AMR Strava Prove It: Holy Fierce Mother Runners in February!

Oh, just Debra Helfand who WON the female master's division in a 5K recently. NBD.
Oh, just Debra Helfand who WON the female master's division in a 5K recently. NBD.

Every BAMR who just took the step to sign up for this challenge, and then has put their heart and soul, trials and tribulations, out there for us all to read, deserves a fierce necklace. —Kerrie McFeeters

We can't give one to everybody, but we can definitely declare a tie this month between Buffy and Keely. And because I can barely read the screen because my eyes have been weepy reading these entries, I wanted to include them all so you can thrive on each other's fierceness, which is beyond impressive. Can we get a collective mother runner roar? 

Winner #1: Buffy Anderson
During my first pregnancy, circa 2006, I was out on a Saturday morning run (okay I had slowed to a walk due to 1st trimester exhaustion and nausea) on a popular biking/walking path. I heard another runner approaching from behind and thought nothing of it. Suddenly this person grabbed me, one hand gripping my shoulder, the other my butt in a way-too-invasive way. I hadn't had any self defense training, but thought I had heard something once about spinning to get out of a grip, and throwing an elbow, so I did. I spun, I threw my elbow, and I released some major F-bombs which I will not repeat. Even in this time of distress I was able to use the F word as a verb, noun, and adjective. The creeper stumbled back looking stunned. I knew only one thing in this moment: I was going to kill this guy. The F bombs continued as I unsuccessfully tried to chase the creeper down. He got away, so I ran home and called the police. Needless to say, I was rattled to the core. Yes, I had gotten away from this guy and scared him off, but his brazenness was disturbing. I could tell he had planned to do much more than grab me. It turns out I was right. Two years later I recognized his photo in the local paper when he was arrested for grabbing a high school girl, pulling her down into a creek bed, and bashing her head in with a rock. Again, in full daylight. When they ran his DNA it matched a rape case a couple hundred miles to the south. The date of the rape was 5 weeks after he grabbed me.

After the assault, running was no longer the same. I was just too anxious thinking that someone was going to grab me at any moment. Being a new mom didn't help: it was hard to fit a run in with a new baby. The next two babies didn't make it any easier. Over the last seven years my runs have been infrequent, short, limited to my neighborhood, and almost exclusively with my dog.

This challenge has forced me to get over my fear of running alone. I was a little anxious signing up, because I looked at the training plan and knew I couldn't take my dog on all of the runs, I knew I would have to leave the comfort of my safe little neighborhood, but I also knew that I needed to get over my fear. So I tried not to think, and I just ran. t have run alone, leaving my security blanket/dog at home. I have left my neighborhood and run far, and it has been AMAZING. This was just the push I needed to get over that assault, and I am so glad I did it. I am most definitely feeling like a fierce mother runner.

Winner #2: Keely Shaw
I became a runner in 2012, starting the C25K at 265lbs. Over the course of a year I lost 110lbs, going from a 60 minute 5K to a 29:44. As my times got quicker, I hit up TLAM plans to get my distances longer. There were so many changes so fast that after my 2nd half marathon I fell off the rails a bit and took a break - that turned into a big quit. I gained weight, I got slower, and I looked to this challenge to give me the kick in the booty I needed to get back to where I wanted to be.

I won an entry to a local Valentine-themed 5K, and since the 1st rule of running is that free race entries are not to be missed, I signed up and dreaded it. I was only a month into the plan, and I was frustrated with how long it was taking me to rebuild. To top it off, the race was run on my 5K PR course - my hard-won sub-30 from last year - and because of the huge distance between where I was and where I am now, I almost didn't go that morning. I lined up with my Moms Run This Town friends (who were going to smoke me), and (grumpily) started the race.About halfway through, I realized I had been leapfrogging another runner, and that after another interval or so, I was going to overtake her for good. As she passed me (for what I thought would be the last time), I said, "We're leapfrogging!" and she answered breathlessly, "Well, it's what pushes us!" I don't know what made me change my plan from "I will at least beat this person" to "I'm going to chat this person up," but I ran up to her, slowed to her pace, and started a conversation. She seemed to be lagging while I was finally warming up, but something made me stay a little longer. Turns out, she was gunning for her own PR - previously 39+ minutes - and was on track to get it, but didn't feel like she could keep up the pace she needed to make it. Well. Maybe I couldn't reach my sub-30 with a 10 foot pole, but damned if I wasn't going to help this total stranger beat 39. So I stayed with her, I told jokes, I asked questions and filled in the conversation gaps when she was pushing beyond where she thought she could, and I encouraged quick breaks when she stopped to walk - "How about we just walk to that cone?" We finished at 38:32 and 38:35. Funny, but helping someone else smash their goal was better and made me feel more like a fierce badass than any of my own PRs, and made me more confident that I'm going to smash my own again, too.

Like so many of the BAMR's doing the 10K plan, I'm starting from a place that bristles me with the knowledge of where I "should" be, where I once was. But this BAMR was lucky enough to prove it a little early - to remind myself of not only my unlimited potential, but of the fact that running and badassery is not something you mail me with my medal at the end - it's something I have NOW. I've never felt so motivated or so strong, and I'm set to kick some serious ass over the coming weeks!

I recently felt fierce when I conquered last week's hill repeats.  I shuffled the workouts around to accommodate my husband's travel schedule, and this workout fell on Sunday.  Playing the role of single mom for four days, I debated how to make this workout happen.  I spent the weekend hoping I could find an option that didn't involve a predawn treadmill run, but I came up empty.  At 5:15am, a typical weekday workout time but an unfortunate weekend time, I dragged my rear down to the cold basement.  No fiber of my being wanted to set foot on the treadmill, let alone push through a challenging hill workout.  “Suck it up, buttercup,” I told myself, and I reluctantly turned on the treadmill.

After the warm-up, I ran the first hill at 5% incline and decided that I would increase the incline for each repeat while keeping a consistent uphill speed.  The 6th repeat found me running at a 10% incline at the same speed as my first repeat!  I was a hot, sweaty mess, and I couldn’t have been happier.  I felt fierce, proud, and totally unstoppable, just what I needed to continue (wo)manning the ship on my own.

And the rest of the Fierce Mother Runners. So freakin' impressive, we wish we could give you all a hug in person. Keep on roaring!

I haven't felt a lot of fierceness in myself or my running in quite a while.   I've been a runner for most of my life, but have struggled with the title throughout each (and too frequent) injury.  The start of this challenge was me coming back from my latest injury and about 5 months without running (without my title, "runner").   Today I ran my intervals on the treadmill at my work gym over lunch.   The workout was ok, but not particularly fierce.   In the locker room, a woman who I've never met told me that she was watching me on the treadmill and I'm an amazing runner.   I didn't quite know what to say (managed a polite thank you) and walked back to my office feeling the return of my "runner" title.   And suddenly fierce!


These last 2 weeks, this group and my running have gotten me through. My Aunt passed away 2 weeks ago from the same disease that is killing my father. Of my cousin and sister, I am the only one facing the reality that this is genetic, and am solo on my trek in April to a nerogeneticist. After my Aunt's funeral, my husband came with me to the gym. I got a great tempo run in, picked up my son early from day care, and when we got home, our fire alarms were going off, and we have 3 leaks in our garage. Don't know how much insurance will cover, and how much of our house we will have to rip apart. Usually I would go hide, but I am managing because of this supportive group of mothers, their stories, and listening to AMR podcasts on the dreadmill.

This winter, my best running option was the indoor track at my local University.  Only thing is that ROTC does their drills and running in there too.  They said it was no problem if I ran, but day one was rocky.  The cadets were all over the track.  I rounded the bend at one point, and there was a kid standing in my lane- fine- except he is looking right at me barreling towards him, and he was not gonna move for me.  Well, I was feeling fierce, and maybe missing crucial oxegen, because I went with “body check” as the way to deal with it. On day two is was clear that the leaders had coached them , and  Christine had coached *me* on some track protocol.  After two weeks of yelling “track” to clear the lanes, now all is well.  My speed is like nothing I’ve ever done before- because I dare not back down now that I’ve established my position.  And I’m running 5-9 miles at a time there!  And now they are all very friendly, and even respectful.  I’m still looking forward to Spring, but I’m going to miss my ROTC pack!

I may not be the fiercest of all, but I have to say I am feeling pretty awesome since starting this! I ran the Cowtown Half Marathon in Fort Worth last Sunday. I have run only 2 other halfs before. Halves? Halfs? Either way... I had a goal to PR and do it in under 2:40. That's pretty fast for me. The day was perfect, beautiful weather, I ran into a girlfriend of mine whom I ended up running much of the race with, and until mile 8 I was running well under my time goal and feeling simply fabulous! Mile 8. My Garmin took about a mile and half vacation and I began suffering from severe IT Band pain. To the point I had to walk nearly 3 miles in all. I simply enjoyed the scenery of the Fort Worth Stockyards, downtown, and all the awesome other runners laughing and smiling their way through 13.1, 26.2, and 30! I ended up finishing in 2:43:28, which is still a PR for me by nearly 4 minutes and I feel supremely confident that I will
meet my goal of under 2:30 for my May Half! I have been sticking to your training plan and feeling all around fierce as fierce can be!

Week 5 of my training started okay, despite the unrelenting cold/snow/ice in NY, but went sharply downhill at the end of the week. On Thursday and Friday I worked till 9 p.m. in preparation for vacation, and stayed up packing till 1 a.m. on Friday. I was stressed about having no time to run. We got up early Saturday to fly to Galveston, and I was exhausted when we arrived. Couldn't run. And I couldn't do my long run Sunday because my husband had signed us up for a 5K. But this race ended up being my Fierce Mother Runner moment. I went in wanting to make up for the missed training days, so I gave it my best despite a tight calf. I got a PR and came in 1st in the female masters division! This means I finished before all the other 40+ women in the race, not just in my 45-49 age group. I'd never dreamed of placing in a race because races in NY usually have thousands of runners, and I'm not THAT fast--but this race was relatively small. So I was THRILLED, and super-proud--especially because my son and in-laws were watching. BAMR!

The last couple of weeks have been extremely difficult for me. You see, once I commit to a training plan, I am 100% in. For my last ½ marathon, I followed the TLAM finish it plan and didn’t miss a single workout. Not one. Not even a rainy day optional run. But two weeks ago I got sick…the kind of sick that had me not getting out of bed for 4 days and basically letting my family fend for themselves. And even once I was able to get out of bed, I’ve been struggling to find the energy to get through the day much less run. I hadn’t run in 11 days. Today I went for a trial run, just a 5k to see how it felt. Breathing was a challenge and I was slow as molasses, but I got it done. You might wonder what’s so fierce about NOT running. For me, it’s about forcing myself to give my body the time to recover properly, and not push it too early. I have had to be mentally fierce every single day as I look at that training plan hanging on the wall and make the decision to NOT run. I have had to be mentally fierce, knowing that I am falling behind in my training, but convincing myself that I will be more successful if I take the time to recover fully. This little hiccup will not break me. I see that starting line in the not too distant future, and I know I will toe that line as a badass mother runner.

Fierce has never been a word to describe me as a runner until my long run of 7 miles last Saturday. Per the training plan, it needed to have a strong finish. So I held back early on, knowing I was going to need more at the end. As I came around the corner for my last mile and headed up the short hill, for the first time ever, I felt a burst of energy, got a smile on my face and started to haul a$$! I've heard a lot about endorphins while running, but had never gotten that "rush" before. But I am telling you I did for the first time on that run.....I was so pumped coming off that hill, I thought I lost my hat several times, but I think my head was just tingly from all the excitement! I felt pretty darn FIERCE and I swear the people passing me in their cars were thinking the same thing.

Here I am trying to  toot my own horn...something I am extremely uncomfortable doing!  I will tell you I call myself aBadass Mother Runner, but I think I don't play the part often!  Most times at the end of a run, well I just feel like I ran-nothing badass about it.  But something is changing inside of me.  And I felt that fire on my last run (Just kicked 4 miles butt!-from 2/22).  For the last year I have been hoping to up my pace a little-just to get that sub 2 hour half!!  But instead of getting faster or staying the same pace I got slower.  But let me tell you about Saturday's run...when I kicked its butt and felt total badass!!!

I was only supposed to run 3, but the sun was shining, wasn't wearing my yaktrax (for the first time in forever!) and I was in a very comfortable zone.  Not even paying attention to the Strava lady telling me my last mile end and not looking at myGarmin to check pace.  I was just running.  Just feeling.  And never worked myself much out that comfortable conversational zone.  When it was average pace was 8:45!  Holy Shit!!!! (oops!  Sorry!)  And my best mile was8:02!!  Holy moly!!!!  I had the total badass going on for the rest of the day...and actually every time since when I think about it!!!!

I was only supposed to run 3, but the sun was shining, wasn't wearing my yaktrax (for the first time in forever!) and I was in a very comfortable zone.  Not even paying attention to the Strava lady telling me my last mile end and not looking at myGarmin to check pace.  I was just running.  Just feeling.  And never worked myself much out that comfortable conversational zone.  When it was average pace was 8:45!  Holy Shit!!!! (oops!  Sorry!)  And my best mile was8:02!!  Holy moly!!!!  I had the total badass going on for the rest of the day...and actually every time since when I think about it!!!!


I had a moment this month, in fact, just this week when I finished my
Monday run. I had just run a little over 4 miles and I realized I had
only stopped very briefly to take drinks of water and then I just kept
on running! No walk breaks! How awesome and fierce is that?!  Just  7
weeks ago I was struggling to finish my short runs without walking,
sure I was recovering from bronchitis but still. Even better than not
taking walk breaks but my pace is staying super consistent. I'm super
proud of all the progress I've made over 7 short weeks. It really does
pay off to drag myself out of bed at 5am 5 days a week to run and XT
and then work a full day.





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