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Title:Never Ever Let 'Em See you Cry - or Sweat! -- Paleozoic 50K and the runs leading up to it
Date:Saturday March 25th, 2017
Author:Juli Aistars
Report:
As runners, we all go through stuff. Sometimes we are on and running is
fun. Sometimes, not so much… Injuries happen, we get older, life happens.
If you do nothing to get back on your game, you get nothing. If you think
you can’t do it anymore, it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy and it ultimately
becomes true. If you say, “I’m getting too old for this stuff” (substitute
word of your choice for “stuff”) — before long, you will believe it.

What you tell yourself matters! What others tell you matters too, but
not nearly as much as what you believe. Change it up to, “I AM getting
older, and look at what I can still do!” Remember when you realized you
could ride without training wheels? It made you wonder what else you could
do. You took your hands off the handlebars and shouted, “Look Mom, no
hands!” There might have been a few falls because you took a chance, but
you didn’t give up. Pretty soon you were riding around confidently with “no
hands”. Don’t stop believing you can do what you set your mind to, just
because you aren’t that kid on the bike anymore.

You might be injured, but that won’t be forever, and there are things
you can do to influence how fast you recover. Sometimes you have to be
patient, but never be A patient. It can be a humbling experience, but
humility builds good character and can make you more determined. What
doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger — how true. Physical strength is good,
but the mental strength you gain when things don’t go as planned, is even
more valuable.

Maybe you aren’t injured, but you lost your MOJO - Motivation for
Overcoming Jinxing Obstacles. Life has gotten crazy with the requisite
stress. You’ve gained weight. You don’t have time to train. You might not
even feel like it. Yeah? So, what are you going to do about it??? You
aren’t simply going to give up if you really want something. If you love
running the way I do, you don’t just walk away. You don’t run either - not
from a challenge, not because something seems too hard. Not for any of the
readily available excuses that we all have. Sometimes they are bonifide
reasons. This too, shall pass.

Like many of you, I’ve been to these places in my years of running. I
strained my sacroiliac joint falling on black ice 3 years ago. I’m getting
older, I mean pushing 60! I can’t run as fast as I used to. I’m busy with
professional life, my Mom has been very sick, I have a grandchild. I
sprained my ankle at HURT 100 and dropped from the race at mile 40. I would
love to use the ankle as my only excuse but in reality it is a really hard
hundred — it may be above my pay grade. But does that stop me from trying?
Any reasonable person would think 3 attempts was enough, but many of us
runners are not exactly reasonable and we don’t give up easy! It helps when
the race is in Hawaii — hello!!!

So, what did I do? I set up a personal challenge to shock myself back
into loving running. Your results may vary, and you can’t try this at home
— unless you live outdoors…

Beginning in February of this year, I challenged myself with a series of
races. For the past several months, I had changed up my training by adding
core strengthening and weights to my regular routine — thanks in large part
to Jenn Voss for encouraging me and training me once a week. My goal was to
run several races within 5 weeks and have fun doing it. I hadn’t been
having as much fun with my running and it sometimes seemed like a chore. I
wanted to feel that pure joy I used to feel when I ran.

On February 25th, I ran Psycho WyCo Run Toto, Run 50K. In Kansas, where
else??? I had wanted to run the race since Julie Bane ran it in 2006 and
told me how tough this trail run was. It was a beautiful, cold, crisp day
on gorgeous trails with views that make you feel like you are on top of the
world, looking down on creation. Yes, you have heard that somewhere before…
I finished in 7 hours, 25 minutes, 110 out of 133 finishers. Near the back
of the pack, but you would think I won if you saw the big smile on my face.
I met so many nice people on the trail and I enjoyed every minute. I did
find out that Julie was right — there was a lot of climbing and sharp rocks
and it was hard! I took one good fall. But I got back up and kept running…

On March 5th, my husband, Val, and I visited our sons in Northern
California. Well, what do you know — the Napa Valley Marathon was within
driving distance! It was a cold and drizzly run but that did not stop me
from having fun among the beautiful vineyards. It runs point to point from
Calistoga to Napa, with twists and turns, and up and down, but an overall
net elevation loss. I ran in 4:08 and to my surprise, qualified for Boston
in the 55-59 age group! Getting “older” does have its positives!

Two weeks later on March 19th, I ran the Cary March Madness half
marathon here in Illinois, close to home. A cold and crisp day but perfect
for running with no rain or snow. My mantra was “anything under 2 hours”.
My half marathon PR is 1:42:44 so you might think I would be disappointed
with 1:59:47. No way!!! I was like a kid jumping around at the finish,
certain I had cut under two hours. Val said, “I don’t think you made it by
the clock.” I said, “It is chip timed and I believe I made it under two!” I
had to wait until later to get the final results, but I was sure…

A week later, March 25, I ran with the dinosaurs in Palos Park, IL at
the Paleozoic 50K. It was raining, muddy, flooded in some areas, on
beautiful trails. Many of my friends were there and I drove down with Julie
Bane. I finished in 6:08, good enough to win the 50-59 age group. Hey,
those who could run faster either stayed home or didn’t finish — I’ll take
it! To cap it off, this was the race I ran 3 years ago the day after the
fall on ice (really stupid, I know!), limping and hurting and about 2 hours
slower than this year, all jacked up on ibuprofen. It is all relative, as
they say.

I was not the fastest for these 4 races, often in the second half of the
finishers overall, but I sure did have fun! I felt that joy that I was
trying to recapture for so long without feeling my nagging sacroiliac joint
or the back spasms it caused. The only way I can describe it as the little
kid kind of joy many of us felt when we shouted, “Look Mom, no hands!” If
you are struggling with some of these issues, don’t give up on what you
want, whether it is running or something else. It may take a while and it’s
hard work, but nothing worth having is ever easy! Cry out of joy, but not
out of despair. Sweat because you worked hard, not because you feared that
you couldn’t… If it’s for the right reason, you can let everyone see you
cry and sweat!!!

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