things to be stressing about.  I should be doing it all the time, but November is especially the season to count my blessings.

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1. I stressed about work.  I won’t pretend the four days I work are stressful.  I get to play with elderly people all day long.  But I also make the calendar and if any month is busy, it is December.  I’m off a lot the end of this month, so making December quickly with quality activities made me a little hyper.

Why I’m thankful for it: Not only do I have a job (and a kickass side of bacon), I have a rewarding job that I love coming to every day.  Sure there are days when I think staying home with my kids would be awesome- but if there is any job to compliment a working Mom (or any boss who works with one like mine), I have it.  I shouldn’t take that for granted.

2. I stressed about this race. The time training, planning and packing for Philadelphia, and the money spent.  It all dawned on me on Monday that I had to get my ass ready to actually GO to Philadelphia- not just run the race.  I have to pack myself and two kids- and remind my husband to try to pack more than ten minutes before we leave.

Why I’m thankful for it: I am healthy and I am able to run.  My family and I get to go on a little end of year getaway and see a new city.  Packing a bag and choosing a marathon outfit are small dice.

3. I stressed about Charlotte’s birthday.  In the midst of all of this is my December baby.  I had to take her pictures, find a pavilion, and send invitations.  I’m planning a little Charlotte’s Web party for her- 4 days before Christmas.

Why I’m thankful for it: I am celebrating one year of life of a person I created.  Seriously, how can I find something negative in that?  I don’t have to plan this party- I want to.  She deserves it.  And it’s a bonus day to see family and friends.

4. I stressed about The Holidays.  Ahh, the holidays are stressful for everyone.  We have to buy presents, go to tons of parties, find time for everyone, cook food, etc.  A weekend in Philly takes time and money away from these plans.

Why I’m thankful for them: Because I get to celebrate holidays with my huge, beautiful family.  I get to spend another Thanksgiving with my Grandma, another Christmas with my kids- my mom, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins.  I had to ground myself and remember that is what this is all about.

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When Braxton was a baby (because there are also so many others buying him gifts), I had decided to subscribe to a 4 gift rule.  Something he wants, something he needs, something educational, and something special from us (usually an event or show).  And it has worked.  But now that he is older, I see how hard this is going to be to stick to.  As a parent, I’ve learned, it isn’t that we want to over-indulge our kids with gifts.  At this young age, there is literally nothing better than watching that little face light up with pure joy on Christmas morning.  They are still so innocent.  You could give me anything in the world and it would not compare to being able to give my kids that feeling.  I think I’ll always stick to this four gift rule, but maybe add in a couple of extras from Santa.  And as they grow, I will hope I will be able to instill in them being grateful for their own blessings.

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Every time you find yourself angry/stressed/unhappy about something, think about it.  Is it something you can change?  If not, can you change the way you think about it?  Negative thoughts give us nothing but headaches.  This season especially, stop stressing!  Be thankful for everything, take nothing for granted, and remember the best things in life are not things

Tomorrow morning I’m off to Philadelphia to see the sights and Sunday I will run this marathon.  I’ll see you on the other side!  If I forget to say it, I wish everyone the best holidays with your own beautiful families!!

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My two little blessings<3