Thursday, March 30, 2006

Where Will the Worry Take You?

Today's run had me pretty intimidated. Nine miles. Wow, that sounds like a long way, doesn't it?

I didn't sleep very well last night because the top of my left foot kept cramping up and waking me up. Then once I was awake I started thinking about having to run 9 miles today. Every time my foot woke me up, I had a million thoughts and worries start running (no pun intended) through my mind and it took forever to fall back asleep each time.

My first worry was simply, can I do this? Can I run 9 miles? That is farther than I have ever run before. Last week I barely made it through 8, how am I going to make it through 9? Plus, I've ran 8.5 miles over the last two days. I'd really like a day of rest in between, but I don't want to run on Friday since it is supposed to rain.

My second worry was, am I going to be able to make it 9 miles outside? I did the last two long runs on the treadmill. The last time I tried to do a long run outside was when my shins were hurting so much that I had to quit in the middle.

My third worry was, where am I going to run? I don't want to run a million circles through my addition, but I don't really like running along busy roads. If I leave on foot from my house, busy roads are the only option. I could drive some place to run, but where? Should I try to find some back roads near home? Or should I try to find a dirt trail some place? But I've never ran on dirt trails before, and 9 miles is a long way to try out something new.

My fourth worry was, what about my GPS tracker? I want to check it again for accuracy, and I can't do that if I run on a trail or road that I can't drive down. And if it loses it's signal, how am I going to know my distance? If I run 3 or 4 miles, I can guess that by time and feel, but I don't know what 9 miles feels like. How am I going to be able to tell mile 9 from mile 5, which is about where exhaustion seems to be kicking in on the long runs.

My fifth worry was, am I going to be able to do this without any water or food? Or how can I find a place to get water? Or stash some water? Hmm?

With my mind full of wonder and worry, I set out to find a course. I drove around near home for a while and inspiration stuck all of a sudden. Last summer, my mom and I spend a lot of time walking and riding our bikes near her house. The roads were practically deserted, unless it was time for the schools around there to get out. So, I should be able to run without seeing too many cars, have a clear signal for my GPS tracker, and be able to drive the roads to check it when I'm done. Ok, problem three and four solved.

I parked my car in the empty swimming pool parking lot of my parent's addition and took off, still hanging on tight to worries one and two, and planning on winging it for worry five. I figured that no water or food wouldn't kill me, and it would help me gauge for the future.

I ran for about 3.0 miles feeling pretty good, but the wind was going across me and I was getting tired of fighting it. It kept knocking my mp3 player cord into my hand and pushing me into the road, so I decided to turn and have the wind at my back for a while. I was cruising along pretty easily like that. At one point, I came upon a hill that I was about to run down and I paused for a moment. The hill was huge, and I knew if I went down, I'd have to come back up. I almost turned around, but told myself not to be a wimp and plunged ahead. I decided to turn back toward my car at about mile 5.5, and immediately regretted that decision to run with the wind at my back, because now I had to run into it just as I was starting to loose steam. I kept plugging along until I got about 1/4 of the way back up that hill, and all of a sudden I wasn't running any more. I hadn't thought about stopping, I just looked down and realized I wasn't moving as fast as I had been a moment before. I was thinking how hard it was running up that huge hill and into the wind at the same time, and all of a sudden I realized my feet had started walking of their own accord. I briefly thought about fighting them, but then decided to let them have their way, and walked to the top of the hill. I got to the top and took off running again. I was so thrilled that nothing hurt during the run. My legs felt fine; no ouchy shins or tight muscles. My shoulder didn't even start up the entire way. The last 2 miles were pretty tough, but it was because I was tired and felt like I really need water. I had no idea where I was going to find the energy to keep going, but some how I did. I just kept repeating to myself over and over, "You can quit, but is it worth it? You will feel like a failure. Or you can keep going and be proud of yourself. Which do you want to do? Plus, if you don't make it, you will have to do this again in a few days to prove to yourself that you can. Do you really want to do that? Didn't think so! Just keep going."

So, 1 hour 44 minutes and 27 seconds after I started, I found my answers to worries one and two. Yes, I can run 9 miles. And, yes, I can do it outside. I also found my answer to worry five. Running 9 miles without water or fuel is hard and I don't want to repeat it. So, I went out and bought myself some Gu and next time my mom is going to ride her bike along with me to carry water or I am going to drive my route first and place some water in easy to find places.

I'm happy to report that when I drove my course with my car after I was done, the ending point was less than .1 different than it was with my GPS tracker. That made me feel pretty good. As I was driving the course, I kept thinking this is a really long way. Did I really run this? It looks familiar, so I must have, but I really can't believe I just ran this!

The worst part about the whole 9 mile run experience is that I got so unbelievably sun burned while doing it. It is March, MARCH for crying out loud, who thinks about sun screen in March? That is still winter in the Midwest!! But, I should have, because I am completely fried. Remember the old Pizza Huts when they built them with the red roof tops? Well, that's what I look like. Pizza Hut roof top red! (Can you tell I'm hungry?) And of course, it was gorgeous out so I had on a tank top, so even more of me was exposed to the sun! My nose is probably going to start peeling in a few days. Oh well, live and learn. At least I got a laugh out of it. I was at Walmart and walked by an older black gentleman who was working there. He looked at me and said, "Good Lawd girl, you caught yourself a suntan already, didn't you?" I was still laughing 3 isles later. Fundraising: $25 donated - Thanks Nancy!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Anybody Have a Stick of Gum?

I always, always, always chew gum while I run. I don't know why. I have no explanation. It is just my thing. People have their things. That is mine. It always has been and it always will be. And the really strange thing is that I'm not a big gum chewer any other time. But then, I never claimed to be normal! You can't voluntarily train to run 13.1 miles without having a screw or two that may need tightening.

I can count on one hand the number of times I have forgotten my gum in all my years of running. Three. The third being today. My mind seemed to be scattered as I was getting ready for my run. I think I was consumed with my GPS tracker. I was about ready to walk out the door and realized that I didn't even have my mp3 player. So I had to search through the piles on my kitchen counter to find it. And then I forgot my gum. I wish I would have remembered the gum. The gum was more important. I can run without my music, the gum, on the other hand, is debatable. I almost turned around for it when I realized I'd forgotten it. I probably would have if I had been by myself, but I really didn't want to explain to my training partner what we were doing. I can just hear the conversation....... Me,"Uh, can we turn around and go back?" T.P., "I guess so. Why?" Me, "I forgot my gum." T.P., "What?!?! You want me to run an extra half mile so you can go back and get a stick of gum? Are you crazy?!?!" Me, "Yeah probably, but I really need my gum." Do you think they have gum at the water stops on the half marathon route? One piece may get pretty stale by the end of 13.1 miles!

So, after the depressing realization that I was going to have to run 4 miles gumless, I settled in for the long haul. The first mile and a half were a little tough, but once I loosened up and got going the run felt great. A lot of my concentration was on my GPS tracker. I haven't figured out how to work all the bells and whistles yet, but I at least figured out how to get it turned on and started. I ran through a pretty woody section of neighborhood and it never lost it's signal, so I was very happy about that. Of course, there aren't any leaves on the trees yet so that might change things. I was running along tracking my distance, and started getting depressed when I realized that my tried and true 4 miles course was coming up short, very short. Hmm. So, I decided to add an extra .25 mile to the course just to be safe.

We were running along and my partner looked over and asked what my tracker mileage was. I said, "3.5, why what does your say?" And he said, "4." Hmm, interesting. We kept on going the rest of the route and when we finished my mileage said 4.00 and his said 4.51. Hmm, not so good. From driving it a bunch of times I would have guessed that we ran 4.25. I tracked it on google earth and it came up with 4.51, also. I am going to drive it again to double check. I can handle being off by 1/4 mile but I don't like the thought of 1/2 mile. Especially if it is reading less than what I actually ran. I don't want to be an over achiever and run extra or anything!! I am pretty sure that if my GPS was off it happened some place at the very beginning because at what I thought was about the end of the first mile, it was reading .58 miles. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that it was just the unit getting started. The directions do say that the first time you use it, it goes through a bunch of set up stuff and then it should be set for the subsequent uses.

At dinner, I decided to convince myself once and for all that T.P.'s distance was the correct one and that we had indeed ran an extra 1/2 mile. Therefore, I was allowed to indulge by ordering a cheeseburger and fries, along with water on the rocks with a twist (per our waiter - I asked for water with lemon). Fundraising: $25 donated - Thanks Carol!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

My GPS Tracker Arrived!!!

Today's run was an uneventful 4 miles on the treadmill while I watched the first half of The Waterboy. Good thing I have seen the movie before because I'm not sure when I am going to finish it. Tomorrow is my day to train with my teammate and I am NOT doing my long run on the treadmill this week!

I am happy to report that my GPS distance tracker arrived today! I am going to see if I can figure out how to use it before tomorrow's run so I can try it out. Then the plan is use it on Thursday or Friday for my 9 mile long run.

I added my total mileage and weekly schedule to the sidebar. As I'm sure you will figure out, I don't exactly follow the schedule. I try really hard to complete the miles each week, but not always on the designated day. I was surprised to see how far I've ran when I totaled the distances up!!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

TNT Social

Today we had a team social for TNT, which was organized by one of the team mentors (Great job, Cheryl!) It was at a gaming place where they had board games and Xboxs. We all got to meet Matthew and his family, and spend time getting to know each other a little better. I took my boyfriend along and I think he enjoyed it more than the kids did! When I finally drug him away from the Xbox (an hour and 45 minutes after the social was supposed to end), I told him that I sure didn't see much of him while we were there. His response was that he needed to spend time with Matthew or else he wouldn't have had anyone to play Xbox with. (Somehow Matthew's dad, brother, and the children Matthew's own age didn't count.) But Matthew reappeared many times throughout the afternoon to get some pizza or cake or to talk to us, but my boyfriend wasn't with him. Hmmm, Interesting. Let me guess. He was keeping the controllers warmed up for when Matthew came back.

When we got home from the social, my boyfriend and I ran 3.25 miles through my addition. Today's run was one of those runs that I dream about. It felt perfect ~ no aches, no pains, no problems. It barely even registered that I was running. My mind kept drifting in and out while my feet were just moving along. Kind of like when you are are driving and all of a sudden you are home, but don't remember the stops and the turns. Before I knew it I was back home and the run was over. I think I have found the secret to making 3 miles feel easy......... run 8 miles four days earlier. Compared to that 3.25 felt like a short stroll in the park!

I sent my mentor application in to Amy today, so we will see what happens. Hopefully I will be chosen for one of the positions. I know I sound crazy, but I really want to keep training to do a full marathon! I've decided on Chicago. I think an all women's marathon would be amazing to participate in, but I know the hills of San Francisco would do me in. I really have no desire to go back to Philadelphia, so that leaves Chicago.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Why Do I Run? That Is The Question

I'd like to recap a phone conversation from Thursday night.

Me: Hello?
Caller: Hi! How are you?
Me: Tired, actually. And how are you?
Caller: Tired? Why are you tired?
Me: Because I just ran 8 miles.
Caller: Why? Is someone paying you?
Me: *Laugh* No.
Caller: Well, was someone chasing you?
Me: No.
Caller: Then why did you run 8 miles?
Me: Good Question.

And that is the question. I've been asked repeatedly why do I run, why am I doing this. So, I am going to do my best to answer that question.

First of all, the thing that you must understand is that I run because of the way I feel after my runs, not during. Sometimes during a run it just plain sucks. It hurts and it's hard and you want to quit, but when you don't and you keep going to reach your goal, the sense of accomplishment is one of the most amazing feelings in the world. I feel more pride over my running than over anything else I have ever done in my life.

Second, I run because it is incredible and amazing to witness first hand our bodies ability to adapt to stress, adapt to training, adapt to what you put it through. Four or five short months ago miles 2-4 felt like miles 6-8 did Thursday. And if I keep at it, four or five months from now miles 6-8 will be easy and it will be miles 14-16 that will be the challenge. It is awe inspiring to witness the process occurring within yourself ~ amazing to watch your abilities increase ~ to continuously test your limits and surprise yourself by going farther than you ever thought possible.

Third, I run because I hate it. Huh? Say What? You heard me... I run because I hate it. It is my enemy, and I am going to beat it. The things with the most value are the things that I have to work the hardest for. I value my running because it doesn't come easy, because some days I do want to quit, because after some runs I swear I'll never lace up my shoes again. But it keeps calling me back, taunting me, begging me to defeat it, to prove that I'm not a quitter, that I can and will succeed.

Below is an essay I wrote in January 2003, when I finally decided that I wanted to get serious about my running. I ended up breaking my toe a few months into my training, and it's taken me until now to get serious again, but I think it sums up better than anything why I am doing this. I think those of you who know me well may be quite surprised at what you read. I think I see myself very differently than how others perceive me. Anyway....

Facing the Enemy Within

I don't know exactly at what point one begins to call one's self a runner, but I want more than anything to reach the point where I feel I have earned the title. One of my dreams has always been to complete a marathon. When I hear of other people who have done this, I am filled with such great admiration for them. One day I want it to be me that other people are admiring for accomplishing such an incredible feat.

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to run. I'm not exactly sure what it is about running that I find so appealing, but I have always been drawn to it. I can remember being a child and running through the streets of my neighborhood. When I was in junior high and high school, I thought about joining the track team every year when sign ups came around. I have started running on my own many times, and even ran a 5K once, only to quit before I really got going.

I don't know what holds me back, but I never seem to be able to stick with it. I don't feel like I have the drive, determination or discipline to takes to stick with running, or anything for that matter. The only things I seem to be able to accomplish in my life are the things that I have to do for someone else. Without someone looking over my shoulder, I can't seem to get things done.

More than anything, this is what I dislike about myself and what I most want to change. I guess running embodies this for me. It is the one area where this weakness is extremely apparent to me. Even though I really want to be a runner, I end up quitting every time I start to run and it makes me feel like less of a person. I always allow my lack of ambition and my fear of failure to stop me from getting what I really want.

I need to run to conquer it. But it isn't just the running that I want to conquer; it is my attitude towards life. I want to prove to myself that I can see this through to the end because I have never done that before. I want to overcome the lack of drive that I have allowed to rule my life until now. I want to know that I am able to motivate myself to accomplish my own goals. It is time for me to look defeat in the face and overcome it instead of run away in fear like I always have in the past.

I know that for me the challenge is a mental one and not a physical one. I know that even though it is something that I really want to do, it will be very hard for me to accomplish. But I also know that I will never truly be happy with myself until I do this. I don't just want to become a runner, I need to do it. I feel like if I can conquer running, then I can do anything.

I have always said that I want to live a life of minimal regrets. Years from now, when I look back on my life, I don't want to have a long list of regrets over things I meant to do, but never made the time for. For dreams I meant to make realities, but didn't. For challenges I wanted to overcome, but never found the courage to face. For goals I had, but never reached. I don't want to look back and regret never having done this. And I know that if I never run, I will regret it. I have reached my moment of truth. It is time to prove I can do this.

And that, Mr. Caller, is why I run!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Come Run With Me

I just ran 8 miles. I just ran 8 miles. I just ran 8 miles. The repetition is for the writer, not the readers, I'm in shock and trying to get it to sink in. This is a new record for me, up to this point the farthest I had made it was 7. I am so happy and proud that I can't wipe the smile off my face. I feel like a giddy jr. high school girl, and I wasn't a giddy jr. high school girl even when I was in jr. high! I wish I could say it was that much sought after "runner's high", but I'm afraid I am actually just bordering on exhaustion induced hysteria.

I want everyone to feel included in my running experience, so I am going to share with you the thoughts that go through someone's head during an 8 mile run on the treadmill. This way you can experience an 8 mile run without ever leaving your chair. It goes something like this.....

Mile 1: 8 miles, huh? ..... ok, here we go ..... don't start off too fast ..... nice and easy ...... good ..... now start the movie .... better watch the previews .... don't want the movie to end before I do ...... this feels good ...... nothing hurts ..... ok speed up

Mile 2: feeling good ...... wish my speakers on this tv were louder ........ can't hear movie ............ hot ....... want to turn on fans ..... then really won't be able to hear ...... not that hot ...... don't think about it ....... ok speed up again ....... going to take forever at this speed

Mile 3: still doing ok ....... thirsty ........ better pause for water ......... this movie kinda stinks ......... just keep watching ..... getting tired ...... slow down ....... ok good ......... going to take forever, speed back up

Mile 4: getting a little tired ....... do I really have more than halfway to go ......... gotta slow down ......... need water ....... want to stop .......... can't stop ......... not even halfway there ........ don't think about it ........ concentrate on movie ....... ok here comes the end of mile 4 ...... half way there ......... better reset treadmill or it will stop ....... only goes for 1 1/2 hours before auto shut off ........ this is going to take longer than that

Mile 5: why am I doing this ........ tired ....... need to stop ......... can't stop ....... keep going ........ stop thinking about it ....... tired ....... slow down ....... need water ....... this is torture...... my shoulder is starting up ....... just ignore it .......why am I doing this? ........ oh yeah Matthew ..... stop complaining ........ ok not complaining ...... running ....... speed up get this over with ....... ohh tired ..... slow down ........ concentrate on movie

Mile 6 - 8: I'm going to die ..... no you aren't ...... yes I am ...... need water ..... gotta stop ........ shoulder hurts ....... tired, go slower ....... gonna take forever, speed up ....... tired, go slower ...... gonna take forever, speed up .....right foot going numb .......... ignore it keep going ........ I can't do this ........ I wanna quit ...... you know darn well you won't quit, so just shut up and run ....... I hate this ...... why am I doing this? ....... oh yeah, Matthew ...... need water ......... gonna die ....... speed up ....... shoulder hurts ........ slow down ...... speed up ..... foot numb ...... slow down ....... almost there ....... come on strong finish ......... speed it up only .2 mile to go ...... YES!! I DID IT!!! WOO HOO!!!

Well? What do you think? Are you as tired as I am? I don't want to start making this long run on the treadmill thing a habit. It really sucks. By next week's 9 miler I need to find some new dirt trails to check out. I haven't been doing it because I had no way to track the distance, but I just ordered myself a GPS distance tracker today. Thanks to my boyfriend, I got a great deal. He can find an incredible price online for anything! It said about 5 days to ship, so everyone keep your fingers crossed it gets here by next Thursday.

I talked to Amy and it looks like my choices are Jefferson Hospital Philadelphia Distance Run, The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon, or the Nike Women’s Marathon. I'm still thinking about it. It's pretty much between Chicago and the Nike Women's Marathon if I do it. But San Francisco, isn't that like the hill capital of the world? You all know how much I LOVE hills. Plus if I mentor, I'm going to choose not to fundraise and to pay my own expenses. (I know that you are all so sad to hear that I won't be hitting you up for more money!) I could drive to Chicago, and wouldn't have to miss as much work. We'll see.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

That's It?

I've slowly been losing my grip on my life for the past few weeks. My house is a mess, my car is a mess, I can no longer see over the piles on my desk at work, I'm supposed to find time to read an entire 268 page book between now and Tuesday, I still haven't even started gathering my tax paperwork for my accountant, and I've skipped the past 4 days of training. I had a minor mental break down last night, that my poor boyfriend came over just in time to witness, but I think I have myself put back together today. So, it was back to my training this evening.

I always dread the first run after I have skipped a few days. I expect it to be painful and miserable, like I upset the running gods and they are going to punish me for my neglect with shin splints and dehydration. Luckily, neither happened. Today was actually the best training day I have had since I started. It felt incredibly good to be out there running. My breathing felt right, nothing hurt, the weather wasn't too cold, and the sun was shining for a change. We came to the end of the 3 miles and I actually thought, "that's it?" Normally, I get to the end of the 3 miles wheezing and panting and think, "why is it still so hard to go 3 miles when I ran 7 a few days ago? Shouldn't 3 miles be feeling easy by now?" It felt amazing to stop knowing that I could have easily ran twice that. I've been waiting for this feeling for weeks! This was our last 3 miler, next week we bump it up to 4, so I sure hope I'm saying the same thing next Wednesday.

I think spring is right around the corner. It stayed light through our entire run, and I even thought I smelled fresh grass at one point along our path. That, or it was an olfactory manifestation due to lack of oxygen. I'm anxiously and impatiently awaiting the day I can ditch the extra layers. I'm getting tired of running dressed like an Eskimo! I do have to say that with all this running my legs are getting in pretty good shape. This just might be the first summer in years that I don't mind putting on a pair of shorts! Sandals, however, are going to be an entirely different story. The calluses on my feet are large enough to scare small children. But I will display them proudly, for I earned them. They are my badge of honor, for I am a runner!! (This is proof that I have completely lost my mind. Last summer I would have told my pedicurist (yes, I made that word up) that I wasn't leaving until every trace of callus was gone. This summer I will threaten her life if she even thinks about touching them!)

I got an email from Amy, one of the girls at the TNT office, asking me to be a mentor for the fall season. I'm seriously considering it. I have been enjoying this immensely and I really think I want to stay involved with LLS & TNT. Plus, it has always been my dream to run a full marathon. So, depending on what the options are for locations, I just might do a full marathon with the fall team. I need to talk to Amy about it tomorrow to find out the details, but you may not have heard the last from me when May 6th rolls around!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Life Is Good!

I had all the intent in the world to do my long run yesterday, but it just didn't happen. My day ended up being crazier than expected and I didn't get to it in the afternoon. Then, I had a doctors appointment that, of course, took longer than expected. I walked out of the office a little before 6:00, and took a deep breath as I stepped out into the air. I was thinking that it felt pretty good - cold, but not biting. I was looking forward to going home, lacing up my shoes, and tackling my 7 miles. However, the weatherman had other plans. I had barely gotten in the door, when I turned around to look out the window and it had started snowing - Huge flakes, coming down so fast it was almost blinding. So, much for the long run. I draw the line at snow. I will brave the cold, and the rain, and the heat, and the sun, but no snow for this girl. Uh un, no way.

Well, with the option of an outside run eliminated by the sudden blizzard, it left me to contemplate the treadmill. So, I did. For about 2 seconds. And decided against it. The treadmill is great. I love to run on the treadmill, but for 7 miles in a row? It sounds like a fast trip to a mental break down, and I'm close enough as it is. So, I thought to myself......let's wait and see what the weather is like on Friday.

Fast forward to today. I decided that I needed to seek advise regarding my shin issue, so I went back to the local running store to discuss it with the staff. The very helpful guy at the store assured me that I wasn't all of a sudden rejecting my much loved shoes. He said that he thought I was doing too much training on concrete (yes, guilty as charged!) and I need to do more of it on grass. Ut oh, major problem. Is there anyone out there who HASN'T seen me roll my ankle or trip over the slightest little bit of uneven ground? As I was standing there with images of skinned knees and broken wrists flashing through my mind, I mumbled a weak "ok". He must have sensed my hesitancy because he then said "Well, you could train on dirt trails instead." Ok, now were talkin'. I can handle that as long as there are no tree roots to plot against me. He told me where some good ones are around here, so I'm going to have to scout out some new places to run. In the mean time, I asked him about treadmill running. He said that the impact of the treadmill is similar to what the trails would be.

So, I came back home, apologized to my treadmill for the bad thoughts yesterday, and we made up ~ For 7 very long miles, without one tight leg muscle to be found! None. Nada. Zilch. Zip. WOO HOO!!!!! The only muscle that was tightening up was my bum right shoulder, but I'm used to that. That I can ignore and run through. There are not words for how happy I am right now!! Fundraising: $50 donated - Thanks Hal!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Rolling Pins - Not Just For Cooking Anymore!

Rolling Pins. We all have one, right? Buried somewhere in the back of the cupboard, and we dig it out once or twice a year to make sugar cookies or a pie crust. Well, I have incredible news. Your rolling pins no longer need to gather dust in between those family get togethers. I've discovered a new use! You can use them to "roll out" your leg muscles before and after runs. I know a few of you are probably reaching for the phone to call the local mental hospital to come put me in a straight jacket, but I'm serious. Just hear me out.

At the very beginning of my training, we had a shoe clinic at the local running store. The purpose was to determine what was the best type of shoe for us. It was actually pretty cool. They measured our feet and determined our arch type. Then they had us try on different shoes and run on the treadmill while they video taped us. Then they went over the tapes with us and explained if we pronated and then recommended a shoe type for us. It was quite impressive actually. Luckily for me they told me that my current Nikes are perfect for my foot type and amount of pronation. Lucky because I had just purchased 2 pair of the same shoes in different colors. I bought one and ran in it for a few weeks and then went back and bought a second pair because it was the most comfortable shoe I had worn in years.

I digress, back to the rolling pins.

While I was sitting there waiting my turn to be measured, another team member told the staff that she was having problems with her calves tightening up during and after runs. She wanted to know what she could do about it, and the staff member went over and got a gadget off the rack and gave it to her to try. It was basically a stick about a foot long with small rounded sections on it. The purpose was to run it over the leg muscles to get them to relax. As he was having her try it out, he explained that people were originally using rolling pins for the same effect. But, they looked a little silly carrying rolling pins to their training sessions and of course the running companies found an opportunity to make some money and invented official muscle roller outers (obviously not the official name ~ I have no idea what they are actually called).

Well, those of you following my journal know that I have been having major problems with my legs tightening up during my runs for the past week, especially my shins. It hasn't been much fun lately and yesterday I felt like I wanted to cry it hurt so bad. So, today I decided that I was willing to try anything to prevent it from happening again. So I spent 20 minutes stretching out before my run, and I dug out my rolling pin from it's hiding place in the back of the cupboard, blew off the dust, sat in the middle of my kitchen floor, and used it on my leg muscles. I don't know if it was the rolling pin or the stretching but something definitely worked because my legs felt so much better today, not great but significantly better. They only bothered me for about 1 mile in the middle of the run. Woo Hoo! So, don't be surprised if you come over to find the rolling pin in the middle of the floor or rolling around in my car. Now I have two heros to worship: the makers of ibuprofen and the inventors of the rolling pin.

Today was actually a pretty good run. It was a little windy starting off, but no where near as cold as yesterday. We decided to do 3 miles instead of 4. We had both already completed our 4 mile runs for the week, and I usually do my long runs on Thursdays and I didn't want to be completely exhausted for tomorrow. So, we opted for the 3 miles. I was thrilled to not be running on the hills. And on an incredibly happy note, it was actually still light out when we finished running. That is the first time that has happened. So, either we ran much much faster than we usually do, or spring is on it's way!

I've added the chorus to AC/DC's T.N.T. to my blog. I thought that extrapolating the chorus was rather fitting with TNT and my training. Plus, I love AC/DC and listen to them to help motivate me when I am running. I'm actually pretty proud that I figured out how to do this. A computer guru, I am not! But I can cut and paste with the best of them! Anybody have a request??

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I Run, Therefore I Hurt

and hurt, and hurt........ Are you sensing a theme here? Today's run was only 3 miles, but it about killed me. Two ibuprofen, nine hours, and a nap later and my legs are still aching.

In honor of my recommitment, I decided to brave the cold today and run outside instead of on my treadmill. I was immediately regretting that decision about 2 seconds into the run when my nose was running faster than my legs were, the wind felt like it was going to knock me off my feet, and my hands were turning blue inside my gloves. About a tenth of the mile into the run, I started having problems with my legs wanting to tighten up again, especially my shins. I even tried stopping to stretch twice, with little effect. The first two miles were pretty miserable, but by the start of the third mile everything was feeling ok, or maybe everything was just too numb to feel the pain any longer. At that point, I think I could have physically made it farther, but mentally I was too tired from keeping myself from turning around during the first two miles. Plus, my schedule only called for me to run 3 miles today, and an over achiever I am not.

When I first started out with my training, I was having problems with the motivation to run. I think I was simply pushing too hard too fast and wearing myself out. Every single day was like a major workout. Recently, I don't seem to be having a problem with the motivation. Most days I'm content to go out and do my runs, some days I even look forward to them. Recently, my problem seems to be convincing my legs that we really do want to keep moving forward. This is a new experience for me. My legs have never been the rate limiting factor for me before. It has always been my mind or my breathing in the past. I'm hoping I can overcome this soon, because it is pretty hard for me to keep pushing myself forward when my legs muscles feel like they are going to snap in two.

On a happy note, I did my run today in 32 minutes and 35 seconds. I know that doesn't sound very fast, but I stopped to stretch and tie my shoe during that time, and if felt like I was barely moving along for a large portion of the run. It seriously felt like I was running 15 minute miles, at least for the first 2 miles. So, I was happy to see that I made it in just under an 11 minute mile pace and it felt slow to me. I must be improving in my speed a little bit.

Runner's jokingly say that they keep running because they are too stupid to know when to stop. There is an ad in Runner's World Magazine pertaining to this that makes me smile every time I read it, and I just have to share. It says......."I'll keep running because it educates me. Before my first 5K, I wasn't even sure how long a "K" was. I was very glad to hear it's shorter than a mile." I remember that same thought going through my head before my first 5K. I remember thinking I can't run that far, and then being relieved to hear that it was only 3.1 miles. I think they do that on purpose to fool us. We get all worked up over the distance and then are relieved when we find out we get to stop much sooner than we thought.

In keeping with the too stupid to stop thing, I am going to do it all again tomorrow. But on another happy note, my training partner & I are not running the evil (his word not mine) tortuous (my word not his) hilly course tomorrow. We are opting for something a little flatter, but possibly longer. The jury is still out on if we are going to run 3 miles or 4. He's leaving it up to me. I'm leaving it up to my shins. We'll see.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Results Are In

I'm happy to report that I received a check in the mail today from Renee, the wonderful Tastefully Simple Consultant, for $85 for LLS. I want to once again say thanks to Renee and everyone who attended my party to help my fundraising efforts!!

I've kept a book of quotes, poems, and words of wisdom for the past 10 years, and it is filled with wonderful words. I thought I'd start sharing them, so I've added a quote to the sidebar. I'll try to remember to change it every week.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Making My Gym Teacher Proud

When I was in high school gym class my freshman year, we had to run what the teacher called suicides. We had to run the length of the gym, bend over and touch a line on the floor, run back to the other end, touch a line, back and forth, back and forth, until we completed our sets or the teacher blew his whistle to stop. Then we had to go get in line for the "sweat test." We had to file past the teacher, and he would check to make sure we were sweating. If it wasn't obvious, he would run his hand across our forehead to check. I always thought the process was a little disgusting myself. I mean, who wants to go around touching sweaty teenager's foreheads all day? Gross! But he seemed to think it was a good way to make sure that we were participating enough. If he didn't think we were sweating enough, we didn't get our participation grade for the day. Well, try as I might, I never seemed to break a sweat during my suicides. I would run as fast as I could, but it still never seemed to do any good. The teacher usually gave me a frown when I filed passed him, but usually gave me credit anyway - probably because he was my neighbor and I babysat his kids. As an adult, I've made the comment several times that my body is confused. I never actually sweat while I am exercising. Instead, I just over heat, my face turns red, and everyone starts asking me if I am ok. Then 20 minutes after I'm done, I start sweating. Well, thanks to my training, my body has finally figured out what it is supposed to do, and now it is making up for all those lost years. I'm turning into one of those people with sweat soaked clothing by the time I'm done, and my hair is so sweat soaked it looks like I ran it under the faucet. It took me 18 years (my god, was it really that long ago?), but my old high school gym teacher would be proud!

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Can I Do This?

Today was the first day since I began my training that I actually starting doubting my ability to complete this run. When I got started, I though that the fundraising was going to be the difficult part and that the training would be a breeze. I mean, I have run for years. Maybe not a lot and maybe not consistently, but it isn't something that is new to me. Plus, I've always bounced back fairly easily after the breaks I've taken. Boy oh boy was I naive! The fundraising turned out to be much easier than I had anticipated. The training, however, seems to be another story. I actually couldn't complete my run today and I feel like a total failure. It isn't like me to quit, but I had to. Today was long run day, and this week's long run is supposed to be 4-6 miles. I was actually looking forward to the run today. I've been feeling very overwhelmed and stressed and I thought it would be nice to go out and run and escape it all for a while. I put some new songs on my mp3 player and set out to run 6 miles, but I only made it 3.25. It was all I could do to make it that far. I felt like I just couldn't go one more step. Of course it was raining out, and I felt wet and water logged and my clothes felt heavy and rough rubbing against me. My legs felt so tight, like rubber bands stretched to their limit and about to snap. I even stopped once in the middle of my run to try stretching but it only helped for a few minutes. I tried everything I could think of to keep myself going, but it just didn't happen. Not even AC/DC could keep me moving, and that always works! I wanted to sit down on the side of the road and cry, but I was too tired. I knew if I sat I'd never get back up. I know that I haven't been doing very well outside of my running. I haven't been getting enough sleep. I haven't been eating properly. I haven't been cross training like I should be - I've pretty much stopped going to the gym in lieu of running. I've been doing too much of my training on the treadmill and I certainly haven't been drinking my water like I should be. So, in honor of sending in my recommitment paperwork a few days ago, I am going to recommit to my training and try to do more off the road, to improve my performance on it. Tomorrow is a another day, and I don't know how the run could possibly be worse than it was today...so onward and upward. Fundraising: $90 donated - Thanks Marlys, Kim, & Beta Sigma Phi Indiana Gamma Chapter!

Update 10:30 pm: My honored hero, Matthew, has a motto ~ Never Give Up! And I think those are great words to live by. If you really want something you have to just keep at it no matter what it takes. So, in the spirit of never giving up, I put my running shoes back on an hour ago and ran 3 miles on my treadmill. I refuse to be a quitter. I refuse to be defeated. And the ironic thing is that the run felt great. Does it count as a long run if there is an 8 hour break in the middle?

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Oh No, I've Turned into one of THOSE People

You know the ones I'm talking about....those insane people you see out running at 5:30 am in the middle of a thunderstorm or at 7:30 pm in the middle of a blizzard. The ones you drive by, while you are all warm and dry in your car, and your head snaps around to look at them as you drive by and think to your self. "What is wrong with him?" Or "She must me insane." "I can't believe he/she is actually out running in this weather." Well, folks, it's official. I have joined the ranks of THOSE people. I meet my training partner at the Y, as has become the routine on Wednesdays, to run the treacherous 3 mile hilly course. And he wasn't feeling quite up to dealing with the cold and wind and suggested we run inside today. Well, I didn't really feel like running around and around in a circle 24 times. Plus, Wednesday is the only day where I force myself to run outside in the elements and on some fundamental level I must enjoy the torture of the hills since every week I keep going back for more. So, I insisted that we run outside, saying it really wasn't that bad out. HA! We had literally taken 2 steps and I felt a rain drop hit my lip. About a tenth of a mile in it was coming down pretty good. Of course I had my glasses on, and between them fogging up and the rain covering them, I couldn't see for half the run. And by the end it felt like my clothes had gained an extra 10 lbs of water. But we made it through and then went out to eat looking like drowned rats. We needed some sort of reward after the torturous run in the down pour! (OK, not really. We always go out to eat afterward. The truth is we are just both too lazy to go home and cook dinner that late when we are tired from running.) Now I think I am going to spend the evening reading in my jacuzzi tub! I am so cold I don't know if I will ever get warm again. I'm hoping the warm water will thaw me out. So next time you are driving by and see one of THOSE crazy people out running, look a little closer, it might be me. And if it is, stop and see if I want a ride!! :)

Monday, March 6, 2006

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

Thanks to the incredible generosity of all of my wonderful family and friends, I not only reached my fundraising goal, but far surpassed it. Which means that I can mail in my recommitment paperwork tomorrow with a weight lifted off my shoulders. It's official ~ I'm running in the Indianapolis half-marathon two months from today!

I once again want to say thank you to everyone who donated. So far, the amount donated totals $2050, and I'm still awaiting the total from yesterday's party. If you still would like to donate, it is not too late!! I will be accepting donations through April 17. My team's fundraising goal is $350,000, and we are still a long way from reaching that. Donations are still desperately needed, so please consider donating if you haven't already. You can donate online by clicking the link to the right or by mailing a check made out to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to my home address.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Updates

I seem to be still fighting off those sick bugs that I mentioned earlier in the week. I still don't feel 100%, but I haven't gotten sick, either. I'm chalking it up to the fact that this is always my worst time of the year for my allergies and I've been out of one or the other of my medications for the past two weeks. The new laws regarding the dispensing of certain cold and allergy medications are driving me nuts. I have to wait until I only have 2 days worth of pills to get a refill, but I don't always have time to go pick them up in those two days, so I keep running out. Then my allergies start acting up and it's harder to get them back under control. Grumble, Grumble.

I did manage to do my 6 mile run on Friday evening. It was a little exhausting, but no more so than all the other long runs, the nap must have helped. And the good news was that my legs weren't sore at all and my knees didn't ache the entire time. I did run pretty slow, though. I watched the ENTIRE movie, When Harry Met Sally, during my run. If that gives you any indication how slow I was going. I kind of like watching movies while I run. It distracts from the aches and pains. Do you think I can attach a portable DVD player to someone in front of me at the half-marathon so I can watch a few movies while I plod along for 13.1 miles?

The Tastefully Simple party was a huge success today. We got to sample lots and lots of yummy food, visit with wonderful friends, and raise money for a good cause. I want to send a huge thank you to everyone who attended and helped support me and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LSS). And I want to say another huge Thanks to the consultant, Renee, for donating to me. Since I opted to forgo the normal free items that the hostess gets, Renee agreed to donate 20% of the sales to LSS. The final numbers aren't in, but together we raised around $80 today. So, thanks everyone!

I highly recommend this running like a mad woman thing to anyone out there who loves to eat. Now that my mileage is starting to increase I am finding that I am turning into a bottomless pit. I have been pretty much inhaling everything that looks good to me and I still somehow lost 3.5 lbs in the past week. So, I guess I better go run my 3 miles to work off all of the yummy Tastefully Simple goodies that I have been munching on all day. (That's really the best part of hosting a party - you get to eat all the leftovers!) Fundraising: $50 donated - Thanks Doug & Linda

Friday, March 3, 2006

Please Give Blood

As I am learning more about blood cancers, I have been amazed at the number of blood transfusions the patients need. So, in my attempts to do whatever I can to help Matthew, and all the other kids, my mom and I went to our local Red Cross and donated blood this morning. I hope that some of you will follow in our foot steps. It only takes an hour of your time and it can literally save someone's live.....maybe even your own. Plus they give you free pop, juice, cookies, and donuts. Yummy!

For anyone who's ever been curious, here's a short lesson on blood types: Ok, I'm digging deep here. It's been years since I learned this! And I'm massively over simplifying, but..... there are basically 8 main blood types: A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+, O-. "O" and "-" are considered to be "neutral" meaning they can be given to anyone without harm. But, "A", "B", and "+" can only be added into blood that already has them present. For example if you have an A blood type, you can't add B into the system. Does that make sense to anyone other than me? So....

If you are blood type A+, you can receive donations of types A+, A-, O+, O-.
If you are blood type A-, you can receive donations of types A-, O-
If you are blood type B+, you can receive donations of types B+, B-, O+, O-
If you are blood type B-, you can receive donations of types B-, O-
If you are blood type AB+, you can receive donations of any blood type (aka universal recipient)
If you are blood type AB-, you can receive donation of types A-,B-, AB-, O-
If you are blood type O+, you can receive donation of types O+, O-
If you are blood type O-, you can receive donations of types O- (aka universal donor)

Confused yet? The point is that we need EVERYONE to give blood, because your blood type is needed to help someone else who is suffering and needs a blood transfusion. I added a link to the right. Just click on it and type in your zip code and it tells you where you can donate in your area. You can even set up an appointment online.

Today is supposed to be a long run. It may have to wait until tomorrow. They say no lifting or exercise for 6 hours after giving blood, which would mean by 6:00 I can run. But, I honestly feel pretty tired. I can't imagine how tired the kids feel who need the blood donated to them! I think I'm going to try a little nap and see how I feel when I get back up. Fundraising: $225 donated - thanks Amy, Greg, Brandon, Janie, and Beta Sigma Phi Preceptor Gamma Chapter!

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

They Lied!!!

The weather people said that it was supposed to be 50 today. They lied, lied, lied!!! It was freezing out there today. I have to retract my statement from a few days ago regarding not finding a temp cold enough for me to stay fully covered. Today was it. I never took off my hat during today's run. It was just too darn cold. Lately, I have been trying to walk a little bit to loosen up before I start running, and I didn't even do that today. I was afraid I'd be too frozen to move if I didn't get running right away. Actually, my hands still feel a little cold and stiff as I type this and I was done with my run an hour ago. I had an epiphany while I was running........I actually like running into the wind. For some reason it makes me feel like I can breathe easier. When I turn around and the wind is at my back I start feeling like I am being smothered or something. Like all of a sudden there isn't enough air. I have been finding new muscles during my runs on this new course, as they are screaming at me to stop. I just keep telling myself that the hills are good for my training. And reminding myself that it is only once a week.

I added a link to the right that will take you to view the honored heros for TNT. My honored hero, Matthew, is the last one.