formats

Eastern States 20 Miler.

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Me, my furrowed brow and the bf looking dreamy.

 

*Mile 12*

Our Garmin’s chirped in sync and he muttered, “7:36 for that one.” I impulsively exclaimed, “Too fast, that’s too fast. I can’t sustain that pace.”  “Yes you can. You are. Your breath is even, your arms are loose. YES YOU CAN.” I glanced down at my HR to reveal a 151. It’s exactly where I wanted and planned for it to be and yet the thought of running 7:36s or faster for the remaining 7 miles just seemed terrifying. Chris noted, “Focus on your breathing. It’s calm and it’s even. You got this.”

Do I? I do. But do I?? Can I run the remaining  13 miles at a 7:36 or faster? I can, at least I think I can. He’s right. My breath is even. The effort is entirely manageable. The heart rate is exactly where it needs to be and I feel completely in control of my body. Shit- the man is right!! I’m going to negative split  a 20 mile race!

 

Boston Training

For the past five months I have been following a customized training plan leading up to the 2017 Boston Marathon. I’ve been building my mileage from 40 miles a week up to 69.6 miles last week (and yes it physically pains me that I am missing that final .4). I’ve been completing tempo runs, hill workouts and track workouts that slowly but surely build on their difficulty to get me faster and fitter with each successive step. I’ve spent A LOT of time leaning into the pain, learning how to push HARDER and FASTER to uncover my fitness from my last marathon training cycle (Boston 2016). I’ve focused on hitting paces during tempos- aiming for 20 minutes at 7 min pace or faster! Hitting mile splits at 6:40 or better. Doing SO MANY hill bounding reps that my legs just want to fall off, but no- maybe I’ll just vom instead. All of these workouts and the miles have pushed my fitness ceiling higher and higher. In the past few weeks I’ve even lost a few pounds- not for lack of trying to eat everything in sight- I swear. The miles are adding up and the fitness is there; yes, I’m feeling Boston ready!!!

However, I’m leaving something major out of this pretty picture that is my training plan- something critical that I feel is beginning to make all the difference in my running and racing: I’ve started to train with an eclectic running philosophy that incorporates heart rate based training, pacing expectations for specific workouts and places a strong emphasis on biofeedback. Before you simultaneously yawn and close your browser give me a chance to explain what on Earth I’m rambling about! Heart rate based philosophy gives runners specific effort zones within which all of their runs should fall. Following your custom HR zones (b/c they are unique to the individual) will absolutely improve your fitness. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it. I’ve started a training cycle where I go out for a zone 1/conversationally paced run and my pace is 8:50 avg and then by the end of the training cycle I complete a zone 1 run with an average pace of 8:05. No joke, this training approach works.

 

My zones are as follows: 

Zone R/ gentle recovery days: Below 131

Zone 1/ conversational pace: 136-148 –  141 is the middle

Zone 2/ tempo: 149-160

Zone 3/ speedwork/ HARD tempo runs: 161 +

 

I have used these HR zones to structure my runs for the past 3 years and WHAT a difference it has made. But I believe that the human body is too complex to have such stiff numbers attached to it all the time. HR zones provide an excellent guide for an athlete, but are they the be all and end all? I don’t think so. Enter pace goals on training runs. Once I established a solid base of miles and completed about 2-3 months of tempo runs to heart rate my coach Beth started integrating goal paces for my tempo runs. It didn’t matter if my HR went into zone 3- Once she was confident that I was durable and my body could handle the intensity of harder workouts my mission was to squeeze out every last drop of energy during my tempo runs  and long runs. She had me reaching for 15 mile runs with the final 3 miles at a 7:10 pace or 2×20 min tempos with 7 min pace or faster. These paces terrified me, and yet time after time I was able to deliver on the day.

But something was still missing and I think – maybe- this is where Beth and I started to part ways. While Beth wanted my 2 recovery runs of the week to have an average HR of 125 (which translates into about a 10:15 pace) week after week my legs just naturally went to a 9:30-9:45 pace. This felt EASY to me. It was where my body naturally wanted to go when I told it to go trot along, smell the flowers and just relax. Mind you, this pace was still within my ZR heart rate zone but closer to the top at 131. Beth and I went back and forth on this often. She told me to slow down and I told her that it took more mental energy to slow down than it did to just run how my body wanted to run. Who was right? Who was wrong? I honestly don’t know. I’m not saying that running “my way” is better or right– (I mean, Beth has won and placed at her fare share of Ironman competitions! She’s a beast on the road and a hell of an amazing coach!!) but I am saying that running to feel seems to work for me both mentally and physically.

My body always tells me how it feels.  This training cycle I started to actually listen.

And that brings me to my third point: biofeedback. This cycle I have focused on becoming attuned with my body. I spend my runs listening to the sound of my breath (how deep/shallow? how long? How labored?), focusing on the tightness or soft nature of my chest/lungs and even honing in on the difference between true pain and annoying fatigue during long runs. I give my body about 2 miles (15-20 min) of nearly every run to simply wake up with ZERO pace expectations. What will be, will be. Then I focus on finding that rhythm, that groove, that natural turnover in my legs. I let it naturally unfold within my body. Ahhhhhh! The moment my legs turnover like a ferris wheel at the height of it’s ride, my eyes wide with excitement and yet my breath is calm and steady- THAT MOMENT RIGHT THERE is my happy place!! It’s the middle of my Zone 1. My “I’m not holding back, but I’m not pushing forward.” It’s my forever pace.

I haven’t spent months searching for my forever pace, rather my forever feeling. Since my forever pace is fluid and dependent on my level of fitness, I have spent time learning HOW MY BODY FEELS when I’m running comfortably.

Heart rate. Pace. Biofeedback.

Taken together I used all three to JUST PLAIN NAIL the Eastern States 20 Miler last weekend. I say this with such fervor because I didn’t realize what I was doing until it was done: I negative split a 20 mile run.  I felt strong. I felt confident. I felt IN CONTROL. I’m still in a bit of shock because honestly- it felt like a once in a lifetime run that came together!!

 

The race

At the race start I was your typical female mess. Honestly- I wasn’t even worried about the race. I was being a royal B anxious hot mess  delicate flower of a woman and needed some reassurance from my guy. And deliver he did, cause he always does <3. Replacing my furrowed brow with giggles is his specialty and by the start of the race I was feeling more focused and ready to run.

My plan was to run the first 10 miles in my zone 1 (at a conversational pace), 7 miles in zone 2 (my tempo pace, 2-3 words at a time) and the final 3 miles in zone 3 (DEFcon 3, vom pace, give it all you got until you cross that finish line, NO talking ONLY thumbs up to others).

 

My plan was awesome (obviously). It was perfect for me and my level of fitness and better yet I felt confident that I would be able to execute. It was perfect UNTIL lots of other runners started passing me in the first two miles. Did I say a lot of runners? Yea, I mean HUNDREDS of other runners passed me and I hated it. I 100% absolutely hated being passed by every singly runner out there. Each time I was passed I swallowed by pride, looked at my watch (which displayed HEART RATE, not pace) and reminded myself that I needed to run MY race.

Run your own race. Stay comfortable. HR needs to be at 140-142. Focus. Just find a groov

As each mile ticked by Chris’ watch would ding and he read off the mile split. 8:03…. 7:59….7:56… 

By mile 9 the pace descended to a 7:47 with a corresponding average HR of 146. For the next 8 to 10 minutes shit got REALLLLLLY close to the fan. It didn’t touch it. I swear to you that there was no splatter involved, but damn close it got! My hamstring in my right leg cramped up BAD. I seriously considered stopping to stretch it just to alleviate the tension. Naturally I started giving my body my version of a mid race pep talk, “Fuck you!! Fuck you!!” (Note: don’t scream F you when you’re running a 20 mile race with your BF.) Chris once again reassured me, “Your pace hasn’t changed. You’re still running in the 7:40’s. Your turnover is balanced and even.” Isn’t he so dreamy? (but seriously, I love when he talks running to me).  The man was right again- doh! I didn’t know what was going on in my body but I refused for it to mess up this race. I got quiet, subtly altered my gait to lean forward to possibly slightly alleviate the tension and went into the recesses of my mind to state, “Left foot, right foot, repeat.” My thoughts were focused on #1 not panicking and #2 refinding my rhythm on the road. By mile 10 my body started to cooperate- crisis averted.

By mile 12 the pace descended to 7:36 with a corresponding average HR of 151. I panicked and errupted, “Too fast, that’s too fast. I can’t sustain that pace.”  Right by my side, Chris reassured me,”Yes you can. You are. Your breath is even, your arms are loose. This isn’t hard for you. YES YOU CAN.”  The man was right. In my mind the pace was unsustainable, but my body, my HR and even my BF were telling me a different story. I pushed onwards.

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Mile 16. Finding a groove.

At mile 15 Chris went on his way to finish up the remaining 5 miles at his own marathon pace. Alone. I was left alone without any outside reassurance and yet by this time I didn’t need any. I had this. I ate my 3rd and final gu and leaned into the pain. All my thoughts were focused on getting to mile 17. Get to 17. Just get to 17. Why? Because at mile 17 I only had a 5k left. Just 20 minutes. Twelve laps around the track. Shorter than my easiest recovery run up Sea Street to Hough’s Neck where you can see the pretty view of the Boston skyline in the distance. Just a 5k left baby!! I can run a 5k in my sleep. Giddy-up!!!

At mile 17 I gave it all I had left: 7:17, 7:19, 7:17 and a corresponding HR of  162, 163, 166. My breathe was labored. My arms were stiff and probably too high. I was counting down the minutes. I focused on getting through one more song on my iPod and then another 4 minute song and then another. But I did it- I negative split a 20 mile race and better yet- in the final 8 miles I passed what felt like hundreds of other runners!!

I finished with a final time of 2:34:46 on my watch and a 7:40 average pace per mile for the run.

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Hey mom, I ran from Maine to Massachusetts!! Kinda cool!!

As we all are, I’m a work in progress as a runner, but I have to say DAMN!! What a day!! The Eastern States 20 Miler was a win! Physically. Emotionally. Romantically (mostly because the man put up with me for 15 miles, 5 of which with a furrowed brow of anxiety) <3.

 

 

It’s been one year since I’ve completed a marathon (Boston 2016) but this time something feels different. I feel different. I’m ready to listen to what my body has been telling me all along: how to run both smart and hard. I’m still teasing out a game plan for Boston pacing but you can be sure it will incorporate the big three: HR, pacing and biofeedback into the mix. Sadly, I’ll be flying sans man meat for these splits. I’ll be starting in Wave 2, corral 8 as the bf chants SHAME in my general direction before he leaves to take off in Wave 1, corral 1. Then again, I guess I will be surrounded by about 40,000 of my other best friends.

GUYS, I’M FEELING BOSTON READY!!

LET’S DO THIS THING!!

LET’S RUN OURSELVES A MARATHON!!

 

Never stop running,

The Lone Runner

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If you read to the end then I’m super impressed- thanks for reading!! 🙂

 

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102 More Things

 

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Can’t wait till July when I go to the Jersey shore with my fam and get in the water up to my ankles! ooooh ahhh! 🙂

Nearly two years ago I wrote a post entitled 101 Things. It represented 101 Things in my life up until that point: love, life, fears, dreams, motherhood – all of it. But life has changed a lot in the past two years. I’m surrounded by an empty ring ringer, a new job, new apartment, new man and busy, busy life.  How do I make sense of it to myself? How do I catch you up on it? I write. Since my thoughts these days don’t seem to want to sit still long enough to engross myself in a creative tale I’ve decided to create another 100 things, 2017 edition. Here we go….

 

1. I’m left-handed- crap, that was on the first list.

2. I’m a natural redhead – crappity crap, that was on the first list too. Well, I’m still a natural redhead. I think I’m on a roll, should I keep replicating?

3. One day my boyfriend asked me if I plan on dying my hair when it goes gray. I suddenly had the urge to smack him. We don’t talk about those things, son.

4. I’m 32 years old and I have a boyfriend. When I talk about him to friends and family I’m pretty sure I sound like I’m 16.

5. My boyfriend is soooo dreamy….

6. …when he cuts his hair!! Instead of cutting his hair at a barber shop like a NORMAL man he takes medical sheers and shaves his head every three months. Sigh.

7. He doesn’t own real clothes- only race t-shirts. Every shirt represents a different memory from his past, a piece of who he was at the time of the race and how he became who he is today. Those silly shirts are my window into his world.

8. I am dating a man who has over 800 race t-shirts and only one blue button down dress shirt. Wow, my life really has changed.

9. Dear God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.

10. He’s a damn good doctor, an amazing runner, a pretty good cyclist and he swims to survive.

11. He has ran over 100 marathons, completed over 20 full Ironman races in his lifetime.

12. Last year I coached him to break a 20 year running PR for his half marathon when he ran a 1:14:30 (barf, that’s just soooo fast).

13. Did I mention that I love him? 🙂

14. At least once a day he stops what he’s doing, looks deep into my eyes and the spinning world comes to a screeching halt. We ignore the world around us and smile back at each other like two teenagers who are too nervous to make the first move.

15. Chris makes me feel worthy of being loved.

16. In my previous life I used to subconsciously rub my engagement ring and wedding band with my left thumb when I was feeling anxious. For some reason the repetitive behavior mollified my distress.

17. At times I catch myself rubbing my left thumb against the base of my empty ring finger. A brief moment of sadness emerges each time I realize what I’m doing; my rings, my husband and so many pieces of the life I thought I was going to live are gone.

18. I am no longer a wife.

19. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about being divorced.

20. Even though I have a loving boyfriend who lives in CT and family in Jersey I often feel very alone.

21. I moved out of my house on Friday December 4th, 2015 a date that will now forever be burned into my brain as an end to what was and a new beginning for what will be.

22. When you leave a house for an apartment you can’t help but feel like you’re going backwards in life.

23. I  often repeat to myself: Life isn’t linear to help me accept that the apartment and the divorce aren’t a step back, but rather just a step in a new, different direction.

24. It’s sad to write the words, but I am 100% confident that separating from my husband was the right decision.

25. One day I want to get remarried.

26. I still can’t envision a wedding.

27. Once upon a time ago I had a wedding, a dress, pretty flowers, bridesmaids, vows….

28. It’s hard to explain, but part of me doesn’t feel like I deserve another wedding. A part of me feels afraid… I’m just not ready.

29. One day I hope to be ready, but not yet. Right now I am happy sharing my love with another and feeling loved in return.

30. Thinking of the unknown in the future always make me feel anxious. Today is about all I can handle right now. Today is a good day.

31. My parents, sister and brother all live in New Jersey… which might as well be Uzbekistan when you’re a single mom who is working two jobs and training for a marathon.

32. I miss my family.

33. I see them about three times a year: Thanksgiving, Christmas and our family beach vacation at the Jersey shore.

34. My thoughts have been so full of to-do lists from both jobs that I actually managed to forget the family Christmas gifts when I visited in December.

35. All of the gifts are still sitting in my closet.

36. They represent my two secret shames: I am an incredibly forgetful person and I hate going to the post office. HATE WITH A CAPITAL L for LOATHING. Ain’t got no time for waiting in lines.

37. I am a people person who seek out solitude and quiet spaces.

38. There is an 94.7% likelihood that my family will open their Christmas presents when I see them in July at the beach.

39. Oh Jesus. I just realized that I’m THAT Aunt.

40. Yes, mam. I’m the aunt who gives you Christmas presents in July, who sometimes forgets to add the eggs to the cookie batter and has a weird phobia of lines at the post-office.

41. But I do run marathons, sing Taylor Swift at the top of my lungs in the car and have a secret passion for playing Jenga. Do I get some points for that??

42. Now, EAT THE CRAPPY COOKIES KIDS!!!

43. Apparently I’m also the girlfriend who brings her cat to her BF’s in CT for the weekend.

44. WHAT’S HAPPENING TO MEEEEEE?

45. I just realized that I actually like my cat. THIS WASN’T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN!!!

46. STOP LOOKING AT ME! I’M HIDEOUS!!

47. I have a strange sense of humor. I laugh at my own jokes far too often for it to be healthy.

48. I do not take myself seriously.

49. But I do take life way too seriously.

50. I love to sing and dance.

51. I’m pretty sure my relationship is successful because we sing and dance together while making dinner- nothing romantic, more like goofy top 40 hits and teenager stuff that makes you think you can rap while jumping up and down in a completely asinine manner.

52. I still sing Lillian a lullaby every night before bed. It’s my favorite part of our nightly routine <3

53. Dogs. I grew up a dog person and once upon a marriage ago I had a plan of having different dogs at different times in my life. The list went something like this: a Labrador in my 30’s, a St. Bernard in my 40’s, a Mastiff in my 50’s, a Corgi in my 60’s and a Basset Hound in my 70’s.

54. I REALLY like dogs. I just don’t have one right now.

55. Dogs are REALLY dirty, have tons of energy AND they need to be played with outside- even in the winter.

56. It’s cold outside in the winter. Hmmm, maybe I won’t get another dog…

57. I’m pretty sure this aversion to cold left over PTSD symptomology from running the 2015 Boston Marathon in tank and shorts in 35 degrees and downpour for over three hours.

58. I’m currently training for my fifth marathon, the Boston Marathon. How did that happen??

59. The Boston Marathon will be held on Monday April 17th.

60. EARTH TO MY MOM, I REPEAT: THE BOSTON MARATHON WILL BE HELD ON MONDAY APRIL 17TH.

61. That’s the day after Easter.

62. No mom, sadly I can’t attend Easter dinner in Jersey.

63. Sorry Jesus, I gots places to be and 26.2 miles to run. FRENCH OUT.

64. I was raised in the Catholic faith, but I don’t know what I believe in now.

65. I do, however believe in running….

66. …And Charleston Heston!! Oooooh yea, I’d pray to that.

67. It’s true, I have a strange affinity for Moses in The Ten Commandments. So much so that many moons ago I bought the DVD.

68. Yes, I’m well aware that’s creepy. Don’t take me too seriously, I surely don’t. 🙂

69. I know my lack of faith pains my mother, so I try not to talk about it too often.

70. While growing up my dad always made it seem like running was the solution to all of your problems, or maybe that you could solve all of your problems while running. Either way, life is better when you run. Period.

71. In the past month I legally changed my name back to my maiden name, Kassandra French.

72. I can’t explain why, but I just had to…. it wasn’t my name to have anymore.

73. Last summer I took off from serious, structured training. I ran when I wanted, how far I wanted and how fast (or slow) I wanted. I didn’t get faster at running, but I smiled a lot that summer.

74. In November I thought I’d be ready to truly focus and train hard so I reached out to my old coach from The Run Formula, Beth Shutt.

75. Last week Beth and I decided to part ways.

76. I thought I was ready to train hard again, but I guess I’m not. I feel like I’m training. I’m running workouts. I’m running HARD. But Beth and I have different views on following a training plan. I accept that at this point in my life I need more flexibility than Beth’s approach to coaching is allowing.

77. Leaving Beth was a HUGE personal decision for me and it left me in tears for most of last week.

78. I have started to ponder whether or not it’s healthy for me to give SO MUCH of myself to running. Maybe by easing up the reigns a wee bit with running I’ll have more energy to give to my relationship.

79. I believe and now truly accept that marriage is a living entity that needs to be nourished if you want it to survive. Like a plant that you water daily a successful relationship needs to be tended to or it’s leaves will wilt, it’s soil will dry up and the roots will become shrunken, fragile and just plain vulnerable to wear and tear.

80. Hindsight is a bitch, bitches.

81. If easing up on running and letting go of that sub-3 goal is a step to ensuring a happy, successful relationship for the rest of my life then sign me up.

82. To be clear- I’M STILL GOING TO RUN 50+ miles. I’M STILL GOING TO RACE. AND I’M STILL GOING TO KICK ASS ON THE ROAD 7 DAYS A WEEK. 🙂 But if my guy wants to run 12 miles together and the plan says 11, then I’m running 12 with my man meat.

83. I am beginning to believe that flexibility and consistency are key facets of successfully integrating running into your life, for the rest of your life.

84. I like having a training plan.  But a coach?  As I’m building my counseling career and giving so much to my own athletes I need running to take on a subtly more flexible role in my life. Right now I can’t be coached- and as a running coach myself that is a tough pill for me to swallow.

85. Chris and I have a pattern of exposing ourselves to near death experiences while running. It’s fun and romantic in a morbidly masochistic type-of-way.

86. Last summer I made him strongly encouraged him to run 20 miles with me in 90 degree temps with some nasty humidity. He was being an idiot a gentleman and held my water while running but refused to drink any himself (only to have some half way through at 10 miles). Long story short-he nearly died when I outkicked him at the end. MUAHHAHAHAHA!

87. On Christmas eve we ran 16 miles in 35 degree temperatures and complete downpour. Two hours in cold, wet rain. We got in the car and immediately stripped out of the sopping wet clothes into unders.  I PROMISE YOU: IT’S NOT ROMANTIC WHEN YOUR SKIN IS A PURPLISH SHADE OF BLUE AND YOUR HANDS ARE CONVULSING FROM HYPOTHERMIA.

88. These experiences have made me a more confident, stronger runner in unsettling conditions, and yet I’m fairly certain they have chipped away bits and pieces of Chris’ soul. Meh, it was worth it :).

89. I am currently watching the entire series of Grays Anatomy from start to finish on Netflix. Season 3 episode 15 here we come.

90. I’m not doing this for me. I’m doing this for my relationship. I need to be able to say big medical words every now and then to stop the man in his tracks: aspirate, intibate and… SHE’S SEPTIC! GET HER DOWN TO THE OR STAT!

91. I have approximately 15 one on one run coaching athletes from all over the country. I LOVE MY ATHLETES. They are my friends and my family.

92. Running is personal so coaching is personal. I see it as my job to take a earnest interest in you, your passions and work with you to achieve your goals.

93. My athletes are comprised of people I met in college, high school, the running store and many readers who have reached out to me because of the blog. Different ages, paces and experience levels- I 100% love the supportive network we have created together.

94. I often fantasize about creating a run coaching business in which I coach athletes and also meet with them 1-2x a month to discuss factors that are impacting their running: life stress, sleep, relationships, anxiety and even teach them visualization techniques to prepare for races.

95. In my day job I’m a psychotherapist a local counseling agency in Quincy called The Door is Open Counseling Center.

96. I have approximately 40 (or so) clients on my caseload.

97. I know my counseling clients better than my coworkers.

98. I often wonder if I’m doing a good job at my job, but it seems oddly self-serving to ask…

99. I often fantasize about starting a private clinical practice where I provide therapy outside, while walking. Exercise is correlated to reduced levels of anxiety and depression, so why aren’t we incorporating it into the treatment/treatment plan more frequently?

100. One of my strengths and best skills is interpreting how my clients feel and sitting with that feeling for that moment. I am not afraid to ask the hard questions. I’m not afraid to feel the intense feelings. It’s part of my job to feel so much.

101. Not gonna lie, by the end of the week I am kinda sick of feelings.

102. Thank [Charleston Heston] for weekend long runs! ;).

 

If you’ve made it to the end then thanks for reading along. I realize that some of these points may seem sad but I promise you, I’m not sad: I’m human. Counseling others makes me realize that as people we just want to love and be loved. Also, we want to feel heard and be seen. I am loved, feel heard and am surely seen in my life. That being said I can feel alone without being lonely. My feelings are passing states in my life, fleeting moments that come and go. Life is full of hope, opportunity and LMFAO lyrics because guys- I’ve got passion in my pants and I ain’t  afraid to show it…

Life just feels busy right now- good busy, but busy nonetheless. I hope to keep posting as much as I can when I can. In the meantime you can be sure of one thing: I’m out there running and training! 65 miles this week with an appearance at the Colchester Half Marathon for a training run and an 18 miler long run with the bf that left the legs completely shredded. Now ladies and gentlemen it’s time to watch Epidode 3 of Stranger Things … while it’s still light out!!

FRENCH OUT

Never Stop Running <3

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It’s important to be a little goofy… ok maybe a lot of goofy.

 

 

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Rat Race

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The abrupt 5:42 AM morning wake up.

The breakfast routine where the princess just can’t decide what she prefers on her plate.

The putting-on of the shoes, jacket, gloves and hat while moving at a sloth’s hasty pace.

The school drop-off where you’re sad to say goodbye, but must pry the child’s hands off your leg ASAP so you can squeeze in a morning run!!

The quick jiggity jog followed by chaotic locker room rantings when you realize you forgot to pack your skivvies for work. Yup.

The day job. No lunch break. No down time. 8 clients in 7 hours. Annnnnnnnnd GO!

The “it’s already dark out and I feel like a bad mom” after school pick up.

The making of the dinner you wish was an organic, free-range, hand-carved pheasant with a delicious side of slow-roasted potatoes and green beans, but really it’s just a pot of rice and beans. Fill ‘er up kiddo.

The washing of the dishes. The packing of the lunches.  The paying of the bills. The subsequent freaking out about the bills, your finances, your livelihood and how you’re going to have to work till your 90 years old. The doing of the laundry. The setting out of the running clothes. The packing of the gym bag.

The bathtime bubbles that go everywhere. The battle over brushing the teeth. The stories, lullabies and I love yous.

The boyfriend phone call to say goodnight that miraculously makes all the chaos feel manageable.

The passing out while doing coaching emails (job #2) sometime between 10 and 11 pm.

The doing it ALL OVER AGAIN the next day.

And the day after that.

And the day after that.

And the day after that….

Welcome to the rat race.


The Rat Race: where it’s not all bad, but it’s surely not always great either. Some days it just… well, it just is.

Calm down. I assure you, I love my life. In many ways I am very very happy and have much to be thankful for with Lillian, Christopher and my supportive family by my side.  Plus running, coaching marathoners and counseling add color to my life in ways I could have never imagined. Yet over the past four months I have noticed something gradually starting to weigh on me: the monotonous day.

I’ll be honest- I find it affably obnoxious that the very thing I routinely search for [consistency & balance] often leads to a sense of boredom and a feeling of complacency. Now maybe that statement isn’t completely right. It’s not complacency that ails me, but rather the humdrum nature of the day that sometimes leaves me wondering, “Is this it?” Like I said earlier, I love many facets of my life and yet the constant balancing of the check book is taking a toll. I’m making enough, but I’m working my bum off. Lately I have felt like I’m just trying to survive the to-do list of the day. Just make it though Monday. Then Tuesday. Then Wednesday. And so on. The concept of going shopping for new work clothes or taking Lillian to events around Boston just feels so far right now. I can’t be alone in this…. please say I’m not alone in this…. anybody?

Maybe it’s the rat race wearing me down or maybe it’s the fact that I’m a single working marathon mom and some days I’m just spent. Marathon or not… single or part of a team… working or at home… each path has it’s own strengths and struggles. It’s time to face facts: I really just want to become independently wealthy, move to Alaska and run mountain trails day in/day out for as long as my legs will hold me. Oh and there will be plentiful amounts of cookies, ice cream and cinnamon buns at my disposal. Is that really so hard to ask??

Alas, I am NOT independently wealthy. I AM a single working mom. And I AM training to run my third Boston Marathon come April 2017.

So I run. I keep moving forward. Never stop running.

 

The funny thing is that I don’t just run to train. What I mean is that I don’t spend my days thinking about the Boston Marathon or my goal pace etc. In fact it rarely enters my mind. As I mentioned earlier sometimes it’s hard to see past the day. While this can feel limiting, at times it is refreshing- like when I’m running. ESPECIALLY when I’m racing!! A little over a week ago I raced the first race of my training cycle: the SSYMCA Frozen 5k 2017. I stood at the starting line a smidge nervous as I eyed the other runners. I know enough now that just because you “look quick” doesn’t mean that you have the passion to push hard and just because you don’t have a “runners body” (like myself with my meaty legs and short boxy torso) doesn’t mean that you can’t hustle your bum into a place on the podium!

From the moment the race began my mind went blank. I kept my eye on the leading female and for twenty minutes (and nine seconds :)) I repeated to myself, “Keep pushing. Never stop running. Keep pushing. Harder. Cant stop, won’t stop, never stop running.” I found my manageable-yet-very-uncomfortable pace and held it strong for 3.1 miles. Not once did I doubt my own ability. Not once did I ponder if I would be able to manage. Not once did I complain to myself about the hurt.  For the first time in a long time I just…existed. For twenty minutes I didn’t worry about anything. My mind wasn’t racing. I didn’t feel overwhelmed, unsure or incapable. I just existed in the moment running and breathing, breathing and running, and it was GLORIOUS.

This day was different.

This day wasn’t a rat race.

This day was MY race and it didn’t feel so humdrum after all. 🙂

The female lead tugged me along to push harder, run faster and put every morsel of my being into that race. I may have come in second place but I ran 11 seconds faster than the previous year and put in a much harder effort. Did I mention that IT FELT AWESOME?!?!

It may be Monday night where the rat race is in full swing but this feels different- something lit up inside of me last weekend. The race, the competition, the giving it everything my body had and the 20 minutes of empty, calm bliss that enveloped my brain. Pure perfection. There’s only one option: I NEED TO RACE AGAIN, and SOON!!

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Some of my east coast athletes and I at the Quincy SSYMCA Frozen 5k on 1/22/17

 

UP NEXT:

MV 20 Miler on 2/18 as a training run

Black Cat 10 miler in Salem 3/11 as a RACE

Eastern States 20 miler  3/25 as a training run

 

Never stop running… or racing <3

Kass