The best fellow runners inspire the rest of us

We’ve just come off a running weekend that proved to be huge for many of us, but not necessarily in the ways one might expect.

Several friends completed milestone races.

None of us sprinted from the first starting corral or took home any top titles. But the weekend was still significant for a host of reasons.

  • Lana racked up a personal PR in her second full marathon, beating her personal best by nearly 20 minutes, despite starting in an all-out downpour.
  • Kelly did a rugged full marathon with a 30-pound steel plate strapped to his back.
  • Jennifer returned to her favorite half marathon to put up a PR.
  • Sprinter Joe ran his first half marathon, achieving his goal of coming in under two hours.
  • Cathy cracked her three-hour goal in a half marathon.
  • Another Jennifer slugged through a tough and hilly course to finish a half marathon.
  • Lottie completed her first ever half marathon, pushing through pain in the final miles.
  • Cheryl stomped out a half marathon, urging other participants along on the way.
  • Melissa, a 22-year Army veteran, cranked out 13.1 to the finish line.

These folks inspired me – right when I needed it most.

I hate to admit it, but I came awfully close to canceling my participation in a half marathon yesterday.

A tendon injury has nagged me for several weeks. Last week, just as it seemed to be improving, I took a funny step in a muddy horse pasture, and winced with the pain. That afternoon, I set out to jog a three-mile loop with my dog, only to turn around after one mile and limp home.

Ugh. How would I do a half marathon within the week? I groaned to myself.

I wrapped the sore ankle back up in the dreaded brace for a few days. It seemed to help.

Three days before the race, my annual spring allergy nightmare hit, bringing me a stuffy and pounding head and a wheezy chest cough.

Would this cost me the race day? I wondered.

Sunday arrived, and I decided to go for it anyway. I stumbled out of bed at an ungodly hour and joined a couple of friends for the half marathon. Before we’d reached the second mile marker, I was already hobbling a bit, although the brace added support.

I was grateful to pass the miles with two friends. We stuck with each other for the entire 13.1 miles. As back-of-pack volunteers, we weren't even clocked. But that didn't matter.

Together, we did it.

Meeting a slow, but spirited, jogger along the way fueled my own resolve. As we passed this resolute runner, she said she aimed to finish in four and a half hours.

“You go, girl,” my friend said.

It gave me pause. What determination. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Just when we thought we’d never reach the end of the race course, we ducked into a pedestrian tunnel, clomped on through, and emerged into the daylight – just in time to see the finish line arch.

Is there any more beautiful sight for a tired runner at that point?

We picked up the pace, grinned at the race finish photographer, and completed the course. We bowed our heads, so the finish line volunteers could hang the hard-earned race finisher medals around our necks.

Later, as we munched on post-race snacks and licked our proverbial wounds, we couldn’t help but talk about what races we might do next.

Friends help friends go on, even when the race is hard.

This was not my fastest half marathon. But that's beside the point. I think I will look back on this finish as one of my most memorable. I'm proud of my awesome running friends, who pushed through personal challenges to get the job done. And I celebrate completing the course, even though it hurt like crazy at times.

Adapted from public domain artwork.

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Second winds wind runners up for many more

Phew. That first mile can be a killer, can’t it?

Countless runners groan through the initial stretch of any run. But somehow, if we push on through, we find our pace and pound out our intended distances with power and consistency.

And when we come around the final curve in the road (or on the trail), we’re positively panting with pride. We’re gasping with glee. And we’re dripping with delight, just because we did what we set out to do that day.

Find this image on tons of great gift and apparel items - only at CafePress.

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out if they’ve got a second.”
William James, American philosopher (1842-1910)

Ignore the grammar goofs in that quote for a moment.

That second wind is a blast!

Oh, how I needed this inspirational quote today. I’m stomping my way back from a soft tissue injury, trying to encourage mending, while ramping my miles back up. You see, there’s this half marathon this weekend. I’m already registered and committed.

But it still hurts, especially in the early stages of any run. If I keep going, it sort of abates for a bit. Sure, it reminds me later, as I wrap and ice that limb. But my will to run is strong lately. It’s gotta be. I have mileage goals to meet and races on the calendar.

Call us stubborn, if you must. But sometimes runners just gotta run.

Adapted from public domain artwork.

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Summer goal: Finding my abs

Goals are great, especially when it comes to motivation towards better personal fitness. I’ve already posted about participating in the Run the Year Challenge (2,017 miles in 2017), and you can track my progress in the left-hand sidebar of this page.

Alert the media. (No, please don’t do that!). 

I’m setting another personal goal. I want to find my abs this summer. They’ve sort of gone missing. OK, they’ve been hidden for years.

I haven't exactly gone to waste (Sorry, had to.). And I’m not a gazillion pounds overweight or anything, but gravity has sort of rounded things out a bit in that general neighborhood.

(Yes, I’m still wearing the same size of clothing as I have since I was in my 20s. And I weigh the same again now as I did then. But I want to strengthen my core more.)

With all this running (and working out at the gym), I have noticed that my clothes fit a whole lot differently than they did a couple of years ago. I’ve had to tighten my belt. My skinny-style jeans are a lot less snug. My slouchier ones have grown sort of frumpy, as they’re much baggier than they once were. But still –

I want a pack.

It doesn’t even have to be a six-pack. It can be a four-pack, or even a two-pack. It’s just gotta be LESS packed, if you get my meaning.

I'm not being oblique here. I simply want some definition in my abdominal muscles. I know they're in there. (They shout at me in exercise class and on certain weight training machines.) They just have to find their way to the surface.

It’s gonna take guts to get this done. (Hey, it’s not a cinch.)

Abs are hard to come by, especially as our middle years roll along. The fittest folks swear by sit-ups and crunches, which are extra challenging for someone who has MS demyelination in various spots of the neck and back. (Lying down flat makes my head whirl. It’s not pretty.)

Who wants to bet I can do it? (Please don’t say I can’t. That would be hitting below the, er, belt.)

Oh, and I promise not to wear a bikini in public or anything like that, even when my abs reemerge. And I won’t run out and get a belly tattoo or have my navel pierced. Wouldn’t be prudent. (I blew my 20s away too long ago for that.)

Note to well-meaning readers and friends: Please stop sending me (or commenting with) info and links for tummy wraps, belly-reducing elixirs and oils, and other products and programs claimed to be shortcuts at producing ripped abdominal muscles. I'm gonna work at this thing the old-fashioned way. However, encouraging comments and successful personal fitness anecdotes are always welcome!

Adapted from public domain artwork.

Feel free to follow on GooglePlus and Twitter. Please visit my Amazon author page as well.
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