beyond running

Once again life has been busy – it never really stops I guess, always whirling and swirling with all sorts of life and adventure! And lots of running, of course.

Four weekends ago Abby and I went to cheer on my sister and some friends at the North Face Endurance Challenge race series. Jodi ran the 50k and set an awesome PR, finishing in under 7 hours with a big smile on her face. Abby and I had a great time spectating and cheering in my sister.

Three weekends ago Abby and I did a local 5k together with the Girls Running Club I helped coached at her school. All of the girls did amazing, including my sweet Abby who ran her heart out and finished in her fastest time ever! I loved sharing this experience with her and could not be more proud of her. Running doesn’t come easily to her, and she gave it everything she had. We laughed and chatted the whole way! I will always cherish times like this with my daughter.

Two weeks ago I ran the GW Classic 10 Miler. It was a strong and happy race for me. I finished right around where I expected I would (1:09 and change), ran steady and strong with no stomach issues. I set a course PR but was well off of my fastest time (a good 4 minutes) for that distance. This winter and spring were not about pushing myself for fitness gains, but rather about finding a healthier running/life balance and giving my body, mind and emotions a break from hard training. I loved being at this race and was happy with how it went. Placing 3rd in my age group was unexpected and a nice icing on the cake of a happy race. This race is one of my very favorites in the DC area! I was honestly just so grateful to show up to a start line and feel excited to run, regardless of what the time on the clock was. For the last several years I have been gunning for faster times at basically every race I signed up for, so this has been a great change of pace for me these last several months. It has been just what I needed, to feel like me again, to reset things for a healthier balance, and to help make me stronger moving forward in running and, more importantly, in life.

After the 10 miler I spent a week doing a lot less running, with much lower intensity and mileage. Coach Hadley called it a “regeneration week,” really pulling back on things before I begin working towards my fall marathon and racing goals. I ran the American Odyssey Relay at the tail end of that week and it was truly the perfect thing for me, at the perfect time!

My team, “Bloggin’ & Joggin'” was comprised of a bunch of female DIY bloggers from all over the country. Our team captain Cassie, who I met a few years ago when I was looking to have some furniture refinished for my home, asked me to be on this team a few months ago. I hadn’t seen Cassie in years but I just adore her, and I was excited to meet more women like herself and share this relay adventure with them. Our team was sponsored by a slew of incredible companies who went above and beyond anything I could have imagined. This truly blew me away, and I really don’t know how to properly thank them all for all they did for us!

The American Odyssey Relay itself is an amazing event. The race course is 200 miles from the historic battlefields of Gettysburg, PA all the way to the waterfront of Washington, DC. I was runner #1 in van 1, and it was a lot of fun to kick off the race – an experience I had never had before! It was a lot of fun!

I loved every second of this experience. My runs were GORGEOUS – the sceneries at sunrise and sunset were truly peaceful and breathtaking. I ran the first two nice and easy right around a 7:30 pace. My last run was nearly 9 miles in the dark along the C&O Canal towpath – it was a bit spooky for
sure, and I ran it slower (around an 8:15 average pace) but I made the most of it and was happy to have made a friend for the last few miles. Talking with her made the dark less scary!

My favorite thing about this relay race though wasn’t my running at all … but was actually watching my teammates run, and being a part of something so much bigger than myself. These women are all just amazing and strong and beautiful – and so much fun! It was refreshing to me to be with them, and it reminded me of the simplest and purest joys of the sport and how women can truly lift one another up and have so much fun together doing it! I am so thankful that I had this opportunity, and really look forward to doing it with them again next year.

Later this week the 12 of us are hosting an awesome giveaway – we are actually giving away $200 and a super fun “relay starter kit” for one lucky winner! I am going to post it here on Friday and you can enter. It’s pretty awesome, so check back here later this week for details on how to enter.

The morning after I returned home from my relay, my family and I volunteered for and manned the water stop at our elementary school’s 5k! It was tons of fun to do this with my family.

I have been continually reminded lately of all the things that I love about running that actually have nothing at all to do with my own personal running or pursuits related to the sport … and what makes this even more beautiful to me is that it refreshes and rejuvenates my spirit in ways within me but also so far beyond myself. I know now that my passion for the sport has got to be fueled by more than just a fire within me to be my best, and that my definition of my best self as a runner and as a person, goes well beyond my own times or distances or accomplishments … it transcends me in ways I never imagined before and I am so grateful to be realizing this now.

I do have dreams and goals on a personal level – to break 3 hours in the marathon, to race ultra distances, to be a competitive masters runner – but they will not have meaning to me if they are not shared with my family and with the running community. I’m really looking forward to training for my fall races with all of this in my heart. Without a doubt, I am seeing and experiencing running in a whole new way now.

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