Week 11: “I Don’t Have to do this Alone”

DAY | PLAN | ACTUAL
MON | REST | REST
TUE | 4M/STRENGTH | 4.2M (9:10/MI)/STRENGTH
WED | 8M | 8M (10:11/MI)
THU | 4M/STRENGTH | 4.1M HILL INT (9:40/MI)/STRENGTH
FRI | REST | REST
SAT | YOGA | BIKRAM90
SUN | 16M | 16.2M (10:41/MI)
TOTAL |32 MILES | 32.5 MILES

What a week! That’s 16.2 miles that’s got me looking all happy and admittedly a little crazy with my friend Summers in the photo above. We snapped it after completing our run together in Central Park alongside hundreds of other runners participating in the NYRR 18 mile marathon training tune-up. Remembering the scheduled tune-up and realizing the park would be packed, Summers shot me an email a couple days before to ask if I still wanted to run there. We both agreed that the other runners would serve as motivation and kept our plans. Motivation they were, but they were also this unbelievable boost that not only impacted our run, but my outlook on this whole endeavor to finish my first 26.2.

If anyone has run NYRR races you know they do it right–they are super organized and pro all the way. Still, I had no idea their “tune-up” run would be just as put together–everyone had bibs on, there were mile markers all over the park, and tons of water stations and volunteers. It was just like a real race, the energy was exploding out of that park. While we didn’t have bibs, we were both wearing old race shirts and following the same loop as all the other runners so we fit right in. There were amazing friends and family members who came to support their loved ones in the run and were handing out high-fives on the side which I happily took. I’m not gonna lie, I even teared up a tiny bit when I saw a cute little 8 year old blonde girl holding a sign that said, “48 more days till the marathon!” Right beside her, her older sister held one that read, “You can do it!!”

The run flew by. We flew. Last week running by myself I ran 15 miles at a 10:45 pace. This week with Summers, I ran 16.2 miles at a 10:41 pace, and that’s with the few minutes of walking we did while she squeezed a gel down the gullet and washed it down with some water. Summers didn’t really want to talk during the run which made me hesitant at first. I thought it might be weird to be running alongside each other in silence. But it wasn’t. We both brought our headphones. I listened to my podcasts like usual. Since I had my watch, we had a little system where I’d put my finger up each time another mile ticked by so we both knew to drink and/or fuel. We’d giggle at each other at times when a runner would go by with an especially soaked butt. And give each other a silent hurrah when we’d finally reach the top of a huge hill.

Speaking of hills–Summers was a BEAST on those bad boys! Through our email exchanges before she had mentioned that she likes to think of herself as a choo-choo train heading up the hills–she just keeps chuggin’ along. If you’ve run Central Park before you know they’ve got some serious sustained inclines in there. We both ran to the park from our houses so when we approached the first of these inclines I had probably ran 7 or 8 miles. Immediately I slowed my pace and went into what I would call survival mode. But not Summers, as soon as we started going up, I felt her push harder. I could feel her strength, her energy was relentless. Immediately something clicked in me–I wasn’t going to slog it up this hill–I would push myself and glide right along with her. It was really incredible–she took my love for hills to a whole different level. Like I said, I’ve been in survival mode every time I take on big inclines. There is no doubt that I have improved on the hills, but my attitude towards them has been one that says “ok, I’ve got to conquer you.” Summers had a completely different take–it was as if the hills were her boosters–each climb pushed more energy back into her legs and propelled her upward. The hills weren’t zapping her energy, they were adding to it.

Armed with a new outlook, a friend by my side, and hundreds of other runners all around me, our last few miles had me thinking there was nothing in the world that I couldn’t do. For almost 3 months I’ve taken every one of my training miles solo. While I’ve loved every one of them, I had completely forgotten how enormous the impact of other people can be. When I run alone, I’m pretty aware of each mile. With Summers and the rest of my marathon trainees, I was so engaged in the experience that the markers snuck up on me. As I ran I remembered something that as an introvert, I have to remind myself of often:

There wouldn’t be so many damn people on this earth if we were supposed to spend our lives alone.

This run could not have made me any more excited for race day. I can’t believe I get to run in one of the biggest marathons in the world. All the runners, the supporters, my family, my friends. Up until this point, I think I’ve underestimated the impact they are all going to have. Approaching the next 7 weeks of training with the understanding that I don’t have to do this alone is liberating, uplifting, and just really fucking awesome.

Last little thought…when I finished the 16.2, it didn’t seem so crazy to think that I would have to run 10 more miles after that. Does that mean I’m actually going to do this thing?!

 

Alright, let me hear it you guys–how’s it going out there? Anyone feeling especially empowered by the support of the people around them–in training or in another part of life? Anyone feeling like they are going it alone? I want to hear what you’re going through–trust me, you don’t have to do this solo…

 

47 thoughts on “Week 11: “I Don’t Have to do this Alone”

  1. That’s a great perspective to have on hills. Leaning into them and letting them power you up, giving you more strength! I’ve been super worried about a hill in my marathon coming up in just over a week. It’s at mile 18 and about a mile long. It’s a drudgery, but I’m prepared and hoping this perspective will help me power through!

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  2. Sounds like the perfect time in the schedule to have a great run with a running partner! Hills are definitely easier with company and it’s great to use them as a boost.

    I’ve finally dragged my lazy ass back into some sort of routine – although heading out at 5am yesterday for some hill repeats only happened because I had company.

    Half marathon on Sunday but running to and from the event to bring it up to 20 miles or so – looking forward to it more after once again being inspired by your journey 🙂

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    1. Ha! I see, your “lazy” ass getting back into a routine means a quick twenty miler on Sunday!! I think I am starting to understand a bit more about the athlete you are!! Enjoy the run this weekend. I will be taking a crack at 18 myself, we’ll let each other know how they go, si?

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      1. Haha – reading my comment back it sounds so flippant, but I think you already get that it’s borne more from humbleness than arrogance!! I never feel like an athlete but I guess I qualify on some level! Definitely look forward to comparing notes – hoping to take some pictures of the race route if I can get organized enough mid-race!

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  3. Pingback: Week 12: “Respect the Distance” – cat h. bradley

  4. Deanna

    Running with a friend is the best! I love to run alone, but on those long runs, it is nice to have someone with me to keep me going. I think a lot of it is mental. I wouldn’t dare slow down or walk if I was with someone but alone…I sure do!

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  5. Cat, I hope when you are finished with this journey yo take time to go back and reread your posts. You speak of impact. And I think the impact YOU have on others is admirable. Your personality is clearly infectious and it comes across in you writing. You write about YOUR journey and yet bring so many people along . So…16.2. Certainly a great way to wander around Central Park with others. Hello to Summers, and kudos to that sweet little girl with the sign. #itsalwaysthelittlethings When I trained for marathons, I would do my own training during the week, and like you did today, my long runs were with a group. Amazing how that works. Have a good week. Thanks for the birthday wishes.

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    1. Thank you so much Todd, that’s so great to hear. Yes, so far so good with the training–tough, but really a great experience to this point. Very excited! Thanks so much for reading this and sharing, so happy to have you!

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  6. I love this! For a moment I forgot the power that race/group running can have on mentality and performance. Such a good reminder 🙂
    Super excited to hear how the energy will carry you (near-effortlessly? 🙂 ) through to the finish line!

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    1. Haha–yeah girl, effortlessly, I’m sure 😂.
      But no for sure you are right, I’m gonna be relying on the crowd, the other runners, and all my blogosphere love–taking everything I got!!
      I guess that’s a totally different thing with trail running right? More solo?

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      1. And we will be here cheering you on!
        I’m lucky to have some solid training partners and a few local groups to head out with. But the races I’ve been signing up for have indeed been smaller, so less traffic on the trails for sure. I’ll just have to find the NY Marathon trail equivalent for 2018! 😉

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  7. One thing I’ve really missed this year is the buzz of the crowds at races. Having only been in three so far, compared to the 13 I did last year. I miss that sense of competition, but also the camaraderie you get in races. Even if it’s just a brief conversation or the Sprint finish to catch just one more runner 😂 Yea, I miss this.

    Can’t wait for your run chick. You have 100% got this 💪 xx

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    1. You know what this made me think about? Exploring the benefits of being a competitive person. I am definitely a very competitive person but i feel like i try to play it off a lot of times like i’m not. Like i keep on telling everyone that i “just want to finish” this marathon-and while the sentiment of that is real, cause it really is special and i just want to finish and actually run and enjoy my first marathon, my competitive ass can’t help but be secretly obsessed with time. Anyway, hearing you say “I miss that sense of competition” makes me think about how that competitive spirit has been a really positive thing in my life–I’m not sure why i try to hide it. Maybe cause it can get tiring to loved ones at times–I know not EVERYTHING has to be a competition!

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      1. Haha I definitely wear my competitive heart on my sleeve! It’s a big part of who I am and its what always pushes me to go harder and longer. It has been my downfall on many occasions, leading to injuries, so I’m trying to focus it more positively in the year ahead. It’s never been something I can control, it comes out in everything! But I have learned to know my limits……a bit 😂

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  8. This post makes me REALLY excited for marathon training, which for me doesn’t start until January. I’ll keep that motivation for my half training in the meantime! I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to hear your recap of the marathon! I’m also super excited to run in New York when I’m there in two weeks! EEK!

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    1. Yay lady I’m so glad!! I really think you’re gonna love the training–it’s tough, but crazy rewarding, and I’ve still got a good bit to go. I am SO excited that you signed up for the full–which one are you running?

      Also, yay for visiting/running in New York!! Have such a blast, let me know if you need recs for anything!

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  9. Your posts are making me itch to get back to distance running! But first, I finish my duathalon 🙂 in the marathon I always find the last 5k or so the hardest. Mainly, I think, I’m ready to be done and eager to get there but I believe this is where your mental game needs to be super strong. Keep doing what you’re doing, no matter what, when you cross finish line, you achieve all you set out to do 🙂

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    1. Duathlon– you’re amazing!! Always so impressed with multi-sport athletes. I hope that goes well.
      Yes–mental game. Lately I’ve been feeling like there’s an opportunity to sharpen that up on EVERY run–heavy legs this week!! I’ll keep going. Thanks for the advice/support lady, appreciate it!! x

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  10. Re: running together but not necessarily holding a conversation: I’m reminded of the scene in Pulp Fiction when Mia (Uma Thurman) and Vincent (John Travolta) have a moment of awkward silence, and Mia has a line that goes something like: ‘isn’t it nice when you can just share a moment without yapping to fill every spare second?’ Circumstances are rare but I love opportunities that allow you to have that inner fulfilment with a collective element too.

    The crowd and atmosphere make so much difference. It’s a big deal even if the presence is relatively small, and you’re going to be at one of the premier events on the calendar! The running community in general has always been very supportive in my experience: during my challenges at Severn Bridge Half in August, the encouragement of others (runners and spectators) kept me moving. I definitely would have stopped for a rest without them (it would have taken me a long long time to start up again!).

    The fact that you knocked down 16 miles at a good pace and another 10 didn’t seem unreasonable has got to be a good sign. Strong week!

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    1. Ha, I think of that Pulp Fiction scene sometimes when I’m with my hubs. I have a lot of silent moments with him and appreciate that neither of us feels uncomfortable, neither has the need to fill them.
      You are right about the crowd–they’ve helped me so much in other races, I can’t imagine the energy they’ll provide on marathon day. Thanks Paul!

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  11. You two are so cute!! That is awesome that you were able to share the run with someone. And yes, it can be weird at first not know if someone will talk the entire run or if they just want someone to run beside. But, Runner Buds Rock!!! The Hubs and I have been running together for almost 4 yrs, I think I have only ran one Half without him and I listened to music the entire race!!

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    1. That’s so amazing that you and your hubs have been running together for so long Jodi. I love running with my hubs too. Sometimes I wish he was running this marathon with me, but another part of me is actually glad my first is solo. He ran last year and had his time, now it’s my turn. I guess I’m just an attention whore and I want all the glory for myself 😂.

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  12. What a good adventure, long run, a bit of the energy of the crowd and a friend to show you a different way to do a hill! Very cool.
    On support: I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I liked having support when I did my first triathlon a few weeks ago. When I would pass the start and my sister and BA were there, it felt really good. I also liked the cheers from the police at intersections and the water people. I really appreciated it, and waved back and smiled. Particularly on the bike segment, I had the sense that my inner 10 year old was just having a swell time doing this and having folks cheering me on and supporting me made it feel much more like a celebration than the hard physical work that it also was. Celebrating that I can and am willing to do this difficult task.

    Cheers to you,Cat, from a distance as you keep running, up and down and all around!

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    1. Thank you Bron. So much. I really am going to do it right? Sometimes I worry I make too much of trying this feat here on the blog because i know a lot of people have run marathons. But it has taken me personally a LONG time to get here, so I am very excited and feel very grateful to be experiencing all of this.
      I will be sure not to over-train. Have definitely been taking even bigger steps to make sure i am taking care of myself. Also, it’s so crazy you mentioned core exercises because i have been focusing on them this week–i often avoid them cause they are not my favorite. I rely on my one yoga class a week because we focus a lot on the core–but I really need to pull that focus in when i strength train as well. Thank you for the wise words–they are heard and being used! x

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  13. Pingback: Morning Meditation Or Random Thoughts | Fat Guy Running

  14. That is awesome, so glad you had a great run! I love to run with people for two reasons- you don’t notice you’re running so much and they push/pull you along. Tonight I ran in a clinic and as we approached the final hill to home I planned to tell the faster women I was running with that I was going to drop back and walk, but I didn’t have a chance and I don’t think I’ve ever climbed that hill so fast and so effortlessly. I completely get what you’re writing about:)

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    1. Thanks AJ! It really was a great run–and to have that at 16 built a lot of confidence going forward. It’s funny though, ran 8 miles this morning and it was tough a f*$&. Go figure, right? Ahh, one day at a time I guess!
      I love your story about your run clinic so much– it’s just like what happened to me!! The only positive I am feeling about my run this morning was actually the last hill, and there was a woman who was walking up it and sort of struggling. I almost wanted to throw her on my back and take her up–but I just tried to mentally send her some energy to make it up. The way we can all help each other is so heartening.

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  15. I’ve trained with Fleet Feet in the past which was group long runs. I enjoyed them but usually prefer solo. I am confident you will enjoy every second of your marathon except maybe the wall (mine usually around 22) but you will push through and finish strong.

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    1. I agree Rach I usually prefer solo as well, it is one of my favorite things about running is getting that time alone. I think that’s why this run with other people took me by surprise–people always take me by surprise :). PS-I am hoping my wall comes at 22 (some people have told me theirs came at 18!).

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