Follow This Mother!

Flying by: Marcia going strong at mile 14 in her first Boston-qualifying marathon

Marcia Kadens, 48, came to marathoning (and motherhood--her daughters are 9 and 5) later in life than some folks, but with age comes wisdom: She's qualified for Boston twice--and her girls are beyond adorable. I admire her philosophical approach to our beloved sport--and I think you will, too.

Best recent run: Since marathon training started, school’s out, and it’s heating up around here, I’m back to running in the dusky, pre-dawn light. The other day my iPod was dead so I ran to birdsongs and lilac-scented breezes sighing through the trees. The sun was just coming up as I finished. Having that hour to myself first thing in the morning is so restorative for my body and soul.

Dearly beloved: Earlier this year, I found myself not adhering to my training plan as well as I have in the past. I realized my relationship with running had gotten stale so, much like couples therapy, I devised a list of things I could do to make running exciting again: new races, two destination fall marathons, new training plan, joining a running club, and something as simple as reversing the direction of my old running routes.

Green goodness

Shake, shake, shake: Protein shakes help me recover from tough workouts faster, and they’re delicious and satisfying. Plus, I sneak in healthy veggies like spinach, kale, chard, and parsley so they’re very nutritious. I began having a smaller version as a midday snack when the urge to eat out of boredom hits. I no longer spend the afternoon with my beloved peanut butter-stuffed pretzels, dark chocolate almonds, cranberries, anything involving dark chocolate works. I’m easy that way.

BQ times two: That first BQ was smooth and sweet. Because it was my second marathon, there was no pressure. I had no clue what I was capable of. I ran conservatively , never saw The Wall, and it wasn’t until mile 24 that things got a little hairy. The crowd heard my husband yell “Marcia! BQ baby!” at the finish so I came into a “BQ! BQ! BQ!” chant. Totally surreal. The second time my head was in such a positive, confident place, I never considered the prospect of not BQ’ing again. I didn’t run my best race that day (went out too fast, hit The Wall at 16, and fought like a mother to squeak in). But mentally I never let go. My mantra was, “It’s in the bag.” I believed it and made it happen.

Marcia and her cuties after an early morning race

Physically fit, mentally flabby: For me, running is 90% mental. When I train, yes, I physically put in the miles, speedwork, and such, but I also train mentally. I visualize my goal race, pace, final miles, everything. I rarely skip or skimp on workouts because mentally they crack the door open for self-doubt. Mental flab is when you let negative thoughts creep in. When you start buying into the bunk your inner critic and/or others tell you. We’re all capable of much more than we realize.

Can’t run without: Balega socks and BodyGlide on my feet: I’m so blister-prone, it’s ridiculous. And foam rolling before and after I run: my hammys/glutes/ITB are very ornery. This helps keep them in line. Finally, Aveda Rosemary/Mint Body Wash and Lotion: They are my treat for running 10 or more miles.

Runnbatical: It’s not in the dictionary: After running Chicago last fall (in the heat again, ugh) and finishing the season off with a PR in the half marathon a week later, I needed a physical but, more importantly, a mental break from training. That’s where the term “runnbatical” came from. I didn’t stop running completely, but for 10 weeks it became a “side dish” rather than the “entrée.” For the first time in more than two years, I was not beholden to a training plan or goal paces. Mentally, I made the shift away from running as my primary activity and focused on strength training and yoga instead. In reality, there was only one week where I did not run at all, but I cut my mileage way down and my Garmin hibernated over the winter. It felt foreign at first, like I was playing hooky, and I gained weight over the holidays, but it was refreshing as well.

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13 responses to “Follow This Mother!

  1. very wonderful piece and person. But I’m partial to late-in-life moms since I had my 1st at 34 and last at almost 43! However, I don’t see me BQing – happy just to be able to run at all. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through Marcia.

  2. Love, love this part: I rarely skip or skimp on workouts because mentally they crack the door open for self-doubt.

  3. I follow Marcia – great stuff and inspiring to see that we can succeed at something we pick up later than others!

  4. Love the term “runnbatical”! I’ve been on one for over a month (since finishing the Flying Pig). I do this everytime I finish a marathon. Now I’m signed up for a 1/2 and I’m back to running. Love reading Marcia’s blog. Motivation!

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