Songs That Make Me Cry

Songs that make me cry

You might expect the songs that make me cry to bring up memories of lost love, teenage angst or tragic events in my life.  Of course, there are a few of those that make me sad but until this week I have never known a song to make me cry.  Until this week I would have laughed at the thought that Drunken Lullabies by Flogging Molly would be one of those songs.

As it turns out this was the week I grew tired of putting on a brave face.  I miss running.  I miss it with all my heart and would give up most of my marathoning experience just to run an easy three miles again.

Running Playlist

This was brought home this week by an accidental playing of my running playlist.  One of the kids picked it off my ipod and had it playing in the car.  It’s filled with fast paced songs to get me through my marathon. It is actually my running list, turned marathon playlist.  And it is full of all my favorite running songs.

Still, that song. Oh how it ripped at my heart.

Maybe if it were another song, a song I hadn’t listened to on my all-time favorite run through Boston, maybe if it were Peace Sells which is also on the playlist but wasn’t there on that gorgeous spring morning in 2011.  Maybe then my heart wouldn’t have broken.  Maybe then I wouldn’t have wanted to sob into my coffee. But it was that song. The song I listened to just before Blaise headed out to run the Boston Marathon for the first time. The song I finished the run with, cruising by other runners like they were standing still, feeling stronger than I have ever felt.  It was that song that made me stand taller, feel stronger and faster than I knew I could feel.

There are days I can put on a brave face, but this week, listening to that song, I cried.  I cried for a lost love.  Bigger than any loss I felt as a teenager, bigger than I have felt outside of death.  Oh, the loss of running.

Don’t get me wrong, tomorrow I will bounce back, but today I cry.  I cry for my the lost love of running.

Xcelerated Fitness – Workout of the Week

Workout of the Week Xcelerated FitnessLast week during my workout of the week at Club Pilates I discovered that I could indeed get a core workout in even with my back injury. This week Scott at Xcelerated Fitness showed me something that really surprised me. He showed me that there is still an athlete under all of the fluff I have accumulated since I had to give up running eight months ago.

Workout of the Week

Before I showed up at the Xcelerated Fitness Studio, Scott told me this would not be a workout.  It would be an assessment.  I pictured filling out a form with my goals, my injury and my limitations.  And that was definitely part of it.  But the biggest part of it was Scott giving me exercises to find out my strengths and weaknesses.  He had told me ahead of time that he’s worked with people with limitations. But being the Doubting Ann that I am I was not convinced he grasped the extent of my back injury.

I was wrong.

I am not ashamed to admit I was wrong.  Within a few minutes I could see where he was going and what he was attempting to do. The first few times he asked me to do an exercise, I hesitated and then when I couldn’t do something I apologized.  He immediately told me not to do that.  The whole point of this assessment was find out what I could and couldn’t do.  The reminder to not apologize raised my opinion of Xcelerated Fitnes.  But when I really started to realize what Scott had to offer, when I saw how much he cared, my opinion soared.

It was his passion for what he was learning about me.  It was his excitement to see the things I could do and his ah-ha moments really helped me see how working with Scott would be helpful.

My Ah-ha Moment

But the real ah-ha moment for me came as I started to realize I could do strength training again, as long as I modify in a way that doesn’t pull my back into the mix. Having learned last week that it was important that I keep my back in neutral throughout and having worked with Scott this week I see why I need these modifications.  I understand that modifying a workout doesn’t make the workout a wimpy workout.  It just makes a different workout.

This was the moment I realized I might one day be the athlete I used to be again.  It will take work to get there but it will take work that I am willing to put in. With each modified exercise Scott gave me I could feel muscles I hadn’t worked in months leaping into action. With each exercise I caught a glimpse of the athlete I used to be.

Confession

It was also the moment I began to understand why someone would work directly with a personal trainer.  For me, the idea of working with a trainer has always seemed like an indulgence.  After working with Scott and realizing what a personal trainer can offer, I get it.  Sometimes you can’t do it on your own whether because you or injured or because you are completely new to fitness.  Working with a trainer is about more than needing someone to motivate you.  It is about what you can learn.

At one point we found an exercise that was just not working.  I was will to give up and move on.  But a light went on in Scott and he asked me to try it one more way.  Not only did it not hurt but I could feel my muscles engaging.  This was just one more way I could see the benefits of working with Xcelerated Fitness

Workout of the Week So Far

The last time I did a workout of the week for Patch.com I was in a different place.  I was unstoppable and I found the benefit of each new workout was more about the communities that built up around those workouts than about the workout itself.  This time it is different.  This time it is personal.  I need to find the athlete I once was.  I need to see Ironann again.  Two workouts in two weeks with two different studios has helped me to find my way.  Two workouts in two week has helped me realize that there is hope for those of us who are chronically injured.  I look forward to seeing what I learned next week.

Knuckle Lights – Product Review

I discovered Knuckle Lights in the winter of 2011.  I was worried about my husband on his early morning runs and was thrilled to find a product that would allow him to be seen.  The bonus was that Knuckle Lights allowed him to see more as well.  The obstacles that had tripped him up were no longer a problem.

 

Over the years I have found so many more uses for our Knuckle Lights. Meg and I attached them to our gear stroller during our last 24-hour Walk For Suicide Prevention because we found headlamps encouraged bugs to fly at our heads. We use them when walking our big black Great Dane because we can hold the leash and a knuckle light at the same time. This makes Rocky more visible to cars. We even use the when we are making repairs in dim places are the house.

New & Improved Knuckle Lights

When Knuckle Lights contacted me to ask if I would like to review their latest rechargeable model I jumped at the opportunity.  I was sold on rechargeable.  Had that been the only upgrade, it would be well worth the purchase of a new set. Although I have been a fan of the product from the beginning I cannot begin to tell you how scary it was when Meg and I completed a 15 hour overnight walk last may and both lights began to dim.  It was a learning lesson for sure, always carry extra batteries. But it was not a lesson we wanted to learn in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night.

First Impressions

Having worked in retail my first impression was a true first impression.  I love the new packaging.  One of the downsides of carrying Knuckle Lights in the past was the packaging.  Too often the front of the package dislodged from the back making the product unsaleable.  The new packaging, a sturdy box, looks better and eliminated this problem. In addition because the new packaging is easy to open it is also easy for you to let your customers demo the product ahead of time.  There is a hefty price on this product.  For the money that is spent customers want to know what they are getting. From a consumer standpoint, it is much easier to open and get organized right from the beginning. My first impression was that it would also be easy to repackage and use for storing the Knuckle Lights when I am not using them.

Knuckle Lights Review

The Surprise Upgrade

The thought of using the box for storage became obsolete when I saw the my second favorite new upgrade.  Magnets are built into the side of each light so you can store them together.  This may seem like a small design change but early in the morning when I am searching for everything I need for a walk, the frustration of finding only one of my lights can send me in a tailspin.  Having two lights is one of my favorite things about Knuckle Lights. Having two lights allow me to light up a wider stretch of the trail and it allows me to signal cars in both directions. Running with one is just not the same.  I love the new magnet feature because it eliminates this worry.

Knuckle Lights Review

 

More Compact Design

From a design standpoint, the new Knuckle Lights rises far above the old. They are much more compact and sleek.  They have a sexiness to them as opposed to a purely utilitarian look. It is never just about how a products looks but there is something about a sleek build that makes you think quality.  Once you hold them you feel this quality.  They are still light and compact but there is a much higher quality feel to them.

Upgraded Strap

Another feature I have loved about Knuckle Lights from the beginning is the ability to hold a Knuckle Light and still use your hand.  Because they attach to your hands it is like running hands-free.  If you need to carry a water bottle or phone you can without having to juggle a light and a bottle.  Unfortunately the old design would begin to loosen after several wears. The clasp would not grip as tight and I would find myself having to hold onto the light to make sure it was more secure.

The new strap is designed with button holes as opposed to clasps.  This eliminated the problem of the clasp loosening up.

Unfortunately, the new design is not quite perfect and I foresee some redesign of this feature in the future.  The button is difficult to get into the hole and doesn’t have that satisfying snap that allows you to know it is indeed secure.

 

Knuckle Lights Review

 

A Matter Of Hand Size

The only real problem I have with the new lights is a big problem for me.  The old design was much easier to turn off and on midrun.  My thumb met the on/off button with no problem.  The new button is oddly placed for my hand size.  However, when I made this complaint to my husband, he put them on and didn’t find the same problem at all.  This is one more reason the new packaging is so great.  You can take the product out, try it on and see whether the button works for you or not.

IMG_8517

  1. Much better packaging
  2. Less Slippage With Grip
  3. Sleeker Design
  4. Rechargable

The Cons

  1. Buttons on strap are difficult to button
  2. The on/off switch is slightly awkward.

Final Thoughts

Knuckle Lights have saved me and my husband on more than one occasion.  Being seen and being able to see makes any con negligible.  The only product I have found that comes close to Knuckle Lights is the Zephyr Fire 300 and it is a very far,far second in my opinion.  It is not intuitive. It doesn’t have the same hands-free feel and most importantly it is only a single light.  I cannot overstress the importance of having two lights during a dark run or walk.  Knuckle lights review

 

Pilates – Workout of the Week

Pilates Workout of the WeekLast week I wrote about the mental side of training.  I wrote about the difference one small statement can make on your psyche.  That one statement, that one reminder that I would be so much worse off with this back injury had I not been starting from such a high place of fitness,  would have made my workout with Jennifer at Club Pilates worth my time.  But this workout was so much more for me.

Don’t Over Do It

From physical therapists to acupuncturists to friends and family I have been warned not to over do it.  I get it.  I have been an over-doer in the past.  But what they can’t see because they couldn’t feel the pain I was in, is that there is no chance I will over do it again.  The pain I dealt with for the first 6 months of this injury was too much.  I am terrified of ever going back there.

But I can see where I will end up ten years down the road without taking proactive steps now.  I look down the road and see a day when I am either using a walker or a wheelchair because I can no longer support my own weight and I don’t want that. I want to find a way to avoid it.

Is Pilates The Answer?

I have wondered about Pilates for a while. One of the doctors I saw prescribed a brace.  I wore it for all of 2 hours and couldn’t stand it another minute, just too hot.  However, I saw the benefit of having the support around my core. I felt the difference the stability had on the way I walked.  That is when I first started thinking about Pilates.

If I could use my own muscles to secure my core, wouldn’t that be a better solution. But could I?

Physical therapy had become an exercise in frustration because every time I left the office I would spend at least a full day not being able to pull up my own pants or turn over in bed or even sit comfortably for more than 15 minutes at a time.  The tiny little pelvic tilts they were asking me to do were too much.  How could I possibly do Pilates?

Taking Charge

I was a little worried about Club Pilates before I went in.  My sister-in-law a Pilates instructor.  Would a classroom environment work for me?  I spoke with Laura Cutchall, owner of Club Pilates in Severna Park about my doubts.  She confirmed what I had been thinking.  If I can strengthen my core, create my own brace with my muscles, then I will be more stable and feel less pain.

She answered my doubts as well by reminding me that I am in charge. I have an injury.  Yes, I could hurt myself if I didn’t listen to my body, if I didn’t explain myself fully to her staff or if I became competitive with people next to me.  This was about me. I had to take charge.

Private Lesson

The first thing she suggested was that I work directly with Jennifer so we could figure out just where I stood.  Almost immediately, Jennifer gave me an answer that helped.  Neutral spine.  Yes, Pilates uses the pelvic tilt a lot, just like my physical therapist.  But that doesn’t work for me.  The minute I go into tilt I activate the pain.  Working with Jennifer I was able to find neutral and concentrate on keeping neutral throughout several exercises. It wasn’t easy but I could feel the difference.  I could feel my core engaging without feeling the pain I had experienced throughout physical therapy.

Small Steps

Years ago, when I was training for Ironman, I wrote about how to eat an elephant. One bite at a time.  How will I get my core stability back?  The same way.  One breath, one move, one workout at a time.  Can I do Pilates?  Thanks to Laura and Jennifer at Club Pilates I know that I can.  But I also know that with this injury I have to be the one in charge. I have to be honest with myself and with instructors. I can’t expect anybody else to feel my pain.  They can’t. I need to take charge.

Can I reverse some of the damage that has been done?  Not to the fractures.  No.  I have been assured that that will never change.  But to my atrophied muscles?  Yes.  Thanks to Laura and Jennifer for giving me the confidence to see that this is possible.

This is a part of a new workout a week series I am doing to find out just how many workouts I can do if I modify them.  I am tired of being limited.  With the series I aim to prove that I can find my limits and still honor my body with workout.  If you are a trainer or fitness profession with a local studio and are interested in being part of this series, please contact me at BrennanAnnie@me.com. 

Workout of the Week

WorkoutIn 2010 I worked on the coolest project ever.  As a writer for several Patch.com outlets in Maryland I wrote a series of articles about different workouts.  I spent a morning with a group of women who bought their on rowing skull.  I took Jazzercise, Zumba, kickboxing, and a drumming class.  I sweated my butt off in a hot yoga class on a cold January night and I pulled a muscle in my groin pole dancing.  It was by far the most fun project I have ever worked on.

However, in 2010 I was limited physically.  I was at the top of my game having just completed my fastest marathon ever and often running, biking or swimming even on the days I went in to try these classes.  Today, I am not that same person.  I am overweight and struggling with my body image.  Even dancing in my kitchen can put my back into spasms. Although I am biking every day I am limited and I feel those limitations every day.

My New Project – Workout With Limitations

Still, I have run into trainers and gym owners who have given me hope.  There are workouts I can still do and better yet, there are workouts I can do that will strengthen my core and help me do more as time goes on. So, why not have a re-do of my favorite project but with a caveat, I will try different gyms, and different exercises with these new limitations.  There will be no pole dancing, no Zumba and no high impact sports.  The gym will have to have a trainer or owner I trust and the workout has to start slow.  I have worked out with two places so far, Club Pilates in Severna Park and Capital SUP in Annapolis.  I will workout with additional places in the next two weeks, Active Body and Health and Xcelerated Fitness both in Severna Park.

Starting tomorrow I will post on Tuesdays about these workouts. I will let you know what I thought of the company and trainer, of the workout itself and of the ability to adapt to my specific limitations.  However, if you have a limitation you would like me to ask about let me know and I will ask about that as well.

If you are a trainer, a yogi, or a gym owner and would like to be a part of this series let me know.  This is not a paid advertisement opportunity.  It is simply a way for me to spread some social media love while showing others that an injury, even one that has limited me in so many ways doesn’t have to mean the end of your fitness life.  If you have tried an exercise you think will help me with my core issues, leave a comment below and I will try to find a similar one locally.

I am very excited about trying this.  First, because I have no intention of getting older and weaker.  There is too much I want to do still.  And second because I haven’t exercised my writing muscles as much in the past couple of years.  I am excited for the opportunity to have something to write each week.

The Mental Side

The Mental SideI have written a lot about the mental side of running over the past several years.  This started because when I run, I think and think and think.  Then I come home and spill all of those ideas out on the computer screen. Apparently the same is not true for cycling or maybe my brain was just not ready to go there.  Because after 9 months of dealing with my back injury I continue to beat myself up.  I look in the mirror and scoff at the body I see.  I dread getting dressed in the morning.  And even after riding 30 miles this morning before my Pilates workout I found myself berating myself for having fallen so far.

I know, I know.  We all do it.  I do know that.  But isn’t it my job, as Ann from Ann’s Running Commentary to help others not do that?  Isn’t it my job to find the positive in the situation and share that with you?

But for now, I am going to give myself a break.  For now I am going to stop and share not the thought inside my head but the thought of the Pilate’s instructor I worked with this morning. I will write more later about why I chose to try Pilates and what I thought and whether it is something I can do again.  Today I want to talk about one single thought.  One comment that changed my outlook at least for today.

“Just imagine if you hadn’t been an Ironman, hadn’t run all those marathons, hadn’t worked out like you had and you got this injury.”

It really was that simple but I had not thought of it.  I hadn’t allowed myself to see the positive in the situation.  All I could see was what I had lost.

After I left the studio today I sat in the car and thought about this.  What would have happened if I hadn’t spent 23 years running, working on my health and fitness and becoming the Ironman I did become.  The injury to my back has been horrible.  When you have to wake up your husband to help you to the bathroom in the middle of the night, when you have to ask your daughter to help you put your pants on, when you can only sleep if you prop all the pillows in the bed just the right way because the slightest movement will send spasms through your entire body you know you are in trouble.

But Jennifer was right.  Where would I be today if I didn’t have the drive to spend all of those years running.

I wouldn’t be seeking out exercise routines that would strengthen my core and therefore give me a better quality of life down the road.  I wouldn’t be taking lessons from a sweet little girl in our neighborhood on how to swim the breaststroke now that I can no longer swim freestyle and I certainly wouldn’t be 109 days into a biking streak.  Instead I might be completely debilitated, sitting on the couch, wondering what was to become of me.

As I see it now, I can continue to beat myself up or I can be thankful and proud of what I have done, what got me to the point and will give me the strength to find the next road.

Thanks Jennifer for helping me see this.

 

Walk For Suicide Prevention

If you have been following our journey, you may be wondering what happened to our plans to walk 150-miles for suicide prevention. After three years of bigs walks and fundraising for AFSP, we ran into our first real snags this year. I hurt my back in November and though I always tend to believe that injuries are just temporary this one proved to be long lasting. I am finally beginning to have more pain-free moments that painful ones but with months of very little training I am certainly not up for 30 miles of walking a day. In the meantime, my sweet Megan came down with a horrible case of mono. So, this year’s 150-mile trek will have to wait.

But don’t worry. We are still working for Suicide Prevention. We are still raising awareness and we are still fundraising. On September 24th we will be joining Annapolitans for a Walk Out of the Darkness. I am heading a team of parents with the PFLAG organization to raise funds for AFSP and thanks to the generosity of a local quilter I am raffling off this beautiful modern quilt.

AFSP PFLAG QuiltFor a $10 donation to our walk for AFSP, you will receive a chance to win this quilt. I am only selling 100 tickets so you have a 1 in 100 chance of winning.

Please consider donating today. If you can’t donate, please consider joining us for the walk on September 24th. I will be walking with PFLAG and encourage you to join us but there is also a group representing TEAM RWB, another of my favorite local organizations. Click here to donate or learn more about the walk. I will contact you to let you know you know your raffle number.

The Power of Consistency

Written by Ann Brennan

ConsistencyThe power of consistency never fails to amaze me. When I started running umpteen years ago, it was sporadic. It took me a long time to realize the difference between a good season of racing and a bad season of racing was in the consistency. It wasn’t until I trained for Beach to Battleship back in 2012 that it really clicked. Working on a day to day basis to get in each and every workout, made me stronger and more confident than I have ever been. And still, I have floundered since that season. I saw the results, coming in two and a half hours faster than I expected, and yet I have never gotten back to that same consistency in my training.

Until now. Interestingly, I would have told you that the difference between the fall of 2012 and the seasons that followed was that there was a lifelong goal on the line. And that’s probably true to some degree. Having that goal, knowing that I didn’t want to have another DNF like I had in 2004, I worked harder. I refused to skip a workout unless ordered to by Coach. I put in a consist effort across the board, whether it was swimming, biking or running. But, that doesn’t explain what is happening now.

When Zane suggested we continue a streak, hell, when he suggested we start a streak, I was in from the first moment. We biked one day, then the next, then the next and so on. Maybe it is as simple as that. I don’t worry about tomorrow. I get in today’s workout. I get it in because I have to. If I don’t the streak dies.

But more than that it has become a habit. Working out today, ensures I will workout tomorrow because it is what I do know. It is what Zane and I do together.

Still, there is more to it than habit. There is more to it even than consistency in working out. Consistency seems to build consistency. Or maybe consistency builds habit and habit builds more habit. What I have found that there is more to working out consistently than getting in the workout. It seeps over into other areas of my life. I have become more efficient at work, at keeping my house, at managing our budget. I have become more consistent throughout my life without any extra effort.

There is a power to consistency that goes beyond what I ever expect. Tomorrow will be day 52 of our biking streak but if I pick the rest of my life apart I see consistency there as well. It is day 52 of getting up and getting dressed in something other than workout clothes. It is day 52 of sitting at the computer and responding to emails. It is day 52 of playing with the dogs even when I am too tired to go outside and run them around the yard. Consistency built in one area of my life has changed the rest of it. That is the power of consistency. And in turn, that is the power of sport.

5 Things I Learned From My Son

Written by Ann Brennan

5 things I learned from my sonForty-five days ago, my 9-year-old son, Zane and I started a cycling streak. We did not go for that first ride with a streak in mind but within minutes of starting that first ride, a light went on inside my son and our lives changed in an amazing way.

For 6 months I have been struggling with a back injury due to two fractures in my lower back. I have not been able to run, but more than that I have been in constant pain and limited in my everyday life. If you know me you know this is more than just a struggle. It is excruciating. I have been a runner for 23 years. On the occasions when I could not run I have always had something to fall back on, swimming, biking or walking. But this injury has been different. This injury has completely limited my life in so many ways. So when we went out for our first ride I wasn’t sure. Could I do it? Would it cause me more pain? Would it limit me event further? Truth be told, the reason I invited Zane along that day was because I knew he would hold me back, keep me from pushing myself and causing further damage.

And he did. We rode at his pace and it was good. It was fun. But the best part was not that I was riding with minimal pain again, it was watching this light go on inside of Zane. He loved that ride. He loved learning how to pass others on the trail, he loved learning the jargon of cyclists and he loved racing through the park with his mom. By the time we got home I was so excited I barely made it in the door before I told my husband we had to go get Zane a new bike, one he could ride every day.

Since that day we have ridden come hell or high water. We have ridden as little as a mile on a day we were busy from before dawn until almost midnight and as much as 40 miles. We have ridden in the rain and the heat. We have ridden miles before school and more after. Our bikes have become a huge part of us. Yesterday, while Zane was at school I decided to get in an extra ride. I am now able to ride with very little pain and have started enjoying pushing myself a little more. As I rode, I started thinking about how much I have learned in the past 45 days.

5 Things I Learned From My Son –

1. You have to start somewhere – When we started we rode 8 miles around the local park. We didn’t do it exceptionally fast but we got those miles in. Slowly we have gone longer and gotten faster. But for someone who has completed centuries and an Ironman, someone who has ridden 1000’s of miles that first ride seemed like cheating. Did it really count as a ride? Yes. Because before that day I was doing very little in the way of exercising. I was in too much pain, I claimed. The truth is I was too afraid of making the pain worse. And Zane was all new to cycling. He had ridden the half miles to school and back but not much more than that. But we started and starting is the important part of any exercise routine. This morning Zane told me he has ridden a almost 400 miles since we started but it all started with one ride.

2. Miles beget miles – I don’t know that this is true for everybody but I am motivated by numbers. The more miles we put in, the more I log on Daily Mile, the more I want to put in. Each week I find myself pushing further and trying to do more. Success begets success and miles beget miles.

3. Passion is contagious – Zane lit up with passion on that first ride. Before we got home at the end of the ride he had already decided we should ride every day for as long as we could. He started talking about riding across the country. Doing 100 milers. I completely caught that passion and we have passed it back and forth for the past 45 days. There are days he doesn’t feel like going but I am so passionate about our streak that he comes along and vice versa, days when I would rather sit on the deck with a cup of coffee but his passion pushes me out the door. And it isn’t just us. We have started a Monday night ride for families and they are getting the bug. He has a friend at school who joined us this week and has asked if he can come every Monday. Passion is definitely contagious.

4. Competitiveness runs in the family – Zane has never loved sports. His least favorite subject in school is P.E., but on the bike he is just like me. He wants to push further, go faster and of course, pass that rider that is up ahead. Just like me he is selectively competitive and biking brings out that spirit like nothing else ever has.

5. I still miss running – I love biking. I love that it makes me feel strong again. I love the feel of the wind on my face. I love being able to go further and see more than I could on a run. I love the time I spend with Zane on the bike. But, I still miss running. Every time we pass a runner, my heart hurts a little. Every time I notice I am getting faster I think of how great it would be to do another tri and put this work to the test. I always said if something happened and I had to stop running I would be satisfied with riding and in some ways I am. I am so happy riding is here for me but I don’t know that I will ever stop missing running.

When I found out I was pregnant with Zane, my mother-in-law told me he would keep me young. I have definitely seen that. But with this streak he is doing more than that. He is keeping me fit, he is keeping me healthy, and most of all, he is keeping me happy.

Do You Have the Grit?

Written by Ann Brennan

GRITThere is a theme that runs through most of the posts on Ann’s Running Commentary. Grit. To do what we do, we must have the grit to push through. Whether we are pushing through a marathon, pushing through an injury or just pushing through everyday life, we need grit. Do you have the grit to push through? Probably. But you have to look for it. You have to dig deep and find the guts to take on whatever life throws at you.

In November, as I was struggling through the final miles of the NCR Trail Marathon I whined, I cried, I bitched, but I pushed on. I was in a ridiculous amount of pain. My back was swollen and throbbing. My glutes and hamstrings that had shut down because of the pain were giving me absolutely nothing to work with. I was quite simply done. And the truth is if I could have stepped outside of that moment for long enough I would have told you I was at my weakest point.

But yesterday I realized I must have been at my strongest point mentally. I had the grit to finish that race and that was not a small thing.

This was brought home to be yesterday as I was working the final water stop at the B&A Trail Marathon. We waited to take our water stop down until the very last runner made her way in. We knew we were less than a quarter mile to the finish but everyone of us wanted to be there for this final runner.

The last runner’s grit

As she approached, I walked back towards her and I recognized myself in the look on her face. She was gutted; she was knackered; she was finished. Tears brimmed in her eyes but she would not let them flow. She was determined. She was dead last and had not made the cut off but she would not be stopped. She was going to get to that finish line come hell or high water. She had the grit and the guts it takes to get to that finish line.

When I write it, it doesn’t seem like much. But it is so much. It is everything. When she realized she was dead last, she could have quit. When she began to feel sick to her stomach, she could have quit. There were a thousands of times along that course she could have quit but she didn’t.

It takes one second to quit. One second. But that second is on repeat. There are 21,600 seconds in 6 hours. She had 21,600 opportunities to quit. She had just as many opportunities to push on. And she took those. She had to grit, to push through every one of those seconds. She had the grit to finish.