My 500 Mile Hustle

This summer, I made it a goal to run 500 miles. Oh, and run a marathon, but that’s whatever. After I finish tomorrow’s easy run, I will have racked up 560 training miles this summer. Marathon included total = 586. Not bad for starting in mid-June and taking 2 weeks off to travel! But I kind of wish that I would have squeezed an extra 14 miles in there to make it an even 600. Oh well. I burned through a pair of shoes pretty quickly, I actually got a tan, and I learned a lot about training and about life. The 500 mile goal was nice to have when my marathon training seemed to big to tackle. This is not the first time I have looked at a training plan and thought, “I am supposed to do what??” So it was nice to focus on a “different” goal, even though the workout was the same.

Some highlights:

10. The guy who gave me a high five running down Mason one Thursday morning. It was awesome!

9. The creepers who inspired a blog post about not being creepy. Seriously, don’t do it.

8. All the people on the trails with their cute puppies. Especially the Mini Australian Shepherds. I decided that I need one in my life ASAP.

7. The time I saw a guy ride over a snake with his bicycle. He was convinced it was a rattlesnake, but I’m pretty sure it was a bull snake. Then again, he got significantly closer to it than I did! I’m not sure how that turned out for the snake – it slithered away pretty quickly off into the weeds.

6. Running around the Kilkenny Castle. Even though there are some serious hills hiding in that castle yard! It was so beautiful! There is also a great little trail that runs just outside the castle along the river. Plus, how many chances in your life do you get to run around a castle??

5. The goodness of random gas station employees throughout the Fort Collins area. Especially the older lady who always let me fill up my water bottle. It’s a sad day when you are halfway through your run, out of water, and it’s hot outside.

4. My mom accompanying me for a 16 mile run on her bike. We used to do all our long runs together and catch up on life. We joked that it was our “girl time”. It was awesome to get to do that again.

3. That one time I ran 18 miles with one of my fellow GTAs. And he saved me from an angry turkey. You know you have good friends when they will a. agree to run with you for 3 hours early on a Sunday (having not run that far in who knows how long!) and b. scare off angry poultry. What a guy!

2. Winning my age group at a small 5k. My sister was the first overall female finisher and won a pair of running shoes, which she donated to me!! And since I just racked up 500 miles on mine, I was in need. She’s awesome! I think that technically makes her my shoe sponsor, which means I’m kind of a big deal now!

1. Running my marathon! Sunday is the big day! I have a rest day today and an easy short run tomorrow  to burn off the nervous energy mostly. I did not realize how nervous I was until yesterday. I’m way more nervous than I thought I would be. I’m hoping I can harness some of that for Sunday and not just drive myself nuts for the next 48 hours. Otherwise, I saw my chiro today to make sure my kneecap is back in place and do a quick session in the Normatec to try to get rid of any lingering inflammation. Tomorrow is my prep day and then off to Estes Park for packet pickup!

Fourteen weeks and 560 miles later, the big day is finally here…

“I dare you to train for a marathon and not have it change your life.” – Susan Sidoriak

Every time I commit to training for an event, I learn something new about myself. Often, I learn a lot of things. There is something so cathartic about pushing your limit. There is something amazing about going beyond yourself. Reaching what you think is your edge and discovering that you have more in you.

I also get totally warped and start putting “just” or “only” in front of my runs. “Oh, I only ran 13 miles today” like it’s not a big deal. Everyone goes out and runs a half marathon first thing on a Friday morning. No big deal.

When I trained for my half earlier this year, I learned a lot about getting rid of clutter in my life. Relationships that drained me, physical objects taking up space, events on my calendar that I dreaded. I got rid of things that didn’t fit my life anymore – and it changed my life for the better!

Training for this marathon has taught me about sharing my dreams with people. I didn’t talk much about it until the last few weeks and it has been amazing how supportive everyone has been. I didn’t think that anyone wouldn’t be supportive, but I didn’t expect people to be excited for me. And to ask how my training is going and how I’m feeling. That sometimes the best thing you can do is to lean into other people. Sometimes they really do care about your mile splits!

I have also learned about perseverance. I am using Pfitzinger’s 18/55 plan (a modified version) and it is the highest volume plan I’ve ever used (plus 2-3 hours of crossfit per week). My legs felt like concrete most of the time. The heat slowed me down. What was once an easy pace felt like it took a lot of effort to maintain, and that gets discouraging when you have a time goal. When it came to Crossfit, I learned a lot about doing what was right for my body that day – modifying exercises, doing lighter weights, and accepting the fact that I wasn’t going to make a lot of strength gains. I learned several things that you shouldn’t do. I learned how to listen to my body and accept where I was from a fatigue standpoint on a day to day basis.

I learned that chiropractic care is amazing! After a year of struggling with knee problems, I finally got my kneecap put back into place. It felt awful, but my knee pain has significantly decreased. I also learned about this little gem called the Normatec. It is amazing for recovery. Everyone should sit in one.

I learned that I missed seeing the sun rise. My former training partner and I used to run every morning at 6:30 and we saw many sunrises. I forget how beautiful it is. I forget how peaceful it makes me feel. As hard as it is to get out of bed that early sometimes, it is so worth it. I did a sunrise trail run this week and it was stunning.

I learned that every teeny tiny investment in your dream is worth it. Every baby step gets you closer to where you want to be. I gained something from every crappy run I had. Sometimes I learned how much nicer it is to leave the house before 9. Some days I gained mental strength from pushing through fatigue. Hard training days are taxing physically, but I think they are more challenging mentally. Especially when you do hard workouts on your own. There is no one to keep you accountable, no one knows if you quit early, no one will know if you skip a workout.

I learned (again) that good socks make a huge difference. Seriously, go buy some new socks. Your life will change for the better. I am loving Feetures Elite right now, recommended to me by the fine folks at my local running store. I learned that Body Glide is not optional during the summer if you value your epidermis. I learned that if you run in just a sports bra and shorts, you will get a sunburn on your back and no color on your stomach.

I learned how important it is to have a true off-season. I have been in perpetual training status (or physical therapy!) for the last 3 years…. Always pushing my running. And when you push like that, you lose the joy. I went out for a trail run this week and felt like a little kid again. It was work, but I can’t remember the last time running felt so joyous. That’s how it should be. Weekly recovery is essential to training gains, but big picture recovery is so important mentally (and physically). I haven’t given myself a true off-season yet and I am looking forward to it. I still plan to run and be active, but I don’t know that I’ll train for anything for awhile. Which is both scary and liberating all at the same time. I’m going to do yoga, lift heavy weights, snowboard, do some trail running, some social runs, and enjoy sleeping in past 5am. I love training, but too much of a great thing still can be too much. Exercise can be stressful on the body and I’m sure mine is ready for a break.


2 thoughts on “My 500 Mile Hustle

  1. I just found your blog and I want to thank you for the article “How to Suck at Crossfit” I’m on my 3rd month and during the three months I have been training for 2 different half marathons. I keep being told I have to choose, run or crossfit. But you put it in perspective for me. October 6, 2013 is my next half and after that I’m going to stop my run training. Like you I think I’ve been training solid for 2 years. I will focus on crossfit during my down time. Can wait to continue reading your stuff.

    • Thank you for your kind words!! Running and crossfit don’t have to be mutually exclusive! Running has helped me with crossfit and crossfit has been beneficial for my running. It’s all about balance and prioritizing and being good to your body. I’m also planning to enjoy lots of crossfit during my off-season and making some gains there. I hope your half training is going well!! You are getting close!

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