Sunday, September 8, 2013

Six Miles

"Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home"

(Home, by Phillip Phillips)

Yesterday, I ran the furthest I have ever run in my life: 6 miles.

Almost halfway to a half marathon.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

I'm back to where I started

In June 2011, a week before we left New Jersey for the deserts of Arizona, I completed my first REAL distance triathlon. Although considered a SPRINT distance (I had completed 2 short sprints before this), it was much closer to an OLYMPIC distance. The run? Five miles.

I spent a good portion of the previous months, running 2-3 miles on the treadmill a few days a week. I hated every minute of those runs and truth be told, my mental focus was on the 800 meter swim that lay ahead. I could walk during the run if I needed to ( *IF* I needed to) but I couldn't walk during the swim.  I was a tennis player my entire life...not a swimmer, biker or runner. But soon enough, I would be all 3.

A few weeks before the race, my friend Andrea and I decided to run the 5 mile course for practice and to boost our comfort level. I had never run 5 miles in my life. What was THAT going to feel like?

Over the course of that hour long run, we walked (but not much) to catch our breaths. We talked and laughed and bonded (we had just become friends a few months before) and time managed to go by. At the very end of those 5 miles, she sprinted to the end. I didn't. In my mind, I had to save my running legs for the real race in a few weeks. Well that, and I was really tired. But wow, 5 miles. Well THAT was a notch in my fitness belt. I was going to run this thing. It was going to be a slow and steady race. But I was going to do it.

Race day arrived. About 30 minutes after I started, I exited the lake in my wetsuit, shaking from both elation and fatigue, having swam my first "race distance" 1/2 mile. I think I cried as I exited the lake,  (I cried a lot that day), and as I began to see my friends, I shouted "I did it! I did the swim." Nothing else mattered. Even though I was probably the slowest one in the water, I did it. But it was now time to keep going. Because of course, the rest of that race mattered. The swim was my shining moment...the bike and the run were going to be the icing on the cake.

I completed my 17 mile bike ride in a little over an hour (not bad for a hybrid bike), took a few swigs of water and then started my slow, but steady jog towards the finish line. I was running! I was two miles into the RUN part of this silly race (whose idea was it do this anyway?) and I was still running, jogging, (whatever) but I was NOT walking.

And then, I took a wrong turn. I headed towards the finish line. Wait, WHAT? Was I done??!! Wow, that went by....quick? 25 yards away, I knew it was too good to be true. I started asking volunteers, spectators, racers, anybody I could find, which way to go...I had more to run, at least 3 miles to go. Which way? WHICH FREAKING WAY??? I was NOT giving up. I wanted my REAL time to count. I was finishing this damn race the right way. I wasn't ready to cross that line and give up.

After finding some very unhelpful volunteers and wasting probably no more than 10 minutes of my time, I got back on course. And I started running again. But was THIS the right way? I wasn't repeating the course was I? I was confused. And tired. So very tired.

Two plus hours into racing and this was how it was going to end. I tried to jog up a few hills, but I knew it was too late. I hit my wall and I was done. I walked the next three miles or so, as I headed for the finish line. Again. By the time I finally arrived, volunteers were cleaning up garbage and removing spectator cones. My husband Scott and my friend Andrea (who had also done the race) were there to greet me. That is, greet me and the 5 other people left to finish.

I started to cry. I am not really sure why, except that I was so very tired. And yet, so very proud. After all, I HAD swam a 1/2 mile. And oh yea, so very disappointed.  And relieved. And....And....and that was the last time I ever "ran" 5 miles.

Until yesterday.

When I ran 5 miles on the treadmill.

And I only walked 3 minutes this time, not 3 miles.

And in one hour exactly, I completed 5 miles again. The right way. With new friends next to me. In a new place. And with a new goal in mind.

So now, I am back to my "base." What happens now? I have no idea. What will 6 or 8 or 10 miles feel like? Will I be able to do it? Will I walk?

Well I do know for sure that I will cry when I hit those 6, 8, 13.1 (?) miles. That, along with hearing "Chariots of Fire" playing in my head...Agh, I digress.

Five miles down.

Now its really time to start counting.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I can do this

This morning, the outdoor temperature was in the 90s.  And so, I had to run on a treadmill in a humid overcrowded fitness center.

Today, the heart rate monitor on the treadmill broke.  And so, I had to keep looking down at my wristwatch for my heart rate.

Today, my Ipod completely shut down on Mile 2.  And so, I had to run without any music...just the hum of that awful black ribbon under my feet.

Today, I ran four miles. And so began, the longest miles I have run in over two years.

Today, I realized that I can do this...
  • if I just keep going
  • if I don't get injured
  • if I can keep my mind in the moment
Four miles down and counting.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

9.5 miles to go

Brody started Kindergarten last week. Stressful, exciting and tiring. And that's just me...can you imagine how Brody was feeling? (insert smiley sarcastic face here). Anyways, as life often throws obstacles in your path, exercise (and for me, that means running) got thrown to the sidelines.

But the good news is that the week off gave me some renewed energy because yesterday (August 12, 2103) I ran my longest distance to date since starting this silly training. Three and a half miles. On the treadmill no less, which for me, is a feat in and of itself. Physically, I felt fine. My heart rate was higher than I would have preferred, and I was definitely tired at the end, but I did it.

And today? My left knee hurts. The dreaded "runner's knee" has already hit. I am a little shocked, because I have run further distances in the past, and its always my RIGHT knee that has given me trouble. Today, its my left. I will attribute it to tight quadriceps and hip flexors...and of course, needing to get more miles in to build up my leg strength. Let's see all I need to do is take today's 3.5 mile run, repeat it four times and then....and then...REPEAT it four more times? Really? I want to know who the genius is that decided humans really want to try and run 13.1 miles for the hell of it.

And by the way, in case you are wondering what this half marathon is all about, I posted a link below. As you can see, its for women of all levels, which is the only type of half marathon I would ever consider running.

Did I really say I was considering running a half marathon?

3.5 miles down.

9.5 miles to go.

And counting........

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still." ~Chinese Proverb

Three years ago, I decided that I would complete a sprint triathlon. At the time, I had no clue how to swim. I '"trained" on and off for about three months, which basically amounted to a few short runs, some rides on an indoor bike and getting in a pool, holding my breath and trying to complete one lap. I told my Dad, who grew up as a swimmer and runner, that I would complete this race, even though we had just adopted a two year old from Russia weeks before and I wasn't in the mindset to do this. He was so proud that I was going to try. I was shocked that I was going to try.

And then my Dad died.

But I still did the race.

Because I told my Dad I would.

And thank God the lake was shallow, because I doggy paddled through the entire 200 meter course.

The following year, I decided to do it again. Except this time, a 200 meter swim became an 800 meter swim, which in "non swimmer's terms" is a half mile.  I remember the first time I entered the lake for a practice swim, with my swim coach sitting in a kayak next to me and her pointing out the distance. I literally said out loud "That's a 1/2 mile swim? Are you kidding me?" I shivered in my wetsuit. This was a mistake. This was a joke. This was going to be really really hard.

And it was. Really hard. And I was slow. Very slow. But later that year, I completed my first 800 meter swim in the triathlon.

Fast forward to July 2013. I have a friend, Kathy, that I have known since we moved to AZ.  You know AZ right? Also known as "the land of the eternally fit," or at least that is how I see it. There are more people swimming, biking and running on any given morning than there are driving cars.

Kathy and I have a lot in common, except for a love of running. Kathy has already completed half marathons and even runs a few miles before Zumba class, ya' know, just for fun.

And me? Well, I hate running. It hurts, its boring and I am slow (recurring theme right?). Yes, I have run short distances in triathlons and yes, I have run a few 5k's. But I never prepare. I rarely train. I just go out and run the distance that I need to, and as I am running, I remind myself, I will NEVER do this again.

And then recently Kathy convinced me that we would complete a half marathon together this November.  That's 13.1 miles. Of running. Pure running. No swimming or biking thrown in. Just RUNNING. Oh did I mention that my husband runs marathons? In fact, he has done two. That's 26.2 miles. Each time. No going home and sleeping and then finishing up. Just running. Only running. What is the MATTER with these people that I surround myself with?

So far, I have run two mornings this week, accumulating almost 5 miles. What is the matter with ME?

So let's get something straight. I may teach fitness classes, but these were hard miles. I was very slow. I was very hot. But I still finished them.

I am not really sure where I will be a month or even two months from now. But this is where my blog and my next journey begin. You will hear my complaints, feel my aches and pains, and maybe even cheer with me as I achieve a few victories along the way. If you don't want to know the highs AND lows, then stop reading now because I anticipate more lows than highs.

I am still not even convinced I can run 13.1 miles.

Two days down and counting....