Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Freedoms and 5ks

This Independence Day was one of the best I've had in years.  I'm beyond thankful for the freedom we've had in being able to spend a year living in this small town, traveling, and taking part in so much life!  It's been a FULL year and a reminder of just how much is out there for us to experience if we're open to embracing the things things that come our way.

I'm typing quickly here as I find myself with a short stretch of quiet to myself with my kids off to a friend's house. A few hours to myself and I almost don't know what to do with myself and this time to think in peace.  I do know that I want to take time to write and run in the forest with my husband and that's just where I'm starting.

I'm loving this time I have after marathon training where I don't have a specific workout I'm trying to fit in or a race on the horizon that I'm gearing up for.  It's a change of pace that comes with pros and cons. On one hand, my body is thankful for the break in mileage and workouts but on the other hand, without a training plan or a goal, I'm kind of lazy.  Well, as lazy as a mother of three can be in the summer when the kids are home all day.  Let's clarify and say lazy with running.  My long run has gone from 15-20 miles to a whopping 5 miles.  In fact, I don't think I've run more than 4 miles at a time since Grandma's Marathon almost three weeks ago.  Yikes!  That means a drop in endorphins, clothes fitting a little tighter, and my running splits getting slower by the day.  However, it also means that inspiration has returned in other ways!

The mental energy and time I was putting into marathon training is now open for other things like parenting, relationship building (lots of friends I've had more time to connect with), planning for our move and new house, and WRITING.  My writing life has been sparked up again and it feels glorious.  My notebooks are out, dusted off and open and I always have a pen or pencil near wherever I am so I can capture words and ideas that come to me.  My only problem now is that I sometimes forget what notebook I wrote what in.  Certain snippets of thought gets lost because I either A. Write too fast and can't read my own handwriting or B. forget where I wrote it down at.  I never said organization was a strength for me.  However, I'm finding this new rush of ideas and inspiration to be such a wonderful feeling!  For now, these ideas stay in notebooks, email and on my computer but just the process of writing is fulfilling and energizing for my life.  Writing is one of my greatest freedoms and I'm beyond thankful for it.

Speaking of freedom, the 4th of July is always such a great reminder of all the freedoms we get to enjoy on a daily basis.  Not just the freedoms we have as a country but the freedoms we have in our individual lives...the freedoms we get to enjoy in being ALIVE.  This Independence Day was one of the best I've had in years and I went to bed the night of the 4th with such a happy heart.

Thankful for my personal Freedoms:
  • This year in our town near Asheville, NC.  Freedom to explore and spread our wings.  
  • Traveling around this side of the country.  Freedom to see new places and things.  
  • The lull that comes between training for races.  Freedom to enjoy other passions and have more energy to give to things that sometimes get put on the side.  
  • New ideas.  Freedom to think and write.  
  • Safe friends to share ideas with.  Freedom to grow and share ourselves.  
  • Validation.  The freedom that comes from having people we respect and love respect and love us back.  
  • Honest feedback.  The freedom that comes from sharing our ideas and personal goals with those we trust and having them give their honest opinions.  So FREEING to have people like this in our lives...people that genuinely want the best for us. 
  • Partnership with my husband.  Freedom to be raising a family together and to be able to treat it all as a partnership with me staying home for now and him contributing by growing his career.  Never once has my husband not made me feel like an equal partner in everything!  He's shown so much respect for my role in this family unit.  And he's supported and encouraged me in every goal and dream I have.  
  • Moving to a new place.  Freedom to set down roots, develop new relationships, find new places to run, connect with new businesses and people who share similar passions.  
  • Time with my kids.  Freedom to see my kids grow and enjoy their days with them.  Don't get me wrong, many days are filled with sibling fights, messes, high stress, and feeling like I'm going CRAZY!  But if I take a deep breath and step back, I'm so very mindful of the gift I have in being with these kids right moments that go so fast!  
  • RUNNING.  Freedom to move.  Freedom to run.  Freedom to find joy in racing and being active.  Freedom to set goals and train for them!  Freedom to challenge ourselves and push ourselves to new limits.   

Firecracker 5k
In my last post, I wrote about the 5k and my possible plans to face my 5k fears and just go out there and run for fun!  That I did.  We all did!  It was another year of making it a family affair.  My youngest daughter ran her very first 5k with her dad and a friend. She smiled the entire way and in the last stretch was beyond joyful to hear that there was going to be a sports drink offered as refreshment.  It's the little things for her.   My oldest daughter ran again and made it a fun race with a friend.  And yes, I ran this one too.  Let's just say, two weeks out from a marathon (make that two marathons if you include Boston in April) with no speed work, and being in the heart of PMS mode, doesn't leave you feeling super SPEEDY and Fresh.  I knew how I felt going into the race just from trying to test my legs out the day before.  Marathon pace felt like death.  But I'm so proud of myself that I did it anyway!  I went out there and ran for myself without pushing myself any harder than what I felt like on that day.  I let pride go.  I let pressure go.  And I allowed myself to be where I was even if it meant running way slower than my last 5k time.  In fact, I went out there and ran a race with a smile and a goal to just push myself through a tempo-like run instead of to puke-pain-5k race mode.  The course went through my neighborhood here in Weaverville so I enjoyed high fiving, saying hello to my friends, and smiling at how ridiculously heavy my legs felt.  It wasn't like any other 5k I've ever run.

As much as I was able to let go of so much pressure in this race, I'd be lying if I didn't struggle a little with that feeling that comes when you know you weren't your best.  I've had years of competing with this distance in particular and it's hard to shake old habits and feelings that we associate with certain things.  I did find myself sitting with some weird feelings.  Pride started to creep in a bit.  That thing we runners do when we start defining ourselves based on our clock time even if we didn't make time a focus?  Well, that creeped in a bit too.  However, I was able to quickly toss these thoughts and feelings to the curb and get back to myself and what my intentions and goals were for this Firecracker 5k:

"Yes, I think it might be time to race another 5k. Why?  For myself.  Not for the purpose of a PR.  I'm far from 5k racing shape.  It just seems like a good time to face a fear.  As we near the end of this adventure we've had in North Carolina and get ready to move to Bend, Oregon, it seems right to go out with a bang other than the fireworks tomorrow night.  Maybe just going out there without a watch or a goal and giving what I have even if it means being much slower than I'd like to be is just the perfect ending to this very full of adventure year we've had.  It also seems like a great step towards my goal of putting myself out there more, opening doors for opportunity, and taking chances on things even when I don't feel like I'm entirely ready or that everything is Perfect.

I'm actually excited to race. And even more excited to see my daughters race. I know that by racing my own race, no matter how I race it, I'll be experiencing a freedom that only comes when we are willing to truly accept and give of ourselves just as we are...where we are...right now.  It's a good feeling to be able to do that.  How fitting for Independence Day."  

Overall, it was a great race and a fun way for our family to start our day of Independence!  I placed second in my age group with a time of 22:10.  Not my fastest 5k by a long shot but pretty good workout post marathon if I want to see it like that.

I may never truly think of the 5k as FUN but I do admit that finding a few more 5ks to run this summer might just be a fun idea!  If anything, it would be a way to grow and push myself in ways I have avoided for a long time.  I might not ever break that 20 minute goal but then again, maybe I will.  Or I might just run and not even care about time. Either way, I'll still take joy in my FREEDOM to RUN.  What a gift.

What personal freedoms are you most thankful for?  
Did you race on July 4th?  How was it?  



  1. I'd say that's pretty nice for a post-marathon 5k! We have so many little freedoms that we take for granted - heck, just personal independence is one. After being on crutches for 3 weeks it's so delightful just to go get myself a cup of water.

  2. Great 5k time! I love 5ks, but I always was more of a sprinter. Love the picture of you and your girls.