Battle Wounds

It is a battlefield out there on the pavement.  It is a war between me and running.  I know I once talked about how most people have a love/hate relationship with running.  Well, today I wasn’t feeling the love with running.  No, actually, we went to war.

First of all, I dreaded getting up the minute my alarm clock went off.  Wait, that happens all the time, right?  Well, today was a bit different.  I had more of a right to feel some lack of love towards running.  You see, I had just run a half-marathon on Thursday.  You know… gobble, gobble.  That was just 2 days ago.  Since my running buddy and I decided to be slackers and not run an extra 3 miles that day to fulfill our training requirement of 16 miles for the week, we had to do it today.  Actually, we didn’t HAVE to.  One of our running coaches told us that we would be crazy to do that and one of the other running coaches said to go for it as long as we took it nice and slow.  So, my running buddy who is way too hard-core for this ragged, old mommy made the decision to run the 16.  Guess what?  This mommy is a bit competitive so she had to run 16 too.  Therefore, when I woke up this morning I was already not so happy.

Well, this little thing I call “running” must have known I was getting a little bit of that hate churning up inside because she decided to throw some punches.  Yep, at mile 6 she decided to knock me down.  It wasn’t a very graceful fall either.  I nearly knocked my running buddies down as I stumbled over a crack in the sidewalk.  Yep, I crashed and burned right on my knees.  If you are runner then you know that knees are precious commodities.  My knees were bleeding and my palms were burning with road rash as I struggled to stand up (thanks to the help of my buddies who actually stopped to make sure I was okay).  Fortunately, one of the running coaches was with us, but I told them to go on ahead and that I would walk back to my car.  They could just check on me after they made it to the turnaround point and headed back in my direction.  So, after clearly stating that I was okay and that I could walk just fine, they headed off in one direction while I limped off in the other direction.  Oh, did I mention that I was bawling my eyes out?  Not because I was in pain, but because I felt defeated.  Running had won this battle… no, what was that stirring up inside of me?  Maybe a mix of madness, ego and pride… not sure, but it caused me to stop in my tracks and turn around.  Slowly I started running again.  My left knee gave a little, but once I got going it actually felt better to run then it did to walk.  As I ran to meet up with my buddies, I couldn’t help but think that maybe I was making a mistake.  I didn’t want to get injured this late in the game, but I also didn’t want to walk away and be defeated.  I wanted to win this war!

I met back up with my buddies and we all made the full distance together.  At the end, I was so thankful I had continued because I knew I would have regretted it if I didn’t.  Well, I wasn’t totally thankful because I could barely bend my left leg and I was walking around like I had just gotten off a horse.  At least the kind lady at Starbucks was nice enough to give me a bag of ice that I strategically placed on my knees while driving.  Oh, the driving part.  Yeah, the pain was a bit excruciating especially when I had to push in the clutch to shift.  I was yelling at the cars in front of me to stop putting on their freakin’ brakes!  Why couldn’t they just drive!

So, I am sitting here still slightly sore, but at least it is only my legs and not my pride.

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Gobble Gobble

Okay, okay.  I don’t want to be a blog slacker!  I can’t believe I didn’t post anything after I ran my half-marathon on turkey day!  Oh, maybe it was because I had to come home, take a fast shower and prep my first turkey ever!  Yes, I was a turkey virgin… but no longer!  I don’t know if I ever want to do it again though.  You see, I am not a big fan of touching uncooked dead animals.  Yeah, so sticking my hands inside that turkey was not so pleasant.  Yuck!  I don’t even like to eat anything with skin and bones!  EEW!

Okay, anyway, I did say that I ran a 1/2 marathon and I guess this is a running blog, not a turkey blog.  Why would I run on Thanksgiving?  Oh, so I could come home and eat whatever I want.  Or maybe so I could forgive myself for eating those two Krispie Kreme doughnuts right after the race…. well, I guess if I hadn’t finished the race then I wouldn’t have eaten doughnuts anyway.  And why do some people spell donuts this way and other people spell doughnuts that way?

Okay, I am getting off topic again.  The race was…. well… kind of difficult.  First of all, I had my competition running right next to me so I had to keep up the pace to prove that I could be fast if I wanted to.  And, why in the world is it over 80 degrees on Thanksgiving Day??  So, that didn’t help.  I definitely needed the water stations to be every half mile instead of every 1.5 miles!  Well, despite it all, I set a PR (personal record) of 2:07:11.  But I about keeled over at the finish line.  Before the race started we talked about how we actually needed to run 16 miles this week as per our training schedule.  We talked about finishing the half-marathon and then continuing our running till we made the 16 miles.  Ha!  That was just a silly suggestion.  So, now we have to run those darn miles tomorrow.  Crap.  Will we make it?

Why a marathon?

Dear Mom,

Why did you obsess about running so much?  Why did you decide to run marathons?  Maybe it was an escape from reality.  That is kind of how I look at it too.  It is a chance for me to be free from all of those daily responsibilities that cause unnecessary stress in our lives.  I suppose you had many things to escape from.  I can respect that.

I have all of your ribbons and medals in a box in my closet.  I look through them every now and then.  When they came into my possession 10 years ago, I was bewildered with the fact that none of them had your name on them.  Then, I ran my first race and realized that they just reach into a box and hand one to you when you cross the finish line.  Silly me.

If you could only see me now.  I will be running a marathon in January.  A few years ago I never even imagined doing something like that.  Actually, I probably shouldn’t say this, but I hated running when I was a kid.  I really wasn’t a big fan of those so-called “fun runs” you would drag me to.  Fun?  Really?  Didn’t you know how much I dreaded P.E. in Junior High and High School?  I guess maybe we should have talked more often.

Well, I have to admit that you did spark something inside of me otherwise I don’t think I would be running 14 miles in my free time.  You didn’t always choose the right path, but I think you scored points on this.  I can picture watching you cross the finish line of the Portland marathon.  Remember that trip?  Yeah, I got fired from IHOP because I told them I needed that weekend off (fortunately it didn’t put a damper on my career goals).  I remember watching you use those machines at the gym as I tried to figure out how they worked.  I remember how depressed you were when you weren’t able to run because you couldn’t get out of bed.  I don’t know if that will happen to me or not, but I want to make sure that I make the most of the life I have now.  I think running is a big part of it, but nothing will ever come above the wonderful family I have acquired along the way.  I wish you could meet them.  Maybe my daughters will become runners too, but they have to choose that path on their own.  That is what makes it more meaningful.

Well, Mom, I will tell you that I love running even though I am not entirely sure why.  I know that just made you smile.  Keep watching if you want to see me go the distance.

Love, me

Almost a slacker…

Almost a slacker… but definitely not.  Just hear me out.  I nearly went to the dark side, but I resisted!  Yes, I prevailed!

So, it all started on Tuesday night when I met with the team to run those wonderful bridges that we enjoy running every week (nope, not a hint of sarcasm in my voice).  Well, it was the last Tuesday for a few of our members because their goal is fast approaching… tomorrow, actually, they will be running a 1/2 marathon in St. Petersburg.  It was quite sad to see them take those last run photos and give each other hugs in anticipation of the upcoming race.  One of my running buddies who decided to show up (the other one was complaining of knee issues) started talking excitedly about how we should continue running together after we finish the marathon with TNT.  That sounds good to me!  Nothing beats running with someone!

Yeah, seriously, running alone just isn’t quite as fun.  On Tuesday night I also found out that none of my running buddies would be participating in today’s early morning 10-mile run.  Not that they were slackers… actually far from it.  One was going to run the St. Petersburg 1/2 marathon for fun (yes, I did say “fun”… we runners do like to run races just for fun).  The other one decided to do some sort of crazy relay race that went from the west coast of Florida all the way across the east coast (seriously, how do I even run with her?).  So, there I was on my couch on Friday night after my husband and I had just finished watching a movie.  “I don’t know… I think maybe I will just run from home tomorrow… I mean, what is the point of driving somewhere at 5:00 in the morning if I am just going to end up running alone anyway.  I don’t know…”  Basically, I spent at least an hour pondering what I was going to do.  My husband talked me into just staying home with the simple words “well, at least you wouldn’t have to wake up so early.”  Yep, that did it.  My decision was made.

So, I set my alarm for 6:00.  Woo hoo!  An extra hour to sleep in!  Well, my alarm did go off at 6:00 in the morning and I did hit snooze… or so I thought.  No, I had actually turned the alarm off and fallen back to sleep.  Needless to say, I was pretty surprised when I woke up at 7:00 to the sound of my 2-year old asking her older sister to read books to her.  Oh man, I almost plopped my head back on that pillow and said “forget it, I will run later.”  ALMOST.  I knew without a doubt that if I did not get up and run right then that I would not run at all that day.  Oh, it was way to tempting.  No one was expecting me.  I was running alone.  I have a 1/2 marathon coming up on Thursday… did I really need to do the miles?  The excuses kept pouring in, but I refused to let them consume me.  I got up and got dressed and was out in the door in 10 minutes.  Whew!

Oh wait, there is more.  I continued to have that constant mental battle with myself.  I was doing an out and back run.  Pretty simple.  Yet, as I was running to the turnaround point I kept saying to myself “oh, maybe this is far enough.  I can turnaround now.  I don’t need to run the full mileage.  Who is gonna know?”  Dang it.  I had my running phone application turned on.  As soon as I hit “end” it automatically posts my run to facebook.  That means that whoever reads anything I post (sure, not many people but I didn’t even want to disappoint the few that might) would know that I didn’t run 10 miles. So, I pushed myself to that turnaround point and got annoyed when I looked at my phone to see that it said 4.68 miles.  Keep going Heidi.  You can’t turn around until it says 5!  When I got there, I had no choice but to run all the way home (it would have been too embarrassing to call my husband and tell him to come get me).  And you know what?  I ran exactly 10.0 miles.  Not 9.6, not 10.2, but exactly 10 miles.  I did it.

What is the moral of the story?  I truly like the idea of having other runners around to keep my head in the game.  I know that I have to show up when someone is expecting me and I know that I must stick with my training if I want to keep up with the Superwomen I run with.   If you want to do it too, I recommend finding one or more running buddies.  They are the best motivators!

Treadmills really do suck!

So, the other day I was reading an article in Runner’s World about this dude who was complaining about having to run on a treadmill because he was recovering from an injury.  He just went on and on about how much it sucked and he couldn’t believe that he was in his parent’s basement running on their crappy old treadmill.  At the end of his treadmill run he pretty much considered himself cured and decided it was time to get back out on the pavement.

While reading the article I was a little annoyed.  I was annoyed mainly because I occasionally run on a treadmill, but not by choice.  You see, the YMCA is such a swell place to go because I can drop off my KIDS.  Yes folks, when you have KIDS you actually have to factor them into your running schedule.  It didn’t really sound like that dude had kids or that his wife could care less about his time spent running. However, is that real life in most cases?  Probably not.  You see, I take my kids to the YMCA because that is the only way I can possibly work out.  I can’t even run on my treadmill at home because I have to stop every 5 minutes to console a crying baby.  Therefore, YMCA = time I can run on a treadmill… yes, I did say treadmill.  I must say, though, that I am very lucky to have a supportive husband who doesn’t mind when I run with my team OUTSIDE on Tuesday evenings and very early Saturday mornings.  I do want to be home sometimes when my whole family is present.

So there you have it.  Sometimes treadmills are a necessity.  Okay, my story isn’t quite finished.  Today I ran on the treadmill at the YMCA and I think I had some of those negative treadmill emotions harboring in my mind (thanks dude from magazine!).  First of all, it sucks running and not getting anywhere.   Second, the sweaty gym members are not my idea of tranquil scenery.  Lastly, I just don’t feel like I can go as fast or as far on the treadmill (they must have it rigged or something because I felt like I was running much faster than what I actually was… why was I so tired??).  Never in the history of my running have I ever blatantly stated that treadmills suck… but really, they DO!

A Record Victory

Today we ran in a pack.  A pack of 4 strong-willed women determined to achieve our goal for the day.  It was a simple and pretty straightforward goal:  to run the furthest distance any of us has ever run… ever (a mere 14 miles).  Somehow that goal managed to be more complicated to achieve than we expected.  Well, it started out as our Saturday morning runs usually do:  the zombies arrive and grunt a greeting to each other as their eyes glaze over when they attempt to read the course map.  Often it is a series of loops here and loops there or turn right then turn left then turn right again… ultimately someone always manages to get off track and either do more miles than intended or fewer miles than required.  For training purposes, it is best to aim for more miles than intended (even though it really sucks, but you usually don’t realize you have gone over until you have finished).

Well, our pack quickly glanced at the map and determined that it was actually a pretty simple route.  We got this!  No problem!  Everyone knew where to go (well, our mellow friend doesn’t really worry about that because she just follows our lead… she has trusted my navigation skills many times… and I have always been an excellent navigator… way better than my husband… okay, I am starting to babble).  Heck, it almost doesn’t matter if we don’t follow the course exactly because everyone has some type of technological gizmo at their disposal.  In our pack today, we had two Garmins and my fabulous Droid phone with the free running application.  Well, it is only fabulous when you remember to turn it on and it took me about .25 miles before I realized I had forgotten to turn it on.  Same issue with the Garmin during a pit stop… So, we really didn’t have the most accurate data, but we managed.

Well, the route consisted of following a road to a turnaround point, coming back to where we started and then doing another loop in the opposite direction and coming back to where we started so we could go home.  As we run I don’t really pay attention to how far we have gone because I try not to focus on that, but I do pay attention to the landmarks.  So, of course I was getting antsy when we started heading back to the parking lot after our second loop, but guess what folks?  Yep, they didn’t map out the course for a 14-mile run.  So, we passed the parking lot (where are cars sat eagerly waiting for our return) for the 3rd time and continued running back towards where we had been on the first loop.  Then, we thought we were at a good turnaround point, but when we got to the parking lot we still needed another 0.5 miles!  Dang it!  We ran past the parking lot for the 4th time!  I nearly cried with agony.  Is this run over yet!?  0.5 miles later (a trip around the block) and we had our VICTORY!  Please don’t do that to us again…

Competition

Running is quite a competitive sport.  For the most part, I have been competing with myself.  However, tonight I realized that the competition actually extends beyond myself to other runners.  So, here is the story of how that came to be…

It was a rather awesome evening for a run along our most favorite Jax bridges.  The weather outside was just slightly perfect… not too hot and not too cold.  What more can you ask for in Florida?  It was also great to see my two favorite running buddies pumped and ready to go!  We couldn’t wait any longer for our running coach to stop talking so we started stalking away and she finally gave us the “go ahead” signal.  And we were off!  And we were flying… seriously.  I was pumping my legs fast, but feeling pretty good considering my body was still in pain from the BodyPump class I decided to try out yesterday.

Then, somewhere around mile 1.5, my buddy says something like “Wow, we are moving at a fast pace.  I am trying to keep up with you.”  I immediately replied “What?  I am trying to keep up with you!”  Basically, it was the battle of who was trying to keep up with who.  Seriously, I wanted to make sure I didn’t get left behind so I threw up some dirt to keep my spot in the ranks.  Mellow yellow behind us didn’t say a word.  She just goes with the flow at whatever pace we decide to set.  I don’t think she even breaks a sweat.  She seems to enjoy every step she takes.  I wasn’t quite feeling that pleasure tonight (wait, I don’t think I actually have felt that).

So, we were neck and neck or toe to toe… however you want to describe it.  Then we get to the second bridge and speed racer decides to give it an extra boost.  Well, I don’t allow any space to come between us.  I am at her heels (even though I am breathing like a mad woman and most definitely flailing my arms and legs).  At the top I manage to say “Are you trying to kill me?”  She just responds by telling me that I was the one who set the pace in the beginning so she had to maintain it.  Whatever.

There you have it folks.  Running is a competitive sport.  Yet, that competition is what keeps us on our toes (or wherever we are supposed to plant our feet… don’t ask me because I don’t know anything about proper running form).  I only moved fast tonight because I was motivated by my running buddies.  Thanks ladies!  I can’t wait to race again on Saturday!  (ok, we may need to slow down a bit because I don’t think I can maintain that pace for 14 miles).

By the way, it is not too late to donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society!  Check out my website!  http://pages.teamintraining.org/ncfl/wdw11/haponte