Race Recap: EQT 10-miler (and the Aftermath)

Last Sunday was one of my favorite races of the year, the EQT Pittsburgh 10-miler. I love the distance. I love running through the city. It’s fall so the weather is usually right where I like it (cool but not cold) and this year my buddy was actually going to run it too. He had a big race coming up the following weekend and didn’t want to take this too hard, treat it more like a training run, so I asked him to pace me. And instantly I regretted it, but figured I would go through with it and see what happened.

I was in great spirits before the race. I felt good, positive about our goal. I was happy to be with my friends and running in the city I love. Then my watch never got signal. NOT happy about that, but also tried to reassure myself that it was fine, I didn’t have to worry about pace, I just had to keep up. Then we started running and before I knew it my mood soured. I was stuck in my head, spinning wheels of negativity and doubt, and I couldn’t get out. It was a struggle. I wasn’t having fun. The gel I took halfway through was sitting like a rock in my stomach and I was a little nauseous. Our pace fell off. My buddy prodded me to speed up. And I. LOST. My shit. I stopped dead, turned to him, and said “F*CK YOU.” And then I sprinted off because I needed space.

He wasn’t even being a jerk about it. Believe me, he’s been worse to me on training runs, way more annoying, and I’ve wanted to punch him before, but I’ve never *actually* lost it on him. I felt bad pretty instantly. It wasn’t him I was upset with, it was ME. I was mad at myself, but I couldn’t tell myself to F off, so instead I lost it on him. He caught up to me. I apologized (and have since apologized even more profusely). After that, I managed to have fun because the pressure was off. My goal was out of sight so it didn’t matter. I was thankful that he stuck by me for the rest of the race–I didn’t deserve that after my outburst, and would not have blamed him one bit if he’d left my ass. We managed to get some great pics from one of the photographers in our running club. We met up with someone running her first race in the burgh who needed some encouragement. I was faring better near the end of the race, so he told me to go on, he was gonna help her finish. I finished strong and with a course PR, though not the overall PR I’d originally wanted.

That event was a wake up call for me. I wish it hadn’t gone down the way it did, but I also NEEDED that to happen (which is undoubtedly why it did). The breakdown before the breakthrough. I’ve spent a LOT of time thinking about it, processing it. I’ve talked about it with different people (including my buddy, to whom I’ve apologized multiple times). I’ve discussed the base issues here in the past, but I’ve never really done the work to confront them. And now I have to. It hit home for me again talking to my trainer friend at the gym Friday night–it really all comes down to the distorted perception I have of myself and the lies I tell myself about who I am. Success in running, to a certain point, fits with my perception. But the level I want–it shatters the way I think about myself. So I get close, I get scared, I back off. Because then I get to be right–I can’t do it. I’m not strong enough. I don’t work hard enough. Etc, etc, etc. For years it’s kept me safe–it hasn’t served me, but it’s kept me *safe*.  And that race was a turning point for me because I cannot do it anymore. I can’t live with the dissonance. I can’t keep up the lies. It is ALL in my head and I came face to face with that reality last week.

I’ve often wondered who I would be without the insecurities I’ve held on to for so long. It’s time to find out. In my soul searching I’ve come to terms with certain things I need to let go of, and I’m doing my best to do that. As far as running goes, I’m meeting with someone about coaching today. I’ve gotten as far as I can get on my own, and I’m ready to seek help in breaking through. Still planning to take a break from distance next year to focus on speed, but I’m already starting to get that marathon itch so I think I’ll be back in 2019.

More soon friends. Happy Monday.

Make A Choice Pittsburgh: Workout with Shaun T

So I said last week was kind of a big week. It really was, in a LOT of ways I have barely scratched the surface on. So I had that mini-breakdown but PR on Sunday at the 5k. The week got better from there. Most of you know that I did Insanity at the beginning of the year, and I LOVE me some Shaun T. He’s amazing. He’s motivational, he’s in it with you, and he never got on my nerves. LOVE him. So when I saw that he was coming to town with the Make A Choice… campaign, and that it was FREE, I JUMPED at the chance to go workout with him. I hoped I’d get to meet him, but just to be in his presence for a live workout was going to be amazing. That day was last Thursday. I left work early so I could park and get to the convention center without hassle. They were selling copies of his book, so I bought one. I waited, and waited, and waited, then finally the man came out on stage in all his Shaun T glory, and let me tell you, the workout did not disappoint. I was sore from Tuesday’s class and Wednesday’s run, but I pushed through. The energy was incredible. And then there was a Q&A session–which I had not been expecting, but was glad to be there for. I only taped one question, but I’m sure I’ll need to hear it at some point, so I’m glad I got it. Then…there was a book signing. I had not realized this when I bought the book, but hey, I had a copy of the book in my possession, so of *course* I was going to have him sign it. Well worth standing in line to meet him and say thank you in person (even though they said absolutely no pics with him…too many people it would take too long).

He was amazing. So personable. So kind. So genuine and real. I wasn’t my normal star-struck self, I talked to him. I joked with him. I only got a minute while he signed my book, but man, I got to meet someone I admire and respect so much. It was awesome. And it took me back to how I felt when I finished Insanity (besides freakin’ exhausted…)…I was really proud of myself for having finished it. I’ve crossed a ton of start and finish lines, it isn’t like I’ve never finished something I’ve started. But it was different with this program. I committed and stuck to it. I genuinely liked it. I definitely saw improvements in my fitness level. And it was the perfect set-up to starting a round of Insanity Max 30 (which I did on Monday).

More soon, friends…

Race Recap: Amherst Skeleton Run 5k

So, I’m a a little crazy. We all know that. I love to run races. I don’t always race them, but I LOVE to take part in them. So I decided it was a good idea to run a 5k the week after my full marathon. Mind you my marathon was not a PR race, and I recovered quicker than I expected–I ran with my crew that Wednesday night and kicked so much ass. So I went to Ohio to run this race with my best friend and her husband. I initially had no plans to ‘race’ it. Just run it. But then there was the threat of her competitive streak coming out so I offered that she could pace me. And she took me up on it.

I’m used to running with people, but not actually having a Pacer. I’m used to being able to do what I want, essentially, which means I seldom push myself as hard as I could. I back off, as is my MO. Not something I’m necessarily proud of, but its how I operate. We didn’t really discuss strategy, which was a mistake. We went hard at it for the first mile plus. And then I started to panic, and couldn’t regulate my breathing. I took a minute and got myself back under control and DID manage to pull off a 5 second PR on my 5k time. Getting there.

What kills me is that I know I could have done better if I hadn’t panicked. And there was no good reason for me to have panicked. Physically I was fine. Mentally…that’s another story. I got in my head, and I, quite literally, choked.

Still it’s a fun little race, and I’m glad I did it. I’m glad my bestie paced me (even though I wasn’t thrilled at the time).

my bestie and I nearing the 5k finish

If I had written this post a week ago, right after the race, it would’ve been different. But it’s been a big week. A lot has happened (mostly good) and I am able to see connections in hindsight. More soon.

Race Recap: Baltimore Marathon

This was it. This was the big thing. The race I’ve been training for for months. All of that time, energy, effort and now it’s over. For what it’s worth, it was a really amazing event for me. No, I didn’t PR. Not even close. But despite that, or perhaps in part because of it, this race was the perfect culmination of this training cycle.

The course was really tough, others words didn’t prepare me. But I got through it. And I had more fun at this marathon than I did since probably my first one, maybe more than that even. I got a pep talk text from one of my buddies on race morning that reminded me to have fun. And that I did.

I ran the first two miles (uphill) with someone I’ve been friends with for a very long time. The initial 3 mile ascent (I kid you not, the first 3 miles are all uphill) puts you in the zoo, where some of the animals were out with handlers. I stopped for selfie with a penguin. I didn’t wear my headphones, instead I just took in the city, I talked to strangers running near me. I had headphones with me in case I felt like I needed them, but even when it got rough I never put them in. I said thank you to as many police officers and volunteers as I could. I smiled at signs and talked to the people holding them. Slapped five with anyone who had their hand out, and tapped every single “power up” sign that I saw along the way. Chatted about being from Pittsburgh and in ‘enemy territory’ when people noticed my Terrible Towel. I took a dixie cup of beer and a shot of tequila when offered. And though I really fell apart between miles 18 and 24, I crossed the finish line running with my Terrible Towel twirling overhead.

penguin selfie

This wasn’t a PR race. It was warmer than it was supposed to have been (though mercifully it wasn’t humid). I wasn’t as ready for the hills as I should’ve been. But I am REALLY proud of myself for this race. I trained hard for it. I stuck it out even though I really wanted to downgrade to the half. I relaxed into it and had a ton of fun. And I EARNED that medal.

awesome medal

All of that said, I’ve been saying through almost this whole training cycle that I was done with fulls for awhile after this, and that was cemented for me during this race. And surprisingly it wasn’t during miles 18-24 when I was really struggling. It was around mile 16, somewhere after the tequila shot. It was all very clear to me that I need to be done for awhile. I’ll never say never. I may take a couple years off and get the itch again (like I did this year). Or maybe this was it. I won’t speculate on that, but it is safe to say that I will not be doing a full next year. Half marathons and shorter for awhile. I really want to work on speed and seeing what I’m capable of there. This was a good race to end on.

approaching the finish with my Terrible Towel

Thanks for sticking by me through this journey, friends. On to the next…

What if you fly…

“What if I fall? Oh but my darling, what if you fly” ~ Erin Hanson


There’s a lot going on in my head that I need to unpack. So let’s just start: The truth is that I’m scared to run this marathon. I wish I’d only signed up for the half (or really, the half and the 5k). I’m over the training and the long runs. I’m over being hungry all. the. time. My pace isn’t what I want or think it should be. I haven’t done anywhere near enough hill work, judging by the stories I have heard from others who have done this race. Oh, and forever nagging at the back of my mind is the whole “you don’t look like a runner…” thing (which I admittedly have not heard for awhile, but I have had it said to my face and if you’re like me, that sticks with you).


Lots of people have been abuzz about this ‘you don’t look like a runner thing’ lately. Most non-runners imagine that all runners look like the elites they see on TV or news clips. The fact is that most runners don’t look like that. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to running. And performance and ability CAN NOT be judged based on what someone looks like. It just can’t. It’s not a determining factor. People of all shapes, sizes, ages, etc. can be found throughout the pack at any race. Reminders of this have come at a time when I’ve been particularly hard on myself, when I’m already doubting myself and echoes of that person saying to me ‘no offense, but you don’t really look like a runner’ ring through my head. (Have the words “no offense, but…” ever been followed by something that wasn’t offensive? I think not.) Looks aside, I AM a runner. That is a fact. I have been running for 8 years. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but I have been running for 8 years. I have completed 6 (soon to be 7, for better or worse) full marathons, 50k on trail, and countless shorter races and runs. I AM A RUNNER. This is a runner’s body:

It’s not “perfect” (whatever that means). It’s been bigger. It’s been smaller. It’s been beaten up and abused, and yet mile after mile it continues to carry me. I’m not always nice to it, not always fair. But still it delivers for me, time and time again. I’m proud of it. (And for the record, it’s faster than it was when it was smaller…you can’t judge a runner by their body.) I have a troubled relationship with my body, I have struggled with it for longer than I care to admit. But yet it continues to do the things I ask it to. And when I can step back from the world telling me to critique every inch and finding myself in constant excess I’m amazed at what it can DO. It’s gone for 10 hours straight on trails. It’s plugged away for 7 hours on roads when I was so depleted I should’ve just quit. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. And the truth is that I’ve wanted to post a photo like this since this spring when I first got brave enough to wear a bikini on vacation, but I lost my nerve. I got scared and I backed off. Which is, unfortunately, my MO. And so now, even though I’m struggling, I’m putting it out there.


I’m scared of this marathon. I don’t know that I’ve trained hard enough for it. My initial time goal is out the window, but if the weather cools off some (please, for the love of all that is holy) I still might actually be able to manage a PR. The fact is that I’m overall faster and in better shape than the last time I ran a full marathon. So even though this is a tough course, I can’t count myself out. I’m going to go out there, give it my best, have as much fun as I can, and see what happens. I need to just stay in the moment and go with it.


I still haven’t broken 30 minutes in a 5k. I’ve excused it with the summer weather being awful. That I’m working on distance not speed right now. But the truth is I get scared and I back off. There comes a point when I could keep pushing and I don’t. I pull back. I let myself walk. I give myself minutes when I could just take 30 seconds and press on. The truth is that I’m scared of my potential–I don’t know who I am without the insecurity and what ifs. If I do it, if I pull it off, it’s one less thing I have to hold against myself. One less can’t. The world opens up, and that terrifies me. So I back off. But I’m seeing friends of mine break through. And then crush the next barrier. And I have to face myself and the truth that I am the only thing standing in my way. I can do this. I have to push through my potential and go for it.


And it starts with this blog post. And then the marathon. And then I’ll see where it goes from there. I know that I’ll stumble, I know I’ll get in my own way again, but I have to figure out how to push past



Til next time, friends.

Race Recap: PIT Fly By 5k

Missing some race reports, but clearly if they’d been particularly noteworthy I would’ve found it in me to post…so no sleep lost. This weekend I completed race #30 for the year (so far)…10 more to go to meet my goal.

This is a fun race, I did it last year. 5k with a medal, and you all know I love the bling. Flat and fast course at the airport. I did not PR this year, I was about a minute off, but it was better than my past few 5ks had been so I was happy with it. I *might* have PR’d, but my phone fell out of my belt at one point and I lost some time doubling back to get it. That doesn’t account for the whole minute, but there also came a point that once I knew I wasn’t going to PR I didn’t dig as deep as I could’ve if I’d been close.  So oh well, is what it is. Overall I’m happy with it. I’ll probably do this race again because it’s fun and kinda different.

After the race I made a whirlwind trip to Ohio for the day for a much needed visit. Really low mileage last week, and its making me vaguely crazy. Definitely need to log some more miles this week. That said–I’ll be happy when marathon training is over. A few more weeks and the race will be behind me, which I’m really looking forward to. I’m excited to move onto the next set of goals and adventures. Big plans in the works for 2018…

Happy Monday, friends.

Running and Anxiety…

Another one of those posts that has been a long time coming…another post I hate to write because I have to expose my vulnerability. But it’s necessary. Events of the day made it so, pushed me to the edge I guess you’d say.

(image from Google image search)

I’ve always struggled with anxiety–I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself and worried about letting people down and not being “good” enough (whatever that means). It got really bad in high school, I was pretty much a mess–very high strung overachiever constantly on the verge of breaking down; my brain was chaotic, spinning with negativity that I tried to drown out with a constant flood of activities. I tried to not be home, not be alone, in hopes that being distracted would make me feel better. It did not work. I ended up in therapy, and eventually on meds, which at that time I needed far more than I wanted to admit. They slowed my mind down so I could function almost normally.

I went to college. Came off my meds, and found other ways to cope. The college environment, for all it’s challenges, was much better to me. I was much more suited to it than I had been to high school, and so I did well. Still struggled, but it wasn’t as bad, I could manage. And I do to this day. I’m still an overachiever, I’m still really hard on myself. But I function mostly normally in society. In some ways–a lot of ways–running really helps. Effort is rewarded, even if I’m not particularly “good” at it. I can see improvement which encourages me to keep going. And chemically speaking it helps keep a hand on the anxiety that wells up with the fears that I’m not “good” enough.

But sometimes, for all the confidence that running has given me, the anxiety rears its ugly head in my running life. Today was one of those days. I still have a lot of social anxiety–I don’t know where it came from, I definitely was not like this as a child–I’m very uncomfortable in groups of people where I don’t know anyone and the activity is unstructured. I tried going to a few of the Saturday group runs and they didn’t go particularly well for me. I could never hang with the pace group I set out with. I didn’t know anyone, so I usually ended up alone, worried about getting lost (which only added to the anxiety I felt). Eventually I stopped going. Figured it just wasn’t for me, I was meant to run alone. Even when I’d run with friends in the past we’d always had our music on, we didn’t talk, so it was fine. It was what I knew. Then I started going to the Wednesday night group, and slowly I made friends. It was a smaller group, more intimate, less intimidating. I ran with some different people and gradually warmed up, talking more, and I found that I really like running with people. Eventually (and I’m talking after several months of running together) they talked me into giving Saturdays another shot–they’d all be there, after all. So I did. And it has been really good for me–if I know that even one of them is going to be there, it’s worth showing up for because it eases that anxiety about not knowing anyone, running alone, and ending up lost.

Then today one of my people suggested that we join up with another group on Wednesday. I could not keep the anxiety from welling up inside me. I was never so thankful for the buffer of the internet where I could carefully choose my words, type and delete, and not show the panic in my face as I fought back tears. It’s not the change in location that freaks me out, I can figure that out, but that group of unknown people. The familiar dread of my earlier Saturday group runs–where I couldn’t keep up, where I ended up running mostly alone, worried about getting lost, etc–came rushing to the surface. I was shaking, trying to keep my composure at work, pissed at the friend (who has only ever come to one, maybe two runs himself and may not even come on Wednesday) who was egging the group on. I wasn’t the only one freaking out, but I felt like a jerk, which only compounds the anxiety.

I chatted with a couple of the friends–one who was also unhappy/uncomfortable with it and the one who was egging it on even though he is likely not to show. That helped some, took the edge off to know that I wasn’t alone. I could get some of my fears out. Get some perspective. The friend who suggested it relented–sort of–about all of us going, though she hopes we’ll reconsider, she has one person going with her at least. I explained that I need some time to wrap my head around it, but I’m not actually saying No. And at this point, I’ve basically decided to go. I’ve found that the things I resist the most in my life are the things I need to do. Worst case, I don’t like it and I never go back–I’m trying to be open though I am skeptical. But the fact that my core group will be there, so I won’t be alone, will make it okay. If nothing else, we’ll stick together and look out for each other, and run someplace different.

Until next time, friends.

Catching Up…Again…

Clearly I haven’t written much lately, but I’ve been busy and running. Things have been a little rough. I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of this mile challenge, and looking forward to the one mile portion of the Turkey Trot to gauge where I’m at (since treadmills are good tools but running on roads is very different). I’m struggling hard core with my marathon training long runs, they’re just not going as well as I want (or feel like I need) them to. However, I’m at the point where it’s do or die…less than 2 months to get my act together and I need to focus and go all in–which admittedly I haven’t done up to this point, for all my talk. I have a small handful of races before the marathon, but I have worked them in and will run around them if I need to (GULP).

I’m on track for 40 races this year–which is incredible even to me.

The truth is I’ve started writing this blog post about 50 times and it just didn’t solidify for me until this weekend. Things have been crazy at work (not in a good way) and that pushed me harder in my workouts this week. I know I should do a proper race recap for the Brookline Breeze, but it was kind of an unremarkable race for me. The weeks since, however, have been mind-blowing in a way. Since that last post, I’ve been running with people more and I’m finding that I really like that. I went out with my buddy and another chick from our running club and while a lot of the run itself was awful and a struggle, I had a blast. I cut my mileage short that day because I was miserable, it was hot and humid, they reassured me that I had plenty of time and not to stress about it. Which of course, I still am, but that’s neither here nor there. It was nice to share the misery of that run and have fun despite it.

The next week my husband and I went on vacation, so I largely ran alone since he and I do NOT run together. And that was also good. Got massively sunburned during our beach day and had to take it easy so no long run that weekend either. Seriously stressing at this point. And I found I really, really missed my Wednesday night running buddies. But we had a great trip.

I came back and my work life took a nosedive. I’m a workaholic. I’ve always worked as much as I could at this job because I loved it and the rug was ripped out from under me when I got back. I still have a job, but it’s almost unrecognizable at this point. I’m trying to roll with it and stick it out, I know this is largely growing pains for our division and I’m optimistic that it will get better, but oh god, seeing things done so badly is painful. I just want to scream–I literally did my Master’s work in Organizational Development and they’re going about it all wrong. It’s so frustrating and a 180 from what I’m used to there. So I’ve been channeling that frustration and energy into my workouts and at least those have been going well. Returned to my Wednesday night group and it was great. I realized this week that when I started going I could barely manage 3 miles without wanting to die, and now I’m up to a solid 5 miles. It’s fun to see how much stronger I’m getting just by showing up and doing the work. Still I’ve shied away from the group runs on Saturdays–they never seem to go well for me, my social anxiety kicks up and it throws my world off it’s orbit. The girls talked me into showing up on Saturday.

So I showed up on Saturday. And it was fine. The crowd is a little smaller this time of year than when they have their Pittsburgh Marathon training runs. And having people to look for and talk to eased my anxiety over being lost in a crowd and not knowing anyone. It was an adventure, let me  tell you. Three of us stuck together, and we ran the first 7 miles with the group–should’ve been 10, but we ended up starting off with 2 guys who only meant to run 5 but followed us and didn’t bring maps, so we got them back to the garage and used the opportunity to refill water bottles, take some gels, use the bathroom, etc. One chick needed 20 miles, the other one and I both needed 16, so we planned to stick together–misery loves company. Along the way we encountered an Indian wedding procession, complete with groom on white horse being followed by a crowd through the streets of Pittsburgh. A female figure competitor getting bikini shots taken on the South Side. We ran into my buddy who was not running but tailgating for the Pitt game. Then we encountered the warm up performance by the visiting teams marching band. It was the most random sequence of events. And we were all kind of miserable, but it was still fun. And I largely kept up–at least until the last couple of miles. Once we got back to the trail and I knew I wouldn’t get lost I was less concerned about getting separated and I pulled back. I was hurting and needed to walk more (though I have to wonder if we’d not been on trail where I felt ‘comfortable’ if I would have run more to not lose them…). Regardless, I’m very glad they talked me into going to the group run.

Monday, I did the Steelers 5k for the first time. I was doing awesome and was on track for a PR for the first 2 miles, but I lost it in mile 3. And I was really okay with that. I’m not really training for speed right now. I had a good time. My time was respectable–not a PR but still a lot faster than last year at this time. And I’m really proud of my effort. I worked.

I also realized some things about myself this weekend. I feel like I’m really finding myself as a runner. Finally. It’s not who I always thought I was, and it’s not who I thought I *wanted* to be. I always thought I preferred running alone. It turns out that I don’t. I always thought I wanted to focus on long distance stuff. It turns out I don’t. I never thought I could be fast. Turns out I was wrong, there’s potential there. I have all of these options open to me that I never realized I had, because of the box that I’d put myself in. I’m committed to this marathon and seeing it through, but I no longer care about the time goal I’d set. I’m definitely going to shift my focus for the next year. Stick to half marathons and shorter because I love running all of the races and I hate turning things down for the sake of getting in a long run. I want to do more speed work and see what I’m capable of. I want to finally break 30 in a damn 5k. I want to run more with people because other people push me to be better–not just my buddy, but anyone who is a little faster than me or stronger than me. And if they don’t force my hand on pace, they at least make it way more fun. I’m gonna stick to the stuff I like, and the stuff that makes me feel good and love running, and stop doing the stuff that I think I *should* do.

More soon. Happy Tuesday, friends.

Running Scared…Part Two…

This is part two…if you haven’t read part one yet, please scroll down or jump to Friday’s post first then come back to this one…

I realized that Friday’s post needed a second part, but it didn’t solidify for me until today. On the way to work Friday morning two of the podcasts I listen to on the regular (The Life Coach School with Brooke Castillo and Run, Selfie, Repeat) both discussed confidence. It’s like the universe knows and sends me signs. But still, I couldn’t get out of my head about it. I discussed it briefly with my friend at the gym who assured me I can do it. And I discussed it with my husband when I got home from the gym, and he also said it’s not an impossible feat. How is everyone so sure of me? I went to bed not feeling much better. Nor did I feel better when I woke up this morning. I kept thinking about it and obsessing while I was getting ready for the race of the day when I stopped in my tracks out of nowhere, realizing that my argument was completely invalid. And I also realized (and this was the real kicker) that if my buddy–the one who challenged me in the first place–heard the argument I’d been using on myself he would’ve stopped what he was doing, driven to my house, and ripped me a new one.

This won’t be easy, not by a long shot. But nothing worth doing is ever easy. And it’s NOT impossible. Just because I haven’t done it, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. And the thing I love about running is that I’m not overwhelmingly good at it. I have to work hard at it. That’s what makes it so satisfying when I finish a race or a training run, I accomplished something.

My race today, the Brookline Breeze 5k went as well as I could expect–it was hilly, and went by gun time–but I’m not unhappy with my finish. I worked hard. I killed it on the downhill finish. More on Monday.

Running Scared

I’ve been struggling a lot lately. I’m overdue for downtime I just can’t seem to make happen. One more week til vacation, thank goodness. It’s funny, because running is both a stressor and a release for me. I’ve been fighting with a lot of doubt and insecurity lately when it comes to running, since this marathon training cycle started, actually. I believe in setting big hairy-scary goals. If your goal doesn’t scare you then you’re not dreaming big enough. And with some things I’ve set out for lately, I’m terrified to the point of anxiety.

I haven’t run a full marathon in 2 years. And the last couple did not go so well. And the deeper I get into training the more I remember why I gave them up–the training is mentally very draining for me. And my long runs aren’t even that long at this point. I’ve had a lot of doubt since I signed up, I have a goal time in mind that I really want to hit, but I’m not sure that I can. By the numbers it seems doable but there’s the constant nagging voice at the back of my head, repeating an unfortunate mantra that I can’t seem to shake: fat, lazy, weak, and slow.

I run to get away from this voice. It doesn’t always work.

Last Thursday was a good example of that. The last Flash 5k of the summer. It was hot. I’d had a good run in the rain the night before. Had to wear different shoes because the ones I wanted to wear were still wet from the rain. The first mile was fine, then I fell apart. Couldn’t breathe right. Legs wouldn’t cooperate. Walked most of the last 2 miles. And I. Was. PISSED. People clapped and cheered at the finish–I would’ve given anything for them to disappear. I kept saying ‘don’t clap for this. don’t clap for this.’ as I approached the line. I went over to the table, wrote my number down, muttering about it being awful. And I blew straight past my friends without a word or eye contact. And I kept walking towards the parking lot. My buddy caught up to me, tried to talk me down, but I wasn’t having it. I pulled myself together enough to have fun at the post-race tailgate, but I was still very much in my head about the whole thing.

While I can’t just ‘run without my watch’ as my buddy suggested, I was able to extend myself a bit more grace during my long run on Sunday. Physically I was fine, but mentally, I needed ‘walking space’ to sort some stuff out. So I allowed myself to walk more than necessary so I could process. I realized one of the main factors in my running related anxiety lately is the challenge my friend offered up after the Liberty Mile to beat his time next year. I said yes, and I have felt anxious about it ever since. I really don’t think I can do it. I know that he thinks I can do it, he wouldn’t have challenged me if he didn’t.

We talked about it after my run. He tried to reassure me and bolster my confidence about it. I’m still not so sure. Just like I’m not sure about this marathon. I need to get out of my head about it and believe that I can. Intellectually the evidence says that I can do it. Mathematically I can do it. It’s completely possible, I just need to believe that. I need to outrun the voice. Back to back races this weekend in lieu of an actual long run–5k on Saturday and 10-miler on Sunday. Hoping that a few decent runs will keep the voice in check and restore some of my confidence. All I can do for now is focus on the run in front of me and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I can worry about the next challenge once I get through the marathon.

Happy Friday, friends.