What I Needed to Hear

“I think that we should make it our goal that you qualify for Boston in three years.”

I almost cried.

We were out for a walk with the kids. It was a gorgeous day: warm breeze, sun shining, and the delighted shouts of the kids in the background. The boys were riding their bikes, and doing “tricks” in the church parking lot while we watching.  We were chatting about nothing in particular. We weren’t discussing running, or dreams, or goals, or anything.

He spoke off the cuff, like it was no big deal. Just another remark he made to his wife about something he had been thinking about.

What he didn’t realize was that his words were probably the sweetest, most romantic thing he ever could have said to me. Those seventeen words meant more to me than if he told me I was beautiful, or if he said I was the most incredible women he’d ever met.

Now some women might find that ridiculous, even insulting. For me, it was the exactly what I needed.

If you know my husband even a little, you may know he is not really forthcoming in his communication. (Which is funny, because he speaks for a living. How does that work?) I think many women could say the same thing about their husband. Most men aren’t particularly known for being chatty. And that’s ok. If your husband is very talkative, great. I’m not here to debate the communication levels of men and women.

My husband probably didn’t even realize how his words impacted me. And I know he would be embarrassed if he knew I was sharing this, but that one little sentence is worth more than twelve dozen roses, a pair of diamond earrings, and a trip to the Bahamas. Combined.

And I’m not exaggerating.

Within that one little sentence, he managed to convey so much.

He supported me.

For anyone, achieving a dream or a goal is never possible without some kind of support. Whether it’s going back to school, starting a family, or starting your own business, we need support. We need people to be on our side and encourage us. Alone, we’re scared, doubtful, and unmotivated. Dreams don’t come true when we’re afraid or when we doubt ourselves.

My husband’s words offered so much support. He called it our goal. Not mine, ours. Now, some women may bristle at the idea that someone else would take ownership of their dream and also credit of working toward it. Yeah, I  don’t give a rip about that. My husband and I are one. My success is his success, and vice versa. I wouldn’t be able to achieve this goal without him. It’s a pure fact. I shouldn’t have to point out that training for things like marathons take plenty of time, and he watches the children during those long training runs, or tune-up races.

He motivated me.

Not only did he voice a time limit, but he gave me a reason to work. I run for me, but I also run for my family and my Lord. His statement really sparked a desire in me to run for my husband. He laid it out and said he’d willingly do what it takes for me to BQ, how could I let him down? How can I skip runs or sit on my duff when my husband is willing to offer, money, time, support, and encouragement for me to do this?

I don’t care if it’s “un-feminist” of me to want to please my husband and want him to be proud of me. As I explain to my children, he’s the leader of our family. When our leader is on board, we can do anything!

He believed in me.

I’ve said before that I truly believe I can qualify for Boston in five years. I didn’t need my husband to verbally affirm it, but he did it anyway. How incredible is that? To have the one person I love and trust the most in the world, say to me, “Hey, you can do this.” was so touching, and moved me so deeply.

He’s offered encouragement to me plenty of times before, and it’s always wonderful. But this was such a huge, personal goal of mine which I really hadn’t discussed with him at length. I had mentioned it; he knew about it, but we never had in-depth conversations about this particular dream.

So when he said that, it was like the clouds parted and I felt the sun for the first time. Not only does he believe in me, but he is going to work to help me get there. How can I fail?

Nearly eight years being married to this man has taught me a lot. We still have our moments of being stinker butts with each other, but I’m so grateful and humbled by my husband’s words. Sharing our goals and dreams together bring us closer, but they also make us unstoppable.

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Something’s Gotta Give

It’s the age-old mom question: Can we have it all? This dream of having the family, the dream job, the great house, the relaxing vacations, the life-enriching hobbies and extra-curriculars, and intimate and meaningful relationships with our spouse and kids seems doable, doesn’t it? Not to mention a clean house, home-cooked meals, and a super fit body are all ours if we just take the time, get organized, and work a little harder.

I’m exhausted just reading that list. Aren’t you?

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Who has time to have it all, when you feel like your barely surviving? Yet, we are surrounded by an unending parade of of examples of moms who seem to have it all (thank you, social media): the great bod, the awesome vacation, the dream kitchen, well-behaved children, exciting hobbies and adventures, throwing their children creative and inspiring birthday parties. And we feel we need to keep up. All. The. Time.

And we fall short. Every time.

It’s quite the hit to the “momming” self-esteem, isn’t it? We feel like there must be something wrong with us that we can’t keep up with what everyone else seems to be doing.

I’m going through my own personal struggle right now. Between teaching, running, and trying to keep on top of all the little things in the house (especially the floor around the toilet. Any other boy moms? Seriously, how hard is it to aim?!?), I feel like I’m failing at everything at the same time. Runs are cut short or skipped. Laundry piles up (and with 3 kids, a husband and and endless stink of running clothes it piles up about every thirty minutes or so). Dishes are left in the sink. Kids outgrow their jeans. Grades need to be tallied. The list goes on and on.

I’ve been struggling these past weeks to find the balance between running, teaching, and house and family. It seems like in order to accomplish one thing, something else has to go. In order to run, I have to sacrifice house cleaning. In order to get schoolwork done, I have to sacrifice time with the kids. In order to just read a book, I have to sacrifice time with my husband. Does any of this sound familiar?

We are mothers. We multitask and divide and conquer. We try and balance twenty-seven spinning plates at one time, and refusing to let one of the plates drop.

Until suddenly it does.

Because when we cut to the deep, we are nothing but imperfect messes striving for the impossible perfection.

And so it’s tempting to compare ourselves to the moms who seem to have it so much easier than we do. It’s also tempting to rely on ourselves for everything.

When that happens, time and time again we are brought to our knees in weakness, shame, despair, or frustration. And  that’s a perfect position to pray from. Because ultimately, we will find the only source of strength in trying to balance the chaos of our lives is in Christ. That’s it. He doesn’t care if you clothes are dirty or you haven’t showered in three days. He doesn’t care that you royally screwed up at work. He doesn’t care if you had to hide the dirty dishes under the sink before company came over. (True story.) He doesn’t care that you’re still carrying baby weight or have stretch marks.

He’s crazy about you.

And he’s standing beside you, just waiting for you to stop trusting in yourself and  hand everything over to him.

So let him take it! Give up those pesky things that don’t matter. Turn again and again to the Word for those comforting promises that echo throughout every page.

“Do not worry about what you will eat or what you will wear.”

Don’t worry about the mess. Clean it up if you need to, but don’t let it become a source of distraction.

Don’t worry about dinner. Kids can eat grilled cheese and carrots sticks.

Don’t worry about work. Give your best, but remember that God has promised to provide.

Don’t worry about the run. Run if you can, but it doesn’t define you. Rather “run as if to get the prize,” that is, heaven.

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We might not be able to have it all, or do it all, or be the perfect mom/wife/runner/party planner/teacher/cook/housekeeper, but we have something far greater.The comfort of Christ’s grace and love, the assurance that heaven is ours, and the knowledge that no matter our struggles, Christ is by our side, helping us through.

Sounds like we already have it all, doesn’t it?

 

Paleo Almond Pancakes

I don’t like pancakes.

Gasp, the horror! I know. I’m a little wacky. Occasionally (and by occasionally I mean maybe once five years ago when I was pregnant with my first baby), I’ll have a hankering for pancakes, but they’re really not my first choice. I’ll eat them; they’re fine. I’m just not a big fan. (I’m also not a huge fan of donuts either. Or pie. Or frosting. Please don’t hate me.) I can actually hear Jim Gaffigan yelling at me.

BUT

I love these pancakes. Maybe because I inherited my mother’s love of almonds and their delightful flavor. Who knows.

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But these are amazing.

I have searched and attempted to make many versions of a paleo pancake. Some with coconut flour and eggs, some with just banana and egg, some with protein power. I had yet to find a decent texture and firm enough pancake that tasted good and wouldn’t fall apart when I flipped it. Because that happens to me a lot.

Then I came up with these. Oh, happiness.

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Currently, my husband and I are completing our second round of Whole30 and I was trying to incorporate more healthy, Whole30 eating for my kids as well. Hence the search for the perfect pancake. After several attempts, I landed on this little gem and it was amazing! Technically, pancakes aren’t Whole30 approve, even when making them with entirely compliant ingredients. But since pancakes are a trigger food for me (see above), and I’d already completed one round, I figured I’d be safe.

My life will forever be changed.

These little cakes are delightful. Filled with nutty almond flavor, and a pleasing texture, they were a hit even with my children. (Including the 9 month old)

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The almond flour is a new ingredient for me and I bought it on a whim. Be sure to get almond flour instead of almond meal. You could certainly try almond meal, but I prefer the texture of flour (the skins of the almonds have been removed making it a finer texture).  I also used a little coconut flour to  help with texture, flavor, and to stabilize it a bit.

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To really beef up the almond flavor, I used unsweetened almond milk (vanilla or regular work just fine) and almond extract. The extract is the key. My mom always used almond extract in her  Christmas cookies instead of vanilla, so these pancakes have a treat-like feel for me. (If your mom didn’t make Christmas cookies that way, add the almond extract anyway. It’s yummy.)

Mix everything together. Note: the batter will be thicker than a traditional pancake batter and this is perfectly fine. You may have to spread batter out in little circles with the back of a spoon.

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For my kids I served with real maple syrup. I ate them plain (Whole30, you know). Enjoy!

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Paleo Almond Pancakes

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 tbs coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • tiny splash vanilla

Mix wet and dry ingredients separately. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well. Batter will be slightly thicker than regular pancake batter.

Heat a nonstick skillet on medium heat. Melt a little ghee or butter onto the skillet. Drop about 1/4 cup of batter in skillet and spread out with back of a spoon in a medium-sized pancake. Cook several minutes per side until each side is golden.

Top with maple syrup or a date-almond butter syrup. (See below.)

Dig in!

 

Date-Almond Butter Syrup

Ok, this isn’t really a recipe. But it’s super yummy. Again, probably not Whole30 approved since its a recreation of a sweet syrupy sauce, but it would work very well with the pancakes.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pitted dates
  • 1/2 boiling water
  • 1/2 cup almond butter

Soak date in water until plump and softened. Throw in a food processor or blender with almond butter and blend until smooth and a syrup-like consistency. Serve with pancakes, or just eat with a spoon. It’s that good.

 

Goals for 2017

Happy New Year!

I have a confession. I hate making New Year’s resolutions. I think they’re kind of stupid. Most of the time when someone asks what my resolution is, I say, “To floss.” (That’s the truth, I do want to floss more.) But overall, I don’t hold my weight or faith in resolutions.

Now, I don’t care if you do and I don’t judge anyone who does. Seriously, have fun, make a resolution or don’t. It doesn’t matter to me.

I don’t like them because I’m of a mind that if you want to make a change, you shouldn’t have to wait for a new year to do that. Just change. Make up your mind and do it now.

That being said, I’m a huge fan of making goals. I like having something to work towards and measure progress against. Whether it’s financial goals, spiritual goals, or health-related goals, I respond well to a “carrot on a stick.” Some of my goals are long term like pay the house off in ten years, or get published and qualify for Boston in five years.

I don’t want to be a “someday when the kids are gone” person. I want something to work for and strive for now. That’s just me. But I do think we all can benefit from taking a moment and measuring how far we’ve come – whether that’s fitness, finances, or family – and planning for where we’d like to be.

Like I said, I have long term goals that I don’t think I need to lay out for you. I also have many non-running related goals. But since this blog focused on my journey running through pregnancy, postpartum, and motherhood, I’m going to share my running and mothering goals with you.

Running Goals 2017

  1. Break 24 minutes in the 5k  I think this one is doable. That means taking my 5k pace down to about a 7:45 and I think  I can do that within the year. I’m not planning on running any 5ks until the spring/summer, so we’ll see.
  2. Break 2 hours in the half marathon This may be a stretch, but I think I can pull this one off too. I may have to wait until a fall race to reach the goal, but a 9 minute pace is about what I’m running now for mid distances (5-8 miles). I think I can do it. I know I can.
  3. Compete in my first triathlon  This is also a tricky one. I’ve wanted to do a triathlon for a while, but training requires a bit more flexibility and time. And I need a bike. I’m thinking of one in June right now, but as always, it’s subject to change. The needs of 3 small children take priority over training for something like that.
  4. Run a 4:30 marathon in April (date subject to change) I have my eye on a marathon nearby in April, but I’m not sure if I’m giving myself plenty of time to train for it. The past two marathons I’ve done, I’ve injured myself. I really want to avoid injury again, so this may get pushed back to the summer or fall. We’ll see what happens.
  5. Run my first ultra???? I may have totally gone off my rocker. An ultra is on my bucket list, and if my plan for the year goes perfectly (no injury or unexpected surprises), I may attempt a 50k in September. But this is only if everything is perfect and I’m able to build mileage without injury.
  6. Average  40-50 miles a week Typically my mileage falls around 20-30 as the average. I want to up that and sustain that level of fitness. We’ll see.
  7. BE CONSISTENT IN WEIGHT TRAINING Ugh. I KNOW I need to incorporate weight training in my routine. I know this. It helps build strength, prevents injury, and contributes  to overall health. But I’m so bad at it! I’ll have a couple of weeks where I’ll be all in, and then I’ll fall off the wagon again. Grr. I really want to make more of an effort this year. At least twice a week. At least!
  8. Practice more yoga This is similar to the weight training. I know the benefits: flexibility, balance, muscle tone, pain management. All great! So why do I keep slacking? Again, twice a week. That’s totally manageable.

Motherhood Goals 2017

  1. Be Patient This is a constant struggle for me. I am not a patient person; I never have been. But one of my biggest goals is to practice patience. Often and deliberately. Everyone benefits from this.
  2. Stop yelling Hand in hand with practicing more patience is learning to control myself, i.e. stop yelling. It’s way more effective to lower you voice when disciplining your child. I know this. Yet, sometimes my sinful nature gets the best of me and I lose it. Not only is it poor parenting, but it’s completely ineffective.
  3. Watch less TV My hope is my entire household will learn to watch less TV. I’m not against TV, in fact I enjoy it at the end of the day as a way to unwind. But I’ve noticed for me personally, that there’s nothing really all the interesting on. For the children, they maybe watch anywhere from an hour to two a day. I have no problem with children watching TV, but I think we can cut that back.
  4. Spend less time on devices  Everywhere we look our phones are glue to our faces. Seriously! I like my phone and it serves me well, but both my husband and I can benefit from spending less time on it. I mean, really, what does it do for us? Nothing but suck our time away. Nobody has ever spent an hour doinking around on a phone and come away thinking, “I just did something productive.”
  5. Drink more water I’m shooting for about a gallon a day. We all know the benefits of drinking water so I don’t need to explain why.
  6. Eat well consistently We do it fairly well. It’s one thing my husband and I belive in and agree upon heavily. The month of January we’re doing a round of Whole 30 to reset out patterns. (Let’s just say Christmas was indulgent. Someone in this house ate an entire package of Oreos in a matter of days; he’s tall, handsome and redheaded.)
  7. Compliment my children daily  I think my children hear enough about the things they’re doing wrong. I’m going to make an effort to meaningfully compliment them daily.
  8. Spend more time outside I love being outside. Who doesn’t! But it’s hard with a small baby. Last summer, I don’t think I got out that often at all! I’m going to try and get out every day  during the spring and summer, and try to let the boys out few a minutes every day during the winter.
  9. Slow down and enjoy the moments I know these days are going to scream by and my children will be grown and gone. I know this. But, man, is it hard to appreciate the days when you’re trying to just survive. I really want to try and appreciate these moments when my children a small, and relish the time I have with them.

The thing about goals that is completely different than resolutions, is that there’s room to adapt, grow, change, and adjust the goal. And nobody laughs at you if by January 30 you’ve already slouched in your goals a bit. (Unlike the cliched resolution, am I right?)

So maybe take a moment this year, and think about where you’d like to be one year from now. Better shape? Debt free? Have less stress? Have your first baby? Think about the steps you need to take to get there and work toward that. Give yourself some grace if you fail to reach a goal, but keep working toward it. Resolutions are stupid, goals are awesome.

And I do still want to floss more.

 

 

You Know You’re a Mother Runner…

Please tell me there are other women who can relate to the wonderful  role of mother while also trying to be a runner?

Not sure? If you have experience one or all of the following, you know you’re a Mother Runner.

Breastfeeding is your cool down. Gone are the days when you could come in from a run, grab some water, and properly cool down and stretch. Now, the second you walk in the door, your husband hands you a screaming baby. And your kids are used to the taste of salty milk.

You have nursed at aid stations/starting lines/finish lines. Depending on the length of the race, you may have done all three!

You buy bananas like you’re preparing for the monkey apocalypse. Snacks for babies, toddlers and runners alike, you’re buying pounds of bananas every week. But if the monkeys ever do rise up and take over the planet, you’ll be prepared.

You’ve prayed that people mistake the wet marks between your legs for sweat stains. I don’t think I need to elaborate here. Motherhood problems, am I right?

You’ve prayed that people mistake the wet marks across your chest for sweat stains. See points #1 and #2. If by chance you can’t nurse your baby on a long run, be prepared. Have they made sweat proof nursing pads yet?

You can pump and stretch simultaneously. Or nurse and stretch for that matter. Or if you’re really awesome, you can pump and run a half marathon simultaneously. We are the queens of multi-tasking.

You encourage your kids to run in the house.  Or around the house. Or around the block. We know how fun it is to run, and nothing makes us happier than sharing that joy with our children. If that means making a game to see who can run from one end of the house to the other, so be it. It’s just a bonus that it burns off some of their energy in the hopes that maybe they’ll sleep. (Fat chance. See point #10)

You change out of running clothes back into running clothes. After your run and shower, what can you put on that’s functional, cute and totally comfortable? Why, more running clothes, of course! Let’s face it. Your closet is 70% running clothes, 15% jammies/comfy clothes, 10% jeans and t-shirts, and like 5% dress clothes/ work clothes. You don’t have many other options, and you’re perfectly fine with that.

You have several jogging strollers. You got one single jogger with your first. Then you continued to procreate and needed a double. Then a triple. You’re pretty sure they don’t make a quadruple jogger, so you reevaluate your desire for a fourth baby.

Kids are your alarm clock. Need to be up at 5am for a run? No need to set an alarm. One of the children will be up to nurse/ go potty/ wet the bed/ has a booger/ covers fell off/ had a nightmare/ thinks it’s morning/ needs a diaper change/ wants to play/ fell out of bed. You’re covered.

Hat’s off to all you Mother Runners! It’s a hard balance to find, but definitely worth the effort.

 

Adjusting to the Unexpected: Rails to Trails Half Marathon Recap

This post is later than I wanted, but school duties, sick kids, and family visits have a tendency to take priority over blog writing. Alas.

The race was about a week ago, and as I sit here writing this, I’m fully recovered and ready to plan the next goal.

I had my goals for Rails to Trails:

  1. Break 2:15 (the easy/ almost guaranteed goal)
  2. Break 2:10 (doable, provided the right conditions)
  3. Hit 2:08 (if the stars aligned correctly, and everything was perfect)
  4. Mentally hold out miles 10-13 (when things get difficult)

There are a lot of unknowns when entering a race, and the only thing you can really control is whether or not you are the most prepared you can be. Try as you might to control and manipulate the variables of health, weather, injury, sleep, or the body’s reactions, you still never really know what you’ll get on race day.

Such was the case for me.

I knew going in that I was physically capable of running about a 2:08 half. My legs felt good, and I felt my mental game was much stronger than it had been two months ago. I was ready, I was excited, and it was the best I had ever felt before a race. I honestly thought the 2:08 was mine. I use visualization a lot: when I’m running or daydreaming in the car or something. As hokey as it may seem, focusing on a certain time or goal helps me.

The entire week leading up to the race wasn’t great. I had been struggling with some knee pain (which seems to be the indication that I need new shoes.), and we had some sickness in the house I was worried about. I took the week VERY easy; all runs were about 3 miles and slow.

The Day Before

The day before I went on a three mile shakeout run (in new shoes) and felt great. No knee pain.

I hadn’t practiced much in the way of pre-race nutrition. Which, looking back on it, is a bad idea. I need to make that a better habit. We had sloppy joes for supper. I wasn’t really thinking about the race the next day; we just needed something quick and easy for supper. Sloppy joes are always a hit with my family.

I laid out all of the race essentials the night before: clothes, hat, shoes, gels, water and recovery drink, a couple cough drops (I had been fighting a nasty cough), change of clothes, jacket.

I went to bed fairly early, but since the start time wasn’t until 9 am, I was a bit more relaxed about sleep.

Race Morning

I was up with plenty of time to prep. I had my coffee, ate a breakfast of an English muffin with cream cheese, went to the bathroom and got dressed. I was able to get all the kids ready for church to leave with my husband (he’s the pastor, I had arranged for a member to watch the kiddos during church – Thanks, Cindy!) Since I was missing the service, I even had time to read through a devotion.

We all left at the same time. I had about a 40 minute drive, and got to the race at about 8, which was when the marathon started.

The temperature around the start time was about 35 degrees, but the high for the day was 68. I had no idea how to dress and settled on a pair of knee-length tights and a light t-shirt.

I picked up my packet and went to the bathroom. When I went to drop off my packet and things at my car, the runners for the marathon were coming back, (They had two turnaround points in an out and back course; the first brought them right past the finish line again.) so I took a few minutes to cheer them on and struck up a conversation with a woman next to me. Both of us were a little nervous about the temps.

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I shed my jacket, went to the bathroom one more time and lined up at the starting line.

The Race

There were maybe about 200 or so runners, so the first couple of miles were a little congested. One of the reasons I like small races, is because I prefer to run alone. I hope to do some of the larger marathons like Chicago and Boston (someday, fingers-crossed), but I’m always relieved when the pack thins out a little.

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The first couple of miles I was still a little chilly, but warmed up soon enough. My plan was to start at about a 10 minute per mile pace and slowly speed up for 10 miles. Miles 10-13, I always say I’m going to try and “hang on”. My pace was right on the money, but my legs seemed to burn more than they should have. Turns out the race actually had quite the elevation climb: 1400 ft over the course of the race. All of it was fairly gradual, so you didn’t know it was happening,  until your legs were just tuckered out.

At about the 4 mile mark was a super long tunnel. The tunnel was about 3/4 mile long. They had it lit with lanterns, but I used the light on my phone, because it was still pretty dark.

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Once I was out of the tunnel, I focused on steadily increasing my pace each mile, and I took my first gel. (I walk through aid stations.) I actually went from about a 9:50 pace to a 8:50 pace over the course of a mile – not the best – but I was able to hang on to that pace for a couple of miles until about mile 8.

Right around mile 7-8, I felt my tummy rumble. I’ve only once before had any issues with GI distress. I knew it wasn’t good and tried to keep up the pace, but ended up slowing to a walk until the moment passed. I told myself to just hang on until the next aid station. I made it and without going into detail, took a much needed break.

While this was happening, then temp was quickly climbing. Over the 2ish hours I ran, the temp went from 37 at the start to about 70 by the time I crossed the finish line. Needless to say, I was very warm. People were shedding layers; I  don’t think anyone was prepared for the heat in November.

After my unscheduled pit stop, I tried to rally and finish strong. I knew my goal of 2:08 was gone; there was no way I could speed up enough to make up for lost time. So I focused on beating 2:15. Despite my tummy not feeling great, I took another gel.

I was able to recover a bit and ran the last few miles between a 9:40-10:00 min pace. I was pleased with that consider the GI issues, the heat, and the mental aspect. Those last miles are always hard, and I was feeling defeated. I kept telling myself to just put one foot in front of the other. Official finish time: 2:13:53.

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I wasn’t thrilled with my race, but I managed to beat 2:15. Hitting my first goal was a big one for me. I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to fully demonstrate my ability, because I think I could have done much better. Had I not had to stop, I probably would have finished in 2:08-2:09.

I am a little frustrated that I keep hitting these hiccups that prevent me from meeting my goals, but as I said earlier, we can do everything within our power to control all the variables in a race, and still have the unexpected pop up.

The important thing to remember is not to let it derail our race. Something as minor as a bathroom break, or unexpected temperatures, or a broken iPod can trip us up until we’re convinced we can’t do it. Those unexpected things are like annoying, little dogs: lots of bark, but very little bite. Remind yourself that you are capable and strong enough!

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Adjusting to all of the unexpected in a race is part of running. The more experience we gain, the better prepared we can be when they come up.

Side note: At the finish line, I noticed a women breastfeeding her baby. I had see her running around the turnaround point and she was tearing it up. I went over to her and congratulated her, and asked how old her baby was. 3 months! The women ran a half marathon 3 months postpartum and was killing it! What a rock star! We got to chatting about babies and running postpartum. I just love the camaraderie of running.

Battling Excuses

The Rails to Trails half marathon is staring at me from Sunday. While physically, I know I’m set (provided my knee doesn’t give me any issues), and mentally I know I can rock it, I’m still surprised how easily excuses can creep into my mind, even days away from the race.

I’m been running for half of my life, and excuses still pop up and disrupt my running. It seems no matter how long you’ve been running, or how good you get, excuses can derail even the most dedicated runner.

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I’ve been having a really good training segment. The past two months since the Apple Dumplings half marathon, I’ve really focused on my training. Ratcheting up the miles, putting in my speedwork. Doing the legwork, weight training, recovery as if I were training for the race of my life. (Which I’m not; it’s just a small race.) In the grand scheme of things, this race doesn’t matter, but I want to push myself to see just what my body can do.

So why then, when I walked out the door this morning for an easy 3 mile run, I still had to fight the excuses in my head?

It’s raining.

It’s cold.

This will be miserable.

Perhaps I can run later this afternoon.

It’s really dark, maybe I should wait.

It’s really windy. I don’t like running in the wind.

What?! I’ve been getting up and running farther and in much worse conditions, and now that I’ve entered the taper I’m making excuses? It’s ridiculous.

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But it happens more than we’d like – giving in to our excuses, whether it’s running or diet or finances or whatever we’re trying to improve. Identifying the excuses that derail you, and coming up with  strong defense can help battle the excuses when they arise. These are the excuses that most often come up for me, and what I plan to do to defeat the excuses.

Excuses #1: I’m tired. Well, duh, Cate. You have kids. Are you just being a pansy, or is there something bigger going on?

  • When to run: Is it just a mental fatigue? Feeling crummy because of the weather/ lack of sunlight? For most of us, having kids keeps us in a perpetual state of fatigue. Unless your body is physically exhausted, I say get out the door; a run will energize you.
  • When you’re done: Up all night with a teething 6-month old? It’s okay to skip the run. Haven’t slept more than 6 hours the past week? Skip the run. Body burned out from burning the candle at both ends? Skip it. Sometimes your body genuinely needs the break, but be sure to pay attention to where the fatigue comes from.

Excuse #2: I’m hurting. A long run or a hard workout the day before can leave me feeling incredibly sore, but there’s a big difference between soreness and injury

  • When to run: A bit of muscle soreness shouldn’t stop you.Using the muscles will help break up the lactic acid, get things moving/flowing and can aid in relieving the soreness. Just keep it easy. Basically, Cate, don’t be a pansy.
  • When you’re done: Anything that is so intense it inhibits your ability to walk should take a rest day or two. Injury, of course, will require rest. Be sure to pay attention to your body’s signals. Don’t let a little niggle turn into a full-blown injury that will sideline you for weeks.

Excuse #3: I’m sick. It’s that time of year again. Colds, the flu, stomach bugs, and sinus issues are all over.

  • When to run: My rule of thumb is when its limited to the head (think cold, or sore throat) it’s usually okay to run. At the same time, you have to truly evaluate how you’re feeling. A stuffy nose is no big deal, but compounded with a fever is giant pain.
  • When you’re done: Any time your symptoms hit below the neck. Stomach or intestinal upset, lungs or chest tightness/ pain/ congestion, fevers, aches and flu symptoms all warrant a rest day (or two).

Excuse #5: The weather’s bad. Wind, rain, snow, cold, heat, etc. The weather is as unpredictable as a toddler’s moods.

  • When to run: This excuse is one of my biggest obstacles. I will make any excuse if the weather isn’t perfect. Because we all want that perfect day: 54 degrees, slightly cloudy, the slightest hint of a breeze, and no rain. You know, the day that comes maybe once or twice a year? If you wait for that perfect day, you’ll never get anything done, so brave the bad weather and get out the door.
  • When you’re done: If the weather is severe enough to be dangerous. Thunder and lightening, extreme heat/cold, or blizzards all justify a change of plan. Either run indoors, or switch rest days.

Excuse #6: I don’t wanna. We all have that little voice in our head that tries to convince us to give up. It’s our brain’s protection against perceived stressors.

  • When to run: Always. Shut that stupid little voice right up, Cate. Ask yourself, How bad do you want to reach your goals? If you’re not willing to put in the time and make the sacrifices, you must not want to meet your goals that badly.
  • When you’re done: Never. I refuse to let you give up, Cate.

No matter what the goal or task, we all have excuses that will attempt to derail our success. Don’t let them stop you!

Most of my excuses can be destroyed by simply telling myself, “This is good mental training.”

For example, on my 14 mile run a couple weeks ago, I faced some pretty nasty conditions: cold with a light sprinkle and windy. My training plan called for faster miles at 8-12. It was pretty brutal. As I turn the corner for my last mile-long stretch, not only was I running up and down hills, but I was also running into the wind. Every imaginable excuse ran through my head:

13 miles is good enough.

You got the workout done, just walk.

This wind is ridiculous, you can’t do it.

Look, half a mile left. You’re basically done, just stop. 

Everything in me wanted to stop, but I kept thinking about the race I have coming up. I knew that I was going to need a strong mental game to keep running when I feel like quitting. So I told myself, “This is good mental training. Just do it.”

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I finished the run. While the miles strengthened my legs, I think the bigger accomplishment was beating the excuse.

Don’t let those stupid excuses win; you got this.