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.


  1. A runner is someone who dedicates time to running on a regular basis and as a result improves his/her endurance. A person who only runs from the car to the store is just running.

  2. Hooray for 13.1! I'm so very proud of you!! Look out Indianpolis here she comes.......and then on to Chicago!

    Many Hugs!
    Nancy and Matthew

  3. Way to go Michele! That determination you have to finish-to accomplish your goal-is awesome. Many,many people never have that "passion" for anything and its wonderful to read your blog and see your progress. Keep up the pursuit-now that you know you CAN do it there's no doubt you WILL do it! We are really proud of you!

    Aunt Barb&Uncle Dave

  4. 13.1 wow!!...I am super impressed. You really wanted to run a marathon and be able to call yourself a runner and now you have conquered the mental and the physical and know you can.
    Be proud, you earned it with determination, strong will and sweat. I am so anxious to see you run as part of the 35,000 at Indy.
    I will be the one cheering the loudest!!! You go girl!!
    I love you will all my heart!!!!