My Sister’s a Runner :)

You know I ran the marathon… but guess who else did? MY SISTER. OK, if you are an avid reader you knew that already, but I am dedicating this post to her and her running experience. I am so freaking proud of her- it’s nuts. She used to think I was a wachoo for running so much. I remember her saying, “I just don’t think you can actually enjoy running that much”.

Well we all know there is a love hate relationship with it. There are those runs that kick your arse and three miles seem like 20, and then there are those runs that are 20 and feel like none. You get lost and everything in life that is bothering you is suddenly gone- it’s just you, your legs and the pavement. Running has taken me through some pretty tough times and made me a stronger, more confident, happy individual. I am a forever runner.

My sister discovered this within the past few years- seeing someone else push themselves and improve in running is such an amazing experience. I can’t help but tear up when I see others I love running a marathon. When I found her at the finish line in Chicago I just started crying. She is an amazing woman and she always helps me keep my lofty, dreamy head grounded. She pushes me to be a better (smarter) person and I will always admire her. I am so proud of her for running the marathon, it is truly something she thought she’d never do.

Below is her guest post on when she fell in love with running- it’s awesome and makes me smile from ear to ear. Those of you out there who don’t think you are a runner; read this and change your mind.

When I fell in love with running… By: Megan Hanten

I never thought I would be a “runner”; for the longest time I could barely run at all. I was never the kid who could “run” the mile in gym class and vividly remember it taking me 11 plus minutes to complete (with quite a few walking breaks in there). To be completely honest the reason I started running was vain. My sophomore year of college I had a terrible diet: bagels and cream cheese, cheetos, and lots of fast food – so naturally I gained some pounds. When my diet changed for the better I lost a few pounds and felt great, so I thought “why not work out too”. Initially it was the elliptical, but I slowly decided to start running; at first just two to three miles and I walked a little too. I can still remember the first time I ran for one hour, straight – I was amazed. I am pretty sure I walked around that entire day thinking – haha all you people, I ran for one whole hour! Looking back, I still did not know very much about running; sure I could run for an hour on a treadmill, but once I was outside I COULD NOT pace myself, and would usually be walking after two miles. Still I continued to experiment with running.

Until I started my first full-time job, then things changed. Most people can probably relate – it is a huge adjustment, but this job was different. I was working between 60 – 80 hours a week, sometimes more. At first I continued to squeeze in a few runs and mixed in some yoga (still love yoga), but over time it became less and less – and you know what? I started smoking. If that doesn’t make going on a run less enjoyable I don’t know what does. Two miles felt like I may die… a slow, weezing death. This was after I moved from Chicago (where I attended college and all my friends lived) and moved out to Portland, OR where I knew no one. I left a great city, great friends, any sort of balance I had in my life, including running. (Side note – I was working in political organizing, or field work wanting to change to world for the better. While I respect everyone I ever worked with I tortured myself for 14 months at that job. There were many tears).

Finally I built up the courage to quit my job. I was exhausted, unhealthy, and most of all unhappy. I had no money, no job, and no place to go. So what is a girl to do? I did the unthinkable (for me at least)…I moved home.

Home for me is a little town outside of Minneapolis, MN. I had not lived at home for 6 years, and was only there once maybe twice a year. I had nothing to do, so I picked up running again, but it was painful. Sure the first few blocks were okay, but then the pain came – feeling out of breath, thinking there is nothing, nothing enjoyable about running… It probably took me about one month to run three miles again without stopping and to feel good. I kept at it and slowly added on three and a half, four, five!!! Then one day , I was feeling strong so I ran eight miles!! Over one hour! My mom even got worried about me, her 24 year old daughter, and drove around looking for me – because I did not run over an hour! This was a little over a year ago. Shortly after my eight miler, I got a job and moved out – Whew independence back!

Over the course of the next four or five months I continued to run, usually between three and six miles, but my first running goal was to run around the “Chain of Lakes” in Minneapolis (this is a chain of three lakes that is ten miles long). It seemed like such a daunting task…ten miles? My sister, a marathoner, convinced me to sign up for the St. Patrick’s Day ten mile, my first race. I Googled a training plan (thanks Runner’s World) and started training. The training was not too bad, but I was running outside in the Minnesota winter, so as you might have guessed I fell a couple of times. All though it may sound completely terrible, something about getting out of bed at 5:45 a.m. and running in the dark and the cold made me enjoy running more than before because I felt strong…so the (kind of) love affair began.

After six weeks of training and two ten mile training runs (one was around the Chain of Lakes – yea goal complete) my first race day was here. I was so nervous that I would not be able to finish, but I did with a 9:38 pace (WHAT??? Ten miles under ten minutes each?? This was the same girl who couldn’t finish one mile in ten minutes!) What a great day…it was 17 degrees and I ran ten miles, in a race.

Still I hadn’t committed to doing the one thing that would really (in my mind) make me a runner…the Marathon. Let me preface with something else, I have always wanted to run a marathon, but never thought I could. My aunt and godmother was the first person I knew who ever ran one, and I thought it was so cool. Over the past 5 years of running, to me, completing a marathon would truly make me a runner.

My sister, Molly, who has run three convinced me…and I signed up for the Chicago 2011 marathon. I kept my mileage around 20-25 miles a week and signed up for a running club, Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA).
Then I started training…
And I love it.

The first couple of long runs (14 and 16) really wiped me out…I was exhausted, but running with MDRA has helped me immensely: ten half mile hill repeats? Done. Eight mile hilly trail run? Done. Sure not every second is fun, but I feel strong.

So why am I writing this? Because up until this summer I don’t think I really loved running. Sure, I had some good runs but more than anything it was a chore. I never thought “Yay, I get to go running!” But I do now. And yes, there is an exact moment where I think I fell in love.

A couple of weeks ago I ran the Ragnar Relay; this is 12 people, two vans, running three legs each, for a total of 196 miles. I did it with a group of people from work who I did not know. My second leg was 3.7 miles at 2:00 a.m. After chugging a redbull, I ran. Something about running in the quiet, in the dark, and down a half mile hill, where I just let myself go. I felt free and strong and fast. There were no thoughts in my head besides enjoyment. It was just me and I was content.

Through the years with work, friends, responsibilities, and life I often find it hard to sit and enjoy myself. I am always anxious about work, worrying about dating, what people will think. Like most women and girls I compare myself or worry about my looks, always thinking you are never good enough.

So you think I am going to say that running has changed all of that….I am not. It has not changed everything, but it has given me moments, and strength.

Yesterday, I completed my second 20 mile run all by myself. Not only do I feel strong, but I know I am. And I also realized something…through all of the ups and downs, through people coming and going, through moving away and coming home, and insecurities and doubt running is there.

I know that sounds cheesy and sappy, but for me it is true. I have pushed myself to do something I never thought possible for me. This is something that I can take everywhere in my life; I know what I can do when I try. (I still have to complete this marathon, but I’m on my way).

Maybe running a marathon, a race, or running at all is not for everyone, but just know, if you try – you can.

OK, it’s me again… OMG how great is that!!! Ah, I tear up whenever I read it. Well she obviously did complete the marathon and I could not be happier for her… oh, and I cannot wait for her next. 😉

Now, go on a run or something!

Peace, love, and run your little tush off.

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Oh, I ran Chicago…

Well, I ran the Chicago Marathon… Want to know when I decided to give it a shot (injury and all)… the night before at 6:30 p.m. Thank goodness it was before dinner so I could get in a carbo load meal the night before.

Now to preface this, I had not run for an entire month before this (except the three miler I mentioned below). My Achilles tendons have been experiencing some serious issues with me running a marathon. I decided a few weeks ago not to run the marathon and to just go cheer on my sister and friends. I went down with no intention of running. Friday night, I went out with a best GF and raged and drank like there was no tomorrow.

We tend to cause trouble

Wake up pretty darn hung over on Saturday and head to the expo with the girls who are actually running. I pick up my packet and number just because and well, … I start getting race FOMO (fear of missing out). I tell the girls I am going to run it and they basically tell me no, I am not. Little did they know I was serious.

Right before we head to dinner I got out for a mile run- it was pain-free! So what’s another 25.2?!? I go to dinner and announce that I am running tomorrow no matter what anyone says, pass the bread!

Well, long story short I was breezing right along at my normal 7:40 pace and pain-free until 13 miles then, OUCH! My Achilles were not happy with me, actually they were pissed off. I pull over to the side and start ferociously shaking my ankle out. I decided to take on one more mile. From there on out it was one more mile, plus one more mile, plus one more mile… until I reached 21 miles and then- HOLY COW PAIN. I definitely could have dropped out at this point; I mean no one even knew I was running. I am sorry but making it that far and quitting, not an option for this girl. I kept on keeping on. Lets just say I had one mile that was a 10:24- OK, that is not bad by any means but for me, that’s bad! I was legit pulling off to the side and doing down dog while praying to God I’d make it to the finish, which I did. It was a miracle. I crossed the finish line at 3:49… about 25 minutes slower than my usual pace. I am totally happy with that considering I was not even running it 24 hours before the race began.

I am amazed at what the body can do. I had not run for a month and was injured but still whipped out 26.2 miles. And now four days later, I am pretty much pain-free. NUTS.

Not only did I finish but so did my friend Kate and my sister Megan! Their first marathons!!!

Vino to celebrate.... yes I went to a bar that night like this.

You did it!! 🙂 So proud!

Plus, Rachael completed the half… after not running for two months. She’s nuts too.

All in all, Chicago is a wonderful marathon. I am going to do it again because it is so darn flat. I know I would have PR’d but hey, next time it is! 🙂  The crowd was unreal and I truly owe it to them for getting me through. I think there was like one block without a huge crowd cheering us on. It was unreal. I will be back for round two.

Next on the schedule, Boston 2012. I am going to take a month off from running to fully recoup and then jump into Boston training this January (ugh, winter training). I am looking forward to running it again and to spending more time in the lovely city of Boston. I am not looking for a PR or anything here just hoping to get in a solid training program and stick too it this time. I failed to do so for Chicago and uped my mileage too quick, which shocker, lead to injury.

Live and learn my friends.

OK, almost done but one last shout out to Kate, Megan and Rachael. You guys are awesome and insane and I love you for the wonderful weekend we had together!!