Since February, life has been full (I refuse to say busy, because who isn't busy?)! I finished my final semester of classes in May, took my qualifying exam and passed, and took my comprehensive exam and passed (with an oral defense, too). Two big hurdles done with my PhD!
I spent the summer mostly at home, with a wedding in June and a trip to the beach in July, and wishing I had more travels coming up! This summer was less busy travel-wise due to writing my dissertation and lack of money due to my new house:) I hated it, but I definitely learned that I need to make sure I find ways to get out of town when the summer heat and humidity arrives and work becomes very slow. I'm convinced I have summer SAD, if that can be a thing!
In the fall, everything picked up. I started teaching two classes at VCU in August-> Techniques in Counseling and Practicum (which is a supervision class). Both have been very fun to teach and have been manageable while writing my dissertation. I went to a conference in Chicago in October and officially defending my prospectus in November, which means I am a doctoral CANDIDATE! My study is currently waiting on IRB, so fingers crossed it won't take too long.
I did a lot of weekend trips in September and October and have quite a few coming up through the end of November and beginning of December. I LOVE getting out of town for a few days on the weekend, but I also love being home in my new house...so balance is key. My big events were running the Chicago Marathon on October 8th and the Richmond Marathon on November 11. Marathon training this year was really great. I met an awesome new group of runners and genuinely enjoyed the training season. I still hate running in the heat, and the long weekday runs get hard with work, but I am more used to it all now. After not making it to the starting line last year due to the flu, I am so thankful to get through 26 weeks of training and 2 marathons HEALTHY!
The Chicago marathon was not great (but Chicago IS great and I had the best time at my conference and exploring the city!). It was 60 degrees at the start and about 75+ at the end, and the entire 2nd half of the course was in direct sunlight. I had a gut feeling pretty early that I would not be able to maintain a sub-4 pace, but I kept it through the first 14 miles and then it was downhill pretty fast. I walked a lot, had to drink a lot of water, and generally hated life for a few hours. The course and crowds were AMAZING, but it was a tough day. I also never got the hang of how crowded it was (especially at the water stops). I finished in 4:10:01.
|Ready to go at 6 AM!|
|Catching my mom and brother at mile 13!|
After Chicago, I was not feeling my love of running for a while. I took 5 days off, and then got back into training. I continued with my training team and did another 20 miler before a three week taper. This taper was a lifesaver. By really resting up, my motivation came back the week of the race, and I felt my running "pep" come back. I also knew it would be better than Chicago because the weather was COLD, and I was running with so many friends and on a course I know so well.
Richmond did not disappoint. It was a BEAUTIFUL day, with temperatures in the upper 20's at the start and no higher than upper 30's at the finish. I started in layers and kept taking things off until mile 15. Pure sunshine the entire race.
I was so thankful to be healthy for this race. Last year was such a disappointment-> getting the flu the day before when I had had such a great training season. I got emotional the night before just thinking about what I felt like last year. I read a quote that someone had saying "don't forget to hear the birds." This was exactly how I was feeling-> I wanted to take it all in and really appreciate it. And I did. I didn't listen to any music and ran pretty much solo for 25 of the 26.2 miles. And it went by so fast. It was an incredible day, and I did not take a single part of it for granted. Even when I was struggling in miles 19-23 before my second wind kicked in (which I attribute to an awesome course ending), I was happy.
|Look what I saw at the expo! I am on the 10k poster! Haha.|
|Finish chute! I was taking it all in. Thanks for the photo, Karen :)|
|My cheering squad!|
I know I have talked before how running is so much more than just running, but what the last 6 months have reiterated to me is how the journey of running is really what running is about. The races are just days, but running is a lifestyle. It brings me new friends, keeps my sanity through some emotional stressors, and makes me feel my best self. Our bodies are so amazing and there is nothing that celebrates the human spirit more than a marathon (even a bad one). I learn something about myself at every race. Yesterday reinvigorated my love for the city I call home.
I ran Richmond at a PR of 3:55:53 and enjoyed every second of it (well, maybe not some of those seconds between 19-23...). And I will bask in this glow for a while.