Monday, March 16, 2015

When Running Becomes Something More

A Skunk Run Write-Up by Rae Hedlund

We all started our running journeys somewhere, whether it was in school on the track or later in life; for a health-related reason, or just for fun; to lose something or to gain something. These journeys have as many uphills and downhills just as the runs we set out to conquer.  The thing is, running can stop here. Running can become a habit that we enjoy, something social to add to our days that also improves our lives. And that’s wonderful!

Running can stop here, or it can become something more. It can become your passion, the fire that pushes you to do more. It can become the thing that makes you dig deep and discover not only what your body can accomplish, but also what your mind and spirit can endure. You’ll find yourself asking, What’s next? What more can I do? The word “can’t” will fade from your dictionary.

A while back, I wrote my marathon race report that went something like, “That was really f*ing hard!” I am still proud of that accomplishment, but I need to be honest and say that I spent some time afterward doubting my abilities. I hadn’t gotten the time I’d hoped for, had bonked for more miles that I expected, and wasn’t sure if I’d ever run another. Trail running clicked with me through this doubt, and though I was still unsure about certain aspects of running, I knew I still loved the sport.

When the Skunk Run (hosted by the wonderful Idiot’s Running Club) was brought up, I was in! Eight hours to run as much (or as little) as I wanted sounded great! Little did we know, the running conditions would be unexpectedly... damp.

Stacey at one of the numerous creek crossings... okay, okay, skunk & alligator NOT included!
Okay, it was pretty saturated. But you know what? It was incredible! The atmosphere was more that of a party where people also happened to run: there was a massive “aid station” complete with a delicious array of sweet and savory options, a fire pit, and tons of fun people to hang out with and cheer for.

Oh, it was a beautiful sight to behold!
After the national anthem was sung by a very talented young lady, the word “GO!” was yelled and people got on their way. My goal for the day was anywhere from 16-20 miles, just because I didn’t know what the trail conditions would be like, or what terrain to expect. Those first 11 miles were tough, and I was ravenous when we got back from the challenging climbs, fast-moving creek crossings, and rocky, muddy downhills.

Focus, determination, HUNGER.
Arriving back at “base” after the first loop, Stacey and I took a little time to get drinks and some food. Oddly enough, I felt a little concern about grabbing food and heading back out; though I knew I wanted more miles, I didn’t know what food would sit best in my stomach. Some peanut butter sandwiches called my name, though, so I scarfed down half a sandwich and an orange slice. We headed back out to brave another long, laborious loop. We weren’t too far in before I had a little grunting and complaining to do.  Stacey reminded me that we had about five hours to do this loop- in her words, “We could sit and have a freaking picnic if we want!” We had all the time in the world! Later on, she reminded me that none of the DRCers attending had specifically trained for this run; we were just out here, logging major miles, un-tapered, after our regular week of running (which included a six-mile hill workout for some)! With that thought, my level of awe went up and my complaining went down. I was humbled by this thought, but also floored—completely ecstatic!—about our abilities as runners!

During the second loop, Stacey pointed out we would be at 23 miles, and that just didn’t seem right. 26.2, right? But why not 27, to get me my first “ultra”?! We had time, right? Yes, we did! I wasn’t sure, and took my time thinking about it until we got back to base. At this time, I informed Stacey that we “might as well” head back out to get those last few miles! She was so excited and I was, too! A little ways into this, she realized I was in for 27, and then we were more excited!

Running into Andrea and Mackenzie was a special gift as we headed into this last part of our endeavor. There was some screaming and excitement before we took our selfie and continued on our way.

Running into each other gave new life to tired legs!
We kept hoping we’d run into Meghan as well, but didn’t know where she was at on the course, or in her mileage. To our pleasant surprise (after coming across one woman we thought was Meghan but wasn’t), we found her! We didn’t stay with her for long, but she had PR’d her 50k time- what awesome news! We told her I was getting my first ultra-distance, got all psyched up again, and we continued on our way. Hitting our distance we needed to turn around and head back, we enjoyed the sound of some peeper frogs as we took another pic...

And the my watch died! It was incredible that it waited until we were on our way back before it died, so we knew we would get those 27 glorious, well-earned miles! It felt like we were flying on the way back (mostly because it was more downhill than up), and we made it to base feeling way better than I would have ever expected! It was done! I received my medal and began happily stuffing my face.

Finished! Stacey was incredible, her kind encouragement and foul mouth kept me going! Ha!

I received my medal and was dubbed an Idiot-- hooray!

 Stacey, however, had more in her! She headed out for a mile with Mackenzie, who ended up with a whopping 22 miles, and then back out again with Meghan! Stacey finished out with 29 incredible miles, Meghan with a whopping 38.33 for the course record! All the while, Frank was patiently running his own loop to get his longest distance of 32 miles. Dan, who had run with Stacey and I for a while, crushed his distance PR of 11, getting a whole 23 miles! Kristin went in for 12 and ended up with an amazing 16! Andrea, who snuck in and ran with Mackenzie, got 16 in the 4.5 hours she was with us!

These numbers are huge accomplishments for everyone, and I really believe that there is something in the DRC “water” that lends itself to an encouraging, uplifting environment that helps us all to push past what our perceived boundaries are. On Saturday, March 14, eight members of DRC lost the word “can’t”, at least for a day, and thought, “What more can I do?” Running became something more; it became what we did for the day, what we loved doing in the company of others or on our own, reveling in the beauty of nature and a community of runners kinder and more energetic than anyone could ever ask for.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

One Year Runniversary

by Stacy Allen

My name is Stacy Allen. I am a runner. You may know me as the DRC Selfie Queen. Why selfies? Because they’re fun! Who doesn’t love a selfie?! Check out my Instagram account for more fun pics (follow me! @runner_mom_of3). Selfies have also been a great way to log my runs, have fun with it, and see for myself how much I’ve changed.
"Selfie, just cause I know you love them!"

My running story began when I found myself newly single raising three children. A year ago, I left an abusive relationship/marriage and found myself desperate to find meaning and confidence. I really didn't consider running as something I’d ever do, but I needed to make big changes in my life and I had a few "runner" friends on Facebook who I had always admired for their athletic abilities. I figured I'd give it a shot!

My first recorded run was on the high school track on March 27, 2014. I ran 1.28 miles at a 14.18 /mile pace. Wow! I felt amazing, I did it! I got out and did something for myself, a big step toward healing. No one could take this from me, it was mine alone. Looking back now, it was the beginning of more healing and change in my life than I could’ve imagined. By the end of April, just one month later, I had run a half mile at a 9'20 pace. That was such and improvement for me. In May, I was introduced to DRC through David Beaty. I really enjoyed all of the positivity and encouragement everyone received, and all the goofiness that goes on. I felt like a part of the group from my first post, which made it even more awesomesauce!

My first run is at the bottom!
 Being a single working mother of a 14, 12, and 2 year-old is difficult, so getting everything I need done in a day doesn’t always happen. Add a run into this mix, and it can be a real struggle! When I first started running, I would wait until my two year-old was in bed and leave my 14 year-old to keep an eye on her. This meant that I would hit the streets around 10pm, and that’s what I had to do to get it done. These runs were normally two miles, but when Greg joined me, he would encourage me to keep going and we would run three or four.

Over the summer months, I ran as much as possible. Being a single mom doesn’t give me the time I would like for extra things, but running was important, so I stuck with it. On September 7th, I ran my first 10k around the streets of WashMO. I couldn’t have done this without my running partner and biggest believer. Greg has really encouraged me through this journey and believes in me even when I haven’t believed in myself.

In November I had my first DRC group run experience at the “Thaw Your Turkey Trot”. It was my first group run of any kind and it was a wonderful time! I managed to keep just about in the middle of the group the whole run, which was awesome considering I figured I'd be dead last. Once the weather warms up I can't wait to join you all on some more evening runs!

"Absolutely loved everything about this run, even all the hills :)"
"Thaw Your Turkey Trot" with DRC peeps!
Eventually, I got a treadmill and was able to start running on it after Karlee was in bed. I was still tired, but I had made the choice to have running in my life and stuck with it. My mom got me the treadmill to help me get in more miles, which was wonderful of her. I couldn’t help but think, “Yeah right, like I can really put a treadmill to good use!” I gave it a shot, though, and beyond the first few runs sucking, it got me even more addicted to running!

"For all of you hardcore runners who are out there braving it while I'm nice and cozy on my treadmill."
That treadmill helped me get ready for my next race, which was the Hot Chocolate run in St. Louis in December. It was my longest run to date, a 15k, and I was terrified! Greg was kind enough to run the whole thing with me, and we were able to meet some DRC peeps as well! Around mile 6, I started doubting whether or not I could finishing. Pushing through to the end, while dealing with some knee pain and stomach cramps, was incredible—I finished! I wasn’t fast, but I finished. I was so grateful to Greg who stayed with me the entire time, that was wonderful because I know he could have run it faster on his own. Crossing the finish line was beautiful- not to mention there was chocolate waiting at the end!

Greg and I earned those awesome medals!
I continue to use my treadmill for training, and have worked up to running not one, but TWO, half marathons on it! Thanks to a very generous gift, I will be running my first half marathon race in May at the River Town Run. I am again terrified but very excited to be part of such an amazing group of people. Runners are a whole different breed, I love being a part of the crazy and I am addicted to the run. This is my life now, no one to hold me back, only love and support. My passion has spread to my little Karlee, who wants to do what her momma does. When the weather is nice, she runs outside in her Minnie Mouse (aka Nike, to her) shoes; when it’s colder, she likes to walk on the treadmill. I am so proud of the changes I have made for myself in my life, and excited to see how it’s changing the lives of my children!

Karlee's first runner girl picture
Want to get to know Stacy better? Check out her Runfie Questions!

What is your favorite running quote? "If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run." - John Bingham. I love this because whenever I doubt myself, this quote is a reminder that I'm good enough as a runner.

What is the "strangest" thing you listen to while running? The goofiest music I listen to is county love songs- they are upbeat and inspiring and but I'm a sappy old lovey-dovey kind of person.

Do you have favorite running shoes? How many pairs of shoes do you have? I have three pairs of running shoes, two are retired but my shoe of choice is Nike.