Wow, it’s funny. I never thought I would say these words – I’m getting ready for next year’s half-marathon on Disney Princess Half-Marathon weekend. I will admit, as I was preparing for my first ever half-marathon, I was determined that running (loosely speaking) a half marathon would be a one-time event; a bucket list item; something that I can say, “I did it” and move on. Somewhere between miles 12 and 13.1, I started to reconsider. I was in pain, yes, pretty much, but with better and more consistent training, I think I can actually do this again.
I learned from the experts that you should rest a few days after such a major running event. I’m definitely doing so. Not really by choice, but still working the kinks out my calves and the long drive home. I’m not wasting the time; however, I’m busy working on a new plan to get ready for next year. The plan currently consists of re-constructing my vision board, framing my bib from this year (visuals always help), scouring for training plans (there are so many free plans available), looking for healthy recipes. High priorities also include signing up for races, including the most important one – a timed 10 K race so that I can place in the corrals next year. This grandma’s got some planning and running to do.
It took one whole year of training. It’s pretty amazing. All of the training, all of the effort led up to the most amazing moment, crossing the finish line! Yes, I did. I finished. Step by step, moment by moment, I moved in awe of the runners who could run those 13.1 miles practically in their sleep. While that wasn’t necessarily me this year, I managed to step over the finish line.
Funny, the marathon was a week ago and the pain is gone. (Oh, I’ll talk about the pain soon), but it’s still sinking in. What I remember the most about that day was being afraid. What was I afraid of? What was the worst that could have happened? Not finishing? Putting everything in perspective, however, once I stepped up to the start line I had already won.
Self-doubt at mile one? During one of his sessions at the expo, Jeff Galloway talked about the three stages of a half marathon. Run the first five miles with your head; the next five miles with your legs and the last miles with your passion. I have to admit, by the third mile, I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to be using. Was it my head? My heart?
Mile ten, oh the legs. I remember at mile nine, feeling a small twinge in my right calf. By mile ten, however, the twinge had turned into full blown cramps in the calf muscles on both legs. Oh no! To get so far and have to quit? Bio-freeze, two stowed-away Tylonel, sipping on PowerAde, I did whatever I needed to do…all in an effort to get back to the safe zone of Epcot. What kept me going? The slim half mile lead I had on the balloon ladies was quickly dwindling. Seeing those balloons bobbing at the bottom of the ramp spurred me on.
The finish…I would like to say that I raced over the line with my arms raised in triumph. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was until a full five minutes after the race that I realized – I finished! I had a medal in hand. My time was not great, but technically it was still a personal record. When I think back to the fact that I finished my first half marathon, with double leg cramps – I have to say, this grandma did it. Next year… here I come!
As time drawers nearer to the Disney Princess Half Marathon, nerves are starting to set in. (HA….as though I haven’t had them for the past year). Have I trained enough? I surely haven’t posted enough. Hopefully my posting frequency, or lack thereof, won’t be an indication of my performance in the Disney Half Marathon in less than twelve days.
Back to the immediate question at hand, however. Those balloon ladies…who are they? If you’re like me, you read up on everything you can about a race. Are there any surprises? What are the other runners saying? Well for the Disney Princess Half Marathon, the biggest buzz is about the infamous balloon ladies. After the last runner has crossed the starting line, these “balloon ladies” (so aptly named for the big balloons they will have tied around their waist), will step over the start line and begin the required 16 mile per hour pacing. If you can’t stay ahead of these ladies, the current (or next) mile might be your last. Can’t keep up and you may get picked up by “the bus” and driven to the finish line. Terror!
Riding the “bus of shame”? This thought alone is enough to spark fear in any novice half marathon runner. I’ve taken heart, however, I’ve read that the volunteers on the bus make it as easy as possible for you as you wallow in whatever emotions you might be feeling…shame for not finishing…berating yourself for lack of training….or happiness because you couldn’t run one more step.
Balloon ladies or not, I have a goal. My goal is to finish – preferably without ever seeing the balloon ladies, but time will tell, however, as we begin the last count down toward – grandma running a half marathon.
Here we are January 1, 2014. It’s a day that so many people make New Year’s resolutions, with the hopes that we will still be engaging in these awesome behaviors by December 31st. The truth is that most resolutions only last a couple of months or a couple of days.
This year, I’m not calling them resolutions. I’m thinking that if I split my goals into smaller chunks, perhaps I can finish one here or there. This year, I’m going to call them 30-day challenges. Sounds more reasonable, doesn’t it? Slightly more do-able? Instead of feeling that I’ve failed by the end of the year, I can feel victorious in as little as 30 days. When I’ve successfully completed a 30-day challenge I can renew it just like a library book.
What happens if I fail? Believe it or not, failure is always an option, but it helps me to understand that I’m not perfect and can forgive myself and start again. I’m not scared of a little failure; I think I would be more scared of never starting.
The answer, I am. In fact, I know it’s probably been more than thirty days, but that is all I’m about to admit to. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t total inactivity. It was the flu, the planter fasciitis and a host of other ailments, but really the biggest excuse was more like – laziness. Who can take time to be lazy when they have their first, and hopefully not last, half marathon hanging over their head? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying “hanging” in the negative sense. More like, what a triumph it will be when I cross the finish line.
What I do know, however, is that the exercise plan, or lack thereof in the last thirty days isn’t going to get me where I need to be. Flu aside, hurt foot move aside, I need to get back on the ball with slightly larger than baby steps.
Step one – tonight sixty minutes of Zumba that included an entire song doing squats. A second song where it seemed like every other move involved doing twenty something jumping jacks. Talk about going zero to sixty. What I do know is that it feels good to sweat. What I also know is that you may not be counting, but I am and the countdown has begun in earnest.
The good thing about running is that the start-up costs absolutely nothing. Aside from a decent pair of sneakers to get started, all you need is the desire. I thought that after being away from running for over thirty days, it would be hard to get started again. Was I giving up on my dream of running a half-marathon?
It’s true, once you start making excuses for why you’re not going out to run, each day it gets even easier to not go. It almost makes you afraid to get out there and get started again. I was nervous, but my desire to feel the freedom and get back on track outweighed my nervousness and most importantly my excuses.
Today is a beautiful day. How often do you look up and see nothing, absolutely nothing but clear blue sky? The deep blue greeted me this morning at 7 a.m. After the summer heat almost scared me away, 62 degrees was just the right temperature this morning to don my sneakers, throw on some shorts and head to the track. Even better, the crowd at the track had thin considerably. Not that I mind other runners, in fact I love the camaraderie, but today I needed a moment to get myself together. I ran some, walked some and managed to go 3.5 miles. Maybe my time wasn’t the greatest. Maybe I did more walking then I would have liked. Maybe my Nike app seemed too happy to see me, but I don’t think anyone was happier than I to be back on track.
It’s September! I can’t believe how quickly time flies. The problem with it being September is that I looked back over August and suddenly realized – I didn’t run in August. Not once, not that I recall. Oh my, how terrible is that? What kind of journey is grandma taking if she went an entire month without preparing for “the race”?
Let’s re-visit August shall we? Feeling the need to cross-train, I joined the gym again. I suddenly remembered how much I loved Zumba. The music, the beat…the fact that I could workout in the back of the class and work up a shirt soaking sweat to some awesome rhythms. I was going to Zumba three times a week. The only problem is that it seemed to diminish my get up and go, to get out the door to run. Balance, I needed to find the balance, but then…
Vacation. Heck yeah! Summer is vacation time and I felt the need to take the kids on a last minute trip to Disney World. Who can run when you’re at the happiest place on earth? While I didn’t run, I did spend time walking through Disney parks from 9 am to almost midnight for four days. I know, that alone, has to count for something. Right? This little vacation ended up taking the last two weeks of August. So now, suddenly it’s September.
September? I realized that February isn’t getting any further away. In fact, it’s rapidly approaching. This gma best get a move on. It’s time to lace those sneakers back up.
I was putting together my training plan to run my first half-marathon next year and decided to look up articles on training for women over 50. I’m not really sure why, but it seemed like an interesting thing to do when the heat index in Northern VA was somewhere over 100 degrees. What I found, however, was not only depressing but rude and host of other adjectives that I’ll reserve for the time being.
I can’t tell if Running Training Marathon – Made Easy was the name of the website or the article, but it was particularly degrading to us fabulous over 50 runners (and yes I said runners – even if we are new). It started off promising enough, saying running was a great way to stay fit – then it swerved into crazy territory, (and I quote) , “There are a number of running programs which are basically suited to the needs of elderly women.” Elderly? Since when is 50 the new “elderly”? Instead of stopping at that sentence, like the one commenter did, I kept reading. Why? I have no idea because then it proceeded to say (and this is a copy and paste quote) , “If you have been walking for 7 minutes then for around 10 seconds you need to run very hand that is also called as sprinting.” So now not only am I old and feeble, but I’m stupid as well because I don’t know what “sprint” means. I’m wondering who has the real issue when they say “run hand” instead of “run hard”.
Why do articles dealing with the subject of women over 50 make it seem like consulting the doctor before starting to run is a matter of life and death? The last time I checked, it was recommended regardless of age. Every article I read, seemed to want to highlight this as if that magical five followed by a 0 (50+) seemed to spark extra special feeble care. One article told us not to run alone because we could get hurt and not be able to get help.
Oh well, enough of my rants for today. I do hope that you fabulous over 50’ers steer way from articles designed to make you doubt your ability. Run strong – there will be plenty of time for rocking chairs later – and what great stories we will have to tell!
What is the most precious thing that could tug at a grandma’s heart? Without a doubt it’s my grandson. It was so precious today when I was leaving to come back to work after lunch. Little JD gave me his little backwards wave (that’s the one when his fingers are actually pointed towards himself) and said “bye.” Granted he’s been making those “I’m about to start really talking” sounds for a while now, but to see him to put action into words with that sweet voice telling me “bye” almost made me cry. It’s time like these when it doesn’t matter that he’s made a mess of the rug, has taken every Tupperware container out of the cabinet or the house is a mess from all of his toys – you gotta love them. These are the times you wish you had an automatic camera to capture the moments. Yet another reason to stay healthy, to watch this child grow.