Monday, April 25, 2011

Hey, I put some new shoes on, And suddenly everything is right,

I don't even know how I forgot this but I finally got a new pair of shoes! I decided it had been quite a long time and I was in need of them. So I meandered over to Fleet Feet in Lincoln Park after one of my classes on Monday and met a friendly sales associate named Aaron who was a Loyola graduate. We bonded over our educational experiences while he sized my foot.

The next part was probably my favorite part, besides actually getting the shoes :) He had me put on a pair of "testing" shoes and I got on the treadmill to run in them. While I was running a video camera recorded my strides so that when I got off I could see how my ankle rolled inward a little. From that Aaron was able to pick out 5 different pairs of shoes for me to try on.

So I tried them all on. But each one demanded the acts of putting them on, feeling for comfort, feeling for where my toes were and considering how it would feel after a run since your feet swell and then running along the track to actually feel what it would be like to run in them. Professional right?

Well I had narrowed it down to two, one brand in which I wasn't really familiar with and then a pair of Nikes. Now let me just say, I'm not the biggest Nike fan and to be completely honest I was a bit disappointed that Aaron hadn't brought me any Asics because that's all I have run in since I started. But I trusted the system and all of the steps we had gone through to get to this point and decided on the Nike's because they were the most natural. The first run I went on in them was fabulous, I could literally feel myself running faster and I just felt really in tune with myself and my run....not to mention they are pink :)

Check Point: Pressing On

A little over 5 months. That's how long I have until the marathon. A little over 3 months. That's how long I have been training. I can't say I'm really halfway yet but I think I have definitely reached a "check point" where I'll need to refuel and take a moment or two and recognize the miles behind me.

So the last post I made was back in March where I had completed my first 10 mile run since the half-marathon last September. Since then I have completed two more ten mile runs, both of which left me feel absolutely amazing. I have gained a new sense of excitement each and every time I go out for a run. I wake up to these days with a renewed sense of self and soak up the excitement that the trail has to offer me.....because today is my run day.

I've had many days when I'm running along the lake path and the sun is beating down on me and I can't imagine being in a better place. But then there are also days like last Friday, when I did my last 10 miler, it was cold and raining a bit.....I loved it!!! It reminded me a lot of being on the Cape, which I miss terribly, but for that hour and 45ish minutes I had a little piece of it running along the path.

What I have also come to find is that marathon training has really helped me redefine the person that I am. Sounds kind of funny right? Well let me explain. For one, I have physically changed in appearance. I've gotten down to a size 6 pants, yup you heard me right, size 6!!! Just imagine the happy dance I did in the dressing room! Haha. I hope I am not misunderstood when I say this, but I hope to keep going but not because I have an expected size, rather so that my body will be take on a shape and size that is conducive to my end goal: the marathon.

In another sense, I have taken on a whole new outlook on the way I go about doing things. Working out everyday is time consuming and there is a certain amount of discipline that goes along with holding yourself accountable for the workouts. That being said I personally feel more motivated to complete tasks, not just exercise related but in my daily life, and I do it all with a smile (it's all of those endorphins I'm telling you!). I recently went through a really difficult time trying to get an internship for my final year of grad school, which really had me questioning my future and whether or not I wanted to continue on next year. Well with the help of my amazing supervisor, who told me this whole process is like running a marathon and I just have to push through if it's what I want. As fate would have it, I landed an interview at the school I hoped to be placed at and impressed the team of social workers enough that they "unofficially" offered me the position, and now I am just awaiting the official response from the district.

And while I'm on the topic of exciting events, I should mention that I ran in the Shamrock Shuffle with my friend Dani on April 10th downtown. The first run of the season and I couldn't have been happier with the day, the run, or my time. It was, for the first time in a few years, not snowing, in fact I think it got up to 80, but don't quote me. And of course who doesn't love running downtown? I was incredibly empowered by the thought that 6 months from now (now being on that day) I would be back in the same place running a similar course, only rather than it being 5 miles it would be 26.2! I didn't actually get to start the race until 40 minutes after it began but by did I take off when it was our corrals turn. It felt so good running past all of those people and pushing myself to go faster, faster, faster! In all of my excitement though, as I was nearing the last length of the race I totally missed the second aid station...whooops! I guess they had mixed the gatorade and water tables, which they had separated for the first one and I blew right past it. (Oh right let me explain, after projectile vomiting gatorade after the half marathon last September I CANNOT drink gatorade on the runs...bleh!) So normally they have the gatorade first and then water a little further down, wasn't the case for the second aid station.

Well the last bit of the race involved running up a hill (on Roosevelt as you are heading towards Columbus Drive) and I was like "Of course they would have us finishing on a hill! I was hot and kind of tired but I pushed through and as I reached that last stretch I sprinted in. Finishing felt so good because I knew I worked hard and I thought I had done it in a good time. I say "thought" because my silly self got so excited at the start line that I forgot to turn my stopwatch on. haha.

It's been a few weeks since the race and all I can think about is the next one, which is on May 28th, the Soldier Field 10 miler! To help keep myself in shape and avoid injury I have been trying to do more weights. I've had a few knowledgeable friends offer up suggestions and because of my wonderful networking skills, I met someone at work who is willing to work with me on free weights. He feels this will be a win-win situation because while I will benefit from learning how to do free weights he will be forced to push through workouts rather than gabbing in between sets. I can definitely motivate someone to keep going but we'll see how the whole "getting swoll" thing goes :)

I think I may have just run through all of the "big" things that have happened in the past few weeks but one thing I know I don't want to forget to say is that I am so thankful for all of the love and support I have gotten from my friends and family. This year has been incredibly challenging to me and I've been faced with a lot of challenges. One thing is for sure, each and every day brings new obstacles, and the way I see it even if you're not ready to make the decisions life still happens and you just have to let your heart guide you. Before you know it you've already passed another mile marker so why not keep going? I've had a few other hurtles that have tripped me up but haven't stopped me. Rather, I have had the opportunity to go through these hard times and discover more about myself and who I am. And for that reason I'm gonna press on.