So that happened…

I started a post last week but couldn’t manage to finish it. It felt forced. The words weren’t coming. So I scrapped it. Last week was quite a week anyway. Ended up being off of work after Monday because of technical issues and while I hate to admit how unproductive I was with the time off, I also really needed the break.

I started seeing a new therapist. It all happened very quickly and I feel 100% that it’s the right move for me. Progress had kind of stalled with my last therapist, but now I’m ready to dig in and do some more work so this new partnership will get me there and help me work through the issues that I didn’t realize were issues.

I had a really great week of workouts. My runs early in the week were fine, but they were just fine. This weekend though was fire. And in the process, I found mine again. Did a double workout on Friday for the first time in god knows how long. A strength workout, 5 round EMOM and I pushed myself harder than I can usually muster when I’m in the home gym. I was gassed by the end of the 35 minutes and had to give myself a bit before starting my birthday run–3.9 miles to ring in my 39th year. It felt soooo good to push like that.

Saturday I had my shorter long run with the group, we did 8 miles in the AM. It was cold, but we pushed through as much as we could given that some of the sidewalks aren’t touched in the city. Slightly sore, I still felt really good. After the run I got changed and met up with some of my friends for a birthday party at my favorite spot (and one of the very few places I feel safe going right now) and they surprised me with a new running watch–the Captain Marvel Garmin I’ve been wanting! I was NOT expecting that at all. I almost missed it in the bag of other assorted goodies! I love it. It’s so pretty and does so many things and the badges! Oh the badges!

Sunday I got to play with my new watch when I went out for my second long run of the weekend, 14 miles with a couple from my crew. I was sore AF but still felt really good (until near the end when my hamstrings and calves were screaming at me, but you’ll have that). Followed the run with breakfast pizza, beverages and a fire at my friend’s house.

Somewhere in the aftermath of it all the crisis of confidence I’ve been having lifted. I’ve GOT this. All I have to do is keep doing THIS. And THIS feels right and good to me. I can’t look back at who I was–I didn’t get to that place in a healthy or sustainable way, but I can build one hell of a future if I just keep moving forward. I CAN be better than I was without going backwards.

until next time, friends…

Begin Again…

Last week was the first week of my newly revised training program. I did all but one workout–my strength session on Friday fell victim to a crappy day at work, though I was keyed up, by the time I got home my mental capacity for anything was just gone. Overall my runs were pretty solid though, so I’ll take it.

I’ve been in a weird place. Not really feeling like myself. And I guess with the pandemic and everything else going on in life that’s not unusual and should be expected. I’m on the cusp of starting over. New job. Rebuilding myself as an athlete. Impending divorce and move. Everything in my life is getting shaken up all at once, so my compass being a little off is to be expected. It has wreaked it’s fair share of havoc, though. And somewhere in this past week or so, some things have clicked as far as me putting pieces back together and building this new life. It’s going to be a lot of hard work. A LOT of hard work. Self-discipline has never been my downfall though, confidence always has been, and that’s where I am now. In some ways, the biggest breakthrough for me this week has been realizing that I need to stop worrying about “can I do it?” and just DO IT. Do all the little things that have worked for me before. Tweak some, sure, but the magic comes from DOING. Even when it sucks. Even when I don’t want to. Even when it feels pointless and stupid. Even when it’s hard. Even when I’m not sure if I can.

I’m choosing to look at this as an opportunity to re-make myself. Keep the parts I like. Change the things I don’t. Try some new things. Get out of my box. It’s as exciting as it is terrifying, but I’m going to DO IT.

Until next time…

Crisis of Confidence

So last week was a week. Wasn’t particularly bad, but coming to the end of my first month of training I was feeling some kind of way about my progress and how it was all going. While I’ve been pretty consistent with getting workouts in, I’m not making any real progress, at least not that I can tell. I’m not getting faster, I’m still taking a lot of breaks (mostly for mental reasons, but I haven’t been able to break the habit), and having time constraints on my only real goal for the year is making me nervous. I’ve always felt like 100 miles was a long shot, but BR in particular because it is a challenging course. If there were no time limits, I’d be fine. I have the utmost confidence in my ability to keep moving forward, if time was no object I would absolutely make it. But it IS. And my current road pace would not see me crossing the finish line. So I started freaking out.

After some wheedling I sent a message to my coach. I am TERRIBLE at advocating for myself. AWFUL. It’s one of the hardest things for me to do, for a lot of reasons (all of that is fodder for therapy and perhaps a different blog post on a different day…). And after the message we scheduled a call. Which I was nervous for all day because again, I’m terrible at advocating for myself. It was, in actuality, a very good call. Very productive, and I hung up feeling much better about things. We’re shaking up my training plan in a big, bad way–which both terrifies and excites me. She’s given me some mindset stuff to work on to rebuild my confidence.

I started working with a coach in the first place because I’m not someone who can push myself past certain limits. I get scared–of both failure and success–and I back down. An outside influence telling me to do something–and believing that I can–forces my hand. I’ve realized though that there is a fine line for me when it comes to training. I have to find the balance between working my ass off and not taking it too seriously. If I keep a “goal at all costs” mindset I will not succeed–the universe will pull me back, often just short of the goal. I had a really great season in 2019. Then 2020 happened and I really feel like I lost myself as an athlete. While I still ran consistently, I struggled a lot and I’m far from peak condition. (Another thing that my anxiety blows out of proportion–I’m not in peak race shape, but I’m also not 2 steps from an appointment with Dr. Nowzaraden. This isn’t a couch-to-100-miles journey like my brain makes it out to be.)

So today I have a workout after work that kinda makes me want to puke if I think too hard about it, but also excites me at the same time. And I’m just going to do my absolute best with it. Looking forward to seeing and feeling progress. We’ll see what happens by the end of this month.

Morning Rambles

Another week of training in the books. Consistency is relatively solid, I did skip one run and I’m remarkably okay about that. Still struggling with routine in the rest of my life…but we’re getting there. All things in time.

Finding myself a little overwhelmed with details and things that need to get done. Part of the reason I ended up skipping the run was for my mental health–I need to run, but I also needed to sort out my brain and chill out a bit, and in that moment that was more important. This past year has taken a major toll on my mental health–as you can tell from the lack of writing. One of the things that helps me so much is writing, but when I’m struggling it is also one of the most difficult things for me to do. There are some big things I’m dealing with in my personal life, and at some point I will talk about them here, but I’m not quite ready for that yet. Soon, because as I just mentioned, writing helps me and I need to talk about it, but today is not that day. Sorry for “vague booking” but I just want people to know that there is more going on than just training and general Covid-era malaise. I deeply miss nouns–people, places, things–and hope that 2021 will bring a return of those things to my life.

The good thing about having so many things I used as distractions removed from my life is that I’ve been forced to face things and deal. Not always in the healthiest of ways, but I’m working on it. I’ve had time to figure out what I really want and who I want to be and now I have to put in the work to make that happen. Long process, but things will start happening quickly. The little steps are all going to add up.

Okay, enough of my vague ramblings…until next time…

Consistency…

I’m in a base building phase of my training plan right now, so my main focus has been consistency. And while I’ve taken some slight deviations from the plan (especially this weekend…) I have consistently done something on the days I’m supposed to every day in January so far. I didn’t get my mileage this weekend, but I got out there and did something both days. I did a shorter strength workout on Friday, but I did a strength workout on Friday. Times when before I might have just said “naw…I’m good” I didn’t, and I’m proud of that.

This weekend wasn’t what I expected necessarily, and definitely did not go as planned, but it was really good and much needed. Spent a little time with my parents and my nieces, got to see my bestie and my adorable godson and the time with him just filled my heart. So many cute and sweet moments.

Short and sweet post this week, there may be another one later, but in the name of consistency I wanted to get something up on the blog. Happy Monday, until next time…

Week 1 Recap

First full week of training in the books and I gotta say I feel really good. Largely stuck to the plan–changed things up for a couple runs, but still ran. The pandemic kinda killed my mojo all of last year, so I’m super proud that I’ve been consistent for the first week of the new year. Starting slow and building back up. This week I’ll pick up the intensity a little–longer strength workouts, getting my speed workout in, pushing myself more especially when I’m on the treadmill.

Virtual Marathon Kickoff was on Saturday and it was the best one ever for me–no crowds, no sensory overload, just my friends (though not all of them), a different route, and goodies mailed to my house. I miss live racing, but I don’t miss hoards of people, getting places hours early just to secure parking, and standing around in the cold waiting. Things will be better this year, I’m confident of that, and I firmly believe that if any organization can pull off a return to live racing marathon weekend this spring it will be P3R. And if it *does* have to be virtual, my friends and I will find a way to make it fun–like we did with EQT.

All building towards the ultras I have planned for this summer. Redemption for the year that wasn’t. A step forward in the larger, grander plan. Last year I got derailed, but this year I go for it.

What the hell was that?

Okay…so I kind of disappeared for a year. Except I didn’t, not really. I was always here, just not writing, for…a LOT of reasons. 2020 was a messed up year for so many of us, and even though one of the things I really need to do to process and cope with life is to write, I found myself pushing away from it. Just couldn’t make myself do it. Plus this blog is primarily about running and while running was great for a lot of people in 2020, for me it SUCKED. I didn’t get to do my goal race–the race happened, but in the midst of a pandemic I was not comfortable going through with it. Pretty much all racing was nixed, and for most of the year running with people in general was not a good idea. I did manage my highest mileage month ever–200 miles. Solo. I’m really proud of that because it was really, REALLY hard and I fought for every mile, but I got it done. I did manage an in person race on Thanksgiving–home town Turkey Trot made mad modifications so they could happen and it was nice to have that little bit of tradition.

I struggle with vulnerability and being open. Largely, I am an introvert and I keep my feelings to myself and those I trust. While writing is my preferred medium for expressing big feelings–I struggle with putting them out into the world. This blog is mostly running–which definitely brings up a LOT of big feelings–and since running sucked, I felt I had nothing external to really report on. There is only so much “same shit, different day” that I can manage to put myself through recounting, let alone others through reading. In addition, I’ve had a lot of HUGE life things come up in the past year and a half that I haven’t talked about publicly. And maybe I would have handled some things better if I’d opened up about them. We’ll never know, I guess, but I know that going forward this is something I can work on. This blog is about running, but the intent behind “Emme Runs With It” is that I run with *whatever* life throws at me…and life has given me a hell of a lot, and I *am* running with it and making the best of it.

This post is a little vague, I guess, but there will be more clarity as the year goes on. I just needed to get something out there. I needed to write something, anything, to push past the fear that’s been holding me back. That’s what 2021 is about–moving forward, pushing through, feeling the fear and doing it anyway. And that is what I’m doing.

Here’s to a better 2021. Mask up. Social distance. And I’ll “talk” to you soon.

Coming Attractions…

So here we are at the end of 2019, on the cusp on not only a new year, but a new decade. Damn, time really flies. This has been a really interesting year for me–full of personal highs and lows, and overall it’s been a real time for deep soul searching and reflection. Figuring out what I want and need, what I really want to–and should–be doing with my life. Figuring out a new direction for myself in the wake of some personal…issues. I won’t call them tragedies–they aren’t–and I can’t really call them setbacks, because while they might appear that way from the outside, I do firmly believe that things happened how they were supposed to. I needed the negative events to propel me forward or I would have stayed in the holding pattern–and that is no way to live life. There are multiple things at play, but the most significant of which at this moment is finding myself without a job–and realizing how incredibly unhappy I was in the position I was in. It wasn’t what I hoped it would be, and I wasn’t who they hoped I would be in the position. But I couldn’t admit that I was unhappy. So while it was certainly a blow to the ego, it forced me to take a real hard look at my life and the direction I was headed and to figure out what I want going forward. And I’ve made missteps, even in the journey of figuring it out, but I’m finally confident that I’m heading in the right direction.

Running and the things related to it are my passion. It’s the thing that I love. It’s what most of my waking hours revolve around. Even when I’m not running, I like to learn about it and talk about it, do things that will better me for the sport. While going pro is not really in the cards for me, I do want to follow this passion of mine. As of December 17, I am officially a RRCA certified running coach, and I am working to officially launch my business and website in the next couple of months (that said, I would love to help people in the meantime, so if you’re looking for a coach or advice on getting started with running, PLEASE reach out to me: emme@emmerunswithit.com).

I have had my personal training certification since 2015, and while I keep it up to date, I have not actually been in the training world, using my knowledge mostly for my own benefit (and the occasional internet smackdown…). The fact is that I don’t love strength training–I just don’t. I don’t love lifting weights. I love the results. I love the impact it has on my running-and that’s why I do it. Recently I’ve discovered that I love creating workouts though, finding the right balance of push/pull, upper and lower, cardio intervals, etc. to keep it interesting and challenging. I want to pursue my group fitness certification so I can teach classes–because I know that classes have made such a huge difference for me, and I know far too many runners who get trapped in only running, which can be detrimental to their sport (I have experienced that first hand with overuse injuries before I added strength training elements). Running and fitness have been my passion for years–and I’m FINALLY going to pursue making them my life.

Going this direction feels right for me. I truly am passionate about running and the transformative power it can have on a person’s life–far beyond any physical changes (which are not guaranteed–runners come in ALL shapes and sizes), the effects it can have on you as a person–confidence, discipline, focus, building integrity momentum…and many other things. I want to help others experience these things, meet their own goals, and perhaps even exceed their own expectations.

As far as my own training goes I have just one big goal for 2020–to get my 100-mile buckle at Burning River. After insisting that I was NOT going to do BR as my first hundred, I couldn’t get that little voice saying “front 50 followed by the back 50” out of my head (thanks, Lori). So that’s what I’m doing. There will be other races and events along the way, but the only thing I’m training for, the only real goal, is finishing BR100 upright and before the cutoff. I’m both confident and terrified, which I think is appropriate for a big undertaking like this. I told my coach (yes, I’m still working with a coach!) that I am not to harbor any delusions of fall goal races. This fall will be about recovering and figuring out what I want to do next and building other things–I love the grind of training but I get burnt out and while a fall race sounds amazing on the adrenaline and endorphin high of spring training, I’m questioning my life choices long before I get to race day.

There are some other things in the works, of course, and other transitions that will take place. I’ll talk more about those things as they develop and come to fruition, but the biggest things on the horizon are by far my training for BR and my coaching endeavors.

I’d love to hear it–what are your big, scary goals for 2020? What are you chasing?

Wishing you all a safe and happy New Year, more soon.

Richmond Marathon 2019

Way overdue with this post…imagine that. Lots going on in my life right now, but that’s a post for another day (coming soon, I promise.) For now, we’ll start with a race recap…

I ran my first race in June of 2009, and since I don’t actually remember the date I started training for it I consider the date of my first race to be my “runner-versary”. June 2019 marked 10 years of running for me, and I also realized that with the Two Rivers Marathon and the Pittsburgh Marathon this year, I would be sitting at 9 marathons–why not celebrate my 10th year of running with my 10th marathon? I’d heard amazing things about Richmond so when some friends decided they wanted to run it too, we all signed up and made a road trip out of it.

Knowing that this race has a fantastic downhill finish–and that I’m stronger on downhills than your average bear–I was excited to train for another PR. At first, things were great, but as the training cycle wore on the grind of back-to-back-to-back training cycles wore on me. Physically I was okay, but mentally I was just done. This happened last year too and I thought it was just from chasing speed and doing something that I don’t love. Turns out my brain can only take so much, regardless how well I am holding up physically, or how much I enjoy what I’m doing. Lesson learned.

I was still on track to PR, though. Until the weekend before the race…when I contracted a 24-hour stomach bug. I was ravaged. I knew then my goal would simply be to finish the race, however I could. I was sick all of Sunday, and though I was on the mend, I couldn’t eat “normally” until Thursday…so I was definitely not going into this race at my peak. Oh well, such is life. I was just glad I was well enough to go with my friends and run the race.

We drove down on Friday and made a very quick trip to the expo. At a certain point, expos just aren’t that exciting…and we had dinner reservations with friends that we needed to get to. So we made a quick loop, got what we needed, and headed for the hotel to check-in and unload. Went to dinner at a true speakeasy (the password changes weekly). Such a cool experience. I rode in an Uber for the first time (sad but true, haha). Then went back to the hotel and prepared for race day.

Race day was a little windier than I would have liked–temperature was fine aside from the wind, which was wicked at times, especially when I had to walk (which was more than I wanted *sigh*). Overall though…I LOVED this race. I literally have no complaints about the race itself. The course is great–really pretty, there’s great crowd support throughout, aid stations were on point, even for those of us at the back of the pack, finish line festival was great, and the swag is awesome (shirts and medals, of course, but also hats and fleece blankets). Just being frank–we all know that if there is something to complain about with race execution, I will. I literally have NO Complaints about this race. None. I would go back in a heartbeat…just not next year–I have big things on the horizon and have learned a valuable lesson about back-to-back-to-back training cycles.

So I finished my 10th marathon. The downhill finish was GLORIOUS, I just wish that I personally felt better during the race. Had dinner that night with friends again at a taproom, and had a delicious gingerbread beer. It’s been a really amazing year in so many ways…I’m so thankful I got to share this celebratory moment with my friends.

I promise another post is coming soon with some details about where this is headed and what I’m going to do in the coming year. Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.

Burning River 2019

I’ve been putting this post off, in part because I don’t even know where to begin. I’d heard of this race, having long wanted to do ultras, but hadn’t ever really considered it. Then BRF did it last year and I crewed for him and I absolutely fell in love with it. Became obsessed with the idea of doing it. Not just because he had done it–we have a friendly ‘anything you can do I can do faster’ competition–but I just fell in love with the atmosphere of the race, the race logo, the challenge of the race itself. So I set my sights on running it myself this year. I did a few other races put on by Western Reserve Racing at the end of last year, and I know that they run top notch but not always easy trail events. I registered for my 50-mile venture. I had friends offer to crew for me. I started training. Decided to do a 100k in June to boost my confidence for Burning River (I was really worried about the strict 15-hour time cut off). I did a lot of trail miles. And honestly, by the time the event came I was just ready to do it so I could stop thinking about it.

I felt confident going in. My crew was prepared and I was excited for the adventure. I started off a little too fast–but the first mile was on road and adrenaline took over. I eased up when we hit limestone and trail but settled into a nice pace. My goals were (A) finish before the cutoff, (B) beat Sean’s time (14:22…), and (C) beat 14 hours. I was cranking out well ahead of my 14 hour goal for a good many miles, and was thrilled. I take it one mile at a time when I’m out there–easier to just forget what the miles before held and focus on the one I’m in and doing the best I can with it. This strategy served me well at Eagle Up so I’m going to keep working with it. And honestly, I felt amazing. I was in my element. I was so happy and proud and I felt really really good. Until around mile 40. A lot of the last 10 miles was uphill. I was exhausted. I ran out of water with miles until the next stop. I was struggling. There was so much uphill and so little down that I wasn’t able to make up time and my pace was falling…I was relying on the time I’d banked from earlier miles to help me meet my goals. I eventually pulled out my phone and sent a desperate message to Sean–I needed encouragement and to get out of my own damn head. Quitting wasn’t an option, or even a real consideration, but I sure as hell was questioning my life choices. He talked me down, amped me back up, and I eventually got out of the literal woods. However…they had to change the course this year…and in doing so it was lengthened–by over a mile. So I didn’t just have 50 miles (or 50.2 as they usually do…) I had 51.2.

At the mile 45 aid station I was thrilled to see pizza and soda. I was starving. I needed salt. I needed a caffeine jolt. I needed to stop for a damn minute, though I wouldn’t let myself sit down for fear I wouldn’t get up. I was struggling so much at that point and my feet were killing me, I could feel the blisters. I ran into a more experienced ultrarunner friend who has been a great source of encouragement and inspiration on his way back out to finish the back 50 of his 100, and he told me I wasn’t alone, miles 40-50 had been hard on everyone he encountered, including himself. That made me feel a little better. I’d come this far, I sure as shit was going to finish the damn thing. I set back out for the last stretch and met up with some others who were feeling some kind of way about the extended distance. One of them had done the race with the old course and told me that this year was much more difficult, which also made me feel better. I passed a couple of other runners I knew that were starting on their back 50 and seeing them encouraged me. As we continued though, we started to feel every step of the extra distance and I was so. angry. for that last mile. I was literally swearing the whole time. I was so. angry. when I crossed that finish line. Because of the extra distance, my official time was 14:10–unofficially my 50-mile time IS under 14 hours, but there’s no official record of it.

My BFF Kelly, her husband and their kids were there to surprise me, along with my crew chief Abbie and our friend Naomi. I feel bad that I was so grumpy at first. I was just in miserable pain and annoyed that I was so close to the time I wanted but couldn’t make it happen with the extra distance. Within a few minutes I had calmed down and was just happy to be done. My feet were a mess–the podiatry students wouldn’t even pop my blisters, just bandaged me up to make walking slightly more comfortable (it was not…I hobbled like a mofo). I got my Wendy’s fix (Asiago Chicken sandwich, large fries with chocolate frosty for dipping, and vanilla Diet Coke). I took a super awkward bath (couldn’t stand in the shower) to get cleaned up the best I could and crashed into bed. The next morning Abbie and I went to the 100-mile finish line party for breakfast burritos and beer. I talked to my more experienced ultrarunner friend (having finished the 100-miles) and got some advice about the races I’m looking at for next year. I told him I wasn’t sure if I would be back to BR next year or not…I might need a year off to recover from it, but that I would definitely be back at some point. He smiled and told me to give it a few days, I’d probably change my mind. He was right…by Monday morning I was already talking about next year and looking forward to it. This was by far the hardest thing I’ve done up to this point in my life…and I loved it. There is something about this event that has just enamored me. This is *my* race. I want to go back. Not sure what event I’ll do next year–not the 100. I don’t want it to be my first, that much I know–but kind of waiting to see what they do with the course. I might be talked into the back 50 (starting in the evening and running overnight to the 100 mile finish line) if the course stays the same, but I don’t know yet. I also need to see what other races I want to do and see how the training lines up and plays out. But the one thing I know is that I want to go back and do it again.

Me at the finish. (Clock time represents the 100-mile time–they started over an hour before us.)