THEY CAME!!! I finally got my new kicks in the mail today.
Yes…I’ve decided to head back out to run my ass off. Literally. (I hope.)
As I began pulling the packing out of my new shoes, while admiring the shimmery silver and pink (running shoes aren’t about looks but it sure rocks when they’re cute AND feel good)…I drifted back to my last half marathon and began to wonder: “Am I ready for the four stages again?”
About 5 years ago I decided to teach myself how to run. I mean…I could totally have those gorgeous runner legs someday too, right?? (HA, you silly girl. No.) It took time and a lot of frustrating early morning treadmill sessions at our local community center…with plentiful sympathetic looks from the octogenarians who frequented my gym as well. I was practically sprinting at a 10 minute mile next to Gramps. God love them, they actually were quite supportive and were very nurturing toward me during the first several months of my jog-a-licious journey working up to my first 5k race EVER. The fact that I was able to run (aka slooooowly jog) the entire thing without walking only fueled my desire to push myself further. I continued my daily 5am rendevouz with the treadmill and a couple of months later I decided it was time to attempt…a half marathon (wha???).
I have never been as determined as I was to finish my first BIG race. I followed my regimented training schedule to a ‘T’, remained injury-free and when race-day came I was confident that I was going to do it…nothing was going to stop me. WHY on earth I didn’t check the elevation of the race course is completely beyond me. I was a running rookie who had no clue that checking such things might possibly be important. My ignorance for ONCE worked in my favor. When I hit the God-foresaken hill-o’-death I just. Kept. Running. Like a modern-day Forrest Gump. I made it through my first half-marathon (with NO walking, mind you) in 2:25. Of course I had to break it to my kids when their eager faces asked if I “won” the race that I had in fact placed about halfway in the pack of 10,000+ people. Anti-climactic for them, I know.
Four years and four half-marathons later, that was still my best performance to date. Over the last couple of years I’ve been blessed with a new group of friends and training partners through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. (GO TEAM!!!) I combined my interest in running with my passion for finding a cure for blood cancer. While I thoroughly enjoyed making such wonderful friends, running through new places while contributing to such a worthy cause…I’ve chosen to take a break from the team and head out on my own one more time. My races with the team were so rewarding but my focus wasn’t as much on my own personal performance as it was on the team effort and raising awareness of our purpose, appropriately so.
I can’t shake this need to prove to myself I can beat that 2:25…to set a new PR (as the gentleman would say “STOP using your fancy runner talk…what the hell is PR?? Speak English.) Personal Record. I need to up the ante. In order to do so I have to be prepared to dedicate my time daily to the training schedule…and mentally prepare for the four stages. Yes, I mentioned it before. There are, indeed, four emotional stages involved in running an endurance event, specifically a 13.1 miler. And they are…as follows:
(1) Mile 1-5: “What a beautiful morning! I can totally do this! Look at the gorgeous sky! Oh look at that pretty house! I LOVE that girl’s running skirt! I feel a PR coming today! We should totally walk around and sight-see after we finish this morning! I can’t wait to sign up for the next race! Wow, my breathing is really controlled…I feel good…maybe I should have signed up for the full!”
(2) Mile 6-8: “Hmm…getting a lit-tle tired. Can’t stop to walk...if I walk I won’t pick back up to a run. Where is that next water station? I’m getting hot…what can I take off? It just HAD to be warm and sunny today (60 degrees)! God, this gel tastes like warm SHIT. Dammit, I didn’t see any hills on the elevation chart! What the hell is this mountain (slight incline)???
(3) Mile 9-11: “I didn’t train enough…this is HORRIBLE. I can’t believe I was that damn lazy the last few weeks. My body hurts. I’m a loser. I suck. Look at THAT girl, she’s still running…what is wrong with me?? Wait…this is ridiculous. There are people suffering through cancer treatment right now who would give ANYthing to have the ability to be out here running. THEY are the ones in pain. Not me. (Here come the tears and the anxiety-closing-throat-thing) Oh God I can’t breathe. (wheeze, cough, wheeze…and wheeze some more) I’m such a selfish bitch.”
(4) Mile 11-13.1: “FINE. I’m going to finish this God-bless-ed race if it’s the last thing I do. But if I get passed by one more gimpy-legged Grandma I’m going to flip the fuck out. Is that a 7 year old?? Can that guy NOT feel the shorts riding up between his legs…pick that shit out! Why is she smiling?? Did that dude crap himself? If one more of these freakin’ cheerleaders tells me I’m almost there I’m going to launch my last shit-tasting gel packet at them, I swear. Where is the beer stand? There is beer right? No beer? Why the hell did I sign up for this damn race?? Oh Jesus there are the cameras…stand up straight, suck in my weak sagging gut, smile (like I’m loving this shit), make this look effortless! God knows everyone I know who is also doing this race will be looking up my flippin’ picture to see my ugly runner-face and how fat I look…explains the 3 hour finish time. I’m NEVER doing this again. What was I thinking? My body is NOT made for endurance sports. Where is the damn finish?? Oh God, I see it…Al. Most. There. More cameras…pick up the pace….finish strong!”
After meagerly making my way beyond the finish line, struggling to lift my leg for the tag removal and strenuously lifting my arm to accept the courtesy water bottle, while feigning an accomplished smile, I began to think…”Hmm…I DID do it. Maybe if I just train a little harder next time it won’t be so bad. Next time. Yep, I’m a glutton for punishment.” And here I am, new shoes in hand, and a race entry to prepare for…sucker? Maybe.
I hesitate to compare running an endurance event to childbirth…but the pain and suffering amnesia similarity really is uncanny. So here goes…I’m sure it won’t be that bad. In the meantime, maybe I'll run my ass off. Literally.