Jack Rabbit Starts and Turtle Finishes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See? Rabbit.  Turtle.

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

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

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

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

Jillian Michaels: Pace Buster!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A PR and A Crossroad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not sure why . . .

I have plenty of thoughts on my first Half Marathon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cards might lie . . .

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

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

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

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

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

I learned many things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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!

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.