Sunday, January 23, 2011

I may not pass you - But I can outlast you!

As the dreaded 14 miler approached, as usual a wrench was thrown in my plans. Darann my faithful friend and coach had an injury and would only be able to make it 7 miles with me. Lisa, was also unable to make the run.... panic set in; how could I possibly do this by myself. Darann planned two out and back of 3.5 miles each, and she would join me for the last one. I doubted whether I would have the fortitude to start another out and back, and secretly wished to do 7 out and have her dropped off in the middle of no where. After a sleepless night, I verbalized my concerns, and she agreed to it my way. This would be different though, 7 miles out on a country road... what if a dog attacked me, what if I got injured, what if, what if. Yep, I was in full on panic mode. And as stupid as this sounds, I had to run with my cell phone, which was something I had never done before..... so I worried, and worried, and worried, and then worried some more.

The big day came... and the temp was 9 degrees with below zero wind chill. And I faithfully put on all of my cold weather gear -- after all, I didn't want to seem like a wuss right. Even though, I secretly doubted whether this was a good idea. I was just about to leave when I received a text from Darann, there would be no running outside; she thought it was too cold for me to be running that distance outside. We talked, and agreed the ONLY option was the YMCA.

OK, so I have run 10K at the YMCA track, where 11 laps = 1 mile, but never anything more than that. The plan was, I would head out and get started. She would meet me around 7-8 miles and run the rest with me.

So off I started... slowly. I settled in nicely at 1.5 miles and slowly and methodically began to take down the miles. I even added water breaks every 30 minutes and then switched direction to try and stay motivated. the first 20 minutes of every half hour seemed to go fast, and the last 10 minutes seemed to go slow. Every time I went for a water break, it was harder to come back on the track. And of course every lap I ran past the exit door. I saw many, many groups of runners, walkers, joggers come and go during my time. At 7 miles I really doubted whether I could keep going; I was starting to get dizzy and I just did not feel good. At about 8 miles, out popped Darann's head through the door. Now, I am always happy to see her, but today I was elated to see her. She started running with me and my pace instantly improved. She chatted about life, her kids, and anything she could think of to keep my mind off the miles that were ticking away.

At mile 11.5, I remember saying to her "am I still moving" as I was sure that my pace had slowed to a crawl. She reassured me that yes I was moving, and that my pace was doing just fine. Just hearing those words was enough to make me smile and keep going. At mile 12.5 I realized I only had 2 miles to go, and what was 2 miles, that was nothing to me. Interestingly enough, my intervals stayed strong, even throwing in some 6 minute runs along with the 4 minute intervals. With 1 mile to go, I knew I had this. Darann says to me "when we get to 0.5 to go, we can just walk it in." Are you kidding me? Heck no ... I worked this hard to be able to say I ran 14 miles I am NOT walking it in. She just laughed at me and laughed at my stubbornness.

With 500m to go, I felt strong... I switched the song... and off I went... when I finally finished all 14.5 miles I stopped because I could, not because I had to. I think that is my favorite victory of the whole run. At 14.5 miles I stopped because I was done, but I could have kept going!

Yep .... I may be slow, but I am a warrior. And yes... I may not pass you... but I can outlast you!

Struggles and More Struggles

The high from the unofficial half marathon lasted only so long. Off to Pittsburgh I went for school, and for one week running was all but forgotten in favor of papers, group projects, and spending time with great colleagues. I did get an offer to run with a couple of people, but almost spit out my water when they said they ran a "slow 11-12min/mile."

After returning from Pittsburgh, I was scheduled for an 8 mile run with Darann; who promptly decided that this distance was too long for the day (it was freezing cold 15 degrees) and decided to take me on my first trail run in the snow. I think I was supposed to enjoy it, but it was one of the most miserable runs that I have had. Trudging through the snow made me feel so out of shape, and tackling the hills I felt like that fat girl who first tried running. It did little for my confidence. But, I suppose in the end it was good for me (or at least I will give Darann the benefit of the doubt). You see, she has this habit of "springing" things on me because I am set in my ways, my routines, and little changes really throw me. She instead is a "go-with-the-flow" kinda person .... gosh I wish I could be more like that!

After the run, I decided more than ever than I needed to do something about my shoes and insoles. So off to Fleet Feet I went... and who should I find but Jake (better known as running god who was wicked nice to me the first day of class). Jake fit me for a new pair of shoes, and insoles, and a plan for how to break these in.

Tuesday I was off for a run in the new shoes, new insoles at the YMCA track. My left foot went numb (but my foot did not hurt), I forgot my Nike plus, and just overall it was NOT a good run. Certainly not a good thing for building the confidence. Thursday night was the group run for 5 miles... and since it was only 3 of us I was clearly slowing the group down, but I was trying my best. It was cold and snowing heavily... but half way through the run something clicked. I ran almost an entire mile at the end and felt awesome.

However, my next long run would be my most difficult yet ... and I just did not feel ready. Any confidence I had from the earlier unofficial half marathon was just.... gone...

New Years Eve Day - My first "unofficial" half marathon

So anyone out there who is reading this, YES I am still alive. There were many times I thought about writing, and yet rather than put my thoughts down I decided that they were not important enough to be a blog post. Seriously, I have seen people write about alot less... so again this is my promise that I need to blog about this journey, not just live it in my head. So without further ado .....

New Years Eve Day Run

Since Darann my training partner was going to be out of town again until the end of the week. I was planning on going it alone. Now last week it was just 5 miles, so it wasnt a big deal. This week 12 miles were scheduled. I won't lie, I was darn freaked out about this. What a huge jump from the 10 miler a few weeks ago. And that run seemed like months ago, instead of the real time 2 weeks it had been.

Im a lucky girl, I have alot of good, supportive running friends (even if none of them run as slowly as I do). I called on my friend Lisa, to see if she wanted to join me. Now Lisa I met by accident, through another friend, and she was part of the good energy that lead to my 5K PR. I was hoping she would be able to join me. Thankfully, she seemed up for the challenge.

So the day arrived, and we took off. The weather was super, super foggy but the temperature was about 35 degrees (warm enough for one half zip and one pair of pants). The first two miles were a struggle for me as always, but at mile 3 I felt pretty strong. Lisa and I chatted as we ran along, the miles just folding into each other. At about 4 miles I happened to mention the dream I had the night before. You see, I had this crazy dream the night before that we ran a whole 13.1 miles instead of the 12 miles. So yep, I shared the dream with her ... not with any intentions, but just thought it was a cute dream. At mile 5, Lisa turns to me and says "you know, if we just go 6.5 out and turn around we will do a full half" -- what a crazy girl this was, but of course I was up for the challenge.

About mile 8 I noticed some funny rubbing on the outside of my left foot and could literally feel the blister forming, but I was not going to give up. At mile 11.5 I hit a small wall, and then just pushed through it. From mile 12.5 -13.1 I ran it out, and even included a sprint at the end. Lisa finished as well (and even forgave me for getting her lost). A small tear shed out of the corner of my eye... I was so proud to say we had done it, even though it wasnt official. But who cared... it was a great experience with a great friend!

After that run I felt like I could conquer anything... unfortunately those feelings only last for so long!