What’s that you say Mr. Piriformis?!

I believe the ‘mutterings’ coming from the area directly behind my front between my waist and my thigh on the right side of my body are bringing the following message:
Dear, Sweet, Delusional Julianne,
On behalf of the entire rest of your body we, the Piriformis and Upper IT Band, are here to mandate that you do the following before even attempting to train for a marathon (any marathon ever):
A) Yoga more than once a week.  We recommend you get back to that Tuesdays and Fridays thing that looked so good on paper a few weeks ago.
B) Strength training for the following muscles: Glutes (mini- and maxi- mus . . . mini- and maxi- mi?  we digress . . .); Hamstrings (which are, oddly enough, made of neither ham nor string); Abductors; and finally Adductors.
C) Is for CLEAN!  As in CLEAN UP your eating habits.  Consistently.  And with Commitment.  And no more exCuses.  Ocay?
Refusal to comply with the above listed mandates (not suggestions, not recommendations, not even ‘guidelines’, m-a-n-d-a-t-e-s) will result in two things: Injury and Failure.  Because we know how much you hate Injury and Failure we stand (and sit) willing to assure that you will experience both – individually and simultaneously, possibly repeatedly – should you disregard this evening’s little ‘warning shot’.
We further assure that you will not experience what it feels like to cross the Finish Line of the 2013 St. Jude Full Marathon.
We feel we have made our Terms and Conditions clear and understandable and trust that you will take appropriate measures to see to our mutual best interests.
Sincerely,
Piriformis and IT Band
United we (and you) stand, divided . . . well . . . you know the rest.

So.
I think we all see what I have to do.
Follow up on the Stated Intentions I stated several weeks ago.
All of them.
Consistently.

Moving on . . .

Last weekend HCRP and I went to New Orleans for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon/Half-Marathon with another runner couple we’re good friends with and had a blast!
The trip down and back on Amtrak was a laughapalooza!  If you ever have the opportunity to travel any distance via Amtrak I highly recommend spending the majority of your time in the observation car.  Not just for the scenery, but also for the people watching.  Totally worth it for the people watching.  The four of us had a great time just hanging together.  To make no mention of eating, drinking, and generally enjoying The Big Easy and each other’s company outside our usual environment.  HCRP and I relayed the Half and our friends each ran the full Half.
The NOLA Half was about eight weeks out from a Full Marathon they’re training for, so in many ways they approached this as ‘just another training run’.  For HCRP and I relaying was somewhat of a let down as we had originally planned to do the full Half, but what with me having to reschedule my reduction surgery from February 26th to December 6th and not able to get back to running til Mid January . . . well running the entire Half was pretty much contraindicated.  So we relayed it.  And in the end had a great time doing it!

I mean it isn’t every day that HCRP is going to be passed by (on opposite sides of the turnaround) someone like Mo Farah!
And it sure isn’t every day that I’m going to see Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan live and in person at the Starting Line and again when they blazed past me where I was waiting for HCRP at the relay hand-off point.
We ran with Olympians!
A fairly good distance
behind the Olympians, but still.  We were in the same race!
HOW freakin’ cool is that?!

But the best was yet to come!
Better than Mo, and Shalane, and Kara; better than not shoulder checking the rude tourist who walked right out into the middle of the race and nearly right into me; and even better than finishing the port-a-john deficient race without peeing down my own leg was this: I got to meet two people!
First was BBE who is a member of our local running club and A Running Machine!  The funniest part is that while we share several friends – not the least of whom is The Incredible TLC – we had yet to meet each other live and in person.  We had to go all the way to New Orleans to meet each other and we probably live less than five miles from each other and have likely run in several races together.  Meeting BBE brought no surprises.  She’s one of those genuine, “What you see is what you get!” kind of people I love best!
Second was The Blogosphere’s own Rebuilding Holly!  She and her family were in town playing tourists and they were gracious enough to make time to meet us and share coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde Monday morning.  And there were no big surprises in that meeting either.  She is every bit who and what she comes across as in her blog. Open and interested in everything and willing to share herself and her experiences along the journey.

So that’s what I’ve been – or not been – up to and what I have to get up to going forward.
Thus spoke Piriformisustra!

STILL Still not running . . .

. . . but I am better.

Had my second follow-up appointment with The Surgeon and things seem to be progressing/healing well enough that he wants to use me as one of his Before/After ‘poster kids’.  He asked if I could come back in three months to have the final ‘After’ picture taken since at the moment the healing incisions/scars aren’t exactly ‘After’ picture worthy, and I’m good with that. (I’m still doing some *internal work* on that whole ‘having scars’ thing – I’ll get back with you on that)
ALL that aside, I am apparently healing nicely.  No complications.

Which means! It is basically up to “When I think it won’t hurt to do it” to determine when I’ll be running again.  At present I’m using the ‘If it still causes a twinge to go over a speed bump, I’m not ready yet’ school of thought/measure-of-readiness.

HCRP is currently out of town on a work related trip.  He’ll be back a week from tomorrow.
Which gives us that Saturday morning to do two things:
1) Go to one of our local Running Stores to get me a good, supportive, new-sized running bra; and
2) Switch our gym membership to the one that offers better cross-training options.  (Not the least of which is an indoor,heated pool and an indoor track. So we’ll have that going for us! 

Of course I will be ‘running’ at more of a jog until I’m comfortable that nothing’s going to be literally, physically ‘left on the track’..

so miss running!!
You have no idea how much you love it until it is taken away from you!
2013 is going to be My Best Running Year Ever!

I should NEVER have started running

This was the start of a conversation – and by ‘conversation’ I mean monologue/diatribe by me – last night in the car as we were running an errand of mercy for/to my son. (Said son is, for the record, going to be 24 years old next Wednesday, is 6’5″ tall, and like a good Southern Boy still calls me “Momma”. Awww . . . )

Back to my diatribe . . . Which went a lot like this:
Me: I should NEVER have started running.

HCRP: Why?

Me: Because now I can’t just ‘quit’.

HCRP: Why?

Me: Because that’s just not how it’s done! You don’t start something like running and then just quit. Especially when you’ve Put It Out There that you’re going to run a Full Marathon next year! I mean to ‘just quit’ – which by the way I have the perfect opportunity to do what with the being too sick to run for a month and now the month ‘off’ after my surgery next week – at this point makes me look like a big ol’ [STOP READING MOM!] pussy.

HCRP: (Keeps driving and looking straight ahead. He is wise beyond his years that one.)

Me: But this is just stupid!

HCRP: What is?

Me: Running!
(Is he paying no attention to anything I’m saying?!)

HCRP: (Keeps driving and looking straight ahead.  Again.  Genius!)

Me: I mean seriously. I run and I run and I run all these *expletive deleted* miles and where do I get?  Nowhere.  Okay, generally back to the car, but still! It’s not like I’m going from Portland (Oregon, I realize there’s also one in Maine) to Boston with all this *expletive deleted* running!

HCRP: We could.

Me: Could what?

HCRP: Run from Portand to Boston.

Me: (Singes him with a blistering glare.)

HCRP: (Regains his senses and keeps driving and looking straight ahead.)

Me: This is just stupid. It’s a stupid sport.  And now that I’ve started it I can’t ‘Just Quit’. There’s no end to it. It’s not like I’ve suffered some permanent injury that would force me to stop so I’m stuck with this *expletive deleted*.

HCRP: Well what else would you do?

Me: For what?

HCRP: For fitness?

Me: I would eat! And sleep! A lot of eating and sleeping.  And hang out with friends in bars.

HCRP: That wouldn’t be very healthy.

Me: (Singes him . . .  You know the rest.) That is entirely beside the point.

HCRP: Which is? (Sometimes he’s not very bright… Really.)

Me: That I really can’t *expletive deleted* quit running!

HCRP: Why not?

Me: You didn’t hear that whole ‘If I quit now I’ll look like a big ol’ weenie’ (edited for inappropriate content for my mom’s sake) part before?! Besides, if I quit now what was the point of the entire last almost year and a half of my life? And all those shoes and socks and clothes and those freakin’ high dollar, industrial strength, double-reinforced running bras I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money on?!  Huh?  What about all that?!
So.
*expletive deleted* it. I may as well keep running.
[Insert especially creative uses of ordinarily run-of-the-mill profanity.]

Of course what prompted all of this was having spent the morning sitting at a Finish Line I had originally intended to be running across.
Which wasn’t altogether bad.

Actually.

It was pretty cool.
It was inspiring watching the Elite Runners cross in times I will never, ever hope to make.  And they were, I might add, barely breathing heavy or sweating.  Much.
It was fun watching the non-runners who would stop a few feet before the Finish Line to pose their Finish Line photos.  (Costing themselves valuable seconds towards PRs… Who does that?!)
It choked me up seeing the people who – you could tell by the “I did it! Wait, I did it?!” looks on their faces – were finishing their First Ever 5Ks and Half Marathons.
Then there was the mom who had written in Sharpie on her arms and legs: My son couldn’t train for cancer.  I was full-on snot-slingin’ squawlin’ when I saw that.
Really being a part – any part – of an event that raised $5.8 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Well, how can you have a ‘bad’ time doing that?!

So I end 2012 with the following statistics under my laces:
1) I suffered from, rehabbed, and overcame my first ever sports injury.  Me!  *I* had a “sports injury”!
2) I was a coach for other women who were setting out on their own journeys as Runners.
3) I ran a Half Marathon! AND finished under my stated goal time.
4) And at the end of all that diatribe and deleted expletives up there – I’m going to keep on running. Because really, who wants to look like a big ol’ weenie (edited for inappropriate content)?!

Sometimes it’s the races you don’t run…

Earlier this year HCRP and I registered for the St. Jude Half Marathon.
By “earlier this year” I mean I stalked the registration page and registered us the minute I saw registration was open.

The USAF Half was my first Half and I was running that one for me.
The USAF Half was his second and he was running to PR.
The St. Jude we were running for The Kids and we’d already decided we would run that one together at whatever pace worked for both of us and we’d cross the Finish Line hand-in-hand like we did last year’s 5K.

We registered as St. Jude Heroes which gave us an opportunity to both contribute more personally and raise additional funds through the support and generosity of family and friends.
We had a plan.
We trained together.
We would finish together.
And now we will not start, will not run, and will not finish. Together or separately.

It all started, for HCRP, with good old-fashioned shin splints the last week in October which led to him walking The Biggest Loser Run/Walk 5K while I ran the 15K.
For the record he won first place in his age group as a Walker! Go HCRP!

For my part I ran one of the ugliest races of my life!
Jackson, Mississippi has got to be one of the hilliest, least race-friendly cities on earth!
Okay that may not be a fair assesment.
Maybe it wasn’t the best course that could possibly have been chosen since most of the 15K was right slap along what must be one of the main thoroughfares in Jackson.
Maybe the Jackson PD isn’t as well-versed in traffic control along a course as Memphis PD are. I’ve never run, volunteered for, or heard of a race here where cars were pulling into gaps between between groups of runners. I was a cussin’ fool by about seven miles.
Maybe I’m just spoiled by Memphis Runners Track Club and the relationship they’ve built with MPD in putting on races.
Did I mention the hills?
Oh.
My.
Asics!
It was one after another all of them long, all of them steep, and not more than an intersection’s worth of a flat for recovery in between.
Anyway, that was Saturday, November 3rd and I haven’t run a step since.

Monday the 5th I woke up with a slight cough. No biggie. It would pass. And Monday was a short run day anyway so I’d be fine.
Until the end of the day when about an hour before I ran out of end-of-day I ran completely out of energy.
By Tuesday morning that ‘slight cough’ had turned into full-blown, barking, coughing fits that would take over everything.
Awesome!
I had The Crud.
The Crud is a viral, sinus/upper respiratory funk that is going around pretty much all of North America from what I see on Facebook, but is definitely laying siege to my beloved MidSouth.
And about four days after I started with the hacking, HCRP started and he never, ever gets sick! Not. Ever.
But every night we went to sleep thinking “Tomorrow I’ll/we’ll wake up feeling all better and I/we can start getting some miles in!”

Monday the 12th we broke down and went to the doctor since mine had started to feel suspiciously akin to Bronchitis and HCRP never gets sick and still was.
Nope.
No such luck.
White counts were within normal range so the Official Diagnosis: Sudafed, Cough Medicine, and Ride It Out.
And every night we went to sleep thinking “Tomorrow I’ll/we’ll wake up feeling all better and I/we can start getting some miles in!”

Early on I was advised by Tonia – my soul sister and running guru – that as long as whatever it is that’s sick about you is upper respiratory you lay off running.
And so.
We have.
Or rather haven’t. Run that is.
Even though every night we have gone to sleep thinking “Tomorrow I’ll/we’ll wake up feeling all better and I/we can start getting some miles in!”

Meanwhile the calendar has been ticking right along getting closer and closer to St. Jude Marathon Weekend with absolutely zero miles passing beneath our feet.
And we’d think that thought up there every night before going to sleep.
And we’d wake up every morning still coughing and hacking.
Which, to date, we still are.
To a lesser degree.
But still even an enthusiastic conversation or good hard laugh results in paroxysms of coughing.

But back to The St. Jude half.
Friday evening over dinner HCRP and I realized that trying to run any of the half marathon would be foolish given that even if we woke up miraculously and fully healed Saturday morning (hope springs eternal) we would get five, maybe six runs in between now and Race Day and that wouldn’t allow for building up any amount of mileage.
So there we’d be.
Barely recovered from an extended bout of upper respiratory Crud and an injury on his part.
Way undertrained.
We’d end up walking the entire thing.
Which there is nothing wrong with. Walking. Walking an entire half marathon.
So we decided: We’ll walk the Half!
People walk half marathons all the time!
Remember Robert? The guy who was walking the USAF Half? Hey! He was there and he was doing it and he was gonna cross the same finish line we did!
We can totally walk this.
Right?
Of course right!
After all, this one’s for The Kids!
We were good with this.

And then.
Well then there was this past weekend.
I got slammed with the mother of all stomach bugs.

TMI Warning: WARNING THERE’S TMI COMING!
I was puking from the time I woke up around 6am Saturday until a little before I went (back) to bed at 9pm I couldn’t hold down so much as a sip of Ginger Ale, and could barely stand to hold my head up without it feeling like it was going to split into about three distinctly separate parts.
And of course my lower GI tract had to get in on the fun too.

Of course the funny thing was that for the first time in my life when having a stomach bug my thought wasn’t “Hey, at least I’m losing some weight!” it was “Good God I am going to be so dehydrated when this is over!”
And I was.
It’s Monday evening and I’m only just now starting to get rehydrated after spending all day Sunday and today sucking down fluids like it was my job. 
And I’m feeling somewhat normal, if lacking a little bit of trust in my stomach. But that’s kinda mutual right now. It doesn’t trust me much either.

And The Crud is still extending its departure. Which means The Cough is too.
The Cough means no running.
For both of us.
Less coughing for me than him, but after my bout with The ‘Nother Bug the playing field is pretty well leveled. HCRP’s shin splints are still causing him enough discomfort that running is contraindicated.
*sighs*
*coughs*
*sighs again*

And then came The Email.
Last night we got an email from the Volunteer Coordinator of our local running club seeking volunteers for the various events surrounding St. Jude Marathon Weekend. After a relatively brief discussion, and for as difficult as the decision was, it was pretty much a no-brainer.
So on Saturday, December 1st we’ll still be at that Finish Line inside Auto Zone Park. But instead of crossing it we’ll be ‘select timers’.
I’m not 100% certain what that entails, but we’ll find out that morning.
And volunteering feels a whole lot less useless than walking or pulling out of the race altogether.

And before anyone asks, no we won’t be “selling” or “transferring” our race bibs.
Both St. Jude AND MRTC (our running club) strongly discourage that practice for this race. And by “strongly discourage” I mean they say “Don’t do it!”

/Begin PSA
Unless an event specifically provides a process for selling or transferring bibs seriously: Don’t. Do. it.
It’s a Race Director’s nightmare on many levels.
It is actually hazardous to your – yes you, the runner’s – health. If you’re wearing someone else’s bib with their identity and health information on it and (God forbid) something happens to you and they don’t know that you have oh . . . say . . . a life-threatening latex allergy because Ferd Klodfelder whose bib you are wearing does not happen to have said life-threatening latex allergy and Mr./Ms. EMS First Responder tries to clear your airway with his/her latex-encased finger…
Well I think we can see where this scenario could go all kinds of sideways.

/End PSA

So.
Sometimes you ‘win’ the race by running.
And sometimes you ‘win’ the race by being part of the run in a different kind of way.
It’ll probably take me awhile to be able to justify wearing my singlet or the race shirt.
Then again, I did raise money and I am participating. Just not the way I’d originally intended.

Interestingly enough, the disappointment of this ‘runnintus interruptus’ is far less than what I went through in March when I had to pull out of my first Half Marathon attempt.  It has nothing to do with how important one race is over another.  I think it’s part of the learning curve of running.  learning that “sometimes you ‘win’ by running, sometimes you ‘win’ by being part of it in a different way” lesson.
And knowing now what I didn’t know then: That this is a setback, it’s a slow down, but it’s not a full stop.  The only ‘full stop’ happens between the ears, not under the laces.

Oh, and with my surgery (yes, That Surgery) scheduled for December 6th that will make The Biggest Loser 5K my last race until sometime well after the first of the year.
My doctor predicts that I’ll be able/ready to start running again about 30 days post-op. I’ll be listening to my body on that one.
But being optimistic and believing he knows what he’s talking about that’ll have me lacing back up and hitting the pavement sometime a week after New Year’s Day.
There’s a Valentine’s Day 5K here I think I’ll go ahead and register us for.
We can cross that Finish Line hand-in-hand.
I mean seriously, how cute would that be?

So yeah for the next few weeks this running blog is going to be more about staying in some semblance of cardio condition while recuperating from breast reduction surgery.
Then the whole ‘getting my run back’ once I’m fully recovered from that.
Who saw that coming?!

Falling in love again . . .

Falling in love again
Never wanted to
What am I to do?
I can’t help it

And because nobody should ever be able to read those words without having the song going through their heads, I’ll direct you here.  You’re welcome.

I haven’t run in eight days.
I have a note from my doctor.  Maybe not from my actual doctor, but From the Desk of Dr. I Said I’m Sick.  HCRP and I have both succumbed to The Creeping Crud that’s been going around down here in Dixieland.  It’s an Upper Respiratory Today, Gastrointestinal Tomorrow melange of congestion and sneezing and coughing and queasiness and TMIness, and zero energy dragginess that’s making the rounds while the weather makes up its mind between September and December from one day to the next.  The idea of hacking up a lung in the middle of the trail doesn’t appeal to me much more than finding out exactly who does what in the woods whether there’s anybody there to see it or not.
IfyouknowwhatImean…

And the thing is, I haven’t missed it.
Not one step.
I haven’t envied my friends who’ve been posting runs on Facebook.
I haven’t gazed longingly at my Asics.
I haven’t felt the first twinge of guilt seeing my packed-since-Monday gym bag languishing in the trunk of the car all week.
I just haven’t felt The Run all week.

Which isn’t very good since we have the St. Jude Half Marathon in less than a month.  Chances are good I’m going to end up walking a fair amount of that one.  But I’ll be there and walking or running I’ll be doing it for The Kids.

Speaking of changes in schedule . . .  Yes, we were.
Last week I got a call from my surgeon’s office.  Remember that reduction mammoplasty thing I had all planned out and scheduled for the end of February?  The one that’s going to make running all new and different and less painful from the waist up?  Well wha’ ha’ happen waaaas . . .
Starting January 1st Ye Olde Boobie Reducing Doctor will no longer be accepting our health insurance.
*blinks*
*blinks again*
*bursts into hysterical laughter*
Really, I did.  I started laughing.
So my options were:
A) Reschedule to a date prior to December 31st.
OR
B) Not have this done at all since this is the only doctor in a city overrun with doctors (and coincidentally lawyers) who will do Boobie Reducing surgery and (for the moment anyway) accepts our health insurance.
I think what the Mayans meant by The World’s Gonna End in 2012 was really “Women who need Boobie Reducing Surgery and whose husbands are retired military and who live in Memphis will be SOL after 2012.”
Soooo…
The surgery is now scheduled for Thursday, December 6th.
I planned and the Mayans laughed.

All things – and my recovery – being equal I should still be able to participate in The New Orleans Half Marathon next February.  Maybe not the fastest Half ever run, but certainly the most comfortable in my experience.  Unless the Mayans have some issue with that plan too.

But first The Run and I have to renew our romance.
I’m not anticipating flowers or candy, and something tells me I’m going to have to make the first move because as we all know running is notoriously shy until it gets to know you.

Hey Running!  How you doin’?
Got any plans Monday after work?
How about you and me find a nice, quiet place and I’ll treat you to three or four miles.

Jack Rabbit Starts and Turtle Finishes

Running is a funny thing.
It’s a competitive sport and a personal endeavor.
It’s the journey and the destination.
It’s the starts and the finishes.
And it is everything in between.

But today I find myself thinking about those starts and finishes.

When I first started running I instinctively started slow and easy.  I was new at it so the tentativeness was natural.  And at the beginning I started every run wondering if this was going to be The One where The Truth that I really couldn’t run and really didn’t have any business even trying was going to bring me to some painful, screeching halt once and for all.
That never happened.
Just like my first fall wasn’t as bad as the fear of the fall.
Just like neither of the legless beasts I’ve encountered on the trail have struck or strangled me.  (With or without Samuel L. Jackson…)
Just like there have been no dead bodies along the trail.  (Rational or not, it’s my irrational fear.  Don’t judge me.)

And so I ran.  And and kept running.  And wrote about running.  And ran some runs just for the sake of having a run to write about.
Eventually (last month) all that running led me to doing something that hadn’t ever been on my radar ever anywhere in the history of my radar – I ran a Half Marathon!
And it felt great!
So much so that part of me was a little afraid to run again for fear of never feeling That Good about a run ever again anywhere in the future of my running or my radar.

But I ran anyway.
And on that first run a full week after the Half I took off like I’d been shot out of a cannon!  My first mile was a full 32 seconds faster (per mile) than my normal, consistent 12 minute per mile (with a walking interval) pace.  I. Was. Gettin’. It!
And it felt great!
Until it didn’t felt so great around mile three which I finished almost a full minute slower than my normal, consistent 12 minute per mile (with a walking interval) pace.
*le sigh*

So the next run I started all the happy self-talk reminding myself that slow and steady wins the race and that I run with endurance – not speed – the race set before me and that it’s better to start slow and finish strong and every other running ‘ism about starts and finishes known to running mankind.
And I took off like I’d been shot out of another cannon!
And I jack rabbited that first mile and turtled, if not the last one at least one towards the end.

In case you think I’m beating the whole “Tortoise and The Hare” fairy tale to death, let me share something with you.  Below is how Endomondo (best running program I’ve found for smartphones by the way) gives race splits.

See? Rabbit.  Turtle.

See the result of that jack rabbit start?  Turtle finish.  Not fun.

From a running perspective I need to get that under control.
After all nobody – and I mean not one running body – wants to finish a race walking across a finish line because you left everything in the first mile.  That is an especially bad strategy for longer races.  Like my upcoming St. Jude Half Marathon.  And it sure ain’t gonna work for doing the St. Jude Full next year!
Incidentally I’m running as a St. Jude Hero and if you’d like to help me raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital go here and thank you!

It’s also notsomuch a great strategy for life.
And says a lot about how I’ve gone through life and why this is the first time in my life I’ve done something physical that lasted more than three months.
Well other than pregnancy.  That was certainly physical and certainly lasted longer than three months!

How you start a thing determines how you finish it.
And that turtle didn’t start that race even trying to keep pace with that rabbit and look how that worked out for him!

Jillian Michaels: Pace Buster!

Wherein our intrepid heroine chooses an audiobook by her favorite motivational celebriwriter instead of her tried and true Running Pace Playlist and learns a thing or two . . .

HCRP and I have been really bad runners the past couple weeks.
We haven’t really been getting our miles in.

We haven’t really been very consistent with our runs.
This is pretty risky behavior for two people who are only about seven weeks out from a half marathon.
Oh sure, we just finished one last month but those are hardly laurels one can rest on for 13.1 miles two and a half months later.

HCRP, for his part, has been having some tightness in his sartorius muscle.
I know this not because of my extensive studies of human anatomy or my secret, night school medical diploma.  I know this because today he saw The Exorcist.  She made famous by the equally famous Terri Lee in her groundbreaking blog about running, a dog, a cat, and life in general.
Anyway, he has had a reasonable reason to cut back on his running.  In fact, he was grounded from running by Le Exorciste.  Which is what led to yours truly – the aforementioned Intrepid Heroine – running sans the RP portion of HCRP.

For whatever crazy reason I decided to run listening to one of my many audiobooks.  I say “crazy reason” because I rely on my running play list to keep me on my trusty 12:00 min/mile running pace.
Yes, I said “rely” and I do.  I’m weak.
And a huge fan of music on my runs.
One of these days I’ll become one of Those Runners who just lace up their Asics, head out the door, and pound out the miles.  But for now there’s this whole ‘gearing up’ thing I go through with the industrial strength running bra, strap pads (see previous link), water belt, and since I’ve done All That why not go ahead and take the iPhone and ear buds?  Because really, what’s a run without technology?  (And there’s that whole Safety Issue to having one’s phone with one on a run in case one falls and can’t get up…)  However, I digress…

Crap!
Where was I?
iPhone for safety…
running bra/strap pads…
Those Runners…
Oh!  Now I remember!  Running with Jillian Michaels!

So I fire up Jillian’s (I call her ‘Jillian’ because we’re tight like that me and Jillian) Unlimited and get to running!
And everything feels great from Step One!  I’m talkin’ Tony The Tiger on a Saturday Morning commercial in the middle of Scooby Doo They’re Grrrrrrrrrreat!” great!
After the first five minute running interval The Endomondo Lady pipes up and says “Two Minutes – Low Intensity” so I slow to a brisk walk, take a sip of water, and wait (a little more impatiently than usual) for her to say “Five Minutes.  Medium Intensity”.
Somewhere along the way it registers in my brain that rather than getting to the “Two Minutes.  Low Intensity” interval before the half mile marker on the trail, I got to that interval after the half mile marker which can only mean one thing: I must be running quicker than my regular pace.  And it felt Tony The Tiger Grrrrrrrrrreat!
Endomondo Lady pipes back up, we run for five minutes – just me, Jillian, and Endomondo lady – and again are past the one mile marker before reaching the next “Two Minutes.    Low Intensity” cue.  This really can mean only one thing: I really am running – comfortably and completely on my own – faster than a twelve minute mile!  FOR an entire mile!

And this isn’t one of those Jillian Michaels Biggest Loser Screaming Trainer type books I’m listening to.  She is, dare I say, downright sedate and soothing in (most of) her delivery in Unlimited.  It’s a “Love your life and live a life you love” book, not a “Get off your fat ass (sorry mom) and run until you vomit!” book.  And (we now pause for a word from our non-sponsor) it’s really a good book.  At least I think so.  So does my “I’m not a fan of Jillian” friend/running buddy-mentor Tonia.

At the end of the run I did 4.40 miles in 50:42 and averaged 11:32 min/mile.
Which can mean only one thing, two things really:
#1: I can reduce my time and run faster!
#2: I really need to listen to Jillian Michaels when I’m running in races!

A PR and A Crossroad

HCRP and I joined another couple we’re friends with running a 5K Race this morning.
As 5K races go this one was relatively small (I’m guessing under 200).  Of course earlier in the week I’d heard someone say there were FIVE 5Ks in our area today.
Which I still find puzzling for a city that consistently ranks among “America’s Fattest/Least Fit Cities”.  I digress . . .

Given the small number of runners there was this little imp in the back of my brain elbowing me and whispering “You might actually medal in your age group!”
I didn’t.
I came in fourth (I think – no Official Results yet) in Women 45 – 49.
And I’m good with that.
No, I don’t know the answer to “Fourth out of how many Julianne?” I placed way ahead of the me who was happily, complacently, and sedentarily on my couch two years ago and in my book that falls under “W” for WIN!

What I did do is PR* this race!
My previous 5K PR was 34:35 in November 2011.
Today the clock read 33:50 when I planted my foot across the Finish Line.
So in eleven months I’ve taken 45 seconds off my 5K time.
Not bad for someone who really hasn’t been working on speed or to reduce race time.

Which brings me to The Crossroads.  Not that Crossroads, although I live within a couple hours’ drive of that Crossroads, that’s not the one I’m talking about.
No, I have reached a Training Crossroads.

Here’s the deal:
I can run a 5K in a respectable amount of time.  I have run several 5Ks and fully intend to run several more.
I have run a 10K in a somewhat less respectable time.  But still, I’ve run one and I know what to do better for the next one (in three weeks actually).
I have trained for and completed a Half Marathon in what I consider a respectable time.  And in a time that HCRP and my Runner Friends said was a respectable time for a first Half.

The Crossroads I stand at is this:
I can continue to train as I’ve been training, focusing on consistency and endurance, and be content with my consistent 35 minute-ish finishes.
OR
I can begin using my short (3 – 4 mile) runs to do speed training to reduce those 5K and 10K finish times; continue using the mid and long runs to work on endurance and consistency in Halfs; and start looking towards the really long runs** that will be required next year when I begin training for the 2013 St. Jude Full Marathon.

*le sigh*
And so it begins.
Goal Setting.
Running Goals.
Training Goals.
Dear Sweet Asics, what fresh h*ll of life lessons is this going to bring?!

Lexicon for my non-running reader(s): (Hey!  There could be more than one!)
*PR = Personal Record
Sometimes called a ‘PB’ or Personal Best.
This is a runner’s personal competition with the runner in their own shoes.
Often more important than finishing “First” or “Last”. It’s all about Better!

**”really long runs” being defined as 15 – 20 miles or possibly further.
Yes, I really am just that crazy.

Not sure why . . .

I have plenty of thoughts on my first Half Marathon.

Starting, of course, with: I DID IT!!  I FREAKIN’ DID IT!!

And I have come here several times to share them all.

But for some reason I just couldn’t put the words down.

No matter how much I wanted to come here and talk about so many things about the race.
To talk about how the entire first mile was spent getting my legs and lungs to remember that they have, in fact, worked well together.
To talk about The World’s Best Total Stranger Running Buddy Ever.  Erin.  Who understood when, after ‘warning’ her before we started that “I’m not a talker when I run”, I suddenly became a Chatty Cathy with my string pulled during every walking interval after about Mile 5.
To share my admiration for Robert, the easily 400 pound man we met at the start of the race, who was planning to walk the Half in 4:00:00 as part of his ongoing fitness efforts to insure that he’ll be around and able to keep up with his ten month old daughter.
To marvel at the completely barefoot Marathoner who whizzed past Erin and me at about our Mile 12 which was like his Mile 25.
To feel pretty dang good about the fact that I wasn’t the woman who ended up flat on her back with her legs cramping, screaming in pain because she never stopped at any water stops and wasn’t carrying her own water at about the same Mile 12.  I felt bad for her, but was so grateful I wasn’t her.
To tell you about the 80-something year old man wearing the singlet that said “I’m running on a donated heart valve.”
And the people running with shirts screen-printed with the pictures of family members who had served our country in the same United States Air Force as my father and husband.
To share the pictures of the Finisher’s Medal, my bib number that had my name on it, of me and Erin with our FMs.
To express my gratitude to Erin for keeping me going those couple times when I wanted to just stop and walk the rest of the way.  Even if a tiny little bit of that did come from my ego commanding “We will not let this twenty-something year old girl see us quit!”
To brag on HCRP for beating his own Goal Time!

To say “Thank You!” to every runner who has given me counsel, advice, slowed up their own pace to run with me, encouraged me when they saw me struggling along the trail.  And especially to Terri Lee, DJ, Marian, and Donnie.  They know why.
To give a shout-out to my dear friend Tonia who sent me a message via The Endomondo Lady encouraging me at Mile 10 JUST when she knew I’d need it!
To thank my dear friend Tina who came down to be there at the Finish Line to cheer for me whether I heard her or not and who didn’t mind the sweaty-runner post-race hug one bit!

And to tell you what I told my dad before the race:
The first 6.5 miles were for my father who served from 1959 through 1979.
The second 6.5 miles were for my husband who served from 1989 through 2009.
But that last 0.1? That right there, that was for me!
And that’s how I ran it!

It’s probably the same reason I haven’t felt overly pushed to get a run in any evening this week – despite the Oh My Starz! perfect running weather we’ve had all week for the first time in forever.
I think part of me is still enjoying The Magic of running that race exactly the way I’d pictured it.
Successful.
Feeling really pretty damn good at the end.
Feeling zero pain from either of The Knees or any of my 2,000 other parts.
Dancin’ with the ones that brung me: Pace and Intervals.
Feeling the triumph of the fruition All Those Miles put in training.
All that precautionary icing of the aforementioned knees.
The runs I cut short “just in case”.
The wisdom of listening to my body (finally got that little lesson).

I ran – successfully and enjoying (just about) every step of every mile – a freakin’ Half Marathon!
And I’m more excited about running the next one on December 2nd.
And.  I am really beginning to think I’m going to be able to run twice that far in December 2013.

I’ll be back in a day or two to provide the review of SnuggBuds Headsets that I was asked to write here on my blog!
Spoiler Alert: It will not be a bad review…

The cards might lie . . .

. . . but the numbers never do! (Thank you Mary Chapin Carpenter!)

Stated Goal Time for my first Half Marathon: 3:00:00

Official Finish Time for my first Half Marathon: 2:54:29

I finished a full 5:31 UNDER my Stated Goal Time.

I’m still a little shocked.
I’m also still putting my thoughts together about the whole thing.

I learned many things.

I learned that The Right Running Partner will find you in a field of 5,447.

I learned to trust what got you there – your training.

I learned that more experienced runners are more experienced runners for many reasons and listening to their advice is the best possible thing to do.
(Unless they advise you to eat paint chips or jump up and go out and run twenty miles all at once one day, but I never heard that from anyone anywhere ever so I stick with that “listening to their advice is the best possible thing to do” thing.)

I learned to hold to what got you there – pace and intervals.

I learned that a middle-aged, overweight, sedentary woman can decide – “out of nowhere – to “take up running” one year and finish a half marathon the next.

IF, and only if, she does all those things I listed up there.
And maybe believes in herself just the tiniest little bit along the way.