Deployments ARE Marathons!

Having a few races under my belt including a marathon, as well as a few deployments – I couldn’t help to note some striking similarities.

During shore duty, the duty stations where deployments are not a factor, my mind goes to what I call the “shore duty mental bubble”. These are the tours where deployments do not exist. This is where we emulate as close as possible to civilian life. Spouse goes to work, comes home. Rinse, Recycle, Repeat, much like a 9-5 job most of the time.

Then the PCS season rolls around and, like little pin pricks in a balloon, reality starts to pop my shore duty bubble. We have the “where to next?” conversations and things are up in the air for a while. It’s the moment when you realize that like life, none of this is really in your control. You have to just go with it.

What the heck does this have to do with running marathons?

When running distances, it is imperative to have your mental game on point. You cannot run a marathon and at some point not ever have deal with your brain. Thoughts you haven’t ever dreamed you’d be thinking – you’ll have them while running. Like gearing up for a PCS move and/or deployments, you take it day by day, or mile by mile, as they come. To be at peace with being uncomfortable, being in transition, or being smack dab in the trenches of a long run, it comes with going with the flow instead of resisting what is.

Marathons and deployments both require preparation. You wouldn’t go out and run 26.2 miles without training for it in some fashion. (If you do, you’ll likely pay for it.) Likewise, deployments require preparation and planning. As the cliche goes, fail to plan – plan to fail. 

On the heels of planning and preparation, there is only so much you can prepare for. Then you have to just let go. Running a marathon forces you to let go of what if. What if you get injured at mile 18? What if I’m dehydrated and there isn’t an aid station? What if my knees give me trouble? What if I need a bathroom? (If you are runner, you know strategy is everything in this department!) Anyone having gone through a deployment knows that the deployment gremlins always appear within the first month! It’s military murphy’s law. The washer will break down or the car will have trouble. The garage door will not open. The gremlins never seem to jack with your life with as much enthusiasm as the beginning of the deployment. Like running, we have to accept that this crap may happen. You may get injured at mile 18. That washer may break down. But what good is it going to do worrying about either before it has even happened? Worrying is like the front porch rocking chair: gives you something to do, but gets you no where.

There will be good deployment days and bad. Some of them are so awesome that the only thing that is not perfect is that your spouse isn’t there to share it with you. The kids had a great day, you had a great day. You got done what you wanted to do, or you just played all day. Some miles are like that. Free and easy, those miles remind us runners why we love to run. The distance ticks by and you barely notice it. It’s those miles that we chase, running all the other ho-hum miles, just to experience a few of the really incredible ones. Savoring the good days and good miles carries you through the not-so good ones. 

Deployments force you to be independent whether you think you are ready or not. Standing on the start line feels the same way. Ready or not, it’s go time! 3 months into a deployment or 8 miles into a marathon – it’s you. You put one foot in front of the other and go. There is support along the way, but ultimately it’s you, being independent. Day after day, mile after mile. 

Deployments and marathons will grow you in places you didn’t know existed. You’ll do things you never thought capable. It goes without saying that pride is a big factor in both. There is no experience like laying out a plan, setting goals, and achieving. Pride in your ability to endure and cope will astound you. 

Deployments and marathons have many things in common. It’s too bad they can’t both be over in one day!

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Goals and Year End Stuff

I had a whole list of goals this year, and many were accomplished. One was to run/ride at least 500 miles. Yeah, that one didn’t happen. (I checked my stats and I hit a dismal* 180 miles.) I killed myself last year running crazy miles to achieve the goal of 300. I felt great though, and the feeling of getting something done I had set out to do was an awesome feeling. As the saying goes, fail to plan and you’ll hit it every time. Here were some of the things on my “to do in 2013” list:

*Tough Mudder
*Spin Certification
*Group Exercise Certification
*Whidbey Half Marathon
*Whidbey Triathlon

This year has been different in some ways. The hubs returned from a long deployment, we settled into new routines, I continued working out, but definitely not at the pace I had kept up the last two years. And I’m feeling it. I actually haven’t been running since the Tough Mudder in October.

Ugh. It makes me sick to even type that.

I know I need to run. My body craves it. I’ve been focused on teaching spin, the kiddos, and being active daily, but not in a measurable way like before. For me, concrete, tangible goals make a huge difference.

Looking forward to the new year, I’m not one to make hard core resolutions. I do like to take stock of what transpired the year before and think about what I’d like to do differently or better in the next. So that’s what I’m in the midst of doing currently. And as part of those goals and planning for the next year, our upcoming PCS move next summer, and the not knowing what life will bring – I have signed up for a few races already:

*Resolution 5k/Polar Plunge (I’ll be skipping the dip into Puget Sound in January, thankyouverymuch!)
*Sweetheart 5K/10k
*St. Patricks Day 5k (Did that one last year with the minions)
*Whidbey Half Marathon
*5/5/5 Duathlon 5 miles on the spin bike, 5k run, followed up by another 5k

2014 has 365 days in it – just like every brand new year. But really, a January 1st isn’t necessary to fulfill goals and dreams. We are given a new start every single morning we wake up. So for my next 365 – I want to maintain that mindset, that each day is a fresh start, a day to work at goals, getting better and making the choices that support the health of not only me, but of my family.

Do you make resolutions? If so, are you able to keep them?

*Let me clarify that when I say the word “dismal” about 180 miles, those who run 500+ miles will understand. For non-runners, 180 miles seems like it’s a lot. It’s all about perspective.

Fartleks, Minions, and It Was All My Neighbor’s Fault

Sometimes I question my sanity.

I got up early (before the sun) hit the early spin class, was feeling great and got hubby off to work and was determined to play hard with the minions. It’s been sunny the past couple of days, but the rain is coming. It ALWAYS comes. And then we will be stuck inside for a few months. Yay Pacific Northwest!

We started off after breakfast with a bike ride to our favorite playground; played hide-and-seek, chase, and practiced monkey bars. (Good cross training for Tough Mudder!) We came back for a break, some lunch and then decided to get an ice cream cone.

Later, our neighbors came over to chat. They are headed out-of-state in a couple of weeks as he will be running a marathon and is currently in the throes of training. Not only was he all covered in an 18 mile run endorphin high, but he was flaunting his Tough Mudder sweat band.

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Ugh. That thing forever haunts me.

I’ve been taking bodypump and spin classes at the gym, but I have only been running once a week. I’ve missed it.  Talking with my runner neighbors about the joys and pains of running sealed the deal. I needed a run. I was completely green with endorphin envy.

The minions were asking to go to another playground so I decided it was the perfect idea to run intervals while they rode their bikes. I should always reconsider a plan when it seems perfect. The run there was great. (It’s down hill and I got some great sprints in.) We got to the playground and played for a bit, then one minion had an accident. Time to call it a day.

Climbing back uphill, pushing kids on bikes (they needed ‘boosts’ all the way home), one minion tries to pass the other, 4 skinned knees, 1 pair of wet pants, crying and helmets all askew – this did not add up to a “perfect run”.

I think tomorrow I’ll be heading to the gym.  Then maybe a run….solo, of course!

Bittersweet Love Affair

Ah, sweet Half Marathon.

We started out not sure if we would like each other very much a couple of years ago. You with your attractive 13.1, me with my newly healed shins and proper running shoes. It was destiny, seeing you across the “room” of Honolulu. Then you made eye contact with me and I crossed your finish line….and it was over. I was in love with you.

You aren’t as brutal as Full Marathon. I can still recover in a day or two after running you, but you do give me a hard time. Today you just had to bring Miss Frigid Temps. You know I don’t care for her at all. I think you do this just to sabotage me.  I am seriously rethinking our entire relationship. Not only did I have to wear extra layers and felt like the this guy:

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but by the end of our date, I felt like an 80 year old whose arthritis was acting up. Seriously?! Who does that to someone they love? Apparently you do. You and Miss Frigid. Ugh. You disgust me.

Okay, okay, not really. I do love you. I just love you more when you are warm. Does that make me a bad runner? A fair-weather-only runner? A part-time runner? ….. ♪ ♫ We are undercover passion on the run, chasing love up against the sun ♪ ♫ ….cue Stevie!

Wow. That was awkward. At least we did see some beautiful sights this morning, you and me and Miss Frigid. Sights like this:

Oh, yeah. I no longer have the smart phone with which to take pictures. And I haven’t yet learned how to download images from my mind. Well, we did see some trumpeter swans and an eagle. (HUGE!) and it was a stunningly beautiful clear day with the snow-topped mountains in the distance…..similar to these….

images-2 images-1 images

(Yes, these were taken from the internet, but it was from the route we ran!)

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m glad we had this little chat. I think until you decide to break it off with Miss Frigid, we won’t be seeing much of each other. But that’s okay. I’ll wait for you.

Because I love you.

Miles and Other Stuff

I did it.

I set a goal this year to do what a friend of mine had accomplished a couple of years ago when I was just starting out on this crazy fitness journey. I remember thinking that her milage was just crazy! How could anyone with 2 legs really run that much in a year?

I’m grinning ear to ear as I type this: I ran 300.14 miles this year. On my legs. These legs carried me through:

A biathlon

5-Miler Tulip Trail Run

2 Half Marathons

a 10k

five 5k races

a 5k Warrior Dash mud run

…not to mention moving, deployment, and kiddos with which to train!

Not all the goals I set out to accomplish in 2012 were met – I am especially proud of this one mileage goal. I set out to do it and despite excuses, setbacks, self-doubt, inconvenience, pain, deployments, etc. I DID IT ANYWAY. I got it done.

I am proud of that.

Happy new year! Happy Running! Here’s to many more miles and accomplished goals in 2013!

 

10 Personal Running Questions (Tagged from SUAR)

Shut Up and Run had a post about personal running questions so I thought I would take it and “run” with it! If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, Beth is so hilarious – even if you aren’t a runner you’ll find yourself laughing! Love this gal’s sense of humor!

So here are my responses to the following running questions:
Best run ever?
Every run holds the potential to be the “best run ever”. Most all of my runs have an epiphany or two or are just chock full of so many endorphins I’m high for a week! Two runs tie in my book as my “best ever”: The Val Nolasco half marathon because I was able to train and run with my Battle Buddy Katy! (You can read her success story here).  And then the Honolulu marathon (of course). I will never forget the feeling of crossing that finish line (albeit an ungodly time) knowing I had finished what I had started. Best. Feeling. Ever.
Val Nolasco Half with Katy! We did the dang thing!
Honolulu Marathon 2011
 
Three words that describe your running?
Escape.
Sanity.
Freedom.

Your go-to running outfit? 
Lululemon “Groove” pant (WAY over-priced capri stretch pants) and a tank top. If it’s nice out I do love the Lulu running skirt.
Quirky habit while running?
I like to smile big when I see the camera peeps. Does that qualify as quirky? Maybe just a ham. 🙂

Morning, midday, evening?
When Eric is home, I definitely like to get up and get ‘er done first thing in the morning. Gives me energy for the day and then I don’t ruminate all day trying to decide when to fit it in around the kiddos. Now that I usually run with them in the stroller – I just shoot for the closest to nap time so they’ll have a better chance of falling asleep and not fighting in the BOB. Snacks help!
I won’t run outside when it’s ____________
Dark. Just don’t feel safe. This may pose a bit of a problem for me when it’s dark at 4 in the afternoon in the dead of winter in the Pacific Northwest. Ugh. Dreadmill time.
Worst injury—and how you got over it.
Knock on wood – I’ve never been seriously injured. Had runners’ knee and shin splints due to ill-fitting shoes/bad form when I first started.
I felt most like a badass mother runner when _________ 
When I was able to keep up with Katy’s hubby Curt in the Honolulu Great Aloha Run (GAR) When I first started running he gave me lots of tips and pointers and his level of running was just way ahead of where I was. To be able to run with him for 8 miles and keep up and not want to die was AWESOME!
Next race is __________
The Tough Mudder September 30th in Seattle. I’m dreading it. Only because I am afraid. I’ve never finished a race/mud run and said – “Dang, I really regret doing that.” That is the thought that is keeping me from bailing.
Potential running goal for 2013?
Not potential, actual. I will be a triathlete. The minute Eric returns – training time baby! I’m doing it!
So now it’s your turn! What are your answers to the 10?
Best run ever?Three words that describe your running?Your go-to running outfit? Quirky habit while running?Morning, midday, evening?I won’t run outside when it’s ____________Worst injury—and how you got over it.I felt most like a badass mother runner when _________ Next race is __________Potential running goal for 2013?

Green-Eyed Monster

I have a confession. Whenever I see my neighbor run or ride his bike by my house – I am GREEN with envy! I don’t normally consider myself a jealous person, but it never seems to fail, when my place looks like this:

 

this neighbor guy runs by looking something like this:
Okay, not EXACTLY like that, but that’s how I imagine he must feel running. Or how I would feel running without a stroller or if I was on a solo run instead of on the dreadmill stopping every 5 minutes to monitor taking turns of the current favorite toy. (And then jumping off AGAIN to break up the fight that ensued as a result of the turn taking too long.)
Here is a more accurate picture of what my neighbor looks like:

 

(Minus the beach of course.)
My neighbor does Ironman races and triathlons (or so I’ve heard). He also rides by on his bike occasionally. I’m sure he’s trying to figure out a way to swim by my house somehow and really send me over the jealousy edge!
I’m just intimidated. Sometimes he waves as he goes by, but more often than not he seems to be in his zone doing his thing and ignoring the eyesore that is my yard. Part of me wants to scream, “HEY! Hey you! Dude! Don’t you see my marathon stickers on the back of my car?! I’m a runner too!! Come talk to me! I want to pick your brain! Look! I have a bike, too! Oh and a bike trailer with giant kids hanging out of it!” But I don’t. I don’t want to be THAT of neighbor! Ha! (Can you say STALKER?!)
But as I sat blowing bubbles with my kids as he ran blissfully by today, I was struck by my thoughts. Whenever I see this guy I think – “Yep, must be nice. You can exercise whenever you feel like it. Probably don’t have kids. Or your wife is super supportive and takes care of them so you can do your thing. Or your kids are older. Or some combo of the above.”
I know I’ll have more frequent solo workouts when Eric gets back, (and I do make it work with the kids or have someone watch them) but when I see Running Rex fly by, I get just a hint of the green eyed monster rearing his ugly head. Perhaps I am a “real” runner after all – I get envious that I can’t always get out and do my thing too!