Lucky Number 7

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a fabulous weekend!  My “weekends” are weird now that I work Thursdays through Sundays.  It feels strange to work when everyone else is home!  Sunday was actually a mess because it was Father’s Day and I was missing my dad so much.  I called him on my lunch break as soon as I left the office and started crying when I heard his voice.  The worst part is that he was crying too.  I miss my family so much, but I especially miss my dad.  I’m getting teary eyed just typing this.  Sobbing on the main street in the Seward Harbor is probably one of my lowest moments here, and to top it off I had a 7 mile run planned for last night after work.  Blah.  The more I thought about it, the less I wanted to do it.  I’ve only run 7 miles three times in my life, and they were all pretty miserable runs.  In fact, one of my biggest running horror stories happened when I attempted 7 miles in the snow at Valley Forge National Historic Park (all of the horror can be found here).  7 is just such a weird number to run!

Lately I’ve been thinking about running and how it’s becoming this thing that I fell like I “have to do” to get a PR at my next half marathon, keep my running stamina up, and stay in shape.  And how it’s been really hard to get through even the most simple runs because of that.  I just started reading Born To Run and it’s making me look at running in a different way – the same way I looked at it when I first started running!  Running should be something you look forward to doing and enjoy doing.  I shouldn’t be sitting here working myself up over 7 miles of running, I should be excited that I get the chance to run outside in Alaska for 7 miles in the first place!  So I made a promise to myself:  I was going to go out and have the most kickass 7 mile run of all time.  I was not going to let a single negative thought come into my head.  If I felt pain, I was going to acknowledge it and move on instead of obsessing over it and working myself up.

morgan freeman

Long runs are such a weird type of run.  On one hand you need to do more to get through them safely, like bring water and some sort of fuel with you which can be stressful.  On the other hand, long runs involve slowing down your pace so that you can finish strong, and we all know I like to run slow!  I feel like the time pressure is taken off of me during a long training run, and I decided to focus on the feeling of not caring what my time was in order to move my thoughts to something more positive.  Of course I also made a mental time goal of 1:20 based on a 11:30/mile pace because I’m crazy, but I didn’t know how close I could get to that.  I decided I would pick a pretty easy course to keep myself from feeling negative about my crappy hill running abilities.  I knew there was only one place so far in Alaska where I’d run without any hills, bear-related fear, tourists, or negative distractions:  the dirt road out to Lowell Point.  So I set off through the harbor, down the waterfront trail, and past the Sea Life Center until I’d finally left town and was completely alone.



I ran out for 3.5 miles until it was time to turn around.  And I found myself really sad about turning around because I wanted to go all the way out to Lowell Point!  The only sound out there was the waves crashing onto the rocks and the air smelled like the ocean.  It was 8:00 pm so there was no direct sunlight on me and the temperature was a perfect 50 degrees.  Although I felt like I could run forever, I decided to be safe and turn around before I hurt myself!

20140615-234719.jpgThe beach at Lowell Point – I was so close!

After turning around I realized that I was so focused on the scenery that I hadn’t thought one negative thing the entire time.  While this time two weeks ago during the Brave New Route 10k I’d been a total mess and rethinking my upcoming half marathons, I was feeling really strong today.  Whenever I felt a little tired I stopped to take a picture.  I think those breaks were totally worth it!  I can’t get enough of these views!

20140615-234728.jpgDowntown Seward from the trail

When I got to 6 miles and saw that I was already at 1:09:46 I felt a little sad, because I knew I wouldn’t make my time goal of under 1:20.  But then I thought that maybe if I pushed myself I could possibly get it.  So I booked it for the last mile, which ended up being sub-10:00!  How does that happen in a long run?!?!  I ended up finishing the run in 1:19:31 with an average pace of 11:21/minute!  That’s slightly faster than my half marathon pace (hello PR!), MUCH faster than any of my other 7 milers, and I didn’t even feel tired or sick at the end.  I could have kept on running on that road forever!  I was so happy with my time, but most of all with my attitude and how I felt!

20140615-234706.jpgThis is how running is supposed to feel!

I was so proud of myself for running such an awesome run on a day where I didn’t really feel so good.  I’m slowly learning that wherever my mind goes, my body will follow.  Worrying about how hard a run will be is only going to make me feel worse!  I’m hoping I can keep myself feeling this way through the rest of my training, because it was such an awesome feeling to be able to finish with more confidence than I’d had in a while.  It looks like 7 isn’t such a bad number after all!  Let’s see how 8 goes next week…

Have you ever struggled with feeling like you “had to” run or felt that you’d lost your real motivation for running?  How do you pump yourself up before a long run?  Did you have an epic run this weekend as well?

14 thoughts on “Lucky Number 7

    1. Thanks! I might try it on that trail again so that I can hopefully channel some of the happiness I had this week!

  1. Love this! Sometimes we need a run more than we know. Having a “reset run” is a great thing. Enjoy the fact that live somewhere so breath taking, take it in, and enjoy it. I’ll be envious of you down here in the lower 48 =P

    1. Haha the views here definitely help! I’m so glad the run went well because I’ve been having some grumpy runs lately. You should come up here and run with me sometime!

  2. So glad you hear you broke your streak of miserable 7-milers!
    Born to Run is on my list of books to read, I’d love if you did a review of it once you’re finished 🙂
    Also I absolutely love that thought of acknowledging your pain, then moving on. I used to struggle mentally when things got hard, but when I starting using “make it hurt” during races & hard workouts, suddenly the pain became more manageable. It’s funny how much our brain affects our running!

    1. You know I’ll be doing a review as soon as possible! It’s pretty awesome so far! The pain thing is so strange – my brain should not have that much control over how miserable I feel when running! I like “Make it hurt”, I may have to steal that when things get tough!

  3. Way to go! I am afraid this is going to happen to me this summer – hopefully I can talk myself out of those thoughts! Good luck with 8!

    1. I’m learning that your brain totally has control over how your run is going. I’ve mentally given up in a race/long run before and felt like crap. We just need to think positive thoughts! Good luck with your long runs this summer!

  4. I learned to listen to my body. I now know the difference between me being lazy and really tired. Today, I’m home, feeling unwell. I am not going to force myself do anything that can harm my health later on. So, no, no forcing it.

    1. Oh I totally agree. If I’d been feeling sick or was feeling actual pain I would have stopped right away. I don’t push through that kind of stuff. My brain just tries to make excuses sometimes and that’s what I was fighting against. I hope you feel better soon!

  5. This is exactly what I needed to read this morning! I feel like I am in the same spot mentally and just need to enjoy it instead of dwelling on the PR that I want so badly. Thank you!

    1. Oh good! I seriously hate PRs, they make me crazy and take all the fun out of running but if I don’t try to get them I feel like crap when I finish a race. We need to have more fun with running! I hope your next run is easy and fun!

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