Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thoughts on Running

This is going to be a slightly different blog post than usual.

This is going to be more like me rambling about my thoughts on something with no care as to how readers might react.  This is strictly for me to just "get it all out there."

A little over a year and a half ago, while living in the most physically active town ever, I heard friends and colleagues talking about running.  They all ran.  They were members of running clubs.  They ran to the office.  They ran every day for fun.

"What in the...?  Why would you want to do that?"

I never had the desire to run long distances.  While I thought it would be cool to be able to run for say, 30 minutes, when I heard people speak of running distances I was appalled.  That sounded horrible.

But I knew that 30 minutes of running was something I should be able to do--I was pretty active.  And by pretty active I mean I went to the gym and used the elliptical for 40 minutes 4 times a week.  If I could do that, I could try running, right?

(Note, while the elliptical is a good workout, it in no way prepared me for running.)

So I went to the local high school track and forced myself to run.  It was horrible.  I would go and do 4-6 laps, walking in between, with lots of aches and pains.  This only lasted a week though, as I lived in the Sierras, and wouldn't you know it, but we continued to get a shitload of snow way in to the month of May.

Then we moved back to Vermont.  I had a wedding dress to fit in and no money for a gym membership (woe is me).  So I started running again.  I ran from my house to the covered bridge a mile away.  I could  again *barely* do this.  There was one hill in the middle of this mile run and for months I could not run the mile without walking up the hill.  Eventually I was able to run up part of the hill, but then I would need to stop and rest at the top.  And always, after I made it to the bridge, instead of turning around and running home, I would walk back.  This lasted for a few months.

Then winter came and the desire to run completely went away.  I joined my gym and it was back to the elliptical I went.  And the stair master.  And weights.  But not running.

For some reason in February, I decided to sign up for a 5k.  It was a month away.  I started running on the treadmill at the gym and once again, it was awful.  I could maybe run for a mile.  I would do my mile, then walk a little, then run another little bit.  Over the time period of a month, I slowly and painfully made it to the 3.1 miles I needed to be able to run for the 5K race.  I ran the race, it was challenging, and I finished in 31:58.

I continued to run after that.  It was a slow process.  I felt that it had taken me a month to get up to 3 miles, so adding another mile to that distance would also take me a long time.  By April I could run 4 miles.  I called my mom, my sister, my friends, Mr. G to tell them all I was up to 4 miles.  I was so proud of myself.

It should be noted as a reminder that I have never ran.  Not ever.  In High School sports and for the presidential awards you better believed I walked my skinny (back then it really was skinny) ass around the track for the mile test.  Fuck running.

When I was able to run 4 miles, I happened to be in Boston during the Boston Marathon.  It was completely inspiring.  How can these people do that?  It was so amazing.  It also just so happened that an old friend of mine, who I would never in ten million years would have guessed that she would grow to be an athletic runner, also was running a marathon.  Add that to the 4 people in my office who were all half marathon runners (and one marathoner) and a spark was lit in my soul.

I was going to do a half marathon.

I found a training schedule that was for 12 weeks.  I knew I would need more than 12 weeks to get my body ready for a half.  I have now been training for nearly 30 weeks.

I started on the treadmill.  I was still slow.  But I slowly, slowly added miles.  I was up to 5 miles on the machine.  And then a month later I was at 6.  By July I could run 7 miles and at that point I knew I would be able to do the Boston Half Marathon.  In July I signed up and was so proud of myself for even being able to consider running a half.  And with the ability to (barely) run 7 miles, I was just over half way to my goal.

In late July I finally decided it was about time to run outside.  All this time I had been running on the treadmill most days, with a few runs outside on a hilly 2.5 mile loop.  I had Mr. G drop me off 8 miles from home.  There were some hills and some dirt roads.  I was excited.  But lord have mercy was it a challenge.  It was SO hard for my to transition from running on a flat, steady treadmill to the great outdoors.  I had to stop and walk often.  I walked up some of the hills.  But I made it home and again, I was so proud of myself.

This weekly pilgrimage has not only continued since July, but it has become a ritual that I look forward to most weeks.  Mr. G will drive me miles and miles away and I will run home.  Just me, the road, and my music.

I loved that every couple of weeks Mr. G would drive another mile farther away.  I loved that I had 2 hours to myself to think, run, focus on what I wanted.  Rarely did I think about running, or when I did it was generally "Wow, I just ran 3 miles without thinking about running at all!"  I focused on my breathing, my stride.  I made up games in my head.  I imagined myself running over the finish line in Boston.

Over the course of the summer, I have continued to shock myself.  I can now run 12 miles pretty comfortably.  My speed is not great, but during one run, I did manage to run 2.5 miles (in the pouring rain) in less than 20 minutes.  I can now run hills, even mile long hills, even if they are at mile 10 and 11 on my long runs.  I am strong and I am proud.

Of course there are days that suck.  Sometimes I do not want to run.  I force myself to go out and while I usually end up enjoying myself, other times all I can think about is running.  And I find that when I think about running while I run, I do not enjoy it as much.  I think about how tired I am, or how this is not relaxing like taking a bath with a good book and some Pinot.  I cannot catch my breath and I get frustrated.  There are days like this and they straight up suck.  But for every bad run, for every negative thought, for every little pain my body gets, there are a million happy thoughts, enjoyable runs.  And a few pounds lost, too.

My big race is this weekend.  I would be lying to say I am not nervous.  I have had IT pain this week (if you had asked me a year ago what an IT band was, I would have looked at you crazy.), I do not know the course that I will be running, I am used to running alone, not with 6,000 others or with people cheering me on.  What if I do not finish with a good time?  What if I do not finish at all?  What if I get picked up by the sweepers?

But I know I can do this.  Since February, I have become a runner.  I run.  It is starting to define me.  All I want to do is run, talk about running, buy running gear, surround myself with other runners.  I have comfortably run 12 miles.  I can, on any given day, run 10-11 miles.  I can run outside up hills or inside on a boring treadmill.  I may not be fast, but I can do it.  So come this weekend, while I have butterflies in my chest (and stomach, and mind), I will kiss my husband and put on my music and I will take off, just like I have every other Sunday for the last 3 months.  And I will do this.

Thanks for letting me ramble.  And thanks for listening.

1 comment:

  1. SJ - You got this...I know the feeling and I know you can do it. Go out there, give it your all and kick some ass. You've done this before and you can do it again this weekend. I'm so proud of you and will be thinking of you. :)