Tuesday, April 4, 2017

My Take on Victory


How would you define Victory?

I have been running (consistently) for almost 12 years, and I have never actually broken the tape at a finish line (and the odds are ever-in-my-favor that I never will). But I have had some substantial victories.


For example....
My first 5K race (with NO walking).
It wasn't until I started actually "training" for a race that I acted like a runner. I had done a handful of 5K's prior to the summer of 2005, but had never thought of myself as a real runner. I was still wearing cotton t-shirts (and socks) and didn't even own actual running shoes. Can you relate?

I spent several weeks training for that first "real 5K." I ran three days each week on my treadmill (yes, there was a time when I actually spent time with 'Milly consistently). I built up my endurance and was able to run three continuous miles by race day.

The real victory came when I crossed the finish line. Although I had trained, I still had a lot of lingering doubts as to whether I'd be able to run the entire race without taking any walk breaks. Spoiler - I did it! And, even better, I ran it with a sub-10 pace! For having trained with a solid 10-minute pace (due to the treadmill), it was pretty incredible to know I had done this "speedy" 5K faster than expected, and I had done it all on my own (without a Garmin, pacer, or music).

My first 5-mile race.
A few years later, the hubby spontaneously registered us for a 5-mile race (RECAP). WHAT??? I had grown quite comfortable running the 3-mile distance (never any more or any less). He didn't give me much time to train for those five miles, either. Long (stressful) story short, I managed to run most of those  five miles, and actually ran it with a 9:00-minute pace. Hmmmm. Maybe I wasn't as slow as I'd thought? And, maybe (just maybe) I could run farther?

My first 10-mile run.
Fast forward to the spring of 2008. I decided to up my game, and train for a 20K. I didn't work with a coach, or even a formal training plan for that matter. After having been running three years, I knew the 3-5 mile distance was no longer a challenge. I had heard that one of the golden rules of distance running was to never increase your distance runs by more than 10% each week. Thus, I started with a 6-mile long run, then added an additional mile each week. I had also heard that it was not necessary (and often risky) to run the total race distance for a training run...in other words, with the impending 20K (12.4 miles), it wasn't in my best interest to run that entire distance in my training, but instead save those 12.4 miles for the race itself. So, the 10-mile distance was my final "training" run...and (at that point of my life) it also was my farthest distance run, ever. And I had a serious dose of runner's high that stayed with me for several days.

My first "big" race, Dam to Dam 20K.
A mere two weeks following that monumental 10-mile run, was the day I ran my first-ever "big"
race (RECAP). The hubby ran the race also, but we didn't run it together (we'd gotten separated at the start line and weren't able to find each other until after the finish line). I had to walk a few times in the final miles, but felt strong and confidant the entire route. I finished in 2:07, which gave me an average pace around 10:30....and I felt so exhilarated as I ran the final mile to the finish line. And, I immediately knew I'd be back the following year (and have continued to return every year since).

My first Fight for Air Climb.
Fast forward to 2013, and I took on a new quest....my first stair climb event (RECAP)! I had seen the Fight for Air Climb on the Sunday evening news, but always after it had happened. Finally, in 2013, I got registered in time to participate. I have returned to this event every year since, too, and have gotten faster each year!

My first marathon, the Quad Cities Marathon.
A few months later, I crossed the finish line of my first marathon (RECAP). I was truly blessed with a near-perfect experience...ideal weather, no fatigue, optimal fueling, "the Wall" was adverted, and I had an awesome fellow runner run the final mile with me. The race director himself even congratulated me at the finish line. Although I was secretly hoping for a 4:15 finish (but clocked a 4:33:38), I felt so incredibly blessed for the magical day. I felt no regrets, and an eagerness to do it again.

My first ultra, Christmas in July 6-hour.
This was a fun adventure (RECAP)! Myself and six other runner gal pals took on this challenge together. We started at midnight (yes, midnight!), endured extreme heat and humidity, 2+ hours of rain (and lightning), and we all stayed in constant motion until 6:00a.m. Having never done an overnight race, I had no idea what a reasonable goal should be...the course was a 1-mile loop, so there was ample opportunity for fueling and food after each mile. I had hoped for a possible 50K distance, but finished with 27 laps...essentially an ultra distance, and obviously an ultra experience.

My first duathlon, the Flying Pig Duathlon.
A few weeks later, a friend persuaded me to do a duathlon (RECAP). This was a total comfort zone violation, but I was eager to give it a try. Hot weather, windy conditions, and a borrowed bike...but all went well. We ran a 5K, biked 20 miles, and ran an additional 1.5 mile to the finish line. My goal was to finish with a sub-2:00 time, and I did!

My first 12-hour ultra, Christmas in July 12-hour.
After doing the 6-hour (overnight) event in 2015, several of us returned and did the 12-hour event (beginning at 11:00p.m.) in 2016 (RECAP). After recovering from a recent Plantar Fasciitis incident, and a phantom flare-up of hamstring/glute stuff, I was ever cautious undertaking this challenge. The course was the same looped 1-mile route around a lake, so I opted to run 5-6 miles/1-mile walk intervals, throughout the night (and morning). All things worked out well...my goal was to do a 50K in distance (approx. 32 laps), but was able to knockout 38 total laps, for an approximate 37 mile distance!

My most recent marathon, Route 66 Marathon.
This was a mentally and physically tough race for me (RECAP). I trained hard, and crossed the start line with optimistic thoughts of a PR. At mile 2, I started having hip pain and it persisted for the entire race. The route was hilly (which I knew it would be), and the weather was windy. Every step of my left foot brought a twinge of "something" in my groin area. I nearly bailed at the 13.1 finish line...but continued on (and spent the next several miles debating about turning around). I was able to run strong, but had to take several walk breaks in the final 5-6 miles because of the pain. Although my finish time was not what I had hoped (or trained for), it was a victory for me because I fought all of my doubts and persisted to the finish line.

These all have been victories for me...not because of exceptionally fast finish times, but because I had the courage to toe the start lines and (most importantly) the grit and determination to cross (and, sometimes, fight to) the finish lines. Never, ever, in a gazillion years would have I thought of myself as an athlete, nor considered becoming a runner. HA! Give me a charcoal pencil, a palette of paints, or some knitting needles and I was quite content.

Currently, my "race stats" include:
*5 Fight for Air Climbs (#6 happens in a few days)
*31 half marathons/20K's (with more on the roster this year)
*6 marathons (two of which are ultras)...and another 26.2 happening in June
*3 10-mile races
*several 5K's, 10K's, and various other "short" distances (too many to count)

And I have no intention of stopping!

How about you? How would you define Victory? A first place finish? A PR? A comfort zone violation?

I'm linking up with Deb for the Wednesday Word, and today we're chatting about Victory!

Also, I'm linking with Suzie and Rachel and Debbie and Lora for the Running Coaches' Corner

And with Nicole and Annmarie and Jen for the Wild Wednesday Workout



I'm pretty proud of all of these.

45 comments:

  1. You have had so many victories! I dont think I knew you had run ultras!

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    1. Yes, I've done a couple ultras ;-) Technically, Route 66 was also classified as an ultra because there was a little out & back segment near the finish line that upped the total distance to 26.6 miles LOL

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  2. Can't stop won't stop! Victory and success are personal, and you get to define it. I totally, one hundred percent agree with all of these! I would also add that taking on a running coach and the training that I put you through was a victory :D

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  3. I'd call those victories! Like you, I don't measure victories by fast times but on having the courage to try new things and jump out of your comfort zone. You have surely done that!!

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    1. Thanks! I'm not 'fast" enough to get any victories from a breaking-the-tape perspective...but those are not my priority anyways

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  4. Victories take so many forms, both small & big.

    I trained for my first 5k on my treadmill, mostly, too. Still my slowest one, LOL! But I didn't wear cotton . . . I love to research stuff, so I knew better than that. And while my husband wondered if I could do it (and didn't come with me), I knew I could. I've always been confident in my training, as long as I'm not injured.

    If there's one thing about me, I do the work. And I suppose that is another victory!

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    1. Well, the 5K I referred to was 12 years ago...I wasn't much into research (regarding the "little running hobby" of mine), so I just went with what I had available for running clothes (ugh....thank goodness my hobby morphed into a passionate lifestyle thing LOL)

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  5. Believe it or not, I remember my first 7 mile run. I had never run farther than a 10k. One day, I just kept going and I felt unhinged! That was when I realized the sky was the limit.

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    1. For me, once I got past that 4-mile mark, I felt like I could almost run forever. Adding an extra mile here or there was not a big deal after that!

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  6. I remember my first mile without walking = victory and my first 5k. Then I skipped to a half marathon.

    My biggest victory is being able to run after a serious injury and of course, any PR when you are over 60 is a victory.

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    1. You've had a lot of PR's and AG victories!! You're a fantastic role model!

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  7. So many victories!! I started running in a similar way and finally running that first full 5K was such a big deal.

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    1. Isn't it crazy how that first 5K felt like such a major race?

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  8. So many sweet victories to look back on. Running is certainly a gift that keeps on giving.

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  9. You have had so many FIRSTS and VICTORIES! How fun to look back and celebrate it all!

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    1. It is pretty amazing and humbling to look back and see what all has happened...

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  10. Love this and totally agree! Victory for me is anything that makes me feel strong and brings me a step closer to a goal. It's not just achieving the goal itself.

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    1. I agree! Achieving the goal is just a bonus after the journey ;-)

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  11. Wowsers not those are some awesome victories!!!
    I am so impressed about the stair climbing and ultras!
    Wonder Woman!!

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  12. So many great victories! I think any time you can step out of your comfort zone to take on a new challenge is a victory - it's less about the time achieved and more about the effort!

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    1. I totally agree....challenging oneself is where it's at ;-)

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  13. Badass. You're one of my running heroes.

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  14. I wiuld say those are some AMAZING running victories!

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    1. Thanks! It's been a great 12 years... ;-)

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  15. You have so many victories!

    I think I define victory more as comfort zone violations. Anytime you accomplish a goal when you never thought you could is pretty darn amazing in my book.

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    1. I agree...those comfort zones do us NO good

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  16. Amazing victories for you! From a 5K to an ultra!!! An ultra is on my bucket list and that will be certainly a victory for me!

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    1. The ultra distance (whatever distance you do) is a fantastic challenge. The danger is...I'm intrigued by longer races, now.....I'll never know just how far is too far until I quite trying.

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  17. All amazing victories! I can still remember the feeling when I finished my first 5K and ran the whole thing- I was hooked! I like to think each time I get outside to run is a victory!

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    1. Isn't it crazy? That "itty bitty" 5K distance seemed like such a long ways to run at one time...

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  18. You have accomplished quite a bit, and I cannot wait to see what victories you're able to achieve in the future! You're a rock star!

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    1. Thanks! It's fun pushing one's limits ;-)

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  19. Congratulations on all of your victories! It's been great following you along these past couple of years. I'd love to try a duathlon one day and would probably have to borrow someone's bike too, lol! I think the biggest victory is setting a goal, putting in the work, and doing you're best to succeed.

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    1. I really enjoyed the duathlon! It was fun, but that final 1.5 mile run (after 20 miles on the bike) felt like a death march LOL

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  20. I love love love this post!!! You indeed had some great victories!
    I feel the same way about some of my beginning runs - I remember my first 11 Miler and my first 18 Miler so well- physically and emotionally. Some of those "small" training runs mean more to me than my marathons! Thanks for such a great motivating post.

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    1. You nailed it! When I trained for my first marathon, every subsequent long run became "my longest run ever." It was so amazing to see what my body could do!

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  21. Success and victory is all how we look at it. You have so many incredible personal victories and are such a successful runner. Love hearing about all of your different races!

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  22. I love this! Reaching small personal goals and achieving things we never thought we were capable of is what victory is really all about!

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    1. Thanks! I agree.....I'm not especially fast, so I appreciate every "new" distance I can conquer ;-)

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  23. I love the way you introduce your victories as they occurred and loved reading about how you decided to run the next distance. You mention that you were running in cotton shirts, socks, and non-running shoes in your first 5K and that pretty much sums up what I wore for my first few races, too!

    Thanks for linking up!

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