Archive for June, 2016

Leeanne’s Race

Leeanne and I met briefly years ago, at various horse events. My Dad had been a teacher of hers, so she was added to the long list of people I recognized as “someone Dad taught,” but didn’t really know. We got to know each other better at some horse things one summer, and our kids really hit it off and became friends too.

About a year ago, Leeanne decided to make her health a priority. As someone who had struggled with her weight for a long time, her initial journey was about weight loss. She worked with a trainer and increased her strength and fitness significantly. She ran a mini triathlon and a 5K foam race, and began to take another look at running. In November, we both ran Brainsport’s Gingerbread Run, a fun 5K kick-off to the Christmas season. After this accomplishment, Leeanne decided to run a 10K next. She soon changed her mind and registered for the half marathon in the Saskatchewan Marathon at the end of May. Her focus on weight loss faded, and a movement towards improved general health, that had nothing to do with weight, took over.

Leeanne signed up with a beginner half marathon running group at Brainsport, and updated me many Monday evenings after her group run. She was at times frustrated and disheartened by being slower than her teammates, but she didn’t quit. Others did – quit some workouts partway through or even quit the group entirely. Leeanne’s perseverance and determination was truly inspiring to me, and motivated me to keep going at a time when I wasn’t sure I could complete my own training program.

The day before race day, we met at the Saskatchewan Marathon race expo to pick up our race kits and browse through the merchant booths. We attended the pasta dinner and heard an amazing speech from a Boston Marathon bombing survivor.  Leeanne shared her time goal with me, and I tried my best to support it but also remind her that in the end it didn’t matter – your first half marathon is a physical and emotional journey that isn’t affected by time.

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The next morning we met at the start/finish area bright and early. Leeanne left to go warm up with her running clinic group and I stood in line at the bathrooms and chatted with Glenda, who was also running the half marathon after not training quite to her full ability. We tried to laugh off our mutual feeling of being slightly undertrained and decided to just have fun. We eventually gave up on the long bathroom line up and found a good bluff of shrubs a ways away from the crowd, before heading to the start line.

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My Dad greeted me at the finish line and hung out while I ate a cheese bun and a cookie, and drank some chocolate milk. We stood by the finish chute and chatted with Glenda and her Uncle Blair, and wished her boys luck in the MaraFun (kids run a total of 40 km throughout the month of May, and finish their final 2.2 at the Saskatchewan Marathon. There were about a thousand kids running this year!). Dad waited with me, as he was also proud of Leeanne for accomplishing what she had set out to do and wanted to see her finish. I was torn – should I run back along the course and find her, or just leave her alone to finish her journey by herself? After going back and forth a few times, I said to Dad, “there’s a long, steady incline a few kilometers back. She’s been worried about that being so close to the finish throughout this whole training process. I think I’m going to go back and see where she is and if she needs some help on that hill.” He took my bag and I began to run the course in reverse, off to the side.

I cheered for runners as I met them, and told volunteers and spectators, “there’s a woman with pink hair coming. It’s her first half marathon, so cheer loud for her when she gets here!” About two kilometers back, I could see Leeanne’s orange tank top and pink hair starting up the hill she’d been so worried about. Her running coach was on the sidelines there, and we got to her at the same time, falling in step on either side of her. He stopped after 100m or so to cheer on other runners, and I kept going. I let her lead the conversation, as I know sometimes runners want to chat and sometimes they don’t. I do this in my massage therapy practice as well, if my client initiates a conversation I’ll chat with them, but if they just want to be quiet then I’ll be quiet too. Leeanne started telling me things that were completely unrelated to running, so we talked about her goats, her kids, and whether her hair dye was running. Whether this was intentional on her part to distract herself or not, I’m not sure, but it worked. Every step we took got us closer to her finish line, until we could see the inflatable arch and hear the music. She started running again after a walk break and I said “this time you’re not going to stop. You’re going to just run the whole way.”

We got to the beginning of the long finish chute and I stepped off the road, behind the barricades. “Go get it,” I told her, and ran back to where my Dad was waiting. This was Leeanne’s race, and it was her finish. I’d already had my finish that day, and I wanted her to finish the race the same way she’d trained for it – by herself, with her own determination to push her through. She’d more than earned it.

Leeanne’s very supportive husband and kids were there to see her finish. Leeanne had a lot of people scoff at her when she told them she was running a half marathon. People told her she couldn’t do it, that she shouldn’t do it. People in her life who should have supported her and been there for her, instead told her to stop. Ian never wavered in his support of his wife, and knew she could do anything she put her mind to.  Leeanne proved that he was right, and finished her first half marathon in 3:13.

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I had ordered Leeanne a wrap from Momentum Jewelry with the inscription “She believed she could, so she did.” I just felt it was so fitting for her. I gave it to her at the finish line and was so happy to see her ring that personal best bell. When we parted ways to go home, she was already planning her half marathon in 2017, so I’d say she’s hooked. Who knows, maybe a full marathon is somewhere in her future!

Leeanne, I am so proud of you and everything you have accomplished. You have inspired me many times over the past year, and I can’t wait to see what you decide to do next!

You can follow Leeanne’s journey at http://www.farmfitma.wordpress.com.

Find me on Twitter: @RunMommyRun3 and Instagram: @RunMommyRun33

 

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Spring Training Ups and Downs

In my last post, I wrote about having some mojo issues. I was having trouble finding the motivation I needed to complete my training requirements. I thought I’d overcome that and was ready to rock, but I was wrong.

My training schedule for the Saskatchewan Marathon started out enthusiastically enough, and I completed all my prescribed runs for the first couple of weeks. Then they started getting longer and more difficult to fit into my schedule. Juggling my three children, our farm, my part time work off the farm, my horses and my household and yardwork jobs was just becoming impossible. I was volunteering on two different boards in addition to being a 4-H leader and it was just too much. I had no breathing room and the things I loved were being cut back. I took a step back and rearranged my priorities and the one thing that I honestly wasn’t getting excited about was running.

I was already registered for the half marathon in the Saskatchewan Marathon, and I thought several times about changing my distance to something shorter. However, my friend Leeanne was running this event as her first half marathon and her determination inspired me enough to make me want to complete what I’d committed to. It was the long runs that I found very difficult to make time for, to the point where I resented them a lot. It was on these runs that I decided to cut back my distance for the remainder of the summer, and focus on the 5K. I was a sprinter in my high school days, and I often joke that I’m a barrel racer because my attention span only lasts eighteen seconds anyway. The 5K distance is painful, but short and fast, and this just feels like a better fit for me right now.

I continued to get in the critical work outs that I needed to in order to finish my eleventh half marathon, but when my free time was limited in a day and I had to choose between running shoes or cowboy boots, I chose boots and saddled a horse every single time. My good mare is starting to really run barrels this year, and my other one will be for sale in just a few weeks, so they really needed my time. The order of my priorities is showing in my horses – Lux ran right up there with the top horses at a recent jackpot, placing me fourth overall. She has made money at four out of her last five jackpots, and is really loving her job. Wynn and I ride through the pasture and check cows and fences and she just never quits. She’s a tough, quick horse who will make someone a fantastic all-around partner, and I’m proud of the progress we’ve made this spring.

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The Saskatchewan Marathon felt different to me this year. I lined up at the start line a ways behind the two hour pace bunny with zero expectations other than finishing. I still wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but that was where my training and level of fitness was at. I still teared up during the national anthem (I always do when everyone sings along), and I still followed my usual fueling plan. My pace was slower, but still decent, and this was honestly the first half I’ve run where I felt comfortable for most of the race. Nothing hurt until the 18 km mark, and every time I checked my watch I was farther along than I thought I was. By the time it got hard at 18 km it was fairly easy to motivate myself to keep going – after all, I only had 3 km left!

I crossed the finish line in 2:02, a full seven minutes slower than 2015, when I ran my personal best. I was okay with that, and even though the race had been easier than I thought it would be, I’m sticking with the shorter distance plan. I can put my kids to bed, run 5K and then also ride a horse before it gets too dark. I think for me, for now, shorter runs is the key to putting the fun back in running.