God, lately I feel like a new runner. Sunday’s race left me struggling in my head with why I felt like the race was such a challenge. In my head I knew I was ready but the rest of me didn’t feel quite as confident. I hate dwelling on the what if’s but what if’s are different than circumstances that change the outcome of something if you grasp my meaning. Let’s see…. I haven’t done a good core workout in weeks. Shame on me but that would definitely have something to do with it feeling more challenging. I’m a week out from the monthly burden which means water retention, bloating, heavy legs which won’t get better until AFTER VT. Great! I think I need new sneakers because the backs of my legs were killing me. I went back and YES I do need them. I bought them in June…JUNE!!!!!! What the hell! I am usually more on my gear game. So I’ve messaged my niece to see if she can look for my shoes and head up there at lunch to get a replacement pair. Not smart but fixable. The hills are always challenging but the thing that killed me was how quickly I stopped to walk. I’m usually more headstrong but the hills got in my head. I also was putting off peeing until I had to stop. I had no coffee before the race and I peed 3 times before the gun and even at that I still had to pee on the course. I put it off until I thought I was at the last port-o-potty and then I went. The whole run that took my mind off my race and just added to the overall feeling of unreadiness that I felt. I have also had to give up some workouts because of the show and being at the high school every night. Having workouts on the bookends of my day has been very helpful until this point but in the last 2 weeks it’s been limited to only one per day and most of those are running days. This is not the way I wanted to end my running year but all of it together added up to making me feel like a beginner which I’m not. Overall a good year, definitely lessons and changes to be made for next year.
So my question right now is “can you reasonably guestimate what would have happened if you made different choices?” That’s my thought process today. Today my legs feel like I would expect them to the day after a half marathon. Tired but not painfully achy and a slight bit of discomfort in my hips but nothing to cry about. The question I ponder is whether or not I should be thanking my new CW-X pants for feeling good today or not. I bought them so I would have extra support for the race. Support I had, the compression is great but the expectation I had for after the race was sorely short met. I expected my legs to feel great and to not have pain in my hips or knees or surprisingly the backs of my legs. That particular problem tells me I need new shoes so I will make that purchase soon. The question is however, did my new tights do their job or not? Would my legs feel worse today if I hadn’t worn them? Maybe. But I’ll never know for sure so why think about it? Was the hilly course the culprit to my ridiculously sore lower extremities? Perhaps but perhaps not. I will never know the answer to this question because it can’t be answered. I cannot relive moments to determine different outcomes. I suppose I could buy new shoes and run a long run with hills and see how I feel to test that theory. My watch didn’t save my time from the race so I won’t know my own pace. It isn’t really different from the official time but I like to see the time on my watch because it tells me how much actual running time I had without stops or potty breaks. This race, I may have run too fast but I don’t think so. I was texting my sons at every mile and it was averaging 10 minute miles. That’s not too fast and I don’t think it’s too fast with hills. Again, I will never know the answer to that. According to my official time of 2:21:15 I had a 10:47 average pace time. Overall that’s discouraging to me, but I did walk several times and I stopped to pee once. So no, I am not happy that I was putting up nearly an 11 minute mile throughout the race but it’s not shocking to me either because I wasn’t trying to run fast. I was trying to finish and at the end of the day who cares anyway except for me. Nobody that’s who. I’ll never know what could have been different, all I can do is change different things and see what the differences are. I won’t bad mouth my new pants because it’s possible that they actually did their job. I’ll use them again because the compression was very good. I won’t dwell on things, just change what I know needs to be changed and move on to the next thing. That’s life! I think that the think I liked least was that I felt unprepared for a race that in all actuality I was very ready for. I felt tired and old and wondering what the hell I thought I was doing signing up for that race anyway. The audacity of my having signed up for another race at certain points in the race seemed rather audacious to me. Pretty bold to do is what I thought as I was increasingly disappointed in myself for feeling so unprepared as I did for 13.1 miles. I don’t feel that way anymore but yesterday I did. I felt like everything wasn’t aligned properly, causing me to stumble through the race. Although I finished it felt like a messy finish that needed cleaning up. Again, a disappointment that was only temporary to the situation. Today of course I’m looking at races for 2018 so how badly could I feel anyway right? All we can do is move on and that’s exactly what I’ll be doing!
So I have this race in VT in November with this really big 4 mile hill to open the 10 miles we must cover. Out of sight out of mind was great until Saturday. I have had this “can do” attitude about it so far because well I don’t have a choice other than walk or quit if I don’t just get it done. I’m all rah rah about it for weeks since we signed up. Well there’s this “hill” (using term lightly) that the girls in my group have been telling me about for practicing to get ready for VT. I haven’t gotten over there but Saturday I took my son and his friend with me and went to check it out. It’s in Fall River which is one of the absolute armpits of Mass. Not really a good place and the element that hangs there is sketchy. Now if you’re from there, of course you’ll say “oh it’s really not a bad area” but it’s just above the line of somewhere in NYC where stripped cars, grafiti all over everything and trash on the street and walking the street. It’s clearly above that line but not by a whole lot. Maybe that’s the country girl in me but I’m personally not comfortable there. I wouldnt go there by myself ever and the thought of leaving my car parked for a while makes me nervous but the girls seem fine with it and have been there in small groups and alone.
So back to the hill. If you are old enough to remember the TV show “The Streets of San Francisco” you’ll know what this hill looks like. One big giant uphill battle is what it is! My “can do” attitude came down a whole lot as I drove up this hill. Usually hills that are hard to run feel like nothing in a car. This hill felt hard in the truck! The picture I’ve attached is a picture of Presidents Ave. Now, this snapshot from Google does NOT do that hill justice. You can’t even tell how very steep it is but trust me, it’s super steep and reminds me of the horrible hill in the Lynchburg Half Marathon that I ran which had an elevation gain of 200 feet over a mile. If Presidents Ave continued on for 4 miles it would exactly mirror that hill. I thought one mile of that crap was hard let alone 4 in a row! Now I’m nervous not only about practicing on this hill but about our race. I will finish but it gives it a whole lot more perspective about what a hill is and how much mental fortitude I’m going to need to get my ass up that hill. We’re meeting on Sunday to run together and hopefully we get a few runs up that hill before race day just to at least get a basis for the impending struggle. We grow by challenging ourselves right? RIGHT! Let’s get this done!
So yesterday I had an 11 mile run scheduled. My wingman James was tired from a long hard day working on Saturday so I didn’t bother to wake him up at 6 to keep me company for my journey. I left early so I hit the cool part of the day but sadly I did not escape the worst part, the humidity. It was a tough run I’m not gonna lie about that. I again intended to run slow knowing in my head how hard it is for me to actually slow down. I figured if I could keep it to 10+ minute miles that would be good. That wasn’t a problem yesterday. Of my 11 miles most were where I wanted them except miles 3,4,5 and 11 which hit just under 10 but not by much. Still too fast for what I was trying to practice but it’s ok, 7 of them were good. Now, 7 of the 11 miles were good but mostly because it was horrible out. I stopped every single mile to take a sip of fluid and rest for a minute. This seems to be a habit on long runs these days but I’m not sure if it’s because it’s summer or just because no one really cares if I stop. I in fact would recommend that to any other runner who was self conscious about it. It was 71 when I left my house at 6:15 and of course I now wished i had gotten up at 4 instead but we’re here now so we make the best of it. I don’t care about stopping. Stopping every mile broke the run down for me into little tolerable pieces rather than struggling to do the entire thing or big sections without stopping. The humidity killed me from mile 1. Much of my run was shaded so thank God I wasn’t baking for 11 miles! I knew it was going to be tough right out of the gate as I struggled to get my breathing under control before I even left my neighborhood. So I reminded myself that it meant slow down and take it easy. That’s how it went until mile 7. When I hit 7 I was looking forward to being done and counting the minutes until the next mile buzzed on my watch so I could stop. Mile 8 my husband, who was worried about me and checking on me regularly, suggested I take an alternate route back home that included a big downhill finish. I didn’t even think about it. If it was shaded and downhill, at that point, that was for me! Everything after 8 was just hard. My hips were hurting, my legs were getting tired and my upper body felt like I was running stiff because it too was tired. After I started mile 8 I apparently didn’t hit the GO button on my watch the right way because it displayed the recovery heartrate message which means it’s stopped. DAMN! I ran a little bit not on the clock. Are you kidding me! Any other day I would be ok with the error but today it was like slow motion torture that just didn’t seem to have an end. SO, now I have a choice. I can either finish the run and let my stats show that I didn’t complete 11 miles OR I could run a little more and make it right by my watch OR I could edit the mileage after I sync it. I’m a little OCD sometimes because as tired as I was and as much as I was really struggling, I added a little side street so that when I got home my watch was right. Control freak I know but I’ve run further before and it wasn’t all that far (less than .25 mile- NBD). I was having such a hard time that mile 9 was a 12 minute mile….12 minutes! For me that is super slow which is what I say I was trying to do but never accomplish because I just run too fast every single time. The worst part was I had to run PAST my house to hit 11 miles which totally sucked because I wanted to stop so badly. Needless to say, the minute my watch beeped I halted immediately! I was super happy to be done and pretty much considered that whole struggle equal to running with a blister. Every mile hurts, you stop frequently (at least I would) and you cannot wait to be done! I really wish James were with me for it because he would have taken my mind off the struggle and made me laugh. Happy that it’s over….next Sunday is 12 miles. Here’s hoping for the best and a wingman!
Today I got up and could barely keep my eyes open. It had rained and I used the possible puddles as an excuse to not run today. I zombied my way through making breakfast and showering and getting to work. I feel like I was in slow motion all day. If there were a fire drill I would probably have been the last one out the door. All day I thought about running and I seriously struggled with having thrown in the towel so easily just because I was what I called exhausted. I played devil’s advocate with myself like I would have with anyone I was encouraging. I reassured myself that rest days are good and necessary for healthy improvement. I know this and I believed it but I just couldn’t put it to rest. I kept thinking about working at my son’s school tonight on play props and how that would keep me from doing something stupid.
Still wasn’t buying it…still felt like I could do something, anything other than resting. It does not feel like my rest day. Tomorrow might but today just didn’t feel that way so I went with my gut. I got home and decided not to go to the school. As I sat outside watching my husband mulch the leaves I just felt like it was a wonderful evening to get a few miles in. When he left I didn’t sit on the couch, I didn’t go to bed, I didn’t eat dinner.
I changed my clothes and slipped on my running shoes and headed out before I could change my mind. I figured it would either go my way OR really poorly and tomorrow I will be paying for it. Good thing it paid off in my favor. Good thing I don’t take excuses and a really good thing that I know when to push myself beyond my mental comfort zone. Running has taught me what my limits are. Running has given me the strength to push my limits and to understand when it is ok and not ok to do so. I love running for so many
reasons. It makes me proud of myself and confident that I can do things I never thought I could. It has saved me and shaped me and has seen me through some pretty shitty times. Running is the greatest teacher, cheapest therapist and most devoted support system. I am so happy to have run that first mile back on 6/27/2011 and that I have not looked back.
I recently took a trip to my parents house in Va. Running in VA is a little different for me because it is 400′ higher above the sea level than it is at home. Hills seem harder, heat and humidity seem much more punishing and the nothingness between houses is both beautiful and horror movie creepy when you’re running alone at dawn with nothing more than your thoughts to keep your imagination from freaking you out. The sunrise you see here is one of the reasons I do go out and run a harder run while on vacation there. It takes your breath away and makes you pause for a moment to realize that you are witnessing something that many will not have the pleasure of seeing in their lifetime. It makes you appreciate the here and now and is the most wonderful break from all the hustle and bustle of your daily life. Home is busy, chaotic, loud interjections of stimulus all day every day that tire me out in my brain by the end of the day. Maybe I’m getting old and starting to think about days when I can get up and sit on my porch like my parents do every single morning watching the sun crest the earth shedding light over all that God has created. I did this every day while I was there and I miss it a lot this time. This is my father working on a word find that I found on mom’s kindle for him.
They live a simple life now and I have to say that although it’s what I might say mundane to me at the moment in terms of long term feasibility, it has a certain air of peacefulness that has begun to surface in my list of things I like. There are certain joys that come with a quieter environment like butterflies and hummingbirds that you take the time to notice and enjoy just because they are there. These have become the things that I look forward to with each 12 hour driving trip I take to head down there. These to me represent the things that we forget to notice in our day to day lives here. It isn’t that they don’t exist, it’s that we don’t see them until we are well into our life span and try to share them with our children who won’t take the time in that future time as we don’t take the time now. It’s the circle of life where we look back and try to teach lessons we have learned onto what are semi-deaf ears. The same deaf ears and eyes that we wore / wear for many years in our lives. Virginia running and life brings to the foreground a time that will someday be routine. It is reflective and lonesome, quiet and challenging all rolled into one and spread over the surface of sheer amazing beauty.
Everyone should do some time in Virginia and definitely tackle some runs on the rolling rising hills that span across a seemingly unending landscape of horizons and sunrises and sunsets perpetually cemented into a summers day wrapped in a package of fresh air.
You know what you know but sometimes you have to take what you know and apply it outside where you know it. I for example, know that a Gatorade – water mix is great for my races but I don’t usually apply Gatorade to my everyday runs. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut of where we think things belong and don’t take a minute to think about where else they might be good. This summer feels so hard running for me. My everything swells up now especially my legs. It happens when I sit on a stool and when I’m out running in the heat. This weekend I decided to run with straight Gatorade. I wasn’t sure about doing that …what if I needed water instead? I don’t like to carry anything with me on my runs but will in the heat or a run longer than say 6 miles. Forget running with two things, one for each hand…that’s like running in shackles for me. Not happening. I decided to risk it and go Gatorade only. What happened? I had a much better run that’s what happened! I learned that I need straight Gatorade in the heat. I felt better, still stopped at every mile to take a sip but not for long and I didn’t feel totally wiped out when I was done. Gatorade isn’t for everyone but it is for me! I love running lessons because they make me stronger and a better runner overall. so now it’s on to how do I make my chubby little legs feel lighter and move with more ease. I don’t think that one is as easy for a short stubby Ukranian but it can’t hurt to try!