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A Matter of HEART

This past week, I finally had the opportunity to travel to South Florida to meet my little niece who was born during Hood to Coast weekend.

LBsquared helloLB + {little}LB. I really was this excited.

For the past 7 weeks, I’ve been listening my sister tell tales about how Leah is the best baby in the entire world. I figured she had to have been exageratting…or at least way too biased to be able to say. One look at this little girl, however, and I knew that the claims were true. She was even more beautiful in person than in photos and had such a sweet personality that I wanted to kidnap her and bring her back to VT with me (minus that whole felony thing). It’s safe to say that this little peanut stole my heart.

…even though she wasn’t exactly thrilled with the hand-knit watermelon hat her Uncle Evan and I picked out for her.

LBsquared hatLeah isn’t so sure she wants to be a part of #teamwatermelon

little peanutHer torso is about the length of my hand. So tiny!

The downside to being in Florida over the weekend was that it meant I’d have to do my last super long run of marathon training away from home. When I first tried to get myself pumped up for this run, I told myself I was in for a treat. I figured that after months of running up and down mountains, my legs would love the pancake-flat terrain.

Only…October in Florida is hot. And super humid. Plus, I somehow managed to forget many of my long run essentials at home – including any sort of water carrying device and all but one gel that just happened to have still been in my backpack from #VTcheeseparty a few weeks ago.

As if I wasn’t already thrown off enough, I woke up before the sun on Sunday morning to 77 degrees and 85% humidity. I debated putting the run off, only to experience a brief moment of panic when I checked the forecast for the next couple of days and saw more of the same. My second thought was to push the run back until I got home on Thursday (today), but with NYC less than 3 weeks away, I knew that wasn’t the best plan. I needed to just suck it up and get this thing done.

So as the sun started rising over my sister’s quiet neighborhood, I set out for what I knew was going to be a very (very) long run.

The second I stepped outside, a wall of humidity hit me in the face. I ran one 5.5 loop around the neighborhood without water before stopping back at the house to pick up the waterbottle that I’d need to carry in my hand for the next 15 miles. 40 minutes into the run and I was already completely drenched.

My plan was to run down to the water (about 5 miles away), run along the ocean-side bike path for a few miles, and turn around and head home. It was flat, I had the beautiful ocean as motivation and some new songs on my iPod to keep me pumped up. I told myself that 15 miles was nothing…and 7.5 miles out before the turn-around point would fly by. I could do that any day of the week.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that this run would test every single ounce of willpower I had. I debated stopping a million times in the first hour. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of having to attempt it all over again. The thought of starting the long run from scratch the next day was worse than continuing to power through.

My original goal was to run 22 miles. I covered 20.4…and barely even made it that far.

But I got it done.

I didn’t complete this under-fueled, over-heated long run out of sheer enjoyment, or because I just love running so very much.

Not because I wanted the bragging rights, or the “carb-feasting” rights, or the “sit on my butt and do nothing for the rest of the day” rights.

Not because I felt as though I was being so “OMG-inspirational” for finishing a run under tough conditions.

I didn’t run those miles for the glory, or because I find some sort of strange pleasure in pain.

I didn’t even run all those miles because I believed that running over 20 miles vs. just 18 or 19 was going to make some huge physical difference on race day.

I covered 20.4 slow and painful miles for one reason — because on November 4th, I am going to need every single ounce of mental strength I have to make it to the finish.

(…the thought of this waiting for me as soon as I was done helped too.)

cb poolAll long runs should end in a pool

It’s no secret that my training for NYCM has been less than ideal. Starting from a base of 0 miles is not the best way to work up to a PR marathon, nor is it really all that advisable. Over the last 3.5 months of training, I’ve had many ups and downs; losses and gains.

But I’ve run marathons before. Physically, I know my body can cover the distance. Even if I run slow (or walk part of the way), I know that I will make it to the finish. IF I can find a way to believe, that is.

“Keep your head up. Keep your heart strong” (via Ben Howard). That’s been my motto for this training cycle. When runs have felt slower, harder, and more impossible than they have before, I find myself listening to that song over and over again. Hanging onto that phrase like a lifeline.

That motto has pushed me through tempo runs, up long hills, and most recently, through 20 miles in scorching heat and oppressive humidity.  Every run that I complete is a run that trains my body and my heart. It gives me the strength to keep pushing when the going gets tough and never give up, even when my body starts breaking down.

Mentally tough, physically strong.

words to run by

On marathon day, I may not run the fastest or best race of my life. But I will run with heart. And considering the circumstances, that’s about all I can ask for.

31 Responses to A Matter of HEART

  1. I can totally relate to this and am SO impressed with you pushing through and getting it done. I did a 10 mile race on Sunday here and thought I was going to drown in my own sweat (we had the same temps/humidity going on). It will make you stronger mentally for NYC. You’ve totally got this!! :)

    Oh, and also totally agree with ending all runs in a pool- that’s my philosophy. (except mine’s currently under renovation- small problem)
    Holly´s last post ..Space City 10 Miler Race Recap

  2. Your little niece is so cute!! Great job for pushing through running your last long run – even when you were on vacation! It’s hard enough running 20+ when you know the route, etc.

    I’m running NYC too and I am ready to get this show on the road. :-)
    Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom´s last post ..BIG miles and running doubles??

  3. Leah definitely is the cutest and sweetest baby in the entire world!! And, although she didn’t love her team watermelon hat, she definitely loved the time she spent with you! And I’m still proud of you for finishing your 20 mile run in FL, the humidity and heat definitely takes some getting used to! :-) Now, come back to FL, we miss you!!!!!
    Christina´s last post ..Aunt Lauren came to town

  4. Welcome to my typical training 😉 Totally flat is nice but terribly hot isn’t so great! I was so annoyed when my 18 miler this weekend was in the 80’s. Ew. It’s supposed to be fall!
    Your niece is precious, congrats.
    Gracie (Complicated Day)´s last post ..My new friend

    • Thank you!! I’m so in love with her already :)

      And I don’t know how you do it. The humidity just sucked the life out of me. At least when I’m running up hills in VT I know I’ll eventually have some relief (in the form of a downhill). Hopefully you get some cooler temps soon!

  5. Wow. I was just thinking “doing long runs in new places is the best, what’s her problem?!” until I read the next bit. No WAY I would have gotten 20+ miles done in the heat/humidity, especially in October when you’re probably not at all acclimated. That sounds rough. I was also thinking you seem to have amped up your mileage pretty fast. How great that you’re already back up there!

    • haha, I know! I normally love to do long runs in new places because it mixes it up a little bit. But that heat and humidity just about killed me…especially because, as you said, I’m not used to it anymore.

      As far as mileage – I tried to build up as slowly/safely as I could and think I did pretty well but…I also had a much shorter time frame than is ideal. It would’ve been a lot better if I had allowed myself a month or so of base building/running for fun (and maybe skipping the fall marathon) instead of jumping right into marathon training. Oh well….live and learn. I’m very thankful, at least, that I’m no longer injured!

  6. Where did you get those great bracelets??

  7. Your niece is SOOOO cute!!

    Humidity really sucks and I have to say I am so glad I am not marathon training this year because it has been so much worse than usual. We are finally getting some cooler weather this weekend – woo-hoo!! Great job getting your run in despite the traveling/weather. I swear running in adverse conditions DOES make you enjoy the good runs even more. Hopefully NYCM will be one of those good runs!
    Michelle´s last post ..Book Review: Diary of a Submissive

  8. Hey, Cute niece! Not sure who she looks like, wait, she looks like her beautiful mother. Now, who does her beautiful mother look like, oh yeah, me. Ha, ok, me, but a whole lot prettier.

    So, you don’t like running in the wet, sticky, swampy Florida flat lands? When you were little, we were in Florida visiting Grandma and I ran a long run in similar weather. I had no water because it was supposed to be a short run. Eight miles out I finally turned around and hit many, many walls. I came back sicker than a dog. So, at least you are smarter than me. Congratulations on a great run. NYC will be a picnic compared to Florida.
    Love, Dad

  9. Congrats on becoming an Aunt!!

    I feel so similar to you right now…I’ve been trying to come back from an injury and am running the Philly marathon in a few weeks. My training hasn’t gone as well as I wanted it to but I’m trying to stay strong mentally. Awesome job on that humid run in Florida!! You’re going to love NYCM; I ran it last year and it was unbelievable. You’ll be running in adrenaline!! :) best of luck!
    Kara´s last post ..Nike Women’s Marathon – Views from a Spectator

  10. Welcome to the south. Way to power through it!
    Lauren´s last post ..Avoiding the snack black hole AND a delicious flavor combination

  11. She is so adorable, that baby!! And well done on pushing through. It really helps having words to repeat…I just ran a half and repeated ‘be strong, be brave’ and it kept me really focused!! And yuk, humidity!!!!! So glad we don’t have that here in California!
    Cathryn@My Heart’s Content´s last post ..A romantic mini-break with running.

  12. You’re going to rock NYC! Run the first 10 miles with your head, the second 10 miles with your legs, and the last 10k with your heart and guts.

  13. So I got totally hung up on the baby pictures and was glazed over by the time I got to the running part…lol. But you ran in less than ideal conditions and are looking forward to NYC…right? Baby Leah is adorable…even when screaming :) I miss babies. The first two pictures of you and her together make my heart smile :)
    XLMIC´s last post ..I see turkeys. And (completely unrelated) I have no shame.

    • Yes…I’m definitely looking forward to NYC! Mostly because I’ve heard such great things about the race/course. At the very least, I think it’s going to be an incredible experience….no matter what happens on race day.

  14. Congrats for persevering through the humidity and heat and completed your 20 miler! I know you will have a great race in NYC!
    I train in Texas. You literally captured the words out of my mouth when you wrote about the 85% humidity and 70 deg F heat in the morning (and very often, it’s already 70 deg F at 5:30am in the morning). I truly believe that running long runs in uncomfortable weather builds mental toughness. I have to be honest, when I was completed drench by mile 2, the prospect of running 15 miles more was a difficult one to manage. Yet, every time, I would always be happy to see myself pushing through the last few minutes and complete the workout.

    Good luck at NYC. It’ll be magical. You will soak in the energy from the crowd!!!

    • So I suppose I should consider myself lucky that I don’t train in this weather all the time. :) Although I’m very thankful for the mental strength that run helped build, I have to say that I was super happy to do my latest long run in the 50 degree, crisp fall air of Vermont.

      • Honestly – you rock. Let’s be honest, between hills and humidity, I’ll pick humidity. Happy running. You’ll be amazing at NYC! Afterall, you have conquered the curtain of humidity 😉

  15. Your niece is very cute! I’m glad you were able to finally meet her :)

    I hope the rest of marathon training goes well, I know you have this in you!
    Jamie @ couchtoironwoman´s last post ..KLUTCHclub Review

  16. Great post! I always try to tell myself that when I have a tough run that it is nothing compared to how I will be feeling at mile xx of whatever race I am training for. I can’t wait to see you next weekend!
    P.S. I like that grey striped shirt you are wearing in the first few pics. Where is it from? :)
    Corey´s last post ..Weekly Recap: Race Week

  17. Tell little Leah she needs to get on Team Watermelon…and quick! But she is a total doll!

    I’m so excited to cheer for you at NYCM (I’m deferring, I haven’t mentioned that yet, oops)…I’ll be screaming as you come up First Ave. Coming off the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan is my favorite part, listen for the crowds!
    Susan – Nurse on the Run´s last post ..a day in the life: build week

    • Welcome back!!

      I’m REALLY bummed you aren’t doing it, though I sort of figured you’d defer (and I can’t blame you at all). I’m excited to see you in a couple of weeks though!

  18. love this post. That sweet baby girl is adorable! I think, that if you can conquer a 20 mile run in FL heat and humidity, you can do anything. :) Love your attitude. I have no doubt you will have a great race! look forward to tracking you!
    elizabeth´s last post ..Behind the Scenes at Runner’s World

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