Friday, October 19, 2012

running... a look back.

on october 17th, 2002 i ran my first 5k race. and i won. i took "jogging" as a class at elmira college (yes, well spent money right there folks, we could even walk! college at its finest...) and although my winning 5k time was most likely nothing to write home about, i think this may have sparked something in side me. i was a soccer/basketball/softball player in high school, and went on to play basketball at elmira, but going out and running just to run was not something i enjoyed doing. until then.

i told my friend liz shortly after that race that i was going to run a marathon some day. i gave myself til the age of 30. being 21 at the time, i thought that gave me enough time. training for my first marathon in the summer of 2008, i ended up with a busted knee (IT band) and had to back out. training in the summer of 2009 went much better (but not pain free), and 12 ibuprofen later, i completed my first marathon in october of 2009, at the age of 28. i think we all know how the story unfolds to where we are today...

october 17th 2002 - october 14th 2012
8 marathons
15 half marathons
1 pineland farms 25k
7 mid winter classic 10 milers
20 10ks
1 yarmouth clam festival 5 miler
4 thanksgiving day 4 miler
20 5ks

mount desert island marathon this past sunday became my 80th lifetime race. for someone who hated (no, despised!) running even the one mile gym class thing in school for presidential fitness, or the timed 2 miler for varsity soccer, and even the thought of the 5am track workouts for pre season basketball at elmira made me want to puke... ive sure come a long way.

mount desert island was also my last marathon for 365 days. i know i said this last year, probably around this time, but i really am not running another marathon until then. sunday was very bittersweet knowing i wouldnt be covering that distance for a very long time. and the race was hard. marathons are hard. then throw in the rain, and the cold, and my over dramatic near death experience weird heart/almost passing out situation... again, someone who hated running just 10 years ago is upset that she wont be running 26.2 miles for another year. who am i?!

a little over a year ago i wrote a blog post about running that i thought i would revisit once again...
                        "Running is not fun. It's too hard to be fun". ~Dean Karnazes

there are days when i definitely agree with dean. i do not always find running to be fun. there are days when its easier than others and, all in all, running is hard. its hard on our bodies. its hard on our minds. we beat ourselves up in so many ways. so why do we continue doing it? day after day we hit the pavement or treadmill or trails for different reasons... weight loss. upcoming races. mental therapy...

but should it be easy? and is it fun?

an online dictionary defines "fun" as:
1. something that provides mirth or amusement: A picnic would be fun.
hmmm, provides amusement huh? the only amusement i typically find on a run is if (or more like when) i trip or fall (yes, this happens more often than you might think). and if a run is going to be described with the same "fun" as a picnic, i would hope there would be more snacks available on my run.

so why do i continue doing this? my whole body aches most days. my toenails are barely hanging on. i have blisters. im tired. (clearly i complain).

in the book "50/50" (Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons In 50 Days) by ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes, is a passage from when  he ran the marathon in seattle, washington. this man is incredible and could literally motivate a slug. in no way do i believe that i could even run 50 marathons in my lifetime, let alone back to back to back... (to back... times 50 days) but if there was anyone who could get you to try, it would be Dean. this whole book is full of motivating passages (and i HIGHLY recommend this read to anyone, runner or not) but this one has stuck with me and i want to share:

"Running teaches you that there's a difference between working hard and feeling bad. Consumer culture tries to teach us otherwise. How many television commercials talk about "making life easier"? If everything you knew about life came from TV, your goal would be to live the easiest life you possibly could. You would believe that the only good feelings are sensual pleasures such as the taste of a good soft drink and the fun of driving an expensive car and lying on the beach.
But it's just not true. Challenging and testing your mind and body, even to the point of exhaustion, failure, and breakdown, can feel as wonderful as anything else life has to offer. I suppose the enjoyment of hard work is more of an acquired taste than the taste for pleasure and fun, but once you've acquired it, you're blessed with more ways to feel good, and life is better. Harder and better."

we live in a world where things are made to be easier. home delivery. internet. drive through. microwave. instant everything. but can you go out and run an 18 mile training run in less than a couple of hours? not if youre just an average runner like myself. most days i feel like i dont have enough hours in the day to just do everyday things, let alone go out and just run. so what is on my mind while im out there? the house is a mess. theres so much laundry i should be doing right now. i need to go get groceries...

and a lot of negativity.

im gonna tell you something that might blow your mind... my life is NOT tough. (phew. glad i got that off my chest). i have a beating heart. oxygen in my lungs. shoes on my feet. heat in my house. a job. money in my bank account. family and friends who love me. for someone who probably has more than i am even thankful for, i sure think a lot of negative thoughts. and most of those come out when im all alone, out on the road. running.

running challenges us all in different ways. it is truly a selfish act. no one else is going to benefit from your run, whether it be struggling through just one mile or a three hour weekend training run. so why not allow it to help YOU. think positive. challenge yourself. i really think running can be fun if you make it fun for yourself. be thankful you can be out there putting one foot in front of the other. think about the stresses in your life, but think about them in a way that is encouraging and positive, rather than stressful and negative. im glad i have laundry because that means i have clothes to wear. my house might be a mess but i have a house and people that live in it to mess it up. i know those might sound really lame but i personally think im way too negative on my runs and it ultimately affects my overall running experience.

ive selfishly cried because i missed a PR by one second. ive celebrated a sub 4 hour marathon goal, a sub 1:50 half marathon, a sub 23 minute 5k, a sub 7 minute mile... while others are celebrating another year, another day even, on this unpredictable/unforgiving earth.

80 races later ive discovered my love of running, and i have discovered a lot about myself. i cried many times throughout the 26.2 miles on sunday, but not because i was sad. i was happy. i was doing something i loved, surrounded by people who felt similar challenges i was. i had a best friend beside me pushing me, laughing with me, reminding me why "I LOVE RUNNING SO MUCH" (caw!caw!) i had friends who care about me on the side of the road cheering me on in the pouring rain. i often take for granted some of the things i can do that others cant, and running is one of them. ive pushed myself harder and i havent given up, knowing at any moment this gift could be taken away from me.

and if i have learned anything over the past 10 years of running and training and racing, its that running, like life, is not easy. and some days, its not fun. but the more i run, the harder i train, the easier it gets. and that just allows me to work harder to get faster, to run farther. the challenges never end unless you sit back and allow it to be easy.

and to me, easy is boring.


  1. I love this post more than I can say. And I'm going to go buy that book. Right now.

    You are inspiring, and hope you know that too. Even if it looks like it's easy (because I swear you make it look that way sometimes!), I know you've worked hard and have earned every awesome race and accomplishment you've reached. You're awesome... keep running!

    1. you wont regret reading the book, i promise. i asked someone yesterday "why do i find it so hard to think i inspire other people, im just a normal person who likes to run a lot"... but i am humbled by your sweet comments and youre right, it is hard work. ive really found that we truly are capable of more than we think if we work for it. <3

  2. Possibly the best post ever. I'm going to copy it and post it as my own thoughts since you literally jumped into my head and read my mind (and then blogged it- so, better than I do!!) Really good stuff. You kick ass :-)

  3. Sara's right - you do kick ass. I love this post. You have so much to celebrate - your running successes and life in general. I cried many, many times on Sunday as well - mostly every time I saw my family/friends or when I thought about how happy I was that my mom was with me, or when I thought about how lucky I was to be able to run and that Ward and Wade got me through the hard parts. Then I cried because I know they won't do it again at Sugarloaf. (greedy/selfish me there)

  4. I love this post and I love you. That's all.

  5. Yay! You rock! We all need to take time to be thankful for all the things we take for granted. Our lives are not tough. You are right.

    But I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing to take all your negative thoughts out on your run. Maybe that's where you let them out, instead of on your husband, friends, parents, whoever. I know if I'm feeling down and I head out for a good sweat, whether it be a run, bike ride, or swim; I come back feeling much better. I work through those things in my head and clear away the bad. Running can be different things for all of us.


    1. i absolutely hear what youre saying and i think you might be right. let it all out there so it doesnt bottle up. i do come back from my runs feeling refreshed, like i got a lot off my mind. definitely my form of therapy.

  6. Well said! And if you change your mind about another race, we've got plenty of room in our Two Oceans group for March. And it's not 26.2 :)

    1. hmmmm vacation across the sea? ill have to keep that in mind ;) thanks john!

  7. 80 races. That is an amazing milestone, Danielle!

  8. You are truly an inspiration. You were one of the key motivating people that helped me kick start my running. I'm forever grateful for that. I used to hate running too. It's hard to believe that I love it now. I don't know how or when that happened.

    You have accomplished SO SO SO much! It's always good to stop and be thankful. Happy Running!

  9. xoxoxoxo. love you and looking forward to new adventures in 2013 :)

  10. Wonderful post, I absolutely loved every word of it!