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I started running when my youngest was about a year or so old. It wasn’t serious running – more of an exercise thing than a love for running itself. It took me a long time to work up to running the entire loop (2.48 miles) around our neighborhood. But I did it. Somewhere along the line, my brother – the crazy marathon runner – convinced me I could run further. About five years ago, he convinced me I should sign up for a half marathon. What the what? I ran my first half – Long Beach – in October 2010. My time wasn’t great. I had some serious knee pain that had me walking most of miles 8 through 13. I finished, though, and I had a feeling of huge accomplishment. I also thought I could be done with races. Box checked. Item crossed off the list.

I kept running, but not for distance, and not to race. Running is the biggest bang for my exercise buck – the biggest calorie burn in the shortest time, outside of the gym. Then, a little over a year ago,  my brother once again convinced me to sign up for a race, and he would come run it with me. We ran the Safari Park Half Marathon on Cinco de Mayo last year, along with his daughter. My time still wasn’t what I knew I was capable of, but I’d finished again. After that race, it became a matter of doing in a race what I knew I could do. Finishing in a certain time became a matter of pride. So I registered for Long Beach again.

Long Beach did not go well. I had the same knee pain, and battled through those last five miles. I was so angry at the end. Yes, I’d finished, but it wasn’t the race I’d wanted at all. I’m convinced Long Beach is my nemesis. My daughter asked me after I finished if I were going to run any more races. I asked her not to ask me that question right in that moment. I took a few weeks off of running. But then as I’d be driving, I would see people running the neighborhood loop, and I started to want to run again.

That same fabulous brother (are you seeing a trend here?) said, “Why don’t we do the Beach Cities Challenge?” The Beach Cities Challenge involves running any combination of full/half marathon of Long Beach, Surf City, and OC within one calendar year. I’d already finished Long Beach. That left Surf City and OC. Hmmmm…..Now I really have something to prove to myself after two disasters and one just straight up challenging race all resulting in times well over what I knew I could do. Alrighty then….Beach Cities Challenge, here I come.

Surf City was awesome. No knee or IT band issues. Great, flat race. Nutrition and  hydration finally figured out. Training had gone well, outside of missing one entire week due to the flu two weeks before race day. I PR’d, beating even any training times. Wahoo!! I came home and registered for OC the following week. 

Crash and burn. I’m struggling with training. The motivation is really lacking. The thought of going out and running for two hours once a week, plus other short runs, is just overwhelming. In my mind, I know I can finish a half, so why bust my butt now? I haven’t been getting three runs a week in as planned. I was supposed to do a 10-miler this week. That turned into 8.4. I’m not going to PR OC. It gets really narrow twice during the race (bike path size), and there are some hills. So I’m not even racing myself in this one. The goal is just to finish, which I know I can do. Oh, I do have a time to beat in my head, but there’s no push to improve my Surf City time. I’m fighting with myself to train. I hate feeling that way.

We have so much going on right now with Little Man. It’s overwhelming me. On top of that, we have March for Babies coming up in just over a week for which I’ve been struggling to keep our team going on fundraising. I have other volunteer responsibilities as well for the event. We have a road trip coming up over Spring Break. And we have our annual poker tournament fundraiser in just five weeks. Needless to say, there are a lot of distractions pulling my focus away from training. I know it’s happening, but I seem incapable of stopping the trend.

OC race day will arrive, quickly. I’m to the point of just trying to keep my miles up. It will be what it will be. I will finish, and get the dinner-plate-sized medal for completing the Beach Cities Challenge. Then I think I’ll take some time off from races and learn to like running for running’s sake again.

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