Week 13: “The Strongest Me I’ve Met Yet”

WED | 9M | 9M (10:23/MI)
SUN | 18M | 18M (10:35/MI)

I’ve got to start out by profusely thanking each and every one of you who related and encouraged me after the tough run I had last week. While I felt the outpour of love, I also received the message loud and clear: Brush yourself off, pick your head up, and get back to it.

This was a rebound week like no other. If it were not for all of you, I may have approached it with more fear and less vigor, I feel incredibly lucky to have so much support and sage advice constantly coming my way. It’s funny, when I got sober, one of the first things my sponsor told me was to only take advice from people who had what I wanted. She said it was pretty simple, if someone is overweight and you don’t want to be overweight, maybe don’t take diet advice from them. Or if someone’s been divorced three times, maybe don’t use their comments as a guideline for your marital success. As it pertained to sobriety, she was trying to tell me–go ahead and listen to lots of different people–gather as many stories as you’d like. But if you want to stay sober, you’re probably better off only modeling the behavior of other people who have been able to stay clean long term. It’s such a basic concept–but I’ve been using it for pretty much everything in my life ever since.

The amount of success and on-point advice I have received from runners of all levels is something I never realized would be a part of my marathon training. If running makes you happy and you’re racing injury free– I can learn from you, and I probably have. While the crowd I take marital advice from is a small bunch, the number of runners whose experience I have grown to rely upon is a diverse and widening community.

I felt a bit nervous when I woke up on Sunday to tackle 18 miles. Luckily I live with an amazing man who ran the marathon last year, and has had his fair share of crappy runs. He wasn’t having any of my self-doubt, his confidence in me really lightened my mood and got me out the door. As I stepped out onto the sidewalk of our apartment building I thought of something he told me one of our doormen told him when he was training and heading out on a run with a bit of a defeated look on his face. He said, “Remember, it’s fun mon.” (You should know our doorman Vincent is from Jamaica and has the most fantastic accent.) I smiled to myself when I thought of this and thought, oh yeah, you like running, remember? Let’s go have some fun. Then I thought of so many of you out there in the blogoshpere who told me to learn from the shitty run the week before, and move on to the next one. You told me to put that run in my mental bank–and to remember what it felt like to feel awful and be in pain and be exhausted and still run through it.

18 was my best experience in training yet. I finished on the Manhattan Bridge looking out over the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge (pic below). I began weeping almost as soon as I finished. (I know I can’t help it, it never stops.) I think I got emotional cause I’ve just never had an experience like this–my growth has never been so tactile. I’ve never had this much proof that my hard work is paying off. I’ve done some things before where I or other people have acknowledged improvement–but I think I’ve always hung on to some pesky doubt that doesn’t care to relinquish it’s grip on me. When I finished this 18, I tossed that doubt off the bridge. I’m doing it. I’ve put in the work and I’ve grown. I can run 18 miles. I can run more. There were things I couldn’t do before. Now I can. It makes me look at myself differently. It makes me look at life differently.


I’m going to leave you with a quick bit of advice that really manifested itself this whole week for me: Run your own Race. I know, another basic one. But it’s one I forgot when I was taking in all the great thoughts I’ve been collecting each week from all of you. A blogger friend wrote about “banking” mileage during the marathon–basically running faster in the beginning to give wiggle room for the tougher miles near the end. This blogger is a much faster and more experienced racer than I am, so I should have taken that more into account. But his piece stuck with me because I wondered if I was screwing my chance for a decent time by running the way I always do–starting slow, building, and pushing it at the end. I got fearful. I thought, well EVERYONE hits the wall, what if I never get any faster miles in because I’ll wait too long to push and then I’ll have nothing in me anyway because I’ve hit that dreaded point. What if I miss my opportunity to push?

This thinking stayed in my head last week and contributed to a 13 mile run that was faster, but felt awful physically and mentally. Going out fast is just not the way I run, it never will be. I love reading posts from runners that are faster and more experienced than me–but when I head out there, I’ve got to stick with my own game plan. This week, I felt like I knew who I was. My first 10 miles of my long run I ran between 10:30-11:30, which is right where I need to be at that time if I’m going to run 26.2. After mile 10, my pace started to pick up between the 9:30-10 minute range. Proudly, at miles 14 and 15 I ran 8:53 and 8:51, respectively. I finished on the bridge on an incline running about a 10:05 minute mile. It felt like me. And well, the strongest me I’ve met yet.

Stick to your race. You’re the only one that can run it.



62 thoughts on “Week 13: “The Strongest Me I’ve Met Yet”

  1. Pingback: I’ve Got Nothin’ – cat h. bradley

  2. How awesome does that feel??!! Congrats on hitting those 18 miles and doing it your way!! I didn’t get to run my marathon, but watching and cheering for everyone was just as exciting!! You got this!! That next long run will feel fantastic!!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes! Definitely you do you! I’ve kind of thought similarly that I needed to bank time in the beginning. This last marathon I didn’t really pay attention to my start pace and went slower than I wanted to, and in the end had doubtful thoughts that I could have finished even faster if I’d picked it up. However, I HAVE NEVER felt so good at the end of a marathon as I did this time. Granted I’ve only run 5, and my last was 5 years ago, but I contribute a big part to not evening noticing “the wall” at all to going out slower. And my longest training run was a pretty crampy 20-miler so I was super nervous about it! Just my most recent experience and I’m nowhere near an expert, but I’ve never felt better! You’ve totally got this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m very much in the same boat as you in regards to starting slow and finishing strong. I have a good friend who I’ve known for nearly a year now, a fantastic runner, and his tendency is to go hard from the beginning and hang on. It works for him, but for me it just doesn’t gel.

    To finish that well over 18 miles is terrific, well done Cat! It really gives me confidence to know that I might have been out for more than an hour, but I’m actually managing to get gradually quicker. Its also a mental boost when you start overtaking people during the events who are starting to tail off – its not so much the overtaking itself or the ‘I’m finishing ahead of you factor’ but know the prep you’ve done is paying off. The discipline which you’ve got in sticking with your training plan is something I will consider when prepping for London!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely Paul. I also think when you start slower and build it’s the most amazing feeling in your body–i was amazed at mile 15 or 16 when I looked down at my watch and saw my time, it really built up my confidence to know that I was able to pick up that speed after so many miles already done. I don’t really need that confidence in the beginning you know? It’s later in the game where I really need to believe in my training and the ability of my body and mind–and start slow and build works right into that plan.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely. You’re in a relative state of comfort during the early stages, its almost like you’ve got nothing to prove their. It’s more at the end that you need that confidence boost, and knowing you can sustain or even pick up the pace that far in is invaluable.

        Amanda nominated me for a Lieberman blog post: I thought it was a pretty cool opportunity to answer some questions and ask some. If you’ve got the time and inclination to do the same, I’ve nominated you at: https://erraticmovement.wordpress.com/2017/10/07/liebster-award/

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this! As usual! Sounds to me like you are letting yourself kind of warm up, feel the pace feel the motivation and then fall into the zone. Your zone, and I’ll bet the crisp air rosied up your cheeks. Looked like a beautiful day in the city. #thisisyou.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yo are loved. I can’t believe the weekend is here again. Have a good long run. . Is your husband staging water and fuel? or do you have another way of fueling along the way? Always indebted to my support folks when I was running marathons, and I think it is instrumental in proper training.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve always ran what I call negative splits aka start out slow and finish fast. After my second plantar fasciitis surgery I was finally set to run a 1/2 in Vegas. I wanted to finish in under 3 hours so I hooked up with the 3 hour pacer. However I quickly realized they were running fast at the beginning and planned to be slower at the end where the hills were. I let them get ahead of me because thats not how I trained. I indeed caught them, passed them, and finished 2:52:04. So run your race and no one else’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am starting to think the way we intuitively like to run says a bit about our personalities. It doesn’t surprise me now that i wanted to be the person who just goes for it flat out–but i never really succeed that way–pretty much describes my whole life, lol. Happy Friday hon and have a great weekend! x

      Liked by 1 person

  7. When I think about why I run, and especially when people ask me why I run, I sometimes have trouble articulating what you said so well:

    “There were things I couldn’t do before. Now I can. It makes me look at myself differently. It makes me look at life differently.”

    But that is exactly it. As you said running has changed me physically – it has made me stronger, more capable, it has strengthened my lungs and decreased my heart rate. But it has also changed how I think about myself and how I view myself and what I believe I’m capable of. And I think that is as important, or perhaps more important?, then any physical changes that I can actually see and experience. I’m going to remember what you wrote next time someone asks me that question, because they surely will! 🙂

    Congrats on such a successful 18 mile run. I’m in awe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Reading your response to what I wrote made me smile Michelle–it also made me think–what if everyone in the world ran? It would be a better place, right? I think we would definitely all have more hope!
      Thanks for the love lady! x

      Liked by 1 person

  8. great job for a kick ass week! I don’t really call this advice but I always tell myself to be grateful of every run I do, whether it’s 1 mile or 20 miles because its always better than no miles. Or maybe I’m just happy that our bodies can carry ourselves for miles and miles 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you lady. Your “non-advice” advice is being taken over here for sure!! I was actually trying to do the 9+1 2 years ago to run NYC last year and I was 5 races in and got injured. At the time it felt like the worst thing that could have ever happened–but in reality it was the best. It changed the way i trained and gave me an incredible new sense of gratitude for running and for my body. It is pretty fucking incredible right, that our bodies can carry us all those miles? This 18 miler amazed me–my body amazed me!!
      Thanks for chiming in, love having you!!


  9. I tried the banking miles thing, just to try to say I did it, and I blew up as well. It’s not me either… But he’s an amazingly fast runner, and like you say, we’re all different and have different styles. So happy you felt strong!! What a great confidence boost!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah Paula, and i really love hearing about the different styles, it broadens my mind and it has actually really helped my running. Experimenting is awesome. I think I just always need to make sure to check my motivations behind experimenting. For me, being “too slow” in my very first marathon, is a thought I would like to evacuate by race day. I just want to enjoy!!
      Thanks for your encouragement!! Just a couple weeks now for you right?! So exciting!!


  10. So happy for you! I know exactly what it is like to start running and think you just can’t do it. I think something that keeps me grateful despite the fact that I run for miles and miles now is remembering that when I started I could barely complete the walk/run routine.

    Great advice about running your own race. I know I can start to compare myself to faster runners but I don’t look down on folks that aren’t as fast as I am. We are hardest on ourselves are we not?

    I tell new and scared runners to just run or walk. Who gives a shit what others are doing? Who cares if you run a mile in 6 minutes or in 15 minutes? Either way it is still a mile!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Josh! Remembering where I came from is definitely not only a motivator and inspiration but also a serious source of gratitude, just like you say.
      Your second point is one that baffles me throughout life–I don’t look down on people who run slower, sleep in sometimes, eat treats–so I am not sure why I assume the other humans would judge me. Why do I force myself to such a different standard? I have a friend who thinks this different standard is one of the main sources of her success. Idk, it’s complicated for me, I guess.

      And yes, a mile is a mile–:). Thanks Josh!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. You’re doing awesomely chick! Your head and heart are in exactly the right places. Do this because it inspires you and makes you proud of who you are and what you can achieve. I love the saying ‘There’s no such thing as a bad run’ at the end of the day it might not of felt great, but it’s all a learning curve. God knows we learn the best lessons from bad experiences! Keep riding the high from this run, remember that rush, bottle it up and on race day pop the cork. When I hit 20 miles on my marathon last year I thought of a friend of mine who has a heart condition. She had pushed her limits to walk up some hills in wales, to the point where she was ill and needed the oxygen she had taken up. But all I could think was, if she could push through her pain to achieve what she wanted, then I could suck up my tired legs to reach my goal. Whoever inspires you, for whatever reasons, you will likely become that person yourself for someone else. We effect people in ways we don’t even realise.

    Keep pushing, you’ve so got this! X

    Liked by 1 person

  12. SOOOO good to hear you had a great week 🙂 And so good to hear phrases like “having fun” and “run your own race” – another lovely piece to read. You’ve got this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I agree with many of the previous comments, run your own race. My my limited marathon and racing experience, I tend to run faster on race day because my adrenaline is pumping and (in the case of the marathon) you have massive crowds cheering you on.

    Sometimes I like taking advice from people who don’t have what I have, because one can learn what NOT to do. Often times, students ask me if they should peruse a doctorate, and I tell them things that I wished I had done differently during my graduate experience. Actually, I think my honesty on that topic may have screwed up my recent job interview. 😉

    I have a Manhattan Bridge run planned after work. Hopefully, I can run it while the sun is out, because I’m really need a change from running at night.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m relying on a little juice to get me amped up race day too Kwame, I hoping I take it slow and run my own race but I think part of what makes racing so great is feeding off of that energy–I’m going to take it every chance I get–just won’t let myself go out too fast too early.

      It’s funny you mentioned learning what NOT to do from people. I almost put that in here but I was just trying to illustrate a certain point and keep the post at a length people would actually read! You are right though, other people’s experiences can be crazy valuable that other way around as well. I’ve made it a rule to learn from other people’s pain as often as I can, especially if it means I can avoid my own!

      Hope you got some ☀️☀️☀️ runnin’ in today! 😘


  14. RUN YOUR RACE!! I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have to remind myself of this phrase on a race day! And each time I do….I become mentally stronger and encouraged in what I am able to do when I do just that! I am a believer in “negative splits.” So if your body responds well to starting off slow and ending strong continue to do so! I had my best experience 3 weeks ago in a half marathon that I ran with 2 other friends where I simply needed to keep this run as a training run and not a race. It was difficult to pull back from racing and to see them take off within 100 yards of the start. I knew the time they wanted to see the finish line and it fell right within my training pace. I knew if I hit my pacing negatively I would eventually catch up to them. Mile 10 it happened and felt strong and enjoyed the race experience but most of all the belief in that starting slow and finishing fast works well for me! Congrats on a GREAT week of training! You are STRONG!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this Grace–somebody else called it running intuitively and I think that is it and also exactly what you said–if my body responds well, continue to do it. It’s crazy how much training teaches us about our bodies and our minds–it’s so much more than running races.
      I love the story about your half. I can’t tell you how triumphant I have felt going my own pace in races and taking my time and slowly building up and passing or catching up to people who pushed it in the beginning. I feel like it’s a life lesson as much as a running one. Thanks Grace!! x


  15. I always feel like a bad run can ruin everything but then I get out there and go again. Granted I haven’t got the same mileage in me as you have but then I’m not training for a marathon. It doesn’t matter though, enjoying it is what it’s all about. Great read again. Keep going, do it for yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think the mileage really matters Charles–you are right, if we are not enjoying it, or at least some aspect or benefit of it, what is the point? It actually makes me laugh sometimes when I read posts and people say they HATE running, but they continue to do it. I usually think one of two things when i read that. 1.–They don’t know themselves, and they don’t really hate it as much as they think. Or 2. STOP!!! Life is too short to spend time doing something that makes you unhappy!! LOL. Appreciate you Charles, thanks!!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. qplourde

    Yay! I always feel better when I start off slow and build up as I go. Even if I can achieve the same time, going out fast just doesn’t make me enjoy the run as much. Good work on the 18…the best is yet to come.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Q!! That is one of my favorite sayings–my hubs and I had it on top of our little wedding cake…”the best is yet to come.” I am so happy you said that–i think i forgot it for a sec. thank you!! hope your training is going well this week as well! x


    1. Thank you so much–you’re so right about the negative splits being much more intuitive. It’s crazy for me to think now that I got away from that for even a second, but I think with a big goal. it is easy to start second guessing ourselves. Appreciate you reading and contributing, happy to have you here! thanks again!


  17. Love this! You’re right… With the runners I follow, it’s easy to try to emulate others’ running styles… But while I have a lot to learn from them, I also need to accept where I am and who I am as a runner . Thanks for sharing this… And you crushed that 18 miler!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Amanda! Definitely, running is such a learning process–just like we can’t be someone else in life, we can’t be someone else when we run, right? Thanks so much for reading and for your encouragement!! x


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