Monday & Tuesday: …I let my sadness and frustration with myself get the best of me and skipped my runs. It happens. Just gotta move on and focus on what I can do from here on out.
Wednesday: |30 minutes at medium effort. One mike at 7:15 pace. 30 minutes medium pace.| Because of my 2 days off (😅) my legs felt fresh and I was ready to go! First 30 felt good. And then I got to the 7:15 mile …ouch haha. I forgot what it was like to get my legs going that fast for that long 😅 but I got through it! I focused on staying present and enduring. I think that’ll be a new motto of mine. Stay present and endure…catchy, no? Last 30 felt nice!
Thursday: Welp the day got away from me. It happens!
Friday: |A itty bit amount of leg strength exercises and 30 pushups 😅 | The day got away from me again. Maybe it’s time to start working out at ungodly hours of the morning 😭. But seriously… I do need to focus on going to sleep earlier so I can fit in my workouts in the morning.
Saturday: |10 minute warm up. 10 x 1 minute full sprint with equal recovery. 10 minute cool down. | My lungs HURT on this one but it was a good workout to get back into the swing of things. Went horseback riding after and I could tell my butt muscles would be sore for Sunday’s workout.
Sunday:|Hill sprints of death. | soooooo ouch hahah 15 minute warm up and then 5 hill sprints…but the hill was .3 miles long…that was TOUGH. But I’m glad I pushed through the workout. 15 minute cool down.
So this week wasn’t a red letter week for me as a runner. Hitting 3/6 workouts during marathon training isn’t ideal…but it happens. There’s nothing I can do about the days I missed. All I can do is learn to better arrange my schedule, acknowledge when I’m a bit down and move forward. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down or get knocked down, just keep getting up and things will come together. ❤️
Ever since the Berlin marathon I’ve had a bit of a hot and cold relationship with the notion of signing up for a Spring marathon. After my huge PR in the 10k at the Detroit Turkey Trot I, of course, immediately began to think about how I should capitalize on my fitness and try to BQ in the Spring.
But if you look at that sentence closely, you’ll notice the word should instead of want. So I backed off of training and allowed myself to run how I wanted while I was in Australia with the thought that I would regroup and rethink race goals when I got back stateside in early January.
But coming back to the states was hard and I got hit with some pretty big post-travel blues which made it hard to run. Those of you who know me will understand that it’s hard for me to run when I’m sad. I started doing a bit better when suddenly I became completely overwhelmed with depression and anxiety. It hit me like a semi truck. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right and I wanted to disappear, become small and push everyone that cared for me out of my life. I hit rock bottom. I can honestly say I have never been so low, so burnt out on life. Getting out of bed was difficult. I felt like a shell of my former self. As someone who usually thrives on meeting new people and embracing life’s little daily adventures, I didn’t even recognize the woman in the mirror who avoided saying hello to people she knew, skipped social gatherings where new people would be present and had no interest in life at all. I hated myself.
I tried running here and there. People would ask me “Hey, you running much? You doing any races this spring?.” To which I would respond “Nah, I think I’m just gonna run as a means of therapy for a bit.” But there in lies the problem…I was looking at running as therapy…
Running is a great tool, but it is no substitute for actually therapy and true self-healing. I had been ignoring the need to go to therapy for one reason or another until finally there was a day where the depression just got too serious. I was full of despair and hopelessness. I felt like a complete waste of space on this earth. The optimistic Genevieve that was so full of life and adventure seemed to have disappeared and I felt like there was no hope of ever finding and being her again.
So I’m back in therapy now, taking the time to look at the root of my depression and anxiety and learning how to heal. It will be a process, perhaps even an ugly one at times, but one that will be worth it.
Now, I’m not sharing this as a means for anyone to take pity on me (believe me I’ve been throwing a pity party for myself for longer than I’d like), but to share my raw experience that many others face regularly. Part of what got me to start moving again was hearing other people’s experience with depression and anxiety. Loneliness is crippling so knowing that I wasn’t alone in my feelings gave me a glimmer of hope.
So coming back to the question, “Another marathon…?” Now the answer is YES. I will be running a marathon this Spring (the Colorado Marathon on May 5th to be exact). But training will not be my therapy. Instead, it will simply be a tool to bring me back into living life fully. Healing is a mind/body experience so I figured that while I am working on my mind in therapy, I can show my body some love by making it useful again and hopefully the two will come together in a beautiful way. ❤️
Now, signing up for a marathon probably seems a bit extreme…and for some it probably is. I, however, know myself well enough to know that I needed this marathon to hold me accountable. But the important thing about this marathon is that I signed up for it with no intention other than to run it as a means of practicing self-love. There are no BQ expectations. No PR hunting. Just running to run and allowing myself another means of healing as I work on the mind and spirit in therapy. And it should be a BEAUTIFUL marathon (I mean it’s in COLORADO, folks). What better way to make myself aware of life’s beauties once again?
Thanks for listening, friends. Life can be difficult sometimes, but having your support makes these times more bearable. And for anyone else going through a tough time, know that you are never alone and that life has a purpose. I’ll leave you with the quote that has been helping me daily…
It’s been almost 3 weeks since I ran the Berlin Marathon and I’m still not sure I even know how to process it all…
So I’ll start with the flight over. Standing at the gate on Thursday before the marathon at O’Hare I found myself eavesdropping on a group of people who were talking about running. Curious and also assuming that they were on their way to Berlin, I nudged my way into their circle and ask them if they were going to Berlin for the marathon. They nervously smiled and nodded. And so we all began to talk about past races we’ve done and a little bit about how our training cycles had gone. When it came to talking about our longest long run I felt myself take a large and nervous GULP. Everyone went around and talked about how their 20 miler felt comfortable or that their 23 miler went really well or that 18 miles felt like their sweet spot. Then it came for me to talk about my long run…I nervously smiled and told everyone that 14 miles was my longest run. 14 MILES. Their reaction was my worst nightmare. Everyone around the circle went big-eyed and one person even asked ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?! I didn’t judge them for their reactions because I felt the SAME WAY about my longest run. Was I seriously going to run a marathon with 14 miles being my longest run?!
Thankfully the group quickly changed the subject and before we knew it we had made it to Berlin. As soon as I landed Friday night I headed straight to the apartment my friends and I were staying at. We quickly got dinner and then I headed straight to bed so I could get a good night’s rest. Saturday morning I went out for my shakeout run. I could feel all my nerves on that run. But thankfully my legs didn’t feel too heavy and I wasn’t feeling too many of the effects of jet lag! Afterwards, we headed to the EXPO (but first we got some DELICIOUS coffee at Double Eye).
The expo was actually very cool. It was held at the former Airport Tempelhof (History nerd fact: It was the center of the 1948 Berlin Airlift!) which was very unique for a marathon expo. Being that it was the day before the race, most of the merchandise had been picked over, but I was still able to find a cool shirt. NOTA BENE: If you want the official BMW Berlin Marathon shirt I highly recommend purchasing it upon signing up for the race. Otherwise, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to find one in your size at the expo! Anyways…I didn’t spend too much time there. I quickly got my bib, took a few photos and was on my way!
The rest of the day I was a bit of a ball of nerves. But my friends and I kept busy and were sure to have a pasta dinner (carbonara made by yours truly) and an early night. Of course I really didn’t sleep. I know myself well enough to know that I never sleep well (or sleep at all really) the night before a marathon. After tossing and turning all night the 6:30am alarm went off and I quickly got myself out the door. It was quiet as I walked to the metro station and it remained quiet during the first leg of the metro ride. I noticed a man sitting next to me looking at my my bib. Being nervous and shy I pretended not to notice. As we were switching metro lines he began to talk to me saying that we were both in Corral G. At first, I wasn’t interested in talking too much, but I’m really glad he was persistent and kept asking questions. Derek from Hong Kong would become my pre-marathon buddy for the next 2.5 hours and I was thankful not to just be alone with my own thoughts.
We quickly found our way to gear check and lined up for the porta-potties. TIP: Bring your own toilet paper. I should’ve known to do that after having done 5 marathons… if it wasn’t for a kind German woman…well let’s just say it wouldn’t have been pretty. ANYWAYS…the journey from gear check and the bathrooms to the start corrals was a bit of a trek so I was glad to have Derek with me. We got into Corral G and stretched. All of a sudden I realized I really had to pee…(sorry TMI). I noticed there were porta-potties along our corral just over the fence, but it was pretty crowded and was scared that if I left the corral I wouldn’t be able to get back in. I debated for a solid 10 minutes and finally decided I would just have to risk it. SO GLAD I TOOK THE RISK haha because doing a marathon while having to pee the entire time didn’t and still doesn’t seem like a fun idea. I took care of business and as I looked at my options of getting back into the corral I saw that going in the regular corral entrance was NOT an option. So…I hopped the fence and managed to not fall over in the process. I found Derek again and right after the first wave went!
One very cool thing about the Berlin Marathon is that they have huge screens in the middle of the starting area so all the racers can see what’s going on! Loved that touch. Wave 2 went and finally it was our turn at 9:45am. I plugged in my headphones, wished Derek luck and we were off! As we started I told myself that my 14 mile long run would not be my undoing. Training didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked, but I worked hard and deserved to be at the Berlin Marathon. I told myself to go for a PR against all odds.
The first few miles I focused on staying calm and settling into a solid pace. I focused a lot on taking in my surroundings while also keeping an eye on the blue line.
Miles 1-4; 8:34, 8:44, 8:42, 8:45
The first hydration stations came and it was chaotic. I had read in blogs that the Berlin stations got pretty jammed up so I tried speed up at the beginning of a station and catch the last people handing out water so I wouldn’t get trapped in the crowd or slow down too much. It worked pretty well, but one time I had to run a few steps backwards…(not sure I have ever done that in marathon before haha) because I knew I needed the water early on in the race and I had somehow missed the person trying to hand me the water in the first place.
Miles 5-10; 8:34, 8:43, 8:34, 8:39, 8:42, 8:46
I was feeling really good during these miles and just kept telling myself to stay light on my feet and enjoy the race. Then, all of a sudden around mile 7 I felt chills go through my body and I felt myself get a bit emotional. The day of race would’ve been my uncle’s 51st birthday and I swear I could feel his presence. In my head I was like, Ok save the emotions for after the race because you’ve still got a long race ahead of you. I knew my friends were waiting for me around kilometer 23 so I focused on seeing them at that marker.
Miles 11-14; 8:40, 8:46, 8:40, 8:40
I finally saw my friends and I was SOOOO happy to see them! They were killing it cheering all the runners on!
With them was also a bottle full of Nuun which I definitely needed since I opted not to take the sports drinks that they had on the course.
I kept the bottle with me for about 3 miles and tried to drink as much as possible without getting too full. It was really good to have it with me because I was able to cruise through a few water stations without getting caught up in the mess of it.
Miles 15-20; 8:32, 8:41, 8:57, 8:59, 8:49, 8:41
When I got to mile 20 I was amazed at how good I felt. I remember thinking Wow this is the best I’ve ever felt at this point in a marathon and my longest run was only 14 miles??? How is this happening?! So I kept the positive vibes and kept visualizing a PR.
Miles 21-24; 8:57, 8:53, 9:01, 8:56
I saw my friends again around 36km and their enthusiasm certainly gave me a boost, but soon after I hit THE WALL. BOOM. It was probably because of a lack of electrolytes that I did. I felt like I was running through mud and even started swerving a bit because I lost my sense of balance at certain moments. I told myself to keep it together, visualize the finish line and maintain a good pace to PR. I kept telling myself that the pain was only temporary. I also offered up the pain as a prayer: This next 5 minutes of running will be for those who struggle with self-love and self-worth, the next 5 is for my grandparents, etc. I highly recommend this tactic! It’s a great way to get yourself out of your own head and give the pain purpose.
Miles 25-26; 9:04, 9:05
The final 0.2; 8:28
I went under Brandenburg Gate and gave it everything I had until the finish line. I crossed at 3:51:14. Over a 3 minute PR. I immediately gripped the tops of my thighs and started crying. I’m not sure if it was because of my uncle’s birthday or his presence during the race but I couldn’t help but cry tears of joy! Or perhaps it’s because I proved to myself yet again what a badass human being I am! I overcame my own doubts after a bad training cycle and the fact that 14 miles was my longest run since…well since the Dallas Marathon back in December…to freaking PR at Berlin against all odds.
I guess that’s the beautiful thing about this sport…There are SO many moments of doubt, but the second you start to believe in yourself and your capabilities…you become unstoppable.
Hey guys! Been MIA lately cause I’ve been settling back into a work, study and training groove. After leaving Notre Dame at the end of July (which was I was v sad about) I somehow found myself back at ND! I’ll be working for some of the university’s study abroad programs while I apply for a PhD. Super excited!
ANYWAYS…back to the purpose of this post. With the Berlin Marathon just over a week away (eeek!) it’s been making me think of past marathons and the thoughts that typically have gone through my head. One of them being “Ok, where’s my weight at?” and then self-deprecating Veves would add on “You’re a bulky human, G. You’re not built like a runner. You shouldn’t expect much in terms of speed.” Not exactly what you want to be telling yourself in the days leading up to a marathon…
As I mentioned in a previous post, I started running marathons in order to lose weight. Moreover, weight has always been factor in my life. Given my size (a towering 4 feet 11 inches) people always assumed that I weighed under 100 pounds. HA. I think the last time I saw a number under 100 on the scale I was probably 10 or 11. When I was 18 and at my fittest I weighed 118. Go figure! When I started running I always remembered feeling like my body type was off. Most people at races were super lean and tall (at least taller than 4’11”). It made me feel “big”.
Over the years and marathons my weight has fluctuated and up until this past year I was always trying to be lighter than the last marathon. Going into the 2016 Chicago Marathon I remember weighing in at 112. It was pretty crazy seeing that number on the scale. I was ecstatic at the time and PR’d by over 30 minutes. I thought “Great! I’ve got my runner’s body and now I’ll get faster!”. Looking back on it, 112 was NOT a healthy weight for me. I felt weak. I had no curves. I wasn’t truly happy. So naturally the scale did not stay at 112, but steadily crept up into the 130s after a stressful Spring semester and a summer in Italy (I really love to eat in Italy haha). So when I started training for the 2017 Chicago Marathon I felt like it was an uphill battle because I had to get my weight under control and somehow get faster. I rolled up to the marathon weighing about 128/129. Needless to say, I was not feeling good about my chance at a PR. BUT to my surprise I snagged a 40ish second PR in very hot conditions and not at my ideal weight! I thought “Huh, that’s funny.” When I lined up for the Dallas Marathon two months later I was about 123-124. And guess what happened there? I CRUSHED my Chicago PR by 15 minutes!!! There it was! PROOF that weight is NOT the biggest factor in running. More importantly, it taught me that being healthy is not weight-based.
So going into Berlin I’m not stepping on the scale. I know I’m healthy and strong. And in those moments of self-doubt or self-deprecation I’ll remember this:
The build up to every marathon or half marathon is intense. You spend months preparing your mind and body to face the 26.2 or 13.1 miles. You teach yourself to press on even when every part of you is telling you to stop. You do all this so that on race day you’re ready to break through the wall and grind through the pain cave. And then after months of training you make it to the starting line. The gun goes off and you’re in the race. You battle through the mental and physical ups and downs of the race and finally you see it: THE FINISH LINE.
I’ve often visualized finish lines while training, imagining what it would feel like to finish my first marathon or what it would feel like to break 4 hours. I’d see myself charging to the finish line with everything I had left and then crumpling into a ball of joyous tears. I guess I had imagined it that way because that’s how I’ve seen so many people react to great personal feats in long distance running. I thought I would follow suit. But, surprisingly, I’ve never cried at the end of a race…which has always struck me as a bit odd. Like Dude, you cry at every rom com and cute old couple on the planet! How are you not crying at the end of a marathon?! And really, I’ve always wanted to have the ugly cry at the end of marathon. I’m not really sure why either haha. Maybe it would be my way of feeling that I had really left it all out there on the course? Who knows.
I really thought I would just break down in tears after crossing the Dallas Marathon finish line and setting a huge PR of 3:54:38. But I didn’t. What I did experience was feeling like a total badass! Actually, at most of my finish lines I’ve just had HELL YEAH run through my mind. So with the Berlin Marathon coming up I’ve been thinking about how I’ll feel as I approach Brandenburg gate and see the finish line. Will it be another “hell yeah” moment? Or will it be my turn to ugly cry? I suppose no one really knows. And truly, it doesn’t matter. Whether I cry, fist pump or scream, it will only make up a few SECONDS of a quest that has taken MONTHS of HARD WORK, BLOOD, SWEAT and TEARS to complete.
At the end of the day, it’s not about the finish line feeling…
Why running? Why do you run? Aren’t there better and less painful ways to stay in shape?
These are just a few of the common questions that I get pretty regularly when I tell people that I am a marathoner. THE ANSWER: …it’s complicated. My journey into long-distance running is exactly that, a JOURNEY.
I began running back in 2011 when I started college. I used it as a way to make friends and stay in shape. Being a competitive equestrian and martial artist in high school, I was pretty concerned with not gaining weight when I went to college and left those activities at home.
I ran a few 5ks and 10ks, but really, I hated running. HATED IT. It was just a necessary evil to stay skinny. When I studied abroad in Italy for 6 months (and ate my way through Europe…I don’t regret a bite. IT. WAS. ALL. DELICIOUS.) I found myself steadily gaining weight. The 40-50 minute runs I would do 2-3 times per week were not cutting it. So during our spring break in Sicily I thought to myself Alright Genevieve. You need to lose the weight. You’re going to run the 2014 Chicago Marathon. This will make the weight come off. And so about an hour later I was signed up to run with a charity (American Brain Tumor Association) and was looking up training plans. Folks…training was absolute hell. I had no idea what I was doing. I got so sick after my first 10 mile run because I had no idea what gels were or when I needed to eat them. That being said, I did feel a sense of accomplishment after each long run. I would think to myself Well hey G! You’ve never run that far before! But still, the process was brutal and I got very little enjoyment out of it. Worse still…I wasn’t losing much weight. Marathon day arrived and I ran the 26.2. I swore I would never do it again.
So since I hated the marathon so much one would think I’d never do it again. WRONG. Somehow I found myself signing up again for the Chicago Marathon in 2015 and 2016. I was chasing something by running. Trying to impress people. Trying to impress myself. Maybe I was searching for happiness? Whatever it was, it made the miles miserable. After Chicago 2016, my life took a turn and I had to reassess my mental, physical and spiritual health. I couldn’t continue running after something that didn’t exist. I felt lost. And so running became a way of putting things back together. To put myself back into a position where I could develop self-love. Each step forward was metaphorically a step that told me I was enough. My weight didn’t matter. My accomplishments didn’t matter. My pace didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I took a step (metaphorically and physically) forward. And so running became a movement of self-love.
And so I signed up for the 2017 Chicago Marathon with this new mindset. And guess what…I LOVED THE MARATHON. Did it go smoothly? NO. Did I feel great the entire time? NO. Did I meet my goal time. NO? Did it matter? NO!!!! It was a marathon in which I finally felt like Yes, Genevieve. You did something amazing. You are powerful and strong! YOU ARE ENOUGH.
So WHY RUNNING? I run because it makes me feel powerful. Because it empowers me to love myself. Because running is a metaphor for life. Just as we have good days and bad days, there are runs that feel great and runs that feel awful. But they are all enough and worthy of praise. Every day you get out the door and put one foot in front of the other–no matter the pace–is a win.