Dreams: Keep Growing Into Them

The longer that you do endurance events, the more you hear about people doing some pretty crazy things. Two years ago when my sister, Rondi, and I made a goal to run a marathon in all 50 states, I joked that if we did one a year, we’d be done before I was 85 years old.

As we started running some races in other states,while wearing our capes (made by our awesome Mom!) that said “26.2 in 50” on them, people began to tell us ways that we could get this accomplished a bit faster.

Running the Shoals Marathon in Alabama, wearing our capes.

Come to find out, there are actually whole race series that have marathons in up to 7 states in 7 days, having all of the states within driving distance from one another. So, in theory, you could check 7 states off your list in 7 days. This idea really stuck with us and we decided that we should at least try to run back to back marathons and check two states off our list in one weekend. (Did you know you can actually Google “pairs of marathons” and easily find states all over the country where this is possible?! Yeah, I didn’t either…)

And that is how this crazy idea came to be reality.

After doing some researching and looking at driving distance, the cost of the races, and the weekends that would work, we finally decided on Alabama and Mississippi. We marked it on the calendar, figured that we could leave Thursday after work and be home during the day on Monday, and honestly didn’t think much more about it until a few days before we left.

At that point, I decided to take a brief look at the course maps (noting that race one looked a bit hilly and race number two looked flat as a pancake), make sure there were breweries close by (because we also have a challenging goal of going to a brewery in all 50 states), and check what the weather might possibly be like on race day. Yes, approximately three days before the trip was the very first time that I looked into any of these things.

My older, wiser, sister, who was running her first half marathon that weekend! had looked at the course descriptions and made the brilliant decision to run in Mississippi (day two) because Alabama looked way too hilly for her. She is smart.

As it turns out, marathon number one in Alabama was INCREDIBLY hilly. Our plan was to just go slow, take it easy, and conserve our bodies so that marathon number two would be more tolerable. That was not possible. We ran our slowest marathon ever, and still felt completely beat up. There is actually no pace slow enough to make 26.2 miles feel “easy,” especially on a hilly course.

The best part of Alabama. The brewery the night before the race! 26.2 and a Brew. Genius.
Sign we saw on the drive to our hotel. We should have known…
My mile dedications for the weekend. It’s always helpful to think about people who are going through something much more difficult in their lives.
Rondi’s 52 miles for the weekend were dedicated to her friend Jenny, who at the age of 52 just lost her battle with cancer.
Somewhere around mile 8 maybe…who knows?! I just know we weren’t impressed.

Immediately after we crossed the finish line, we headed into the golf course club house and hopped in the shower. Rondi was adamant that we needed hot showers ASAP to help our muscles recover. But, after each of us hopped into the two showers that were available, we found out that one (mine) had hot water and the other (hers) was freezing cold. She toughed it out anyways and claims that maybe cold showers are the way to go! And then, thanks to our big sister who played chauffeur for the day, we were on the road to find a Mississippi brewery before packet pick-up for marathon number two.

Mississippi brewery on St. Patrick’s Day!
A couch to rest on? Yes, please!

Upon arriving at packet pick-up, we found that our Mississippi marathon was going to be run in the middle of nowhere. We couldn’t stop laughing at the fact that we were literally going to be starting our marathon next door to a cow farm.

The laughing didn’t last long though, as the realization sunk in that our bodies hurt. Badly. And yet, there were goals to accomplish. Honestly though, if at any point before we stepped on the starting line, Rondi had said that she wanted to just wait and run Mississippi a different time, I totally would have bailed. There was NO part of me that wanted to run that marathon. Everything hurt so much and I just didn’t want to. In a short little video interview in our hotel room on race morning, I teared up because I just didn’t want to run that stinkin’ marathon. Luckily, Rondi cut filming and switched to a motivational YouTube video that reminded me that I don’t need to leave this earth with a body that’s in perfect condition. But, I do need to leave knowing that I’ve worked hard and done what I wanted to do. That I’ve set big goals, dreamed hard, and pushed myself farther than I thought possible.

So, that’s what we did. We waddled to that start line and kept putting one foot in front of the other. We actually RAN the first 3.5 miles without walking at all! Unfortunately, my stomach/butt started acting up and I ended up in the port-a-potty for quite a while, and came out with a head full of dread and a new plan. The new strategy would be to walk for 1 minute, then run for 4 minutes and just keep doing that the whole time. Also, I would eat and drink at every aid station. This proved to work to clear up my stomach issues, which was huge!

In addition, we listened to a motivational book, appropriately titled “Grit”, nearly the entire race. It was the perfect distraction from what was actually going on.

We saw our sister Tanna during our race! She was out there running her first half marathon and kicking butt!
The view during one of our many 1 minute walk breaks. It really was the perfect course for marathon number two.

And, eventually, we reached finish line number two. It took even longer than the Alabama marathon, but that’s okay. We got there with zero mid-race mental break downs, and that’s honestly what I’m most proud of! Not once during the race did I think about quitting or did I feel like I wasn’t going to reach the finish line. I didn’t even ever really feel like I didn’t want to be out there running that marathon. I got over those emotions before the race started. Because, once we started, you better believe that we were finishing.

Rondi, Tanna, and I at the finish line, smiling, but standing very still 😉

In the end, we decided it’s going to be a VERY long time before we sign up for back to back marathons again. It was hard. So much harder than we thought it would be. But, that just means that we grew stronger, both mentally and physically. And that’s what will help give us the courage to keep dreaming big and keep pursuing goals that might be a little too big for us. But, we sure are going to try and grow into them.

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” -unknown

Dream bigger. Work harder. Do more than you thought you could.









The Best Kind of Crazy

Yesterday, my sister, Rondi, and I got to go on a run together.

8 miles in the Saturday morning sunshine.

This doesn’t happen very often. Honestly, we really don’t get to see each other much, but just about every time that we do get together, we make sure to squeeze in a run.

During our run yesterday we were talking about how hard it is for some people to understand why we do what we do. Nearly two years ago we decided that we are going to run a marathon (26.2 miles) or more in every state. In just under two weeks we are headed down South to do our first back to back marathons. We’re running one in Alabama on Saturday and another one in Mississippi on Sunday. It will be our first time running two marathons in two days and we’re hoping it goes well because that sure would speed up this process!

Anyway, that’s just one example of something that gives people a reason to think we’re crazy. Another, is ultra running. Last Fall I attempted my first 100 mile race. I made it 75 miles. Didn’t quite make it to the finish line, but sure did give it a go! I’ve also done a 50 mile race and a 50k. Plus, Rondi and I have completed two full Ironman triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). So, I guess there are a few reasons that we deserve to be called crazy, in the best way possible.

I like to think of the question everyone asks us as, “Why do you dream big? And what keeps you pushing so hard?” But really, the real question is normally asked in a somewhat what is wrong with you tone and goes like this…, “Why in the world would you ever want to do that?”

One reason is that it’s rewarding to see what your mind and body are capable of. If you can get past the “why would I want to do that?” and ask “COULD I ever do that?,” that’s huge. Because if you’re wondering if you CAN do something, and you’re willing to work hard and try, it will feel so stinkin’ good to do the thing that you didn’t know if you could do! And then, you’ll be hungry for more.

Another reason I like to set new goals is that there is so much personal growth that happens from working your butt off for something and then either achieving it, or failing to achieve it. No matter what the outcome is, I learn from it, and it makes me a better version of myself.

Also, I absolutely love to have something to look forward to and be working towards. It keeps me motivated to exercise and be healthy because I have so many things that I want to accomplish in life. I need my body to be in the best shape possible so that I can keep checking things off my bucket list for a really long time!

And the final reason I’ll give today is that chasing big goals keeps me sane, which makes life better for me and everyone I’m around on a daily basis. Seriously. Running is my therapy. It helps me clear my head when I run alone, and it gives me much needed girl time when I run with a friend. It’s absolutely my happy “me” place.

Those are just a few of the reasons why we will continue to be crazy, hopefully forever. I highly recommend giving it a try!

Start dreaming BIGGER!