Today's workout was HARD. It's Thursday, cross-training day. I love Thursdays because it's the day of the week that my husband goes to OrangeTheory Fitness with me and I get to run and do weight training. Although I have difficulty getting my heartrate up to the level they would like it (thanks to my endurance training), I do get a good workout and enjoy it. Usually, I show up ready to push myself. Today was different. My legs felt good. Mentally, I was ready for a challenge. But there was this...

2 days to Fort Ben

That's right - I'm running a half marathon in 2 days. Although I'm not going for a PR (Personal Record) because this is just a step on the journey to my first full marathon, it still is a race, and one with a monster hill from what I've heard. Last night, I ran 6.5 miles and kept a strong pace for the interval workout. Today, my job was to keep my legs loose, get a workout in, but don't push to the point of soreness or of getting my legs too tired. That, my friends, is HARD for me. To not give it my all, to not push my body, to be on the treadmill next to my husband who is clearly working very hard while I ran easy was HARD. I really had to work to keep an easy pace and ignore the coach telling us to increase our speed, to increase our incline. I even went lighter than usual on the weight floor, especially for the leg exercises. My heart rate stayed even lower than usual, and I didn't have that feeling of having pushed myself and been strong for an hour. (I also was much less sweaty than usual.) However, I was very proud of myself. This was the workout that my body needed today.

Later in the day, my friend and life doula, Amy, and my henna artist, Rose, posted this about Bees:

"Bee spirit has a strong work ethic, but it also knows the importance of stopping and smelling the flowers. There is a time to enjoy life’s nectar and a time to grab after the proverbial brass ring with vehemence. Bee helps with both, and in finding the delicate balance between the two."

This certainly resonated with me. For a while now, I've been struggling with having missed the big local 10k last week to run my 16 miler and to focus on a continuous long run in preparation for my marathon and struggling with running the half marathon this weekend without trying for a PR. There is a time to push, and there's a time to enjoy running. This weekend, my goal is going to be to take in the scenery and enjoy the race.

There was so much more in the post that resonated with me and my marathon journey, especially about how Bee should not be able to fly but it simply DOES and about Bees living and working as a community.

The post also was about giving of oneself to the community: "Those with Bee totems Tend toward autonomy when it comes to personal needs but are very socially focused otherwise. When they see a need there is no question of helping, particularly if it brings joy and promotes love." I've been doing a lot lately to bring the joy and promote the love of running, to help the running community, including mentoring for the Louisville Distance Project and now being an ambassador for the KY Derby Festival marathon and mini-marathon. Today, I was honored and touched by a number of friends: by a text from one of my best friends from high school who is getting back into running post-baby #2 and texted to say she was inspired by me, a text from a stats friend who is training for her first half marathon who was inspired by my interval work last night and ran her fastest interval ever today, and by my friend Michelle who said she has been inspired by our friend (also Michelle) and me and is considering a post-baby full in the spring. I love being a part of these strong women's running journeys and to see them getting into the sport and accomplishing small and great things.

So finally, I settled on what I would get at my henna session (a tradition I have before every half marathon or longer).

I often get something related to the race itself. For example, for the Kentucky Derby Festival mini marathon, I got a pegasus, and for the Flying Pig marathon, I got - you guessed it - a flying pig. So I decided to get the half-leaf from the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben logo (see above). But this race isn't just about the Indy Half. This race is about Indy Monumental - it is about having a strong run but not an all-out run. It is about mentally and physically preparing for my full marathon. So I decided to also get the Indy Monumental logo:

Indy logo

Because of my connections to bees today and the need to remind myself that I want to "smell the flowers" on this race - to enjoy myself, to think about the strength in my legs, to enjoy the scenery (which I've been doing better at on long runs thanks to my running partner, Jennifer) - that I need to channel that aspect of the Bee in this race as I prepare for the hard work and push of the marathon - I had Rose add some bees to the design.

henna arm

For my hand, I did my traditional finish line with 13.1 on it (I can't wait for my 26.2 finish line!). The bees continued up my hand and beyond the finish line - on the way to Indy Monumental! Next, I had Rose add J for Jon, C for Caleb, and Z for Zoe since they've been such an important part of this journey and will be in Indy for a family weekend when I finish. Rose then added one last touch - "Mama is a runner" so that all my family was represented.

henna hand

I'll end this post with a picture of the keychain that Michelle gave to me and Michelle. We have been supporting each other since July with nutrition and fitness goals and now as friends, or more appropriately as "sole sisters." Support. Encouragement. Community. This is at the heart of Running. I am thankful it has given me the opportunity to connect with so many amazing people, and I am going to enjoy running strong and taking in the scenery at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben - the next step on my first marathon journey!