Running Remix

Sometimes in life, we need to step back and reevaluate our intentions. Whether we examine relationships, careers, or fitness, we need to realize our goals can change in spite of us. I am at a point at which I have to reevaluate my running, and believe me, it isn’t by choice. My knees seem to be rebelling, which infuriates me. I am trying to do something good that will keep me mentally and physically healthy, but my body doesn’t want to cooperate.

 

For non-runners the answer is easy — don’t run. Runners understand that it just isn’t that simple. Though I haven’t always been a runner, after six years it has become part of my identity. My friends run; my husband runs; I want to run. Running is an emotional release after a challenging day at school. It’s a way to celebrate life’s little joys. It’s a way to deal with tragedy when I don’t know what else to do with myself. Running gives me confidence, strength, and pleasure. Running makes me angry, disappointed, and frustrated. I love going for a run with friends, and I love running alone because it allows me time to process whatever is happening in my life at the moment. In running I find peace. Simply put, I cannot imagine my life without it.

 

I had already decided that I wouldn’t run a spring half marathon. My plan was to let my knees rest by sticking with shorter runs. After running the Kentucky Derby Half Marathon the past four years, it will be difficult knowing my friends are there and I am not. I do, however, plan to run the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll with my step-daughter Labor Day weekend. After my past couple longer runs, that was even questionable. Once I would reach 4.5 miles, my ‘good’ knee would begin to stiffen up – IT band. It felt exactly the same as my right one did two years ago prior to surgery. I hobbled to get to 5 miles (I’m not sure why I have to end on an even number), and ended up disappointed that I couldn’t go further.

 

I am currently reading Tales from Another Mother Runner by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea. It is their third book together, and since I loved the first two, I knew this would be worth my time. One of the essays struck a chord. The woman had knee problems. Ahhh…a sister in pain. She began inserting walking into her runs, and was able to complete her runs. Even though the thought of walking part of a long run, or God forbid, a race, goes against my prideful spirit, I knew I had to try something, or I’d never be able to run long distance again. Yesterday was my experiment.

 

It was going to be a warm sunny day, so I was really looking forward to the run. I had to mentally prepare myself to walk. I know myself well enough to know that if I weren’t disciplined, I would try to run as far as I could, and then I would end up in pain and angry. I decided to run the first two miles, and then walk 2/10 of each mile for the rest of my ‘run’. I didn’t know how far I would go because I just didn’t know how my knees would hold up. I had in the back of my head that I wanted to try to go seven miles because my friends who are running the Derby Half were running seven (again, my brain works in mysterious ways). I found that inserting the walking made the outing enjoyable. I looked forward to the breaks, enjoyed the beautiful weather, and didn’t stress over my distance. Each time I took off running, I knew I only had to run 8/10 mile. I ended up going eight miles – with no knee pain. I ran 6.8 miles, and walked 1.2; that’s further than I’ve been able to run in months. Even with the walking, I averaged an 11 minute pace, which isn’t that bad. Did pride step in? Of course. I was hopeful that no one would see me walking; afterall, I’m supposed to be a runner. In the end, I was very content with my effort. And I was figuring out what finish time I would have if I did that at Louisville. I think my husband might just kill me if I suddenly decide to jump in the race because he hasn’t been doing long runs. But we do have a hotel room booked. Just in case.


This is when I have to ask myself, what are my intentions in regard to running. To stay healthy? Or to compete? To spend time doing something I love? Or to beat people? The responsible answer would be that I intend to stay healthy while doing what I love, and I do, but I also want to run well. I want to have respectable times. I want to PR. In short races, I want to place in my age group. Is that going to be possible? I just don’t know. I would rather walk some if it will allow me to continue running, but my pride will have to adapt to this new vision of who I am as a runner.

Another Half Marathon in the Books!

I thought we were smart to run a half marathon the first weekend of November. We would be able to do our long training runs during October, so it would be a little cooler. November 1 would likely be cool, but quite comfortable for a run. I imagined a bright crisp day, just perfect for runners, but maybe a bit cool for the spectators. Ahhhh…perfect running weather!

Then we arrived in Indianapolis for the Monumental Half Marathon. And it was freezing. I had kept a close eye on weather.com, but had hoped the meteorologists were mistaken. A 30 degree high? A windchill of 18? No way. Friday evening we did everything we could to avoid going outside. Thank goodness for the skywalks from the hotel to the expo and mall. We did have to venture out into the bitter cold to go to dinner. It was snowing! On Halloween night, it was snowing. The night before our race, it was snowing. It was only flurries that melted when they hit the ground, but I did not want to see any sort of white flakes. My niece from Chicago met us in Indy, and had failed to check the weather. She was not prepared for a cold run; we took care of that at the expo.

As we were getting ready for the race Saturday morning, my husband had the local news on, and indeed, the windchill was 18  degrees! It was time to layer up…three layers of shirts, leggings, earband, gloves, shorts over leggings. I was so grateful that our hotel was just around the corner from the starting line. When we arrived in the lobby that morning, we were greeted by a lobby full of runners who were waiting until the last possible moment to head to the starting line. We joined them in waiting. My sister was with us and had planned to watch the race. I knew the cold temps would be much harder on her than on us. Once we began to run, we would warm up. She was going to freeze.

preindy

It was finally time for the race to begin. As I previously posted, this was to be Erin’s first half marathon. Erin had not trained for her first half marathon. I promised her that we would walk if necessary, and I was prepared to just enjoy the race without worrying about my time. I was also running this race for a charity, which I had never done. Two weeks before the race, I decided I would raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. In those two weeks, my friends and family donated $1775; that is better than any PR.

I kissed my husband as he headed to his starting point, and Erin and I found our place. Usually I am so nervous before a race that my stomach is upset and my mind is racing. I wasn’t nervous at all for this race. I was there with 10,000 other runners, ready to run my sixth half marathon.

The starting line on the Monumental Marathon and Half Marathon

The starting line on the Monumental Marathon and Half Marathon

The gun went off, and we were off – well, it actually took Erin and I five minutes to get to the starting mat. The first five miles went by pretty quickly. After about two miles, I began to warm up. As we ran around Monumental Circle, a large crowd lined the street. There is no better feeling than running through a cheering crowd. It really energizes me. The best sign of the day said Could you hurry up! We’re freezing! At mile six, the sun came out. Erin and I had both bought new running sunglasses at the expo, so we were happy to see the bright sun. When we were just about to the split where the half marathoners turned back toward downtown and the marathoners took off in the other direction, I heard someone call my name. My friends Heidi and Derrick were running their first marathon, and were coming up to pass us. I was so glad to get to see them; I was there for their first half marathon, and was so proud they were now running a full.

I mentioned that Erin had not trained for this race. She made me promise to walk. At about mile eight, she said that at mile ten we were going to speed up and finish strong. What?! I let her know I was not speeding up; I just wanted to maintain and finish. She was welcome to take off, and it wouldn’t offend me in the least. I didn’t feel bad, but my legs were getting tired. She stayed with me until the last mile, and ended up finishing about two minutes before me. I know that she could have finished much faster if she hadn’t stuck with me for twelve miles. Erin ran a 10k at the end of September, and hadn’t run more than four miles since then. And she ran an entire half marathon. Without walking. Even though I wanted to not like her, I was beyond proud. I had tried to convince her to run a half marathon for a couple of years, and she didn’t think she could. She did…without training.

Race Bling!

Race Bling!

While I’d like to say we basked in the glory at the post-race festivities, we didn’t. We grabbed our medals, hats, and some chocolate milk, and because we were freezing the second we stopped running, we went right back to the hotel for hot showers. It was so cold, in fact, I didn’t even wait to watch Gary finish. I quickly showered and went to the lobby to wait for him to get back.

I must say, I felt better after this race than I usually do after running 13.1. I was tired and hungry (can’t-stop-eating hungry), but overall, I felt great. Today, the day after, the only issue I have is my right calf muscle hurts. And I still couldn’t stop eating. Last night I was already planning more races, and actually convinced my step-daughter to run a half with me in September 2015. And I would bet that Erin will be joining me for another race. Once a runner earns a medal, and experiences the thrill of crossing a finish line, she’s usually hooked. And if Erin could run as well as she did without training, imagine what she could do if she trained!

Run on, Friends!

Indy, Here We Come!

I just read through my last post in which I stated I would be blogging about my training for the half marathon. As you all know, sometimes life gets in the way. Between school, the gym, band contests, golf matches, and cooking and cleaning, there has been no time to just sit down and write. Now the race is five days away. Ready or not, Saturday I will cover 13.1 miles; with any luck I will be running all of it, but it is more likely that I will do a combination of running and walking with my niece. Honestly, this race isn’t about time; it’s about so much more.

This will be my niece Erin’s first half marathon. I have talked to her about running one for a couple of years, and for some unknown reason, she finally agreed. She hasn’t trained much at all, but because she is young, she’ll do just fine. Erin makes everything more fun. She has a quick wit and keeps us laughing. I feel very blessed to get to share this experience with her because I know it can be life-changing. There’s something about earning a medal – no matter how old we are – that makes us keep running.

About two weeks ago, I was looking at the Monumental Marathon website, and saw that I could sign up to raise money for St. Jude. I’ve never run a race for charity, so the challenge was instantly appealing. Because St. Jude had saved the life of our friend, Katie, it just felt right. I had no idea how much money I could raise, so I set my original goal at $500. I only had a couple of weeks, and I didn’t know if I could pull it off. As of this writing, I’ve raised $1050! My friends and family have been so generous, and it is so appreciated. Every penny goes to help a child fighting cancer. I was speaking to my brother today after he had donated in honor of his children, Emily and Evan. Evan has Down Syndrome, which can come with health problems, so they have spent time in children’s hospitals. As my brother stated, no one really understands how important those places are until he has a child there, and sees all the children who are fighting. What a blessing it is to have healthy children. Saturday I will don my St. Jude shirt and run in honor of those children who are battling cancer, who experience things no child should ever have to experience. Running 13.1 miles? That’s easy. Going through chemotherapy, getting stuck every single day, having multiple surgeries, fearing death…that’s not only difficult; it’s heartbreaking.

Hillary, dancer, age 20, b-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Hillary, dancer, age 20, b-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Each of the five previous half marathons I have completed, I have done for me. I’ve had goals such as beating a previous time or proving my doctor wrong. It’s always been about what I wanted to accomplish. This race is not about me. Will I be proud when I cross that finish line? Heck, yeah! But this race isn’t about what I want. It’s about sharing the experience with Erin and about running for St. Jude and Katie. Katie is one of the lucky ones. She beat cancer. Because Katie beat cancer, the children in our community are fortunate to have her for a teacher and coach. She has also been provided friendship and support for others who have battled or are continuing to fight. St. Jude calls the people who are running to raise money Heroes. I cannot accept that title. The kids of St. Jude are the heroes. I’m just a runner with great friends and family.

I read a blog recently in which a guy said how annoyed he is by 13.1 and 26.2 stickers on cars. He claimed that the only reason runners have them is to brag, and that we think we are better than everyone else because we ran that far. What an ass. He said that typically when one puts a sticker on his car, it is to show support for something, such as a school or their children’s sports. He claimed that our stickers are selfish. I have a 13.1 magnet on my car, and I am very proud of it. Do I think I am better than a non-runner or someone who sticks to shorter distances? Absolutely not. Running is not for everyone. Having that sticker is sort of a rite of passage for some runners. I have several friends who couldn’t wait to earn that sticker. We’ve worked our tails off, spent countless hours pounding the pavement, and sacrificed sleeping in, greasy food, and time with our families. We’ve suffered through injuries, physical therapy, sore muscles, and ugly feet. When I see those stickers on strangers’ cars, I feel an instant bond. Running is the most selfless sport I know of. I have never been around a more supportive group of people than when I am at a race. Fellow runners cheer as loudly for the last runner as they do for the first; actually; sometimes they cheer louder. We all have different paces, and no one looks down upon slower runners. We help one another, listen to each other’s troubles, and support one another until the bitter end. Many people run for charity or share their love of running with children by volunteering at running groups. So, if my 13.1 magnet annoys anyone, just don’t look at it. You can look at my Purdue plate instead!

For the next four days, I must drink plenty of water, avoid too much candy (I can’t avoid it all), and get a couple of short runs in. Friday we head for Indy to meet my niece. If you want to donate to St. Jude, here’s the link:

http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR?px=2902756&fr_id=21100&pg=personal

http://fundraising.stjude.org/images/heroes/Hayli-St-Jude-Heroes-event-image-default.jpg

This is Hayli. She is one year old and is battling leukemia.

Run Happy!

A Change in Plans

After the Chicago 10k – actually, at mile 2 of the Chicago 10k – I decided that there was no way in hell I was going to run the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. At that point, I didn’t know if I was going to make it six miles, so 13.1 would be impossible. As soon as the race was over, I told my husband that we would not be running the Indy race. No way. No how.

And then I came home with my nice medal, jacket, and necklace. I ran Tuesday, and it was not a good run. I had to walk some just to get through three miles. I ran again Wednesday morning with some friends, and that run felt so much better. So yesterday after school I was home alone with time to ponder. I thought that maybe I could just run/walk the Indy race…if I could sucker someone into doing it with me. Gary really wants to run it, and he always does things for me.

I have tried to talk my niece Erin into running a half in the past, and she was pretty adamant about not ever running one. So I texted her. I asked if she’d be interested in meeting me in Indy to run/walk a half marathon. Her answer was quite shocking and unexpected. Her text read, “Ok, if walking is involved then yes.” Seriously. I didn’t have to talk her into it at all. And then she registered right away! Crap. Now I was stuck. I won’t back out on my niece. I am going to participate in the Indy Half. I truly doubt I can run 13.1 at this point, but I am pretty sure I can walk it. Heck, Erin and I ran 6.2 Saturday, and then walked 3 miles back to her apartment, so we just need 4 more miles. Piece of cake! ‘

Now the real training begins. I need to drink more water (as I am sipping on a Diet Pepsi), eat less junk (I ate a bag of Milky Way nuggets on the way home from school), and run distance. I plan to run nine miles Sunday morning. Please, Old Sore Body, cooperate! To celebrate this decision, I believe I’ll get some new running shoes, which are always motivating. I will also blog this journey because it keeps me accountable. You can expect lots of whining, a few victories, and probably some details you don’t care to know.

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