I’m not a runner, but I’m grateful to run

I participated in a turkey trot on Thanksgiving, like I’ve done for the last eight years, but this year was different. In past years, I’ve gone with family, and our entourage is always replete with strollers and babies and grandparents and a pack of dogs. Our trot is more of a stroll; I usually sip coffee the whole way and we’re habitually at the back of the pack.

This year was different. I ran a 5-mile Turkey Trot with friends. (Well, they actually ran way faster than me, so I did most of it with temporary, pace-matched buddies from among the thousands who participated.

As I was running, I overheard snippets of conversations from the walkers I passed. Words like “I wish I were a runner, but…” or “I just can’t get into running…” or “Running just isn’t something I enjoy …”. I didn’t hear the tail end of any of those sentences but I didn’t need to, because they’re all sentiments I’ve spoken, many a time, during many a 5K stroll or while cheering at many a finish line for friends’ races.

I still don’t consider myself a runner. My ‘running’ happens in fits and starts and is punctuated by momentary highs, rookie mistakes. and lapses of activity. I’m slow. I still take walk breaks and I don’t really see my leisurely pace as something that needs a fix or an upgrade. But I’m beyond proud of myself for running those five miles on Thursday, and beyond grateful that I was able to.

During the moments when I ran alone, I kept thinking about my grandma, who passed away just a year and a half ago, and who had lost her mobility, slowly and begrudgingly, over the course of 30-some years. She was a fighter and resisted her loss of mobility longer than most humans would have endured. She never complained or let herself wallow in self-pity. She was always her witty, sharp self up until the end.

Though she never spoke to me about her feelings about being disabled, I have no doubt that she would have jumped at the chance to be able to walk or run even a few steps. And in her honor I was grateful to join the thousands of runners and walkers and babies in strollers and families in our course around downtown Austin on the most perfect, clear, sunny day, and relish the opportunity I have to move in any way I choose.

I actually didn’t get a time for this race – my chip never picked up any activity (??)  but I swear, I did the whole thing!

Even if I don’t really like running. Even if I’m not a runner. Even if my friend’s dad who power-walked the course finished just 10 minutes after I did. (No joke, he’s a machine). No matter what, I’m so glad that I can choose to run. That walking or running is available to me, and that I’m no longer the person offering the “I would like to be a runner…” excuse.

 

Oops I did it again

Not many people know this about me, but I have technically finished a half marathon before.

This was four or five years ago. A good friend of mine, who has a suspicious talent for convincing people to do things they ordinarily wouldn’t do, asked me to sign up with her. Her sister—an actual runner—was coming into town for the San Francisco Marathon, and my friend was signing up in solidarity.

“But,” she promised, “We’ll just walk the first mile or so, then we’ll duck out for brunch.”

This was exactly my kind of half marathon. I registered, and instead of training for the race or even opening the information emails, I spent the weeks leading up to the race carefully inspecting Google maps and Yelp for brunch places along the route. I wanted to have options, because getting a brunch table in SF can be a total shitshow. Especially on big event weekends.

Race day rolled around and I dutifully found my friend at the start line after almost not getting my bib. Because no, I hadn’t gone to packet pickup; I had to track down some frazzled event organizer just moments before the event started.

We started running along the Embarcadero and through the gray fog and among the thousands of people who had turned out for the event. Those first few miles were exhilarating. I loved the energy, the feeling of being part of something, the flatness of that part of the course, and, of course, imagining just how many pastries I’d be able to eat thanks to a supercharged appetite.

“Shall we duck out now?” I remember asking as we ran through the Marina. Plenty of good brunch options there!

“Let’s just go a little farther,” my friend said.

We repeated that conversation several more times before it hit home that we weren’t really ducking out for brunch.

I’d been had.

We kept going. Up and over the Golden Gate, and back again. Through the Presidio. By the ocean. At some point, my pace devolved into a limping walk. All my training had taken place in front of a computer and in search of pancakes, and it showed.

I won’t go into too many details about the meltdown that was the last half of that race. Let’s just say, we made it across the finish line long after the last of the promised Irish coffees had been doled out. Womp.

I learned a few key things that foggy morning in San Francisco, and they had plenty of time to soak into my soul while we waited, shivering, in the long line for the bus back to our cars. (Clearly, this story is pre-Lyft).

Lessons:

  • Don’t fall for the brunch bait
  • Don’t start a race you have neither intention nor ability to finish

I’m sharing this story because once again I’ve been strong armed into signing up for a half marathon. This time, it wasn’t bacon; it was beer that got me to enter my credit card information.

A (different) friend has convinced me to sign up for the Shiner half marathon in, you guessed it, Shiner, Texas. I hear there is abundant beer at the finish line. And to make sure I make it there before they run out, I’ve also signed up for a training program with Rogue Runners (who the fuck am I, right now?).

All that said, here’s why I’m really doing it: not for the bacon, not for the booze: for my baby. Err, one of my babies. The not-human one. The business baby.

That sounds weird.

Moving on.

You see, ever since we started Fit Approach, I’ve been an enthusiastic crew member, cheerleader, and sympathetic beer drinker at races and other run-focused events.

I’ll even get up really, really early for ultra marathon start lines.

I’ve been to enough of them—and have enough spent time with runners—that, in critical moments, I can reasonably pretend to be a person who runs.

The beer mile is my best event.

Like, in business meetings, while working expo booths, etc.

Eating Doritos in a van counts as training, right?

I’m kind of tired of pretending. And also, we’re hosting our first-ever race & yoga weekend this summer, and I want to be a part of it. I felt such amazing energy surrounded by complete strangers in those first few miles of my doomed half, I can’t imagine the high that would come from spending time with my community, for a race I was actually prepared for.

So, yes, I’m training for a half marathon in November. But the real reason I’m hitting the pavement is because come August, I plan to walk the walk. (Run the run?). Maybe not a half – we’ll see how the training goes – but definitely for the 10k. It’ll be the farthest I’ve ever run.

Join me? 

And, since you’ve made it this far (a marathon unto itself!), you definitely deserve a discount. FLEXANDFLOW for 20% off, y’all.

See you at the finish line, and ALL WEEKEND LONG. <3

 

My first run back

I am just now getting back into exercising, and it’s been so nice to get my body moving again. There’s no better mood enhancer than a good sweat, and it’s something I desperately needed during those dark first months of pregnancy.

I’m starting to feel more comfortable with what I should and should not be doing. I started out by doing all the googling, and of course found all sorts of contradictory answers.

Do yoga as you normally would.

But don’t do twists or backbends.

Do inversions, but don’t invert.

Running is great for you while you’re pregnant. 

Don’t run while pregnant. 

Exercise is important.

Don’t get your heart rate above 140. 

It’s enough to make a girl feel nuts and just crawl back into bed. I’ve taken a few barre and yoga classes, and my instructors ranged all the way from giving me modifications because “I’m special” to one who rather scornfully told me pregnancy is not a disability, and used her hands and knees to push me deeper into (verboten?) twists and backbends.

Finally, I just asked my midwife, and her vague answer was the best one I’ve heard yet:

Just listen to your body. 

Amen. That’s some advice I can actually get behind. I hate being treated like a fragile flower, and I hate even more when instructors don’t believe me, or suspect me of being lazy. I think I have a pretty decent sense of what feels right, and what doesn’t, and I just want to trust my body and have those around me accept and appreciate that.

That didn’t stop me from being nervous to join my friend Erin for her Moms Run This Town run group last night, though. I hadn’t run since before I knew I was preggo, and I’ve never been more than a casual runner at best.

As we pulled into the Safeway parking lot where we were supposed to meet, my husband grumbled, “how are we ever going to find these people?”

This is how, husband. See: ALL THE PINK.

sweat pink mrtt group

Seriously, though, I had no idea that Erin would bring such a crowd. And such a crowd of PINK! I immediately felt at home, and even more so when I spotted a few friends from high school in the crowd of runners. And then even more so when I got to meet some sweat pink ambassadors in person for the first time! It’s seriously one of my favorite activities. I know so many people just by their Instagram or Twitter handles and even though I already feel like I know and love them, there’s nothing like seeing them in person and getting to hug and laugh and chat.

For the run, I immediately attached myself to one of my friends from high school (middle school?), not only to catch up, but also because I just felt more comfortable easing back into running with a fellow preggo by my side. I knew she wouldn’t judge me if I had to stop and walk a million times or if I lost my breath within the first few paces.

You guys. Running with that group, even though I had to walk at times, and even though it was hot and I need new workout clothes that don’t feel like they’re strangling my abdomen, was so fun. So much more fun than any other run I’ve ever done. I barely even noticed my wheezing and heavy breathing (and hey, I can always blame that on Moonshine, anyway).  

Plus they all put on Sweat Pink Trucker Hats for the run which just made my pink heart stand still and then do happy dances. Hell, it’s still doing happy dances.

During the run, I caught up with old and new friends, learned all sorts of things about the crazy goings-on happening in my body (nothing like moms who have been there to tell it to you straight) and also, for the first time in my life, wasn’t painfully counting down every last second until I could STOP RUNNING.

I’m so looking forward to joining them again next time I’m in town visiting my parents, and I’m looking up the MRTT chapter in Austin, stat, so I can keep making friends and actually not hating running.

Thank you, Erin and the whole MRTT group, for letting me join for such a friendly, fun run! I actually feel comfortable running while pregnant now, especially if I get to hang out with such lovely people while I’m at it.