A blog by a lively, 20-something runner who gets her kicks from running long and being strong!
This WAS my first blog documenting all the miles I ran for my first marathon in November 2012! Now, it's a seasoned running blog that likes to discuss racing, workouts, and the joys of running! Deep thoughts, aching body parts, killer quads, and an evolving writing style are still explored in this blog. The purpose? I'm seeking a bit of personal inspiration and encouragement in my own thoughts and words. I will hopefully be able to look at this on my gloomier days, and see how far I've come, and realize how far I still want to go! Thus, the mantra: Run, Steph, Run!

Mind is everything; muscle, mere pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind.

--Paavo Nurmi
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Sections

October 7, 2012:

The reason I don't immediately report on my long runs is pretty systematic.

1) Most of the time I'm pretty tired and not thinking about blogging.
2) Often I'm hurting. I'm more concerned with not falling in the shower like a 70 year old grandma than I am with blogging.
3) SOMETIMES IT JUST SUCKS. You know, sometimes 20 miles is just something I don't ever want to do again after I finish. If I run into stomach issues by mile 13, knowing I have 7 to go. If I lose sight of my boyfriend's bike as he leads me through an unfamiliar final 4 miles...I'm in a pretty crappy mood. The last thing I would want to do is log my pessimism over the interwebs.

Instead, I reflect. I give it a day or a night and I think, instead, how awesome it is that I actually ran 20 (TWENTY) miles yesterday.

So, some reflections about this run:

a) I decided to run yesterday in anticipation of the really cold and rainy weather this morning. It's actually not raining at the moment, but, regardless, it's rather chilly. And I didn't pack enough cold gear for this.

b) Because of this quick change in schedule, I had to QUICKLY prepare myself mentally. Instead of having an entire day and night waiting in anticipation, I had about three hours. For some reason, though, I was under the impression I would be running for 4 hours. It wasn't until I was 4 miles into my run that I realized, 'Wait. It only took me 2 hours and 50 minutes to run 18...It's only going to be around 3 hours to run 20!" Sometimes my lack of mathematical prowess serves me well. Suddenly I think my run has gone down in time by an hour...when really I just suck at addition.

c) I began my run at around 4:30pm yesterday. The weather could not have been more perfect. It was the quintessential fall day with crisp air, a light breeze, and a sunshine that made all the turning leaves look angelic with their red and yellow and brown hues. In order to fit in the extra 4 miles on my typically 16 mile route, I followed my boyfriend around Blacksburg and the Virginia Tech campus mindlessly, and took in all the gorgeous sun-setting sights. I don't know if you've ever been to the less academic parts of campus like the farms or the duck pond--but the campus really is gorgeous. So, the eye candy was definitely appreciated.

d) My stomach gave me some issues throughout the run. I knew it would because the entire two hours before I started running my stomach was rejecting my lunch. And that's about as pleasant as I can put it. I was nervous!
Also, the fact that I haven't been eating super great because of my week off probably didn't help. Nothing like a 20 mile run to get you back on the healthy-eating bandwagon.

e) I saw a furry caterpillar on this run! His presence was more than welcome, for I consider the furry caterpillar an omen of optimism. Superstitious, or not, I have things I like to see during my run. Furry caterpillars, cardinals, and red leaves are among the few items on that list. And I actually saw all of them. Sometime before mile 10 a really big, red leaf was hanging above me on a tree. So I jumped and got it. For the next mile other people on the trail looked at me curiously as this girl--who, by the way, was looking like an Easter egg in a coral long sleeve shirt and lime green shorts--was running and holding this really large leaf. I eventually dropped it and on the way back I picked it out on the ground. It's the little things that keep you going, you know?

f*) It's interesting to look back on my thoughts throughout a 20 mile run. I picture a carefully organized drawer before my run...or a tightly wound sling shot. Once I start, everything is smooth--the drawer remains organized, the rock slung from its shot begins a graceful arc through the sky. Then things begin to get a little shaky. An small earthquake shakes the contents in the drawer and suddenly pencils are mingling with post-its; paperclips with staples. The rock begins losing momentum and its arc becomes wobbly as it starts a slow, slow drop. Similarly, my thoughts become jumbled and my form sometimes suffers.
A little ways into my journey BACK home--so I was probably on mile 14 or so, I came up this hill to a view of the sun setting behind the Blue Ridge mountains. Suddenly I was comparing the symbolism of a sunrise--which I so often see on my long runs--to the symbolism of a sunset.
Instead of shedding light on a brand new day, suggesting a new start as the dew disappears from spiderwebs and the wildlife scurries back into their log homes and leaf covered safety nests, the sunset works a little differently.
The sunset is quick. If you're a photographer trying to get that perfect shot, you only have a short period of time to gaze at the clouds and determine your positioning before the sun itself has disappeared. But if you get that perfect shot, or your glance is just right, you see a majestic sight with the sun highlighting the light blue contours of the mountains. The golden view can take you by surprise and you wonder how you don't come out to see the sunset every night. You realize that 15 minutes is the difference in a visceral hope-inducing thump in your chest, and complete darkness. So much could be inspired in a person in that small span of time. And yet most of us miss it but for a few times a year--whether we're at the beach or you happen to have a romantic evening planned. What a shame.
So, that's what I think about on mile 14 or 15 of a 20 mile run.

*my poetic relief section

And I think I will make this the final bullet, e) Sometimes when you're running 20 miles you can be filled with RAGE. Like when I lost sight of my boyfriend on mile NINETEEN and I had no idea if I should head back to the apartment or run up back into campus a ways. My breathing gets all funky and I want to cry and yell at the same time. Until I decide to turn around and head back to the apartment, at which time I find my boyfriend coming back for me, and he says "You're almost finished 19." Oh man, and then all you want to do is stomp around like a disgruntled toddler and cuss so many cusses that you lose your voice.
But I didn't. I just kept running and I finished that last motherf$&%ing mile.
And then I sat. There was no whoop of conclusion at the end of my run yesterday. It was all internal. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It was an odd feeling. My time was around 3 hours and 6 minutes. Part of me thinks I may have run a little over 20 miles because my pace was pretty consistently 9 minute miles.

What 20 miles does to your body afterwards is somewhat of a mystery. My boyfriend made me a protein shake which I later threw up. Nausea likes to be my friend at the end of tough runs--which I hate, a lot. I knew I needed to eat something, but at the same time I didn't want my body to reject what I put into it because that is also an unpleasant experience. Once I had a spoonful of peanut butter relief seemed to spread through my body as the nausea went away and I felt a little more like a normal human again. Later I ate (very slowly) pasta and chicken. I can't eat a lot, nor can I eat very fast, but it is, of course, absolutely essential. Afterwards, I slept.

And today, I rest.
My knee hurts a lot. At some point during my run I couldn't really feel my legs anymore. I knew I would pay for the way I stomped down hills without any consideration for my poor knee. (Injured multiple times playing soccer in my past life.) I took some anti-inflammatories, though, and I'm going to stay off of it. I should probably ice but there's no ice in this apartment. (Don't ask.)

The nice thing about running on Saturday is that now Sunday is not a total waste as far as school work goes. I'll actually be able and willing to get some work done!

Only one more run longer than the one I did yesterday until the big 26.2!
IT'S GETTING CLOSER!
Her

No
simple signature
on the line.
Her, the jellyfish.
A child rolling
down
the
hill
dizzies
Grass in hair.
Her mouth is open,
gasping air that is crisp
as the crunch of an apple, and sweet
like syrup sapping from the maple tree
with a single red leaf
waving in the wind.

Her arms are open,
Her legs wibbly-wobbly
down the hill, with the earthy air
slapping her face
pink
Her fingers
extend—
wiggling
Her breath comes in bursts
swallowing crunchy, apple air
Torso leaning over thighs,
HUGE
thighs,
Her power
becoming sunshine
Rays glittering up.
Stretching out,
she strides
Opening
herself
to the world.
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Decide. Work the downs, charge the ups. 26.2. Train.
Richmond 26.2

Richmond 26.2

November 10, 2012 4:20:16
Marathon Signs!

Marathon Signs!

Probably my favorite :)
During the Race

During the Race

One of the race photographers snapped this. I look like I'm pushing through it!
13.1, anyone?

13.1, anyone?

What do you do a week after 26.2? 13.1, or course!
Medal

Medal

Richmond Marathon Finisher Medal 2012
Star City Half

Star City Half

A week after my marathon, I PRd with a time of 1:47:03 in this hilly Roanoke race!
Weapon?

Weapon?

The unique and pointy, locally-made Star City Half Marathon medal.
Running Fam

Running Fam

My uber supportive family and me at the end of my marathon.
My other fan

My other fan

The night before my 26.2 with my second family at my friend's house in Richmond.
Besties

Besties

My best friend from home came down to watch me (and our other friend) race in Richmond.
Lynchburg Half

Lynchburg Half

Mile 10 of the Lynchburg Half in August 2012
Running Friends

Running Friends

With the same bestie who came to see me in Richmond, a few months prior had just run a half with me!
I Run Richmond

I Run Richmond

Asics

Asics

Had to buy new shoes before the marathon. I only ran in them twice before the actual race!
Star City Half

Star City Half

Gotta get that bib!
The SHIRT

The SHIRT

The most important part of any race is the shirt you get, but what about the shirt you wear FOR the race?
Lovely PAIN

Lovely PAIN

Not sure why I'm posting this awful picture that some race photographer so kindly snapped...but man look at that calf! ;)
A 5k for one...

A 5k for one...

a 5k for all!
Good news

Good news

2nd place in my age group AND a sub-23 PR!
Star City Half

Star City Half

A race photographer shot this one. This was such a fun race!
10 miler!

10 miler!

Rock N Roll Nice 10 miler during Carnaval--so fun!
Nice 10 miler

Nice 10 miler

Medal and time :)
Fromage!

Fromage!

Donning that extra nice hardware
Nice form

Nice form

I swear the head-up look was only to prevent puking :P
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