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!


  1. Wha Hoo 9 miles! You can be very proud! Sounds like a long long long way to me. I was telling the gals at work about your run and sunburn. They said your running is inspiring. Keep trainning.... only 1 month before race day.

  2. Way to go Michele, 9 miles is incredible! You can do this!

    Keep up the good work and please be sure to drink water during your longer runs! And don't forget that sunscreen! :)

  3. oh lordy, do NOT pass on water and gu on long runs in the future chica!!! you'll bonk.. and believe me, you dont ever want to experience that!

    that being said, good job knocking out those 9 miles!