February 11 – Voice

imagesToday, as I contemplate the word, “voice” I’m thinking about the voices that we hear over and over in our heads… like a record. Sometimes the voice is negative and I have great experience (as do we all I suspect) at listening, repeatedly,  to the negative voices.

You know, the voice that says, “it’s too hard,” “you’re not ready,” “you’re not fit enough,” “you’re not……..” Listening to these voices, like a broken record, can certainly wear us out. The good news is that these voices don’t need to have the final say. But to silence them we need new voices and we can get them when we surround ourselves with, and listen to, helpful people. This might sound a bit abstract, so here’s a running story.

When I first started running four years ago, I was training on my own. After some initial progress, my training kind of stayed at the same level for a long time. It seemed that when I raced or had a really hard time running, I was very hard on myself. The record going through my head was, “this wouldn’t be so hard if I’d lost more weight,” and “you should have been eating better,” and “you’re not getting better.” These voices are certainly not helpful in the midst of a race, or any activity. For the longest time I equated any difficulty encountered while running to be a sign that I was lacking in some way.

Last year I joined a training program for the 2015 Ventura Marathon and then later joined the running club. An early revelation for me occurred when I was talking to the coach about my inadequacies and he told me that it is supposed to be hard. He said that if it wasn’t hard, then I wasn’t working hard enough. Suddenly I had a new record playing in my head. “It’s hard…and I can take it!” My running started improving after that.

The other voices came from those in the running club. I still don’t know everyone’s names, but I appreciate them all. First, there were the long runs on Sunday mornings. I couldn’t run with everyone because, as a pastor, I had to get to church (and I’m slower too). So I would start an hour early and pass them on my way back and every time, I’d hear words of encouragement.

Here are my splits for the second half of the marathon. You can see the slow down at miles 24 and 25.

Then I began going to their track workouts. It could be intimidating to be running all out and still have people pass and pass and pass you so easily. But it never was (or is) because so often the person passing is saying “good job!” “keep it up” “you’ve got this”. New voices that continue to help me to push and push some more each week.
So now here’s the really good part of all this! Last Sunday’s Surf City Marathon was my third. In both of my previous efforts I struggled to finish and could say that I pretty much had to drag myself across the finish line. A goal for Surf City was to finish strong… to actually run the last 10k. I was doing well but started to slow down at miles 24 and 25. I think that at this point I had to decide whether I was going to dig in and push or allow fatigue to win. Then the voices came, “it’s ok if it hurts” “good job!” “keep it up” “you’ve got this!”

With this help I sped up and finished with a new PR by 30 minutes. I could say “I did this”, but I would never have been able to do it if I were still trying it all alone. And that’s the really big lesson, we need each other… we need to hear one another’s voices.

A 2015 Review…On the Running Side!

Last race of 2015. I love determination that I have. The photo has also shown me some work that I need to do on my form in 2016.

Like many people do at this time of year, I’ve done a bit of a look back at the last year. All in all its been a very good year. My work as a pastor has been going well, and connected to this my life as a runner has been amazing. I say these two are connected because I discovered a couple years ago that running has been a wonderfully spiritual activity. It is when I pray, meditate, relieve stress, and thankfully get a lot of sermon prep done.

I cannot count the times that I’ve discovered solutions to various problems while running. I cannot count the times that I’ve been able to just let my mind go and relish the moment, enjoy the scenery, and feel that life is wonderful. And those weeks in the past year that we’ve had very bad news in our country, running has helped me to process my own anger and grief. I hope that this has made me a better leader.

From a physical standpoint, running along with a vastly improved diet has helped me move from obese to merely overweight. I am working hard to lose more weight as part of becoming a better and faster runner.

As for improvement in the last year I’d say that the biggest impact was my participation in a training program for the 2015 Ventura Marathon. I wasn’t able to run with everyone due to my schedule, but I still felt part of the group… And the people in this group are awesomely nice, accepting, and encouraging. Now I’m a member of Vendurance Running Tribe and it has been great. I highly recommend joining a running club. I’m still kind of new in the group and hope to become more acquainted with people in the coming year.

Here are some statistics for the last year:

  • # 5k races: 8, all part of the Boogie Nights summer run series in Ventura.
  • # 10k races: 1, 4th of July in Oxnard (this was part of a training run so in all I ran 16 miles that day).
  • # half marathons: 2, in October (PR in the this race) and November (and another PR, beating my October time by 4 minutes). I also ran a half marathon relay with my daughter… making it 2-1/2 half marathons.

    Scott was nice enough to accompany me (via bicycle) on a 20 mile run. This photo was after 10 miles.
  • And 1 marathon, The Ventura Marathon in September. This was my second marathon and I improved my time from the first (Sept 2014) by an astounding 47 minutes!
  • Total miles run: 1,220 (compared to 846 in 2014, an almost 50% increase in distance).
  • Total hours run: 231
  • Weight at beginning of year: 220
  • Weight at the end of the year: 182 (goal is 155, which puts me at the top of the suggested weight range for my height).
Scott, Ethan (new son-in-law this year), Megan, Me, and Matt

A bonus is that my husband and my adult children are also running. It’s been a good family activity. When looking at all this I can say it has been a good year and I am looking forward to continued improvement in 2016!

It’s not really a resolution and will actually (hopefully) be accomplished in 2017… but my big audacious goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This will require me to improve my marathon by an hour… more on this later.

Happy New Year!


A Much Delayed Race Day Recap – The Santa Barbara Half Marathon

The Santa Barbara Half Marathon was November 7, 2015. So exactly one month later I’ll offer a bit of a recap.Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 11.10.29 AM

First, this was a very hilly course – for me at least. Second, I ran this race exactly two weeks after another half marathon and so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly wasn’t expecting to run faster.

The Wednesday before the race I asked our running club coach for advice on running this race. He seemed to have more confidence in my abilities that me because he said that I should plan on a 9:50-10:00 pace per mile. He also said that I should try to stay around 11:00-11:30 on the hills, but that 12:00 was a possibility on the big hill at mile 10.

I finished the Lexus LaceUp half marathon in 2:13:01 so I decided to line up halfway between the 2:10:00 and 2:15:00 pacers. When the race actually started I quickly found myself running very close to the 2:10:00 pacer. At first I was a bit freaked out and thought that I was going to die on the hills that would come later. At the same time I felt pretty good and I was running at the recommended pace.

The course was beautiful but crowded as it consisted mostly of bike trails that linked various neighborhood located between UC Santa Barbara and the beach. One thing about trying to navigate through this crowded course, time passed very quickly.

At around the 7th mile we encountered a long gradual hill. I momentarily fell behind the 2:10:00 pacer, but he was never out of sight. I was able to catch up with him on the downhill… I’ve discovered that I absolutely love running down hill. It’s faster, but also a time to rest, and my legs get a nice stretch.

Before long I hit 10 miles. I remember thinking, “only three miles and one big-ass hill to go.” I felt really good, amazingly so! Then I hit the hill and it seemed to just go up and up and up. My goal at this point was not to walk, however my pace was so slow that a fast walker could have probably passed me. My average pace for that mile was 11:30.

Once I made it to the top I saw the 2:10 pacer really far ahead. Wondering if I could catch up once again, I let gravity give me a boost and took off down the hill. I was tired but it felt wonderful to be moving so much faster. I caught up with the pacer with about a half mile left…passed him, and finished in 2:09:09. This was 4 minute improvement over a much easier course two weeks earlier. Amazing!

My average pace per mile was 9:55. For comparison purposes, I ran a 5k June 3rd and the average pace for this race was 10:09. I’m incredibly happy with this improvement. I credit it to hard work combined with the excellent coaching/training plan/track workouts from the running club that I joined in May.