Medal Monday: The Coldest Race of My Life

Hey guys!

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Medal Monday post, so I wanted to apologize for my inconsistent posting schedule lately. I’ve been pretty busy since graduating college last month. I moved back to Florida permanently, bought my first car (2013 VW Beetle light blue!), had a couple mental breakdowns during my never ending job search, and questioned things like my life choices and entire existence. Just normal post-grad things!

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How I’m handling the realization that college prepared me for nothing.

One thing that centers me aside from running is writing. Hence why this blog is called The Running Writer. If you couldn’t tell yet, one of my hidden talents is pointing out things that are already painfully obvious!

So for my own sanity I wanted to get back in the swing of writing a new Medal Monday for you every week. These posts are reminders of why I started running and why I’ll continue running as long as my little legs allow me to. Which is hopefully for many many more years.

My last Monday Medal post was the Iron Girl Half Marathon in Clearwater, FL. Today we’re going to fast forward six months from that first finish line to the second one aka the coldest race I’ve ever ran in my entire life, but that’s just a minor detail.

All of my medals are special to me, but this one in particular marks the beginning of an era of crossing many finish lines with one of my closest friends.

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A rare photo of Caitlyn and I together NOT in active wear!

Enter: Caitlyn! Please get familiar with her, because she’s going to be in quite a few future Medal Mondays.

Along with crossing those finish lines together came many pre-race rituals, which looks a bit like this:

  1. Carb loading the night before.
  2. An intense dance party, but not too intense, we have to run 13.1 miles in the morning for crying out loud!
  3. Sleeping in our race outfits in Caitlyn’s twin sized bed.
  4. Waking up at way-too-early o’clock after going through 12 of Caitlyn’s alarms.
  5. Singing our lungs out on the way to the race (lately, to Hamilton).
  6. Kicking butt out there on the course!

I can’t remember exactly how, but over that summer I managed to convince her to start training for Morristown’s Halloween Half Marathon with me.

Like any second time half marathoner, I actually had confidence in my ability to run 13.1 miles and not die or give up and become a laughing stock to all my family and friends. When I was training for my first half marathon I was almost positive I would complete my training and cross the finish line, but I wasn’t sure that I would ever do it again.

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My face anytime someone asked me what my time goal was.

That being said, I of course didn’t set a time goal. I was still impressed that after growing up with almost a grudge towards anything athletic related, that I was going to train and complete a SECOND half marathon.

Training was a breeze, although I missed quite a few long runs. I was so confident in my ability to cross the finish line that I didn’t stick to my training. I seriously want to cringe thinking about how THAT was my attitude.

Don’t be cocky like 23-year-old Kerry. Just don’t.

Remember how I said earlier that this was the coldest race of my life? Let’s talk about that, yeah?

Race day was in the middle of October, which in New Jersey is full on fall time. The week leading up to our race was unusually warm for the time of year it was. Caitlyn and I had our fingers crossed that the weather would hold out for us.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t. Overnight, it turned to winter and the high for race day was 38 degrees. While we were running the temperature MIGHT have reached 35 degrees.

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I am Hans and Elsa is God. My prayers were not answered for nice weather.

I know people run in much more frigid temperatures and for sure don’t complain about it nearly as much as I do but for those of you that don’t know me that well, I don’t do well in the cold which is one of the many reasons why I love Florida. From October to around April when I lived in New Jersey I avoided the outdoors and I moaned and groaned anytime I did have to go outside. I wasn’t the most pleasant company to say the least.

Caitlyn and I wore long sleeve shirts, giant sweatshirts, gloves AND those ear warmer headband things that I’ve never know the name for. We stood around for nearly 45 minutes before the race started and we wore everything long past the finish line.

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The second we stopped running I had the longest coughing fit from the cold air in my lungs. I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold in my life, but I don’t remember not smiling at any point.

Looking back and sharing all the little details makes me look at how far I’ve come as a runner. I’m really grateful that it’s something I’ve stuck with and improved at because it really has changed my life.

I guess that’s what the medals are for right? Marking milestones in our never ending running stories.

Thanks for hanging around for another Medal Monday guys! I’ll see you on Twitter and Instagram (I just posted pictures from my day trip to Disney!).

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Why My 6th Half Marathon Was the Best and Worst Run of My Life

Alright.

It’s been two weeks, I think it’s time to talk about it.

Back in April I wrote a blog post telling you guys I was training for my sixth half marathon and that Caitlyn (my running buddy) and I set our first time goal. Our fastest time for finishing a half marathon was two hours and 20 minutes, and this time around we wanted to finish in two hours and 15 minutes.

May 21st rolled around and we found ourselves at the starting line and eventually crossing the finish line BUT…it was the worst run I’ve ever been on, but the lesson I learned from it is why it was also the best race of my life.

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Here’s a rare photo of me smiling out on the course, clearly it was before I thought I was going to die.

We didn’t finish in two hours and 15 minutes, but we did finish in two hours and 18 minutes which means we still broke a personal record, just not the one that we wanted. On the bright side, our splits were pretty impressive compared to our other races. Our first two miles were under 10 minutes and for the rest of the race we remained pretty consistent, staying between 10:06 and 10:30. So that’s not exactly why it was a flop. 

Let me start off by saying, I didn’t train properly for this race and man my body was not very forgiving out there on the course! I’m typically really strict with myself when it comes to a training schedule but this time around I had more on my plate than I could balance. Between my wisdom teeth removal, finishing the last month of my college career, graduation and the attention required for car shopping and moving to another state…well let’s just say my runs were very far apart and not very long at all. In fact, the farthest I ran in my training was 7 miles, which isn’t very close to running 13.1 miles.

During the first two miles, all I could think about was how long this race was going to be. I knew I would finish, but I also knew I wasn’t going to finish feeling strong. I ended up being right, but that mindset didn’t provide any kind of help for me.

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By mile five my ankles and feet were starting to hurt, which for me is a really bad sign considering that pain doesn’t kick in until usually mile 10. As soon as I noticed the pain I thought “Well aren’t we in quite the pickle?” And I’m allergic to pickles, so it didn’t end well.

Nonetheless I kept running as fast as my body would let me and while it was tough, I didn’t get a taste of just how impossible finishing seemed until mile 10.

It was a downhill slope and I crashed to the bottom.

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I think Caitlyn was happy enough for the both of us when I started crashing!

Usually Caitlyn hits a wall at mile 10 and I cheer her on for the remaining 3.1 miles to the finish line, but the roles reversed this time. She had the big smile on her face and I had the scowl.

My entire body hurt and with every step I took I felt the urge to vomit growing stronger. I was angry and incredibly disappointed with myself for not following through with my training plan. For the last three miles I was telling myself I could do this on one step, and that I couldn’t with the next.

I’d like to say crossing the finish line put a smile on my face, but it didn’t. It only made me more annoyed because I realized I didn’t break the PR I wanted and I knew it was my own fault.

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Can you tell I was dying and Caitlyn was fine?

What made this even more difficult to swallow was everyone waiting for us at the finish line. Usually the only person waiting for me is my dad, but, two of my friends and my boyfriend were there this time as well.

There’s something more unsettling about failing in front of other people as opposed to failing when no one’s watching. I’m embarrassed to say it, but this gave me even more of an attitude and made me feel annoyed that they were there.

I just want to make this point so we all understand how unreasonable I was being. These are people that have never made me feel that I needed to impress them. They have always accepted me at exactly where I was. Did any of them care that we finished in 2 hours and 18 minutes? Obviously not. They were just excited to be there supporting us and thought we were total badasses.

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Look at my friends not caring that I didn’t run as fast as I said I was going to!running a half marathon, never-mind six of them!

I was a little snippy with everyone for a while. This is awful, but I didn’t even thank them for coming until 20 minutes after crossing the finish line. After we ate I perked up the tiniest bit and was tolerable to be around again.

Sorry for being a jerk, friends. I love you for showing up on race day and every other day.

I’m still so embarrassed about my time that I’ve put off writing this. But I learned a huge lesson from this last race.

Not every run is going to be a success. They won’t all leave me feeling new again and ready to take on the world. Expecting every run to be better than the last is just setting myself up for failure at some point. Instead, you should expect to always show up and work your absolute hardest and give it your all. Life happens and it can get in the way of training.

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Check out that sweet medal!

Running is hard sometimes, and so is life. What I experienced during this race was incredibly human. I did the best I could at that point and I still finished with a PR.

It’s necessary to be disappointed in ourselves sometimes. You learn an incredibly important lesson from it and it’ll make you work even harder the next time around. So don’t be afraid to fail, okay?

Get out there and give it your all. No matter if you fail or succeed, you’ll grow either way. That’s what life’s about. Don’t forget that.

Well that’s all I’ve got for you today! Stay connected with me on Twitter and Instagram so you can watch me win and fail, sometimes with grace and sometimes without it.

Talk to you guys soon!

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Medal Monday: Iron Girl Half Marathon

Woo-hoo, another Medal Monday! This one’s going to be a good one because we’re getting into the half marathon medals, which are usually bigger and cooler.

My first half marathon was the Iron Girl Half Marathon in Clearwater, Florida. there were palm trees everywhere and everything was pink. I was thriving.

The story behind this one is really personal and one that I’m really proud to tell. I went from having the best year of my life in 2014 because of my Disney College Program and getting one semester closer to graduating college to…kind of nothing.

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The perks of being a Disney Cast Member! You get to hang out with your bosses girlfriend and accidentally match outfits.

My internship ended and I couldn’t afford to go back to school for another semester all while my friends were graduating college, getting their first “big kid” jobs and moving in with their significant others. I was, of course, filled with joy for them but I was also avoiding everyone out of embarrassment.

Transitioning from everyone watching me live the “coolest” life on Instagram while working in Magic Kingdom to trading in that Disney name tag for a full-time spot as a hostess at a sports grill…well, it was less than magical.

I was bored and mortified that everything in my life was at a standstill. I was in search of some kind of accomplishment to work towards to make up for the nothingness that my life seemed to have reverted to. And that is how I decided I was going to train for a half marathon.

I spent hours on google trying to learn everything I needed to know to make this happen, looked at 100 different training plans before picking the perfect one, registered for the Iron Girl Half Marathon and the rest is history!

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I told you…everything was covered in palm trees and pink!

I dedicated myself and my time to running 5 days a week for 12 weeks straight and I felt myself growing stronger physically and mentally week by week. While I was still embarrassed that I wasn’t in school, my mind-set was beginning to change and my confidence decided to make an appearance in my life again.

Training for a half marathon for the first time is no joke. It takes a serious amount of determination and pushing your limits even when you’re uncomfortable and feel like giving up. Despite that, my training was one of the only things that kept me going in that season of my life. I loved talking about it and it gave me the confidence to face people again.

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Sun rise on mile three? Sure!

Okay, back to everything being pink! Everyone at the starting line was so excited and pumped to be there, and to my surprise so many of them were running their first half marathon too. The weather was perfect, the course was beautiful and the energy was insane. So much so that I didn’t start to feel tired until mile 12. That was by FAR the toughest mile I’ve ever run in my life but it was the most rewarding. It led me to that finish line and got me the prettiest medal I’ve ever seen (besides the Disney Princess Half Marathon medals, sorry Iron Girl).

I couldn’t bend or lift my legs for at least two days but it was all worth it. This medal reminds me that sometimes our plans aren’t the best plans for us and they don’t happen the way we want them to because something greater needs to enter our lives.

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They really should have been giving out sweat towels with those medals, just saying.

It also reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Lysa Terkeurst and biggest lesson I took away from this entire experience. “External achievement never equals internal acceptance.”

Training for a half marathon will make you confident and change your life, BUT it won’t magically fix what you’re running from.

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram to follow my crazy running shenanigans!

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The Secret to Getting Started

When people think about running, or just exercising in general, they think there’s some crazy and complicated formula behind getting started (myself included), mostly because they don’t know how to begin. They don’t want to start until they feel like they know what they’re doing. More often than not, that’s the reason why people quit before they even get started.

But guess what? That magical and complicated formula doesn’t actually exist. If you want to start something, it comes down to two things. It’s simple and I’m not trying to trick you.

How Badly Do You Want It?

Life is busy and it’s hard. Good, but hard. There are so many different responsibilities that need our time and attention and I totally understand why people have a hard time exercising consistently and make it part of their routine. I’ve been there, I get it.

But I also firmly believe that if you want something badly enough, you’ll do what have to do to make it work. So maybe the reason you haven’t been able to get started, or the reason why you fall off track so quickly is because you just don’t desperately want to become a runner. Speaking from personal experience, it took me 21 years until I got to the point where I wanted it bad enough. Let me tell you, it was NOT going to happen before then.

Can You Take It One Mile At A Time?

Now the one I’m particularly awful at is taking it one mile at a time. Since I was eight or nine years old I’ve struggled on and off with anxiety, so I can get overwhelmed easily sometimes.

Like right now, for instance. All within the next three weeks I’ll be finishing my classes, fixing up my resume and portfolio, starting my job hunt, taking my drivers test, graduating college, running my sixth half marathon, moving from New Jersey to Florida AND start shopping for my first car.giphy

While these are all incredibly great things that I’ve been waiting for and dreaming of for years, it’s still making my head spin when I look at all of it at once. But this is exactly like a race. You can’t think about mile 10 when you’re on mile three. You throw yourself off balance and you never make it. What we can do though is worry about one thing at a time. First I’ll finish my classes, check that off and start polishing up my resume to send out. Then I’ll move on to the next thing.

You don’t need to know what you’re doing to start running. That’s the best part! I mean, you COULD read all my blog posts and I’ll definitely have you prepared, but when it comes down to it no one ever knows what they’re doing.

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If you wait until you know what you’re doing to start, you could miss out on experiences like this one!

I had no idea what the heck I was doing when I decided to sign up for a half marathon. And that’s kind of relevant to everything I’ve ever done in my life. One fall morning in 2013 I woke up and my first conscious thought was “Okay, right now is when I need to apply for the Disney College Program,” after not giving the program a single thought since the past summer. I found my acceptance e-mail a week later and I had to tell everyone in my life I was moving 17 hours away for an internship they didn’t even know I applied to.

Running was kind of like that too. I woke up one morning and made choice and I stuck to it. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I figured it out along the way.

Deciding to run was the best decision I’ve ever made. In this moment, I still don’t know what the heck I’m doing. In fact, the one thing I DO know is that I will never know what I’m doing

But that’s when the magic happens and lives change. We challenge ourselves and try to accomplish something and that’s when we grow.

When you decide you want to be a runner badly enough, you’ll make time for it. And then, you’ll take it one mile at a time.

You can’t worry about week 12 of the training plan when you’re on week one. Start small, and start now. There’s never going to be “the right moment”.

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