100 Race Miles Challenge

wp-1479257948478.jpgI didn’t start out the year with any challenges in mind other than completing the New England Double and even that came after I finished my VT marathon and needed revenge. As I was getting ready for my second marathon of the year, I realized that I had not only run a lot of miles, but I had RACED a lot of miles! That’s when I decided to attempt to race 100 miles in 2016.

According to my Garmin Forerunner10 GPS watch I’ve completed 1014.9 miles so far this year since I started running January 12th (that’s when I was given the okay from my doctors to start running again and my first 3 miles toward marathon training). 101.43 of those miles were racing miles. That’s three half marathons, two full marathons, a 10k, and a 5k. Racing is hard on my family. Packing up three kiddos early in the morning, traveling to a race, waiting around while Mommy runs…it can be hard on them, and probably fairly boring as well. That’s why I don’t do more than a few local races a year. I like to focus on one big race, a marathon or half marathon, and perhaps a local 5k or 10k here or there. Maybe two or three events a year really. But this year was something special. This year was about being something other than a mom, other than being pregnant, other than feeling broken. It was about being fast, strong, and capable. It was about accomplishment, improvement, proving myself to myself. I had some health issues to overcome as well as some mental hurdles. My training started with zero base other than a few walking miles. Rolling panic attacks kept me from enjoying life. But the one that I have always used to describe myself has been running. So this year was about Mazy being a RUNNER.

I’m ending this year with a drawer of new t-shirts, a whole bunch of hardware, a slew of pictures, and plenty of PRs. I’ve certainly grown as an athlete as well. I’m smarter about racing now. I’m smarter about training as well. My body has heeled and I’m actually pretty happy living in my own skin these days. I do love where my running and racing has taken me and who I’ve become. My 100 Racing Miles was a great challenge to take and I finished it with pride.

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Running Topless: It’s not about being brave, it’s about being comfortable.

I ran the Hop River Run 10K over the weekend. It was hot. It was silly hot; like 90 degrees with a heat index of 105.  It was truly miserable, therefore, I opted to run shirtless as I have been for most of this summer.  But standing around both before and after the race I received several comments about my bravery for showing off my midriff. At first I brushed it off, but the more I heard it, the more I wondered what’s so brave about this?

Yes, I have birthed four children. No, my body is not perfect. I have extra skin hanging out around my belly button. I have stretch marks on my thighs. My body has drastically changed size and shape so many times in the last 8 years it’s a wonder I even resemble a human at all! But you know what? A little extra belly skin is not going to stop me from running comfortably on a hot day.

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Hop River Run 10K, mile 5

“It’s so hot today! I wish I was brave enough to do that!” Personally, I don’t believe this has to do with bravery.  That would imply that I’m somehow overcoming a serious physical or psychological obstacle — that I’m facing true adversity and defeating it. I am not brave because I don’t care.  I never did.

I understand the self-esteem issues that arise when shedding a shirt.  I have just as many body image issues as the next woman. I’d love to look “better” and I always notice my many imperfections, probably more than anyone else. Because we judge ourselves, we assume that everyone else is judging us also. And because we are unclothed we feel that we are somehow more visible. So, what if someone is judging my mom-pooch? What if someone is looking my scars and stretch marks? What if someone is disgusted by my flappy skin? Does their disapproval slow me down or make me warmer? Does it really change anything?

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Hop River Run 10K Finish

As it turns out, it doesn’t matter! I am me. This is what I look like and short of cosmetic surgery, there isn’t much I can do about it. I’m not ashamed nor hindered by what I look like with my shirt off and no one else should be either. If you really want to take it off, then do it! It’s not about being brave, it’s about being comfortable.

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Hop River Run 10K-Overall Female Winner

There Are No Short Cuts to Boston

I just read a terrible story about a woman who’s been banned from running the Boston Marathon. I say it’s a terrible story because she’s a good runner with some great times and she’s a mom and she’s never gotten her day in Bean Town. It’s really, really difficult to be both a great runner and a mom; the time and energy commitment to either is more than some of us can deliver. I may never BQ, I am well aware of this, but this momma has had a bib TWICE, yet life events have prevented her from running both times. Now she’s never allowed to run it.

I say this is a terrible story because this woman did a stupid, stupid thing. She cheated. Sure, she ran legitimate qualifying times in the past, but she lied about her most “recent” qualifying time, and that’s what got her the boot. She wasn’t able to run the race last year, so she let a friend have her bib. That’s a big no-no in Boston. You do not transfer bibs! I know it seems innocuous and innocent enough, but it’s a pretty clear & simple rule. And hey, there honestly aren’t that many rules in this sport, so follow ’em! Wearing someone else’s bib and running as a bandit are not legitimate ways to run. It abuses the whole racing community. But she went beyond passing out bibs. She used her friend’s finishing time as her own to qualify for this year’s Boston Marathon, even though she hadn’t run the distance in at least a year. She broke the rules, and then she flat out lied.

This is a terrible story because amateur runners struggle for their sport. We have families and jobs that vie for our time. We have to make tough decisions about training vs everything else. When someone cheats, we all look bad. Or, at least we feel bad. And as a mom, I can’t bear the idea of losing everything I’d worked for, all the time I gave up with my kids to train, simply because I was caught being dishonest in something as silly as a race! But that’s the decision I have to make, and why I am where I am. Am I a runner first, or a mom first? Yes, I can certainly do both, but one identity will have to take a back seat to the other, and I will have to live with that decision.

I get why she did what she did. I want to run Boston too. I’ve yet to make it there due to pregnancy (followed by injury, followed by more pregnancy!) but the integrity of the sport needs to be upheld. There is always next year! There will always be another opportunity to run, to try again, to plan it out, to get it right. All runners, no matter their ability, need to understand that planning IS key. And while unfortunate things happen and change our plans sometimes, we need to plan to roll with the punches, not force an outcome. Whether you are running to Boston or running your first 5K, following a plan (and the rules) really are the best way to succeed. There simply are no short cuts to greatness.

This is a terrible story because she could have made it to Boston next year and had a great story to tell her kids about achieving her goals. Instead, she’ll stay home. She’ll tell her kids something else.