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)?!

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

This is what I wanted to say here

One of my favorite Fan Pages on Facebook is I ❤ to run. They post great inspirational pictures, quotes, and in general great running related stuff.

Earlier this week they posted this picture

with the following text that had me in tears by the end.
Hey, Fat Girl.

Yes, you. The one feigning to not see me when we cross paths on the running track. The one not even wearing sports gear, breathing heavy. You’re slow, you breathe hard and your efforts at moving forward make you cringe.

You cling shyly to the furthest corridor, sometimes making larger loops on the gravel ring by the track just so you’re not on it. You sweat so much that your hair is all wet. You rarely stay for more than 20 minutes at a time, and you look exhausted when you leave to go back home. You never talk to anyone. I’ve got something I’d like to say to you.

You are awesome. If you’d look me in the eye only for an instant, you would notice the reverence and respect I have for you. The adventure you have started is tremendous; it leads to a better health, to renewed confidence and to a brand new kind of freedom. The gifts you will receive from running will far exceed the gigantic effort it takes you to show up here, to face your fears and to bravely set yourself in motion, in front of others.

You have already begun your transformation. You no longer accept this physical state of numbness and passivity. You have taken a difficult decision, but one that holds so much promise. Every hard breath you take is actually a tad easier than the one before, and every step is ever so slightly lighter. Each push forward leaves the former person you were in your wake, creating room for an improved version, one that is stronger, healthier and forward-looking, one who knows that anything is possible.

You’re a hero to me. And, if you’d take off the blaring headphones and put your head up for more than a second or two, you would notice that the other runners you cross, the ones that probably make you feel so inadequate, stare in awe at your determination. They, of all people, know best where you are coming from. They heard the resolutions of so many others, who vowed to pick up running and improve their health, “starting next week”. Yet, it is YOU who runs alongside, who digs from deep inside to find the strength to come here, and to come back again.

You are a runner, and no one can take that away from you. You are relentlessly moving forward. You are stronger than even you think, and you are about to be amazed by what you can do. One day, very soon, maybe tomorrow, you’ll step outside and marvel at your capabilities. You will not believe your own body, you will realize that you can do this. And a new horizon will open up for you. You are a true inspiration.

I bow to you.

Once I stopped blubbering, I “Shared” it and added the following comment of my own:
Totally worth it to read ALL the words and not just get pissed off and stop at the first three.

I was just having this conversation with a younger, more experienced, and better-than-me runner on Saturday (Monday, it was Monday). When I first started running I assumed that more experienced, better-than-me runners resented my fat ass being out there on ‘their’ trail taking up space and giving them an obstacle to avoid. Right up until the day that I ‘jokingly’ commented something to that effect to one of those more experienced, better-than-me runners who looked me dead in the face and in all seriousness said “Actually, Julianne, I admire you for doing what you are doing in beginning running and getting out here and putting in the miles!”

That, ladies and gentlemen, was one of my life’s great “Aha”moments.
I felt inferior not because of them, but because I chose to. And I short-changed other people in the process.

Whether your “thing” is running or whatever it is – there will always be someone who is more experienced and ‘better-than-you’. But realize one thing: The only one seeing that “betterness” is generally you. What they are seeing is your effort and that you are Doing It.

And that, my friends, is the truth of the best thing about running.
It’s the community.
It’s having people ask “Hey, where are you running today? Can I join you?”
It’s having those ‘better’, more experienced runners tell you that they are inspired by you.
It’s running into people on the trail and not just getting “The Runner’s Wave” but getting the “Hey! I know you, we’ve run/volunteered at races/coached together” Wave!
It is, to be honest, being one of The Cool Kids at races. The people who Know Each Other.
It’s walking into the local running store and knowing (within 10 – 20 miles) how many miles are on your current pair of shoes and being able to discuss the reasons you suspect it’s time to get a new pair.

Speaking of shoes.
That pair you see up there at the top of these posts aren’t my current running shoes. They’re not even my most recently replaced pair of running shoes. They are, as of last Sunday, two pairs back. They’re my ‘knock around’ shoes. And I’ll probably always keep them at the top of this blog, even if I end up donating them to the shoe recycling program at our local running store, because those were the shoes that were on my feet when I crossed my first Finish Line as A Runner.

These are my new shoes (the ones on the left) alongside my most recently replaced pair. You have to love a sport that gives you a reason to buy new shoes every few hundred miles!

The heel/sole wear is the reason for the replacement.
You learn a lot about shoes when you run!

I have another post to write about my last Long Run in preparation for next weekend’s Half Marathon, but that one’s still percolating in my brain.  It was an ugly, ugly run and I know precisely why.  You’ll just have to come back to find out!

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.