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!

Now, where was I?

I was running . . .

I fell . . .

I got up . . .

I kept running . . .

I showed off boo-boos . . .

Dang! Fifteen days since my last post? I would have sworn I’d written at least three brilliant, funny, epic posts about my recent runs. Oh. Wait. I left those on the trail.

Funny thing about that fall.
I showed my battered, bruised, swollen, and scabbed up elbow to non-runner friends and they winced and said “Oh no! That must really hurt!” (It did!)
I showed my battered, bruised, swollen, and scabbed up elbow to runner friends and they said “Nice!” while high-fiving me.
I really, really enjoyed those high-fives!

So yeah, I had My First Fall. And since then I’ve logged just under twenty miles. Not especially impressive for someone staring down her first Half Marathon in only twenty-six days. However I have actual reasons and even a note from my Doctor.  Well, a note from my Licensed Massage Therapist aka The Exorcist.

I was referred to said ‘practitioner’ (she’s not practicing anything – she has perfected this) by one of my Running Friends/Gurus/Mentors who also happens to be one of the funniest bloggers I know. (Check’s in the mail, right TLC??)
I am, with my dear friend Terri Lee, the proud owner of a whole collection of little blue balls. I have one in my gym bag, one in the trunk of the car, one in the messenger bag I carry to and from work, and one floating around somewhere so that I always have access to one.
And yes, I’m using it.
And yes, it’s helping.

I learned a couple things.
First: My grasp of muscular anatomy isn’t quite what I thought it was.
Second: My problem was not, in fact, my Tensor Fasciae Latae, my problem was my Gluteus Medius.
So much for a mid-life career switch to medicine.

Another bit of newness for me is that three times in the past week I have had Thoroughly Craptabulous Days and rather than wanting to go home and either drown my stresses in a frosty adult beverage(s) or faceplant into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Late Night Snack (thank you Jimmy Fallon wherever you are), I wanted to lace up my running shoes and just pound it out on the trail.
And.
I felt better after I did.
Huh. Who knew?

Oh, don’t get me wrong, there were still frosty adult beverages – after all beer is a great recovery beverage – and yes there has been ice cream. Just not an entire pint of it all at once hunched in my corner of the couch like Gollum with a gold ring hissing at anyone who came within hissing distance. (My name is Julianne and I am a stress/comfort eater…)

But this whole “running as stress relief” thing is still new to me.

Of course when a tight/painful/limiting butt muscle is the source of your stress . . . well that’s when you just hobble along the trail letting the angry tears flow hoping and praying you don’t run into anyone you know because they’ll be honor-bound to stop and ask if you’re okay and then you’ll fall completely to pieces on them and while it is acceptable to sweat all over people after a run snotting on someone’s favorite tech shirt is just so not cool.

And you tell yourself that this is not, in fact, the end of your fledgling running career.
And you tell yourself that cutting your nine mile run short to 8.21 miles really is the Smart Thing To Do.
And you tell yourself that finishing that abbreviated run walking the last mile of that 8.21 miles is better than not being able to start Monday night’s short run.
And you laugh at the irony of Billy Joel’s I Go To Extremes coming on your shuffled playlist at Just That Moment.
And you finish the run walking and remind yourself that you got further than you would have on the couch with Ben and Jerry and Jimmy Fallon.

And!
AND!!
I can’t believe I almost forgot this part . . .
We had run the same trail where I had My Epic First Faceplant twice since said EFF and both times I opted to take the ‘other leg’ of the trail rather than running the boardwalk that was my little Waterloo. I rationalized the decision as erring on the side of caution. After all, I’m a month out from my First Half Marathon and really didn’t want to chance another uneven board causing another fall.
I was scared.
Who wouldn’t be?
I mean seriously. Trip me once shame on you, trip me twice shame on me and I’m notsomuch a fan of shame.
Yesterday even before we got to The Split in the trail where it was Boardwalk or No Boardwalk HCRP asked “Are we taking the Boardwalk or th…” and I cut him off with a (possibly more hostile than necessary) “BLEEP NO! I have a Half to run in less than a month! I’m not chancing it.” and we took The Other Trail.

We got to the turnaround and headed back and the closer we got to the other end of The Split the madder I got at The Boardwalk and at my own fear of The Boardwalk. And when we got there I pointed right and said to HCRP “Screw this! I’m making this thing my bitch today!” and I got to the end of it and let out my little war whoop and yelled back over my shoulder “Take that Boardwalk!”
I despise being limited by fear. So there’s one less fear causing me to (quite literally) alter my course.

And that’s where I was and where I’ve been and where I’m going.

Lessons From The Fall

Lessons not “Legends”.
If you’ve come here looking for ruminations on the 1994 Brad Pitt Epic “tale of three brothers and their father living in the remote wilderness of 1900s USA and how their lives are affected by nature, history, war, and love.” you are going to be sorely disappointed.

No, this is all about the lessons I learned tonight when my Worst Fear About Running became A Reality.  I fell.  Not some cute little “Oopsie doodle!” mis-step that had me losing a step or two.  No.  This was a full-body, Superman sprawl of a fall.  To my credit although I did go straight, flat-forward down I didn’t actually “face” plant.  It was more of a knee/elbow plant.  I’m fine.  My elbow looks rough, but thankfully Ye Olde Knee shows no signs of being any the worse for the wear.  Thank You Lord for that!

Back to my post title.  I came away from this little experience slightly worse, but far wiser for the wear. Here are my Lessons From The Fall:

  1. It isn’t the fall, it’s the fear of the fall that’ll getcha!
    As previously stated: Falling has been my Worst Fear since I started running last summer.  Okay, maybe my second Worst Fear behind snakes on the trail and finding a dead body.  Technically that dead-body-finding thing doesn’t count since it isn’t technically running related, it’s a lifelong fear with absolutely zero basis in experience.  And totally not germane to the point.

    But the Snakes On The Trail thing? Yeah, that’s real and definitely running related since most of the trails we run on are in an urban park and go through wooded areas that are “in their natural state”.  And really if I do run into a snake on the trail what are the chances that Samuel L. Jackson is going to show up to kill it with the force of his profanity?  See?  This is a real fear.
    Back to falling.  Falling is also a real, running related fear.  I hate falling.  It is: A) Embarrassing; B) Painful; and C) Potentially running career ending.  And tonight it became: D) A Reality.  And in so doing I learned that – in all truth – the fear of a thing actually is worse than the thing happening itself.
    Oh, it wasn’t fun!  And I will do everything in my power to avoid it happening again. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had built it up to being in my brain.
    It was also divine providence that it wasn’t any worse than it was.  I was on a boardwalk rather than pavement; there were no other runners (HCRP notwithstanding) around to witness my humiliation; and most of all there were no cyclists coming up fast behind us because when I Supermanned it I sprawled myself out in fabulous fashion all across the middle of the trail that had no shoulder for anyone to dive off onto to avoid plowing over me.
  2. You never know what you’re going to do until you’ve done it!
    The instant the toe of my right shoe caught on the uneven board I knew I was going down.  It was unavoidable because gravity isn’t just a good idea, it’s The Law.  I managed to land sprawled face down with neither my face nor my forehead making contact with the boards.  Once I was down and realized the falling part was over my first impulse was to hop back up and keep running.  As I was rolling over to a sitting position I realized “Holy Crap!  I just fell!”  Of course my first ‘rational’ thought was to make sure I hadn’t shattered my phone that was tucked in the armband.  (I didn’t.)
    HCRP helped me to my feet and at first, again, I started to turn back in the direction we’d been heading and take off.  HCRP, in his infinite wisdom and good sense, stopped me and suggested I do a ‘damage assessment’ which sounded like a good idea so I did.  that was when I discovered that my left elbow had likely taken much of the brunt and of all the moving parts was going to be the worst for the wear.  We walked along while I caught my breath, determined that all 2,000 parts were in working order, and then we started jogging again.  That’s when it hit me that: A) I freakin’ FELL; and B) I got up and kept on running.  Of course that “I freakin FELL” think came out of my mouth with a slightly more colorful descriptor, but still.  Instead of crying or quitting or crying and quitting I kept going.
    HCRP’s assessment of this reaction was “Well, you’re really a distance runner now, you’re a masochist!”
  3. Adrenalin is over-rated.
    And, in (more of) HCRP’s inimitable and insightful words: Adrenalin can be an asset in a race, but this isn’t exactly the best way to get it.  Personally, I found it to be more hindrance than help since it was the adrenalin rush that had me wanting to pop right back up and keep running.
  4. Timing is, as they say, everything!
    If I were going to have ‘scheduled’ this it couldn’t have come on a better night since I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning to address my ongoing TFL tightness/soreness that just happens with no identifiable cause.
    It doesn’t always happen during a run, or after a run, or even before a run.  It just happens and hurts.
    It isn’t on both sides, just the left.
    It isn’t a pull.  It feels more bruised than any other sensation.  I haven’t pulled anything.
    Yes, I’ve been using my foam roller.  Religiously.  Okay except tonight because I can’t use my left hand to support my weight.
    So I’m going to see a doctor in my PCP’s office who is a runner to get her input and possibly a referral to a physical therapist.  And praying she doesn’t say the dreaded word: R-E-S-T.  I have 40 days til my first Half Marathon and I am finally beginning to see myself doing this thing.  I really don’t want to have that taken away from me.  Again.

In Olympic Watching news, I woke up at 4:50 am this morning to watch The Women’s Marathon and was absolutely dumbfounded by these women!  Somewhere in the instant before my right toe caught and all those lessons started being learned I think in my brain I was one of them for about half a second.
Oscar Pistorius absolutely humbles and inspires me.  I watched him in his semi-final run as I was pecking away at this post and was in tears as he ran with nothing but the pure joy and triumph of being where he was doing what he was doing.
Kirani James doubled those tears when he asked to trade name tags.  That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what The Olympics are about.

And now it’s late and I’m tired and it’s time for bed.
Thanks for slogging through all this.  I’ll likely read this in the morning and wonder what I was thinking.
But for now, I’m okay with it all.

Learning what matters

Two weeks ago HCRP and I ran a new-to-us running trail here in our fair little hamlet. It’s another of our city’s greenway running/biking trails (okay walkers can use them too).

/Sidebar
Given:
A) That we boast one of the country’s biggest running clubs and their Award Winning Women’s Running Training Program;
B) The number of running/biking venues;, and
C) The fact that getting a date for a 5K is getting dangerously close to requiring a sudden death cage match between Race Directors;
it simply astounds me that my hometown consistently ranks among America’s Fattest/Least Fit Cities.

Who are they talking to when they do these surveys?!
Certainly nobody I know or spend time around!
/End Sidebar

The trail we ran two weeks ago has a fair number of short, sharp inclines which I was surprised to find myself reveling in. The interesting thing is that you run up the inclines going one direction and don’t end up running back down until you’ve turned around to come back. Since running short, sharp inclines is new to me (Read: That was the first time I’d ever done it!) I made the rookie mistake of running back down said short, sharp inclines (hereafter known as The SSI) rather than pulling back and walking. It didn’t take too many of those before The Other Knee – close friend and cohort of Ye Olde Knee and hereafter referred to as TOK – began expressing its displeasure with that particular modality of handling The SSI. I wound up (Southernism for “had to”) walking most of the last two of my seven mile run. I was not a happy camper, especially since we had joined one of the Half-Marathon/Marathon Training Groups for that particular run and I got to be seen WALKING back to the meeting point. Walking?! Seriously?! Despite the understanding I received since I was limping and all, I was still utterly humiliated. And hurting. So I R.I.C.E.D.ed it all afternoon and evening and got my plan in place for taking care of the strain – not injury – of a learning experience.

I headed for Vegas the next day which meant a lot of time spent pacing around in airports (six hours more than I’d planned for, but that’s another story for another blog) and sitting in cramped (even for my 5’4″ frame) airplane seats. So I wore my ‘big brace‘ and opted not to run on Monday. I got in a short (four mile) run while I was on vacation in Vegas, and it went well. TOK was talking to me a bit, but I attributed that to the stairs I had to climb crossing streets on The Strip. Owing to airline travel induced dehydration when I got home I didn’t get a second run in that week and set out to run eight miles on Saturday. That got cut short when TOK was full-on screaming at me at Mile Three and I ended up walking the entire last three miles.

HCRP and I got in a short (just under three miles) run Tuesday morning, but again no mid-length run before this morning’s Long Run. There were no reasons, only excuses. “I’m tired” being the leading one I used to roll over and hit the snooze Thursday morning and “Well now it’s just too hot!” being the go-to Thursday evening. Okay, maybe that was less ‘excuse’ than ‘legitimate caution’, but still I didn’t get that mid-length run in.

Which brings us to today’s eight mile run(ish).
I did make it eight miles.
I did not run all of it.
I also didn’t walk half of it.
This time I had A Strategy! (See? There’s strategy – I’ve learned!)

Having put some thought into things I decided to change up my run/walk intervals from 6:1 to 6:2.
The only reason I was running 6:1 intervals had to do with making a certain time for a given distance. And the truth of it is that for me it isn’t about “making time” or even setting/breaking a PR (Personal Record). For me it’s about the running and finishing the distance.
Including – and especially – my first half-marathon.
363 days after finishing my first 5K as a runner I will be participating in (not competing in) my first half-marathon.
Me!
The person who went into running saying “All I ever really want to run are 5Ks. Really, I’m good with that.”

Don’t get me wrong, 5Ks are fun! I love running them. Especially for causes. Doing a 5K is a great way to do more than just throw money at something. It’s about being physically present in support of that thing. Whether walking or running – you are there. You are part of it.

I just want to run further.
I like the feeling of knowing I’ve just gone further on a given course than I’ve ever been before. Further than *I* have ever gone before – even if only a few steps.

It is so easy to get caught up in PRs and finishing times/places. Heck, when I crossed the finish line of my first 10K my first question wasn’t “Where’s the water/bathroom?” it was “Am I last?!”
How ridiculous was that?
I had just finished My First 10K as A Runner.  Heck, At All!
I was vertical.
I was breathing.
I wanted to do another one! (We’re registered for one in October.)
And as I tell other women who are newer to running than me and come to me for advice (WTW are they thinking?!) I was miles ahead of all the people sitting on their couches at home!

Ya’ know, I was going to detail today’s run with a mile-by-mile breakdown of what happened when and where things went wrong, but in all truth that really isn’t important.
What is important is this: Today I ran a full mile further down the Greenline than I have ever gone before.
I ran over The Wolf River, under I-240, under White Station, Mendenhall, and Perkins, and I crossed Waring before I turned around and headed back.

And next Saturday I’ll go half a mile further than that before I turn around and head back.
And that, my friends, is what matters.

This is what Vegas does to people

It robs you.
Not of your money.

It robs you of your groove.
And hydration.

No matter how much Gatorade or water you drink while you’re there, no matter how closely you monitor your urine color – really I did this like it was my job – you arrive back home utterly and completely dehydrated.

Okay maybe it wasn’t just Vegas.
Maybe it was Vegas and airline travel.
But you arrive home utterly and completely dehydrated.
And you feel like hammered crap*.
And you miss your mid-length run on Thursday night because you are utterly exhausted from the dehydration.  And the delayed “last flight out of Atlanta to Memphis”.
Either way, you miss that Mid-Length Run that might have told you that your ‘Knother Knee was still a bit bothered from that sharp incline you ran down during your last Long Run – you who are unaccustomed to running down sharp inclines – so that you wouldn’t have come so completely unstrung when you had to cut Saturday’s nine mile run short when The ‘Knother Knee started screaming speaking loudly at the 2.5 mile mark.  Then making the (wise, prudent, forward-thinking) choice to turn around at three miles and walk – yes I said W-A-L-K – back the entire three miles.
And trust that your training for your first half-marathon (in 54 days from today) isn’t completely off track and that you will finish the race.

BUT!
To my credit, I did run while In Vegas and On Vacation.

I ran four miles.
Okay, I ran most of four miles.  I went up and down a lot of stairs.  I used them as my walking intervals.  There were a lot of walking intervals.
And I did not knock over any of the other tourists who were in my way on the sidewalks at 7:30 am.

But I have things to catch up with here.
Like my newest tattoo.  Herbert The Turtle.  And what he means to my running.

And I shall.
After tomorrow’s run as a Coach!

*Steel Magnolias reference.  Forward to 0:33 if you don’t want to watch the entire clip.

Pick Your Own Title

I started writing this late Saturday night after we got home from the 5K we ran.

Blame Tonia
Or
Why Run? / Why Running?
Or
Julianne, you think too much
Or (my personal favorite)
What’s Run Got To Do With It?

I mostly like that last one because this happens to be one of my absolute, all-time favorite songs ever.
But.
I digress. (Don’t play like that, you were warned long ago.)

Tonight I ran in my first 5K Race since December before The Decline and Fall of Ye Olde Knee which has seen me sitting out two 5Ks and one Half-Marathon. My personal performance and results of tonight’s race are (for purposes of this post) inconsequential; however, I promise a complete synopsis – and pictures – at a later date.

I also owe (really, seriously, I quite happily Owe this one) an entry as a result of having been nominated for an Inspiring Blog Award. I’m still fully digesting that one, as well as coming up with the requisite “seven personal revelations about myself that would not ordinarily appear on my blog” that actually gives me a fair amount of leeway given that I pretty much stay focued on my (arguably questionable and possibly insane) thoughts on and during runs. I mean there’s that Obscure Food Allergy, The Near Phobia, and Food Hoarding thing.
Again with the digressing.
There really is no stopping me.

Wait, why am I writing again?
Scrolls up . . .
Inspiring Blog . . .
First 5K in six months . . .
Tina Turner’s hit machine Private Dancer album . . . (I don’t link to everything – do your own Googling!)
Oh!
I remember.

So tonight after the 5K HCRP and I get home and he proceeds to ice his knotted up calf muscle (again, another post for another time), following the icing with a soak in the tub with epsom salts to ease the pain and tightness. As he was finishing, I decided a soak wouldn’t hurt me and so I settled into my own soak and started reading my latest Kindle Borrow: Amby Burfoot‘s “The Runner’s Guide to The Meaning of Life” (I generally link to Amazon.com for books, but in this case you can get an autographed copy direct from the author and I would much rather promote that option.) This book was recommended to me by a dear friend and fellow runner who also happens to be one of my personal Running Mentors, the above-mentioned “Tonia” you can blame for this post.

As I was reading I came across the following: “Runners don’t quit. We fade, we ‘hit the wall’, we’re sometimes reduced to a walk. But we keep on.” and I was stopped in my reading tracks.
Since I took up, and got hooked on, running right about ten months ago I have been asked no small number of variations of the question “Why running?”. I started to follow that with several “Or” alternative takes on the stated question; but really they all come down to the same thing – whether the question had to do with my choice of this particular sport, my choosing a sport at all given that I have never been especially athletically inclined, my decision to embrace athleticism at this particular age (I was 46 when I started – I’m 47 now because really, that is so very much older and wiser), or whatever the mechanics of the question – it always comes down to “Why running?!” And until tonight my answer depended on how out of the blue the inquiry happened to have hit me.

The truth is there were several reasons I began the running training program I did a little over a year ago that started this whole little odyssey.

I wanted to learn to enjoy running.
Because my husband did.
Because I always envied runners I would see out there looking all zen and In The Zone.
But mostly because when I saw What Women Want and it got to the faux Nike ad I bawled like I did when ET died PLUS during the part after Shelby’s funeral in Steel Magnolias PLUS when Johnny Castle rescued Baby from The Corner all rolled into one.  Yeah, it was THAT kind of cry!

It was something I had done (by force) and failed miserably at (in gym class) and was (as we Southerners are wont to say) deadset and bygod determined to finally do and do well. Or at least do right. At least once.

And why lie
I wanted to lose weight
Yeah, I’ll admit it, I was seeking The Happy Side Effect. I think the consequence of that is that coming slower than I’d have liked and honestly becoming less and less The Point all the time. The Numbers I’m chasing now are on timing clocks more often than my bathroom scale.

But it was mostly that What Women Want faux Nike ad thing. At first.

Tonight when I read the quote from Amby Burfoot it suddenly came to me that running is the only sport that could ever have been a fit for me. Because I may hit walls, I may slow to a walk, but I never quit. And that’s what I love most about running. And why I love The Road.

Sometimes it’s just about going the distance

I’ll save bandwidth for the nice people here at WordPress and simply give you a link if you’re interested in seeing the map/elevation/splits for tonight’s run.
The Stats:
Distance: 6.01 miles
Duration: 1h:16m:27s
Avg. Speed: 12:43 min/mile
Calories: 896 kcal (Again – ROBBED.  It’s the heat and the humidity people!)

As I run along I have this monologue that plays in my head.  I thought I would try to recapture some of it and share with you here.  You’ll thank me.

On Playlist Choices:
If you have adult life experience memories from the year a particular artist was born, you probably have no business using their music to set your running pace.
On the other hand, if you have high school sweetheart memories associated with a particular artist, their stuff is probably exactly what you need to be running to.
There’s no walking when Boom Boom Pow comes up on your playlist. The BEPs don’t play that.  (I call them “The BEPs” because we’re tight like that me and them.)
I don’t care how much you love any song off of David Bowie’s 1983 hit machine album Let’s Dance accidentally having them duplicated on your playlist makes them annoying.

On Running/Biking Trail Etiquette:
Dear Cyclists,
Two phrases: “On your left!” or “Behind you!” Pick one.  Familiarize yourself with it.  Practice it while you’re putting on those funky, colorful bodysuits, and USE THEM WHEN COMING UP BEHIND A RUNNER!!
Sincerely,
Pricing Tiny Little Stop-Sticks in Memphis

Dear Fellow Trail Users:
If you are fit enough to carry the Gu Packet in with you, open it up and suck out its contents, I’m pretty sure you have the strength to carry the empty packet out.
Sincerely,
You are an embarrassment to us all.

Dear People Who Live Along the Trail:
Do you have to fire up your grills and make food smells while people are running?!
Have you no decency?  No compassion?
Sincerely,
You’re just mean

On The Run Itself:
Is that a twinge?   No.  No, that’s just tightness.  Tightness is okay.  I can work through tightness.

WTW?!  Where did that cyclist come from?!  Dude!  Bell.  Get one!

Feelin’ pretty good now.  Wait.  Slow down!  You will pay for this if you don’t!

Later That Same Run: I told you to slow down back there!

Gotta get-get, gotta get-get
Gotta get-get, gotta g-g-g-get-get-get, get-get
That’s right!  I’m running with The BEPs!  It’s me and Fergie and Will-I-Am and . . .  Yeah me and them!  Let’s get that Boom Boom Pow!

I need to walk for a minute.  No.  Wait. I can totally pass those walkers up there first.  Okay, cool.
Passing the walkers…  Gotta look cool and Runnery and strong.
Keep it going, here we go . . . Have they no manners?!  Don’t they know The Rule: Slower movers to the right?  Yo!  Two abreast at most not six!  *sighs*
Okay got around them.  I need to walk a min . . .  No.  No.  I’m not going to pass walkers and then start walking.  Just keep running.
Got it.

How many times has the smiling-a-little-too-much dude on the bike turned around and passed and re-passed me?  This is suspicious.  What if he’s a serial killer?  HCRP is miles ahead of me and won’t know anything has happened until he gets back to the car and I’m not there.  Crap.  I could call him.  No, wait, that’s stupid.  Back-and-Forth Guy is probably lost and can’t remember which end of the Greenline he started at.  Yeah, that’s it.  There he is again.  Hmmm…  Okay here’s The Plan: IF Back-and-Forth Guy turns out to be a serial killer and forces me off the trail I’ll drop my sweat towel HCRP will totally see that and know something is amiss.  I can keep my Endomondo program running on my phone until we stop then quick end the program and it will upload and they’ll know exactly where I am.  See?  This is why I never miss an episode of Criminal Minds.  I would totally make a great FBI Profiler.

Who moved the mile markers?!  I would have sworn that 2.5 miles was just past this overpass.  It was here the last time I ran this far.  Maybe that’s why Back-and-Forth Guy keeps doing his back and forth thing.  He’s moving the dang mile markers!  Jerk!

There it is.  There’s the twinge.  Time to walk.  Dammit!
Great, I said a cuss.  I can’t blog a cuss.  If my mother is secretly reading my blog she’ll be so mad at me.
Okay.  We’re walking, we’re walking. We’re stopping to stretch.
Remember Julianne, it isn’t about the time it’s about finishing the distance.
Right?
Right.

Ya’ know what?  I am totally gonna be able to do this half-marathon in September!
And that 10K next month.  No matter how hot it is.  Or how many hills there are.
Wait.  Terri Lee says Mutherhill and Jr. Mutherhill are on that course.  Crap.  I’m gonna die.  The Mutherhills are gonna kill me.
Okay if I keep adding a mile every week between now and then by June 23rd I’ll be up to . . Wait what’s today?  The 19th?  The 20th?  Where’s a calendar when I need one?  When did figuring dates become like math?

Okay, I need to walk now.  No.  Wait.  Dangit!  There’s that wad of teenagers I am totally not going to be walking when I get to them.  I was running when I passed them going one way, I will not be the ‘old fat lady’ who had to stop running and walk.  Run past them.  Correction: Run around them since they clearly didn’t get the “Don’t Walk Six Abreast With Three Dogs” Memo!  *GAH*  Kids!
Okay, got around them.  Run a little further.  Good.  Good.  It’s cool to walk now. 

There’s the 0.0 mile marker we are Home Free now baybee! Just hush and keep running.  Finish.  Running.  Always finish running.

And so it goes inside my brain while I run.
It’s no wonder HCRP decided to reduce his time and run ahead of me.  He’s been treated to all of this leaking down through my sinuses from my brain into my mouth and out past my lips more than a few times.
Don’tcha wanna run with me?!

The truth is I went into this run filled with more than a little nervousness since the last time I ran six miles was The Last Time I Ran for two months.
I kept telling myself that it’s different this time.
I have fully rehabbed my injury (Runner’s Knee if this is your first time stumbling across me).
I have trained gradually and am pacing myself.
I’m not running for the first time in brand new, different brand/type shoes.
I even have on new, better socks!
And at The End of The Run it wasn’t The End of Me Running and I did six miles that I finished running rather than limping or sitting at a corner waiting for HCRP to come back with the car to pick me up.
Yes, there was a mile in there that I walked almost all of (mile 5 at a nearly 16:00 minute/mile pace).  And as much as I had wanted to come in at about four minutes less than I did, I kept telling myself that (for now) it isn’t about time – it’s about ever increasing distance and finishing running, vertical, and wanting to do it again!
And I did all of those things.
I really needed this! 

Let’s just call it LessonS Learned

I sat here earlier today, icing my knee, and wrote an absolutely beautiful, funny, (dare I say?) epic post about this morning’s four mile run.
There were lessons along each and every mile.
There were lessons about pace.
There were lessons about pain.
There were lessons about the human experience. (Couldn’t make that start with a ‘p’.)
Then, at the very end, there was a lesson about the importance of writing blog post drafts in Wordpad, Notepad, or Word rather than directly in the browser window because one little mis-click and *poof* (which does start with ‘p’) it’s all gone!
*le sigh*
Yes I tried ctrl + z.
Yes I tried my browser’s Back Button.
Yes I tried seeing if it had saved as a “Draft”.
None of the above worked.
Nothing.
Zero.
Zip.
Zilch.
In honor of Cinco de Mayo: Nada!

So.
The RDCV (Reader’s Digest Condensed Version) is this:
Mile 0 – Mile 1: I ran along with HCRP (there’s no wikipedia page for him – he’s my little secret) and kept up!
Pace for Mile One: 10:44 min/mile

Mile 1 – Mile 2: I continued on my own after walking a couple dozen feet just after crossing the one mile mark. I made it to 1.5 miles, walked a few feet then continued to the 2 mile mark which was my turn-around point.
Pace for Mile Two: 11:11 min/mile

Mile 2 – Mile 3: I slowed to a walk, took a couple sips of water, and started back running. I got about a quarter of a mile when I felt It.
“It” being a major league, tears-in-your-eyes, panic-inducing twinge in Ye Olde Knee.
I slowed way down to a near crawl-paced walk, stopped to stretch, walked a bit further, resisted the urge to panic and text HCRP and say “I’m never gong to run again!” and as I went along tried to figure out exactly where the wheels fell off my run.
And then.
It hit me.
I hit the two mile mark at 21 minutes 54 seconds (I knew this because the nice Endomondo Lady told me so when I got there). Some quick math told me this was an average 11 minute mile with fairly little walking.
This.
Was.
Too.
Fast!
Entirely too fast a pace – which meant my feet were landing hard on that pavement – for my third week back running in two months.
Well Shazam Andy!
It is a previously proven fact that a twelve minute mile with built-in recovery walking intervals is a good, reasonable, doable pace for me to run a sustained distance. I have run as much as ten miles at that pace and with walking intervals.

We have identified The Problem.
We have identified The Solution.
We have identfied The ‘Nother Problem.
What’s a twelve minute per mile pace and how do I know when I’m running it?
I am great at following another person’s pace. I can – and will – follow it until I just can’t follow any longer. (Yes, I realize the pathology and recognize it as a lifelong pattern having nothing to do with running. Hush. That’s a whole ‘nother blog for a whole ‘nother day.)

So there I was, nearing the end of Mile Three and I hear coming up behind me this faster than a walk but not really a run sounding pace. Since I was schlumping along at a slow walk (and grateful that I was no longer semi-limping or feeling pain) it wasn’t long before I was passed and in that slow flash I saw My Pace moving away from me along the path.
Pace for Mile Three: 16m:27s
Endomondo put a turtle on this leg of my run. But I disagree with this assessment.  I would say this was the mile I got the most out of.

Mile 3 – Mile 4: Since My Pace had overtaken me right at the beginning of Mile 4 I had a good quarter mile to study it and ingrain it in my head. At the 3.25 mile point Ye Olde Knee was showing no signs of pain, and before it was too far ahead of me I wanted to try out my newfound pace.
And.
It worked!
I jog/ran the second quarter mile of Mile 4, walked the third 1/4, and finished running the last 1/4.
Pace for Mile Four: 14m:54s 

I stretched, waited for HCRP to finish his six miles and cool down then it was home to shower, put on fresh duds, and ice Ye Olde Knee.

And put together a playlist for my ipod that will keep me at that 12:00 minute per mile pace.

Today’s Stats:
Distance: 4.07 miles
Duration: 54m:07s
Avg. Speed: 13:17 min/mile
Calories: 596 kcal (I was robbed!)

Wha’ ha’ happen waaaas . . .

Tonight’s post title brought to you courtesy of my sons and how they would preface things they were ‘fessing up to that they knew I was going to be mad about in an effort to soften me up with humor.

Now.
On to the topic at hand.

Last Saturday was my first run post hamstring strain/Runner’s Knee Incident.
I felt good.
I was excited.
And it showed!
It showed in our first three minute run interval timing out at about 10:36 minutes per mile (our normal pace is right at a 12:00 mile). And continued for the next three or four running intervals when my HCRP kept having to tell me “Pull it back! Pull it back!” when me being several paces ahead of him (which never happens!) didn’t send the signal.

Oh, those first three miles felt AH-MAZ-ING!
Everything was working grrrrreat!
Lungs – check!
Legs – check!
Lungs and legs – check, check, and double-check!
Right up to the 3.5 mile mark when it stopped feeling amazing, great, and working.
Yep!
That would be My Left Knee.
The same My Left Knee that gained its fame in my February 9th Post.
The one I had been dutifully treating with R.I.C.E., hating that ‘R’ part most of all.

And the fact is that the failure wasn’t my knee. The failure was all mine.
I got ahead of myself.
Instead of getting back to running on the more forgiving surface of a treadmill, I hit a road run!
Instead of setting out on a three mile road run – I set out to do six straight off the couch (stretching and some light yoga notwithstanding). And, in fact got so far ahead of myself that we were “going for seven”!
Instead of wearing the compression sleeve I had credited with the speedy recovery/rehab of my Runner’s Knee – I ‘bare-kneed’ it and ran sans-support.
Big.
Freakin’.
Mistake(s)!
I ended up hobbling from the 3.5 mile turn-around mark of our run back to where a cross-street met the trail and sitting there waiting for Rich to finish his (our) run, get the car, and drive back to pick me up.


I didn’t post about this last weekend because . . . well . . . wha’ ha’ happen waaaas . . . we had dinner plans with friends and even coming home and showering quickly we got there twenty minutes late.

Then, well, on Sunday we had church and then we got home and I had to make Sunday dinner, and really needed to spend time with Rich (HCRP), and hey! The Amazing Race was on!

Monday I was actually on the couch – when I wasn’t in the bathroom – all day with some sort of ‘intestinal disfortitude’ (read: stomach bug/something I ate).

Tuesday – in addition to being My 47th Birthday! – I was doing laundry and cleaning the house in preparation for our trip to Columbia, South Carolina to attend my oldest (step)son’s Army Boot Camp Graduation. So, really, there was No Time To Write.
Right?
Of course right?

Wednesday and Thursday, well those were All About The Benjamin.
And his wife and their baby.
So really, again, No Time To Write.

Lies!
All of it LIES!!
I just didn’t want to write because – as we Southerners are wont to say – I’m askeered.
I’m afraid to even try running again because I know the minute I feel that twinge it means my run is O-V-E-R.
I’m afraid that if that twinge comes One-Too-Many Times my running days are O-V-E-R before they have even got going good.

I want – like I haven’t wanted anything since I wanted to give birth to a healthy baby in 1988 – to finish this half-marathon we have coming up on March 18th.
I wanted to run 80% of it doing the run 4:walk 1 intervals we’ve been training with.
I wanted to finish the race in less than three hours. Maybe not much less, but less nonetheless.
I wanted to finish the race hand-in-hand (literally, actually holding hands) with my HCRP.

Well.
Some of that isn’t going to happen.
Oh, rest and read assured, that I will participate in and finish this race.
I won’t run 80% of it.
I won’t finish in less than three hours.
And I won’t finish it hand-in-hand with my HCRP.
But I have a plan.

I’ll be running the race using our accustomed 4:1/Run:walk intervals; however, I’ll be running two miles then walking one throughout the duration of the race. I sincerely hope that makes sense.
But.
If it doesn’t, and because this is my running blog, allow me to elaborate.
Miles 1 & 2 – Run 4 minutes:Walk 1 minute.
Mile 3 – Walk.
Miles 4 & 5 – Run 4 minutes:Walk 1 minute.
Mile 6 – Walk.
Miles 7 & 8 – Run 4 minutes:Walk 1 minute.
Mile 9 – Walk.
Miles 10 & 11 – Run 4 minutes:Walk 1 minute.
Mile 12 – Walk.
Mile 13 to Finish – Run 4 minutes:Walk 1 minute.
And I will finish that .1 r-u-n-n-i-n-g!

But for tomorrow’s run, I’ll be doing that on a treadmill setting out to do four miles with the option to do six using the aforementioned half-marathon running plan.
I miss running.
I miss running more than 3.5 miles.
I want to run ten miles again.
And.
I.
Will.

Back in my laces again

Both my hamstring and knee have “been pain free” for three days now both with and without compression support.  Therefore, It’s time to get back on the road.  Or treadmill.  The jury’s still out on where exactly it is that I’m going to test the rehabbedness of my leg.

The recently discovered Treadmill Hater in me is jumping up and down chanting “Hit The Road!  Hit The Road!”  The part of me who still remembers the agony of limping along for-what-seemed-like-ever a week ago Thursday night keeps raising her hand from the back of the classroom saying “Ummm…  What if ‘It’ happens again and you’re miles away from the car and have to do that limping/wincing/stabbing pain thing again?!  Huh?  What about that Miss Road Hitter?”  What we have heayuh is a failyuh to reach a decision.

So.
I’m doing what any intelligent, level-headed, human being would do: I’m letting the weather be my guide!
If it’s cold and rainy that’s my “sign” that tomorrow afternoon’s six miles (with the possibility of expanding to eight) will take place on the (dreaded) treadmill.  Thank God for Audiobooks!
If it’s only cold, but not rainy, we’ll be hitting our favorite local running/biking trail.
I think that’s a perfectly reasonable ‘coin toss’.

I’m both excited and a little nervous about this whole thing.
I WANT to be running again, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little afraid of feeling that “twinge” at the back of my knee again.  I’m at T-minus 29 days and counting to my first Half Marathon and I really want to run more of it than I walk.

It’s going to be just fine Julianne.
That’s what I keep telling myself.