The Last Alarm

On Saturday morning my alarm rang for the last time at 6:25 A.M.

Since the end of the June, my alarm has gone off at the same time each Saturday morning. Only a few hours after most people my age go to bed after wild and crazy Friday nights, I woke up to do my own wild and crazy things.

At the beginning, it didn’t seem so crazy. Eight miles, ten miles; it didn’t sound so bad, Then it progressively got harder and harder. As the weeks passed, the temperatures also climbed with the mileage, By mid-August, SLR totals ranged in the middle teens. Waking up to run 14, 15 and 16 miles all before many of my friends even woke up became a common feat.

But even as the temperatures started to decline, the miles did not to do the same. So, like weeks past, I laced up my sneakers and headed to Fleet Feet for 16, 18 and 20-mile runs. But even with those runs successfully completed, this past weekend’s SLR might have been the hardest. Continue reading

This Thing I’m Doing in a Week

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.

I have 9 days until I’m supposed to run 26.2 miles. I’m ready for October 26th to be here already, but I’m also beginning to feel the nerves because of what I will do on that day.

Yes, will.

These past four months have been an emotional and fatiguing experience; yet it’s also been an uplifting and empowering journey of self-discovery. If you want to push yourself to the limits and see what you are capable of, sign up for a marathon.

Continue reading

18351.

In the classic novel Les Miserables, Jean Valjean, the story’s protagonist, is also known as 24601. His identification during internment, the number is a reminder throughout the novel of the pain and suffering the character experienced as punishment for his crime of stealing a loaf of bread.

I now also have my own self-identifying number, albeit one with a more positive association: 18351. It doesn’t have the same roll off the tongue sound that makes it perfect for a few musical notes, but it is the number that sums up everything I have been working towards for the past four months.

In less than two weeks, I will wear a bib reading 18351 and join nearly 30,000 others as we weave our way through Virginia and D.C. for 26.2 miles. As the day gets closer and closer, the anticipation is titanic.

Fellow runners in my training group ran the Chicago Marathon yesterday and while I could not have felt more inspired by all their posts and results, I also felt slightly jealous that I still have to wait until it’s my turn.

I just want it to be here already! Continue reading

When Life Gives You Lemons

IMG_1376“I believe when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade…and try to find someone whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.”

I heard that quote the other night at trivia. One of my coworkers knew the answer to the question asking which comedian is to credit for that line (Ron White). Trivia nights with him and other coworkers had become common, but after today they will no longer be co-workers.

Today is the last day at my current job, the end of one era and the beginning of another. Today, I leave economics and return to my passion of women’s advocacy and development. Today, I start running on a new path with an unknown ending. Continue reading

Two. Zero.

I did it.

I crossed the threshold.

For the first time ever, I saw a two in the tens digit of my miles on my GPS watch. And it felt amazing.

There was plenty of anxiety building up to this run. While I had managed my 18-miler after a week in Vegas and no running, the looming 20 felt different: it signaled a point in my training that said if you can do 20, then you can run a marathon.

I have heard that 18 miles is when marathon runners start to hit the wall; mile 20 is when the wall begins to tumble down. At that point, only 6 miles remain before completion of a full marathon. Only 6 miles. If you can run 20, then those last remaining miles (apparently) are nothing.

So Saturday became the ultimate test: how would my legs handle three hours of nonstop running? The answer, amazingly well!

As I ran with two other women in my training group, we kept talking about how we had ten miles to go, and then only ten miles back. Only, only, only. We paced the first ten miles on the Capital Crescent Trail slightly above a 9 min/mile pace, then on the ten back, we revved up the pace and managed to average miles under nine minutes. Even with the infamous Calvert Hill to tackle in the final mile, we never slowed down. We kept moving and powered upwards, taking only a beat to stop at the peak before a green light signaled us to keep running across the street.

Everything was in our favor on Saturday. The sun, not yet up when we began the trek, opened itself through the clouds and shimmered through the trees of the trail we paced along. A rain shower from the evening prior left fallen leaves wet and scattered along the path. Though they didn’t crunch under our sneakers, their presence signified fall‘s official status. There was sweat, of course, but the cool air and the autumn breeze made it a picture perfect (cliche) day, made even better by what was achieved all before 1030 AM.
 In less than three hours we had completed 20 miles. The accomplishment another example of how you can surprise yourself with your strength and power. Here I am, a woman with a running career (if you can even call it that) less than two years old, and I have four half marathons and a 20-mile PDR under my belt, and in less than three weeks I will be running the streets, hills and sights of D.C. and Virginia en route to finish my first marathon.

On Saturday, I completed 20 miles; the next time I see a number that high on my watch will be October 26. I can barely contain the excitement.

Stronger than Yesterday

IMG_0846One day in May I laid in bed for nearly 24 hours. I just laid there. As much I tried, I couldn’t sleep; no matter how many melatonin pills I took, my body wouldn’t shut down.

Thoughts repeated over and over. When I finally dared to look at myself in the mirror, even the bags under my eyes could not fully encapsulate how mentally and physically fatigued I felt. I was weak.

Eventually I fell asleep. Then the next day I woke up. And I ran. Continue reading

A Relentless Pursuit

IMG_1799.JPGFall is here, and my running body knows it.

The sun is not rising until nearly 7 AM, and it is setting nearly 12 hours later; daylight hours are getting shorter and shorter. Now the mornings call for sweaters and scarfs, and hot coffee (or pumpkin spice latte) is the obvious choice for the morning’s pick me up.

As my body adapts to the weather by swapping out shorts for pants and light blouses for blazers, so too is my body adapting to the cooler temperatures through my running.

Waking up this past week since the fall equinox, my alarm has coincided with pitch black darkness. Sunrise remains at least twenty minutes away when I begin my morning runs, which means running through streets still lit by the street lights and birds still not alert enough to realize that morning is upon them.

Yet even as I run down shaded roadways, I’m reminded why this time of year is the perfect time to be a runner. My skin feels a slight tingle when I walk out the door and realize that the humidity has finally left the city and been replaced by a refreshing chill. As my feet hit the pavement, the hard crunch of leaves breaks up the silence on my path.

My pace picks up, too, No longer pushing myself through swampy feel-like temperatures or sunshine burning down on my bare shoulders, my body settles into a comfortable pace that is remarkably speedy, yet comfortable; it’s not as challenging as it felt previously to run sub eight, even sub 7:45, min/miles. It seems I have hit my groove.

IMG_1801.PNGMaybe that groove can be attributed to the last three months of effort. Leading up to October, I have spent the majority of my marathon training running in temperatures over 80 degrees and relentless humidity, with the awkward tan lines to prove it. Now with fall’s arrival and the big race less than a month away, my optimism is beaming.

As I hope to stay strong and healthy, October will be a month of self-care and dedication. I have worked so hard up to this point. The hardest thing between now and race won’t be my 20-miler on Saturday, but rather ensuring that nothing gets in the way of me crossing the finish line on October 26. I can’t control the weather that day, but I can control how my body performs.

Sure, something could go wrong, but I can’t let myself focus on those “ifs.” Earlier this year a situation had me spending too much time doubting myself and whether I should have taken certain actions to avoid what led to an unfortunate result. But rather than letting myself do that through this process, I am staying optimistic; I know I have worked hard and when it comes time for race day, I don’t want to have any doubts about whether I am ready. Because I will be.