Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Truth About Endorphins...

Tuesday 11/15/2011

Today, I had a bad day.

I couldn't put my finger on it, but I was blue.

I wanted to crawl back into bed and get out tomorrow.

I'm sure there are a plethora of reasons why I could have been sad.

I'm busy. I do it to myself.
I'm overwhelmed with my busy-ness.
I have a hard time shaking the feeling that I'm disappointing people.
I have a hard time shaking the feeling that I'm disappointing myself.

So all day I felt,well, blah.

I knew I had to get a workout in today. I debated running, going to spin, or getting back into bed and exercising my right to change my mind.

But I ran.

I never thought I'd become a runner. I started running because I was stubborn. I decided to do a 5K and wasn't going to stop until I did.

I kept running because it was helping me drop the LBs.

I like making goals. I really like accomplishing goals.

But today I wasn't feeling it. I went anyway.

Here's why:

I like the way my co-workers look at me when I leave with my running clothes on, "There goes that crazy girl on another run..."

I like the way the soccer moms look at me at the park like they're jealous that they don't get to go for a run...

I like it that tomorrow I might hear a friend or an acquaintance say, "I think I saw you running on McBean last night."

But most of all, I like endorphins.

From Wikipedia...

Endorphins ("endogenous morphine") are endogenous opioid peptides that function as neurotransmitters.[1] They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates during exercise,[2] excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food, love and orgasm,[3][4] and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being.

Tonight, on my run, I had a "runner's high". "During a release of endorphins, the person may be exposed to bodily harm from strenuous bodily functions after going past his or her body's physical limit. This means that runners can keep running despite pain, continuously surpassing what they once considered to be their limit"

That pain doesn't have to be physical pain. Today my endorphins helped me with my emotional pain. My blue mood faded a little bit with each thump thump thump of my shoes on the pavement.

With each mile, I felt a little bit better and honestly, if I hadn't seen that coyote next to the paseo, I probably would've run further.

At the end of my run I wasn't happy but I was content.
I was relaxed.
I wasn't overwhelmed.
I felt good.
My body felt good.
My mind felt good.
My soul felt good.

If hindsight is 20/20, then I can see why the old Heather spent a lot of time drowning in melancholy.

She was pre-endorphins.

I'm grateful to the pavement.
I'm grateful to my body.
I'm grateful to be healthy and happy.

I'm so grateful.

We all have days like this. Days that nothing seems to go our way. Days that we simply feel, BLECH.
But it's important to find something that puts things into perspective. Something that makes you feel like your authentic self. Something to bring out those endorphins.

We have a choice, to drown in the sadness or find those endorphins.

I don't think it "is what it is", I think it is what you make it.

Tonight I made that four miles my beeyotch.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Race #11 SC Marathon 5K: A Lesson in Milestones

For those of you who don't know, I'm running a race for each month of 2011.

Race #1-3/5/2011-Mardi Gras Madness 5K -40:22
Race #2-3/12/2011-St Patrick's Day 5K (tough cross country course)-47:12
Race #3-4/9/2011- Footsteps 5K-39:36
Race #4-4/16/2011 Down & Dirty Mud Run 5K- 1:02
Race #5-5/14/2011 BMCF Fight It 5K-Co-Chair
Race #6-6/5/2011 Love Run 10K (1st 10K)-1:22:12
Race #7- 7/4/2011 Independence Day Classic- 38:18
Race #8 - 8/21/2011 McConnell's Endurance Event 10K- 1:16:09
Race #9 - 9/3/2011 Disneyland 5K - 35:43
Race #10 - 10/2/11 Santa Monica 5000 - 1:15:09
Race #10.5 - 10/23/2011-Sandy Feet 5K-Temecula - 36:04
Race #11 - 11/6/2011 - Santa Clarita Marathon 5K - 34:42

Each year the city I live in, Santa Clarita, hosts a marathon. This marathon is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon so it’s a big deal. There is also a half marathon, a 5K and a 2.6 mile Mayor’s Walk.

Last year at this time I had just begun my journey, I had several friends running that day in the 5K and the half and even one running the marathon. I decided to do the Mayor’s Walk. This is the first fitness event I paid for and fully participated in.

I woke up early, put on my “Mayor’s Walk” shirt, (Such a nerd, I don’t wear race shirts on race day anymore!) and went and did the 2.6 mile walk. It took be about 45 minutes to do it and my friends who did the 5K were waiting at the finish line with a “Go Heather” sign.

Me in 2010... (furthest on left, obvi!)

It was a great experience and the seeds were planted for me wanting to do a race. That day, I thought to myself, “Next year I’m doing the 5K!”

And I did.

I woke up Sunday morning to pouring,driving rain. I’ve never run in the rain before and was very nervous and worried.

I’m a spoiled Southern California girl. There are songs about how it never rains here. When it rains even a quarter of an inch we go on “Storm Watch”! I get that people think it’s crazy and we’re wimps. Well, we are, but I get sunshine 85% of the year. I get poolside weather from April to October. So, call me a wimp….I don’t care.

But it was raining...hard. I decided that I’m doing it. I’m running in the rain. I made this specific goal a year ago. It’s also part of my goal to run a race for each month of 2011. This was my November race, I couldn’t miss it.

I got up, got dressed and headed out.

I met my running buddies, Ditto (who does almost all my races with me) and Deb at Deb’s apartment. Deb’s apartment is literally steps away from the starting line. We drank some coffee, got ourselves nice and toasty and headed down.
We were so close that we went leisurely.

While on the second floor, we looked over the railing and said, “Look at all those poor people standing in the rain, we’re so lucky!” When we hit the street I had a brilliant idea. I said, “I don’t want to fake anything. This is probably gonna suck. But, I’d like to come up with some positive things we can focus on. I’ll start…I’m so glad I bought a HAT!”

Deb, “We all have shirts that zip up to our necks so water doesn’t run down our chest”


Ditto, “We got to meet at Deb’s so we’ll be back and warm in no time”


We were laughing, the photographer was taking our picture and the spectators were all walking towards us.

Wait a minute, why are the spectators walking towards us?

Deb says out loud to anyone who may be listening ,“Did the race start?”

Random stranger, “YES!”

I look at my Garmin and it’s 7:03am. The race started at 7:00am. We must’ve been walking in the stairwell when the starting gun went off. We’re dorks!
Luckily it’s a chip timed race, so it didn’t matter too much. We organize ourselves and get going. This is the last I see of my friends who finish in the 28th and 29th minute of the race.

Now, I’m running too fast. I can’t breathe. This has gotten me all discombobulated. I concentrate on regulating my breath with the song that’s on my iPod Shuffle. About half a mile in I relax and get my stride.

Now that I’m in the back with the walkers and very slow runners (I’m just slow, not very slow) I have to get around people. Yelling, “On your left!” messes with my breathing a bit too, but I’m only getting wetter and now there are puddles. My feet are officially soaked and squishy and cold.

People are wearing plastic ponchos and trash bags. I’m in my running clothes. The dry wick clothing keeps the water off of my skin pretty well though, so that’s a bonus. The hat is shielding my face and my shirt has thumb holes so I can hide my frozen fingers in there. I’m not even looking at my Garmin, which is strange for me. I see the 1st mile marker and take a peek. I’m doing pretty well. Wow,

I’m running kind of fast for me.

The race is flat and comfortable (besides the rain). Right before Mile 3 we go on bridges that go over the city streets. For some reason the incline on the bridges feels really steep. I run on these bridges at least once a week, I think maybe I was going faster than usual, but I feel myself slow down and I don’t want to because I’m almost done. I know in my heart, my head and my body that I’m going to PR. I didn’t set a goal for the day, but I wanted to PR really badly.

I see the home stretch. I can’t see my friends, but I can hear them cheering me on, standing in the rain watching for me with my mom. That’s right, my biggest fan was there getting soaking wet just to see me finish. I ran through and saw the time 37:53!

That sounds bad, but it made me feel good! I KNEW I left AT LEAST 3 minutes late. My Garmin said, 34:49, so I felt like I did it!

AND I DID! Official time = 34:42 A full ONE MINUTE AND ONE SECOND FASTER than my previous PR!

(I found my time out while having a much needed recovery beer at 8am)

I guess the point of my story is this: YOU CAN DO IT.

One year ago I was a grossly overweight person who could barely walk 2.6 miles in under an hour and now I’m over 80 pounds lighter and finishing 5Ks in the top 43% of my age group and training for a half marathon.

Everyone’s goals aren’t the same as mine. I don’t think everyone is meant to run like I am but I do believe that if you set your mind to something, if you make a goal and focus on it, you can achieve it.

Believe in yourself.

Tell the excuses to “suck it”


You’re only a failure if you don’t try.

Me in 2011