2016, the year I ran a marathon

2016, the year I ran a marathon

Subtitle: and gained 20 pounds of fat post-race.

As I look back on this year of one of my greatest, if not the greatest, accomplishments, I beam with pride. As I look at this girl now, in front of me, with no motivation and even less muscle than when the year started, I wonder what happened to that motivation that so aptly came with January 1, 2016. While I know post-marathon blues is a real thing, I also know (and convinced myself pre-race) that I am better than that.

I find myself starting over every day. I’ve convinced myself that I’m at least making a conscious effort. I’ve forced myself to work out, if even only two or three days a week, I make my salads for lunch, even if I have a cookie to go along with it…or two or three… I know I need to go back to my routine and my healthy habits, and I know I’ll get there – I just find my head spinning in circles as to when that will happen as I quickly undo years of hard work. YEARS.

Evoke’s 30 Day Challenge, I very impatiently await my return to you.

Better late than never.

Better late than never.

Three months ago yesterday, I became the 1% – a marathoner, a person who has run 26.2 miles, a goal achiever, and the absolute best version of myself. The days, weeks and months after led to a lot of contemplating, nostalgia, laziness, pride, a return to self-doubt, and feelings every-which way. It was hard for me to sit down at a computer and write about May 1, 2016 because every time I did, so many emotions came about. I just couldn’t find it in me to do it, to get all the feels out on the screen and to share with everyone how amazing that day went. I can’t explain why, and I’m not even sure I know myself why, but know that every step I took that day (just over 50,000) was met with accomplishment, gratitude, tears and thirst for the finish line. I finished in five hours and 43 minutes – just shy of the six hour limit. I was number 92 out of 100. And at the finish line, waiting for me was a group of people to whom I’m forever grateful for (and a box of donuts).

Aside from crossing the finish line, the most imperative part of that day was at mile 23 when a complete stranger was waiting for me to give me the pep talk of a life time. He was tipped off by my friends who knew I’d need the encouragement. He gave me gummy bears and told me that in just three short miles, I’d be something forever – a marathoner – and that I will only get to be a ‘first time’ marathoner just this once. All I had to do was run aid station to aid station (which was a lot harder to do when one discovers that the next aid station was shut down early). He let me know it was okay to cry and yip and holler, but I had to finish the race before I truly could. When I crossed the finish line, a friend was on the phone with him and he was one of the first to congratulate me. Stranger (who’s real name is Michael), to this day, you’ll never know how crucial that moment and your pep talk was to me.

Writing this is bringing back all the feels. My eyes are watering as I replay stand-out moments, as I think of turning that last corner and being cheered on by more strangers, letting  me know I was almost at the finish line. The entire 26.2 miles was met with such support, people honking from their cars, aid stations asking how we were holding up, friends texting along the way. I will never forget that day, no matter how delirious I was at times or how much my vision was blurred by the tears in my eyes. I can’t imagine a moment in my life where I will be more proud of myself.

Fast forward to present day and time – I have found it hard to get myself back on track. I’ve gained weight and lost muscle. I’ve enjoyed one too many delicious meals. I’m ready to be the healthy me again, the strong me again, but maybe not the runner me just quite yet. Yesterday, three months post marathon, I restarted my journey with a healthy eating and exercise program. I look forward to regaining my confidence and fitting in my clothes again, to not being so tired and grouchy all the time, and to making and meeting new personal goals.

Here we go! #MotivationMonday

Here we go! #MotivationMonday

I simply can’t fathom that Race Week is here. Every workout, every short jaunt and long sprint, every chafe, every Nuun tab and all the carbs all lead up to this. Aside from the whole nutrition and extra rest yada yada that will come this week, my goal is to wrap up my final thoughts into this blog because until now, this week was nothing but a dream. A so far away dream that is now here and I’ve already pinched myself a thousand times since waking up this morning.

#MotivationMonday comes in the form of thanking everyone who inspired me and carried me throughout this journey. I can’t even when it comes to listing you all, but to Scott for the sushi dates before long runs and being patient when I had to give up a big part of our weekends, to Marysa for always checking in on me and cheering me on from the PNW, to Ann for your coaching and companionship, to Randy for bragging about me to everyone at work, to Mark for engaging with all my posts and always sending encouraging texts, to my family for forgiving me when I had to train, to Evven at Evoke for helping me reach new feats in strength training, to Pawko (yes, my dog) for helping me stretch and finish out many of my last miles, to New Found Glory for your upbeat and fantastic music that I could blare through my headphones to find my happy place at mile 13, to wheat toast, bananas, peanut butter, ibuprofen, Honey Badger, GU, potatoes and water for the energy boosts, to Frankie for the honk-and-waves and tweets, to Allie, Elizabeth, Margarita, Nancy, Kristen,  Brandy, Mary, Bridget, Kris, Ray and Lara for liking every single one of my social posts (yes, I noticed!), and to my body for toughing out through injury, soreness, laziness, lethargy and whatever other obstacle came my way these last six months – thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

In all seriousness, I really wish I could list every single person and thing that has helped me out along the way and please know that if you even so much as acknowledged that I was running a marathon, you were a part of this with me. You motivate me because I don’t want to let you down!

F@$% Running

I had the absolute worst run on Monday. EVERYTHING went wrong and it sure was a lesson against procrastinating. I ran out of time (and motivation) to do my 8-miler this weekend so I thought heck, it’s only eight miles – surely I can do it after work. Wrong. From the beginning, my calf cramped for two miles while my running pack kept falling off for four. I didn’t have any Advil left, my water was leaking all over my hip, I didn’t think I’d need an energy gel but alas when I wanted one, there wasn’t one. My knee cramped. My hip cramped. I got a new phone over the weekend that wouldn’t connect to my headphones for a good ten minutes and even worse, I have none of my music on there yet. Last but not least, I could only find it in me to walk/run seven miles.

I’m NINE days away from my marathon. NINE, PEOPLE. I know everyone has their moments, but really? This close to the race?

I’ve been trying to put it behind me since it happened, but I can’t seem to shake it as it terrifies me that all those things will happen come race day.

Race ready, blog not-so-steady

Race ready, blog not-so-steady

Hey you! Remember me? I’m the girl who wanted to blog about her marathon training and have alas made it this far, only to fail. But I guess its better to fail at the writing than the running.

There are fifteen days until my first marathon. I’m already starting to feel a post-race depression kick in. I feel it every time I work out. I feel it while I taper. What do you mean I only have to run EIGHT miles this weekend?! Ooh-wee, I’m leaving the vaseline and the GU at home, papa.

Two weeks ago, I finally hit the point where I knew I was ready. I ran 20 miles – the only thing that scared me more than the actual run. That day was phenomenal. The sun was out. My Honey Badger pre-workout did it’s justice and turned me into an unusual 6 a.m. chatterbox. (Seriously… do NOT try and talk to me in the morning). I had my traditional night-before sushi coma that was more delicious than ever. I slept well. My body felt great with no injury in sight. Everything went just as it was supposed to.

When training started, I vowed that each long run would be met with a new product test. This time, we worked really hard at the whole eating thing. I have never craved nor savored a bagel more than I did at mile nine (and I’m a Jew, so that says something). I was let in on a *spudworthy* secret at mile 12 and at the end, I devoured a hamburger, fries, three beers and two shots of whisky that numbed any cramp or pain that came my way. So, when a runner tells you they “run to eat,” it seriously is so very true.

After a two mile incline in the super hot sun, my running gal pal told me I should give myself a “whoop whoop” at the top. What came out of my mouth and what she actually heard resulted in my new mating call, my new holler and what you should yell at me any chance you get (like from the cheering sections on race day): “Jew Whoop!” While that’s not what I said, it’s fitting and Ann had every right to think I would come up with something so clever.

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As I sprint around some of the memories from that day, the one that keeps crossing my mind the most is the thought of being ready and how I felt it most in the last three miles. Truly, it’s because of the people I had with me that day. The ones who texted me every few miles to check-in, the ones who surprised me with a group Facebook follow, the ones who pulled over in the middle of the street to honk at me, and most importantly, the ones who ran with me. I have never felt luckier in life than I have since training began.

But also knowing that I’ve worked my ass off these last six months has left me with such a feeling of completion, even though I haven’t officially ran the race yet. I’ve remained committed. I haven’t quit. I’ve dedicated early mornings, late nights and weekends to accomplishing something I never dreamed I would do. Something I told everyone I would NEVER do. Something I am, now, GOING to do.

Fifteen days separates me. Each day I get a little more nervous, but each day I recall that feeling of being ready because I AM ready.

I’m here….

…and I’m alive with so many training updates to make. But alas, I’m a failure at life… or just blogging… with no time to spare. If you’re really invested in my journey, (and why wouldn’t you be?) I update more frequently on my Facebook page: Sara and Her Soles.

Sarcasm and funny author voice aside, I’ve really loved sharing this venture with you. With 17 days to go, I’ve got a lot on my plate but not a single day goes by where I don’t think about updating you all. Xo.