Sunday, September 16, 2012

Running isn't my thing...but I do it anyhow
Greetings and salutations everyone!! As you probably could tell from the absence of my blog over the summer, I hung up my running shoes in late April and didn't dust them off again until July. I had every intention of running 3-4 miles two or three days per week during the summer, but I'm going to be honest. It's hot in South Carolina in May, June and July (and August and September!), and I just didn't feel like it.

The dilemma, though, is that I signed up for a half marathon late last spring, and the day of the half (Nov. 4) started staring me in the face come late July. I just knew I had to get started, so I did. During that first week back, three miles was a horror. hurt, I got blisters, and it felt like I was running into a wall of heat every step.

Alas, I had to keep trucking on. There's NO WAY my sister would let me back out of running the City of Oaks half marathon with her. I think it's something that my mom instilled in us as kids. If you agree or sign up for something, you ARE going to do it. No ifs, ands, buts or hot weather about it.

So I ran...three days per week. Late July and August were misery. Every. single. Step. Tuesdays and Fridays are my 'easy' days where I only run 3 or 4 miles. Sundays are my long runs where I build and build until two weeks prior to the half. Today I ran almost 8 1/2 miles. You'd think by now running would seem easy and that I'd like it. Yeah, you'd think that...

I have yet to feel that 'runner's high' that everyone talks about. Every step for me is a mental game. Even going downhill, which should be easy, requires having to force myself to pick up the pace and not dog it. When I'm starting to tire and I want to take a walk break, I have to push myself to keep going. I make deals with myself. "If you get to the 3rd mailbox up ahead, you can stop." Third mailbox arrives and I ask myself, "Are you truly out of breath or just hurting a bit?" It's generally the 2nd, so I make another deal. "Okay, when you get to the Lakes and Streams sign, you can walk." I play this game for miles and miles. When does it get easy? When will I love to run?

Now don't get me wrong. I don't hate to run. If I absolutely abhorred it, there's no way I would lace up my shoes. So why does someone who doesn't like running keep doing it...and for 13 miles?! Running isn't easy...I'll never be one of those people who just looks like they float as they run. In fact, when I run, I look as though I'm dragging an anvil in my pants. That said, I do like physical challenges. If I did 12 push ups on my toes yesterday, I assure you I'll do 13 the next time I do them. I don't like to slide backwards. Running is about setting challenging goals that are realistic, and achieving them. That, for me, is what it's about.

A few weeks ago I was out running 3 miles and got caught in a deluge about 1 1/4 miles from home. In the time it took me to run home, my Droid phone (that I use for my running app, Endomondo, and my music) was completely fried. There was no saving it. Fast forward a week and my replacement arrived in the mail. I wasn't about to start running with it again for fear of ruining it as well. I have an i-pod touch, though, that I could use for music, but without the GPS function available, I'd lose that voice that tells me how many miles I'd run, how fast I'd run them, and when I'd met my goal for the day. WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT HER VOICE IN MY EAR?

I've found that not having the GPS might actually be a good thing. After running near my house for the past 11 months, I know the approximate distances of my 'loops,' so I have a pretty good idea how far 8 miles is. The nice thing about goal setting, though, is that you can push yourself when you don't have that little voice saying "Your workout is complete. Good job." There's no one telling you to stop.

Today I didn't want to short myself on my run. I wanted to make sure I got 8 miles in, so I added one extra 3/10 of a mile loop at the end. I was exhausted and my butt was dragging, but you know what? My 8 mile run turned into an 8.44 mile run. How about that? It didn't kill me, either, and in the end, is going to make that half marathon in November that much easier.

I'm signed up for another half marathon in late February. I'd really like to run that one close to the the 2:00 mark. In order to do that, though, I really need to accomplish something during my training runs. My typical 7+ mile route takes me through a neighborhood near mine called Lakes and Streams. Obviously there are lakes and streams in it! My run takes me to the far end of the neighborhood right around mile 5 and then I have to loop around and head back to my own neighborhood. From that point, it is uphill for just over one of the 1.25 miles back to my house. There's a short steep section, followed by a gradual climb for 3/10 of a mile, followed by "the hill." The hill busts your butt just to walk up. I can't even imagine running up it, particularly because there's the 4/10 of a mile climb prior to it, the 2/10 steep, steep, steep climb up the hill, followed by another 4/10 gradual climb, a tiny breather, and another steepish climb for 2/10 of a mile and then downhill that last bit to the house (where I stash my water and a Gu gel). If I can conquer that section of my run without having to stop and pick up my left lung, I can meet my Augusta half goal in February because the Augusta half has the Patridge Inn hill right around mile 4-5. It's steep and it's long. If you want to make time, you have to be prepared for that.

So, if you live in Lakes and Streams, I'll be the one running up that hill all winter. If you see me, honk, wave and cheer me on. I'd love the encouragement.

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