Slow Down

“Run Slower.” How many times over the years have I heard this advice? I’ve given that advice. Truth is, I’ve been lying to myself when said I ran slow enough. I heard, in the inner voice that I usually tell to shut up, that I could go slower. I was afraid that running slower would make me slower. This is typical, the “advice people” (aka “they”) say, “it won’t make you slower!” but we don’t buy it. I didn’t, and I bet you are skeptical too.

Then I started having trouble increasing my mileage. I was running MANY one and two mile days to keep my streak alive but I couldn’t get beyond 20 miles a week without fatigue setting in. There was no one injury, just a series of little nagging injuries that waxed and waned and a general feeling of sludge in my legs. (sound familiar?) Then I’d have days that I felt great and nailed a good pace. My Garmin V02Max started to drop, and then drop again. I was tempted to blame age but, to be honest, wasn’t ready to accept that my body didn’t have long distances left to run. I did some good research (the kind I learned to do in grad school) and learned that in spite of my stubbornness, I was actually right. The science didn’t show that it I couldn’t still build distance and speed, even at my age. That’s a double negative – the science shows that I can still build distance and speed at my age.

Then, I slowed down. This actually required getting a treadmill, setting the pace low and keeping it low. (I still have a hard time slowing down enough outside.) I started with my one and two mile streak savers at 11:30 minutes per mile. I discovered that I usually could barely hit two miles before my heart rate would rocket up. Interesting. So I’d run as long as I could keep my heart rate in the 140s and then I’d quit when I’d hit my next half mile. So say 1.5 miles and my heart rate is in the 160s, I run until 2.0 and then stop. There were days that I only finished one mile.

Before I continue, I must add a disclaimer here that I moved from 5,900 feet elevation in Colorado to 400 feet elevation in Rhode Island at about the same time. This doesn’t explain how much my fitness has improved over the time that we have been here. Read on.

That was were I started five months ago. Now, I can usually count on four miles before my heartrate says, “done” even if I’m tired. I’ve ran as far as eight, at the treadmill’s slow and steady pace, with a heartrate under 145.

My fears that it would make me slower were all smoothed away when I ran a half in 1:46 last month. I honestly had begun to think that I might never get under 1:50 again. I felt great during that race. I felt great in the days following.

Shut up. I trained slower and then raced faster? Mind Blown.

Okay, baby! Let’s run a marathon!

Making of a Marathoner

This is the first “making of” post. These will maybe define the “m” labels I’ve tacked to my brand. “Marathoner” being the easiest of the lot, I figure I’ll start there. You know, just to get warmed up.

In high school, I hated running.

I had this bad ankle that I used as an excuse every time running was threatening. By “threatening” I mean like a storm on the horizon. I’d hear a previous class had to run the mile in P.E. and sure enough, that old ankle would start acting up. I’d limp to class just for effect. I’d see some sort of run was brewing on my horizon, and bubble up my excuse, “I better be careful this bum ankle doesn’t get reinjured.” A track coach pointed out to me once that this “bad ankle” didn’t keep me from all the jumping I did as a cheerleader. Pish posh.

The first time I ran an entire mile I was 22 and I had 2 kids. This mile was on the treadmill in the student gym at Multnomah Bible College and it took me 12 minutes.

I felt like a rockstar.

I couldn’t have run another.

I started running on the bike path near my house with no idea how far or how fast I ran. In those early days, I was clueless about the cult that running can be, with its races for the everyman, books, magazines, clubs, and paraphernalia. Oh the paraphernalia. Then I fell down our townhouse steps and sprained my ankle and not long after, I got pregnant with our 3rd baby. So, quite quickly this little dabble into the running world came to an end. It might have been a near miss, I was still quite clueless. I did still think that only the crazy people ran all those miles up and down the I205 bike path. I would never spend that much time running.

After that 3rd baby was born I started running again. I gained extra weight when I was put on bed rest (thank God we don’t do this to women regularly anymore.) Running, my friends, is a cheap way to lose weight when you are 24 and poor with a house full of children. We had changed towns by then and I found new paths to run on. The baby weight fell off and for this, I was hooked on running.

I ran about halfway into my 4th pregnancy. By now, I was slogging my way through nursing school and running to burn off steam and stress and to find sanity. I started running again as soon as she was 6 weeks old. Because that’s how long you wait to start running again after you have a baby, right? Right?

I started running farther, just because I wanted to. I liked the challenge. I measured my run distances with my car afterwards. I remember days when I would run 9.5 miles – because running 10 miles was a ridiculous thing to do. In 2004 I started keeping a running log. I started reading magazines. I was one of the first owners of a Garmin Forerunner. I researched my shoes. I stepped my toe into the cult, literally and figuratively.

In 2007 I thought maybe I’d run a marathon. I’d never ran a race before so a couple of months before the marathon I decided to run a 5k – you know, to see what a race was like. My first marathon was the Crater Lake Rim Run. It’s a bear of a marathon. That’s all I will say on that for now.

Pregnancies numbers 5 and 6 I ran straight through and barely took days off after the birth. I ran a half marathon when baby number 6 was 19 days old. Yes, 19 days old. I think that officially makes me one of the crazy people. I’ve never run farther than a marathon and, yes it’s true, one day I hope to run an ultra (aka: farther than a marathon). On 11/21/16 I started a runstreak and I’ve run at least one mile every calendar day since.

Fast forward. Since I started logging in 2004, I’ve run over 14,000 miles. I’ve run 20 half marathons and 6 full marathons. I signed up for another full this fall, a Rhode Island marathon. So, I think I’ll blog about my training. Most people hate to hear marathoners talk about marathon training. But who cares, it’s my blog and I don’t expect anyone to read this anyway!

Truth is, many days, I still hate running.

I almost stopped at 500

I didn’t.


It started with a shin splint on the left, which is one of the oldest running injuries I confront. I blamed it on our move to a hilly neighborhood and stepping out my door to run downhill on concrete every day. I powered through the Snowman Stampede Half with this hiccup because honestly, it got better after I warmed up and after 6 miles or so it didn’t nag at me anymore. Finally, I started driving to a gravel trail every day and the shin splint started getting better without the downhill-on-concrete-everyday issue.


Then, Bam. Pain in my right ankle that was new and did not get better as I warmed up. So I decided to just tough it out for day 500 and quit. Nice round number, good day to quit. Then day 498 didn’t feel that bad, and on day 501 I didn’t want to quit. So I went to see a sports chiropractor who did some soft tissue work and said he didn’t think it was injured, just inflamed and it was okay if I ran on it. (my new favorite chiropractor) I saw him regularly after that and in April I ran a total of 46 miles. A total of 46 miles, in 30 days. Do that math, it’s sad. But every day it was a little bit better, and then I was running 3 miles at a time and then 5. And now it doesn’t hurt at all.


Some days I wake up and think I do NOT want to run today. But day 612 is a stupid day to quit and feeling lazy is a really lame excuse after I ran through that ankle thing, so I run. It’s become a metaphor for life for me. I do NOT want to write that ridiculous paper today. But I only have 3 terms left after this and today would be a stupid day to quit.


So, I put one foot in front of the other. I type one word and then the next. I drive another 103 miles to Pueblo. Then, I sit on the couch under a blanket with my youngest snuggled against me and I want all those minutes to last forever. Then it’s 5pm and I have to get ready for work. And tomorrow I will run again.