On life post-marathon

So this is what it’s like, life after the marathon.  Yesterday was Houston’s marathon day, which, as you can imagine, is one of my favorite days of the year.  The weather was incredible — 65 degrees compared to last year’s miserable 33-and-raining.  And there I was, cheering from the sidelines, watching more than one of my friends break four-hour times.

Watching the runners was total pleasure, and the nature of the day had me fielding (and pondering) more questions than usual about my post-marathon disposition.  The main question: When would I run another?

…I don’t think I will.

Don’t get me wrong, I love marathons.  I love training runs, I love early Saturday morning wakeups, I love the mental aspect of reviewing the course in my mind, and I love the connection a group of runners can have.  But (at the risk of sounding like a jerk) my marathon was too good.  It holds this very sacred place in my mind… and I just never want to spoil that.

I didn’t come close to breaking a four-hour time, and there were certainly points of frustration along the course. But the overwhelming feeling I got (still get!) from that day was one of pure joy and happiness.  I had never been so proud of myself, never felt so supported by family and friends, and never been so awestruck by pure human force than I did that Sunday, as I ran up First Avenue.  It was perfect.

So, life after the marathon.  There is less running, as you would expect.  I actually only run once a week now, at my beloved Monday-morning bagel runs; I’m a total group-running convert.  There’s a lot more yoga, later Saturday wake-up times, and evening workouts have made their way back into the mix.  There are no water belts, and my peroneal tendonitis is, from what I can tell, completely gone.  Then there’s missing my Saturday-morning running buddies — that’s real.  So is missing the quiet of Westheimer before sunrise.

Most of all, I miss the anticipation of the marathon.  I had two years to simmer in it, and now it’s over, which brings a different kind of happiness.  But the joy of looking forward to the marathon, not quite knowing what was in store?  That, I’ll never get back.

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New York City Marathon 2013

2013 NYC Marathon finish

I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Boston, legs aching, wondering how to write this.  Part of me wants to weep that I’ll never get yesterday back; most of me is thrilled beyond belief that it happened.  All of me (more than all of me!) is filled with the love I received from my family, Claire, Michael, Nimmi, Lisa, total strangers.  Where do I start?

I ran the New York City Marathon.

Staten Island ferry ride to the start

Marathon Village

lines for the start corrals
The Staten Island Ferry was a buzz of race talk.  “Is this your first?” the resounding question.  Stories from last year, stories from other marathons, time projections, nutritional advice.  Endless tips.
“Be careful as you come off the Queensboro.  The crowd will be loud and you’ll want to push it, but you’ll still have 10 more miles to go.”
“Gu at Mile 18, bananas at Mile 21.  Are you keeping your gloves through the race?”
“I take salt before the run.”
“I eat pretzels.”
“The Verrazano will be freezing.”
“If you miss your wave you can always start at a later time.”
“Whatever you do, don’t go out too fast!”
I listened, wordless, feeling the way I did when I was 16, about to take the SAT.  More prepared than I ever would be, I wanted to be tested.  I was antsy for the start.
My start: Orange corral, Wave 4, 10:55 a.m. start time
My heart jumped at the firing of the cannon (literally… I wasn’t expecting it), and I started.
Mile 1 (Staten Island to Brooklyn): The Verrazano Bridge.  It was freezing!  The only portion of the race in which I couldn’t feel my fingers or my toes.  I was wearing itty bitty shorts (the shorts I had trained in) and wondered if I had made a mistake.
Mile 7 (Park Slope, Brooklyn): I saw my family.  They flew up two years in a row and have been holding on to these signs throughout. They were my first spectators along the course, and I wanted to stop and say hello.  (I actually wanted to cry and yell, “Can you believe I’m running the New York marathon?!“)  I stopped and hugged everyone, but couldn’t communicate the enormity of how I felt.  Instead, I told them I felt great but a little cold… and then I ran on through Brooklyn.
Daddy

Mommy
Miles 8-12 (Williamsburg, et al., Brooklyn): Things got a bit rowdier before they got a lot calmer (read: dead) as we ran through a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood.  
Mile 13 (Greenspoint, Brooklyn): I asked myself, “Could I do that mileage again?”  The answer was an unwavering yes.
Miles 14-15 (Queens):  I was starting to feel like I had run, well, a half marathon when I made it to Queens and was greeted by Lisa.  A hug from Lisa and an urging to enjoy Manhattan (it was so close!), and then I was off, gearing up for the Queensboro Bridge.
Miles 15-16 (Queens to Manhattan): The Queensboro.  I had run it before in training, and remembered it as a manageable incline.  It was also a 10 minute incline at least, and at mile 15 I was starting to feel the pain.  I gave myself a walk break for a minute and then kept plowing through.  On the way down from the bridge, signs read, “If you think the last 10 miles is easier, then welcome to easier… Welcome to Manhattan.”  I got goosebumps; I teared up. This was what I had been waiting for.
Entering Queens
Miles 16-19 (First Avenue, Manhattan):  How do I put these miles into words?  
I knew what was coming.  I had been a spectator at this very point three years in a row, so I knew the crowd would be deep.  I knew the music would swell and the energy would be powerful.  But how do you experience something you’ve been preparing for, been visualizing for years?  
(And how do you react when it lives up to your expectations?)
Miles 16-19 are the closest I’ve ever gotten to a higher experience.  Because oh if there’s nothing I’ve felt more than the power of people as I was running up First Avenue.  
Rounding the streets as you turn off the bridge, First Ave. dips before is ascends, making it possible to see thousands of runners before you.  As I made this round, the crowd felt deafening, and as I ran I started to cry… like, ugly cry as I ran up First.  I was so happy.  This was what I had pictured in all my training runs, the mileage that really meant “New York Marathon” to me.
And it was so good.
As I made my way up First, I scanned the crowd for Michael and Claire, who were promised to be there, and sure enough, they were waiting at 68th Street, bananas and Gu in tote.  I couldn’t have asked for two better people to see.  We hugged and did a little more crying and talked.  And too soon it was over and I was on my way again, fully aware that every step I took meant leaving behind the highest experience I’ve ever had.
First Avenue (photo credit Michael)
smiling on First
Miles 19-26 (the Bronx, Harlem, 5th Avenue, and Central Park): Yes, I lumped them together.  They were hard, and physically painful, and chocked full of 60-second walk breaks (though my mile time never dipped below 11 minutes, heya!).  At this point people cheering started using my name aggressively, rather than cheerfully.  “GO ABBY!” felt more like, “Come on, pick it up, Abbyrather than, “Wow!  We really believe you can do it!”  Even my friends in Harlem (thanks Nimmi, Joe, and Seth!) were pressuring me to keep moving (though I love you guys).
5th Avenue was a steady incline.  Central Park had more hills than I remembered.  Central Park South felt like it never ended.  With every step I PR’d, and even that thought didn’t give me satisfaction.  I was doing it, but that was it.  In those final miles, there was no elation, it was just a mission to be completed.
And so I did!
After 4 hours, 45 minutes and 17 seconds, I crossed the finish line.
I didn’t immediately react; there were little tears and even fewer thoughts.  I just knew I did it.  I did it, I did it, I did it.  It was over… and I didn’t know what to make of that.
“early exit” ponchos

At this point we were freezing.
After 45 minutes of making my way to Columbus Circle, I was greeted by my amazing family, best friend and boyfriend.  I was all love for my support crew.
Claire, me, Daddy, Sean and Michael — missing my mom because she took the picture
Then we headed to Smithfield for the after-party!
The after party: Me and Charity, who I love dearly and haven’t seen since she left for her Peace Corps mission two years ago!

Miho and me — Miho was one of two friends who ran with (but not next to) me.  Our correspondence over the last six months has been entirely training-related.

Me, Claire, Amy
And just like I started this entry wondering how to write it, I leave wondering how to end it.  It was the New York marathon.  I’m happy it’s over, and I wish it had never ended.  Is that okay?
Day 177 (marathon day), by the numbers:

377
 – miles run to date
26.2 – longest run to date
4:45:17 – minutes and seconds it took
10:54 – average minutes/mile

Day 148: 21 Miles

It was a first for me — 21 miles!  There aren’t really enough exclamation points for that.

I started at 4:30 a.m. and the whole thing took me almost exactly four hours.  The first 16 miles were solid — the Memorial loop, along the 610 feeder, through Post Oak, Highland Village, River Oaks, Montrose, South Hampton, around Hermann Park… each neighborhood was silent before the sun rose, and I felt light and strong.  I ran a really consistent 10 minute pace and only paused at our designated water stops (about every 5 miles).

At 16 miles I hit a bit of a wall.  I started having mental battles about how long I’d run without stopping.    I was hot.  My legs were heavy.  And at this point I was running back towards my car, so there were no new landmarks, which is always tough for me.  Even when my friend, Teresa, joined to run me back in, she couldn’t totally distract me from the last 5 miles.

Around Mile 18 I had to use my the tried and true 5:1 strategy — 5 minutes of running and a 1-minute walk.  It’s sort of funny how 5:1’s work to keep me going in those last few miles.  At that point the walking didn’t actually feel better — my legs were like lead and so achey even walking was torturous — but 5 minute goals were small and surmountable, and got me through those last three miles.

So I did it!  Teresa by my side, I did it.  Then I took my shoes off and had a popsicle.

Highland Village, deserted at 5:30 a.m.

Teresa and me post-run

Day 148, by the numbers:

312
– miles run to date
21 – longest run to date
3:59:41 – minutes and seconds it took
28 – days until the marathon

Day 141: What not to sweat

To be honest, by the time the marathon rolled around last year, I was sick of it.  I wanted my life, Friday nights and all, to belong to me again.  So this year I’ve had a much more laid back attitude.  Without letting my goal or preparation slip, I also haven’t let training take over my life.  And I’ve been surprised that some of the things I’ve let go — carbo-loading, for example — haven’t impacted my performance at all.  This year, the marathon is a month out and I’m still excited for each and every practice.

I’m no expert (so please, no following this advice if your coach/doctor/whoever tells you otherwise), but here are some of the things I actually don’t worry about too much, despite official running advice to the contrary.  
1. I don’t sweat what I eat during a run.  Instead, I listen to my body and eat when I feel tired or hungry.  I used to be obsessed with following guidelines when it came to racing nutrition.  I’d have a Gu once around Mile 6, and then another every half hour after that.  That meant during an 18-mile run I might have five.  They would slosh around in my belly and in general make me feel bloated.  These days I take my first Gu around Mile 8 and then again in half packet amounts every 2-3 miles, as I feel myself need it.
2. I let myself have a glass of wine (or two) the night before a run.  I used to be religious about not having alcohol two days before a long run, and it used to make me kind of miserable.  Thursday and Friday are social nights, so I hated going out to dinner and not being able to have even a glass of wine.  I’m sure it’s not ideal that I have a glass on Friday nights now, but it makes me feel like I’m not giving over my life to training, and that’s worth it.

3. I don’t worry about eating carbs.  I used to carbo-load on Fridays, and you know what?  I gained like a million pounds during last training season.  Carbs are all around me; I get carbs.  No need to binge on pasta the night before a run.

4. I don’t eat breakfast before a run.  I’m sure people will scream at me for writing that.  But it’s true, and I’ve never felt worse off for it.  With runs starting as early as 4 a.m., I barely have time enough to roll out of bed and lace up my shoes, much less cook myself a healthy breakfast and early enough that it has time to digest a little.  I don’t think so.  All it takes for me these days is a nice meal the night before, and a banana the morning of.  After my runs I make sure to have a big (and well earned!) recovery breakfast.

5. I don’t get eight hours of sleep the night before a run.  Yep, so sue me.  Again, if I’m getting up at 3:20 a.m. for a run, there’s no chance at getting a full night’s sleep anyway.  So if friends want to go to dinner at 9 on Friday night, I’m up for it.  It’s much more important that I get a healthy amount of sleep in the week leading up to the run.


Day 141, by the numbers:

288 – miles run to date
35 – days until the marathon
18.4 – longest training mileage so far

Day 134: We’re in it together, you know.

Two years ago, in early November, I watched the NYC marathon from 65th and 1st.  I was waiting for my friend Robbie, who was the very first person I ever knew to run it.  At Mile 16, just like me, thousands of onlookers (I think the actual estimate is 2 million) were scrutinizing the runners for their friends and family.  We wanted to be able to shout the names of our loved ones as they ran by.

The woman next to me was doing the same, and when she spotted her husband she shouted at him.  He was walking (as many runners were by this point in the race) and he came from the center of the street over to her.  As he walked over I could tell he was limping, and when he approached her, he started to cry.

Over the rail she hugged him, and he just cried into her arms.  They hugged forever.

I don’t know what happened — assuming injury — but witnessing that hug was a strangely special experience.  Here I was, this total stranger who happened to be standing near, and there they were, in an intimate embrace usually reserved for the privacy of… anywhere with less than a few thousand people hanging out.  And they just hugged, and I’ve never forgotten it.

And that’s the marathon for you.  Even as a spectator, the collective human will and strength and pain and love that goes into the millions of hours of effort by tens of thousands of humans will make things like crying in front of strangers okay.  Because we’re all in it together, you know.

______

That’s what I was thinking today while I was drove home from a 12-mile run.

I’m finally getting emotional about the marathon; I can feel myself letting go of last year’s heartbreak.  Like entering into a new relationship when your last one was a bust, there’s a certain amount of trust I am rebuilding. But after last week’s 18-miler, I can feel that trust strengthening, and I’m becoming vulnerable again.  Envisioning the finish makes me tear up.  Thinking about the love and support I’ve received from my family and friends makes me feel my knees buckle.  I’m so humbled by this pursuit.

Day 134, by the numbers:
271 – miles run to date
11.74 – today’s run
2:02 – time it took
10:24 – average minute per mile

p.s.  Not to gross you out, but… my 18-mile blisters!

Have a happy weekend.  :)

Hood to Coast

Remember when I went to Portland to run Hood to Coast?  You don’t?  Oh.  Well…

In my only non-wedding-related vacation of the summer, the end of August meant a trip to Portland, Oregon, where I ran three of 36 legs in the 198-mile Hood to Coast relay race.  We came in first!  Just kidding.  We came in 709th of 1009 teams.  Pretty good…?

The race started at the top of Mount Hood, ran through Portland and ended at the Pacific coast.  We split up into two vans of six runners each, but started the race together, at 7:45 a.m., with the (beautiful) above team photo.

Seeing snow (and ski-ers!) in the middle of August was kind of a trip, especially coming from Houston/Israel/NYC heat.  In this photo, at the start, I was wearing a light jacket and was FREEZING. Didn’t mind.

This is the race start!  Joe ran our first leg.  He was the first of 12 of us, and we were split into two vans.  While the first van was running, the second knew we wouldn’t be called on to run for about 6 hours, so we took a break — after I snapped this photo we went to brunch.

Over the next 31 hours we ran continuously, meaning that everyone had at least one run in total darkness (my second leg started at 3:07 a.m.!) and most of us had at least one run we wouldn’t have chosen.  My leg breakdowns:

Leg #1: 
distance: 5 miles
pace: 8:31 minutes per mile
time of day: 4 p.m.
terrain: flat biking trail heading into Portland
thoughts: Since I was the second-to-last runner, I had watched 10 people before me get through their first legs, and I was excited.  My adrenaline was pumping and I was really flying — I remember at one point thinking I should slow down, that I couldn’t maintain a sub-9 minute pace for 5 miles, but my legs just wouldn’t.  Very cool.  Although… not going to lie, the flat biking trail and bright sun made me feel like I was running in Houston.  Not necessarily what I was going for by racing Portland.

Leg #2: 
distance: 4 miles
pace: 9:07 minutes per mile
time of day: 3 a.m.
terrain: rolling hills on a two-lane highway between Portland and the coast
thoughts: This was by far my favorite run — nothing but wet pavement (it was raining and mercifully cool) and the blinking red lights from the safety gear of runners in front of me.  My headlamp was the only source of light on the black road.

Leg #3: 
distance: 7 miles
pace: 9:55 minutes per mile
time of day: 1 p.m.
terrain: steady uphill on a gravel road a few miles from the coast
thoughts: Worst run, and glad it was my last.  The sun was hot.  The uphill never ended.  And the gravel moving under my feet had a way of making me feel like a gerbil in a spinning cage, making no progress.

But you know how this ends, right?…

…we made it to the beach.

…and had a few beers to boot!

Day 127: Mile 18!

Dear legs,

I’m really proud of you.  You ran 18.4 miles and didn’t even complain that much (peroneal tendon, I’m looking at you!).  It’s understandable that you feel like you can’t move right now — feel free to take a break.

There are only two more of these long runs, I promise.  One 21-miler and then, lo and behold, it’s marathon time. Don’t worry, during those 26.2 miles I’ll make sure you’re so pumped full of adrenaline you practically won’t feel a thing.  You can do it.

Yours,

Abby

p.s. Excited you’re finally getting excited.  :)

Day 127, by the numbers:
256 – miles run to date
18.4 – longest run to date
3:29 – time it took
11:38 – average minute per mile (I wonder if I will take as many breaks during the actual marathon?)

Day 115: My fastest run… and a case of peroneal tendonitis

my bones

It’s day 115, and a lot has happened since my last post.  I’ve gotten stronger, I’ve run my fastest, and I’ve also developed peroneal tendonitis, which leaves me hobbling around after every run.  Training is like that.
On getting stronger: Cross training, simple as that.  After short runs I lift free weights (in my front yard… hey neighbors) and do bodyweight exercises, like squat jumps.  Wednesdays I do yoga.  None of these sessions  take too long, but they’ve made a big difference in (hello, vanity) the way my body looks.  I’m not my skinniest self by any means, but I’m a strong version of myself.
On running my fastest: My marathon goal is a 9:45 min/mile.  I figure if I aim for this and allow little stuff to happen (short stops for water, slowing down on the Queensboro bridge, etc.) my actual pace will come in at just over 10 minutes per mile, which is what I’m really hoping for.  For shorter distances, though, like my 30-minute Monday morning bagel runs*, I’ve been running around a 9 min/mile pace.  This is really fast for me, and I’m usually panting and out of breath by the time I make it back to Luke’s Locker.  So when I recently ran an 8:31 min/mile 5-mile leg (say that five times fast!) in the Hood to Coast relay race (post to come), I was blown away.  I’ve never run a sub-9 minute mile for 5 miles.  I’m getting fast!!
On peroneal tendonitis: I’m not sure when it started.  I think it was in Israel, when I toured the country in sandals.  I know I felt it at Hood to Coast.  Then, when last Tuesday’s practice left me limping for two days, I was forced to call the doctor.  
Like any good Millenial child, I didn’t want to wait for the doctor to tell me what was wrong, so I did my own due diligence, and googled my symptoms.  Namely, pain on the top of my foot, just under my ankle bone.  And that’s when I started getting scared, because WebMD and I agreed that all signs pointed to stress fracture.

Now, “stress fracture” and “marathon training” don’t go hand in hand, namely because running through a stress fracture leads to things like… complete bone breaks.  So needless to say, I was panicking.  And thus, when two days later the doctor proclaimed that I, in fact, did not have a stress fracture, but boring old peroneal tendonitis, I practically kissed him.  

Peroneal tendonitis!  Peroneal tendonitis!  Wowee, the beautiful condition practically rolls off the tongue!  I can handle peroneal tendonitis!  I can run through peroneal tendonitis!  Yippee!!
But yes.  In all seriousness, peroneal tendonitis, or the inflammation of the peroneal tendon that runs from the oustide of my ankle and inserts under my foot, is not great, but a lot better than the tiny fracture I was envisioning.  It basically means my tendons have had it, like, up to HERE with my running, and they’re aggravated and giving me grief about it.  Okay, I’ll deal.  But I’m still training.  
So now I have an ankle brace (to support the tendon during my run, so it doesn’t have to do so much work), new kicks, some prescription anti-inflammatories, and a positive attitude.
Day 115, by the numbers:
214 – miles run to date
14 – longest run to date
2:39:46 – time it took
11:24 – average min / mile pace (waaaaay longer than usual, due to a particularly lengthy bathroom stop — actual running pace was around 10:05 min/mile)
  

New shoes!  Ankle brace!
speed workout after a thunderstorm

*Bagel runs are my new favorite way to train!  Every Monday morning Luke’s Locker sponsors a 30-minute group run (15 minutes out, 15 minutes back — you run as far as you can get in the time), and buys us hot bagels and coffee afterwards.  The short time means I can usually push myself to run faster than average (knowing it will be over soon), and the group aspect holds me accountable.  Come and join any Monday morning at 5:30.

Day 50: Things are heating up!

Collapsing into my mat after last week’s run

I think I should start adding a temperature stat to these posts.  It’s 93 degrees outside right now, “feels like” 97, with a high of 103.  Sheesh!  This morning during the run it was about 80, with 80 percent humidity.  For those of you who come from more arid climates than Houston (read: anywhere else), running through 80 percent humidity is a little less intense than running through a steam room.  And since you’re not usually running through steam rooms, let’s call them equal.

Aside from the heat, the run this morning was fantastic.  8 miles, two runners at my speed to chat with, and a pretty steady 9:45 pace with a negative split.  All in all, not so bad.

A few updates on the training front:

– I’m a morning person now!  That’s right, all my workouts now happen before 7 a.m., and I’m not looking back.  It took me about a week to adjust and actually push myself during the workouts — so easy to be sluggish at 5:30 a.m.! — but once my body got used to it, I haven’t had any trouble.  It also helps that the thought of waiting another hour  to exercise — or worse, until the end of the day — means unbearable temperatures.  It either happens in the morning or not at all.

– I have yet to meet my workout goal for a week.  :/  The schedule should be:

  • Sunday – rest
  • Monday – run easy 30-45 minutes
  • Tuesday – hill train with Houston FIT (45 minutes) + arm strength
  • Wednesday – hot yoga
  • Thursday – tempo run with Houston FIT (45 minutes) + leg strength
  • Friday – rest
  • Saturday – long run + core strength

…but too often I’ve cut a workout, and that’s usually been yoga.  This week, however, I went to yoga twice, and felt amazing after.  My body had been craving it — the strengthening, the stretching — so I’m just going to have to suck it up and, well, not cut my workouts out.

– I finally caved in and got a water belt.  I avoided it for the entirety of last year’s marathon season*, but Houston FIT requires them, and they do add a huge amount of flexibility to a run.  What they don’t do, though, is sit nice and snug against my hips.  As a girl, my hips are wider than my waist, which means the belt pops up into my skinnier part, and then bounces around during the run.  Annoying at best.
A few weeks ago, I decided to combat this by strapping the belt really tightly around my waist, which resulted in a horrendous side stitch.  While I want to throw in the towel on the belt, I’m now resigned to wearing it somewhere between my waist and hips, and yes, having to readjust it pretty often during the run.  I’m trying to like it, okay?!  We’re just not there yet.
– I’m getting worried about gaining training weight.  If you’re wondering why anyone would actually gain weight while training, this article explains what I went through last year.  I honestly didn’t even notice it until after the marathon, because I didn’t think it was possible to be burning an extra 4,000 calories a week and be adding on pounds… but somehow I managed it!

The main culprit, according to the article and also in my experience, is the feeling that I deserve a reward meal after a long run.  That should be totally fine and great — I certainly need to refuel — but too often it’s an extra meal.  What I’d like to do is simply adjust the timing of my meals so I have the energy I need for a run, rather than increase my overall calorie intake.

Day 50, by the numbers:
90.07 – miles run to date
8.02 – longest run to date
1:21:45 – time it took
10:12 – average min / mile pace (with water stops — I wish they didn’t count!)
And as usual… the post-run farmer’s market treat:
My favorite: a frothy double espresso
From the Chef Roy tent at the Urban Harvest Eastside farmer’s market: Tomatoes, beets, sprouts and other greens, gruyere cheese and an egg (to make it breakfast-y) on Slow Dough
*How did I avoid running with a water belt in Houston’s deadly heat, you ask?  Only by going to great lengths.  If I wasn’t running with Team In Training (they would usually provide water every two miles), then I would drive the route I was running beforehand and stash water bottles every two miles in people’s yards.  If you live in River Oaks, I may have hit your house…

Day 40: How About I Run Faster?

The Blow’s “Eat Your Heart Up” is one of my favorite songs to run to because it’s fast!

Today I articulated something important for myself.  In order to run faster, I need to give myself permission to run faster.

For the past few weeks I’ve been reading ‘Lean In,’ the controversial book by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.  In it, she discusses women and work, and calls for women to take on more leadership without asking for permission to do so. Asking for permission, hm?  

When she discusses permission, what she’s really talking about is some sort of external marker we need to feel like we’re THERE, so we can take on more.  This external marker may come in the form of many years of experience at a job, for example, or it may come in the form of someone else’s approval.

She cites a study, for example, in which a significantly lower percentage of women, as compared to men, were willing to apply for a job if they didn’t think they met almost all of the criteria.  Whereas men were saying — and believing — they were qualified because they could learn on the job, women were holding themselves back because they hadn’t already learned all of the skills.

When I read that I saw myself.  This has happened in my career, where I’ve had to learn some serious lessons about what “qualified” really means.  And though I consider myself better now at jumping in without the “permission” to do so, it’s still scary, and I still usually prefer to already know what I’m doing before I do it.

But while I have been gleaning the book’s contents for applicable work advice, it also applies to training.

Three times a week, I’ve been running with my Houston FIT group.  And often on these runs, I’ll find myself running next to someone I consider faster than me, whether it be another runner or a coach.  Usually, at this point, I slow down so they’re just in front of me.  If they take a walk break, I take a walk break.  If they slow down, I will, too.  The logic is that since this person is faster than I am, I should be a few steps behind.  If Coach A can’t push himself without a walk break, then I surely can’t, either!

But I realized, per Sheryl Sandberg, that this makes no sense.  It’s an internal barrier, almost comical: I’m physically holding myself back!  And on what planet should I slow down because my brain (not my body!) is telling me that I’m not as fast as Whoever?  I realized I was waiting for some kind of permission — some sort of external marker — to feel confident enough to run fast.

But you know what?  If I want to be fast, then I have to run fast.  It’s as simple as that.

Day 40, by the numbers:


69.21 – miles run to date
7.09 – longest run to date
1:09:58 – time it took
9:52 – average min/mile pace

Week 6 schedule:
Sunday – Monday: Off (out of town)
Tuesday: 3.6 mile run — hill training; strength training (arms)
Wednesday: 2.5 mile run — fast! (avg. 9:04 min/mile)
Thursday: ~40 minute tempo run; strength training (legs)
Friday: hot yoga
Saturday: 6 mile run, strength training (core)