Worth it

Yesterday was Racing Day!  I ran the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler for the second time in my life.  It is for sure one of my very favorite local races – perfectly executed and expertly organized, a gorgeous and challenging course, just the right size (less than 5,000 runners) and easy for me to get to and from without a problem.  I loved every minute of the experience.

Last year I ran this race in 1:39:28.  I was 10 weeks postpartum and it was my 35th birthday.  My dream was to be able to run every step of the way and not have to walk at all.  I smiled the entire way, so thankful to be there – to be running and to be celebrating my life and all the blessings it is filled with.

After having Baby Gus I worked hard to get to the point where I could run 10 miles without stopping, at whatever pace.  Every single run was a struggle and a triumph.  My body ached all over.  I felt like giving up every single day.  I wondered if it was worth it and questioned myself constantly.  I kept on going though, and made it to the Start Line of that race feeling strong.  The GW Parkway Classic was my first race since becoming a mother of three, and I really can’t tell you how thankful I was to be at a race again.  I was in my element.  Shining from the inside out.  Smiling from ear to ear.

It was, without a doubt, WORTH IT.

crossing the finish line of the 2011 GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler

What I realized that day a little over one year ago, is how truly running is a part of who I am.

Running makes me happy.  It makes me strong.  I really don’t care how fast or how slow I am moving, as long as I am moving.  I love being a part of a race.  Toeing the line with so many other people who love to run.  Being a part of something bigger than myself.  I am my best ME when I am running.

A race is like icing on a cake.  I can’t wait to dive in and enjoy it.  I am GIDDY on race day.  It is exciting.  Every race is a celebration!!

Last year I remember thinking to myself after I finished that race – I will come back next year and I will feel ready to RACEI will keep fighting for what I believe in.  I am not going to give up.  I am a better mother, a better wife, a happier person when I make running a priority in my life.  If I give up, I will lose a part of myself.  I have to keep fighting.  I cannot give up.

The glory and elation that I feel when I cross that Finish Line is so worth it.  I overcome my fears and face my inner demons.  Feelings of self doubt and uncertainty — I conquer them when I am racing.  I connect with what I love deeply about myself and my life and the world around me.  I am filled with hope and I am inspired to dream.  I want to GO.  To keep moving forward and to open myself up to all the possibilities in life.  Running inspires me.  It makes me happy.

Though I’d been thinking about this race for a while, when I woke up yesterday morning I was not feeling very sure of myself.  We had been out late (for us – 11pm – party animals, I tell you!) the night before and I was just not feeling prepared to race.  I laid everything out prior to going to bed, but I was so worried that I would forget something.  In the car on the way to Old Town I was hungry and was searching my bag for the two Picky Bars I had packed for myself.  But I could not find them for the life of me (hours later I found them in a side pocket of my bag – annoying).  I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet and this was going to be my pre-race fuel.  Ugh.  Instead I ate some Power Bar gel blasts I found packed in my bag from my last race.  This is something I had never done before and with my finicky stomach I was worried how that would impact my performance.  I needed calories though so I ate several anyway, hoping for the best.  As a result I made three trips to the bathroom before the race started and my stomach felt off the whole time I was running, but thankfully during the race I didn’t have to stop for any emergencies.  (This is a big deal for me as I seem to struggle so frequently with GI issues when I’m running.  I really need to get down to the bottom of this!)

When we got to the race start and it was time to find my corral, all of a sudden my mind went BLANK about pacing strategy.  My PR going into this race was a 1:18:52.  I knew that I could beat that, but I also really believed I could run a 1:15.  My “dream big” goal for this race was a 1:11.  I decided that I would just listen to my body, push myself somewhat comfortably through the first half of the race and then reevaluate how things were going at that point.

The gun went off and the first mile was basically all down hill.  I went way faster than I planned.

Mile 1 – 6:45

Oooops.  I started to pull back and tried to settle into some sort of groove.  This race is FULL of rolling hills.  It’s almost like you’re on some sort of ride!  I love it.  The views of the Potomac River are breathtaking and the trees that line the Parkway are so green and lush.  The road is not crowded – it is just the right amount of runners.  The route is serene and pretty and I just love it.  I concentrated on my breathing, enjoyed the scenery around me and let myself just BE.

Mile 2 – 7:02
Mile 3 – 7:18
Mile 4 – 7:18

Around Mile 2 (photo thanks to Cheryl Hendry Young)

My stomach was bothering me and I was starting to worry about as I approached the halfway point.  This was when I wanted to start kicking into a new gear, and push myself a little faster.  But I worried about my stomach and decided to hold my pace steady.  I would think about pushing later in the race if my stomach calmed down.  As I approached the end of Mile 5 I saw a row of bathrooms and considered stopping.  I passed by them and almost turned around.  It was risky not to stop.  My stomach sort of felt “on the verge” of getting cranky, but since it wasn’t at that point yet and I only had a few more miles to run I decided to take my chances.  I ran the next several miles telling myself to just be comfortable.  I was happy with my pace and just wanted to hold onto it.

Mile 5 – 7:28
Mile 6 – 7:04
Mile 7 – 7:19
Mile 8 – 7:18
Mile 9 – 7:20

I was feeling good and there was only a mile left to run.  At that point I decided to kick it into high gear, and just run as fast as I could to the Finish.  I passed a lot of people in that final mile and I am telling you this – it felt good to do that!

Mile 10 – 6:34

As I approached the Finish Line of this race, I almost cried.  My mantra through that final mile was THIS is who I AM.

THIS is who I am.

I am a runner.  I am a mother.  I am a wife.  I am a sister.  I am a daughter.  I am a friend.

I am a fighter.  I am a dreamer.

I am joyful.
I am grateful.
I am happy.
I am passionate.
I am dedicated.
I am faithful.
I am strong.

photo thanks to Heather Vieira

THIS is who I am.

And I am proud of that.

Yesterday I ran the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler more than 27 minutes faster than I did one year ago.  I ran a PR in the 10 mile distance by almost 7 minutes.  My time was 1:12:02 and my average pace was 7:13/mile.  I was the 12th woman out of 1,059 women in my age group (30-39) and the 36th female out of 2,688 total women.

Running teaches me so much about myself, and about what it means to be true to who you are.  To give YOURSELF a fighting chance.  To nurture your dreams, no matter how big or small they may be.  If you had told me one year ago that I would be back at this race, running it the way I did yesterday, I am sure I would not have believed you.  You would have had to pick my jaw up off the floor.  As I sit here today and write this, my smile is larger than life.  My eyes are wide.  My heart wants to leap out of my chest.  Because I truly believe that there is no limit to what we are capable of.

BELIEVE in yourself.  If there is something that makes you happy, or something that you think will make you happy – GO GET IT.  That is what I am chasing when I am chasing my running dreams.  I am chasing my happiness.  My JOY.  For me and for my children and for everyone that I love.  It is NEVER too late to start, so do not let that stop you.  Go – GO!  Find out what you are made of.  Give it a chance.  Fight for it.  And don’t give up.

I promise you, it WILL be worth it.  Because YOU are worth it.

26 thoughts on “Worth it

  1. CONGRATULATIONS!! You totally kicked butt yesterday. Your transformation from a year ago is utterly amazing – you look SO strong – I am loving that picture of you coming in to the finish line!!! You are an inspiration for all mommies and soon to be moms out there that we don't have to worry about “losing” what we've worked hard to achieve!! Look at what you have done in a year! <3

  2. Jess, thank you for writing!!!
    Thank you for being who YOU ARE and for sharing yourself so truly with the world.
    Love life

  3. GREAT race!! What an awesome PR! Sounds like a very organized and fun local race. You look strong in all your race pics too. Love your enthusiasm!

  4. congrats jess, thats awesome!! Ive always wanted to do that race! Maybe next year. I did army 10 after sage and similarly it was such a great feeling to be back. havent raced a 10 miler in a long time and would love to do it again… i dig that distance. i dont think im a marathon girl. congrats on a great race, you are in killer shape 🙂

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