Sunday, March 24, 2013

Falling in Love. Again. :-)

Spring is in the air! Or is it? The trees may be snow covered and lifeless. But despite the delay, there is love in the air! It may be unconventional, but I think I’m in love. AGAIN.  :-)

It’s been 5 years since my first race ever, the Cleveland Half Marathon in May of 2008. It sure has been quite a ride since that first race, and I have accomplished more than I ever imagined possible. Had you told me on that day that someday I would run a marathon, someday I would run the Boston and New York City marathons, and someday I would run a 3:16 marathon, it would have went through one ear and out the other. I had no idea what my potential was, and I’m still not sure what potential still lies ahead of me!

Despite collecting 10 marathon medals, 14 half marathon medals, and I don’t know how many age group awards, overall female awards, and my overall OVERALL award, the road to my accomplishments hasn’t been picture perfect. I have had races and training workouts that I have flat out BONKED. I have passed out on two separate occasions while running without any definitive answers as to why. I have had to figure how to balance my diet so I don’t get too skinny without getting too fat. I have to run before any after school event. I have to stay in every Friday night, and am often too tired to go out on Saturday nights. I have become very rigid with my focus and make very little to no room to let anyone in to break that (sorry, boys haaa). These five years have flown by, and considering I have minimal down time it is of no surprise. I have dedicated myself whole-heartedly to my profession, running, family (which has been growing significantly larger over these five years!), and solid friends. The less significant aspects of my life have been naturally siphoned out, and I have gained such great perspective of what’s REALLY important. Being as busy as I’ve been, I have moments of pure exhaustion that have me asking myself “UmMmM Why am I doing this? I believe it is essential for us to ask ourselves this question from time to time to make sure we are making the most of the little time we have to do something meaningful for others and ourselves.

So, why am I doing this? Well, I suppose I should clarify “this,” considering I haven’t blogged in quite a while. I’m training for my 11th marathon, the Cleveland Marathon, and hoping to P.R. I haven’t had a marathon P.R. since October 2011, and I know I have more potential than 3:16. The timing is perfect to switch things up and put 110% of myself into becoming a better runner. Again, why? Because I love running. I love the pain of speed intervals. I love the joy of glazing through each mile of a 20 mile long run. I love recording my workouts in my running log, and the runners high that comes from each workout. I love all of my cute track jackets and running shoes. I love being in great physical shape. I love reaching my goals and setting new ones. I love the alone time and the ability to get lost in my thoughts. I love the camaraderie of other runners while clicking through each mile of a marathon. The list could go on. But, it’s a simple answer to the “why?” Despite any draw back or challenge I’ve faced, I run because I truly love it. I always have, and I always will.

My training throughout this <extended> winter has been awesome. I am using a plan designed by Greg McMillan and have really enjoyed mixing it up! His program is specific to helping me reach my goals, and I feel myself progressing! I have P.R.’d in the 5k at the SnoBall Run 5k in Bay Village at the end of February in 19:26, 6:15min/mi. My goal is to eventually break 19:00 in the 5k, which I’m definitely working towards although I’m DEFINITELY not there yet. But, I am confident that I will get there! All around, I feel myself improving. I have been spending a great deal of time on the treadmill due to the yucky weather but am getting outside when I can. I ran an 18 mile hilly long run yesterday in 2:19 @7:46min/mi average pace. I felt GREAT throughout the entire run, and even ran an extra mile cool down. I have confidence in my ability to P.R. in the marathon this spring! But if I don’t, I won’t be too disappointed. There are bigger things that I am hoping to gain from this 26.2 experience.

Another reason I have found love in running, once again, comes from my new focus for this marathon. Throughout my training I am fundraising for Wigs For Kids, on behalf of one of my amazing students. I have never trained for a charity, but when I learned about Annie’s story I knew this was the perfect way to support her wonderful organization.  I have already reached my fundraising goal and have so far raised $2,045! Every time I click on my fundraising page and see a donation, my heart is warmed in a way that is indescribable. The kindness, generosity, and support of others has meant so much to me. Most importantly, knowing Annie’s story and the challenges she faces has inspired me immensely. She is so brave and positive despite everything she has gone through and continues to go through. She has to drive an hour for treatment every three weeks, and she describes it like it’s no big deal at all. In fact, she was smiling while telling me what her treatment is like. Annie travels throughout the country serving as a spokesperson for Wigs For Kids, sharing her story for the world to hear. She chooses not to hide behind her experiences, but instead puts it all out there to help others. Everything about her attitude and kindness has been a reminder to me that happiness is a choice. You can choose to rise above the hurdles in your life and make something amazing out of it, and that is exactly what Annie has done. She is the best example of the positive impacts of “paying it forward.” I am SO happy to be donating my hair, am SO happy to fundraise for Wigs For Kids, and am SO SO SO happy to say I know Annie. :-) Training for a charity, especially one that you have a personal connection with, makes training for a marathon so much more meaningful and worth every sacrifice.  I am so grateful to be able to contribute what I can!

I will be running my first half marathon of the season next weekend in the Just a Short Run Half Marathon near Pittsburg. I’m not anticipating a P.R. but am hoping to run around a 7:00min/mi average. I just plan on running it as a training pace run. I am also running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon at the end of April! Hopefully a P.R. will come then…as long as I’m not on my feet too much the day before, which is always my biggest challenge when traveling for marathons. There’s just so much to see and do!

The best part about my training this spring is that I will be joined by my sister throughout all of my running adventures!! It is a GREAT feeling to share what I love with who I love!

So, here's my advice. Take some time for self-reflection. Ask yourself,"Why am I doing this?" Write down your answer. Go from there. :-)

Oh, and I will be continuing to collect donations for Wigs For Kids until the marathon! Any donation is greatly appreciated!

Also, although blogging regularly is just not something I can commit to regularly, I keep my daily workouts updated on Twitter! Feel free to follow me  @RunLikeAGirl223
HAPPY RUNNING EVERYONE! And, Happy Spring <eventually>!!

<3 MP J

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