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You might have just run your first half-marathon if:

It hurts to sit down to go pee.

You basically made sweet, sweet love to some Chik-fil-A nuggets and a salad.

You loathe the decision to ever live in a two-story home.

Despite eating two donuts and lunch after the race, you could probably still eat a whole meal.

You go to hop in the shower hours later and realize you still have KT tape on.

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Today I finished something I never, EVER imagined myself doing. A year or so ago I made the decision to start running, more as a social thing, and to stay in shape, never to be do anything competitively. Now here I am, having completed the Couch to Crazy program my crew puts on. We trained together for a 5k, the bridge to 10k, and now a half-marathon. A HALF-MARATHON PEOPLE. That’s 13.1 miles. THIRTEEN POINT FREAKING ONE MILES. And me, ME of all people, did it. This crazy running journey has had a lot of ups and downs for me. I was the Queen of Random Injuries in Okinawa, from heat exhaustion to a pulmonary embolism. I have had to overcome a lot about body image, and a lot of social anxiety and self doubt.  Now I find myself actually believing that I’m a runner. That may sound funny to anyone outside the running world, of course I’m a runner, I was a runner the moment I hit the pavement. I did not truly believe I was anything other than a really good jogger, until today. Despite some major IT band pain in my hips over my last few runs, I chose to run through it. I taped it up, took some Ibuprofen, and worked through it mentally. I overcame every feeling of doubt, every nagging pain, and every doubt it my mind. I finished. I finished dressed as Tinkerbell no less.
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Honestly I never would have done this without the women I have met through Stroller Warriors. Perfect strangers greeted me upon my return to the U.S. and immediately challenged me with new goals. Goals I probably wouldn’t have made myself anytime soon. Through all of this I became closer with friends I had made in Okinawa, created new friendships with people I already hold very dear, and learned a lot about myself personally. Now when I titled this post the way I did, I meant it. As a runner, as soon as you finish a race, you’re planning the next in your head. It turns into a habit pretty quickly, and a lot of runners will warn you about it being addictive. Boy were they right. I am currently wanting to sign up for a 21 mile trail run in early January. Um, WHAT!?

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I say, if you set your mind to it, you will do it. You could think you’re the worst runner of all time (something I personally had to overcome), to finishing a half-marathon and actually feeling pretty great. Sure, I’m a tad bit sore at the moment, but for a good reason. I am a more confident me, I am teaching my son to be healthy, I am doing so much more than running. I am accomplishing.

Race Rundown:
I was pretty anxious upon arrival, but joking with my husband and friends is how I calmed myself down, and reminded myself that this wasn’t something to feel pressured about, I was there to have fun. We started in the back of the pack with a little walk/jog warm up. The first 6 miles out went amazingly well, keeping at an 11 minute pace. A few water views and some gentle breezes, a little pine needle slippage and some wonky bridge planks. Kari and I are pretty stellar at intervals, and it definitely helped us keep pace for the entire race. At about mile 5 we each turned on some music, which actually happened to sync up on the same song at one point. We finally hit the half-way turn around and had a few more laughs thanks to a Marine in the barracks with a megaphone. After the turn around it was a matter of mind over pain for each of us, me with my old lady hip, and Kari with some knee/calf trouble. But it was nothing we couldn’t interval our way through at a 12 pace. So yes, our race took a little walking, but we finished before our goal time and feeling pretty great. Overall I am stoked on how my race went. I feel pretty awesome despite having run the furthest I’ve ever run in my life.

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Stroller Warriors has changed my life. Running has changed my life.
I have changed my life.

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Have you seen this article? :

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324807704579085084130007974.html?mod=trending_now_2

It pissed me off.

As a young runner, who has a running family full of people from all different strokes and ages, this made me sad. Is this truly what the older crowd thinks? It’s a viewpoint I had never seen before. Certainly there is a better way of challenging us younger runners than by calling them out maliciously, and ultimately calling them slow? I think what this apparently ANCIENT man has missed is that there are such things as FUN RUNS. I started out in a small crew, to get out and meet other Moms and explore the area I lived in better. I had no intention of becoming a runner. Here I am, a year and a half down the road from that first workout, and a week or so away from my first half-marathon, which is yes, TIMED. I’ve done a few fun runs, where I wasn’t concerned with my time or what I got at the finish line. I run to have fun. The day it becomes something other than fun, is the day I stop running.

Everyone has to start somewhere. The more glow runs, colors runs, foam runs etc., there are, the more people are going to get involved in running. People who have probably never tried to run since grade school P.E. are getting out there. And SO WHAT if they do it for a medal, or just to finish. They aren’t sitting at home. They’re out, having fun, being healthy, and getting rewarded for it. They aren’t signing up for races to impress anyone. They’re building on friendships or family strength, and having fun doing it. Do I think people should spend time training for races like the Chicago Marathon? Absolutely. But I’m not going to belittle anyone’s ambitions if they choose to do otherwise. I’d be more concerned with people not taking a Marathon seriously and injuring themselves, more than training in order to get a good time and beat other people. Competition is absolutely healthy, but it’s a race, competition is a given. People are going to feed off of support and run better with cheers rather than people judging them from the other side of the finish line.

I’ve been training off and on for this half-marathon. Let’s be honest, my goal IS JUST TO FINISH. Would I like it to be under 3hours? Sure. If it isn’t will I lament about it? Maybe a little. I do not however, look down on others for the time finish in, and receiving  a medal for it. In my thoughts, anyone who crosses the finish line behind me, is just as deserving. Now obviously, if they’re drinking sodas and eating chicken wings along the race route, they probably shouldn’t be rewarded for it. But I’ve never met a runner who did a race and wasn’t proud to finish. The fact is they’re out there. And I HIGHLY doubt anyone is signing up for races like the Chicago Marathon without any sort of training or effort. You have to qualify for certain corrals, so even though they have options for an almost 7 hour marathon time, you STILL HAVE TO TRY.

I just think this article was ridiculous. Everyone has a reason to race. Everyone wants to just finish. It’s up to the race coordinators on how to hand out medals. It’s up to runners to register for races based on what they want out of it. The bottom line is that they’re out there, running it. People compete against their own demons enough, they don’t need to worry about the people finishing before them thinking they’re weaker or didn’t make enough of an effort. Runners struggle with their own pressures. Your life must be insanely sad to have to bash other people’s motivations for races. Finish your race, take your medal, and shut up. This is the running family, we’re supportive, encouraging, and we challenge each other. We certainly don’t make people feel like shit for not being as good as we are, or beating each others times across the finish. Enjoy your Denny’s Senior Special sir, I hope your well earned medal doesn’t clink too much against the bowl.

I am for one STOKED that more younger people are starting on this road to running.

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All I want to do after running is eat peanut butter sandwiches and take naps.

I have to re-learn how to walk after long runs.

I whine at my husband about having owies.

Potty Break. Potty break. Potty break.

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Look at that countdown! I can’t even believe how close I’m getting. I’m still sticking to the Hal Higdon beginners training plan as best I can, though one week I was all over the place and barely ran. Boy did I feel that one on the one run I did accomplish. So I’m feeling motivated still, especially since I’m actually registered for the race now. My name is on that list. I HAVE to finish what I’ve started. It’s actually pretty crazy looking back and realizing I started this off with the Couch to 5k program, and have reached my final race in the Couch to Crazy challenge my running group put together. In all honesty I’m not sure I would’ve ever attempted this without the women I run around. I promised myself if I finish this half without dying, I will register for the 21.5 mile Neusiok trail run in January. The fact that that is even a goal in my mind terrifies me. I’m not a runner, what in the hell am I trying to sign up for? Okay, maybe I’m a runner.

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The furthest I’d ever run was 7.5 miles, and that was with a 15 or so minute break in the middle. I’m talking sitting down on the ground, slightly dying, dousing myself in my own water bottle, type of break. Then I noticed this week that a bunch of people in the Virtual Race group I belong to were going to run 9.11 miles in honor of 9/11. I thought this was a fantastic idea (seriously, who the hell am I!?!). My training plan called for 3 miles, but I set out with a new goal of 9.11. My first few miles were actually pretty stellar, mind you this is factoring in pushing my 40ish lb toddler in a stroller that apparently had flat-ish tires, and it’s over 85 degrees outside. I hit two P.R.’s; the first was that I ran two straight miles without stopping, which is huge for me, and the second was I hit my fastest mile with a stroller ever! So I was feeling great. Mile 5 came around and my left hip went out. We’re talking 80 year old broken hip status. We’re talking someone better hand me one of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” buttons before you find me on the pavement peeing myself. I walked it off a bit, and kept on chugging. Which I’m also proud of. I gave myself a 3 hour goal to finish this in, and ended up finishing in 2:25. My pace was ridiculous and all over the place, and as you can tell from the map, I had to be very creative with my neighborhood. Lots of cul-de-sac turn arounds which took more time than I anticipated, and a lot of arm strength. I. AM. WHIPED. I also discovered a lot about the people that live around me. Maybe a little more than I wanted to. You there, with the ducks as pets in your yard, stop that.

But I did it. I feel better about my half-marathon. I now have new goals to look towards.

Oh and I should definitely carry more than one water bottle and one Powerade, because hose water from a stranger was looking pretty good at about mile 7.

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This is the wall in my kitchen. Not only is super motivating, it also reminds me that maybe I shouldn’t eat that third cookie.

I am officially training for my first half-marathon. I know, my stomach does the gurgle-ees (gurglies? gurgles? gurgleups?)  thinking about it too. The wonderful ladies of Stroller Warriors here at Camp Lejeune are throwing together a half marathon on October 5th called Have to Half. Not only is that a super cool name, but it’s also the end of my “Couch to Crazy” series. No seriously, I started on my couch and am now attempting a half. I have done a few 5k’s and 10k’s now, but nothing of this magnitude. I expect the first 6 miles to go pretty well, and the last 7ish to basically be the end of the World.

For someone who doesn’t particularly rule at running, this is a FREAKING HUGE DEAL. To me it is the equivalent of “You there, super fat guy in sweatpants! Do a back flip!” I am tempted to have my husband stand at mile 6 or 7 with a doughnut or beer to make sure I finish. Luckily, I do have a lot of wonderfully supportive friends who are encouraging me to not die, so I’m sure it’ll be fine. No seriously, the girls I run with are extremely motivating, our fearless leader is pretty well known for her mid-run ass slaps now, and unless you’re booking it, she’ll nail ya. I on the other hand cannot do anything but run and breathe, and sometimes I struggle with just those two. So when one of the gals passes me, and they say “Good job, Jess!” or “You’re doing great Jessica!” I reply with a “Thajkhdgkhdg (enter Darth Vader noises) Yuhhhh!” Which translates to Thank You in exhausted runner language.

I hear you asking the question “Why the crap would you run 13.1 miles FOR FUN!?!” And my answer is, “I HAVE NO IDEA, MAKE MY FRIENDS STOP MAKING ME DO THIS!” Well that would at least be part of it. The other half of my answer would be because it’s bucket list material and also I eat a lot and should therefore do a lot of cardio. Plus, ya know, zombie apocalypse. The whole reason I joined Stroller Warriors back in Okinawa was to get out of my apartment and make friends, and now here I am on a different continent, same group, doing even bigger things. That’s called motivation people. Or at least forced participation/friend pressure. Either way I love it. I hate running, but I love the feelings afterwards. I love being covered in sweat, gurgle tummied, wanting to pass out in the nearest grass even though I hate that stuff, and needing a cold beverage. That’s the moment reality sets in. That even if your pace sucked, you finished. Then all of these glorious tingly feelings come racing up to you and you feel like you can do it all over again.

So there’s my warrior update! I am currently training to finish the crazy train, and once I’m off the crazy train, I will be, AGAIN, training for a 20+ mile trail run in January.

[Whistle Noise] ALL ABOARD THE CRAZY EXPRESS. NEXT STOP: DON’T SHIT YOUR PANTS WHEN RUNNING!

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Did you miss me? I missed me.
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I have been SWAMPED. Quite literally, actually, as I’ve just ran my first mud run this past weekend, partly through an actual swamp. Prior to all of that excitement, I had not one, but two visits from very dear friends and lost track of my blogging schedule somewhere in the mix. So here’s to getting back to it! Not only did I get to spend time with Andrea, a gal I haven’t seen since my HS graduation, but my Mr. flew my best friend  Jenica out from California for a week over my birthday. Talk about spoiled! I’ve also been working on current friendships and new ones, so I am seriously feeling the love! I’ve taken on another side to me as well, as half of the leadership team for the Mini Warriors program for Stroller Warriors here in NC. WHEW. Catching up like this makes me sound much more busy than I am, most of my time is spent in the backyard with the kiddo or trying to nail down some sort of cleaning schedule for the ginormous house I decided to live in. More on that another day. Onto the good stuff.

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This is my darling team for the MARSOC 5 mile mud run. +Jessie, my ride to and from said death march. My team did wonderfully, supporting my slower pace and yanking each other out of holes, we even came in 8th out of 36 teams! I’m not sure I’ve ever had that much fun during a race, nor have I ever felt as terrible in the days post race. Apparently when I wrapped my ankles, I should have done it differently. At about mile 4 I felt like I had ankle weights on and little did I know, I was destroying my achilles tendons and making awesome little blisters. BUT! Today I went up and down my stairs with no pain so I’ve been healed just in time to get out on the pavement this evening with the ladies again. Assuming I can convince my butt to remove itself from the couch it has called home for the majority of my recovery. I’m also signing up for a 10k tonight that’s in a little over two weeks. I don’t know what’s gotten into me, I’ve lost my damn mind.

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Look how happy I am finishing  5 miles? I don’t understand it. I felt like collapsing, but as soon as that medal was around my neck and high fives commenced, the pain went away. Until I got home and faced my staircase that is. Never again duct tape, NEVER. AGAIN. At one point I starting ripping off the duct tape with what strength I had left and heard a gal behind me scoff and talk badly about me not taking it over to the trash. The trash can I had not seen. At that point I was about ready to fall over within eyesight of the finish and was more impressed by the fact she could speak so clearly still than I was about what she was saying. I’ll never understand grumpy runners.  I was rather knowledgeable of the fact they have working parties cleaning up the course too, so I wasn’t concerned. Me littering? Cute joke. But anyway back to the goal. I have finished the Couch to 5k program (again), and moved onto the Bridge to 10k with a tiny bit of progress since the last time I finished the programs back in Japan. The goal is to complete the entire Couch to Crazy program that has me finishing a half marathon by the end of the year. With that goal comes all of the tiny goals in between like feeling better at the beach this summer, spending time with myself, getting outdoors with the kiddos, and starting new friendships. All of which are already starting to happen. I’m very, very excited to be on this track again. I’m already looking forward to another race, and doing this one again next year, can you believe that? And I don’t even LIKE running.

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Okay I kind of like running now. But I really like the outdoors, time with my kiddo, and making new friends more.  So onward and upward! Hopefully a lot of both, especially upward, because after this last race I’ve been doing a lot of downward. Towards the couch.

Have you been getting out there? I hope so! Even if you start out walking, everyone has to begin somewhere. And if this awkward tall girl can turn into a runner, I’m fairly certain anyone can.

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It’s not every day that you have to wipe sweat off of your glow stick crown.
Such is the life of a glow-runner I suppose. This past weekend I had my first race in quite a while.  Last time I had seriously timed myself I was running a very snail-like 13 minute pace. Nothing to feel good about I assure you. I chalk it up to the fact that I’m an absolutely terrible runner. No really, it is just NOT my thing. But I do it for the challenge, not the ease. So I signed up for the Great Glow Run in New Bern, NC along with many of the Stroller Warrior Gals. None of whom I know besides Kari here who came with me from Japan. I wasn’t really sure of what I had gotten myself into until about an hour before the race started.

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I’m somewhere back here behind about 700 people. With 1,000 registered racers, and 800+ that actually showed up, I was blown away by my first race in the United States. Sunset is glorious, runners all buzzing, and me, trying to stay motivated, telling myself I can keep up with my beautiful friends. You see it’s been hard lately. I can’t quite find the motivation this go around. As hard as it is to admit, I am the heaviest I have ever been in my life. Still average by health code standards, but not healthy enough by mine. I think a huge problem that women face isn’t the fact that they’re actually overweight, but that they know they can be better than what they are. I can be better. I can be healthier. I can do more. And yet I don’t. I get discouraged, I feel insecure. Then a race like this comes along and I feel that crossing the finish line feeling, the one only runners know.

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That no matter what your final time is, you’ve accomplished something. And I did, I beat my goal time by about 6 minutes and quickened my mile pace by almost 2 minutes. Proof that the going is slow, quite literally, but that it’s improving.  I seem to remember in Junior High and High School having to run 9 minute miles, it’s always in the back of my mind. I mean granted I was about 110lbs and had a metabolism that could perform by itself in the Olympics, but really… I think about it still. My metabolism is still doing pretty well, but I couldn’t run a 9 minute mile without passing out half-way through in the coffee puddle that would be my blood. So how do you stay motivated? When the only person you’re home with all day is a 3 year old that could care less how fast he is going, but that he just gets to ride in the stroller, you don’t get someone cheering you on the whole way like you do at races. Maybe I just need a track in my playlist of cheering for a half an hour. My neighbors already judge the weird blonde freak that runs circles in the neighborhood, I assume it would only get worse if I have my hands in the air shout-singing Eye of the Tiger.

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I have to draw motivation from somewhere. Whether it’s the future, and having to run drills with what will be hopefully the most athletic son ever, or the women I look up to like Stroller Warriors, or my step-mom. I have to draw on every ounce I can find. Some days it’s harder than others, but the point is to be out regardless. I have to challenge myself, keep myself accountable, even when it seems impossible to do any better than average. That is what I’m struggling with at the moment, keeping myself accountable. So the Glow Run reminded me that it can be fun, and it is worth it. It’s worth the finishing feeling. The days I feel like being a starfish in bed, I need to be up having a slice of PB toast, amping myself up, and tearing up some asphalt with my stroller-loving son. Eye of the Tiger or not, I’m gonna cross those finish lines, and I’m going to do it with a smile. Well maybe not a smile, half wince, half smile, none of it photogenic. Thank God for the veil of darkness and funny glow sticks.

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Here’s to the next race and feeling like Rocky.

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I’m lost in the proverbial sauce. Vacation sauce that is. Wait is this even a vacation or am I homeless? Aw man, I’m homeless.

Anyway, welcome to the first installment of Warrior Wednesday, where I break down aspects of my attempting-to-be-healthy-and-sometimes-sucking-at-it lifestyle.

Clear Creek Trail Run

Clear Creek Trail Run

Right now, I suck at it. Between adjusting to weather, time, and not having a jogging stroller, I have BARELY gotten out to run. I guess it’s possible to be doing indoor exercising, but it just ain’t happening in this house. But this is Washington, my happy place right!? I should be doing yoga on a mountain and running free through the forest! Well at least I’ve done that second bit, I hit the trails with the Mr. for a good 4 plus miles. Good meaning, barely huffing it along in the cold and being a total sissy pants. I am struggling with staying positive about running at the moment, which for every beginner is probably a necessary struggle. I just need to get over this speed

More trail.

More trail.

bump of thinking I really suck at running. I need to turn into one of those uber positive pinterest photos about how badass it is to run. Like how even if I’m slow, I’m lapping people on a couch. Or even if I only run a mile, at least I ran. Yeah try telling that to the Club Sandwich and iced tea I just inhaled. I’m thinking I need to run a few miles to balance the glorious calories on that one.

Trying to match Mr. Grumpy gills.

Trying to match Mr. Grumpy gills.

But! All is not lost! I have been losing weight! Not much, but I can tell a little. How can I tell you ask? My pants fit! Yes ladies and gents, this girl who couldn’t put on weight for the first 20 years of her life, is now battling the pounds! While my husband likes to say he likes my curves, I’m not a fan of the muffin top. I don’t even like to actually bake, so how I turned myself into a giant muffin, I do not know. Not. A. Fan. It’s also slightly difficult not to indulge at local eateries after being away from them for three years, but the knowledge I’ll continue to have them after my time in WA certainly helps in putting them off for a while. I’m looking at you Olive Garden, you delicious bastard.

So for now here’s my first update, I’ve only run a little over 10 miles in January. Not a good start to the 250 miles I plan on running by the end of the year. I haven’t done a single round of yoga, and I haven’t even touched my weights or done cardio. Here I am giving an update anyway, because I want to motivate myself again, and let the rest of you beginners, middle-ers, and marathoners know, we ALL go through the big “Do I Suck At This” speedbump. The trick is to overcome it and press on anyway. I’m 25 (holy crap I’m turning 26 in less than 3 months…boo) and I’m on the right track, even if I’m running in real slow circles at the moment.

Out on safari apparently.

Out on safari apparently.

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