More than the sum of my parts.

running

Since my sophomore year of college, I've been defining myself as a runner.

My husband and I had been dating for about a year and a half when he suggested that we train for our first half marathon together.  

"I could never do that," I told him.  "No way."

Then, in May 2008, I did do it. 

I haven't stopped running since.  

I guess there is a bit of pride that comes with typing "Distance Runner" into an "About Me" section of a profile.  I've always known that most people will never run a marathon, so that makes me one of the few.  (That probably makes me more crazy than awesome.)

Part of me loves running because it is healthy and stress-relieving, but a bigger part of me has loved running for the way that it defines me.

Lately, I've been able to let some of that go.  Yes, I am a distance runner.  But that's not all that I am.  I'm also a Jesus-loving, coffee-drinking writer, momma, wife, student, business owner and friend.  I am more than the sum of my parts.

This past weekend, I ran another half marathon.  I stuck with my training for the most part.  However, I also learned to listen to my body and to modify when necessary.

And it was all fine because sometimes, to be great at the other things that I am, I can be just an okay runner.  I'm not less or more of a person because I did or didn't run for one day (or a few, or a lot).  

All of the above is where my head was before the Prairie Fire Half Marathon last weekend.

prairie fire marathon

At that race, I set a new PR.  I had the run of my life.  But about halfway through, because I was feeling strong, I decided to revise my longstanding goal of crossing the finish under 1 hour and 50 minutes.  That goal was somehow not good enough anymore, and I started dreaming about a 1:47 time and about catching up with my friend who was a mile ahead.  At mile 6.5, I threw my training out the window to compete against everyone else instead of against myself.  It was also at mile 6.5 that the race was no longer fun.  My final time was 1:49:44, and I finished 6th of 93 in my age group, but I was angry and disappointed.  

I'm going to take a step back from running, which is uncharted and scary territory for me.   I saw the number I've always wanted to see on the clock this past weekend, I saw my friends on the podium instead of me ... and I let those things tell me who I am.  Until I've gained a healthier perspective and am able to appreciate running for what it is instead of who it makes me, I'll be on a break.

For everyone's sake, hopefully it won't be a long one. :)

Fan Club Friday: Wahoo! Running

Guys.  I know I get excited about every Fan Club Friday because I seriously have so many talented friends, but this one ... {Insert heart eyes emoji here.} 

Meet my friends and fellow runners, Christie and Carlee.

I've known Christie for years, and she has walked (or should I say, run) with me through some of the hardest and happiest moments of my life, imparting wisdom all along the way.  Though Carlee and I only met within the last year, our similar status as runner moms of two little girls has allowed us to strike a fast friendship.

A couple of years ago, Christie single-handedly spearheaded a kids' running club in which children of all ages trained with her and then ran a 5k as the culmination of twelve weeks of practice.

wahoo kids running club

Since that first season, Wahoo! Running has become far more than a kids' running organization, though it is still that, too.  While kids run with Christie, Carlee coaches their parents to accomplish a variety of running goals from simply getting up off of the couch to completing a first marathon or half marathon.

With literally hundreds of combined races between them, Christie and Carlee have a wealth of knowledge to offer to both newbies and seasoned runners.  So, they have started creating customizable training plans to share their insight with others!

wahoo training plan

Because I wanted to get the full Wahoo Running experience, I decided to order my own training plan from my coaching friends.  I am aiming to "crush all of my goals" (a Christie Thomas-ism) at the Prairie Fire half marathon in Wichita, Kansas, in October.  

I have used a couple of other training strategies in the past, but none of them were specifically tailored to my body or running goals.  Wahoo goes above and beyond to do just that.  Prior to constructing my plan, Wahoo sent me an Athlete Questionnaire.  In addition to basic demographic information, Christie and Carlee asked me about my height, weight, previous running experience, best times, goal times, average times, how often I workout,  other types of exercise I enjoy, and why I run.  (That sounds like a lot of information, but I completed the whole thing in under 10 minutes.)  Now, Christie and Carlee are using my answers to customize a twelve-week calendar that tells me precisely what I need to do each day.  Since I'm the most Type A person you may ever meet, I need an exact schedule which includes rest and stretching as an integral part of my program.  

Along with my training plan, I'm expecting my Wahoo! Winning Kit to arrive on my doorstep day!  My box will include a lacrosse ball, resistance band, and other goodies to motivate me and keep my muscles healthy for race day.  Dare I say that I'm pumped about running again?!

I get to train with Christie and Carlee because I am fortunate enough to live locally, and we do more than run together.  In our group of girls, we laugh, we cry, we laugh until we cry, we poop on the side of the road (I personally haven't done this one yet, but don't put it past me), and we run the literal and figurative hills and valleys of life together.  If you don't have a running community where you live, I know that the faces behind Wahoo would encourage you to start one.

Wahoo Runners

I'm a big fan of winning, but that isn't why I run.  Christie and Carlee get this.  In a matter of months since they have launched their business, these coaches have guided multiple runners to set new PRs and win age categories in the races they enter.  However, Christie and Carlee's main goals are for runners to stay healthy and to have fun.  Their desire is for people to "experience running the way it's meant to be."  In other words, they want runners to never outrun their love of running.  

If you've lost your purpose for running or are looking to find a purpose for the first time, Christie and Carlee can create the perfect plan to get you on track within a week.  After that, they will follow up with you to see how things are going, not because they're trying to build a business but because they genuinely care about you as a runner and as a whole person.

Check out Wahoo! Running on their website, Instagram, or Facebook page.  You can also email the coaches directly at christie@wahoorunning.com or carlee@wahoorunning.com.  

WAHOO!

Photo credits: Christie Thomas and Teena Moore Photography.

Lessons About Running From My 3-Year-Old Coach

My daughter completed her first marathon this past weekend in Oklahoma City.  

She's three.

Every year, Oklahoma City hosts a race called "Run to Remember" in honor of the victims who were killed in the Oklahoma City Bombing.  This year had the highest participation ever, with over 25,000 runners completing either a 5k, half marathon, full marathon, marathon relay, or kids' marathon.

All of the other races are self-explanatory; you show up on race day and run the distance that you signed up to do. {Hopefully you've trained.}  

In the kids' marathon, the idea is for little runners to run 25 miles in the days leading up to the race.  Then, they complete the final 1.2 miles of a marathon on race day for a grand total of 26.2 miles over a period of a few weeks. Some kids just show up and run 1.2 miles on race day, and that's totally fine.

Piper did the whole thing.

I'm so proud of her, and I'm also grateful for the many lessons that she unknowingly taught me along the way.  I've run just about every distance of the OKC race at some point, but "training" with her for this particular event was probably more satisfying than crossing the finish line after a grueling 26.2 miles a couple of years ago.  Running with my daughter changed me.

Through this process, I learned just how much my child watches everything I do and tries to pattern her life after me.  That is both terrifying and humbling.  Before every run, she asks if she can wear her Nike running shorts "like you're wearing Nike running shorts, Mom!"  She wanted to complete a marathon because I have.  Because of these things, I have been hyper-aware of my attitudes toward running, racing, and my body over the last few weeks.  I want her to have a healthy perspective, which means that I should model it for her.  

I needed a three-year-old to speak truth to me, because sometimes kids just seem to "get it" more than their parents do.  Piper reminded me of some practical lessons, such as pacing yourself and looking up instead of at your dang shoes so you don't trip.  But she also coached me in some other equally important areas.

Winning isn't just about being the first person to cross the finish line.  Of the 25,000+ people who ran the race, only five people actually won (one for each event), if you define winning in terms of finishing first.  As Piper was running her race, she looked over at me several times and asked, "Mom, am I winning?"  Of course you are, baby.  Why?  Because she's three and she's persevering and she's completing a marathon.

Speed doesn't matter.  Piper's good friend, Nora, ran the race, also.  At the beginning, Piper was excited about running with her and tried to keep up for a quarter mile or so.  However, it quickly became evident that Nora is a faster runner than Piper.  Piper let her run ahead and quit worrying about whatever Nora was doing to focus on her own run.  Novel idea.  

One of the goals of running is to still like running at the end of a race.  Sometimes I train so hard that I burn myself out.  Piper ran because she thought it was fun.  If at any point it stopped being fun for her, I would have let her stop.  I don't often give myself this grace, though, and maybe I should.

Walking during a run or missing a training run entirely is not the end of the world.  There were some days in the past few weeks when I had planned to run with Piper, but we decided to take the night off due to weather, a long day, or not feeling 100%.  Piper didn't care, and she still successfully finished her race.  Also, sometimes while we were out in the neighborhood, Piper's legs would get tired...or she would spot a dandelion that she just had to pick, and we would walk for a minute or two.  Again, Piper didn't care, and she still successfully finished her race.

Running solo is great, but running with people is, too.  Some of my favorite runs in the past few weeks have been the ones that I did with my daughter.  She's in preschool, so it's not like we were having deep conversations, but our runs gave me an opportunity to encourage her and to hear about her day.  Sometimes I love the idea of clearing my mind so much during a run that I isolate myself from running with people, which causes me to miss out on some really uplifting community.

"Exercise is not a punishment for what your body is, but a celebration of what it can do."  I heard this quote within the last week, and I wish I could remember where.  Isn't is amazing to have legs that obey your mind?  When you really step back for a second and think about how much blood your heart has to pump and how many times your lungs have to breathe in order to move even a few feet, aren't you stunned?  Watching my daughter complete this marathon as a three-year-old with short legs reminded me that the body can do truly incredible things.  I don't have a "perfect" body, but God has given me the ability to use it in a variety of awesome ways.  I should celebrate that instead of beating myself up over the insignificant imperfections I see in the mirror.

Piper is already talking about running the kids' marathon again next year, and about recruiting some of her friends to participate with her.  I hope she does, and I hope they do, because so many people would benefit from a three-year-old marathoner's mindset.  Thank you, sweet girl, for letting me be one of them.