I’m Finally A Runner!

2014-04-28 07.48.22

Magnet Earned!

Three days ago, I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon. I ran 13.1 miles in 2:35:44 at the Glass City. As I write this post, the feat is still surreal to me and almost unbelievable. A year ago the idea of running a mile seemed impossible. A 5k race was my goal and even that felt daunting and unattainable. A 10k was beyond my realm and a half marathon unthinkable. Yet, one by one I checked off each milestone.

Here’s a look back over my running journey via my Facebook posts:

April 16, 2013
“I just ran 2.10 miles using WEEK 1 DAY 1 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 1, 2013
“When am I going to be able to do this w/o feeling like I’m going to DIE??????? I just ran 2.22 miles using WEEK 2 DAY 3 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 7, 2013
“For some reason it seems like I’m getting slower instead of faster:( It must be the wind – yeah that’s it – I just ran 2.05 miles using WEEK 3 DAY 2 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 15, 2013
“Well I’m still alive. That’s all I can say.  I just ran 1.99 miles using WEEK 3 DAY 3 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 19, 2013
“Who am I kidding? I think I’m more of a couch girl – I’m dying here —  I just ran 2.20 miles using WEEK 4 DAY 1 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 24, 2013
“Actually feeling pretty good! I just ran 2.38 miles using WEEK 4 DAY 3 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 26, 2013
“I think I might live:) I just ran 2.29 miles using WEEK 5 DAY 1 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

May 28, 2013
“Maybe over the hump:) I just ran 2.44 miles using WEEK 5 DAY 2 of ACTIVE’s Couch-to-5k program.”

June 8, 2013
“Just ran/walked my first 5k – 40:34 – yeah me!”

Run for Relay 5K

Run for Relay 5K

July 13, 2013
“Oh yeah! Ran the entire 5k – first time ever! New PR!”

Delta Chicken Run 5K

Delta Chicken Run 5K

November 16, 2013
“Longest run ever! For me!”

Jen-Abby Memorial Run 10K

Jen-Abby Memorial Run 10K

April 27, 2014
 “And after – 2:35:44”

Glass City Half Marathon

Glass City Half Marathon

I am proud of myself for persevering and not giving up even though in the beginning I really wanted to. I owe a lot to my running friends for encouraging me, training with me, cheering my on and making me believe in  myself (you know who you are and I thank you!)

So is a full marathon on my horizon? No. Not because I don’t think I could do it, but more because it isn’t something I aspire to do. At this time in my life, I don’t have the time to dedicate to the time it would take to train for it. I am content with a half. I am finally able to say I am a runner without hesitation. So for those of you starting out with the C25K or some other program – don’t give up! If I can do it, anyone can!

Keep On Keeping On

Me at the "Run or Dye" 5K (like the tutu?)

Me at the “Run or Dye” 5K (like the tutu?)

A million and nine thoughts bombard my mind any given day, any given moment. As one of those quiet introverts, I admit I spend a lot of time in my head. In fact, it can be maddening at times. I can spend hours daydreaming, pondering some question or trying to glean some sort of insight and meaning into it all (and rather unsuccessfully so). From the little questions like “What should I make for dinner tomorrow?” to the medium ones like “When will I finally be debt free?” to the really big ones like “Who made God?” I have a hard time just clearing my mind of all the clutter and just living in the moment.

This summer I’ve been working on a practice I’ve been reading about called “mindfulness.” The concept is simple in that you try to focus on your breathing or a word for a period of time and as stray thoughts come across your mind, you dismiss them without judgement and get back to your focus. My daughter’s therapist read us a story about a monkey and a panda. The panda was peaceful and happy because “when he was walking, he thought about walking; when he was working, he thought about working and when he was playing he thought about playing.” Sounds good. Right. I certainly can use more happiness and peacefulness in my life!

Along with mindfulness, my summer has also been about running. I started the couch to 5K program back in April and am proud to say I’ve participated in six 5K races. I finished all six and actually ran without walking in three of them. My goal of having a stronger and healthier body is coming along. Which brings me to my next goal of having a healthier mind and a happier outlook, which brings me back to mindfulness. Thus, I brought the two ideas together and I am practicing mindfulness when I’m running/walking. I make myself focus only on my footfall or my posture as I run. If I start thinking about the errands I need to run later or the laundry I need to move to the dryer, I stop myself when I realize my mind is drifting and bring it back around to the feel of my body as I run, the way the wind feels against my hot skin or on pulling air into my lungs and exhaling.

This exercise helps me focus on being a better runner (note I didn’t say faster!). I’m hoping eventually I’ll be able to use mindfulness to  free myself of distractions in other areas of my life and focus on what I’m doing at the given moment. I don’t need to worry about tomorrow’s dinner, until tomorrow, right?  On the other hand, I do need to have the right ingredients on hand, so I guess there is something to say about planning. So how do I reconcile the two ideas of living in the moment versus planning ahead? Well, my plan is to set aside time to plan ahead (when I’m planning, I’ll think about planning, right!)

I once read if you keep on doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting the same result. Thus, I’m all for changing it up and plugging away at being more mindful.

Has anyone else tried to practice mindfulness? Any tips or ideas you can share?