Tag Archives: inspiration

Do you have any advice?

I received the message below from a friend who has begun her running journey.  I want to give her a thoughtful reply and I would love to hear any advice or suggestions you may have.

Thanks in advance!

“Hey lady!  You aren’t goingto believe it, but I’ve done the couch to 5k the past 8 weeks!  A friend and I have been running in the mornings 3 days a week at our school.  We run like a cross country like course.  Anyhow, today we were to run for 28 minutes straight and decided to try to go somewhere flat b/c at school it’s hilly.  We ran at 3:30 which was WAY too hot.  We did a straight/flat run in downtown Maiden.  Our usual pace has been 12:30min mile.  Today we thought we were at our pace and the Runkeeper said we were running a 10:40min mile.  Well, at about minute 15 we fell apart!  Any suggestions/advice would be appreciated.
We did learn some things….not to run in the middle of the day and we need to figure out our pace.  Help!”

Thought I would update with my reply that I sent to her…

Thank you Anna and Zen City!!!  I copied and pasted both of your replies along with mine and sent to her.  Below is my reply just in case your are interested.

“First of all, pat yourself on the back because you are doing something that most people at our age don’t do. Running is one of the hardest things anyone can do. It is hard physically and mentally but you are still doing it!

Second of all, running in the heat sucks always. The only time I really enjoy running in the heat(it still sucks…) is when I have over indulged on the weekend and I convince myself that I am sweating out the toxins!!! Self torture!

Finally, what you are experiencing (not talking about the heat now…) or what it sounds like you are experiencing is that you are pushing yourself to your personal wall. The more you visit that wall on your runs…(not on all your runs!!!) the more that wall will move. And, trust me…that wall will move! I can remember not being able to run a mile.

For me, some of my runs are long and slower paced while some are short and rough. I am constantly playing a game to run to that edge where I am pushing myself and training my body to get better, but not falling over the cliff. Knowing when to back off a little bit and when to surge comes with time. I promise you that in 6 months if you keep on doing what your doing consistently, your facebook message to me will be very different. And your personal wall will not be 15 mnutes at that pace. TIME on the road or trail is what it takes for you to learn your body and how it operates while you are running.

hope something in one of these replies helps!!! keep me posted! Tessa

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Meet Betty, the fat lady…

The first time I met Betty, I did not like her. Actually, when I introduced them to Betty, most of my friends did not like her either. Depending on our mood, some of us would give her the silent treatment or call her ugly names like “fat lady.” Sometimes we would yell or curse at her. Some of us would just downright refuse to go near her. So you would think that our relationship with Betty would only go downhill. Ironically, the opposite occurred, despite how she made us feel.

Now, the last thing I want to do is give you a negative impression of Betty. You may fall in love if you ever meet her. But I would like to share with you how I have learned to live with Betty through the years. In fact, she has become an inspiration to me.

These days, I run a lot. However, growing up in my town, running never entered my mind unless it involved escaping the wrath of my brother. I attempted to run in the early nineties to impress my new husband.  I tried to run a few 5K races with him. Confusion describes my finishes back then. Big or small, young or old, it didn’t matter. All those runners trotted past me whispering words of encouragement. Once, a pregnant lady pushing a baby stroller flew past me going up a hill. This lady had to be at least seven or eight months pregnant!

During the fall, my friend and co-worker, Jerri, and I decided over drinks that we wanted to run a marathon. We assumed the Myrtle Beach Marathon in February would be perfectly flat. I knew that Jerrianne had been running for years but she had never done a race. She was my “healthy” friend who wore really cool Keen shoes. She was always running, cycling, hiking, doing yoga, or walking the dogs.

So, let me explain the seriousness of this. In that discombobulated moment, I was convinced that I could complete a 26.2-mile footrace without sleep breaks. At the time, my husband’s suggestion to start training the following day seemed perfectly feasible. So Jerri and I decided to meet at her regular running route in the cemetery. The next morning I was not thanking my husband for his bright idea. To put it mildly, we will just say I was worried.

We arrived bright and early and Jerrianne was already there. The gates were locked. For a split second I rejoiced that our running appointment might be cancelled. Jerri seemed unfazed as she led us through the shrubs past the gate. Inside the graveyard, we had a decision to make. Go right and meet Betty on the way back, or go left and see the Gold Hill. “Who the heck is Betty?” I wondered.

Jerri explained that one loop, which was basically the perimeter of the cemetery, was approximately 1.4 miles. She liked doing one loop and then turning around and doing the loop backwards. We decided to go right so, I guess this meant that I would meet Betty on the way back to our starting point. Off we shuffled, chatting all the while. Down, down, down the hill we ran. My grin was large. Jerri said that she called the hill, “Gold Hill”.  I realized why when I saw all of the headstones to my left. She reminded me that we would be travelling up on our second loop. My grin disappeared.

Fortunately, I had yet to feel that my running shoes were too small. I looked to the right and saw the gravesite of my grandparents. I really miss my grandmother. I guess this was about when my breaths started shortening and my jammed toes starting talking to me. I made it up to the top of the hill and turned right on a gravel road called Laurel. I said hey to a friend, Stacy, who died way too soon. Even though many years have passed, his headstone looked newer than so many others nearby.

My heart sank as I made the turn onto Ford Street. I realized that we were about to embark on a very long uphill journey.  I immediately quit talking. Up, up, up we ran. I focused on putting one foot in front of the other. As Stephen and Jerrianne laughed and had a full-blown conversation, my frustration and the hill’s slope were increasing. “You guys go on,” I said. “I will catch up!  Don’t wait on me!”  My pace slowed to a snail’s.

As they ran up the hill ahead of me, I wondered who the heck Betty was and how in the heck can they run so fast up this gigantic hill?  Up, up, up, I staggered, determined not to walk.

Everything by now was a blur. The pain and lack of oxygen were comforted only by the fact that I was in a cemetery. Up, up, up we ran. Right foot, left foot… Eventually, my staggering trot turned into a survival shuffle, then to a walk, and finally to a dead stop.

After what seemed an eternity, I was finally nearing Jerri and Stephen. They stood admiring a tombstone at the very top of the hill. I was almost in tears. Tears of joy since they were standing still and not running! Finally, I made it.

As my heart pounded, I read the inscription on a headstone.  I read that her name was Betty and that she had come to this town as the “Simple Fat Lady in the Fair.  She left this Earth as our friend.”

So, I finally met Betty. I could not believe what I was reading. How awesome it was for our community to care enough for this 46-year-old stranger who died in 1954. She wasn’t from our town and had no family here. Betty was from Rochester, N.Y.   Later, I learned that Betty went from a 104 lb dancer to 600 pound carnival act. Her weight gain was caused when she was stricken with pneumonia and a treatment affected her thyroid.  She eventually died from a heart attack in her sleep.

Jerri, Betty and I trained for four solid months. Eventually, this “fat lady” became a driving force in my daily runs and a major part of my inspiration to complete a marathon. We ran our race in February and finished gracefully. Jerri and I shared our favorite stories and talked about Betty as we ran mile after mile. It was a very memorable event in my life. Since then, I have shared the tradition of introducing the “Betty” hill to several people who wanted to run with me or train for a special race.

Betty may have left this earth as our friend, however, she still lives on in spirit to help train and encourage many people to push themselves more than they ever thought they could. I encourage everyone to come out and meet our friend, Betty. She will always be waiting at the top of the hill for you.

Simple Fat Lady from the Fair

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