Ask me anything! Answers, Round 1

You guys are rascals.  Yesterday I asked you to submit questions to me so I'd have something to talk about other than running until after the mini and guess what? 80% of the questions I got were about running. Must be fate ...

So, I figured I would address the running questions in today's post and address the others tomorrow. But before I begin, I have to point out there there is a 50% chance of thunderstorms on Saturday. Major frowning face going on over here.  I'm going to be so disappointed if the race gets called because of Mother Nature. Heck, I ran in thunderstorms during my training and everyone else can too! We all signed the same waiver.  I'll risk a lightning bolt to my butt ... might make me go faster.

Back to the questions:

How and why did you decide to start running? What made the light bulb go off in your head?

I've been asked this question a few times over the last year, and I'm never sure how to answer it.  I can't remember anything definitive that made me put on my sneakers and hit the pavement.  I ran for exercise and stress-relief in high school, but kind of stopped doing that once I started college.  During my college years I would occasionally venture outside to try and run, but I wouldn't last very long and usually quit after like 20 minutes. Before my wedding I got more serious about running in an effort to shed pounds for my big day, but it was still never more than a mile or two.

One Sunday last summer, my pastor at church mentioned that he was going to start training for a full marathon (26.2 miles).  I leaned over to Clayton and whispered, "I think I would like to do something like that, too."  Days later, I found a half marathon online that was going to be held October 16th, 2010 in Indianapolis and decided I was going to run it.  Just like that.  I started running up and down the street outside of our apartment (which was maybe 2 miles down and back) every other day until I felt like I had improved my overall cardio health. Next, I printed off a beginner's training schedule made by some old guy and used it as my guide.  I posted it on my refrigerator and followed it exactly, this time taking my runs to the trail near my apartment complex.

During the 12 week training for this mini, I completely fell in love with running in a way that I never had in the past.  I used to run back in the day simply as a means to an end. "If I run, I'll maintain my weight," was my only thought process behind doing it.  However, once I really started focusing on what I was doing and preparing my body for an actual race, it completely changed me.  Yes, it has definitely changed my body (my shining moment being one day last fall when Clayton and I were hiking and he said, "Everything about your back end looks ... tighter.") and I am beyond thrilled with that, but it also changed my mentality.  It takes a certain mental toughness to stick it out for runs lasting more than an hour (that just made it sound like horrible diarrhea, didn't it?). Your body wants to quit, sometimes you feel bored, and sometimes you become so frustrated you're not even sure you want to do it anymore.  I feel like the true mark or a runner is when you can power past those thoughts that because you feel like there isn't any other option. In the short year I've been seriously pursuing running, the feeling of wanting to run has been replaced by the feeling of "I have to".

Running has taught me a lot about myself.  I am way tougher than I ever give myself credit for. And knowing that your body is capable of running like that is one of the most satisfying feelings on the planet. And the best part is, no one can take that away from you.  Running is a solo sport.  It's only about you and what you're willing to put into.  You are in control.  No one else will run those miles for you.

I'm clearly not as experienced as lot of people.  There are millions of people who have been doing it for many more years and have run many more races.  I really look forward to the future and to improving and to pushing myself more and more.  I may not be as experienced, but I definitely have enough passion and drive to rival even the most seasoned runner.

When you're running, how does it make you feel? (Meaning emotionally/mentally, but physically can be a part of that, too.)

My feelings during a run vary.  Then can be anywhere from "Who's stupid idea was this?!" to "This is amazing! I might never stop!"  If I don't want to run, I make myself to do it anyway because I know it will be worth it in the end. With the exception of the few times I've run with really bad shin splints and, more recently, my sore knee, I've never finished and felt like crap. I always feel amazing because, slow/bad run or not, I still did it!

I tend to repeat things to myself when I run because A) It gives me something to do and B) I'm a firm believer that if you tell yourself something enough times, you'll eventually believe it.  Now, I'm not saying that the things I chant to myself are always practical.  There was that 7-mile run where I did nothing but repeat the lyrics to "I'm On A Boat!" in my head, and I never magically materialized on a boat no matter how hard I tried.  But, when I say things like, "I am strong. My lungs are strong. My legs are strong", I do eventually start to believe it.

The way I feel during a run may always be different—I can feel stressed, sad, discouraged, ect.—but I can promise I will only feel one way when I'm done ... and that's proud.

What's your favorite running-related quote and how does it relate to you?

This is so embarrassing.  Before my first mini I did some research on running quotes because I am a very wordy person and like to have tangible motivation right in front of my face.  I've found some really good ones from incredible athletes like Jesse Owens or Mia Hamm, but the quote that has stuck out the most to me can be attributed to ...


Ya, Oprah.

I really want to write her a letter and ask her if she's ever actually run before, but I'm sure she gets a lot of mail, and I don't have a stamp.  But regardless, her quote holds the most value to me:

"Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it."

I actually put that quote on my training schedule for my upcoming mini so that I could read it every time I went to the refrigerator (which, sadly, is several times a day). I find this quote so relatable to life because it is about life and it's so true. Whenever I read this quote, I think back to when I started running those slow, sweaty treks up and down the street outside my house.  I think about how hard it was in the beginning and then all the way to where I am now.  I'm no Olympian, but I have come a long way.  And, as conceited as this sounds, it's because of me.  Like I said earlier, no one will run those miles for you.  No one will pick up one foot and put it in front of the other for you.  You are in control.  You have to put in the work to get anywhere.  How is that NOT relatable to life?

I pride myself on being an extremely motivated person.  I have the dozens of networking interviews, countless cold-calling on behalf of my career, and the job promotions to show for it. Putting myself out there has never been a problem.  No one is going to do it for me.  Opportunity isn't going to just fall into my lap.  I have to go out and make things happen for myself.  The world doesn't owe me any favors. I get out of this life exactly what I put into it.

I put sweat and tears (but never any blood, thank goodness!) into my runs. I never missed a long run. I made myself run when I didn't want to. I made myself run when it was hard or when the weather was bad.  And it all became incredibly worth it the second I ran over the finish line of my first mini marathon. 

I think every runner out there can attest to that. Can I get an "Amen!"?