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.

Sometimes Running Sucks

My running has been less than stellar recently. Considering I ran a 10k this past weekend, the timing is bad. I haven’t had a run that felt good in quite some time. Even three miles is somewhat of a struggle, so running over six was much more difficult than I anticipated.

I was thrilled to be in Chicago with my husband visiting my niece. Being from the ‘region’ in Northwest Indiana, which is only about thirty minutes from the Windy City, Chicago has always held a special place in my heart. I love the skyline, Lake Michigan, the museums, the shopping, and the architecture. It’s truly a beautiful city. I registered my niece and myself for this race a few months ago; we decided on the 10k rather than the half marathon, which turned out to be the perfect decision. Though I have run along the lake while visiting the city, I was excited to run a race there.

Gary and I arrived in Chicago Friday afternoon, dropped our things at Erin’s, and hopped on a bus to go downtown and get our race packets. That might sound simple, but we were slightly anxious that we would end up in the wrong neighborhood nowhere near race headquarters. As we exited the bus – on the right street – we began to take in life in the big city. Gary and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to country life versus city life. As he was commenting, “I could never live in this city,” I was saying, “I could so live in the big city!” Realistically, it would probably get old, so for now I’ll enjoy visiting Erin. That evening we met up with Erin for a pasta dinner, and went for a walk down to the lake. Since we had to get up early for the race, we were in early. One of us practically passed out while talking. I won’t mention a name, but it wasn’t one of the old ones!

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Saturday morning the three of us caught the bus, and took off for the race. While I am usually really grouchy the morning of a race (my nerves get the best of me, and I don’t like to talk or be talked to), I felt unusually calm. Even when we realized we had missed our stop and had to walk about 1/2 mile back to the start, I didn’t get stressed out. In my highly-anxious mind, that’s impressive. As we approached the starting line, there was a sea of pink. Although I typically wear pink, I went against the trend and wore yellow. This was my first all-female race, and I didn’t want to over-do the girliness. Tutus were not an option for Erin and me. No way.

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My goal for this race was to run it in under an hour. If we kept a 9:30 pace, we would do it. Our first mile, we ran a 9:08 pace – perfect. The second mile we ran a 9:13 pace, which was still good, and left us room to slow down during the second half. The third mile I began to struggle. STUPID. This was a 10k; I have run five half marathons; this should be easy. One huge mistake I made was not drinking any water on Friday. STUPID. In my mind, I was only running a little over six miles, so I didn’t need to worry about hydrating or nutrition. STUPID. I always need to worry about hydration and nutrition. Third mile: 9:40 pace. Crap. I told Erin to go ahead because she was running well. She wasn’t going to, but I told her I didn’t want to feel guilty for holding her back, so she went on. During mile four, I kept telling myself to enjoy the beautiful day; I was running in CHICAGO! I had the gorgeous blue lake with sailboats scattered about on my right, and the picturesque skyline on my left. There were runners everywhere. This race was different than any I have run because the course wasn’t closed. There we literally hundreds of other runners who were not participating in the race along the course.

Mile four….9:27…back on track. Lord, I was tired and my legs felt like I was trudging through wet sand. Mile five…I could do this. It was only a 10k. What was my problem? Why did I feel like I was not going to finish? And I was definitely not going to register for the Indianapolis Monumental Half that Gary and I had planned to do. No freakin’ way. Mile six. The last full mile. 10:05. For Pete’s sake, I just kept getting slower and slower. But I was not going to stop. The finish line was within my reach, and I was not going to walk. As I approached where I thought the finish line was, I picked it up a bit because I thought I was going to meet my goal. When I realized where the finish line actually was, I knew I wasn’t going to make it. My official time was 1:00:22. I missed my goal by twenty-two seconds. If you don’t run, that might not seem like a big deal; if you run, you understand just how frustrating that was. But it was over, and I hadn’t walked. (Erin and decided to walk the three miles back to her apartment. This picture shows her cooling off in a random fountain. Yes, I dared her. I didn’t even have to triple dog dare.)

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What I don’t understand is why my running has gotten worse since I quit running every day. Shouldn’t my legs be rested and ready to race? The last 5K I ran, my pace was 8:47. My pace at an August two-miler was 8:04. Now I am trying to decide if I want to keep trying to increase my distance, or if I want to stick with shorter distances and work on getting faster. On the way home from Chicago, I read an article about the benefits of 5Ks. Perhaps that was my sign.

When the results were finally posted, I saw that overall I placed 133 out of 977, and in my age group (40-49) I placed 33rd out of 301, which isn’t too bad. Erin placed ninth in her age group, and 75th overall, which is outstanding! She doesn’t usually run races, which makes it more impressive. So in the end, it was worth the effort. For our efforts, we got really nice jackets, necklaces, and medals. We also got to share some special time together. And we celebrated with Giordanno’s pizza that evening; I’d run another six miles for that.

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So, what’s next? Right now your guess is as good as mine. We are going to go watch some friends finish at the Evansville Half Marathon this weekend. I will likely attempt another long run Sunday. And if it sucks, I am never running again. At least not until the next week…or day. I hate running. But I love it, too.

Anxiety Overload

Today was the Schweizer Fest Road Run, which takes place during our small town’s birthday celebration each year. There is a two-mile race and a six-mile race, which have been tradition for over thirty years. I hadn’t run either in four years. I have major anxiety at times, and running in that race is one of those times. I don’t like running in a race when I know so many people both running and along the sidelines. For some reason, I get physically ill worrying about running this race. I am a little nervous at out-of-town races, but nothing compared to this.

The first year I began running, I ran the two-mile, and did well, but I was so nervous beforehand that it took all of the fun out of it. The next year I decided to try again, and I was going to run the six-mile. Again, I was a nervous wreck. Once I start running, I settle in and do okay, but the prerace ‘jitters’ (more like small earthquakes), again, took away much of the fun. I placed in my age group both of those years, but that wasn’t enough to make me sign up again. Three years ago, I had decided I wouldn’t run, and as it ended up, I couldn’t have run if I wanted. My nephew Stephen died that week, and his funeral was the morning of the race. The Saturday of Schweizer Fest will always hold those memories for me. The following year, I decided it would be best to work the finish line and cheer on my husband. Last year I had knee surgery the week of the race, so I had a perfect excuse to sit out. I took my camera and took finish-line photos of my friends, and I truly had a blast. I posted them on Facebook so that they would have brag photos to share with family and friends. All of the fun without the anxiety.

And then it was suddenly time to decide what to do this year. I am always telling kids at school and friends at the gym to step out of their comfort zones, yet I was hesitant to step out of my own. I was set to run a 5k last weekend, and decided if it went well, I would run this weekend. Well, it went well. I ran my fastest 5k to date, and won my age group. I filled out my form and paid my $20. I thought about backing out every single day this week – including this morning. Yesterday as the day went on, I began to feel the panic. If you’ve never dealt with true panic and anxiety, you cannot understand. I know in my head it makes no sense; it’s just stupid. But my heart and body just react. When I would think about the race, my heart would race and my head would pound. Other than the Schweizer Fest runs, the only other time I have been as nervous was before the Derby Mini Marathon, and that was because it was my first race after my knee surgery, and I didn’t know if I would be able to run it all. I can say that in these situations, I am a bitch. I don’t want to talk to anyone, and really just need to be in a bubble. It’s a wonder Gary will go to races with me.

Although I fell asleep right away last night, I started waking up around 3:00 am (about the time some of my friends were getting home!), and felt restless the remainder of the night. Breanne wanted all of the Everbody’s crew at the gym at 7:30 for a group picture, but I knew I would be in no shape for that (or to be nice to anyone), so I didn’t even attempt to get there. At 7:00 am – one hour before the race – I was still in bed wishing it were storming so I would be able to stay put. My friend Caroline, who knows about my craziness, texted me, and seemed surprised to find I hadn’t even gotten up. My head hurt and my stomach was in knots. I finally got up; I had to get to the bathroom! It was getting serious. As I brushed my teeth, I noticed I was shaking. Seriously. I only had to run two miles; I can run two miles; I was a mess for no good reason. Thank God for Gary’s immense patience (though I think it was beginning to run low). We made it downtown, and I decided to walk a little. Since I hadn’t been out of bed long, I figured I’d better get these old legs moving or the race would be a disaster. I turned on some piano music, and took off by myself.

As I was walking, I was about to cry. Really. Even writing this I know it’s just crazy. I started thinking about Stephen, and finally told myself to suck it up, and that I would run this race for Stephen. Of course, I couldn’t share what was on my mind with anyone because then I would have done the ugly cry, so I sucked it up and headed to the starting line. I gave Gary a good-luck kiss because his race, the six-miler, was starting first. I found my best friends, Jackie and Kassi, and began to settle down. I just wanted to start running because I knew once I did, my anxiety would lessen.

I can honestly say I don’t remember much about the actual race. I couldn’t get my Runkeeper going, so I just put on my music and ran. My goal was 17 minutes, which is an 8:30 pace. For me, that’s super fast. At the one-mile marker, someone yelled out times; mine was 7:48. I immediately thought Shit! I’m going too fast and won’t finish! I slowed down a bit, and ventured on. As I rounded the corner toward the last two blocks, I ran out of steam. I felt like I was going to puke or pass out (If I puked on the street, my junior high students would NEVER let me forget it!). Typically, when I get that close to the finish I can kick it in. Not today. I just wanted to get to the finish. Once I crossed that line, my stomach returned to normal, my head quit hurting, and I felt great. I didn’t know my time, but I knew it was okay. Most runners just ran a race this morning. I almost had a breakdown, and then ran a race.

I really hoped to place in my age group, but when they announced that the group was 40-49 rather than two groups of 40-44 and 45-49, I figured there was no way I would place. I am 47, and was competing against women several years younger. And then they called my name! I placed third out of 53 (many of those were walkers). And as I walked up to get my swag, I heard my junior high kids cheering for me; that made it all worth it! Times were posted this afternoon, and my time was….drumroll….16:09 with an 8:04 pace! So was it worth all the anxiety this morning? Yes, but maybe next year I’ll get counseling in the months leading up to the race. Or maybe I’ll just take pictures.

Congratulations to all of the finishers today! There were a record 840 runners and walkers – pretty exciting for out little town! There are many runners I am super proud of, but must give a shout-out to my husband, Carol Vinson, Mary May, and to Katie Goffinet, who won the two-mile for the second year in a row! And I cannot forget to mention Sarah Goffinet! She did the two-miler, and ran to the finish line. For a kid who had little chance of surviving a terrible car accident nine months ago, she has certainly proven that she is a survivor! Sarah, you make us all so proud! Congratulations!

To all of my running friends (whom I dearly love), thanks for always inspiring me and pushing me!

40 Days and a Race

The 40 Days of Fitness Challenge certainly took off! We now have 165 participants! When I first posted the challenge, I thought it would be great to have 40 or 50 people sign up. I had no idea that people near and far would take on this challenge. It has been fun reading what people are doing each day and hearing the positive feedback. Some people were at a plateau in weight loss, and have seen the number on the scale move again. Others have exercised when they didn’t really feel like it, and were glad they did. And still others are realizing that working in some type of exercise every day isn’t quite as impossible as initially thought. One hundred sixty-five people are moving more! We have shirts picked out and a dinner planned. People are signing up for races, encouraging one another, spending more time outside, and getting healthier. 

On the 4th of July, I ran my first 5k in a year and a half. It was an unusually cool morning for July – perfect race conditions. I ran the race with my daughter, and enjoyed every minute of it, even the moment toward the end when I was encouraging Morgan to push through, and she told me to shut up. Morgan later told me that at the same time, a spectator had yelled something encouraging to her, and when Morgan told me to shut up, the lady thought she was telling her to shut up, and apologized! Morgan was spent by that point, and didn’t have the energy to tell the poor lady she was just telling her mother to shut up. The poor lady will probably never yell for racers again.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy 5Ks. When I run half marathons, it’s a struggle just to finish. 13.1 miles is a long way to run. I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I could finish the 5K; I could just enjoy running. We are running another race this weekend, and possible three or four more in the next month. One of the races we are running is an Extreme 5K that is run through farm fields and involves obstacles. I have lovingly convinced some friends to join me, and I think we will have a blast! I am a little frightened to try a Tough Mudder or Spartan Run, so this will satisfy my need to step out a little. 

This Saturday, Gary, some of our friends, and I will run a 5K on the Runway…yes, we will run a race on an airport runway. How many runners can say they’ve done that? My plan is to run these shorter races until school starts (at which time band and golf will take over our Saturdays), and then begin training for the Women Rock Chicago 10K at the end of September, and then the Monumental Half Marathon in Indianapolis in November. I am working on my speed while I am running everyday since my runs are shorter. Although I will never be fast, I hope to improve, and then to be able to maintain some speed as I add mileage. In my mind I’m 20, and this is highly possible. My 47 year old body might have different ideas. 

17 More Days!

In my mind, that sounds ominous. I have 17 days until the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon. Only 17. I have one more long run, which if the weather cooperates, will happen this Friday after school. I would prefer to do my 11-miler Saturday morning rather than after a long day at work, but the girls have their first tennis match out of town Saturday, so Friday it is. This week I have taught four bootcamp classes in three days, and my legs are sore and tired. They  are so sore, in fact, that last night after I showered, I immediately crawled into bed. I  then texted my husband, who was still downstairs: I want to come kiss you goodnight, but my legs are too tired! They refuse to carry me. I love you to the moon and back! How pathetic is that? Seriously, I was that tired, yet, I couldn’t sleep! My body didn’t budge, but my eyes refused sleep. This was especially frustrating because I had to teach HIIT at 5:30 am.

I had planned to run four miles this evening, but – at the strong encouragement of my husband – stayed home instead. Rest is good, right? I teach bootcamp again in the morning, and we will be focusing on arms and abs, purposely avoiding power squats (that’s for my benefit, not the participants’). I might try to run a couple of miles on the treadmill before hitting the shower, but my legs might just have a different plan.

Then I will rest up for Friday. Hopefully my friend Jennifer will be running part of my long run with me. It goes so much quicker when someone is with me. I enjoy solo runs, but have done far too many in the past couple months. Because I still lack confidence in my knee and my endurance, I have hesitated to run with others much. And for some reason, this race is really personal to me, and I just want to do it on my own. Weird, huh? I am really excited for my friends who are running, especially those who will complete their first half marathon, but this race is for me – and for my friend Katie, as I previously posted. After bailing at the 8-mile mark last year, not running a single race since, and going through knee surgery, this is, perhaps, my most important race to date. Just a couple months ago, I was convinced I would never run 13.1 again; I just couldn’t do it. Then running seemed to get a little better, and I was able to run a little farther, and I decided that I have to run 13.1 again. I cannot give up what I love, until my legs refuse to move. Last year, I spent a lot of time focusing on several of my ‘newbie’ friends, and I loved it. This year it is going to take all of my focus and energy to get myself across that finish line. Once I cross, and I will even if I have to crawl or ride piggy back on someone, I will celebrate with everyone else. Lord, I hope I make it.

I said that running has gotten a little easier, but it is still so flippin’ difficult. Every single run takes so much effort right now. I am not running nearly as fast as I was a year ago, but I feel like I am putting in even more effort. We all have tough runs, but I would like to have just a few easy ones. Monday was a beautiful day, and I had looked forward to my run all day as I looked out the windows of my classroom. I was finally going to be able to run in shorts and a tank, and work up a great sweat. My legs felt like bricks. Most of the time, my first mile is tough, but then I fall into a rhythm, and it gets easier. That never happened. I had run five miles Sunday, so once I hit the three-mile mark, I stopped. I could run no further. I walked the mile back to my car, and chalked it up to a bad day…another bad day.

I have thought about goals for the race. Common sense tells me that my only goals should be to enjoy running the race (which is an incredible race with a huge crowd on a beautiful course), and to cross the finish line with my knee healthy. My husband would tell you I don’t often use common sense. The last time I finished Derby, my time was 2:04, and my last complete half marathon time was 1:59. While I know it impossible to get close to those times, I would still like to have a respectable time. And, I have been online looking at last year’s times. I always say I am not going to do that, but I always do. Always. I really have no idea what to expect. When Jackie and I ran our 10-miler, we ran about a 10:26 pace, and usually one runs faster in a race just because of the adrenaline (and because I get caught up in the crowd). If I could run a 10:00 pace, I would finish in 2:11. First, I don’t know if that is possible; second, I surely wish I could run faster. I should just finish this to prove I can run that far, and then concentrate on running faster for a fall half marathon. Will I? Do you see how there is a constant battle going on in my head? No wonder I couldn’t sleep.

My mind will be in turmoil for the next 17 days. My stomach will likely follow suit at some point, hopefully not race morning! That would be awkward. I am not a fan of porta-potties! My next few blogs will probably provide more information about the race than you care to know, but as you know, I write whatever is on my mind (not everything – you’d be shocked if you knew what all goes on in my head; it’s very cluttered in there).

Run on, Friends!

Schweizer Fest Road Run…Day 5 Post Op

No, I didn’t run.  However, I have been asked about my knee so much, that I made up a great story to try out tonight!

Person:  UGH!  What happened to your knee?

Me:  Well, you won’t believe it, but I was running the 6 miler this morning, and I was in front.  I was so excited to run up Mozart in the 100% humidity, and I was just flying!  Suddenly, when I got right in front of the Nobles’ house, a gigantic buck ran out in front of me!  I know!  It was crazy!  So, since I am an athlete, I did what any respectable athlete would do, and I hurdled the deer.  Just as I was crossing over, he turned his head, and his enormous antler caught my foot.  I landed right on my knee!  That was it for me.  I had to drop out, and now I have several stitches, and I have to wear this wrap for a week!  How embarrassing!

What do you think?  It sounds a helluva lot better than having an arthroscope for arthritis and IT band surgery.

I have to be honest, though.  Many people have said they were sorry I couldn’t run the race this year.  I just nodded and smiled, and acted like I certainly would have been running had it not been for having surgery this week.  Confession:  I would probably not have been running.  Really.  I haven’t run the Fest run in three years.  Last year I worked the finish line, and if I would have been confident that my knee would hold up, I probably would have worked it again this year.  As it was, I dubbed myself official race photographer, and worked to get pictures of as many of my friends as possible.

So, why wouldn’t I have run?  The reason is that I have crazy anxiety.  It makes me so stinkin’ nervous to run a race in Tell City because I know most everyone there.  I literally get heart palpitations and belly upset just thinking about running in front of my home town.  In my head, I know it is ridiculous, but the last time I ran it, I was so nervous that I couldn’t even enjoy the race.  I have run half marathons with thousands of people, and I don’t get that anxious, but stick me in front of people who know and love me (and some who don’t like me one bit), and I totally freak out.  Don’t judge me.  We all have oddities – I just admit mine online!  Today, I thought maybe I should try it again next year, assuming my body will be healed and I am running in a year.  Next summer, I’ll get all nervous just reading about the race in the News.  And I am such a great photographer that I should probably stick to that.

As for this morning,  I had an absolute blast!  I completely enjoyed watching everyone finish!  I got some pretty great pictures, and was so glad to capture those moments for my friends.  I wasn’t stressed at all!  I am so proud of so many people, but I am going to mention just a few.

Melinda Jacob….She is incredible!  She has lost 117 pounds by eating right and working her butt off.  I have literally watched her shrink over the last year.  I remember last fall when I asked her to come to Zumba.  She told me she would when she lost some more weight.  Of course, I told her that made no sense because doing Zumba would help her lose that weight.  She caved, and she loved it!  She came to lots of Zumba classes, and many times did three workouts a day.  She is a shining example of perseverance to her children.  She ran the six-mile race this morning, and I was so very proud of her!

Ginger Alvey….In January, when we began the third season of the Biggest Loser at Everbody’s, Ginger joined.  I will never forget her first night on the elliptical.  She could hardly eek out 4 minutes.  Ginger never gave up, and she kept coming back.  She now rocks that stupid elliptical, goes to Zumba, and has begun to run.  Today Ginger ran the two mile race!   How far she has come in such a short time!

Caroline Johnson….sometimes hates working out.  I have seen her laugh during workouts, but I’ve also heard her cuss, and seen her leave because she’s ticked she can’t do something.  But, she always came back.  She has pushed herself beyond what she thought she was capable of, and continues to push (even when it sometimes takes a kick in the butt).  Caroline and her husband Scott have completely changed their lives in the past seven months, and are living a healthier lifestyle with their daughter.  When Caroline and I have been out walking/running, we get honked at constantly.  While I would like to think some of those honks are for me, they are all for Caroline.  Don’t think that girl isn’t inspiring others to get out there and move.  Caroline walked/ran the two mile this morning, as did her daughter, Bailee.  Her husband Scott ran the six-mile.  This family rocks!

My husband…Gary has been running for over four years now.  Because he has an artificial knee, it takes more effort for him to run than most anyone else.  He ran the six mile today, and I have never seen him run stronger!  He inspires me every single day by his dedication.  I kinda like him!

Debbie Elder…I know I’ll get this number wrong, but Debbie has lost 50+ pounds.  She is at the gym working hard all the time.  She is also a runner now!  She has the best attitude, and makes me happy when I am in a class with her.  She ran the two mile today, and I suspect she’ll run the six mile next year.  How ’bout it, Debbie?

Emily Miller….I can’t possibly write this and not include Emily.  She has also lost 50+ pounds, and has shared her journey with anyone who would read (she’s a lot like me!).  This year, she set a goal to run the six mile, stuck to a plan, and she ran it in under an hour!  But is she stopping there?  Heck no!  In October, Emily will run her first half marathon!  I am so hoping to be there to witness this great feat, and if band allows, I’ll be screaming ’til my lungs blow as she crosses the finish line.  She has inspired so many people in our community to get healthy.  She is a ball of energy and positive vibes.

TCJSHS and PCHS Cross Country Teams….You make all of us proud!  Two TC junior high students won the two mile race today – Katie Goffinet and Nate Kaiser!  How incredible is that?  All of the kids are so dedicated and so supportive of one another.  They are terrific representatives of Perry County.

The Biggest Loser and Corporate Challenge Participants…All of you!  It is so great to see how our community has become so focused on getting in shape.  Seeing you all out there, either walking or running, made me so proud!  You all are doing a great service to yourselves and your families.  You deserve to be very proud, and you are worth the effort you’re putting in!  Keep it up!  I want to see all of you – and more – out there next year!

To all of the 694 people who joined the action today, thank you!  It was a memorable morning, and I was so happy to be there, basking in your glory!  I had so many friends who ran that I would not dare try to name them for fear of forgetting someone.   Just know that you all are the reason I was willing to go through surgery.  I want to be like you!  I want to run…………..just not in Tell City :-/.  You made my morning:  I envied your smiles, your pride, and your sweat (yea, really – I wanted to be sweating from a hard run).  I envy the sore muscles you’ll have tomorrow, too.  Afterall, it’s a good sore!