Tag Archives: Running

A Feeling of Everything-is-alright-ness & Philadelphia Half Marathon

I think I love doing these races so much simply because they make me feel more alive. Just getting to the starting line last Sunday for the Philadelphia Half Marathon was a total well of emotions. And when I crossed the finish line … well you will just have to read on to find out what happens.

This year has been a big old wake-up call for me, most especially pertaining to my health.

I have been practicing yoga for nearly 15 years, teaching yoga for 8 years, and health coaching for 3 years. I am also a perfectionist. Or at the very least have some major perfectionist tendencies. This perfectionism has kept me from coming clean, or being totally honest not only with myself but with every person in my life – from those who I see on a daily basis to those who sometimes peek at my social media presence.

My migraines took a turn for the worse around Christmas last year. They became more frequent, longer in duration, and the symptoms were more severe than I had ever experienced. I was getting a migraine every 7-10 days lasting 2-3 days and, without fail, I could not hold anything down; vomiting regularly and spending at least a day recuperating and rehydrating. I am still dealing with these severe migraines but I have taken several steps to make taking care of them a top priority.

I didn’t want to tell anyone what was really going on except for a select few because I thought admitting that I was having a challenging time meant I was a failure – in so many ways – including a failure as a yoga teacher and health coach. It hadn’t dawned on me that being truthful with myself and giving my health the attention it needed was a huge part of being the best teacher/coach I possibly could.

Since December 2013 I had to say no to so many people and events: from endurance events to weddings to teaching … it started to become so very apparent that my health was not in a good state. Not only that but I was not giving my health the attention it deserved.

I would be struck with a migraine and on top of the physical pain and discomfort I would sink into a state of depression. I am now learning to transition into migraine-mode with more forgiveness and compassion for myself. It’s is tough work, but I am learning to let go and let the migraine just take me into the migraine-state for however long it needs to process through my body.

So what on earth does this have to do with a half marathon? Well, I was hesitant to even sign up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon. What if I got a migraine on race day? It was something I thought of every time I laced up my sneakers and went for a run. The list of what if’s ran through my mind endlessly. I finally came to peace with the fact that a migraine might happen on race day, but I also accepted the exciting possibility that it might not.

The very last run I went on before we left for Philadelphia, I said to myself “I’m going to run this thing” – that became my mantra and I visualized approaching the starting line with my friends and imagined what it would feel like to get back into doing this thing that makes my heart sing.

And guess what? I ran that thing! I got to run the Philadelphia Half Marathon and even set a personal best at 1:57:43. This was the first race for me in about a year which, if you know my history with triathlon and running, is a pretty big deal as I have spent the past 4-5 years filling my calendar with races.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 3.54.42 PMSo what happened when I crossed the finish line?  My eyes filled with little tears, I got that knot in my throat, and my heart swelled up. (I think I’m officially a “Finish Line Cryer.” Is that a thing?)

The days that I have spent on my couch in more pain and discomfort than I can come close to describing … those days have given me a greater appreciation for the days without a migraine. Where I am grateful just to toe the line at a race and be amongst the running community. Where I am grateful to share race stories with my friends, our teeth chattering as we make our way back to our hotel. Where I am grateful for that hot shower after a race, the water washing away the sweat and soothing my aching muscles.

It’s a feeling of lightness, of “everything-is-alright-ness” … and maybe migraines have given me more awareness of its existence.

PhilaHalfI am grateful for my experience with migraine. Migraine has given me a deeper understanding of debilitating pain and discomfort; it has given me greater appreciation for the days WITHOUT migraine – what a sweet blessing those days are; migraine has taught me to accept the help and support from loved ones when it is offered, and to ask when it is needed; and migraine got me to get my butt in gear this year to make my health a priority. We should never be so busy that we cannot take care of ourselves.

 

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So THIS is why I needed to do the Quassy Half!

I went into my Quassy Half race weekend after an outpouring of donations. Oh boy did I ever need (and appreciate!!) all that love and uplifting for quite the challenging course. And this is why I needed to finish the Rev3 Quassy Half…

You'd never know it, but I'm actually terrified.

You’d never know it, but I’m actually terrified.

Ever since I registered for Ironman Lake Placid back in October, anyone who has ever done Ironman strongly advised that I first complete the Rev3 Quassy Half triathlon. Why? Well everybody claimed the course, while half the distance of a full Ironman, was technically harder than IMLP with hills, hills, and MORE HILLS. Admittedly I thought at first that this was just a way to throw down a humble brag. But as race day for the Quassy Half drew closer, I started to wonder: what if everyone is right? 

To make a long story short: everyone was right. To give you an idea just how right everyone was:

The Swim – 1.2 Miles

The swim was all downhill. Get it??!! Triathlete joke, sorry, had to slip it in. But really, for the first time in Maggie’s Triathlon History I LOVED THE SWIM! I came out with a big smile on my face, saw Brett waiting for me when he shouted “Almost less than 40 minutes! Great job Maggie!” Little did he know I would return to that positive encouragement throughout my day when the hills got HARD…

The Bike – 56 Miles

As I made my way out of transition and onto the bike course feeling pretty good about myself. And then it went like this: climbclimbclimbclimbclimb … DESCEND! YAY! RECOVER! Immediately proceeded by climbclimbclimbclimbclimb … DESCEND! YAY! RECOVER! Yeah, it was a lot of that. At mile 50 the amazing Brett found me (he was on his bike) and secretly coached me through the final miles. I kept telling him the bike course was hilarious, that they kept putting in all these long hills!

The Run – 13.1 Miles

Brett said that I looked peppy when I transitioned from the bike to the run. Why is that? Because it meant I had NO MORE HILLS TO CLIMB. Or so I thought … the first few miles of the run were hot and in direct sun but pretty flat, if anything downhill. And then the hills, ohhhhh the hills. They came back AGAIN. This time with a vengeance because I had to run up them and as I approached each hill I saw groups of people just walking. If you’ve ever done a running race or triathlon you know that this does NOT help morale and only makes you think “they are walking, it’s ok for me to walk too!” I really had to fight this (I ended up walking up 1 hill for 1 minute) – and I started singing little mantras to myself like “I love hills! I love hills!” The last 5 miles were a gift, mostly flat and downhill. I passed Coach Bob around mile 9 and he asked how I was feeling, I smiled and yelled “Better now!”

The Finish 

Me and my bling

Me and my bling

What’s to say? It’s always an amazing feeling to see the finish shoot and cross the finish line. Immediately after finishing, I had a few moments alone where I put my head in my hands and had a moment of happy tears and laughter. I was SO damn happy to be done and knew I was that much closer to Ironman Lake Placid on July 28.The race was humbling to say the least. But I had an amazing support crew there. Brett gave up his entire day to drive me up and cheer me on at every single spectator spot. My Mom and Dad made it just in time to see me finish – my Dad’s second time to see my do a 70.3 race and my Mom’s first. And then Coach Bob called me the day before as a surprise that he too would be there! I even met my first official Twitter friend – miss Kara – who is also doing Ironman for the first time this year in Lake Placid. I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that I had these people there as well as other members of my new triathlon family. Not only that but throughout the whole race I knew everyone had my back. Every friend or family member that I’ve talked to about this, every blast from the past who has surfaced and made a donation on my fundraising page, and even every spectator or volunteer out on the course. I couldn’t have felt more support and it makes me even more excited to see what Ironman Lake Placid holds.

I am currently $810 away from reaching my fundraising goal of $5,000. I am constantly moved by the support everyone has shown not only for me but for Children’s Tumor Foundation. These kids and their families are beyond appreciative of the help you can provide and every dollar counts. Really it does. I work there. I would know. :) I’ve got about 40 days to reach my goal and of course I’d love to get beyond! To make a donation you can simply click here. There is no amount too large or too small!  Thank you guys for your continuing kindness and especially your patience when I insist on talking about how my training is going.

THANKS COACH!

Thanks Coach!

Brett's colorful outfit kept me going through the day.

Brett’s colorful outfit kept me going through the day.

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8:18, croissants, 90 miles, and 2 months

Or what I learned from my weekend of training:

  • Maintaining an average pace of 8:18 for 3.1 miles of running is possible!
  • 50 miles into a ride, coffee and a chocolate croissant is heaven and will render me speechless
  • I have decided that I would really like to have croissants in my special needs bag for Ironman Lake Placid
  • I am quite chipper after 90 miles on the bike and once I reach 90 miles, I might shed a tear of joy/disbelief/shock and awe
  • Quassy Rev3 70.3 is in 5 days and Ironman Lake Placid is 2 months away and it’s starting to feel real. This weekend’s long ride got me really really excited for the first time — and I couldn’t have done it without everyone’s donations and support! You can support my fundraising campaign for CTF by clicking here.

 

Coffee. Croissant. Can't talk.

Coffee. Croissant. Can’t talk.

Weston Memorial Day 5K - running in the rain!

Weston Memorial Day 5K – running in the rain!

90 MILES!

90 MILES!

 

 

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New favorite post-long run yoga pose…

Pincha mayurasana. Also known as, forearm stand or forearm balance.

Pincha Mayurasana

Demoing pincha mayurasana after a long run with running coach, Milly, at Sherpa in CT.

Ever since I started doing triathlons in 2010, I’ve been fairly consistent in following my long runs (and rides) with a short 10-20 minute yoga practice. These practices typically involve basic poses that get into the psoas, hamstrings, quads, hips, IT band … the usual.

It wasn’t until I was with the Sherpa group out in CT this weekend when I was inspired by the contagious energy of one of the Sherpa run coaches, Milly, to demo and teach forearm stand (she wanted an inversion, but one that did not put pressure on the top of her head like in headstand.)

We first tried L-pose (handstand modification) and then, pincha mayurasana. Milly is a rock star runner and a wonderful yogini because she was willing to jump right in and try the pose. AND, with attention to her form and a little assistance on my part, she got right into it. I wish I could remember exactly what Milly said once she got up, but I can assure you that a) it made me laugh out loud and b) it was a major “Ah-ha” moment.

So, time willing, I will start doing some post-long run pincha – with Milly’s fearlessness in mind!

Why pincha mayurasana?

It’s fun! There is something to be said about a pose that makes you feel like a kid again. Pincha definitely forces me to focus but it also makes me smile, laugh, and feel powerful. Not only do your legs get a break, but you reverse the flow of blood so the heart gets a “rest.”

Click here to read more about pincha (including modifications and prep steps.)

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