Sunday, June 5, 2016

Who Would've Thought... Looking Back & Looking Forward

After an incredible month, I am still waiting for someone to pinch me and to realize this was all just a wonderful dream.  Over the past four weeks, I have managed to accomplish goals that I never would have imagined would be possible for me a year ago... or even a month ago.  I've always loved running, starting with cross-country in junior high and completing my first marathon at 18.  But I've always been a mid-to-back of the pack runner and never really had a ton of confidence in my ability to surpass that.  

Then four weeks ago today, I broke my marathon PR by over 16 minutes at the Sugarloaf Marathon, finishing in 4:25:14.  I felt SO strong from the moment I started until I crossed the finish line.  I have never felt more confident in my abilities as a runner, and more importantly, have never had so much fun running 26.2.  

Cheesy grin?  Check!
Beginning with Sugarloaf, I had set a goal to complete three marathons in three days, including two New England Challenge races - the Pine Tree Marathon in Portland, and the Granite State Marathon in Nashua, New Hampshire.  I was slightly terrified about this trio - never having even run two marathons in the same month, let alone three in the same week!   But you know what?  I had the time of my life.  So much so that I added a fourth later that week in western Massachusetts, and then ran the Vermont City Marathon the following week.  

On top of the world after 26.2 x 3!
Looking back, this week of marathons across New England feels somewhat like a dream.  I'm not sure where the endurance, the strength and the determination came from that week, but somehow it all came together.  I crossed the finish line each day with tears in my eyes, feeling like I was capable of anything in that moment, and ready to take on the world.  


Then, flash forward a week after Vermont City.  Based on some overly-optimistic planning, I had registered for two races this weekend - a hilly 10K for my running club's Grand Prix series on Saturday and a local 5K on Sunday.  Once again, I was nervous about running on tired legs on tough courses with some really talented runners.  I resigned myself to taking it easy and just getting it done.

First, Saturday came with the Middleboro YMCA Tispaquin Run.  It was crazy hot and humid, and I could feel the fatigue from Vermont in my legs throughout the hilly course.  I was nervous about the 10K distance, having never quite mastered pacing in between a 5K race pace and the half marathon distance.  So when I finished and realized that I had PR'd my 10K by 8 minutes, finishing in 56:23, I was nothing short of ecstatic. 
 


And then to cap off these totally unreal 4 weeks, I achieved my third PR today at the McGuiggan's Pub 5K in Whitman.  My finish time was 24:52, for a 7:56/mile pace.  Now, if you had told me a few months ago that I would EVER be running sub-8's, I would have thought you were crazy.  Honestly, even prior to today, looking back at my paces, I wouldn't have thought it was possible.  So when I realized that I had won first in my age group, I was pretty much over the moon.  
Matching trophies with my running buddy - so proud!
Needless to say, the past four weeks have been nothing short of incredible.  This month taught me that I am a heck of a lot tougher and stronger than I would have ever thought.  I have learned that my body is capable of persevering through seemingly impossible challenges, and of continuing to get stronger and faster with each passing week.  I have found that when I put the effort in and start to believe in myself, the results truly follow.

But even more, I am completely overwhelmed with gratitude for my running club.  The Colonial Road Runners has become so much more than a club to me - they have become my support system, my running family, and some of the most amazing friends I could ever ask for.  My running friends inspire me every day to continue pushing forward and setting new, seemingly impossible goals for myself.  I continue to learn every day from the wealth of expertise that this group of incredibly accomplished and experienced runners provides.  I am constantly challenged to push myself to keep up with some seriously fast folks.  And just as importantly, they make running SO much fun.  I have never smiled so much and felt as good as I do when I'm surrounded by these amazing runners.  They have taught me to change my default from "there's no way I could ever do that," to "I'd really like to try that."  They have me setting goals for myself that I am starting to believe I can really accomplish.

Colonials represent at the Middleboro YMCA Tispaquin 10K!
So after these four weeks of living in a running dream-world, I am ready to focus and get back to training again.  I have a challenging race schedule ahead of me this fall, and I am determined to push for another marathon PR in September.  And with the support of some incredible people around me and a bit of new-found confidence in myself, I believe I can do it.  So here goes nothing! 

7 comments:

  1. Congratulations on finishing first in your AG. You have accomplish so much within the last few wks. You should be very proud of yourself! Kudos!

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  2. Wow, you have certainly taken your running to a new level. Congrats on the first AG and a sub 25 5k. That is fantastic and you look so happy holding your trophy. I have never seen a trophy for a 5k award, that's really cool.

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  3. Holy WOW! The sky is the limit for you. What you've achieved is very impressive. I have no doubt you'll get a new marathon PR this fall. A great running group can make a world of difference. Thanks for linking!

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  4. Wow!!!!! That is so amazing that you not only set some very very high goals for yourself, you went above and beyond and exceeded your own expectations!!! Congrats on your new PRs! I am sure with your new found confidence you will be able to see new PRs this fall! So glad you found your running community and support system!
    Keep on keeping on chica!!!
    You got this!!

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  5. You really have taken us on an amazing journey the past few weeks, I"m glad I was a part of it and congratulations to you! There is no telling what you will accomplish once you set you mind to it and you are a perfect example of that!

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  6. You have had an incredible four weeks! I'm really glad I was able to follow your journey on the weekly wrap. I look forward to following your training for your next full marathon in September. I am confident you will get another PR!

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