Virtual Half-Marathon Recap

Last Saturday I wrapped up my Boston Marathon training block with a virtual half-marathon.  This of course was definitely not the way I imagined things to end.  I imagined loud cheers and bright red numbers illuminating my goal time of 2:48.  In my head, it was all pretty glorious and memorable.  

That vision will have to be saved for another day.  My virtual half was the next best option. And here’s the thing, it was entirely unglamorous.  It was actually pretty painful. When you start hurting in a race, you can really rely on the crowds and people to carry you through.  When I started to hurt at around mile 9, there were no crowds or expectations, and part of me just wanted to stop. Thankfully, Lance pulled me through and got me to a time of 1:23:45. 

Before I dive into the miles, I just want to say that Lance is amazing. I would not have been able to run that time or probably even have finished if it was not for his even pacing and encouraging words.  He is so even-keeled and I can be so dramatic.  The last 4ish miles, every word amount of my mouth was a complaint and a whine.  Lance is so good at not letting my negative thoughts or complaints change what he believes in me.  The whole time, even when I started to half-cry, he said you got this, you are going to run an amazing time.  I am so thankful God gave me a husband that not only cheers me on, but that believes in me more than I do.  

The Course

For this 13.1 mile course, Lance and I started at Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes and ended at a random street in Manhattan Beach.  The course was actually a really fun and beautiful one. It would have probably been even more enjoyable in an actual race setting. As a whole, there was a good amount of downhill, which I desperately needed.  The first 5 miles were all in Palos Verdes and there was a good amount of rolling hills. Every time we hit a hill, I lost contact with Lance. I used to pride myself on being a strong hill runner, but I am really struggling on the hills. My glutes are so much weaker and I much prefer the free speed from a downhill.  

Once we got out of Palos Verdes, it was mostly downhill + flat, but these were the miles I also struggled on, so a lot of this section of the course was about holding on and just making it to the 13.1.

We drove the course a few days before, so we knew we would finish right around the Manhattan Beach Pier.  It was just about a quarter mile past the pier. Since the strand and beach is currently closed, we finished on Ocean Drive.  

The Miles

Mile 1- 6:15

Mile 2- 6:20

Mile 3: 6:17

Mile 4: 6:34

Mile 5: 6:09

Mile 6: 6:16

Mile 7: 6:01

Mile 8: 6:14

Mile 9: 6:33

Mile 10: 6:38

Mile 11: 6:30

Mile 12: 6:44

Mile 13: 6:38

The mile splits were a bit all over the place, but the average was 6:24 per mile.  Right when I finished and hit stop on my Garmin, I smiled when I saw the 6:24 average.  That was my exact goal pace for the marathon. Obviously I ran only half the distance, but I was proud to be on that pace in a non-race environment.

Miles 9-13 were rough to say the least.  Aerobically, I felt great. I had the capacity to complain and whine to Lance.  It was all in my head and the right side of my body. I was feeling pretty good up until the 9th mile.  Then, began to mentally check out. Running hard on quiet streets is mentally tough!!! My whole right side of my body was also beginning to tighten up.  My right leg was definitely in pain. And because there were no other racers or crowds, it was the only thing I could focus on. The pain really got in my head.  I am a pretty tough runner, but I was so mentally and physically tired that I began to shed a few tears. People we passed at the end probably thought I was crazy.  I definitely had trouble pushing through the pain and it definitely slowed down my last few miles.

The Finish 

Still, I finished.  I definitely did not sprint in like I usually do.  I was maxed out. 1:23:45 was all I had on that day.  And I am really proud of this time. Not only, is it the easiest PR to remember: 1-2-3-4-5, it is a time that I can say I fought for.  I pushed through. I did not give up. I adjusted when original plans fell through. I kept going because here’s the thing, running Boston was never really about running Boston.  It was about honoring God. It was about chasing dreams. It was about remembering I can still fight and run hard.  

All of this ended in a very different way than I had imagined it would.  But in some ways it all makes sense. It ended on an alley. There was no music (headphones stopped working a few miles in), no people, no cheers, no finish line.  Yet, in this place of quiet, in this place of literally being in the shadow, I put one foot in front of the other. I hit my Garmin exactly when I saw 13.1 and I immediately went to sit on the curb.  Done.  

As I was finishing in this quiet alley, my reflective self could not help but think that this is how I want to continue to live out my days for the rest of my life.  I hope and pray that regardless of the stage, whether it is an alleyway or Boston or the Olympic Trials, I can run my heart out.  

The same is true with my own life.  Whether it is writing to an engaged audience of thousands or just one girl that needs to hear the words, I pray that the performance and the heart behind what I do always remains the same.  The reality is that I have only an audience of one.  This seems to be a theme in my own life.  I wrote about this concept nearly a year ago.  This is when I can actually act out what I write.  It is easy to write it out, but I am convinced the real transformation happens when we actually live out the words we preach.  

These past few weeks, I have had to really dig deep.  What do I do when really no one is watching? How hard am I willing to push myself when the cheers are silent?  Will I keep writing when it sometimes feels like only one sweet friend reads my words? Yes. I will keep running, writing, pushing, dreaming; until God says otherwise.  

This is the freeing part.  It was never about the stage.  It was never about Boston. It was about saying yes to the dreams and visions God has put on my heart.  Whether we are in a pandemic or not, I will continue to say yes to God even if that means running for 13.1 miles on empty streets.  

In typical fashion, the words are running away from me.  The point of this post is to share about my virtual half-marathon, but more so it is to encourage you to not be afraid of saying yes to God when the stage looks dim.  To not be afraid to treat things like they are really, really big deals, even when you are running in the shadows.

With this goal virtual race complete, I am going to take some time away from running. I am feeling a bit burnt out. I am ready to take a bit of a break, but I so look forward to my next season with running.

P.S. SO thankful for my husband, coach, pacer, and encourager. You were the best coach because you know me so deeply!

My First Virtual Race Experience: 10k Edition

Last Saturday morning, I sipped my coffee and ate my typical pre-race breakfast of almond butter + oatmeal.  And to the pit of my stomach, I felt the race nerves building.  

Here is a little confession: I was nervous for my virtual 10k I was running in a couple hours.  You might think this is funny. And I can see why, but I was actually really thankful for the nerves I felt on that virtual race morning.  From the outside world, it might seem strange and even silly to be nervous for a race that has no crowds or audience or big outcome. But internally, this is the greatest sign to me that I deeply care about being the best runner I can be, not because of the major marathon on the calendar or the applause of the crowds, but because I love the sport and every time I step on the line (or virtual line) I want to perform at my very best.

Race Nerves

In college, the nerves often stemmed from a fear of disappointing my coach and my team.  The pressure I felt collegiately ran deep.

The first year postpartum, the nerves stemmed from wondering if I was even that good at running anymore after a couple years off and a baby.

But last Saturday morning, the nerves were my friends.  They reminded me that I care about running no matter what the stage is.  

It is easy to care and be nervous and feel the adrenaline when you are running on the track with some of the best collegiate 5k runners in the region.  It is easy when you have crowds cheering and yelling for you.  It is easy when it feels like a big deal.  But how you respond, when it is very much not a big deal, to me, that is the better indicator of your drive and motivation and love.  

So those nerves Saturday morning over coffee and oatmeal, were welcomed.  For those that have run virtual races in the past, you know that one of the hardest parts is not having the adrenaline of a typical race full of crowds and a big finishing line.  I knew those race butterflies would be helpful to get a little adrenaline to push me through.    

The nerves seemed to quickly subside when I started running.  Taylor Swift’s Reputation began on shuffle right as I started my Garmin for the 6.2 miles.  With music booming in my ears and the lightness of my racing flats beneath me, I focused on the back of my husband, ready for him to pull me along.  

Race Breakdown

The first mile felt easy and controlled.  5:50. 

Miles 2 and 3, I settled in and got comfy.  6:04 and 6:03, respectively.

Miles 4 and 5, I started feeling tired and the reality that I did not have the normal race energy and crowds to pull me through, hit me.  I was suddenly made very aware that I was running through a relatively empty street. I turned Swift up a bit louder in my ears and tried to not let my husband run away from me.  6:07 and 6:06, respectively.

Mile 6, my legs came alive again.  I took a quick glimpse down at my watch and knew I would definitely be under the 38-minute mark.  At this point, I was definitely feeling fatigued and a bit unmotivated, but as we were getting closer to the “finish line,” I saw a group of familiar faces clapping for me.  This was totally unplanned, but seeing familiar faces from the local running community, including my high school coach, who I adore and look up to, really made a difference.

With a bit of extra energy, we stopped our watches right when we hit the 6.2 mark at 37:20.  Hands on knees, I smiled and high-fived my wonderful pacer.  

A Year Ago

To be honest, I was hoping to be sub-37, but I was still really proud of that time.  It was even more significant because almost exactly a year ago I ran LA’s Race to Remember.  It was my first race back postpartum. I ended up winning the 10k with a time of 38:04. That race was really special to me.  It was a reminder of my love for the sport. It was a reminder that I was not only still a runner; I was a competitor. You can read the full race recap here.

Even though this past Saturday, I did not get to run through finishing tape or get interviewed at the end, it felt like a lot of progress to be 44-seconds faster in a non-traditional race setting.  

This makes me excited for future races (both virtual and in-person). 

 It makes me excited to keep chasing down times.  

It makes me excited that my progress as a runner does not need to be dependent on a race or crowds.

I can still push myself.  All I need is a watch, my flats, an empty road ahead, and my speedy husband.  

Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to pushing myself on big stages, like Boston, but for now, these virtual races are a welcomed and needed friend.

Rambling Runner Virtual Race Series

Thanks to Matt Chittim from the Rambling Runner Podcast and the sponsors for making these virtual races happen.  There are still two races left! The half-marathon and full-marathon. You can find all the info on how to join, right here.  It has been a really key aspect to keep me focused, motivated, and excited to keep stepping out the door.  

12 Things to Do at Home with an Active Toddler

I know we each are affected by the coronavirus in very different ways.  Some in life-changing types of ways, and others in smaller disappointments.  I know there is this temptation to down-play our own feelings right now, with the preface of with everything going on, it feels silly to… or I know others have it a lot worse, but… 

I know that temptation well because I have most certainly felt it in the past couple weeks.  It feels silly to complain about a postponed marathon, when others are losing jobs, weddings, graduations.  It feels silly to complain about not getting to play at the park when we have a cozy house full of toys to play with. It feels silly to feel the pressure of keeping up with all the other moms that appear on social media to be handling it so much better than you. 

All of it can feel silly, especially in the face of death and unemployment.  But, it is your feelings and your situation, and it is okay to feel real sadness, disappointment, and anxiety over things that may feel small in comparison with everything else that is going on.  It is okay to own our struggles, even if they may be small.

With that said, in the past couple weeks my emotions have been all over the map.  I have felt a whole lot of disappointment. Disappointment over the marathon.  Disappointment in not being able to attend church in person. Disappointment over not being able to go that basketball game or have that couple over for dinner or attend that birthday party.

Then, I went from disappointment to determination.  Last week, especially, I was determined to make the best of these situations.  This means keeping my whole routine as normal as possible. These choices have helped the initial disappointment to fade, but it also has created some unrealistic expectations. 

The fact of the matter is that we are living in a global pandemic. This is new territory for all of us. It is new, weird, strange, scary, confusing, and uncertain. While I still stand on the fact that it is important to keep things as normal as possible and still goal-set and look ahead to the future, I am learning I need to add room for grace.  

To give you an idea of how my brain works… 

Circumstance: Race postponed.

Response: Keep training hard and run a sub-80 minute virtual half-marathon.

Circumstance: All classes, parks, museums, and stores closed.

Response: Be the best Pinterest-worthy mom.  Do ALL the sensory bin activities. Do a craft every day.  Read ALL the books on the shelves. Create fun learning experiences.  Avoid screens at all costs.

Circumstance: All restaurants are closed, except for takeout.

Response: Bake and cook gourmet recipes for every meal.  

Circumstance: Quarantined.

Response: I must learn to knit, organize every cabinet/drawer in the house, and finally finish Hudson’s baby scrapbook.  

Get the picture? 

Not a whole lot of room for grace.  This is new. This is weird. I am doing my best and God will fill all of the holes.  He always does. I don’t need to put added pressure on myself to be super-mom, super-wife, super-human. This pandemic alone is pressure enough.

Before getting into ideas to keep an active toddler busy at home (I promise, we are still heading in that direction), I wanted to preface it with the fact that I too am struggling and feel this weird sense of pressure to do all the things. I am learning daily that the mundane elements of our day: taking a bath, watering the grass, calling a grandparent are enough. We don’t need to get crazy.

We Are Still…

We are still good runners during a pandemic if our mileage suddenly drops drastically.

We are still good moms during a pandemic if we do not always have a scheduled craft for the day.

We are still good wives during a pandemic if we become a bit more reliant on frozen pizzas than we did pre-pandemic.

We are still good productive humans during a pandemic if we have not acquired a new skill and the junk drawer is still full of junk.  

Let God’s grace enter.  You don’t need to be all the things or do all the things or learn all the things.  Keep it simple. Keep folding the laundry, washing the dishes, reading bedtime stories, running, and cooking.  In other words, keep doing the normal life stuff you would do all the time, no need to add the pressure to become a gourmet chef, a Pinterest-perfect mother, or super fit.  

With all that said, here are some very simple things I am doing with my very, active, almost-2-year old that is keeping us both sane and happy, mostly.

1. Keep a routine

Keep waking up at similar times, keep changing out of pajamas, keep snacks, lunches, and dinners at normal times.

2. Walk/Run Outside 

Take the jogger out for a short run or walk around the block.  The days we go out for a morning run always seem better because it really breaks up the day.  We have been calling our runs around our neighborhood, “dinosaur runs” because we stop by a nursery with giant, metallic dinosaurs and Hudson gets to roar at them. It is the small things!

Also, the sunshine and fresh air does a whole lot of good for the both of us. If you’re new to the baby jogger, I have some tips on running with the stroller, you can find here.

3. Take Long Baths 

We now take baths in the morning and the evening.  If Hudson is acting crazy, the bath is always a sure way to calm him down and get some sensory play as he plays with the bubbles and his bath toys.  Typically, we will take a quick shower and rush out the door to our scheduled outing. It has actually been a real joy to embrace these slower, bubble bath type of mornings.  If you are looking for more bath activities, here are some of my favorite products that always make bath time more fun:

4. Chores Around the House 

There is always a chunk of our day scheduled for getting things done around the house.  I try to always incorporate Hudson. Sometimes he just watches me or wanders off to play independently in the playroom, but sometimes he grabs the broom or his pretend lawn mower and goes around the house “working.”  This is a win-win because I get things done around the house, while he imagines and helps me through play.

5. Bounce House

Set up something fun in your living room or playroom that is typically not up.  It could be a tent, a fort, a ball pit, or a bounce house.  We have this bounce house.  It is not very big, but it already has been a well-worth it investment.  As a family, we seem to always end up hanging out in the bounce house after dinner.  In these scary and uncertain times, I feel pretty certain I will look back to our evenings spent in the bounce house with great fondness. There has been a whole lot of laughter happening in that little house- Nala (our 80 lb. golden) even joins and things get real crazy.

6. Songs + Dance 

We usually break out the Greg & Steve tunes midmorning.  This is a fun way to transition between activities and is a great way to burn off some extra energy before nap time.  Here are a few songs, that are especially great for dancing with your toddlers:

7. Leave Things Out 

Here’s the honest truth, our house currently is chaos.  And this is entirely intentional. Part of it is laziness, but part of it is strategic.  There are TONS of invitations to play all over our house for Hudson. He can jump in his bounce house, he can color on his chalk board, he can pretend play with his trains, he can practice his baseball swing on his tee.  I am simply leaving things out all over to invite him to play. This creates a very messy house, but it is not like we are having guests over anytime soon and it takes the pressure off of me to constantly entertain.

8. FaceTime Family/Friends

This has been a great way for him to still have social interactions and see the people he loves most!  We have been doing this almost daily. It has been the perfect way for both of us to feel more connected. Not to mention, great for him to practice names.

9. Make Cards

So far, we have made 2 birthday cards and one thank-you card to our amazing pool man.  This is an easy “art project” and Hudson is at the age where he LOVES giving things to people he cares about.  We don’t have a ton of art supplies, so I have kept it really simple with crayons and card stock. For auntie’s birthday card, we even broke out the water colors.  I am not very creative or artsy, so making cards is a great way to incorporate some art + also teach Hudson the importance of appreciating those we care and love for.  

10. Scooter 

Self-explanatory. Lots of indoor and outdoor scootering happening over here.  

11. Mud Play

I will be honest, I have been on Pinterest more than ever recently.  And it gets pretty overwhelming. I am all about simple activities with few supplies and ingredients needed.  When I saw this mud play recipe, I knew it was perfect.  You just combine water, flour, and cocoa powder.  And there you go, the best smelling mud ever. It was perfect for creating dinosaur and truck tracks on paper.  

12. Window Clings 

If you are able to make a quick trip to the dollar store, they have really cute Easter window clings.  This was very entertaining for Hudson.  He especially likes the gel clings, which I am not crazy about because it attracts dog hair and H always ends up ripping them.  But it is just $1 and entertains him, so still worth it in my book. The day we brought them out, he kept going back to the window to rearrange the bunny and the chick. 

Okay, I am going to stop here. This is becoming too long.  Here is the bottomline: use this time wisely. Soak it in and appreciate it for what it is.  Sit in the quiet, the slow, the mundane. Don’t feel like you need to do all things.  Keep it simple. Invite your little ones along in your ordinary days and take lots and lots of bubble baths. 

When You Don’t Feel Like It

All day I have been planning on sitting down to get some writing in. It is now nearly 9 pm and these are the first words I am creating all day, minus the numerous text messages I sent out. The thing is I could of easily squeezed in an hour of solid writing, but instead I dilly-dallied, I mindlessly scrolled and consumed social media, and I watched unnecessary drama on the Bachelorette. The task of writing has been in the back of my head all day, but I seemed to put everything ahead of it. The 9 miles, the loads and loads of laundry, the dirty dishes, the grocery list, the dinner, the banana bread, the party planning. I think what I really needed today was to write. I needed quiet. I needed time alone, time to string words together. I needed the steady rhythm of finger tips tapping away. I needed to sort things in my head through. I needed reflection and revision. This is what I needed. But instead, I avoided it. I clicked on Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, Netflix. Anything, but write. I did not feel like it today. I did not want to write another post that only my husband, mother, and a few kind people will read. I did not want to write today, but here I am, at 8:50 pm, writing. And with each passing word, I feel better. That is what I want to talk about today. How do we do the things that are good for us, even on the days or weeks or years when we simply don’t feel like it? That is a loaded question. And to be honest, I don’t really have an answer, but I have a few thoughts.

Right now you could probably name a handful of things you don’t feel like doing. I sure can. Going on a run. Making the bed. Folding all those loads of laundry I previously mentioned. Emptying the dishwasher. Waking up early. Eating healthy. Being kind. Reading a book. Writing. And the list could go on. Those last three might be the most surprising, but if I’m being honest, right now, kindness does not feel natural to me, nor does reading or writing. Here’s the thing, if I lived my days off of my current feelings, not much would get accomplished. I would eat a lot of sugar, watch Grey’s Anatomy, and be alone in my room. That’s the truth. Clearly, my feelings can’t be trusted. Watching endless hours of hospital drama and consuming lots and lots of sugar is not a recipe to a fulfilled life. This is why I have such a problem with the phrase “follow your heart.” Follow my heart? Really? My heart can’t be trusted. It’s broken, sinful, selfish. My heart will lead me astray. Every. Single. Time. Sure, it might feel right in the moment, but long term, the feelings of my heart won’t satisfy. Only Jesus will. I need to follow Him, not my heart. And the thing with Jesus is that He is in the business of people and serving. So following Him, naturally revolves around these two things. For an introvert, this is not always easy. Following Jesus is not always the easy thing to do, it actually rarely is, but it is always the right thing. My heart can’t be trusted, but He certainly can.

So, returning back to that question. How do we do the good things, the things our soul longs for, even when that is not our natural inclination? I think the first part to answering this question, is learning how to differentiate between what our human heart longs for and the calling of Jesus in our lives. This is a good time to mention that I do believe that these two things can and should line up at times. This is the mark of a mature faith that is immersed in the Word. However, I am coming more from a post-vacation mindset. We just got back from a trip to NYC. We had the best time, but I fell completely out of normal rhythms. We squeezed a ton into our few days into the city. We even made a relatively detailed itinerary to ensure we got all the things we wanted to eat, see, and do in. We had full, fun days. We stuffed our faces with lobster rolls and cookies the size of our faces. We rode the subway back and forth, all over the city. We ran along the Hudson River, did loops in Central Park, and walked all over. My Fitbit has never hit such high numbers. We did all the things, but there was a sacrifice. My quiet, morning devotional time. That vanished. We forgot to include that in the itinerary. And if I’m honest, it put me into a bit of a slump. I forget how important some of my daily patterns I place into my life are. I need time alone with God. I need to be in the Word daily. My heart gets weird without this. I become lazy. I desire tv over discipline. Especially as I recover from this post-vacation hangover, my daily patterns and routines become even more important. I need to get back into these rhythms. I need to wake up early, even though I definitely do not feel like it. I need to open my Bible, not Instagram. I need to write, even when the words seems to not be there. I need to run hard, even when I want to just stay in a comfortable pace. And most importantly I need to love. I need to love and serve the people in my life, even though what my heart really desires is to retreat and be alone. There are seasons where everything I listed above comes so much more naturally. I leap out of bed. I enthusiastically open my Bible. The words come easily. The miles do too. And kindness is my attitude of choice. However, again, if I’m honest, there are more days where this is not the case. This is where patterns of discipline become so important. I write a lot about routines and daily rhythms, and the reason is because they keep me on track. They help me to do the good things I need in my life, even when I don’t feel like it.

I know I began by saying I didn’t fully have an answer to the question, but I think this is my answer. Establish daily, weekly, monthly, yearly patterns in your life and stick with them. Do them with a no matter what-ness attitude. The thing that I love about routine is that it takes away some of the thinking and decision making. This could be why I thrived in high school. A lot of my days were determined by a pre-existing bell schedule. The bells have faded away. Now, it is up to me to create the bells, the rhythms, the patterns. All this to say, vacation and stepping away from normal life is a good thing, but if you’re anything like me, it can be harmful to step away from the patterns that keep you grounded and rooted. So, when you don’t feel like doing all the things, check the patterns in your life, check what is taking up your minutes, check what it is you are consuming. Are you taking in Truth or bad television drama? It may seem like a small choice, but it is these little choices that make all the difference. It could be that you need to make just a few small adjustments to get back on track. Or, it could be that you just need to do the thing even when every fiber of your body and mind is fighting against it. This morning, I had a long tempo run I was supposed to do. I have done this tempo run for the past three Wednesday’s, except I missed it this past Wednesday due to travel. This small break in routine, made me really not want to run it today. And along with that deep, internal feeling of dreading something, there were things that happened along the way that made me want to choose the easy thing: skip the tempo. I was very close to choosing this option, but something kept tugging me along. And I did it. I did it even though I lost a contact in one of my eyes, the route I normally do was completely closed off, and my breathing was much harder than normal. And here’s the thing: my pace was slower than previous weeks, my focus was slightly fuzzy (probably due to the fact I had clear vision in only one eye), and I wanted to just stop basically every mile. But, I did it. To me, this tempo was my best so far in training. Again, it was not the fastest one. I actually felt the worst on this one, but I pushed through. I did not let go of my no matter attitude. Outwardly, not the best performance, but inwardly, it required way more focus and discipline than the days where the miles and pace were effortless. The thing I kept thinking about when I was running this morning was about how a lot of people can do the things when it comes easily, but what really allows you to stand out from the crowds is when you do it on the days where every part of you is fighting against it. This is where true character is built.

So, if you’re with me, and don’t feel like doing all the things, especially the things you technically don’t need to do, you should. Run when it’s the last thing you want to. Write even when the words flow as slow as molasses. Just start, and you will find your rhythm, it might just take until mile 9 or the 1,000th word.

To Run in the Rain

This mama needs to run in the rain.  

As I learn more about myself, I am realizing I am much introverted than I previously thought.  I like the idea of being around people, but I really thrive off of having time alone in quiet.  This is one of the many reasons why running is so good for me. It gives me the space to be in a quiet rhythm.  It allows me to think, pray, and breathe.  Don’t get me wrong, I love running with others as well and connecting in this way, but every once in a while a solo run does my soul a lot of good.

The rain just kept coming this week.  It rained and rained.  Every time I looked out the window my initial thought was to skip the run.  Stay inside my mind whispered. Even though I have been a runner for over a decade, basically every time I go out for a run, I am again dealing with the internal battle of just staying inside.  I know some people eagerly lace up their shoes and prance out the door to run, but this is just not how I operate.  It would probably fool you when I am actually out running with a smile, but that initial push out the door is so hard for me.  It is especially hard now when I don’t have a coach telling me what to do or a team depending on me to be in shape.  Now, I am the coach.  I am the whole team.  With anything, when it is just you, performing and producing your best becomes even less motivating.

Despite this desire to stay inside, I managed to get out the door twice to run.  And it was two of the best choices I made all week.  Both times felt magical.  The best part of running in the rain is that not a lot of people do it.  The park was empty.  The strand was deserted. All I could hear was the rain rhythmically hitting my visor.  All I could see was waves crashing.  All I could feel was peace.  I was not thinking about other people.  I was not trying to pass the person 100 meters ahead of me.  I was not trying to impress by running as fast as I could.  I was not worried about pace or performance.  I was simply just running in the rain.  Alone.

When all the exterior elements of running are stripped down and you are left with just the raw aspects of movement, breath, and cadence; you can really find the joy in running.  You can find it in its purest form.  I think over the past few years, I got lost in the races, the time trials, the competition.  I think I forgot what it feels like to just run because you can, not because you have to.  When it comes down to it, I really love to run.  I actually have always loved it, but I think somewhere along the way running became something else.  It became pressurized and demanding.  It became solely about performance and pleasing coaches.  The rawness of running: breath, movement, cadence; became lost.

It took having a baby to get me to return to running and fall back in love with the sport.  Once Hudson was born, all expectations of who I was as a runner seemed to dissipate.  It did not matter if I ran for just 20 minutes.  It did not matter if I ran 10 minute pace.  These are things that I would of laughed at a few years ago, but now it was all about getting out the door.  It no longer was about the pace or the mileage.  It was solely about running to clear my head, running to get off the baby weight, running to take a break, running to pray for patience.  It was all about the movement.  I was running because I had a deep down need to move and it turns out running is the best way I know how to do that. I finally was in a place where I could run without the pressure, anxiety, and fear that seemed to plague most of my college running career.  I could run and walk.  I could stop when I felt tired. I could just run a loop around the block and return home.  I finally am learning to run with grace.  And this is making all the difference in my love for running.

Running in the rain last week reminded me why I run.  It reminded me how running is supposed to feel in its purest form.  It reminded me the importance of not waiting until conditions or life is perfect.  If we run like this or if we live like this, we never will run much or really do anything at all.  Sometimes it will rain all week. Sometimes you will have bad days, weeks, months, years.  And sometimes you just have to face it.  You have to tie up those shoes.  Put on your hat.  And start that watch.  And just like running in the rain, through movement and action, you can eventually be reminded of why you do what you do and be at peace with whatever life gives you.