Author Archives for Jen Bendewish

About Jen Bendewish

Mom, triathlete, runner, skateboarder, and still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

When Will I Feel Like a “Real Runner” Again?

Marathon training – during 18 mile long run.

Today was my first run post marathon. It has been 10 days since the marathon and I have decided to do a reverse taper of Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 Marathon training plan, which means this week I will run three days: 2 miles/2 miles/3 miles. Next week I plan to run: 4 miles/3 miles/4 miles and a long run of 8 miles. I am not sure if I will run the long run yet.

With today being the first run back, I opted for a 1-mile out and back at the local greenway. The first half mile felt pretty awful, my legs felt heavy, my chest hurt, and even my lower jaw hurt. By the 1-mile mark I was feeling okay, and on the second half of the run I felt like myself again. During this run I couldn’t shake the feeling, “when will I feel like a ‘real runner’ again?”

Which is crazy because I have completed 10 marathons, several half-marathons, a few 10ks, and countless 5ks. Then I asked myself, “What is a real runner – what do they look like?” My answer, “anything not me.” I am short, 5’1″, weighing almost 160 pounds (currently 25 pounds heavier than my last marathon), and with short, bowed legs. I thought to myself, real runners are tall, with legs like gazelles who take long, elegant strides. Real runners are clad in “themed” running gear, wearing dri-fit shirts and tanks from recent races, carrying cool hydration bottles and nutrition gels. Real runners show up to run in running groups and all have a cool lingo as they converse and warm up for their fast paced group run.

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Flowerfest Marathon Recap 2023

Flowerfest Marathon, Callaway Gardens, GA (3/18/2023)

The Flowerfest Marathon is part of the TriColumbusGa race series. TriColumbusGa is known for providing high quality, family friendly, and unique experiences for athletes of all levels. I have previously participated in their triathlon races at the sprint and olympic distance.

I was considering three marathons in Georgia: Combos Marathon (formerly Snickers Marathon) in Albany on 3/2/2023, the Flowerfest Marathon in Callaway Gardens on 3/18/2023, or the Chasing Jefferson Davis Marathon on 4/15/2023 in Abbeville. The Combos Marathon was the closest to me, but I chose the Flowerfest Marathon because it was the end of my kids spring break, there were no family scheduling conflicts, and I had read positive reviews about running in Callaway Gardens.

Friday – Travel Day

Having been to the area before, I knew there were few places to eat, so I made sure to pack heavy on snacks and meals. I think I packed enough for five days. I stayed at the Mountain Top Inn Lodge, which had a rustic, mountain cabin feel, with a beautiful view of the valley. The weather was cold, windy, and raining when I arrived. Packet pickup was outside in the windy and cold weather. There was no expo, but a few friendly volunteers that helped me with packet pickup.

Later that evening two friends arrived at the lodge. They had decided to race as well. It had been about 7 years since we had all raced together. I was grateful for their company as it took my mind off the race and my nerves.

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Marathon Training After a Six Year Break (Part 2): 10 miles to 22 miles

As I neared the end of the 10 weeks to 10 miles training plan, I considered training for half marathon (the thought of training for a full marathon was still too daunting). I decided to use Hal Higdon’s Marathon Training: Novice 2 plan to see if I could use the first nine weeks to get me to the half marathon distance and if all was going well I could continue on to the full distance.

I started the training plan in October and here is a summary of how the 18-week training plan:

Week 1-5: Training weeks went pretty smooth. Week 5 ended with a 12-mile long run. For the long run, I opted to run a 3-mile loop through the neighborhood multiple times. This kept me close to home.

Week 6-7: Week 6 was a recovery week and Thanksgiving, so I did not get all my training runs in but did complete the long run. Week 7’s long run was a 14-mile run and I could not find the time in my schedule for it, so I broke it up into two runs, a 4-mile run in the early morning, followed by a 10-mile run closer to lunch. I was only able to get 9 miles in during the second run, making my long run 13 miles.

Week 8: The 15-mile long run. It took me three weeks get through this training week comfortably. These three weeks happened leading up to Christmas with my long run completed on Christmas Eve morning. I thoroughly enjoyed the early morning run and seeing the holiday lights.

At this point, I made the decision to keep training for a full marathon. I picked three marathons in Georgia, each a weekend or two apart. I told myself if I was ready I would run the earliest one, and if I had to repeat training weeks I could run one of the later marathons.

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Marathon Training After a Six Year Break (Part 1): Building to 10 Miles

Almost six years. It has been almost six years since I laced up a pair of running shoes, put on a race bib, and stepped up to a starting line. During this time, I have grieved my father’s passing, given birth to baby #3 (Baby G), stepped away from a career, stepped down from pursuing a PhD, started a business, and attempted to get my running groove back several times. I also never stopped thinking about the next marathon I would race, though that dream often felt like it would never happen again.

Baby G was born in February 2020, just before the pandemic and lockdown. When she was three months old, I tried to ease back into running, but my body was not ready. I was nursing an exclusively breast-fed baby and the stress of being older, work, homeschooling two older kiddos, all took a toll on my milk supply. I spent the next several months prioritizing efforts to maintain my milk supply while occasionally getting out for a 20-minute walk. When Baby G turned a year old, I started trying to ease back into a running schedule. Over the next year, I would build a few weeks of running, logging runs three or four days a week (totaling 6-8 miles), then something would happen… a minor injury/ache, a sick kid, which meant a sick mommy, tummy troubles, weird fatigue issues, or simply a lack of time and running not feeling good. The perpetual pattern of not being able to stay consistent and being 30 pounds heavier since my last race made me feel like a failure, like I would never find my stride again, like I was too old to do it anymore.

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