When Does It Stop Being So Hard?

Last week, one of my Facebook friends posted the following question: “I go out 2 – 4 times a week and run. When do you get over the fear at the beginning that it’s too hard and I won’t be able to finish?”

I wanted to comment, but I really felt like I had too much to say on the topic to just write a sentence or two response. So instead, I decided to make it into a whole blog 🙂

My first thought was this: What are your expectations for the run? What do you mean by “I won’t be able to finish?” Do you mean that you will quit sooner than you wanted and go a shorter distance? Or, that you will walk more often than you had hoped? Surely you WILL get back to where you started, but will you be satisfied with your effort?

I think these questions definitely deserve some attention. Often, people set their expectations very high and then beat themselves up when they “fail” to achieve a certain level. When I first started running I thought that I wasn’t a real runner if I had to take walk breaks. What a bunch of garbage that thinking was! If you need to walk…then walk! If it feels too hard, catch your breath, remind yourself that you’re in control, and start jogging again when you can.

Other people that I spoke to on this topic believed that it’s all about learning how to tell all of the negative voices in your head to shut up. You know, that voice that says, “Come on, this is too hard. I know you wanted to run 3 miles, but really, 2 is enough. You’re tired. You had a hard day…” and so on. When those voices start to creep into your thoughts, you need to have a plan of attack. Some people use mantras, and repeat a phrase over and over. Others use self talk and are able to think about why they are running, and how good it feels to finish what you set out to do. The more practice that you have at controlling those negative thoughts, the easier it becomes. And then, before you know it, they won’t even bother coming around anymore! (Or at least not too often…)

In the end, if you lace up your shoes and take the first step out the door, you have already won the hardest part of the battle. The rest is just putting one foot in front of the other. It’s not easy, but that’s what makes it great!!

it's the hard that makes it great

 Sparkle. Pounce. Finish.

Dream Big.

I’ve been sitting at my computer typing, deleting, trying again….deleting…and getting no where for quite some time now. I wanted this blog to flow perfectly to get my point across, but it’s just not coming together the way I want it to, so I apologize in advance for the hopping from one thing to another. BUT…if you get nothing else out of it, I want you to be sure and get this point: DREAM BIG.

My first little story to teach this lesson comes from a proud mom moment this week. Liam, my oldest son, doesn’t love to read. I’ve been trying to find the perfect books for him, but haven’t had much luck…until this week. I finally got him to agree to try out one of the Magic Tree House books. He read aloud to me for a while, and then he wanted to just sit next to me and read to himself while I read my book. We read for a while and then I got up to do some laundry. As soon as I stood up, he shot up off the couch and started playing Nerf basketball. His rationale was that he was only going to read while I read. Fair enough. So I hustled to switch the laundry and get back to reading. He accompanied me, grabbed his book, and snuggled in next to me. (I know these moments aren’t going to last long with him, so I’m cherishing them!)

The conversation that came next is what made me feel like I was on top of the world. He asked what book I was reading. I told him that it was called, “Women Who Run.”
“Does it talk about you?” he asked.
“Nope. Not me.”
“Why not? You’re a good runner,” he insisted.
“It’s about famous runners,” I said with a satisfied smirk.
“Is it about any of your friends?”
“No. Not them either.”
“Well I think you should be in it,” he said. And then went back to reading his book.

How great is that?! Yes, I do realize that he’s only 8 years old, but I don’t care! I love that he knows what I love and he believes in me. And you know what?! Some day I WILL be reading a book about me. One that I write!

Dream big, folks.

And our next “dream big” lesson is brought to you by Kara Goucher. If you don’t know who she is, Google her. She’s a professional USA marathoner who currently lives and trains in Boulder. I like her. She has always seemed like such a down to earth girl, she’s about my age, she has a son, and I’m sure that we’d be besties in a heart beat if she lived in my training area. (Ok…I may have gotten carried away there…)

Anyways, this week Kara Goucher announced that she would not be renewing her contract with Nike. Instead, she signed a contract with Oiselle, a very small company that can’t afford to pay her much money. She turned down a SEVEN FIGURE contract to sign with a company that will force her family to go on a “budget.” Kara explained her reasons for this, and I wanted to hug her. Oiselle leaves her feeling inspired. It leaves her excited about what she’s doing, and hopeful that she will have a positive impact on other women. She feels like it’s a company that has a real desire to motivate women. It’s not just about making money.

Stop. The. Press.

Obviously, I was a little disappointed that Sparkle.Pounce. isn’t ready to sign Kara Goucher, but I was elated to hear about such a powerful role model in running and fitness partnering with a company that has the same goal as us! My heart was happy. And maybe, just maybe, some day we’ll see Kara Goucher sporting some Sparkle.Pounce. gear.

Sparkle.Pounce.Dream big.

Running Is My Therapy

Saturday morning, you would’ve thought that it was 70 degrees and sunny. The amount of people that were out running at Stony Creek was probably a record for 2014, and yet, it was cloudy, windy, and cold. When I pulled into the parking lot at 7:45am (just barely light out), I asked myself, “Why do I do this?” I was dreading the first 6 mile loop, which I had to run on my own. Thankfully, I had Stephanie joining me for the second loop, and Leigh Ann, Sarah, and Lori joining in for the last 3-4 miles of my 15 mile run…(Oh, how I love marathon training! – insert sarcasm :/).

So, I started out a bit slow. That was actually my goal. I have a very bad habit of running too fast when I’m solo, and then I get completely out of breathe and worn out. I’m pretty sure it’s my mind’s way of saying, “Let’s get this over with! The faster you go, the sooner it’s over!” Not a good way to start a 15 mile run. “Slow and steady” was the name of this mission…

Right from the start, I had my eyes set on a man running up ahead of me. He was a ways off, and I was pretty sure that he was running right around the pace I wanted to keep. So, I hung back for a long time, but I was starting to get antsy. Right around the 2 mile mark, I made my move and started to pass him. As I was running by, I asked if he was running a 10 minute pace (which is what I had told myself I was supposed to be running…) and he said he was. Then I asked if he was training for something. He said he was running Boston next month. BOSTON!! An injury had left him running much slower than he planned, but he would be running in his first Boston marathon in April. Such an amazing accomplishment!

From there, I don’t know how it really happened, but I had myself a running buddy for the rest of my 6 mile loop. I have to admit that I didn’t do much talking, but the time sure did pass quickly as this man that I had never met opened up to me. He began telling me about some of the marathons that he had run (some 30+ !!) and then he told me about his 50K ultra where his running buddy had a complete meltdown during the race and spilled her deepest darkest secrets to him. We both agreed that running has the ability to strip you of all logic and reasoning and allow you to completely let your guard down. Once you hit a certain distance it’s kind of like being drunk. The filter is removed. Your feelings just spill out and those around you are left with the messy task of trying to put you back together. It can get pretty ugly.

And then, the conversation took a turn in a new direction. Once again, I’m not sure how it happened, but the next thing I know, my new friend is telling me all about his time served in the Vietnam War. Stories that take years to share were being spilled on the running path before us. This man had been through some extremely rough things in his past, and I was honored to be his listening ear. One of the last things that was said as we neared the parking lot was that he wished his generation had learned what my generation has, and that is that you can be against the war without being against the warrior. Amen to that.

And just like that, I was already done with my first 6 miles! I hadn’t even thought about the actual act of running for the last 4 miles. AMAZING! As I saw Stephanie pull into the drive, I said good bye to my 4 mile running buddy and wished him well.

The first few miles with Steph went by quickly. We got caught up on some Sparkle.Pounce. business talk, chatted a bit about the Grand Island Trail Marathon this summer (woot! woot!), and overall, just did what girls do best 🙂 TALKED. We saw a lot of familiar faces out there, which is always so much fun! Then, we met up with our running pal, Martha. She kept us company for another 3 miles and had some pretty funny stories to tell. One was about her 100 mile ultra attempt. She was at mile 67 after running ALL night, when a very fresh and spunky man ran by her and said, “Pick it up!” She told us how her mind had removed all filters and she very badly wanted to curse the man and tell him to go to hell. Luckily (and quite surprisingly, I might add!), she was able to hold back and bite her tongue.

And just like that, I was done with 12 miles! As we neared the parking lot, Leigh Ann, Lori, and Sarah met up with us for the last 3 miles, a short out and back. With 3 more girls to add to the conversation, the time once again flew by. Many of the faces we passed on the path were people that had been out all morning, and it was fun to wave “hello” for the second or third time. And of course, when we came up to Martha who was now walking up the hill that we were running down, I had to yell out, “Pick it up, Martha!” to which she promptly responded, “Go to hell!”

We jogged back to the parking lot until my Nike Plus app told me that I had run 15 miles. It took me 2 hours and 46 minutes, and it was awesome. Then we headed out to enjoy breakfast 🙂

It’s funny, a friend at work on Friday asked me how long it was going to take me to run 15 miles. I had to think about it, but guessed it would be close to 3 hours. She just didn’t understand how I could handle spending that much of my time running. But honestly, it is what I look forward to the most almost every weekend. It’s my therapy. It’s my time for me. And even though my body hurts a little when I’m done, my mind and my spirit feel refreshed and alive. There is nothing better than that!

Sparkle. Pounce.

Spring Forward

Do you know what’s awesome about springing forward? It’s one time in our year when we don’t get to make any kind of decision about something that’s a pretty big change. And really, a change for the better. We all whined about it a bit and dreaded waking up “an hour early” on Monday morning, but guess what? We ALL did it! And I bet that all of us are LOVING the fact that it’s staying light until almost 8pm.

But, if I had been given a choice on this matter, I definitely would have said I wasn’t ready for the change. I mean, I really enjoyed driving to work in the daylight, and why does it need to stay lighter at night when the weather outside is MISERABLE anyways, right? Luckily, I was forced into it, and now I’m happy about it.

Sometimes I wish that there were other areas in my life that were like this. Even if I didn’t feel ready, somehow if it was what was best for me, it would just automatically start changing. Something would force me to do things. Or, things would just be done without my input. Maybe I’d wake up to an email confirming a race registration for a 50 mile ultra, or I’d get a voice mail verifying that I had volunteered to go on a mission trip, or I’d find a note from a student asking me when I was starting the after school running club. All of these are things that I want to do…some day. But the time is just never right. I’m never ready.

So, that’s why I’m thankful for daylight savings time. It’s the one time of the year when someone else makes a decision for me. And although I’m not ready for it, and I complain and pout about it, I know that it’s actually pretty great.

Sparkle. Pounce. Spring forward!

Not Alone

Today after work, I had the luxury of going for a run at Stony Creek before I picked the boys up from daycare. It had been a long time since I’d gone for a run outside by myself, and I was feeling a little anxious about it. Over the last few months all of my runs have either been outside with my Sparkle. Pounce. girls, or on the treadmill with Mr. White and Jesse (Breaking Bad my current Netflix treadmill addiction). The thought of being alone with my thoughts for 6 miles was a bit daunting.

As it turns out, it was a pretty awesome run. And, I came up with the brilliant idea that since I was alone with my thoughts for 6 miles, I should take advantage of the opportunity to share those thoughts with all of you…in this blog. So, here we go. A unique glimpse into the mind of Kendra before, during, and after a run…

It’s really cold out here. Quick bathroom stop. Get the Nike Plus app all set. Should I share it on Facebook? I just told Stephanie that I didn’t need “cheers” on Facebook, but now I think maybe I do. It will make me feel like I’m not alone on this run. Ok. I’m doing it. I’m sharing my workout on Facebook. What the heck? Alright, pressed “begin run”…must shove phone in my fanny pack as quickly as possible and start moving.

Does my pace show up on Facebook? Oh man. This can’t be a slow run. I don’t like running alone. Why am I already out of breathe? There is no one here today. I’m really all alone.

Maybe I should write my blog today about being alone, but never really being alone. I could title it “TMI Tuesday” and tell the story about the jump-roping conversation. Yes. That’s what I’ll do. I can start off with how I was embarrassed to say that I can’t jump rope anymore because of the “leakage” issues that happen ever since I had kids. And then tell about how a certain other friend who has never had kids has the same problem! And it’s not just me! Almost all women have the same issue! Of course, I’ll warn the men that they might not want to read this blog…it is, after all, titled “TMI Tuesday”. This will be perfect.

I’m keeping up a pretty good pace. I wonder if I can stay under 9 minutes for every mile. Hmmmm…

I haven’t seen a single woman out here. What the heck ladies?! Where are you?

Am I holding my pepper spray right? Yup. Looks good. I hope it’s not frozen in there. I wonder if I should give it a test squirt…

Oh look! A woman! It’s Michelle. I’m 99% sure that she doesn’t know my name, but I know hers. She’s a real runner. I wonder if she’s here every day at this time? I swear she’s here every time that I run over here at this time of day. I wonder how many times I’ve run around this 6 mile loop… A LOT. I wonder how many times Kenny has run around this loop. Kenny is another one of those runners that has no idea who I am. I remember when I was running the CRIM and Kenny talked me through miles 7-9. He was a life saver. And he didn’t know me then, still doesn’t know me now. I hope I’m one of those runners some day. I really need to run over here more often if I want people to start recognizing me…

I’m kind of tired. Wait a second. I haven’t had a single “cheer” on Nike Plus. I think people don’t like to see people’s workouts on Facebook. Maybe it’s annoying. But still, not a single cheer? Man, I really am alone out here.

4 miles done and still staying under 9 minute miles! I hope my pace does show up on Facebook. This is fast for me!

There really isn’t anyone out here today. I’m going to walk and catch my breathe for a minute.

Oh crap. There’s somebody. I have to run. I hope they didn’t see me walking. I’m going to run faster as I go by.

Wait a second. Do I know that guy?


I think I knew that guy. Was that Paul’s brother? But which one? I can never tell twins apart. I wonder if that was him. I’ve never seen him over here before. I would hate to be a twin. I want people to know who I am!

Less than 1.5 miles to go…

Man, if I could maintain this pace for a 1/2 marathon I could set a PR! What would my time be at an 8:45 mile? ….. Forget it. I can’t figure that out right now.

I remember my first 1/2 marathon after having Finn. Ha! My first race where I ever peed my pants and just kept on running. That’s another good topic for “TMI Tuesday.” I didn’t care. If I would’ve stopped to pee I wouldn’t have broken 2 hours. It was totally worth it. I still think it’s funny that that was the first and only time I ever beat Rondi (my sister) in a race, and yet the official time chip said she beat me. And she hoped I didn’t look up the official times. Ha! I sure did.

Less than half a mile left! Wait a second. I still haven’t had a single cheer on Facebook. Ok, I’m never putting a workout on Facebook again. But I do hope that my pace shows up on there. I am killing this run!

Don’t walk. Don’t walk. Push to the end. Wait for the beep…and…DONE!

Click stop on my Garmin. Unzip the fanny pack. Take out the phone to “end” the run. WHAT?!?! Why is it asking me if I want to begin my workout with a weak GPS signal? Wait. NO! It didn’t log any of that?? 52:04 for 6 miles and it counts for nothing. Sigh… Nike Plus is NOT my favorite app anymore. And maybe that’s what I didn’t get any “cheers”…but maybe that’s annoying anyways. Ok. Time to get the boys.

So you see, it’s not always bad to be alone with your thoughts. Actually, it was a breathe of fresh air. And I must say, I’m much better company than Mr. White and Jesse (remember…Breaking Bad…).

Sparkle. Pounce.