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)?!

The not-so-dreadful mill

Tonight found our intrepid heroine venturing into territory she . . .  Forget it, I’m too tired to write in third person narrative…

HCRP has Shin Splints.
Wordpress is having font color issues, and it’s pissing me smooth off, but that’s not particularly 
germane to this post.  Annoying to me?  Yes.  Germane?  Notsomuch.  So I’ll get over that and move on.

HCRP has Shin Splints.
He suspected it during Sunday’s Long Run which he had to cut short and finish as a walk. That was a whole new experience for me – doing 3/4 of a long run by myself.  And it was a good experience.  First I had to get past the guilt of ‘leaving him behind’ when it became apparent that continuing to run was going to cause serious, possibly long-term damage.  That took a good half mile.  But once I got past the urge to turn around and go back and finish walking with him I had a really good run!

Despite his reasonable certainty that he had the aforementioned shin splints, we consulted with a couple other people not the least of whom is my Personal Trainer Buddy and future business partner Tonia.  Tonia was concerned, based on the location and occurrence of the pain, that he might have a stress fracture.  So on Tuesday he headed to see our Primary Care Physician thinking they could do an x-ray in the office and at least rule that out.
The doctor – after being rude, dismissive, insulting, and frankly damn lucky it was HCRP (habitual Nice Guy) and not me (habitual Raging B*tch in the face of rude, dismissive, insulting doctors) – essentially blew him off with a ‘referral’ to a local Orthopedic Clinic.  (For the record, we’re switching Primary Care Physicians and as soon as the switch has been made and our records securely transferred I’ll be writing a tersely worded letter to the head of the practice about his little associate dude.)
Ortho Clinic Doc – obviously a runner – was not rude, not dismissive, not insulting, and very assuring that the x-ray showed no indication of a stress fracture and that HCRP’s self-diagnosis was correct.  The Cure?  Time, non-impact (elliptical machine) exercise, icing the shins, and Aleve twice a day.

Which led us to Ye Olde Gyme tonight.
Because it’s getting darker earlier, and because we live in a subdivision with intermittent sidewalks and completely non-mittent streetlights, and because I don’t want to end up as either a Cautionary Runner’s Tale or a crime statistic I decided to make the best of HCRP’s elliptical prescription and get tonight’s run in on The Dreaded Treadmill!

If you’re not a runner . . .  Well first if you’re not a runner I can’t imagine why you’d be reading this blog, but hey who am I to judge?  I’m a potential borderline hoarder and read the blog of a minimalist living guru.  I digress . . .
If you’re not a runner let me explain something about runners – distance runners in particular – and treadmills: We.  Hate.  Them.  More often than not they are called ‘Dreadmills’. There are no number of Friends or Seinfeld reruns that can make anything more than about a mile on a treadmill tolerable.  Even my girl Jillian Michaels can’t make me love a treadmill run.  Which is why I haven’t done one in about eight or nine months.  I would rather run in the rain.  And I can’t imagine doing a really long run on one.

So tonight I was slated to run five.  I chose the “Hills” program hoping that would make things int… less boring.  And truth be told I had some nagging concerns about my knees.  The last time I ran on a treadmill it exacerbated my then budding young case of Runner’s Knee so I was fully prepared to bail at the first significant twinge.
At about half a mile it occurred to me that my last treadmill run also coincided with the brief tenure of The Wrong Shoes I had ill-advisedly (and briefly) switched to so that assuaged some of my concerns about Ye Olde Knee.
Mile One and things were going . . . okay!
Mile Two and I was thinking “I could do this!  Yeah.  This could get me through the winter!” (A mildly delusional thought given that I have not one but two half marathons to get and stay in condition for between now and Spring springing.)
Mile Three and I was starting to do two things: A) Picture where I would be if I were doing this run on the Greenline; and B) Nitpick Stephen Covey’s colloquial mispronunciations of words like “resonate” (resignate?!) and a couple others I’ve blocked from my memory so I can continue listening to his audiobook.
And right at Mile Four my knees and hamstrings were starting to make their unaccustomedness (if Covey can butcher ‘resonate’ I can make up ‘unaccustomedness’) to this running surface known so I hit the ‘Cool Down’ button, cooled down, and called it a run.

HCRP’s elliptical workout seemed to have gone well.  He wasn’t limping or cursing.
And the ‘mill wasn’t quite so dreadful.  At least not for four miles.  Anything further than that and all bets are off!

Saturday we’re taking part in a race in Jackson, Mississippi.  It’s part of The Biggest Loser RunWalk Series and I am just enough of a Biggest Loser Geek that yes, I signed us up the very minute I heard it was coming within a reasonable drive (3 hours) of Memphis.
Of course my entire motivation (fantasy) is that either Bob or Jillian would be there and I would accidentally-by-design ‘run into’ one or the other of them and get a chance to actually meet and talk to and point them to my blog and we would become fitness BFFs and exchange healthy holiday meal recipes and maybe even vacation togethe . . .  I’ll stop now before the restraining orders get filed.
In all seriousness, it thrills me to see TBL ‘taking it to the streets’ and putting on events like this to reach out to their fans in a way that gets people moving.

The race offers a 5K and a 15K option.  I originally registered us both for the 5K but I’ve found out I can ‘upgrade’ to the 15K at packet pick-up tomorrow evening and since 9 miles just happens to be the distance I’m supposed to run on Saturday that is precisely what I’m going to do.

There’s a little bit of weirdness in HCRP walking the 5 while I’m running the 15 – after all he’s the more experienced runner.  And it’s a little bit of a flip of what happened in March when I had to pull out of the half marathon.  But just like I had to do back then, he has to rest and rehab this minor injury or risk it becoming a major and run ending one.

Of course there will be pictures of the tech shirt and finisher’s medal!
And maybe, just maybe if I’m lucky, one of me and at the very least one of The Biggest Losers.
Or Bob.
Or Jillian.
Because treadmill runs give a person a lot of time to dream . . .

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…

This is it!

 

 

2 Days – 10 Hours – 14 Minutes – Ever-Changing Seconds until the start of my first ever Half-Marathon.

It isn’t the first one I have set out to do.
That was back in March.
But apparently it was the first one I was intended to do.
And I am, finally, okay with that.

I have butterflies in my stomach.
They’ve gone from stomping around in combat boots in formation to running wind sprints.
I can live with wind sprints.

I have a cadre of Runner Friends who have given me support, encouragement, congratulations, and one consistent bit of advice: Have fun!

I have HCRP who is being his ever-tolerant, patient self with my newbie nerves and nattering on and on about which tech shirt I should take as a back-up if the race shirt is sleeveless (sleeveless t-shirts freak me out a little bit).

Several weeks ago one of the RFs commented on one of my (many, many, many) Facebook posts about this upcoming race that this race is my “victory lap”.  It’s the celebration of all the miles I’ve put in training.  And while I appreciated the sentiment it really didn’t make sense to me at the time.
I mean the Half was The Whole Point of all the miles and training and . . . and . . . and well all the miles and training!
Wasn’t it?
She was just trying to keep me from getting too worked up and possibly attempting to prevent the combat boot wearing, formation marching butterflies.
Right?
I just didn’t quite get what she meant.

Until Monday evening when I was doing the last Coaching Run with the Beginning Runners in the Women’s Running Training Program that was the start of this whole Running Thing for me.  I was running along with one of the other Coaches and three of the Beginning Runners (a mother and her two daughters which I think is just so cool!) and we (the other Coach and I) were answering questions and Out Of Nowhere it hit me: The Race really is The Celebration.  It is The Victory Lap!  The miles and the training really were The Point.

Now The Marching/Sprinting Butterflies are still around.
And every time I look at the picture of where the Finish Line is going to be I get choked up.

Wanna see?
How freakin’ cool is that?!
And I know I’m gonna bawl if not actually crossing the Finish Line, because really who wants their Ugly Cry Face as that picture, but a few steps thereafter.
And the crying won’t be (completely) because “I did it!” but also because “I did everything that made me able to did it!”

Earlier this week (also on Facebook) I posted a status to the effect that this Half was the single most significant accomplishment of my life.
I left out that it was more significant than graduating high school or college, more significant than marriage, more significant than even childbirth.  I left that out because I really didn’t feel like being judged for including the birth of my one-and-only “I brought you into this world, I can take you out” child.  (I tried for others before him, but that didn’t work out so well.)
 Aaaaanywho . . . this isn’t my Therapy Blog so back to The Running Stuff . . .

Crap.
Where was I?
Not The Point . . .
The Victory Lap . . .
Single most signific . . .  There I was!

Okay so this Half Marathon is the single most significant accomplishment of my life for one reason and one reason only: It is the one thing I’ve done that never in a million years would I have ever imagined myself capable of.
All those other milestones up there?  Please.  Those were givens.
knew I would graduate high school and college.
knew I would get married.  Hadn’t counted on married, divorced, married, divorced, married but hey I get HCRP out of that so I’m good.
knew I would have a baby.  I had planned on three or four, but the one I managed to bring successfully (if surgically assisted) into the world is a pretty good kid so I’ll keep him.  Besides I don’t think they take back almost twenty-four year olds.
Running a Half Marathon?  All in one day?  Yeah sooooo not on my radar like ever.
Until Saturday, October 11th when I heard the words “we” and “half marathon” falling out of my face all in one sentence.

So I really need to be getting to bed/sleep because we have to get up early tomorrow to get in our last pre-race quick, short run before going to work.

But before I go I have to point out the single most beautiful piece of synchronicity about this whole thing.
This time last year I was a little over two days from the Start Time for doing my first 5K as A Runner on the third Saturday of September.
This time this year I am a little over two days from the Start Time for doing my first Half Marathon as anything on the third Saturday of September.
HOW freakin’ cool is that?!

2 Days – 9 Hours – 25 Minutes – Ever-Changing Seconds until the start of my first ever Half-Marathon.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s short today was once really long

Not my hair.
Although that’s true too.

No.
I’m talking distance.

Tonight HCRP and I ran “a quick five miles” A) because it was time to run; and B) because I went to bed last night wanting to get a run in tonight.  That second part is a little new to me.  I mean I’m good with days I know I “have to” run to stay in shape or continue training/conditioning.  But this is the first time I’ve actually looked forward to a running day the night before.

Another bit of Running Newness for me was having the run start feeling good just past the half mile mark.
Normally I’m a good mile-and-a-half in before I hit what I call my Sweet Spot.  It’s that point in the run when it really almost doesn’t feel like effort.  Everything is working perfectly and in sync.  The lungs feel great, the legs feel awesome, the feet are very nearly not even touching the pavement, even the sweating feels refreshing and (dare I say?) athletic, and nothing twinges or hurts or otherwise doesn’t do its job.
But tonight just after the half mile marker I realized I Was There.  And it lasted until about mile 4.25 when some invisible force filled my legs with lead.  Oh and the gale force (okay 7 mph according to my Weatherbug App but still) headwind that came not only from out of nowhere but from due east.  But until then it was a really great run!

And somewhere around mile three I realized that this time last year running five miles was not only not a “short run” but was a distance I couldn’t ever have imagined myself running. And tonight it was “just a quick, short run”.
That felt good.

Between going out of town for my dad’s birthday Saturday (they live in a pretty small town that isn’t very running/distance running friendly), and the weather potentially heading our way courtesy of Isaac, we’re putting off this weekend’s Long Run until Monday.
Eleven Miles.
Then we begin our taper before the Half Marathon on September 15th.

That’s right.  Right?
Saturday, September 1st: 3 miles.
Monday, September 3rd: 11 miles.

Wednesday, September 5th: 5 miles.
Saturday, September 8th: 6 – 8 miles.
Monday, September 10th: 3 miles Coaching Run.
Wednesday, September 12th: 3 – 4 miles.
Saturday, September 15th: Race Day!
Yeah, that’s right.

Holy Crap Batman!
That’s right!

And now you get to step inside my head while I talk to myself . . .
Just remember Julianne: Tonight’s Short Run was last year’s “I’ll never run that far”.  You’ve got this.  You have totally got this!

Billy Idol tried to kill me

I listen to music while I run.
Yes, I am one of Those Runners.
The Ear Bud Runners.
My reason for this has more to do with keeping my 12:00 minute per mile pace than escapism.
And as a Responsible Ear Bud Runner I do keep the volume at a level where I can hear “On your left!” in the (ridiculously unlikely) event a cyclist happens to utter them as they speed up behind me.

Back to my playlist . . .
I spent hours putting together my Running Playlist picking songs that would keep me at that consistent pace that I also enjoy and that will be more motivating than irritating.
I’ve added songs.
Pink’s “Get The Party Started”.
Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl”
Katy Perry’s “Firework”.

I’ve deleted songs.
The Black Eyed Peas’ “Meet Me Halfway”, while a great song, begins with the lyric “Ooh I can’t go any further than this” and isn’t exactly what you need popping up on your randomed playlist at The Very Moment you feel like quitting running and walking because nothing – legs, lungs, clothes, the trail – nothing feels right.

I thought I had it perfected.
Until about four miles into Saturday’s ten mile run when Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself” came on my playlist and I realized there was one huge oversight on my playlist!
Holy Way-Too-Fast Tempo Batman!
It was actually about halfway through The Longest Up-Tempo Song Ever that HCRP tells me “Pull it back, you’re pushing the pace!” and all I could say (and by ‘say’ I mean ‘gasp’) was “I can’t! I’m keeping pace with Billy Idol!”
Of course the “fast-forward to the next song” option . . . well . . . wasn’t an option in my brain.
Neither was the “pull out your earbuds” option an option.
This was Billy Freakin’ Idol!  You don’t fast-forward or earbud-pull-out Billy Idol!

Nope.
It was Me, Billy Idol, and The Trail for the next seven hours and eighty-five minutes. Because, really, in all truth that song isn’t only just three minutes and twenty-three seconds long. It lasts for-freakin’-ever when you’re running in time to the music and that tempo is way faster than your usual, comfortable Dave Matthews’ Band’s “American Baby” tempo.

If you haven’t yet, I’ll give you a minute to click on the links and listen to the differences in tempo.
Seriously.
I’m not going anywhere.

See what I mean?!

But I did it.
I kept that pace for the entire seven hours and eighty-five minutes and did not, in fact, drop dead.
Mr. Idol’s clear and early 80s pre-meditated wishes notwithstanding.

The run on the whole was great!
For a run that started with me:
A) Hitting ‘snooze’ not once, not twice, but three times;
B) Trying to convince HCRP that the light sprinkles of rain at 6:30 am were Our Sign to run later in the day; and
C) Him not listening to me At. All.
It rocked!

I felt great from start to finish with the possible exception of some knee less-than-greatness that was the result of a segment of our newly-chosen running path that is a fairly steep uphill ‘transition’ (what a lovely, easy sounding term) from one trail to another that is currently surfaced with loose gravel. The up-the-hill transition was no problem. The coming-back-down transition was notsomuch knee friendly for someone whose knees are notsomuch downhill appreciative.

Of course the reason my knees are notsomuch-downhill appreciative is my utter (and completely inexplicable) avoidance of getting to the gym for cross-training.
I don’t know why.
I actually enjoy weight lifting/strength training.
The first athletic thing I ever did in my life was taking a course in college called “Weight Training For Women” that I absolutely L-O-V-E-D!
I was bone thin back in those days courtesy of a rousingly ‘successful’ (thankfully short-term) episode of Anorexia that I was endeavoring to (kinda-sorta) overcome. I had to get some sort of physical education credit and there were really no other classes that interested me so I signed up for Weight Training For Women and absolutely loved it!

I learned a huge amount about training and muscle structure and the right and wrong ways to exercise (full range of motion, cross-training, resistance, front and back muscle relationships).
And I absolutely loved the way my body looked and felt with actual muscle structure rather than just skinniness.

All that aside, since I’ve taken up running the only time I’ve made it back into the gym was during the two months when I was rehabbing a raging case of Runner’s Knee. And of course that cross-training was a huge part of said rehabbing.
Given all that why don’t I go to the gym at least a couple days a week and cross-train?
I don’t knoooooow!
If I kneeeeww I’d be doing it.
So.
This is me committing to getting my happy butt out of the bed and into the gym for cross-training on Tuesdays and Fridays. (We run on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday.)
No excuses.
Geez…
Nag much do ya’?

So back to my half-marathon training.
I am – FINALLY – seeing myself finishing my first Half-Marathon at all, let alone finishing it within my stated 3:00:00 time AND finishing it (in the words of Jeff Galloway) vertical, breathing, and ready to do the next one.

It really is a numbers game

It’s the number of times you run at the beginning because you said you were going to do this thing.

It’s the number of times going up and down the same stretch of access road you think you’re never going to see the other end of.

It’s the number of times a volunteer Coach tells you “You’re A Runner!” and you half-heartedly repeat after them “I’m a runner” whether it feels true or not.

It’s the number on the time clock when you cross your First Finish Line Running, not walking.

It’s the number of layers you pile on – and pull off because who knew you got THAT hot when it’s THAT cold out – running on cold winter evenings.  In the dark.

It’s the number of times you get to That Mile Marker on the trail until the one day you get to it realizing that you’re thinking “Already?!” instead of “Who freakin’ moved it?!?!”

It’s the number of times Hollaback Gurrrrl comes on your playlist at Just The Right Moment to keep you going when some part of your brain is thinking “We really don’t have to do this you know…”  Thank you Gwen Stefani!

It’s the number of walkers you pass thinking “Yes, we really are racing and I just totally lapped you!”

It’s hours sitting with ice packs and rolling various parts of your body on foam rollers and with your newly acquired little blue handball.

It’s the (arguably more enjoyable) hours spent soaking in the tub with Epsom Salts.

It’s the miles run in The Sweet Spot when everything – and I mean everything – is Absolute Perfection.  The birds sing sweeter, the skies are bluer, your legs move effortlessly, your feet barely touch the ground, and your lungs are just made of air itself.

It’s the Epic Superman Sprawl First Fall.  That you survive.  And finish the run it came in the middle of.  And get to show off the Battle Scars.

It’s the absolutely craptastic day at work that suddenly no longer matters when you realize you really did feel like putting in those miles.

It’s the number of runs (and miles) you missed, truly missed, running while rehabbing an injury.  And the race you had to pull out of before you even started it.

It’s the runs that suuuuuuuuuccckkkk….kkk…kkkk…K!

It’s the runs that go from Sweet Spot to suuuuuuuuuccckkkk….kkk…kkkk…K in less time than it takes Usain Bolt to win a medal.

It’s the other runners you pass along the trail who pass you again later and then you see each other over and over and over again because you’re both out there again and again.

And it’s the runs like tonight when it wasn’t perfect but it didn’t suck and at the end of the run you just feel good and you’re glad you ran.

That’s when the numbers add up and you know they’re going to keep on adding.  Right up to 13.1 and crossing That Finish Line!