Difficulty Is the Price We Pay

Meditations in Motion

My hubby Bill and I just finished our longest run of the summer, a 13.7-miler. It felt like we were running directly into a dryer vent. Even though we started early, by the time we were done, it was hot. The air was so humid, it was absolutely saturated with small water droplets which soaked our clothes as we ran. After we finished, I looked like I had jumped into a swimming pool fully clothed.

This is fall marathon training in the Mid-Atlantic states.

Bill and I have an ongoing discussion that surfaced once again after our steamy slog today: keep running the longer races or focus exclusively on shorter runs?

We have been doing several 5Ks and 10Ks this spring and summer and we have enjoyed all of them immensely.

Meditations in MotionShorter races are fun, there is no doubt about it. The logistics are easy, the training is less grueling, and the time commitment is minimal. You can run a 5K in the morning, then go on about your day without feeling as though your hamstrings might snap at any moment or you have to lower yourself onto the toilet slowly, very slowly.

Shorter races are less expensive, I often have a good chance of placing in my age group, and you can sign up on the spur of the moment. And yet…

And yet, I love the challenge and the discipline required to compete in the longer runs. Maybe I am an anomaly, but I feel better when I am following a training plan. I like the structure; I enjoy crossing the days off the calendar as they are completed; I feel satisfaction at hitting goal paces and completing distances that increase incrementally week-by-week.

Before I retired, I looked forward to having the time to train for long races on my own schedule. I now have the luxury of doing long runs mid-week. Hot, humid summer temperatures notwithstanding, if I want to do my long run at 9:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. or even 1:00 p.m. on a Tuesday, I can.

Meditations in MotionI know as I get older, I will slow down, that is inevitable. I still have running friends, however, who are 10, 15, 20 years older than I am and still running marathons. I have role models.

All of the reasons I have just spelled out for maintaining my long-distance running ability are true, but they are not the most important reason I want to keep doing long runs: I believe doing hard things matters.

Doing hard things is, well, it’s hard. It builds character, it promotes grit. I think we don’t have nearly enough grit in the world today. Marathon runners are nothing if they are not gritty. Marathon runners practically ooze grit.

Meditations in MotionJust like your mom told you when you were 13 and wanted to skip doing the extra credit homework or not make your bed with hospital corners – doing difficult things builds character.

Accomplishing demanding tasks promotes self-esteem and confidence. Even at my stage of life, I can use all the self-esteem and confidence I can get.

Doing hard things takes courage, it makes you step outside of your comfort zone, it makes you grow. Achieving the formidable erases doubts and calms anxieties. It makes you feel good about yourself.

I just got an email advertising the Ohiopyle Falls Challenge. It’s a 5K, 10K, and half marathon run over the course of two days in April 2020. The 5K and 10K start an hour apart on Saturday, then the half marathon is on Sunday.

It sounds hard. It sounds like fun. I want to do it.

β€œDifficulty is the price we pay for everything worth having.” ― Jonathan Heimberg

What hard things are calling to you?

 

I am linking up with Running on the Fly and Confessions of a Mother Runner for their Weekly Rundown, Shank You Very Much for Global Blogging, Esme Salon for Senior Salon, Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun, Bethere2day for Wordless Wednesday, Coach Debbie Runs for Coach’s Corner, and My Random Musings for Anything Goes.

 

 

 

 

 

74 comments

  1. I retired from Marathons about 7 or 8 years ago? But I do love half marathons for sure! I say do whatever your body is good with! I did sign up for the Devil on the Divide in September – only the 22k though, NOT the 50k. lol. That will be hard and scary!

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  2. Good luck on your run and yes I have to agree with you, challenges of any sort really help us grow. I find as I get older I am more open to challenges and stepping outside of my comfort zone.

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    • Good for you – sometimes growing older makes us more timid and less likely to be open to new challenges. I am glad to hear that you are headed in the opposite direction! πŸ™‚

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  3. Somehow I think you’ll be doing those races. πŸ™‚

    I agree that doing hard things is important. Although I’ve never run a marathon . . .

    You are definitely not an anomaly — I have several friends that actually prefer training for a race more than the race it self. I don’t really quite understand that — I do enjoy the training, but I also enjoy the race (usually).

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    • I hope so, Judy! They look so appealing! Kim (from Running on the Fly) just wrote about doing multiple races at the same time and I responded that I have never done that. I think it’s karma that I got the email about the challenge the very next day.

      Maybe you have a marathon in your future! Wineglass is such a nice race and it’s practically in your back yard! πŸ™‚

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  4. I am not a fan of the heat in general, so I hate Summer. Add running to that and I’m just miserable, yet I’m still here training for a Fall marathon. Funny how that works, lol. I do question my sanity, like when I ran on Saturday morning. I always try to remember to slow down my pace and that the super to weather will eventually pass!

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    • I am usually not bothered too much by the heat, but we were in Pittsburgh this weekend and the heat was just oppressive. We were sitting at a baseball game and I looked like I had been drenched with a hose. The runs were almost painful, even though we did them first thing in the a.m.

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  5. You’re right. We don’t grow unless we’re challenged, and as the saying goes, growth begins at the end of one’s comfort zone. Comfort-lover that I am, I think of the Velveteen Rabbit when I confront this truth: like him, I wish all these uncomfortable things weren’t necessary, but it’s the only way to become real.

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  6. oooh, that 5K, 10K, 13.1 challenge sounds like something I’D like to do, too! Funny you mentioned the word, “grit.” That word came to me as I was battling all the hills in Greensboro, NC at my marathon last October. I kept telling myself “too much grit to quit.” I even wrote a blog post by the same name, highlighting various tough races that were harder than most (in my experiences), but all were so worth it in the end. All of those grit-encompassing races are now some of my best memories for the lessons learned about my determination and endurance.So, I say, DO the Grit work!! πŸ˜‰

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    • YOU were the one who inspired me to look into a multiple race challenge! πŸ™‚ I remember that “gritty” post. I think we runners have some built-in grit. I thought at the time about some challenging trail races I have done that required some grit.

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  7. The weather has dampened my enthusiasm for walking as it has not been enjoyable gettin’ ‘er done this year since January 1st. I feel it is a catch is as catch can situation to get each walk done and I don’t feel that push to get it done when faced with the elements, even though I bought waterproof shoes and vinyl boots. I was lucky for all four of the 5K events that the weather was cooperative, but for long walks on weekends, the only time to have leisurely walks, the weather has been atrocious and fraught with difficulties. I sometimes feel that I need a kick in the pants when I read your inspirational messages about taking on new projects, more events.

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    • I understand what you mean, Linda. We were in Pittsburgh last weekend and usually do a lot of walking around town. This time it was just too darn hot! On the bright side, we did learn how to use public transportation to get around. We were very proud of ourselves. We rode the subway to the bus station, then took a bus to the Carnegie Mellon Natural History Museum.

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      • Too hot for anything Laurie – we had another storm last night, potentially severe, but no damage that I could discern – I pulled the plug, went to bed early, got up early and had no internet, but that is just Comcast being Comcast, not weather related. Messed me up as I wanted to get caught up here so I could do a post today.
        That is the way to go in Toronto.
        When we went back to visit my grandmother, you were better to use public transportation and use transfers … they used to have a little train to the suburbs (they called it “The Go Train”). It is nice until Sunday night – they say.

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      • I like to use public transportation whenever possible, especially in a bigger city. Here in little Lititz, public transportation is almost non-existent.

        Linda, I have a story I have to tell you. I thought of you as soon as it happened because of the discussion we had been having.

        I was sitting watching TV in our family room when I saw what I thought were ashes floating down from the sky onto our deck. I ran to the patio door and looked outside. What I thought were ashes were actually feathers! I called Bill. I said, “There must have been a bird of prey that got a little bird right out of the sky.”

        Bill said, “There he is, sitting in our yard!” We grabbed the binoculars. It was a peregrine falcon!!! He was sitting on his prey not 20 feet from our patio door.

        As we watched, a red-tailed hawk came and tried to take the falcon’s dinner away, but the falcon flew off with the bird. The red-tail sat in a nearby tree screaming for a few minutes, then he flew away too. There was a little pile of feathers left in the yard.

        It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. At least the little bird did not suffer.

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      • Well that’s amazing Laurie since we just spoke about that exact same type of incident. In my case, I had turned the corner at the cross-street when the shrieking stopped so I don’t know where the falcon took its prey to eat it. Up until that time, I did not realize a bird could be captured in mid-flight. I would have thought they only swooped down to hone in on their prey. I’ve never seen a red-tailed hawk – was it smaller than the falcon? Very sad, but death was instantaneous hopefully.

        Today the path was full of squirrels again – I don’t know where they were on Tuesday as it was beautiful yesterday too. But they were up to their usual antics and shameless begging just like they usually do thank goodness!

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      • The red-tailed hawk is much bigger than a falcon. It’s the biggest (and most common) hawk you will see. Those peregrines are FAST! They capture their prey in flight.

        Isn’t it amazing that the squirrels came out again once the heatwave passed? Maybe you should check to see if they have AC in their nests! πŸ˜€

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      • I didn’t know that Laurie … at Lake Erie Metropark, they have three months of raptor migration September through November. I went a few times last year and saw only a turkey vulture, though they advertised many types of hawks would be present and pinpointed which hawks or other raptors and which month. I hope to see some this year. I didn’t realize they were so big. I watch the Cooper’s Hawks gliding over top of the Park and neighborhoods … they will glide with huge wings, and rarely flapping those wings … a little eerie to watch.

        It is amazing to watch them with their spirit back … their energy was sure sapped and they must have AC for sure!

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      • I thought at first the bird of prey in my back yard was a Cooper’s hawk or Sharp-Shinned hawk. They both prey on other birds. The Peregrine has very distinctive coloring, though. You can’t misidentify them. There is a hawk watch near us too. You never know what will show up – sometimes you get hundreds of broad-winged hawks, sometimes you get a turkey vulture!

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      • Laurie – you know I remember you mentioning your hawk watch when I did my post about ours. They actually have a big event called “Hawkfest” to commemorate the beginning of the migration. I was going to go to it and was at Lake Erie Metropark a few weeks before and talking to another walker (when I went with that walking group that meets once/month) and they said it was so crowded that it was difficult to find a place to stand and the raptors don’t often show.

        That was my first turkey vulture and it was not near this migration area – it was at Elizabeth Park. I thought it was a juvenile bald eagle until I saw its head!

        You really know your birds Laurie – I have an “Audubon Land Bird Guide” from when I was a kid – unfortunately it is in the same desk where the moon landing front page is. I learned a lot about identifying birds from their calls from the Cornell Institute online – they are a great source of information. https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/

        I am behind in Reader again – I am swamped at work and wanted to do a post the last few nights, but am behind in Reader as well. Still thinking on it as I have many photos stored up to use.

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      • The Cornell Institute is a wonderful birding resource. I have had former students who loved birds and wanted to become ornithologists go to Cornell University, then come home and share what they learned with me since they knew of my interest in birds. I think one of the easiest field guides to use is Peterson’s. I have their Guide to Eastern Birds. Unfortunately, it is out of date and the maps are no longer accurate. The raptors are still rebounding from the use of DDT that nearly wiped them out in the 70s. And global warming allows many southern birds to expand their ranges northward. I need to get a new one. I am very behind in Reader and in answering comments. Bill and I are traveling again – this time to CO to be here for my grandson’s 4th birthday party tomorrow.

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      • My book is likely very outdated too Laurie – I got it when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I am answering comments at 11:22 p.m. as I just did a very long post about a morning spent at the marsh. I think since it is Summer it is harder to keep up in Reader – I looked last night and saw at least one of yours. I remember you said you were going on vacation – that’s great you’re there for your grandson’s birthday his 4th birthday. A few weeks ago, I saw some chalk art and it said “Roar! _______ is four!” I took a picture of it but can’t remember the child’s name. It was very cute and took up a good part of the driveway. Have fun!

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      • Yes, I am just taking advantage of some quiet time while my grandson is taking a nap before his birthday party. It’s today. I just read your post about the marsh – very pretty photos!

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      • You have not only the air issues there, but the time zone change as well – the beauty of the area and the visit with your family makes up for it. Hope you had fun! He’s likely already in bed for the night as I write this.

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    • I understand what you mean. Long runs in the summer are not pleasant. We signed up for Marine Corps Marathon, though, and have a lot of mileage to build before October.

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  8. I’ve not done one of the challenge races where you run two or three races over the course of two days. They weren’t so popular when was younger and running longer races. A fall duathlon is calling me and I haven’t had the courage to pull the trigger and register… yet. It’s in Hagerstown, MD in October. Wanna join me?

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  9. I agree with everything you wrote here Laurie. And I am pretty sure this is why I keep going and keep pushing, even though it’s really really hard right now. It matters. It matters more than anything right now. So even though I question why on earth I’ve signed up for another marathon, I can also answer that question immediately. Because I can. Because it matters. By the way, you are not an anomaly; I love having a schedule (even if I change it up from time to time), it gives me PURPOSE!

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  10. Oooh. Bad weather for running. I took the weekend off. Went for a hike and a paddle instead. Oh, and I cut the lawn yesterday around noon. I could barely breathe. Maybe a spring marathon would make more sense in this era of rampant global heating.

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    • A hike and a paddle sound like lovely substitutes for running this past weekend. We were in Pittsburgh, and it was hot, so very, very hot. Managed to run 3 miles each morning before throwing in the towel. Late spring marathons are my favorites.

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    • I think you show a lot of grit with your gardening, Michele. As a woman who has tried and failed miserably at vegetable gardening (I couldn’t face battling the groundhogs and bunnies any longer), I know how much work and perseverance it takes!

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  11. We’re headed to Kentucky in September to cheer on our 16 year old granddaughter as she does a race with her 68 year old great uncle that she’s never met.

    Running can reunite families, bring us back to where we need to be.

    I’m trusting …

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    • Oh, Linda, that sounds wonderful! Good for your granddaughter. I am sure she will appreciate your encouragement. I hope you write a post about the experience! πŸ™‚

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  12. Amen to more grit, Laurie. After reading Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit, I’ve thought a lot about it. It’s definitely something we need more of individually and culturally. You’re definitely holding up your end of things! πŸ™‚ Now for the rest of us….

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    • I have not read that book, Lisa. I will have to look it up. Grit was the buzzword of the year for my last year of teaching. From reading your posts, I believe you have a great deal of grit yourself!

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      • That’s true. I was telling my mom about you and your husband and all the running you do – I can barely keep a 30 mins on my stationary bike without collapsing and gasping for breath. But you’re right there are so many ways to challenge yourself – which I enjoy, just not running!

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  13. My last marathon was in 2005 but after I had to retire for a series of fractures.
    I agree about the shorter distances. In summer they are very appropriate, better if flat. We have all the time, when the heat has gone, to run longer distances and hilly routes.
    Yes…. I am getting very old……

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  14. I agree with you about the challenge of a long distance run. Part of me feels that those shorter distances can be challenging too, but in a much different way. I’m going to explore this on my blog in the future–maybe as attempt to make me feel better about running shorter distances!

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    • Yes, I agree. It is challenging to push harder for a shorter period of time like you do in a 5k or 10k. Anyone who gets out there and moves shows grit in my book.

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  15. As always, you are an inspiration and role model. I was never a runner – more a walker in the neighborhood. Please take care in the heat – it can be cause a heat stroke you know.

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  16. Glad there are nuts who like marathons! Me? I like a good 5k. The training a race day are short. Focus on speed and sprints. Do in time for breakfast. But I’ve done my share of century races on a bike. At least it’s not running.

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    • Haha! I am definitely one of those nuts! My hubby and I are going to have to train for a longer bike ride sometime soon. We want to ride the Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh to D.C.

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  17. Laurie, your post reminded me of the WHY for “strongly encouraging” (or downright insisting) our boys do some hard things. I think most teens make “being a slug” into an art form in the summer. At least, mine try to. We all need to stretch beyond our comfort zones and grow in character and understanding and perspective.

    I need to make sure I’m not always looking for the easy thing, but choosing to do things that force me to grow. You are an inspiration to me!

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    • Jeanne, your comment made me laugh. My boys used to be pretty sluggish in the summertime too. I had to boot them out of the house sometimes to get them to go play! Thank you so much for your very kind comment!

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  18. I think I have plenty of grit but I don’t train for fall marathons anymore. I do love doing hard things but I enjoy knowing that I can go out and run 10 miles if I want, or if it’s just too hot and humid I can skip the run. I don’t do this very often but I like knowing that I can.

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  19. Inspiring post! I love that you have role models 5, 10, 15, 20 years older still running marathons. Incredible! I hope to run long into my retirement someday.

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