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On Friday, August 5th, 2011, I signed a paper saying I would voluntarily run for 13."some odd" miles. What the heck was I thinking?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Are we there yet?

Is it too soon to start getting tired of this?  I'd like to say that after I run my half, I'm going to sign up for a full marathon. I'd LIKE to say that.  What typically runs through my head though is, "I can't wait for this crap to be over so I can get back to drinking high calorie beer, eating pizza and watching multiple episodes of Lost every night."  Of course there are the different runs that make me feel differently.  Tuesday was a good example of that.  I started out the run with my normal mile warm-up. My second mile was mostly running, but at a very slow pace.  But -dang- the third mile was FAST!  I think I kicked it up to a 13 minute mile baby! HAHAHA!

In all seriousness, when I have a good run like that I think I can do anything. I can run a full marathon. Maybe I can ride long miles on a bike.  Maybe I can....nahhhh...pizza, beer and movies for me please! 

And that leads me to Saturday's run.  It sucked. There really aren't any other words for it.  It was hard, it hurt, I was tired, it hurt, I was hungry, it hurt, and I was frustrated.  Did I mention it hurt?  Stupid shins.  My coach thinks I need new shoes again.  I keep hearing that I can run in my shoes for 300-400 miles.  I can't possibly have run that far. 

OH, and guess what else?  My new watch that I bought?  Yeah, didn't work on my Saturday run. I have to call India to figure out what's wrong with it.  Great.  Stupid thing wouldn't turn on.  I figured out how to reset the thing, but it wouldn't turn back on after that.  So now I have a very expensive, mint green, piece of plastic. 

Anywhoo, I digress.  I can't tell you enough how sucky Saturday's run was.  Chipper Jen wasn't very chipper.  I wasn't very chipper.  There is this one area by Lake Norman where the houses are gorgeous and the cars are expensive.  I usually like to run through that area and think what it would be like to live in those houses.  Saturday, however, the internal dialogue was more like, "Stupid rich people.  They can probably lay in their expensive beds watching their expensive tv's and lose weight.  They probably have expensive machines working their muscles without having to get out of bed.  HA, their maids are probably working out for them so they don't have to. I mean, like that rich woman really does her OWN laundry.  Puhleeze!  And who the heck drives a car out the garage, down one side of the street, and then down the other street into the other entrance of the SAME STUPID GARAGE.  MAN THIS HURTS!"  Yup, that was my internal dialogue. Not pretty, and not very motivational. 

Coach Jackie says, "Some days are diamonds, some days are dogs."  Sage advice Jackie, sage advice.  Jackie also enjoys peeing in the woods and then telling us he did that to get a good reaction out of us.  He'll say, "just thought you'd want to know."  His favorite thing is to let us know that he's not going to make it to the restaurant we eat at after our Saturday run before he has to pee. He usually stops at another restaurant on the way, and then announces it when he meets back up with us.  Oh, and did I mention his annoying habit of running quickly between us?  Yeah, here I am thinking I've got a good pace going and he takes off like a bat out of hell to catch up to the next person and then runs back to me not even out of breath.  Grrr...knock it off!  AND, he eats a half gallon of ice cream EVERY DAY.  Are you kidding me?  He runs a marathon and eats ice cream every day.  I haven't lost a single pound and I'm eating healthier than I have in a long time. 

So, that's how my week has been. Among other frustrations that are more personal that probably didn't help along the way, it's been a crap week.  And yet, have no fear.  I will continue to run.  I will continue to raise the money I need to meet the minimum requirement to run.  I will keep going.  I'm not happy about it this week, but I ain't stoppin'.  No way, no how. 

Just keep running, just keep running...just keep running, running, running!!!  And maybe after I'm done, I'll sign up for a full.  Ya just never know.

Speaking of money, I'm still over $1,000 from my goal.  I need help.  If you haven't had a chance to donate yet, will you please consider giving five dollars? Maybe ten dollars?  I have to raise $2,500 to run in the race. 

You can donate here:  http://pages.teamintraining.org/nc/kiawah11/lmaurerakv

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chipper Jen

Pre Game Warm Up

You know the scene in "A Christmas Story" when Ralphie has just finished telling Santa in almost stunned silence that he wants a football, but then as he's getting shoved down the slide he stops himself and says, "No! No! I want an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!"?  Santa laughs, tells him he'll shoot his eye out and then shoves him down the slide by slapping his shiny black leather boot on Ralphie's forehead.  That's pretty much how I felt picking out my new "gear".  See, I wanted a watch. I knew I wanted a watch that could calculate my pace, laps, distance, time, heart rate, location and elevation all while serving me a piping hot cup of coffee.  A girl can dream, right? But when faced with the decision (and frankly the price) of those monsters, I said, "Football...yeah, football" while pointing to the cheap Timex that guesses at your steps and heart rate and really just keeps track of how long you've run.  I mean, it's not like I'm a triathalete and need to be able to tell that I'm 50 feet higher than I was a mile and seven minutes ago.  But darn it, I wanted it!!!!  So I was mentally preparing myself to suffer with a plain ol Timex with the same grace which Ralphie suffered the pink bunny outfit Aunt Clara had made him.  Then my birthday money started rolling in.  And shazam!  Just like getting that Red Ryder BB Gun on Christmas morning, I started trolling Amazon for a Garmin Water Resistant Forerunner with Heart Rate Monitor and USB ANT Stick.  Do I know what an ANT stick is?  Uh, nope, but I wanted it! So I got it.  And I used it. And I shot my eye out.

So far on this journey I have relied on a couple different forms of motivation.  One being friends and family cheering me on, the other being a book called "The Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women".  This book is freaking hilarious.  You can get it on Amazon.com for a steal.  The author, Dawn Dais, writes about her experience training for a marathon and the ups and downs of what she went through.  I have literally laughed out loud at this book till I cried.  My husband has asked if it's really that funny and the answer is "yes, yes it is THAT funny".  Dawn nicknamed her training coach "Chipper Jen" for a multitude or reasons that I'm assuming your logical brain can probably deduce on its own.  Which is completely ironic because as I'm reading this book preparing for MY half marathon, I realize I have my OWN Chipper Jen.

I can't say enough about Jen Biela.  We seem to have been paired together by something slightly more important than myself.  See, this is how it works in a nutshell.  We both show up to run early in the AM or late in the evening for our group run. Jen is all psyched and ready to take on the seven mile challenge. I'm ready to cry and puke in the back seat of her car.  About halfway through the run, we seem to change places and I start getting all psyched that I DID NOT puke and that we're more than half way there and I haven't died yet.  She gets all serious and starts to silently cuss me under her breath.  I'm pretty sure this last Saturday I got the "I'm going to chop you in small pieces and bury you behind that oak tree over there" look when I suggested we run two minutes and walk one instead of the other way around.  Thankfully she's also very patient with me and lets me jabber non-stop for the two hours it takes us to run our seven miles.  And she didn't hit me once!!!  How much more inspirational does it get?  :-)

Dodging Poop and Angry Squirrels

I've decided that one of the best things about running and exercising in general is that you get to go places you wouldn't normally go.  Saturday Jen and I went to the Mallard Creek Greenway (which has other names as well) and enjoyed the splendour of God's nature.  We saw things like piles of dog poo, large nuts chucked out of a tree by an angry squirrel, random locked fences leading onto the path and cat puke.  The normal stuff you associate with wild nature.  We also were surrounded by tall trees, an actual creek that wound around the path and quite a few bridges that crossed the more treacherous areas.  It was - in a word - beautiful.  When else would I get to see this? Certainly not while watching Episode 2, Season 4 of Lost. 

It's also nice not to be by yourself, that way when you're yelling, "COME ON YOU CAN DO IT JUST KEEP GOING ARE YOU KIDDING ME???" you don't like a total freak because there is technically someone next to you to receive the words...not just air, or the horses that happen to be in the field next to where you're running.  Being ABLE to talk while you're running is also quite nice.  It's coming on slowly, and getting a bit easier as time goes on. 

You know what?  Super skinny dudes running without a shirt gross me out.  I mean, I'm sure the guy was nice and all, but seriously?  He lapped us like four times. I'm pretty sure he ran 40 miles in the time it took us to run seven.  I don't even think he broke a sweat.  In FACT, I think to pay him back for his rudeness I'm going to find him this Saturday and force him to watch me run without MY shirt on...so THERE! 
There were plenty of other people to entertain Jen and I, and since we were now running two minutes at a time instead of one, we couldn't say anything to each other. We would just laugh and raise our eyebrows when we saw a character.  There was a blonde headed girl running like a gazelle. I know she ran like a gazelle because I was thinking it and then Jen said, "Dang, she runs like a Gazelle".....after we started walking again of course!  Then there was the three fingered wave dude, the guy with the iPod strapped to the back of his ball cap, the bird watchers that just didn't seem to make it too far, the landscape dudes we passed twice (they were holding still....doing landscaping), and there goes the skinny dude without a shirt on...again. 

Post Run Glory
Dunkin Donuts Coffee

Everyone knows that after a long run you have to celebrate.  You can't just walk away from something like that and say, "yeah, I just got done running seven miles, I think I'll go do some yard work".  NOOOO...you MUST celebrate first.  And what better way to celebrate making a healthy choice of running seven miles than by ordering a large vanilla LATTE from Dunkin' Donuts?  I can't think of a better way!  So I ordered a Large (Not tall or grande, but LARGE) Vanilla Latte, ice cold with whole milk.  Just the way I like it.  Mmmmmmmmm....goooooood stuff. 

I feel stronger, and more confident in running the longer runs now. I now know it's NOT going to kill me. I'm not going to randomly get some heart condition and fall down dead on a trail where no one can find me. Other people actually do exercise and would have been able to help me.  I'm not going to mysteriously collapse into a fit of crying and rage.  I AM going to keep running.  I am going to keep putting one foot in front of the other and make it to the finish line on December 10th.  God willing...and the creek don't rise. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mental Agility = Physical Capability

Be strong in the mind and you'll trick your body into thinking IT can be strong too!!  Just say to yourself, "Self, I know you THINK you are incapable of running 8 miles, but believe me, you can actually do this".  Then repeat that same thing about 5,000 times during the process of constantly propelling your 200 lb dead weights back and forth over the black top, and sure enough it's done!  Or, as Dory would have sang to herself if she had legs and was in a completely different movie, "just keep running, just keep running". 

In all seriousness, if you would have asked me two months ago if I thought I could run a half marathon I would have said, "no way....not in a million years".  It's amazing how fast a million years go by.  Finding the right motivation, keeping your mind completely numb of the reality of the effort, pain, and time it takes to run more than a 5k, and comitting yourself to utter humiliation if you fail...yeah, that'll pretty much cause you to continue to move your legs forward no matter how bad you wanna stop.

Saturday was my longest run ever. I'm going to say that every time I write this you know?  Because just about every Saturday - until taper - we add another mile or something.  And every time we add a mile, I start to panick.  What if I can't do this?  What if I get to the mileage I got to last Saturday and my whole body shuts down?  What if I don't bring enough of those nasty jelly beans to gag on at the half way point and I pass out on the road and my coach doesn't see me DEAD on the sidewalk???? OH MY GOSH!!  Nah, not gonna happen.  I'll be fine.  And I was.

Saturday morning started out like every other Saturday morning run (HAHAHAHA).  I had a peanut butter sandwich to "fuel up", laced up my shoes and headed out the door before 7am.  What the HELL has happened to me?  This is NORMAL?  Geesh.  Anyway, this time was actually a little different. It was a big group run.  So there were tons of people from south Charlotte ready to run with us.  The cool thing about the group run is they have cheering crazy people at the water stops.  It sounds cheesy and it kind of is, but it's motivating cheesy.  I loved it.  Round about mile seven, it was EXACTLY what I needed to keep going.

The not-so-cool thing about a big group run is there are more skinny people to make me feel intimidated and freaked out that they are thinking that dimple in my right butt cheek really needs to be covered by something a little thicker than spandex.  Heck, I think it every time I slap those suckers ON!  SPANDEX....sigh.  Everyone is faster than me.  Jen said, "Don't let it bother you".  I told her, "I dont'".  I lied.  I do let it bother me.  I don't want it to, and I hate that it does. In the back of my head I'm thinking, "those skinny hussies are faster than me!".  But I shouldn't let it bother me.  And so, next time I will think on more positive things.  Like what flavor goo I like best. 

The BEST thing about the race?  Jen Biela.  Did I mention her yet?  Oh, only five hundred times?  Well, I can't help it. She's totally motivating.  She runs with me on Saturday and Tuesday. She runs because she was diagnosed with a type of lymphoma a while back.  She went through what she affectionately refers to as the "trifecta" treament.  I can't remember everything that's involved, but it has something to do with chemo and and medicine and something else.  I have a hard time thinking past the "I was diagnosed with cancer" part of her speech.  It gives me the hibbety jibbeties, and I've gotten to hear it a couple times. It's so hard to listen to, yet so beautiful to hear her triumph over it at the same time.  You rock Jen Biela.  I'm glad I met you, and I'm really happy we're friends. 

Physically this was definitely the most challenging run so far.  Remember that sandwich I mentioned earlier? Yeah that was NOT the problem. The five people who told me to give up red meat while running can now officially say, "I told you so".  About half way through the run I had the dreaded "stomach incident".  There are actually good things that come out of these incidents.  My "good thing" was adding a couple of 10th's of a mile to my run as a result of having to go the opposite direction to the local Harris Teeter to....well....you know. And all because the night before my husband cooked me my annual birthday steak on the grill. And I ate it.  And I regretted it the next day.  And I promise I won't explain exactly how.  All I know is, I got some weeeeiiiiird looks from the early morning cashiers at Harris Teeter when a red faced, chubby lady in spandex came quickly shuffling through the front door heading DIRECTLY for the bathroom. Nope...no mystery THERE.

Anywhoo.  I had my usual first two miles of pain and suffering typically equivalent to that of being forced to watch an episode of The View.  Actually the intense burning in my shins and cramping in my calves is no where NEAR the excruciating pain of listening to Joy Behar's nasty voice, but nasty none the less.  The funny things is, I'm getting used to when my body "loosens up".  I know when it should happen, and I can actually feel a general warmth easing its way down my legs and into my knees.  And then BOOM I'm off.  Yup, my pace increases from probably a 16 minute mile to a 15.5 minute mile.  Yes, I know there are 86 year old ladies who can walk faster than that, but it's MY pace and I love it.  Around mile five I felt my usual knee pain, but interestingly it didn't get WORSE.  It just stayed the same.  Here's where the mental game gets really tricky.  Between the crazy wigged ladies and guys clanging bells and the "woohoo"ing us through the water stops and the mentality of believing I was actually going to FINISH eight miles that day, I did not in any way fail myself.  I just kept going. I have no clue how.  I just kept the legs going forward. I was tired. I was sore.  I wanted to stop. I was actually starting to fantasize about my squishy bed at home and how comfy my pillow is.  But I kept going.  I just had to.  And Jen was running with me and I totally couldn't look like a failure in front of her.  So we finished it.

We ran to the finish area and I almost died.  The "mental game" stopped. I could barely move.  My knees were screaming at me.  My legs were cramping, and I had to EAT.  I knew I was delirious because I looked up and saw that group of "south Charlotte Skinny hussies" running to the finish line.  For one fleeting second I actually thought to myself, "Holy crap we beat them".  Then I remembered they ran 13 miles or something.  It took us the same amount of time to run 8 miles as it did the skinny hussies to run 13 miles.  Okay fine, I'll stop calling them hussies, they aren't really hussies anyway. They just look better in spandex than I do.

Every time I run I learn something.  I learn that I CAN do this.  I can run farther.  The pain does go away.  I can get up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning.  I can talk to people I don't know without dying.  I can improve my distance and my time.  I can.  And when my 5 year old says, "I can't", then I can say, "Yes, actually you can!". 

What better thing to learn on your 35'th birthday?