I Trained and Overcame!

Last Saturday was a big day for me. It was my first half-marathon of 2016 and the longest run I’ve endured since my hip injury last year. Simply put, I dominated.

I experienced redemption in my home state of New Jersey. The course was flat, fast, and hugged the coast. It felt good running through all the shore towns I spent so much of my childhood in, and it brought back a lot of memories.

Run happy! Here I am just past the start line.

Run happy! Here I am just past the start line.

Spreading the good word in Asbury Park, New Jersey, before the race.

Spreading the good word in Asbury Park, New Jersey, before the race.

How did I feel during the race? Well, quite frankly, excellent. Strength training and hill running are definitely helping me conquer distance again. Miles 11 through 13 gave me some trouble though. When I turned into mile 11, I turned right into a steady headwind. It was then that I started digging deep despite the onset of self-doubt. My two mantras for the race were “Dominate” and “Don’t think of how many miles you have left. Think of how many you’ve ran.” Both were excellent motivators. I thought about David, too, and my friend Derik Dupont, and my friend Sarah’s dad, Bob Evans. I thought about running for those who can’t, and reminded myself that I was allowed to have fun. “Running does not need to carry the weight of the world,” I kept telling myself.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:53:23, one of my fastest half-marathons in the past five years. I’m proud, of course, but also see room for improvement. My goal is to achieve 1:47:00, my fastest time, which I earned several years ago. It’ll take more training and dedication. My next opportunity to compete for that goal is May 21 in St. Michael’s, Maryland. I’m running a half-marathon there with my friend and Team in Training teammate Aaron. Looking forward to crushing it with him!

Below are a few additional photos from race day. I included an ugly one, so readers beware. Running isn’t pretty and neither are runner’s feet!

YES! My Tilly medal is baller!

YES! My Tilly medal is baller!

I came. I ran. I conquered.

I came. I ran. I conquered.

Runner's feet are the real deal. Dayum!

Runner’s feet are the real deal. Dayum!

One final update before I go: I’m already 73% toward my $5,000 fundraising goal! Help me reach 100% and donate any amount at any time, and please share my mission with others. You don’t know how many people have been touched by blood cancer until you actually talk about it.

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It’s Not All Rainbows and Sunshine

Over the past few days, a bunch of running-related articles have appeared in my Facebook newsfeed that address the utter greatness and glamour of running. None of them address the yuck factor of running or the fact that we all experience self-doubt, boredom, or lack of motivation at times. This isn’t meant to be a “downer” blog post, but I think it’s important that we don’t ignore the so-called “dark side” of running.

Image courtesy of greatist.com

One of the reasons I thought this subject appropriate is because I’ve experienced the self-doubt and lack of motivation recently. As many of you know, I started distance running with Team in Training to honor my cousin David, a leukemia patient. Since his death, he remains my motivation, but I find it hard to motivate others to care about my cause.

As a writer, I know it’s essential to make a connection with your reader and accept that you will not always reconnect with the same ones. Relating that to running and fundraising, it’s essential that I make a connection with potential donators, as well as reconnect with previous ones. If I were to turn how I feel into a visualization, I’d compare it to a static electricity globe. When the globe is turned on, it radiates little lightening bolts from its electric core. Though faint, the bolts connect to the surface of the globe. If you put your finger or your hand on the globe, the bolts grow thicker and brighter; the connection is stronger. That’s what I’m trying to accomplish: turn my loose connections into stronger ones.

Another challenge is the self-doubt. Can I run another marathon with a tiny tear in my hip? Can I even run the half-marathon I’m registered for next Saturday? With the care I receive from my chiropractor and the strength training I’ve now made a part of my life, the simple answer should be “yes,” but the doubt remains. But then, for example, I’ll have a killer hill run or reach a new PR, and the doubt disappears, sort of like it did yesterday. A 7-mile undulating hill run into the wind yielded a new 10K PR for me.

10K PR

I guess talking about these challenges helps, and also accepting that it’s not always rainbows and sunshine. It’s okay to have a “bad” run, and it’s okay to admit that you’re lacking motivation or confidence. And as cliche as it is, you’ve got to believe in yourself and in your mission. If it matters to you, that’s enough.

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