Friday, April 28, 2006

Last Long Run

Today's run was an uneventful one. I drove out to a park on the other side of town and ran around the golf course and through the paved trails. I waved to other runners, walkers, and cyclists. I dodged flying golf balls. I chased a few squirrels. It was actually quite nice. And I enjoyed the change of scenery.

I ran 8 miles, give or take. My garmin kept loosing it's signal with all the trees. It felt infinitely better than my last 8 mile run. At no point did I feel like I was going to die, and I didn't want to quit. Mostly I just wanted to get it over with so I could get on to other things.

You see. Running is time consuming. I got up at 8:30, ate breakfast and did my pre-run rituals. I drove to the park and ran. I stretched and did my post-run rituals. I drove home. I took a much needed shower, and ate lunch. It is now 1:00. That is 4 1/2 hours of my only "weekend" day this week taken up by running.

I feel like running has taken over my life. Wait. I can't even say that. I don't even feel like I have a life to be take over any more. All I do is eat, sleep, and breathe running.

I've even started dreaming about it.

I used to do things. With real people. That could talk to me. I used to go to my parent's house for dinner almost every Sunday night. I used to have an incredibly sweet boyfriend that I saw on a regular basis. I used to read. A lot. I used to scrapbook. I used to clean my house. I even used to get my hair cut on a regular basis and remember to shave my legs.

But, I no longer do those things.

Since I started training in January, all I have managed to get done are the bare essentials. I pay the bills, buy the groceries, and do the laundry. I only remember to feed the cat because he yells at me if I don't. And I have no idea how my house plants are still alive because they only get watered once they begin to droop.

My mp3 player and my garmin are my two new best friends.

Ibuprofen is running a close third.

I only see my parents when they stop by my house to do some laundry, check their e-mail, or mow my lawn. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, for mowing my lawn. My dad is my biggest hero right now. I thought the coming of spring was going to reduce me to tears with the thought of added outside chores, but I haven't mowed my lawn even once thanks to my dad!

I still have the boyfriend, and he is still sweet, but I'm lucky that I even remember what he looks like for as often as I see him.

I need a break. Not from the running, per se. I like the running, but from the schedule. From trying to fit the running into an already too tight schedule and from feeling guilty when I don't.

I am so thankful that today was the last long run before Indy. Next week is total taper, and it is going to be cake. My head is spinning just thinking about all the things I could do with my extra time.

After Indy, I am going to take a much needed break. Re-group, and then start training for Chicago. I know I'll be ready by then. I just need a breather. Plus, I know it will be a little easier now that I'm no longer working that second job.

Sorry for the whining. But quoting a fellow blogger from yesterday, "It's my blog and I'll whine if I want to."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Wanna Take a Guess?

I thought this might be fun. Someone sent me an e-mail this afternoon predicting how long it would take me to complete the half marathon on May 6th. Does anyone else want to offer a guess?

Here is a recap of my last few longer runs:

According to my Garmin, it took me...

2 hours, 44 minutes, and 20 seconds to run 13.1 miles on April 20 - Average 12:33 min/mile

1 hour, 22 minutes, and 47 seconds to run 7.0 miles on April 14 - Average 11:53 min/mile

1 hour, 52 minutes, and 26 seconds to run 10.0 miles on April 8 - Average 11:15 min/mile

1 hour, 44 minutes, and 27 seconds to run 9.0 miles on March 30 - Average 11:36 min/mile

Put in your guesses and I'll post who picked the closest after the race!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Lone Runner

When I was a child, I never played sports. No little league baseball, no jr. high basketball, no high school soccer. Nothing. Nada. Zip. I dreaded gym like it was a trip to the dentist. And avoided participating in those neighborhood dodgeball games like they were the plague.

Call it spoiled only child syndrome. Blame it on the fact that I am an over achiever. Reduce it to the fact that I have a high level of guilt if I let people down. Admit that I was not an overly graceful kid (or adult!). Dwell on the fact that I got yelled at by one too many gym classmates for missing the ball. But team sports has never really been my thing.

I never wanted the weight of knowing that a bunch of other people were depending on my actions for success. And I also didn't want my accomplishments hindered by someone else's lack of preparation. So, I have always avoided team efforts as much as possible.

I think that is a large part of what has drawn me to running over the years. It requires nothing more than you and the road. No one for you to let down, no one to make demands of you, no one to disappoint if your own performance isn't quite up to par.

I have always been a lone runner, and I tend to prefer it that way. I have a hard time running with other people. Mainly because I am a slow runner, and therefore, have a hard time keeping up with them. I feel like I have to keep running at their pace instead of listening to my body and slowing down and speeding up accordingly. And I certainly have never mastered the whole talking and running thing. Usually, the only time I can successfully run with someone else is when we both just plug in the earphones, and off we go. And the runner has to be content to waddle along at my dreadfully slow pace.

On the downside of that, there isn't anyone there to share the highs with. No one to turn to and high five when you just ran your fastest mile ever. No teammates to congratulate you when you just finished your longest distance ever. There also isn't anyone to share the lows with. No one to remind you of why you love it on the days that you didn't make your desired distance. No one to brush off the dust when you missed your intended time. And in that regard, running feels lonely.

And that is where this journal comes in. It is a place for me to record my highs and lows. A place for me to share my experiences with others, even if most of you don't "get it." There are a handful of people that I know read this religiously, and to you I say a huge, huge thank you! In a lot of ways you are what keeps me going. Some days I only get out and run because I know you are expecting to be reading my entries. Some times the only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that I am loved even when I fail. Some times it is your posts that remind me just why I am doing this. They remind me that Matthew can't give up on his fight against his leukemia, and therefore, I will NOT give up on mine.

I want to say thank you to everyone who keeps encouraging me, who signs my guestbook, leaves me comments, writes me emails, says kind words to me. I read every single one of them. And they mean a lot. A comment from someone actually brought me to tears last night. The wife of one of my old high school teachers wrote to me and said back when I was a student, her husband had said that I would succeed at whatever I set my mind on. What an unbelievably kind thing to say, and of a high school student none the less. So, thank you so much for all the encouragement. You are both my cheering section and my teammates!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Not So Long!

Ut Oh! I received my TNT Singlet today, and it isn't so long. I was so hoping that it was going to be long enough to cover my wobbling cellulite and jiggling thighs if I ran in my spandex shorts. Nancy burst my bubble a few weeks ago by pointing out that it is going to be too hot to wear my much loved running pants. But, I was holding on to a thread of hope that the singlet was going to be long. Like down to my knees long. Like little kid wearing their parent's shirt long. Like cover my butt long. Ugh!

Today was Mentor training day, and it got me pretty excited for the next season. I'm really looking forward to tackling the training for the full marathon and helping others to reach their fundraising and training goals, as well. And I've already meet the honored hero, as he knows Matthew and was at the last team social. I'm excited to get to know him and his family better. As it turns out his mom grew up in the same town as my parents and even graduated from the same high school as them. Small world!

Twelve days and counting. I'm getting so excited. 35,000 people running this thing. Wow! I can't quite wrap my mind around that. And I really can't wrap my mind around the fact that I am probably going to be exposing my jiggles to them, along with a jillion spectators, with cameras, none the less. Boy oh boy. Is there time to lose 20 lbs between now and then?!? Fundraising: $25 donated - Thanks Bill!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Motivated by Matthew

Someone left a comment on my last post regarding the definition of a runner, and it got me thinking.

It was basically a two part definition. The first part being that to be a runner you have to dedicate time to running. Ok, I'm with you there. The second part, stated that as a result he/she improves her endurance. Whoa, wait a minute. Back up.

Here's the issue. I don't believe that all runners are created equal, so to speak. I believe that there are essentially two type of runners. I'll call them "exercise" runners and "challenge" runners.

The "exercise" runners, run for, yup you guessed it, .... exercise. They are perfectly content to go out and run a few miles a few times a week to stay healthy and in shape. They have no concerns about improving their speeds, increasing their mileage, beating their PRs, training for events, or building endurance. They run because it is a fast and easy form of exercise.

Then you have the other type. The crazy ones. The ones like me. You see, for me running is not exercise. Sure, I burn some calories doing it. Ok maybe a lot of calories. Something like 100 per mile. But that is of no concern to me. What matters to me is that two days ago I ran 13.1 miles for the first time ever. And today I just ran my fastest 3 miles ever. And tomorrow or the next day, I will reach yet another accomplishment. I run for the challenge of seeing how far I can go. But not everyone does, therefore, I can not convince myself that to be a runner you have to improve your endurance.

Anyway, onto ramblings of a different topic.

The half marathon is two weeks from today. I have to admit that Thursday's run made all the difference in the world for me. I went from being terrified, to being excited, because now I'm sure I can do it. Because, hey, I already did!

To motivate us on race day, our honored hero Matthew made us charms to wear. It is pictured below attached to my Garmin. It is a little red heart with an M on it.

Today was the first day I ran with it on there, and it must have worked because I had an incredible run. So, thanks Matthew!

I set out to run 3 miles, and I wanted to try to pick up the speed a little bit since my last run was so slow.

I actually ran my fastest 3 miles ever, at 30 minutes and 5 seconds. I was trying for under 30 minutes, but didn't quite make it. I shouldn't have stopped for that car! If I'd have know it was going to be so close I would have made them wait for me to cross the road first! It was still an incredible run and 10:00 minute miles are pretty darn fast for me! Look out Indy, here I come!

But, don't be expecting any 10 minute miles, 13.1 miles is a little harder than 3!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

13.1 or Die Trying

Webster's Dictionary defines a runner as follows:

runner n. 1. a person, animal, or thing that runs (there are actually 14 definitions, but this is the one that applies in this instance)

To me, that doesn't seem quite adequate. If someone runs from their car to the store entrance when it is raining, are they a runner? If a person runs only when being chased, are they a runner? If someone runs only once a year, are they a runner? How about once a month? Once a week? If someone runs only .5 mile every time they go out, are they a runner? How about 1 mile? 2 miles? Just were do you draw the line? Just when has someone earned the title? Because, believe me, it is something that you earn.

My definition of a runner has always been a little different.

runner n. 1. a person who runs easily, who's body is propelled forward by the steady rhythm of his/her arms and legs pumping, while the mind remains free to wander

In the back of my mind, I would become a "real" runner when it came easily to me. When I could run effortlessly, leaving my mind free to wander where it would. But now I have a new dilemma. How long does it have to remain effortless? How long does the body have to be free of pain allowing the mind to, in turn, be free?

I made it 5 wonderfully effortless miles today before the pain began to drag my mind away from it's blissful meanderings and musings. So the big question is, am I a runner yet? I think I have finally decided that I am.

The long runs have been intimidating me recently. The miles keep going up and it keeps getting more and more daunting. Today's run had me completely terrified. Why, you ask? Because I am afraid of failure. I do not like to fail. I realize that no one likes it, but I am quite certain that my fear is outside the realm of what is considered normal. This fear leaves me two choices: avoid things that I have never done before or never give up until I conquer my goal. Luckily, I am just stubborn enough not to quit. So, today I set out to run 13.1 miles or die trying. I knew that I had to do it. Mentally I had to run the whole 13.1 miles once before the half marathon or it was going to get the better of me. And I also knew that I couldn't quit for any reason, under any circumstances, once I set out to do it. If I did, then I'd be toast. It would be over. The fears would get me on race day and I'd crash and burn. The comfort that comes from knowing you have made it that distance before is indescribable, and I needed that going into the half marathon. Doing something for the second time is unbelievably easier than doing it for the first.

So, I just ran 13.1 miles. WOO HOO! YIPEE! YEAH! The first 5 miles were heaven. I found a rhythm early on and it felt great. It was a slow rhythm, but a rhythm never the less. My friendly shin splint decided to keep my left leg company during most of mile 3, which really slowed me down, but I still felt great. The mileage snuck up on me and I didn't get back for water as quickly as I had intended. I turned back at mile 6, but still had about two miles to my house. Miles 6 & 7 weren't a lot of fun, but I refueled and was good again for miles 8, 9, & 10. I looped back around for more water and then took off again for the last 3.1 miles. Miles 11 & 12 were tough, but I made it out of pure determination. I pretty much stumbled through the first half of mile 13, and I'm not sure you can call what I did for the last .6 miles running. It probably resembled more of a stumbling, hobbling, limp, but whatever. I did it!!!!!!!!!! 13.1, baby! WOO HOO!

The last mile I kept swearing that I was done. I was coming home taking off my shoes and quitting. Mentally, it was one of the hardest runs I've ever done, because there was no option to quit. I literally was going to keep myself running for 13.1 miles or fall over trying, and it took a lot out of me. The last mile was filled with thoughts of how crazy I am do be doing this, of wanting to quit, and of wondering why I just signed up to run Chicago.

I could barely stand up when I finished, so I crawled inside, stretched, ate, and hobbled off to take a shower, and now that I have forgotten the pain, I am back to thinking that I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. Or I would if I could actually walk right now.

Here are the splits. This probably means more to me than to anyone else. I just want them recorded so I can compare them to the run in Indy.

mile 01 12:16
mile 02 12:14
mile 03 13:50 (thanks to the shin splint)
mile 04 11:49
mile 05 12:54 (no idea what happened)
mile 06 12:11
mile 07 15:09 (I really needed water)
mile 08 11:34
mile 09 12:31
mile 10 11:50
mile 11 12:01
mile 12 12:10
mile 13 12:33
mile .1 01:13

Total time 2 hours, 44 minutes, and 20 seconds. That's a long time to run! When I signed up for the half marathon, I had to estimate my time to finish. I guessed 2 hours and 50 minutes. It may have been a pretty good estimate based on today's performance. My only goal is to finish the race. I intend on taking it slow and easy and stopping at all the water stops.

That was my last long run before Indy. Next week the longest distance is only 8 miles. (Did I really just use "only" and "8 miles" in the same sentence?) The goal from here on out is to taper my mileage, and start the carb loading. Anyone wanna go out for pasta?!?!

I've removed the TNT Chorus from the side bar. Windows recently had an update that is now causing a problem with it loading. So, until I figure out how to get around that it was easier to just remove it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Scary Stuff

Today's run was an uneventful 4 miles on the treadmill while I finally got around to watching the second half of The Waterboy. That only took the first half of the run, so I watched the beginning of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, also. I haven't been on the treadmill in a while, and I really didn't find it too enjoyable. For some reason, I always run much slower on the treadmill and it always take longer. It took me just under an hour to run the 4 miles. I keep trying to figure out why and I just can't seem to reason it out. When I run outside, I do try to push off more to help propel myself forward, but I don't see how that can account for a 2 - 3 minute per mile pace difference.

Thursday's run is 12 miles, and I'm starting to get nervous. Or scared out of my mind might be a more appropriate description. After I crashed and burned on 11 miles last week I have myself psyched out. I'm afraid I won't make it. I keep trying to think back to the 10 mile run that felt so good. But I supposed that is part of what scares me, how one run can feel so great and the next could feel so horrible. What happens if the half-marathon day is one of those horrible ones? Am I mentally ready to run through 13.1 miles of pain and misery if it ends up being a bad run?

To top it off, I signed up to run the Chicago Marathon today. I'm worrying about 12 miles, and I just signed up to run 26.2! What is wrong with me? Wait.....don't answer that!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Lessons Learned

"Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want." ~ Unknown

I have very few regrets about my life. That's not to say that things have always turned out how I wanted them to. It simply means that I do my best to find the good where I can. I believe that most things are worthwhile, and that as long as I learn something it was a valuable experience.

That is the attitude I am taking about today's run. I am trying to strike a balance between making excuses, and beating myself up. I'm trying to look for the lessons and find the value.

I set out to run 11 miles today. I went 9. But I only ran 7.

I woke up at 7:45 this morning, intending to get up and get my run done early before the heat struck, but I woke up feeling like an entire marching band was pounding in my head. So, I made friends with some excedrin and went back to sleep. I can't wait for this to be over! Hopefully only another week or two, usually by the end of April my headaches are pretty much done for the season.

An hour later, my head didn't feel any better, but it also wasn't getting any cooler so I decided I was going anyway. I got dressed and was just about ready to leave when I turned on my Garmin and it said it only had 1 hour of battery life left. Great. That isn't going to work for a run that is going to take over 2 hours. So, I plugged it in to charge, and left 30 mintutes later than planned. I'm just going to leave it at that. The run wasn't fun. It won't be any better the second time around. So, in the spirit of trying to find the good, here are the lessons that I learned today.

Lesson 1: Do Not. I repeat, Do Not! Change the music on your mp3 player before a long run. I was killing time waiting for my Garmin to charge, and decided to put some different songs on my player. Bad idea. Songs with strong, fast beats keep me moving, slow ones make me want to quit. I must have still been half asleep when I added the music, because they sounded good while I was reprogramming, but made me want to run slower than molasses when I was listening to them later!

Lesson 2: Body Glide is my new best friend. I have problems with my under arms rubbing on my shirt when I run. It leaves these huge abraded areas where I literally rub the top layers of skin off as I run. Sometimes they are so bad that I think they are never going to heal. A few weeks ago, after my 9 mile run, I went to the running store and the clerk recommended Body Glide. I was skeptical, but figured it was worth a few bucks to try it. It works amazing! I'm going to have to try it on my feet to prevent blisters the next time I break in a new pair of shoes.

Lesson 3: Working on your landscaping the day before a long run is a horrible idea. My landscaping is an absolute mess, so I'm trying to not be the disgrace of the neighborhood. After squatting for 4 hours yesterday digging in the landscaping beds, my calves, inner thighs, hamstrings, and glutes are killing me. It was actually why I didn't do my run last night. I read articles all the time about the need for cross training, and how you shouldn't neglect your legs when it comes to weight lifting. But I have always resisted this theory for this very reason. I don't want to be too sore to run. And today that was part of my problem. I was sore starting out and it just got worse the farther I went.

Lesson 4: I need a new schedule before I start to train for Chicago. I can't run in the middle of the day heat. During the winter, I seek out the warmest possible time of the day to do my runs. In the summer, I hide from the sun like it is the plague, and usually run at night in the dark. Which is great for 3 or 4 miles. I know I can't do it for 20. I have to start developing the habit of running early in the morning. Oh horror of horrors! I hate to exercise in the mornings! And it isn't that I'm not a morning person. Or that I have to sit sipping coffee by the barrel to wake up. It's just that my natural clock wants me to go to sleep too late to get up at 5:00 am. I'm going to have to do some serious readjusting of my schedule if I am going to make it through my training for Chicago.

Lesson 5: I have 21 days to figure out what to eat for breakfast before the Indy Mini. That is one of my biggest problems about running in the morning. If I run on an empty stomach, I have no energy. I think eating a bowl of cereal is almost worse. It just wakes my stomach up, but doesn't last very long, so my stomach is howling for more in a matter of minutes. If I eat a big, hearty breakfast I have to wait for it to digest for a while or I feel like I am running with a lead weight in my stomach. I don't want to get up an hour early just to wait for breakfast to settle! This morning I tried a protein shake, which was a mild improvement over the cereal, but not much.

Lesson 6: Do not guzzle water. Repeat. Do not guzzle water. I stopped half way through my run to get some water and Gu. And before I realized it I had consumed an entire 20 oz bottle of water. I could feel it sloshing around in my stomach for the entire rest of the run. It was probably a large contributor to what made me quit early.

Lesson 7: I need to learn to make friends with my spandex. I broke down and wore some spandex shorts today, and it was so much better than Wednesday's run in regular shorts. I'm just going to have to live with it. I realized that while I'm running I don't particularly care too much about the fact that I look awful. Because, hey, I'm running, and you, passing motorist, who is judging my wobbling cellulite, are not. But it's a whole 'nother ball of wax when you are walking in spandex! First of all, you aren't moving quite as fast so there is more time to observe the jiggles, and second it is a little harder to feel all high and mighty when you just quit your run 4 miles early!

Lesson 8: Plug in your Garmin GPS tracker after every run!!!

On that note, I'm heading back to my landscaping. I'll leave you with an easter funny. Click Here I hope everyone has a very happy Easter. I think I may try to make another attempt at a longer run on Easter morning. If nothing else, I really need to get in some more miles. And if I run, I can eat more at Easter dinner!! And if I'm really lucky the Easter Bunny might leave me a treat or two that I can eat guilt free.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Spandex: It's a Privilege, Not a Right

I read that quote on someone's email signature about 15 years ago, and it has stuck with me. It is applicable to today's entry, and came back to me as I was running.

Today is Wednesday, which means it is run with my training partner day. I spent the entire day trying to talk myself out of calling him to cancel. I haven't felt that great lately. I feel like I have been fighting, with every ounce of strength I have, not to come down with the flu. It seems to be running rampant recently. One of my coworkers was out sick with it today. I'm still holding it at bay, but I just feel off.

On top of that, I can count on one hand the number of times that I have been headache free in the last two weeks. That is typical for this time of the year. The new growing season combined with the rainy spring weather is a bad combo for me. My doctor wants to put me on daily preventive migraine meds, but I have been resisting. I already feel like you could stock a small pharmacy with the medications, vitamins, and supplements I take. I'm starting to feel like a drug addict. Not to mention the cost. Self-employed, pay for it yourself, heath insurance pretty much sucks when it comes to drug coverage. So, for now, I live with it and grumble to the masses.

I came home and grudgingly put on my running clothes and began my Wednesday ritual of picking up my house while waiting for my training partner, and my phone starts ringing. Hmm. So, I answer it and it is him........calling to tell me that he has, guess what? Yep, the flu! So, he isn't going to make it to run.

Ok, great. I'm already dressed and really should run, but I have no one to force me to go. So, I made a deal with myself. All I had to do was lace up my shoes and start moving. That's it. I could stop whenever I'd had enough. With that comfort leading me on, I went out to begin my run. So, I'm standing in my driveway waiting for my Garmin to acquire it's GPS satellite signal, and it was taking forever. The longer I stood there, the more I started to feel the heat. I decided that I was extremely over dressed in my tanktop and pants. So, I headed back inside to put on shorts.

In my world, the need to run in shorts constitutes a minor tragedy. I H-A-T-E, hate, running in shorts. No matter what I do, they ride up over my inner thighs to create a nice unattractive bulge, and expose the lovely flab that I can never seem to get rid of at the top of my inner thighs. No matter how much weight I lose or how many inner leg lifts I do or how many miles I run, the bulges remain. The only solution I have yet to find is to run in spandex bike shorts. After a few minutes the sweat makes the spandex stick to me, and they don't ride up. However, I do not feel that I should subject my neighbors and the passing motorists to the unsightly appearance of my cellulite and flab stuffed into spandex. So, I usually reserve my spandex shorts for my night runs. I figure that the dark does a sufficient job of hiding their disgraceful appearance.

Anyway, I headed back out with head pounding, stomach churning, and inner thighs bulging. The run felt slow, but not bad. I only made it 2 miles. Good thing the half-marathon wasn't today! Hopefully, I'll have more energy tomorrow.

Click Here to check out some before and after pics of models. It will give you a good dose of reality, and make you feel a lot better about yourself. It also may make you want to hire someone to start airbrushing all your family photos! If only I could airbrush out my thighs and get my shorts to stop riding up.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Looking Back

When training for an endurance event, you spend your time looking forward. You go from day to day, week to week, plugging along at your training schedule and crossing off the miles as you run them. You look at where you are and compare it to the challenges of where you have yet to go. But you rarely look back at where you've been. I don't think that is necessarily a good thing. For it is in looking back, that we realize how far we have come.

About four years ago, I got conned into going on a run with my ex and his step-dad. At that point I was mostly playing at running. As in, oh look at me. I run 3 miles, like twice a month; aren't I cool? And they were "real runners." My ex had been running for over 20 years and his step-dad was a marathon runner years ago. I let them convince me to run 4 miles with them after many assurances that it would be a "slow" pace. Hah!

So, the queen of blissfully cool (and agonizingly slow) night running, set off in the blazing sun in the middle of a hot July day for the second ever 4 mile run of my life, with two runners who probably averaged a 7 minute/mile pace. I was trailing them after a few steps, but some how managed to keep up for the first 1.5 miles. By the halfway point I was seriously lagging behind. By mile 3, they were so far ahead of me I couldn't see them. By the time I stumbled through the final mile, they were sitting happily in the lawn, empty water bottles in hand, discussing the plans for the remainder of the day.

Later that afternoon, we went to see a movie. The movie theater has a set of steps leading up to the entrance doors. I was standing at the bottom of the steps, looking up. And my legs hurt so bad and I was so tired that the thought of having to walk up them seriously made me want to sit down and cry. I mentioned that I was unbelievably sore and tired and miserable. My ex's step-dad said to me, "You better get used to it. If you are going to train for a marathon, it is going to hurt." I said, "Yeah, I'm sure it will, but I can't imagine it hurting as much as it does right now."

And I was right. There has never been another run that hurt as much as that one did. Ever! Which is why I so distinctly remember it 4 years later. And here I sit having run 10 miles three days ago. And I'm not sore. As a matter of fact, I'm never sore after I run any more. My knees ache, but that's another issue. They ache when I sit on an airplane or in a car for too long, also, so I don't think I can blame that on the running. I think I may need to give the credit to my dad and my grandma for the arthritis that runs in the family.

What a long and winding road I have traveled. Today, I am smarter and I have learned my limits. I know how to listen to my body; I know which pains to run through and which ones to stop for. I know when to let the faster runners pass me by and when to let them pull me along. I've learned that being faster doesn't necessarily mean being better. I've learned that it does hurt. It hurts more than anyone can possibly imagine. But not in the way he meant. It hurts mentally. It hurts emotionally. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. But it is so unbelievably gratifying that it worth every sacrifice I've made.

Bring on those miles, baby! I can do it!

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Loving the Long Runs

I was at a baby shower this afternoon, and left a little early, telling the mother to be that I had a date with my running shoes. She told everyone that I was running the Indy Mini and the Chicago Marathon. People started asking how far those races were, and when I told them 13.1 and 26.2 miles, the hostess looked at me and asked what is wrong with me. I just laughed and shrugged. As hard as I try, it is impossible to explain to someone why I do this. If you don't do it, you don't get it. It's just that simple.

I had decided that I needed to run 8 or 9 miles, but I didn't how well it was going to go. I was feeling tired from working all morning and then rushing to the shower, and sluggish from all the cake and m&m's that I ate. Yes, the m&m's strike again!

My plan was to run my 4 mile loop, and stop back at my house for water and Gu, and then repeat the loop for another 4 miles. My boyfriend said that he would run the first 4 with me, but he didn't think he could make it the whole 8. I told him that running the 8 miles was simply a mental decision and before we left he needed to decide that he was doing it. If he gave himself the option, he would stop after 4. He must have taken it to heart, because he made it the whole 8 miles. I am so proud of him! But, I also think I hate him a little bit. I struggled so hard with my first 8 mile run. He ran it right next to me like he'd been the one training for the past four months! If he was officially training for the races, I'd be eating his dust by now!

We got going and it took a while for everything to loosen up. My shins were starting to act up for the first 3 miles, but after that it felt good. It made a world of difference stopping in the middle to refuel. I decided that I didn't want to repeat the same loop for the second half, so we we wandered up and down the streets of a new addition next to mine. We were closing in on the 8 mile mark and I was feeling incredible. I told my boyfriend that I was going to keep going for a while, so he turned back to the house and I went on for another 2 miles. That makes my first 10 mile run. Ever! Woo Hoo! It took me 1 hour 52 minutes and 26 seconds.

It felt amazing. The more long runs I complete, the more I like them. Your body just seems to get into this mechanical rhythm and you continue to be propelled forward without thinking about it. It takes me quite a while to find this rhythm, so it doesn't often happen on the shorter runs. But it's an incredible feeling when it happens. Today was the first time that I felt like I was ready to complete the half marathon. I could have kept going today. It would have hurt, but I could have done it. With just under a month left, I am confident that I will be able to complete the run. I may not be breaking any speed records, but I will finish!!

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Look Out Chicago...

Here I come!

I got notice today that I got accepted as a mentor for the TNT fall season. That means that I will be training with the team to run the Chicago Marathon on October 22, 2006. Woo Hoo!!

It also means that the craziness is going to continue with trying to find the time to fit in training along with everything else. So, I think this is finally the reason I needed to quit my second job. I've been getting worn out by it for quite some time, but really didn't have a good reason to quit. Now, I know I am going to need the extra time for training. I feel like a weight has been lifted just making the decision!

I'm not raising funds this go round, opting instead to pay my own way. So, you don't have to duck for cover when you see me coming! I won't be asking you for any money, this time at least.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Testing the Limits

Well, I found out that the running gods have slacking off limits. They will allow you to take four days off from running without punishment, but if you go for five you better watch out.

My house and work piles are significantly reduced, I once again have clean clothes, and there is finally food in the cupboards. I managed to actually stay awake for more than an hour to hang out with my boyfriend, and now my running is falling apart. I just can't seem to find the time to fit everything in. The fact that I have had a monstrous headache since Saturday night isn't helping. I feel like I've been moving in slow motion for days.

The last time I ran was on my long run on Thursday, so I've been feeling pretty guilty. I was very glad that my training partner and I had plans to run today or else I would probably have opted for some excedrin and my bed! Instead, I laced up my shoes with determination, even though the motivation was lacking. My training partner arrived and I asked him if he was ready for the run. He said, "No! I was hoping you were going to say let's just skip it and go straight to dinner instead." As it turns out, he has had a busy week along with some hip issues and he hadn't ran since our training session last week. At least I have a partner in my crime of neglect.

We started off and I felt stiff and creaky. Nothing wanted to move right, and everything hurt. I kept watching my pace on my GPS unit, and it kept saying we were running about a 11:30 to a 12:30 minute/mile pace. And I was thinking, "You have got to be kidding me! It feels like we are running 7 minute miles!" I was having a hard time keeping up with my partner. The rest seemed to have done him some good. I think the running gods were taking pity on him because his hip has been bothering him for a few weeks. Me, on the other hand, have no real excuse, so they were punishing me full force with ouchy shins, ankles, and knees topped off with a bout of shortness of breath. I did manage to finally loosen up and get it together and the last mile and half felt really good. Someone once said the following to me about running: "You may sometimes dread it, but you never regret it." And that statement is truer that I could have ever imagined. After the run, we were discussing how good it felt to run today and how we wish we wouldn't have waited so long to get back out there.

We ran the same route as last week. I wanted to check my GPS tracker again, and it came out much closer to the 4.5 miles. I think last week it was just getting warmed up since it was the first time I had used it. So, I am feeling much more confident in it and don't feel like I need to continue checking it.

On a very happy note, I was trying to distract myself from the aches and pains by observing the landscape. I was excited to see that the trees have tiny buds on them. Last week, they didn't. Spring is finally on it's way. Yeah!