A little background …

I began this whole running thing about 10 years ago. What all started as a random goal to run the entire trail around my local park (3.7 miles) blossomed into a full on obsession. I would work to find new ways to constantly challenge myself, whether it be running faster, farther or more often. My first half marathon happened solely because a friend once told me that “if you can run 4 miles, you can run 13.” I thought that concept was completely absurd … to the point that I even accused her of being full of sh*t … yet I was registered for my first half before the sun set that same day. Less than one year later I was registered for my first full.

Over these last 10 years I’ve run thousands of miles and done dozens of races. I would find my motivation from whatever training schedule was plastered on the front of my fridge. That schedule would become my livelihood; if it’s wasn’t on that dang calendar, then it didn’t exist. When a new schedule would hit the fridge, there was a level of excitement that would come with it; the thrill of beginning the journey all over again. I dare to even say (and hate to admit) that the schedule almost became priority over *mostly* all else. I wouldn’t miss out on the important family events or organized kiddo activities, but you better believe that when those things interfered with THE schedule, there was a level of anxiety that ensued, followed by a frantic rearranging of planned workouts. How my husband didn’t disown me during these days is beyond me.

At some point in the last couple of years, my mindset started to shift quite a bit. Maybe I just started feeling the burn out and was tired of dealing with injuries (I’ve had an overflowing handful of stress fractures). Perhaps it happened when kiddo #2 came along. Or perhaps it was just the wisdom that came with age … although I think that theory is probably the most unlikely (wisdom? ME?). I ran my 10th marathon in May 2015, this time just barely coasting through training doing the bare minimum. My body hurt, my mental game wasn’t there … and it turned out to be the hardest race of my running career. When I crossed the finish, I deemed that marathon to be my LAST marathon. Maybe not forever … but for a LOOOOONG time. I spent the months following that race living by the “ran as far as I want, when I want, as fast or slow as I want” mentality, and I quickly learned that I LOVED it.

Fast forward about 10 months …

Z04I was out for a run with a friend who mentions that she was considering jumping in the lottery for the Chicago Marathon. I don’t think I have to really spell out how that story ended:

So here I am, beginning this marathon journey all over again. I’m following the FIRST plan … running only 3 times a week and cross-training two times per week. My weeks basically consist of: Monday – boxing; Tuesday – track workout; Wednesday – boxing; Thursday – tempo run; Friday – Rest, Stretch, Roll; Saturday – long run, Sunday – sit on my butt as much as humanly possible. I am two weeks in and, other than the adjusting to having a real schedule again (not to mention those 4:45am alarms!), things seem to be going well so far. I am a little tired and stuck in a perpetual state of soreness … as my boxing classes are just as much squats, lunges, burpees, planks, mountain climbers, frog jumps, bear crawls, and other forms of various torture as much as they are actual boxing … on top of the speed work and long runs. But I know my body will adjust to the higher volume soon. The first two weeks have looked a little something like this:

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Z07

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Week 3 may prove a teeny more challenging … as it’s family vacation week. And when you add beach + booze, needless to say the running becomes a wee bit more difficult. But who cares, because … VACATION!!

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Road trip!! My lovely other half happens to hate being in front of the camera, so he was gracious enough to include his shoulder in our vacation selfie .

I’ll still get my scheduled runs in but my cross-training days will most likely consist of holding down a raft while I practice 12oz curls. But that’s okay … because I’m working hard on keeping that balance and learning that there can be a happy medium that goes along with training. Making your goals a priority without making them THE priority.

I will admit that there is one thing I have always been good at … whether I was at the “married to the calendar” end of the spectrum or the complete opposite … and that is not letting the big picture get too overwhelming … just taking one week at a time, one workout at a time. But the difference between now and my “obsessive training” days is that I’m finding the motivation to get out there in places other than that schedule on the fridge. The Dream Team has been a tremendous help in that department. Seeing all the posts of everyone getting out there and doing their thing (even before training officially started!), gets me out there to do my thing. Seeing all those purple filled pictures gives me reason to not turn off that alarm and roll back over. Seeing everybody working to lift everyone else up is a type of inspiration that you can’t find just anywhere. My mantra when things get tough has consistently been “one mile at a time”, forcing me to just focus on the goal. Sometimes it has worked, sometimes is hasn’t; but now as a member of Isabella’s Dream Team, that mantra gets me through every time. Because we’re all doing this for the same reason. For the same goal. And If Isabella can fight Neuroblastoma for 5 years … over 70% of her life … then, dammit, we can make it one more freaking mile. And all the miles after that.

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