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Running Forward

I didn’t write a 2013 recap. I’m working hard on looking forward. However, I can’t look forward and write this post as it is meant to be written without acknowledging something from 2013.

802 Miles!

When I entered my last five-mile-run of 2013 yesterday and pulled up my numbers for the year, my jaw dropped. 802.2 miles? Me? I mean, I knew I ran every step of those miles. I was present and accounted for, minus those times — especially during races — when I looked at the mile marker sign and said, “Wait, what? Where did the last two miles go?” I ran 160.4 miles in 2012. That’s a significant increase. Not one ounce of me thought when I started 2013 that I would run over 800 miles. Eight. Hundred. Miles.

But it’s a new year. And now my running stats for the year look like this.

0 Miles!

Wide open. What am I going to do with all that space?

First and foremost, I’m going for a three-mile-run this afternoon to finish off my participation in the Runner’s World RunStreak. Depending on my leftover tenths of a mile, that will bring my total for the Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day running streak to 61.61 miles. As I said, I ran a lot of one milers due to travel and work and life in general, but I ran everyday for 35 days. Everyday. It just blows my mind.

I feel grateful for what running brought to me in 2013. I found myself somewhere out there on the endless stretch of road, somewhere in the middle of a grueling hill, a long run, a hot day, a frigid wind, an early morning, a dusk run, a thunderstorm, a dance of snow flurries. I saw myself for who I was, who I am, who I might become. Running didn’t just change my physical body: Running changed everything about me. For the first time ever, I caught a glimpse of what my raw determination really looks like, what it can accomplish if put to the test. I’ve known about my determination, my stubbornness, for years — but what has it ever done for me? With real, tangible evidence as to my persistence and grit, I took a long, hard look at myself. And smiled.

Some aspects of 2013 were hard. I struggled to make sense of things that don’t make much sense. I fought for words, for clarity, for understanding, for friendships. I lost some of the battles. But with a greater understanding of who I might very well be am, I came through the thick of it with some semblance of joy and a deep desire to do so much more for others. Running centers me, physically and forcefully reminds me to breathe slow and deep. I like who I am better in the dawning days of 2014 than I probably ever have; I’m not perfect, and some days I still think, “What the heck am I doing? I’ll never get this thing called life right. I’m not worth it.” But then I go for a run, breathe, and remember who I am, who I have been, who I might yet become. I am worth it, whatever it means.

In 2014, I will run my first full marathon: The Pittsburgh Marathon on May 4, 2014. Training started on Monday, and I feel giddy and excited and ready to tackle the hills and valleys — both literal and mental — as I work toward this goal. I chose Pittsburgh for several reasons. Mainly, if I only run one full marathon ever, I want it to be my hometown. I fully acknowledge that the course is challenging, but I can’t imagine marking that achievement anywhere else. I also hope to run the Columbus (Half) Marathon again in October as that particular race just rocked my socks off in 2013. I already think I prefer the 13-mile distance, but I would venture to guess everyone says that before running a full marathon. We’ll see what happens.

Do I have other goals for the year? Of course I do. I’m still shaking out what some of them mean, what they will look like, what I even care to really accomplish personally and professionally. But as I look forward to this blank canvas of a new year, I feel stronger for what I accomplished and endured last year. I can only hope to feel this optimistic at this time next year.

Happy New Year!

 

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Race Recap: Pittsburgh EQT 10 Miler

I ran the Pittsburgh EQT 10 Miler race yesterday. I ended up with an injury, but oh, I loved the race itself.

Mile 0: The boys, the dog, and I left the house on Saturday morning around 10:30. We stopped for gas — and then went back to the house because I forgot my contacts and a blinged out shirt to deliver to BurghBaby‘s kid. So, we were behind. An hour into our nearly two hour drive, LittleBrother yelled, “MOMMY! CAN I HAVE THE BUCKET?!?! I’M GOING TO PUKE!” BigBrother helped him get the bucket that we have left in the car since the Great Puking Incident of Beach Vacation 2013 (it has since been cleaned) and I got off at the nearest exit to retrieve him some Sprite. I picked a fast food drive thru that was under construction, meaning we couldn’t get out of line once we were in line, so we sat for 20 minutes.

Sick Booey Is Sick

I got nervous he was going to go into Full Puke Mode and we wouldn’t make the Packet Pickup in Station Square, so I phoned in a favor to my dad who was at Washington and Jefferson picking up my cousin for the weekend. They picked up my packet, Booey didn’t puke any more, and I went to bed at The Farm a little later than I normally do for a race because, WOOHOO!, time change in our favor! BOOYAH!

My dad decided to drive me into the city, which was nice of him. I had been planning on heading downtown by myself (as my husband was working), and I enjoyed his company on the way downtown and as we waited for the race to start. I handed him my bag, headed for my corral, inserted my new earbuds, and waited for the people in front of me to move forward.

Ready to Run!

Mile 1: Oh hey! Let’s run up a hill at the very beginning. As UncleCrappy said, I wasn’t even fully aware that this hill existed, but it also wasn’t a bad hill. In fact, I kind of liked it. Too much, my first mile was too fast. Way too fast for Jenna. This will be okay later in the race. Split: 8:50 (OMGYOUGUYS, UP A HILL!)

Mile 2: I really enjoyed this little trip around the West End, especially because we passed a fire house; I waved. I pulled my pace back a little after seeing my first split tick by, causing my eyeballs to pop out of my head. A steep but short uphill around 1.5 on Alexander Street helped pull back that pace too. Thanks, Alexander Street! I blinked back some tears as we crossed the West End Bridge. I knew that running in Pittsburgh was going to be emotional for me, but I wasn’t prepared to fight tears as early as pre-mile-three. Split: 9:35. My goal pace was a 9:30 average, so I felt happy.

West End Bridge

Mile 3: I kept running… as you do. The trees were lovely, the sky was blue, the streets were empty. Yeah, no spectators. So, it was just me and my music with my fancy new earbuds from Verizon Wireless. I don’t normally race with music, but it was a good choice for an inaugural race. With lack of people cheering, it was up to me and my tunes to keep moving. Move I did. Split: 9:34.

Mile 4: I must have been lost in the music. I do remember seeing the sign for the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, but other than that, I was just lost in the beauty of the run — and the force of gravity on downhills. Which showed up in my pace a little bit again. Oops? Split: 8:42. Still, I felt good.

Mile 5: Let’s run across one bridge! And then run back across the bridge right next to it! AND GET OVERWHELMED BY THE AWESOME OF IT ALL! BECAUSE OMG AWESOME!

ALL THE BRIDGES, ALL THE TIME!

And then let’s run up a hill! Not as awesome, but do-able. Split: 9:41.

My time at the 5 mile halfway split was 47:47, 9:34 pace, and totally counts for my Virtual 5 Mile race this month — and is my fastest entry of my three so far. Winning.

Mile 6: During this mile, we apparently ran back across the river, but I was in the zone. In fact, if you look for my bib number (5107) in the official photos, I’m smiling ZOMG SO CHEESY BIG at the photo spot at mile 6.1. I was having a blast at this point. If the race had ended here, it would have been the Best Feeling Ever. Split: 9:21.

Mile 7: It’s the Strip District! YAY! I remember thinking that it looks different on a Sunday morning. I remember thinking, “Hmm, are those people over there that I just saw behind us or in front of us? I sure hope they’re behind us and that we were already there and I just somehow missed it.” They were in front of us. Sad trombone. Split: 9:46.

Mile 8: This was the last good feeling. As I neared the eight mile mark, I had a weird feeling in my right hip flexor. It felt like it was flopping around inside my hip. If I pressed my hand against it, it stopped feeling weird. I struggled with it, but kept up pace. Split: 9:35

Mile 9: And then my wheels fell off. One step, I was fine. The next step, I was in tears. Something happened on the outside of my left foot. I cried while running. I felt like I might not finish. I worried I might have to stop. I got mad. I got sad. I got defeated. And then Katy Perry came on my shuffle mix, and I got stubborn. So I pulled up my big girl panties, wiped my tears, and pushed on. I roared. Split: 10:04.

Mile 10: The pain was wicked awful. But I repeated “Roar,” and ran. The repeated song ended just before the final half turn and I saw the finish line. I pulled out my earbuds. I dropped my chin. And I pushed. I gave it all I had to give. About 100 yards from the finish, my dad yelled. I think he could tell I was miserable. He tried to snap a picture of me, but was watching me, and instead captured just the road. We later joked it was because I was running SO FAST that he missed me. Split: 8:57. WOO!

Official time: 1:36:53, pace 9:46.

I got my medal, hugged my dad across the fence, and made my way through the finishers area. I did get annoyed by the lady who handed me my mylar blanket, because she just ripped it off and handed it to me. I was in a great deal of pain and feeling a bit woozy, so I had to unfold it myself and figure out how to get it on my shoulders. I was annoyed. I got my picture taken, grabbed a banana and a bagel, and found my dad outside the gate. I wanted to go to Market Square and find my friends, enjoy the party, but my foot pain was getting worse with each step. In retrospect, we should have taken the free shuttle back across the river to Station Square, but I thought walking back might help shake out whatever was wrong with my foot.

It did get me a great photo in front of the Smithfield Bridge.

Smithfield Bridge

But I could barely walk when we made it back to the parking garage. Bad choice.

Good choice? Hot tub and vodka tonic when we got back to The Farm!

HOT TUB! WINNING!

Bad choice? Running a lia sophia party for my mom that afternoon. I ran the show barefoot so I could keep weight off the outside of my foot, but I was on my feet for about two hours. I think the injury earned me some extra sales, so that’s cool. Then I got to drive the boys home; no one puked, so we’ll count it a win.

This morning, I went to the doctor.

One Shoe On, One Shoe Off

And for x-rays. And to one pharmacy for naproxen. And to another pharmacy to pick up some crutches. And came back home to work in my husband’s recliner with my foot propped on two pillows so I could elevate and ice like a good little injured runner.

The call came this afternoon that my foot is not fractured! I had a weird strain on the outside of my foot that she hopes will heal up with a week of crutches (ow) and rest (…) and no running (sigh). I maybe then stood and made dinner for 40 minutes. I don’t think that’s what she meant by rest. I’m going to have to reevaluate our meal plan for the week. And I’m running a lia sophia party at our house tomorrow night. I’m not very good at being injured.

I'm Not Good at Crutches

Anyway, back to the Pittsburgh 10 Miler. I loved it. Minus the whole wanting to chop my foot off for the last two miles, it was one of the most enjoyable races I’ve run. The hills were speed bumps to me as I train on hills on every single run; the foothills of Appalachia aren’t known for flat places to run. The weather was perfect — chilly and sunny. The crowd wasn’t too big, with only just over 5000 runners for the inaugural race. And, oh, my home city. It really was an emotional run for me to be home, to be enjoying my city in a way I never had before — and to know I’ll be running those 10 (in the other direction, right?) and 16.2 more of those miles in May. I was just overcome with how much I love the yellow bridges and tall buildings and historical places and little things that make Pittsburgh… Pittsburgh. I’m so excited to heal this foot, start training for the Pittsburgh Marathon in January, and yes, I’ll run the 10 Miler again next year if they have it.

Because as much as I love Pittsburgh, I love running in Pittsburgh that much more.