I like to count things.

2005 2016
The Mini Marathon in 2005, my first half! And this year’s Mini, my 136th half marathon.

I’ve run 54 marathons/ultras in 25 states. I’ve run 142 Half Marathons in 12 states. I ran 201 miles last month. I took 188,026 steps last week. I’ve tried 232 different beers in less than 2 years. I had a taco streak of 43 days! I once had 2 cupcakes a day every day for several months. It has been 4380 days since I started running and quit smoking.

I call August 1st my Runnerversary. It is a meaningful day to me since it obviously changed my life dramatically. For years when people accused me of being “obsessed” with running I would get defensive. And I say accused, because that was their tone, as if it was a bad thing. Over the last few years I’ve certainly come to realize there is nothing wrong with being associated, even if solely, with running.

Running has given me the strength and courage to endure aspects of my life outside of running. There aren’t many tasks life can throw at me that I don’t respond with “I ran 100 miles over 27 hours in New York City. I can do this.” Running has brought ritual and stability in to a life that when nothing else was constant and/or normal, I knew I could go for a run and for those miles that time was MINE and no one else could control it. Running has brought so many friends near and far in to my life. Whether they are a running acquaintance that I’ve only meant once or someone I’ve built a lifelong bond with I’m lucky to have met so many wonderful and inspiring people. And of course I wouldn’t have met the love of my life if it hadn’t been for running so even if running only brought me one benefit it would be worth it; it brought me Robert.

Most fall marathon training programs “officially” start this week, including my own. I am training to Qualify for the Boston Marathon (aka “BQ”) at the Monumental Marathon on November 5th. I need to drop my time from my current best time of 3:56 down to at least 3:51 (though I’m secretly hoping for 3:50, and super secretly hoping for 3:49:49 🙂 ). I will need to work hard. I will need to focus on my health: eat healthily and cut out all the processed foods I’ve been living on the last 8 weeks, fuel properly, get plenty of sleep and recover well. I’m terrified and excited and ready to get to it!

I don’t count things to brag. I don’t count things to boast. I count things because it helps me see how far I’ve come. It helps me see where I need to go. It helps me not smoke because I still want to every damn day. 12 years ago I laced up a pair of shoes for the first time after 15 years of smoking and I never want to go back to that.

So Happy Runnerversary to me and let the counting begin…95 days until the Monumental Marathon!

 

 

Give a shit.

 

 

 

I signed up for the 8 Hour Dream Endurance Run this year because last year’s weather was so bad that it couldn’t possibly be as bad this year, right?! And well, I guess technically it wasn’t. Last year the temperature with the heat index reached a high of 121F. This year it only reached a high of 105F. I’ll be honest with you: once temps climb over 100F, it doesn’t really matter how much hotter it gets after that it’s still horrible.

My goal last year was 50K. When the clock reached 7:35 I was at 28.8 miles and couldn’t make it around the loop again by the time the clock ran out so I had to stop there. I was happy with the outcome. 28 miles is nothing to sneeze at in that kind of weather and it was a ton of fun to be out there with friends. So this year my goal was also 50K. If I couldn’t get 50K I wanted to make sure I at least ran 28.9 miles, just over what I ran last year.

This year’s course was different. It offered a little more shade and was just a touch more difficult but nothing too bad or out of the ordinary. The start/finish was in front of Hinkle Fieldhouse. Runners could run a 1.8 mile loop or the long loop of 3.1 (each choice came with its own set of challenges; hills, direct sun, etc.). Runners arrived early and set up camp/tents/canopies. There were teams running relays as well as individuals racing. It had a nice, low-key event feel and it was fun chatting with everyone pre-race for a bit before the noon start time.

Robert and I ran the first loop together. We chose the long loop. The long loop had a LONG stretch of direct sun for a lot of the day so I made the choice then I would run the short loop (it offered shade more frequently) for as long as I could stand the monotony. I refueled after the first loop as Robert ran on. I stuck with the small loop and slowly made my way (I’m currently doing low heart rate training, so my run was very, very slow), loop by loop to 23.6 miles. I decided I would do the long loop on the next round, get past the marathon distance and see if I wanted to stop then. I saw tons of folks out there, Jen, Trena and Bob were all killing it! And Sarah and Jeanette were also running strong! I saw Robert on the small out and back portion just behind me; he was looking great too!

This type of race is super fun since you can make it as hard or as easy as you want it to be. You can run a loop and sit for minutes or hours or just keep going and going (which is what I did, albeit slowly). You can run solo or share miles with friends; whether it be running together, passing people and cheering them on or being passed and getting an attaboy from friends. Every time I ran through the start/finish camp friends cheered me on and it gave me what I needed to get through the next loop! They were all amazing!

After completing 26.7 miles I started on what I had decided would probably be my final short loop. It was around 5:45pm or so and I was tired. I was out of nutrition (other than pretzels and Gatorade which I was sick of) and really I was at a point that I was so hot and tired I just wanted to sit down and drink a beer! 1 more short loop would give me 28.6 miles and although it was neither my A nor B goal it was fine with me at this point. As I was coming up to the split for the short/long loop Robert caught up with me. I told him my plan to do the short loop and stop, even though choosing the short loop meant not even beating last year’s results (the long loop would at least get me that). As he starts the long loop he looks back at me and says “Give a shit.”

So, with that, I decided to give a shit. Running the long loop would get me 29.8 miles. That would get me goal B. Then running the short loop one more time after that would get me to my A goal: 31.7 miles.

Portions of the last loops were shared with friends and portions with strangers that I chatted with on other loops but were now bonded with through these 8 hours of torture! As we approached the finish line friends cheered us all on as we made our way. So, I finished this stupid hot race and made my goal because I gave a shit. As I completed (let’s face it, it was no longer “running” at this point) my last 5 miles, I got to thinking about past training races (versus goal races that I would like to PR in) when I had thrown in the towel simply because “it’s just a run,” or “time doesn’t matter,” only to be mad while reviewing the results to find I was 6th overall and they gave awards through 5th or 2nd in my Age Group but 1st was just 2 seconds faster (and my coach did remind me of these recent incidents just before this run, so that conversation was also fresh in my head). Sometimes it is just a run, and sometimes time doesn’t matter. However if I have the will, the strength and the ability to do so, why not give a shit?

I think if I applied this to more aspects of my life it would lead to a greater satisfaction in all that I do. In the book Fearless Living, Swami Rami says “you can attain the highest goal of your life by performing your actions selflessly, lovingly and skillfully.” Sometimes it’s easy for me to do things halfheartedly or apathetically if the tasks are less than enjoyable but I think I’ll start telling myself to “give a shit” a little more often; acting selflessly, lovingly and skillfully towards work, relationships and friendships, yoga, and whatever else I might be trying to achieve and see if the outcome is not only more fulfilling for myself but maybe I can impact the world a little more positively.