Monthly Archives: January 2015
I was going to just not write a blog post this week – let Wednesday go by and see if anyone noticed. It’s one of those weeks where I don’t want to write some BS cover up post, but I’m also tired of thinking about what’s been going on. But blogging is about the good and the bad – so here I am.
“What goes up must come down”. It’s a phrase we all learn as kids. As runners, we use it to help our legs power up and over hills. And as I’m learning, it’s also a phrase that also very much applies to marathon training. Just when things are going well, something happens to remind you this isn’t a smooth ride. Let me back up.
As I was leaving my weekly chiropractor appointment last week I got a fist bump as he said “How PUMPED are you that you are just killing marathon training?!”. I had finished my 12 miler that past weekend faster than I’ve run any of my halfs. Hills were back in my life and weren’t leaving me attached to my ice pack. Things seemed to be really working in my favor.
Then I got home later than expected and still had 4 miles to get in. It was cold, dark, and windy (as it typically is on a January night when you live by the ocean). I sat around in my running clothes for a solid 20 minutes throwing a temper tantrum because all I wanted to do was throw on my PJs, eat dinner, and curl up on the couch. It’s so late. I deserve a night off. I’m not in the mood to be outside for 40 minutes. Finally the guilt spoke louder than my excuses and I huffed and puffed my way out the door. I was barely a mile into my run before “battery low” turned into silence from my iPod. If I wasn’t pissed before, I was now.
Here’s where I keep trying to go back and remember what happened, what I could have done wrong. I know I ran angrily through the dark streets, cursing everyone and everything I could think of. And then somewhere around mile 3 I felt that familiar throbbing in my hip. That was the deciding factor that I was done and I headed inside to stretch and foam roll in a panic. Maybe it was my imagination. But when it hurt to lay on my side that night in bed I knew the pain was back.
I spent the rest of the week with my ice pack, the foam roller, and extra chiropractor appointments. And when the weekend came around I had to make the decision to miss my 14 miler. To say I was devastated is an understatement.
Every Saturday night I’ve been scared shitless about my long run the next morning, but despite my fears I was secretly excited for 14. It’s been 14 months since I’ve run a “new” distance and I just wanted to know what being on the other side of 13.1 felt like. My chest felt this combination of panic, anger, disappointment and sadness all rolled into one and I didn’t know how to deal with it except to cry (Which let’s be real – that’s my go to emotion for everything). I know this all sounds pathetic and absurd to be crying over such a thing as not being able to run 14 miles but until you’re an injured runner, until you are someone training for such an incredible goal, you don’t really get it. But when you’re there in that space, the emotional pain is so much stronger than the one you’re feeling in your body.
The good news is that as I’m writing this my hip is already feeling a lot better than it did – and as I’ve said before but will never say enough – I have an incredible team that’s working to get me to the start line healthy (and from not jumping off the ledge in the meantime). I know I have to stay optimistic, I know that this is just one of the bumps there will be in my road to Hopkinton. After all nothing worth having comes easy, and there is nothing I want more right now.
About a week ago I found myself standing with a colleague (who is also running Boston) and another man. It came up in conversation that we were both running the marathon and the man looked the two of us over (She happens to be incredibly long and lean) and then turned to her and said “Well, you look like a marathoner”. I instantly felt my face turn 15 shades of pink. I tend to reaction to situations like this in one of two ways: I either immediately spit out whatever slides onto my tongue, or I pinch my arm and keep quiet. I chose to go with the small bruise inside my elbow.
Of course when I replayed the scenario to my husband later that day I was all riled up. “How could he say that? How could he make that kind of comment? And what does HE know?!”
“Exactly babe” replied my always calm, always rational husband. “What does he know? You’d probably lose him in the first mile.”
It occurred to me then that after 2.5 years, 4 half marathons and a few dozen race bibs later, I STILL feel like I have to prove myself as a runner. But why?
The thing about runners is that you never know their full story. When you drive past someone chugging down the street you don’t know if they’re a quarter of a mile into their run or if they’re pushing through the last of 12 miles. Unless it’s tattooed on their body you don’t know how many marathons or 5Ks a person’s completed. You don’t know if they started running a week ago or if they’ve been a runner their whole life. The person you judge at the start line could pass you on that hill in the last mile. You just never know.
So I guess I have to let it go and cut the guy some slack. He has no idea that I am (about to be) a marathoner. He hasn’t seen me push through a double digit run, legs aching but determined not to quit. He couldn’t see the definition in my legs, the muscles I’m starting to discover. He didn’t get to look at my weekly schedule which besides running includes strength training, yoga, chiropractor visits, and swimming – all just to get me to the start line healthy. He hasn’t seen my feet, which are starting to require a larger than normal tip at the nail salon. He didn’t get to the hear the conversations that go back and forth in my head on a daily basis “Can you do this? You can totally do this. Are you crazy? You can’t do this!” He doesn’t know that 50% of the time even I’m not quite sure I look like a marathoner.
At the end of the day I don’t need to look like a marathoner to anyone but myself. And even if I don’t see it at times, I feel it inside of me. I feel that desire to push myself further, to run new distances that both excite and frighten me at the very same time, to see my feet cross that finish line, to feel that medal slide over my head.
And don’t worry buddy, after April 20th it will be hard to see me and NOT know that I just ran 26.2 miles. 😛
I’m a creature of habit. This has been well established. I like routine, I like familiarity, I like knowing what to expect. I enjoy being in my comfort zone. Hence why it took getting engaged to finally push me over the edge to do something about my weight. So as if training for a marathon wasn’t out of my comfort zone already, I decided I was going to join a running club.
There are very few people in this world who I can truly just go out and run with. And when I think about it, pretty much all of my training long runs have been solo. It’s just what I’m used to. But I knew that it was going to be pretty hard to motivate myself to run 20 miles alone in the dead of winter, and all of my friends training for Boston are just too fast for me. So it made sense to join L Street.
I’ve pretty much “grown up” as a runner around the L Street Running Club. I still remember going to my first Boston Expo and meeting the President. She asked me if I was running the Marathon and I said “Oh god no, I’m just running the 5K, I could never run a marathon.” She smiled and told me that would change someday. And well… here we are.
I’ve got a handful of friends in the club, and it was thanks to L Street that I got out of the city safely the day of the bombings. To me they are the epitome of “real runners”, so you can imagine my trepidation in joining. As scared as I was I submitted my membership application and told myself I had plenty of time before training began.
Why is it that the more you’re dreading something the faster it happens? Because before I knew it it was the night before our first long run and I was a nervous wreck. I felt like I was laying out my clothes for the first day of school as I sorted through my winter gear. I didn’t want anything too matchy-matchy (didn’t want to give off the appearance that I was trying too hard), and I was hesitant to wear my brand new pair of running shoes because I didn’t want anyone to think I was a New Year’s Resolutioner (Because really- who makes a resolution to run the Boston Marathon?).
I walked in Sunday morning with my hands nervously stuffed in my vest pockets. Quickly scanning the room I immediately discovered a rainbow of Boston Marathon jackets scattered around. Yep, playing with the big kids now. I tried to casually throw on my running shoes (the brand new ones won after all) and clung to the familiar faces I knew in the back of the room. The president spoke, acknowledging all of the newbies and made the declaration that there was “no pace too slow”. Phew. “Just PLEASE don’t let me be last” I silently prayed over and over again.
Before I knew we were off, emptying into the sleeping streets of South Boston. Luckily the friends I know stuck by me, so it was nice to have familiar faces running alongside of me. Even though it was my first day it felt really good to be part of a group, to have the speedy guys give you a wave and a “keep it up” as they zoomed past. It was nice to have a water stop that didn’t involve begging the woman at Dunkin Donuts for a cup of water. And it certainly kept me running up the hills, because I wasn’t about to be the girl who walked. Maybe this running club thing wasn’t so bad after all.
That’s the thing about comfort zones. As warm and as safe as they can be, sometimes it’s not so bad to break out of them. Sometimes choosing the unknown things, the scary things, end up being the best decisions. It’s where new friendships form, change happens, and where you discover the person you’re truly meant to be. It’s why people take on the challenge of running 26.2 miles. Not because it’s easy and safe, but because it’s scary and electrifying all at the same time. And if I’m gonna break out of one comfort zone, might as well take on another while I’m out there.
Last weekend I had a really shitty long run. You know which ones I’m talking about. The kind where your pants are falling down, your shirt is riding up, and your headphones feel like they are hitting your eardrum. One of those.
It should have been a breeze, since I only had 6 miles on the schedule (at what point in my life did it become ONLY six miles by the way?) but for some reason I was gasping for air with every street corner I turned. I told myself I would get 3 miles away from the house so that I’d be forced to do the full 6. But after cutting some corners I called it a day with 5 and some change. It just wasn’t happening.
This of course caused one of those “What the hell am I doing?!” moments. I only had to run 6 miles and I failed at it. How in the world am I supposed to get my body to run 20 more? I know, I know, bad runs happen. But knowing that still doesn’t stop the panicked thoughts from happening.
I’m attempting to become a grown-up runner these days, so I pushed back my worries and looked ahead at making my next run better. I had 9 miles to do, and toyed all week with making part of it a 5K I’ve run for the last two years. I knew missing the race would make me sad, but I hated the thought of how slow my time would be (I’ve PR’d in that race both times). Eventually not missing out on the first race of the season with my running group won me over, and I signed up on the last day. I decided I would run 6 miles TO the race and meet them for the last 3, that being in the race atmosphere with my friends would give me the push to finish my run.
It was a cold, drizzly, slushy morning as I headed out the following Sunday. Each mile that passed was another mile closer to meeting my friends, and all 6 were relatively painless. I found my buddies, chewed down a few beans, and we headed out to the start. For the first mile or so I cruised along, feeling the energy of the people around me. And then my legs started to remember they already had 7 miles down. They got tired. And heavy. I lost my friends, people started to pass me. For a second I felt embarrassed and then I reminded myself “Dude, you’re training for a $%*!-ing marathon”. I kept trucking.
I knew I had less than a mile to go but my legs were so tired. I was cold to my bones, and my shoes were so wet they felt like bricks. I wanted so badly to slow down, to walk for just a bit. I tried to think of anything and everything to keep my mind off of it: What song was going to come next on my iPod? What was I going to have for breakfast after? Which side of the road would my friends who were there cheerleading be on?
And then I saw it ahead of me. The unmistakable orange zest. A Boston Marathon jacket. There’s nothing in the world that I want right now more than that jacket. And while finishing these 9 miles wasn’t going to earn me a jacket, it was going to put me one step closer. So I locked my eyes on that orange zest ahead of me, and I didn’t take them off until the finish line was in sight.
One step closer.