Bad Runs Are Actually Good

Let’s face it. Running is hard. It’s really f*cking hard. Early on, I learned that you get out of it what you put into it. It took weeks (okay…months) of consistency, dedication and a lot of patience to begin seeing progress in my running journey. Anything worth while is going to be tough, so it’s incredibly easy to get discouraged. My first outdoor run was nothing short of a disaster. My running journey started on a treadmill, so I had a very rude awakening when I ran outside in warm weather on hilly terrain for the first time. I recall vlogging about it on my original blog, all while panting and sweating in places I never knew existed. I was frustrated, but I wasn’t mad. I just used this run as a learning experience, which in turn, helped me with future runs.

Signing up for a goal race keeps me motivated – especially when I have not-so-good runs. Running is a crazy, messy and wonderful sport. I’m here to help you see the bright side of the runs that make you want to crawl into bed and hide for a while.

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It helps you tune into your body: Sometimes, there are very concrete reasons why a run may go awry. If a run starts to go south, I do a mental head-to-toe assessment – maybe I readjust my form or try to control my breathing better. Sometimes, it’s a quick reset that can help get my run back on track, but other times, it could be a warning sign that something is wrong. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re injured and need to stop running. It could just mean that you need to take a step back, whether it’s cutting back mileage, incorporating more strength/cross training or taking a few days off.

It helps you tune into your mind: Mental health is just as important as your physical health. I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety for years, so occasionally, my mind just isn’t into it. I still get out there, even if one mile ends up feeling like 100 miles. It’s running that helps me cope and remain connected to myself so I don’t lose sight of my mental well-being. But more often than not, even if my mind isn’t into it, I still come out on the other side of a run feeling much happier and better about myself. I quickly learned that the hardest part of any run is getting yourself out of the door, and when I do, I don’t regret it.

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Winter Runs (Jingle Bells)

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I wrote a runner’s version of Jingle Bells just for fun! I present to you Winter Runs.

Running through the snow

In a brand new pair of shoes

O’er the hills we go

Grunting all the way (ugh, ugh, ugh)

Alarms on Garmins ding

Making awkward strides

What fun it is to run and slide

On a slippery route tonight

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Winter runs, winter runs,

Cursing all the way

Oh, what fun it is to run

On a cold-wet snowy day, AHH

Winter runs, winter runs

Freezing all the way

Oh, what fun it is to run

On a cold-wet snowy day

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Silver white winters that melt into springs…

…these are a few of my favorite things. (Artist: Julie Andrews)

I’m here to talk about my favorite running gear. I’ve tested and used a lot of products over the last (almost) 8 years. I’ve also regretfully purchased many products. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what does and does not work for your running journey. But if you’re curious, you can read about my running must-haves!

FAVORITE GEAR: Disclaimer alert! What works for me may not work for you! These are merely brief honest reviews. 🙂

Brooks Launch: I’ve been running in these shoes for about 3 years now. I have flexible flat feet, meaning my arch collapses when weight bearing (i.e. standing), but returns when not standing. It took me a longgg time to find a shoe that my body responds well to. As soon as I slipped my feet into the Brooks Launch, I knew they were going to be a good shoe. They are the perfect balance between cushioned and light weight, giving me the neutral support that my body needs, whether I’m doing speed work or an easy paced long run. A nice perk of this particular model is that many races have exclusive colors and designs. Pictured below is the special edition shoe for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.

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I love colorful shoes!

Aftershokz – Trekz Titanium: I purchased these headphones in 2017 and immediately fell in love. They are bone conduction headphones, so they sit in front of the ear canal, leaving the ear completely open. It’s a great safety feature for runners because you can still hear your surroundings. Don’t worry; the sound quality is crystal clear! Being a young woman, it’s nice to have a little more security when I’m running alone. Side note: They have FANTASTIC customer service! I accidentally broke mine a few months ago, and since they were still under my 2 year warranty, I got a brand new pair (for free) in the mail within a week without any hassle at all.

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SparkleSkirts Black SparkleBottoms Too: Since I started running in 2011, it has been nearly impossible for me to find shorts that don’t ride up within the first 5 minutes into a run. I’ve tried different brands, styles and sizes and my shorts still always managed to disappear into my behind. *awkward* That was until I discovered SparkleSkirts. These shorts are PERFECT! They don’t ride up no matter my pace or distance. Also!!! There is a HUGE zipper pocket on the front that holds my iPhone 8 Plus and 2 deep open pockets on both sides. It’s nice not having to wear a belt of some sort for my essentials (keys, gels, inhaler). These shorts are completely worth the higher price tag!

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Journey to Sub 5 – Marine Corps Marathon

Going into this race, I had really high hopes of finally reaching my goal of a sub 5. My training went great, and I didn’t have any major setbacks other than a bout with ankle pain at the very beginning of this cycle. My ankle issues resolved when I got myself into the correct inserts. Training for a fall marathon is tough because it’s hot and humid for most of the cycle, depending where you live. BUT! That means, faster marathon times as long as the weather is cooperative! Woo hoo!

Thennnnn, 15 weeks later, following my 20 mile training run, it was time to begin the taper. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy the taper, but I do get a little stir crazy with all of my extra down time. I’ve never had a taper quite like this.

I started off with a bang by getting stuck with a needle at work. I’m still dealing with this. Two days later, I fell down a couple of steps while going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I had a bruised knee as a result. I ripped my shorts in the upcoming weekend while on a training run. I was too close to a building and somehow caught a large screw that was fixated on a meter of some sort. This was the 1st time I wore these shorts after having the zipper repaired, and they were $58. I shed a few tears. The thing that freaked me out the most was getting a head cold just 2 weeks out from race day. This is one of the downfalls of working in pediatrics. I’m constantly getting sick, especially with my compromised immune system. Fortunately, I managed to get better just in the nick of time! I figured at this time, it can only go up from here!

Before I knew it, Saturday the 27th arrived, and it was time to head to Washington D.C. I haven’t been to D.C. since I was 12 for a school field trip, so I was pretty excited. I went with one of my good running friends, Abbie. She drove and helped immensely with our travel plans. We left early, knowing our trip would be roughly 5 hours with rest stops. The drive wasn’t too bad despite my tiny bladder and the consistent rainfall. We decided to head straight to the expo due to time restrictions. The expo was very well organized, and we both quickly got our necessary items (bib, etc.) before shopping for items we don’t need, but want. I didn’t do too much damage at the expo. My most expensive purchase was a $35 Brooks Running MCM shirt to offset the interesting participant shirt we were given.

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Obligatory expo photo.

After we finished up at the expo, it was time to head to the hotel. We stayed in a less-than-ideal place, but it got the job done. I was mostly upset at the fact that there WAS NO ELEVATOR for us to use. Abbie and I struggled a little to carry all of our items to the 2nd floor. But, I’ll take that over the overpowering smell of cigarette smoke a friend of ours had to deal with in his room at the same hotel. I got my race attire/gear prepared for the morning, and then I relaxed until it was time to leave for dinner. I ran the Marine Corps Marathon for the Friends4Michael Foundation – a charity that supports families with children whom have brain tumors. The charity held a pasta party at Sine Irish Pub & Restaurant for charity runners and guests. Abbie and I took an Uber (my 1st ever) to dinner. I wasn’t really sure what to expect for dinner, in terms of paying our own way, etc. Much to our amazement, food and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) were free. It was a lovely night filled with extraordinary people and delicious carbs! After dinner, we made a couple of brief pit-stops and Ubered back to the hotel. Don, the friend stuck with the smoking room, came down to our room, and we all talked for a while until I couldn’t hang anymore.

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Dirty 30 Miler

Since I started running in 2011 and quickly discovered my love for distance, I’ve always wanted to run my age in miles. I, of course, also wanted it to be a special year. When I turned 25, however, I was sick with Lyme disease – not knowing my diagnosis at the time. I could barely brush my hair without muscle fatigue, let alone run. So 30 seemed to be the last doable year as a milestone birthday. Not knowing what the future holds for me, I try to take every opportunity to achieve my running goals. It made my decision to attempt this that much easier. I just had to go for it!

When non-runners asked me how I was going to celebrate my 30th, I told them I planned on running 30 miles. Each time I answered, I got this look…

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The next step was planning.

LOCATION. LOCATION. LOCATION. I had to remain logical in my decision. If I were to get sick or injured, I didn’t want to be stuck in the middle of a long route, regardless if I’d be with someone. Not to mention, since this wasn’t an official race, I needed an easy way to access additional water/Gatorade and fuel.

I chose North Park because it was the easiest option to work with, although we aren’t the best of friends. North Park is known for it’s scenic 5 mile loop around a lake. The ‘course’ is comprised of rolling hills with a slight canter along the bike/pedestrian path. Because of the slant in the road, I felt it would be best to switch directions after each loop to keep my hips from getting too angry. I’ve had hip issues in the past when I’ve participated in races held there, which stays in the same direction for the entirety of the event.

Next, I needed a date and time. I couldn’t do this on my actual birthday because it fell on a Wednesday this year, so I picked July 21st. And since my birthday is in the dead middle of summer, I wanted to start early to try to beat most of the heat. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my sleep, so at the risk of being a zombie, I chose to begin running at 7 in the morning. I live roughly 1 hour away from North Park, and I was already going to be awake at an ungodly hour. “Maybe I could get most of my run done before my body wakes up and realizes what’s happening,” I wishfully thought.

I created a Facebook event and invited my closest running buddies to help pace me. There was absolutely no way I could tackle this distance alone. There is strength in numbers! Unsurprisingly, my friends were all VERY supportive and chose to help – whether they wanted to run, crew or do a little of both. I also needed to make sure I had at least one person for each lap to not only keep me sane, but to keep me from running too fast. You’d think after 7 years of running, I’d have this pacing thing down.

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