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Team Beef Runner
Me at Atlanta’s Finest Finish Line 2016

On January 1, 2016, I started putting another one of my brilliant ideas into action–2016 a year of running challenges.  In the Fall of 2015, I said, “I think next year can be a the year of race challenges.” I decided I’m going to push my limits and accomplish some stuff I’ve read about and thought was cool/craziness. I mean why not? Yeah, so what I’m not the typical looking runner and nor am I the fastest (regularly the slowest or close to it)…  

People are always saying it’s the drive and heart and the will to finish.  I mean I preach, cajole, repeat it over and over every Saturday while Run Leading during the Atlanta Track Club training programs.  So I decided to listen to myself and with a little encouragement from my friends (some of which probably are wishing they had kept their mouths shut because they didn’t know I was serious about it and about wanting company… makes me chuckle every time I think about it.) 

What challenges have I undertaken…

  1. Publix Georgia Marathon
    Women running marathon
    Bianca and Me finishing Publix Georgia Marathon 2016

    1st time doing 26.2 miles on my feet with some of my friends. One day I’ll chronicle it for you (Don’t worry even though it was March I still have very detailed flashbacks…I mean memories and nothing will be lost months later. I mean I took it all in that day and had some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time.)  

    Woman in race
    Me at the Flying Pig 10K 2016
    ~Photo credit to Tina Tait~
  2. Flying Pig 3-Way with Cheese (‘cause everything’s better with cheese) – 40 days after my 1st marathon I did 1 mile Friday, 10K followed directly by a 5k Saturday, and Half Marathon Sunday. (I kept telling myself it’s less mileage than a marathon and I get to sleep in between the days. I beat the odds and accomplished the goal and was still standing afterwards!) 
  3. Triple Peach– Peachtree Road Race, Atlanta 10-Miler, and Thanksgiving Half Marathon. (1 down 3 to go more to come)
  4. Atlanta Track Club Grand Prix Series David Jordan Award Quest- 11 10 races put on by the Track Club of various distances throughout the year. We are 8 races in with 2 to go.

This weekend was Race 8 of the Grand Prix  and it was a lot of fun.  Before I tell you about the race I should tell you that I asked my #partyintheback crew to take up this challenge with me. Some were quick converts to join the “TJ’s doing craziness” again train and others were like I’m good with the t-shirt (at least 6 races–no small feat). I may have strong armed one into the whole thing with me with persistence and a smile.

When I come up with these ideas I’m always like who can I get to do this with me (I mean it’s not crazy if another person is doing it with you right?!?!)  Well, the #partyintheback has come along for the ride. I knew that August was going to be the hard month of this series because we had 2 races in a two-week period with the first official week of Fall Training in between.  

  • Party int he Back Tailgate 5K 2016
    Party int he Back Tailgate 5K 2016
  • Naomi, Jenny and me Tailgate 5K 2016
    Naomi, Jenny and me Tailgate 5K 2016

Race 7 Tailgate 5kK at Chastain Park was a struggle for me because my back filed a formal complaint and went on strike. Not only that my lungs were not impressed with the humidity level.  However, after the race I had these thoughts:

“I’m proud of myself even though this was nowhere near my PR because even with the challenge, I was able to keep a steady pace (even up the hills) and use some of my mental training tricks to push through and finish.  I’m going to add this course to my list of ‘we’ll meet again and I will win’ list. It seems as if all of these routes include some hills.

Even better the #partyintheback showed up and worked hard.  We have several other streakers still going strong.  I love that I announced it as a goal to complete the Grand Prix series this year and they agreed to come on the ride with me (Jenny may have been strong armed a little and I may have given some others the look that says…are you really going to make me do this all by myself?)

I live to train and race again. I will be changing things up and training harder. #onestepatatime #keepmoving #mentaltrainingworks #strongerharderfaster #runningisateamsport #streakingismything #motrinkickedinatbreakfastaftertherace”

Now Race 8 Atlanta’s Finest 5K was awesome.  My back successfully negotiated a week off from intense training (and no one died…although there were moments) and only protested a little along the way. The protests were ignored in favor of laughing at Jen’s comments and jokes.  It’s amazing how much a little encouragement and some laughter can keep you moving along.  We finished strong even with the uphill finish.  We were met at the corner by the #partyinthepack’s head cheerleader, Jenny and at the finish line by our personal finish line announcer (ok, so I think we share him with others but whatever…).  We laughed and sang along the way along with discussing slowing down and breakfast.  We didn’t slow down but did confirm breakfast after the race. 

I raced in the Mizuno Enigma 6s  which I didn’t own (and no I didn’t rob some unsuspecting running in the parking garage!).  It’s cool that I could try out the new version of the shoes I normally wear without having to buy them first. I’ve done this before with new brands and styles when I want to try without the hassle of trying and returning at local group runs. They felt pretty good and I’m glad they will continue to work.  

The big hit was really out outfits. We raced in our Team Beef jerseys and which were a big hit! So, the Georgia Beef Board has a race team to promote the benefits of beef to the running community.  We wear our jerseys at races and when asked (which we were…a lot on Saturday) we discuss beef in exchange we are reimbursed for the race entry.  It was fun.  Who doesn’t get curious when an entire group of women of all sizes are wearing shirts/tanks with Team Beef prominently displayed across the front in bright red.  We got comments and questions.  One person even told me she just had to Google it because so many of the shirts were around.  I think people were thinking it was something we made up to call ourselves as a joke and were pleasantly surprised when it was a real thing.  I would call it #winning for both our spirits and beef–it’s what’s for dinner! Stop groaning ‘cause you know you were thinking it!

  • Atlanta's Finest 5K Finsh 2016
    Atlanta's Finest 5K Finsh 2016
  • Party in the Back Atlanta's Finest 5k 2016
    Party in the Back Atlanta's Finest 5k 2016
  • Angie and me Atlanta's Finest 5k 2016
    Angie and me Atlanta's Finest 5k 2016
  • Adriane and me Atlanta's Finest 5k 2016
    Adriane and me Atlanta's Finest 5k 2016
  • Atlanta's Finest 5k 2016 Police Escort Finish
    Atlanta's Finest 5k 2016 Police Escort Finish

I had fun and can’t wait for the next race which is the Wingfoot Classic cross-country race.  It will be an adventure and a departure from the road racing I normally do.  I had so much fun last year that I know it will be even more fun this year!!!  

Being this close to completing my next goal for the year is making it even more fun race by race.  In truth, I set this goal and wasn’t quite sure that it would come together in the end. No the race distances were not new and most of the races were not new races for me. I had done at least 6 of the Grand Prix races for the last couple of years.  As an Atlanta Track Club member the cost was really a factor as most of the races are free to members. It was the sheer length of it (all year-long) made the goal pretty challenging.  

Life happens, injuries happen, interest can dissipate, etc.  Maybe my dream race was going to call me out of the blue and say here’s an all expenses paid trip to race (ok so that is my imagination at work but you get where I’m coming from…).  In hindsight, this was more of a goal of commitment than it was about new distances or setting PRs (although I’ve had a few of those along the way…).  I love that my RBFs came along for the ride!

Here’s the thing about this goal, I knew I wasn’t going to magically get so fast as to get extra points for placing in my age group. I don’t say that for pity or to get tips on how to get faster or a pat on the back for just showing up.  I say that because I want people to think about goals as more than about finishing place and more about a valuing yourself for what you accomplished. Sometimes the win is not about what place you come in but rather in setting a goal for yourself and valuing you enough to do everything you can to reach the goal.  

I’m telling you that setting a goal or challenging yourself may bring you untold confidence,

TJ

 


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