Final thoughts on getting my ass handed to me and SISU

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July 15, 2013 by Amy B

I know I’ve already recapped my last races (here, here and here), but today was a day for reflection, after the euphoric wave of satisfaction had started to wane and the real muscle pain had started to set in.

I was feeling pretty good yesterday, despite my body feeling like it had just run two marathons. But today is a different story. The usual soreness is there, and I expected that.

(For the record: I don’t think you can put road running and trail running in the same family. They are just too different, and in my opinion, one is a helluva lot more painful than the other.)

This morning I felt sluggish and almost fell out of bed when I tried to put all my weight on my legs. I putzed around – checked instagram, juiced a shit load of veg in the fridge that was on the verge of being unusable, and generally wasted good time that I should have been purposing for oh, getitng ready for work and getting out the damn door.

I felt a little nauseous on the way to work after eating the remnants of Sophie’s egg and ham breakfast sandwich. I figured it would go away and shook it off.

Day was progressing normally, but before I knew it, 1PM was here and I hadn’t eaten. I was starting to feel sick, so I ran through the drive-thru at Jimmy John’s for a #2 (that is terribly customized, making me wonder if the JJ’s employees hate people like me or if I bring some variety to their otherwise humdrum sandwich making life. I sure hope it’s the latter).

I inhaled half the sandwich and pulled into the grocery store parking lot for some juicing supplies (celery, oranges, etc.) and suddenly felt incredibly sick to my stomach. I even sat for a minute in the car, worried that I’d lose my lunch (literally) in the middle of the produce section. I dragged myself through the store as fast as I could, carried my stuff back to the car and chugged a serving of Pepto-Bismol, hoping it would calm things down.

It didn’t.

Got back to my office and bailed on the rest of the day. Since then I have reclined on the sofa, attempting to rest and not feel like a war is going on inside of my gut, and caught up on 1.5 episodes of Grey’s (the Hulu service just suddenly died on me and I’m too lazy to get up and see what the hell is going on).

I was thinking about yesterday’s SISU award;  I was just so surprised by it. I wished I had actually stuck around for the award ceremony this time. The Salomon backpack hydration thing is pretty cool – I finally checked it out this afternoon –  and I’m sure it will come in handy one day, but simply being recognized for going out, getting it done and never giving up is a reward itself.

Sisu is a Finnish term loosely translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity. However, the word is widely considered to lack a proper translation into any other language. Sisu has been described as being integral to understanding Finnish culture. However sisu is defined by a long-term element in it; it is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain an action against the odds. Deciding on a course of action and then sticking to that decision against repeated failures is sisu. It is similar to equanimity, except the forbearance of sisu has a grimmer quality of stress management than the latter. The noun sisu is related to the adjective sisukas, one having the quality of sisu. “Having guts” is the English-to-Finnish formal translation, as the word derives from sisus, which means something inner or interior. Dynamic translation (sense translation) of ‘sisu’ yields the English word ‘grit’; which shares all its denoting elements with ‘sisu’, save for ‘stress management’, which finds connotative representation in ‘grit’, via ‘grit’s’ elements of ‘resilience’,[1] and ‘hardiness’.(

The series is definitely a test of endurance, and even though I know that I’m capable of completing 26.2 miles, and actually feel even more sure of it now after doing this, this was a challenge far beyond anything I’ve ever done. Not only the mileage and the terrain, but having it split up into three sections meant that I really needed to be committed to staying and coming back for the next race even when I wanted to quit. It would’ve been really easy to hit snooze on the alarm Sunday morning feel that my hips are sore, and go back to bed. And honestly, I was sure if I was going to do just that.  I didn’t believe that I would be able to finish the race Sunday morning. I didn’t even think I’d be able to finish walking. The idea of having to run more than twice as far as what I just done, was a little mind blowing and well, discouraging. I knew how that race it made me feel and I couldn’t imagine doing it twice plus some

Perhaps my current ill state is from pushing my body too far yesterday. I know there are people who think I’m nuts for even trying something that was beyond my abilities. I hadn’t trained to run that many miles, being only my sixth week of marathon training, my longest run so far being 12 miles. But one thing I’ve learned through all these marathons and training seasons is that our bodies are capable of so much more than we give them credit, and you never know how much you can do until you push yourself beyond what you think your limits are. If we never pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone, we’d never grow. If I’d never tried running short intervals during some of my runs this fall, I never would’ve known I could run a sub-10 minute mile pace. And if I hadn’t pushed it further than that, I wouldn’t have known I was capable of an 8 mile pace, which is something I never thought I’d ever be able to do.

But everything’s relative, right? As I was running Sunday I thought about the people who run those crazy endurance 100 mile races, so for them to hear me complain about a 15 mile jaunt through the woods, would probably make them laugh. It would be something they could do in their sleep.

I feel really proud of what I accomplished under the circumstances. I’m not going to stop pushing myself. My immediate goals are:

  • To get back to eating smartly and healthfully so that I can drop the last 20 lbs I have to lose.
  • At the same time, to accept that this is the body I’ve got right now, even if these photos from the race made me cringe when I first saw them today. Of course, I’m immediately drawn to my enormous gut hanging over the hydration belt (although there really isn’t an attractive way to wear these, is there?), instead of the fact that my body is strong enough to carry me over some of the toughest trails out there for many, many miles.
  • Not be afraid to try and run FAST! Incorporate some speed training/track workout into my week. Until this point I’ve mostly been a “just go out and put in the time” runner, and when it came to races, I never really tried to “beat” anything or anyone. Now that I know I’m capable of going faster, I’m going to see how fast I can go. It’s time to start pushing it, yo.

My buddy G, who ran the hill climb on Saturday, photographed the rest of the weekend (his amazing work is at his website, Here are a few of me from Saturday. Just the fact that I’m willing to even post these publicly is a huge step for me. *deep breaths*

12K - the extra weight I'm carrying right now is now painfully visibly evident.

12K – the extra weight I’m carrying right now is now painfully visibly evident.

More 12K

More 12K

12K race - Many thanks to Shannon who ran with me; we kept each other company and sane, but most of all, kept each other GOING.

12K race – Many thanks to Shannon who ran with me; we kept each other company and sane, but most of all, kept each other GOING.

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Runner, Eater, Mother, Tweeter

Amy, July 2013

I'm a thirty-something suburbanite turned ruralite living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Wife, mom of two, eater of all things delicious, and a runner. This is where I blather on about running and health. Baby Number Three will be here in November (so yes, I'm a little crazy), and I'm running through my pregnancy for as long as my body's willing and able. There's also more of me at Read more here.


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