Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dear Buddha, I had a bad week.

On Monday, I decided not to run the marathon.

I could do it, I think, but I would not enjoy it. Any of it. That just seems wrong, so I made the call.

I allowed myself a day of full on sulking, eating crap, drinking beers, buying shoes, etc. And then I decided to get over it. Looking back on this week, I did not get over it as well as I'd planned. But no matter, today is a new day. I went back to my training journal to log the week.

Monday: axed the race
Tuesday: sulked
Wednesday: sulked
Thursday: 30 minutes elliptical
Friday: went out and got useless
Saturday: paid for Friday.

I do not feel very satisfied looking back on my week. Then I noticed my inspirational quote for the week. Do you have these? I pick out my favorites and write one for each week in the journal. Some of them are silly, some are meaningful, all of them are relevant and keep me to task. This week's quote is from the Buddha.

All life is suffering.

Buddha, you are so wise. But if you were here in my kitchen, I'd kick you in the shin.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Le Ouch

I am injured. I hurt my knee but didn't notice it right away, and because of that I hurt my hamstring. I am mostly not running for the last week, and probably this week. And maybe next week.

I've never been injured in a way that impacted my ability to run. Sure, there was the time I tripped running in the dark and dislocated my finger, but I just popped it back in and kept running. I guess that's why I am where I am, this time I should have stopped.

My second marathon is in less than a month. This is the one where I set an incredible PR and am all happy and fulfilled, remember? Well, I just skipped my last long training run, and if I can't do it this weekend I'm not doing it at all. And since I can only manage about four miles right now, I'm just a teensy bit aprehensive about the marathon. By aprehensive I mean terrified.

What if I can't do it?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Training Epiphany

There is an order to my mental state during training. The rigors I'm putting my body through create changes in my mind. And they sync up nicely with my training plan.

Phase I: Excitement Week 1-2 I can't believe I've committed to this race. I'm crazy. Crazy happy! I run like a wild woman.

Phase II: Fatigue Week 3-6 The training is rigorous, and the mileage is a shock. My mind fights my body by refusing to sleep and craving bad food to sabotage the running. I get frustrated.

Phase III: Epiphany Week 7-13 One day, I suddenly stop whining and realize why I run. I run because I can, and there was a time that I couldn't. I run because I like to, and I want to. I run because other people can't, and I run for them. I run for the people who I make proud, and the people who can't be here to see it. The Epiphany usually happens during a run, at a hard part, and I usually cry some and then grand slam the rest of the run.

Phase IV: Impatience Week 14-race Like a woman at the end of her pregnancy, I'm over it. I want to go do it and be done. I'm excited and ready and all that, but itchy.

Okay, so that was a nice long analysis, hm? The point is, today I had the Epiphany. I was running, it was hot, raining, I had a long way to go. Suddenly I realized I was happy. All of a sudden. I thought, what the heck are you doing out here today? You're just gonna run 20 miles? That's how Saturday is going to go? Yup. I thought of my friends, my family, my mom. I'm running in my hometown, and I wish my mom could be here to watch. I felt a little like she was.

And I felt so much ownership of the choices I had made to get me to that point right there. I owned this running, I owned these goals. It didn't settle down upon me as a burden to bear, I chose it. I wanted it. I have it.

So I ran around the lakes and cried in the rain. And it was great.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Good-bye, 2-a-Days

So I was reading an article on the benefits and pitfalls of running doubles, which got me thinking.

I love running in the morning and again in the evening. It's an easy way for me to get my mileage, and with my busy schedule, it fits my life. Last year, as I trained for my first marathon, I made heavy use of doubles. Last year, I bonked hard at 18. Of course, I have other valid reasons why that happened, so it never occurred to me to question this piece of my training.

And so this year I am back at doubles with a fervor. Until yesterday, when I read, "Staying with longer single runs builds endurance, while shorter doubles allow you to train at a faster pace." This is true; I have gotten much faster. But my longer runs have not gotten any easier. By splitting my mileage into two runs, I have not gotten all the benefits of endurance training.

I truly do not want to have the same marathon experience this year. So this is the end, for now. Hasta la off-season, 2-a-Days.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Running in my Now

Running sometimes sucks. I'm not one of those people with natural ability, I work hard to get where I am. But I work hard at everything else too, so sometimes when I get to the run I'm fresh out of drive.

On those days, I spend most of my run thinking about how hard it is, or what hurts, or how many miles I've logged this week. But usually it's how much farther until I can stop. Those are very tough runs, and I don't enjoy them so much.

I did not want that for my long run today. Long runs are hard enough for me, I don't need my whiney inner voice to get involved too. So I took a day's rest, had a good sleep, and chose a new route.

I like variety where I run. My route today was awesome. Lots of uneven running surfaces kept me paying attention to where I was stepping. Rolling up and downhills were such a nice break from running around the flat circle lakes. There was no dodging strollers, pedestrians, or dog leashes. This run was over before I knew it, and I enjoyed mostly the whole thing. More of that, please.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Someone Else's Race

There have been so many cheerleaders in my life -- especially this last year -- pushing me on, picking me up off the asphalt, inspiring me to try for more, and generally just telling me "good job." It has meant so much to me. So, yesterday, I gave some love back.

I volunteered at the 3rd annual Minneapolis Marathon. It was my first time volunteering. I brought everything: cowbell, whistle, noise maker. Sunscreen? D'oh!

I was near the start of the race, and everyone took off like the crazy, happy, 7am runners they all were. Lots of smiles, so awesome to see.

After they all cleared and we had taken down the barracades and cleaned up, I was sent to mile 18. I was so excited to be there. What a wonderful place to be a cheerleader. At the top of the hill. And right after the water station. I screamed and whooped and smiled and flirted and cowbelled and "good jobbed" for four hours. I stayed until the last runner passed. So many people thanked me, and I remembered how grateful I was for the words of encouragement at the tough spots on my marathon.

It was so inspiring, and so fulfilling, to see so much passion and grit pass before me, humbling. This is only the beginning, I will be doing this again and again.

If you can't run, volunteer!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Secret Marathoning

After my first marathon last fall, within five minutes of finishing, I decided I could do better. I would run another marathon. The question became when.

I started this year with the goal of competing in the Twin Cities Marathon this fall. A lot has happened, however, to keep my running train a little off track. It's now a couple of weeks from when I'd like to start training, and I don't have my base mileage back up to a place where that training plan is even a good possibility. Reluctantly, I decided that this race would have to wait.

Five minutes after I decided not to run it this year, I suddenly found boundless motivation to run. What the heck, right? But it still doesn't add up to a good base. Then I had an idea.

Maybe the problem wasn't that I was not where I wanted to be fitness-wise (which I am not), but that I was not adapting my training plan to match where I actually am. AHA!! I immediately found a plan that was a lot more realistic, but would still allow me to improve my time from last year. It's not too much of a jump from the mileage I am currently running. And there is room for rest, so if it begins to feel overwhelming I can recover.

And voila! I will be running the marathon this fall. But I still feel hesitant about my current fitness. So rather than training for "A Marathon," I will suggest to myself that I run a certain distance on a certain day, as a part of my normal fitness regimen. I think after a week or two of this, I will have convinced myself that I can do it. So keep quiet and don't remind me what's going on, you.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What kind of coach are you?

There must be a hundred tricks I play on myself to stay motivated to run. There are the ones that get me out the door, the ones that keep me from quitting, the ones that make me maintain that awful pace. Once in a while, while reviewing my tricks, I notice that they're all pretty harsh. I'm a mean coach.

I don't go for that sunshine and flowers stuff. I rather like a boot camp get your ass out there dirtbag approach. But sometimes I get to feeling bad for being so hard on myself, instead of enjoying the process. That's when I come up with tricks like "Run Happy" and "Have a good run, me!"

But eventually I snap out of that. Today I snapped out of that. I read a friend's post entitled "Get Stronger Damnit!" and it's got me giggling. I can think of all kinds of ways to use this. Get faster damnit! Run longer damnit! Stop crying damnit!

I feel so motivated I may go run again!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Attitude Adjustment

I don't mind telling you I have a perfectionist complex. This gets in my way a lot.

It's a real challenge for me with regards to running. I have these inflated expectations of myself, based on what I've achieved in the past and on where I'd like to be. I wish I were running 40-50 miles a week, I wish my long runs were 20s instead of 8s, I wish my pace was 7:30 instead of sometimes 9:30. I know you wish these things too. I mean you have your own goals for you (although maybe you do wish this for me too, and in that case thank you you're the best).

But I'm a driven, busy gal, and I frequently fall short of these goals. For instance last week I ran a little over 13 miles. Pffft.

I know that's wrong and bad. But so what I want more. I guess I'm beginning to think it's okay to want more, but I have to stop disregarding everything that I consider as falling short. I'm a mean person. Today I worked on being happy.

Yes that's right, today's mantra was "Run Happy." There was a time when I really enjoyed running and it wasn't such a chore. So I checked my attitude at the door and spent much of the next seventy minutes reminding myself to lighten up and enjoy the ride.

And I did.

Monday, May 2, 2011


I've been rattling something around the tin can for a while now: will I be a marathoner, or will I be someone who ran a marathon once.

My first marathon was an unequivocal event for me. It was a can-do statement to myself about the value of my sobriety, self-worth, and determination. I deserved to run the marathon after all I'd been through, and nothing was going to stop me. I cried some as I ran it, it was such a powerful place to be.

Of course, I want to feel that again. I loved the training and the everyday sense of accomplishment as I licked one more piece of the goal. I loved how fit I got, and I couldn't believe the things my body was able to do. I loved having such a massive goal, and I loved attaining it.

It wasn't all love of course. Life got in the way of too much of my training. There was a lot of pain involved. I did not spend as much time with the Hub as either of us would have liked.

But as time passes and I try to think this out with a level head, I realize that the reason I'm coming back to it again and again has to do with passion. There is calm and calculation, but the thing I love about the marathon -- from the 4am runs to the ice baths, the epic runs and the finish line -- is you cannot compete or complete it without passion.

And so it is without a level head and on a very strong whim that I've decided to be a marathoner. Yay!! Next up, Twin Cities Marathon 10-02-11.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Digital or Analog?

Last week I got my first iPhone. I love it. I love everything about it. I went right out and downloaded running aps, set up profiles, looked at training plans (omg yes -- marathon training plans). It tracks my pace. It maps my route (<3 gps). It tells me I'm doing great. It posts my workout so everyone else can tell me I'm doing great.

Today I had my first longer run with the phone and the music and the armband and the ap and the talking voice. And I found it a little over-whelming. I felt like I was missing out on the whole organic experience of running. It seemed like such a waste of the mountain and the trees and the misty rain and the pine needles underfoot. I couldn't hear myself breathe, or think.

I started to get lost in my thoughts despite all this; my thoughts have been pretty insistent lately. But I felt very weighed down and drowned out by all this technology.

It all started with a watch. I timed every run at the beginning. If I forgot my watch, I stopped and went home to get it. The first run that I managed without it was so liberating; I ran the run I wanted and wasn't spending the whole run checking my time. Music also became a crutch for me, and whenever I felt particularly crummy I'd plug in and tune out. But I always felt unsatisfied with these runs, like I hadn't even been there for it.

So I guess what this comes down to is that I am going to have to find other ways to get my technology fix. I think it will take me too far away from the things I love about running.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Stress and Not-running

I've been doing a lot of Not-running lately. This is different from Running, in that it is the exact opposite. That is consistent with my everyday practice of stress-management.

Okay, so this is a recurring problem for me. I have a voluminous amount of stress in my life. Maybe it's no more than anyone else has, and I just don't deal with it as well. I don't know, and really it doesn't matter. It feels like a lot, and I do not manage it well.

I'm aware this is not the first time I've talked about this, and I know it will not be the last, but come on already, I've had enough. How do I break these recurrent habits I have for dealing with too much stress in my life? I know the answer while I'm writing this, but I'm no happy about it. It involves recognizing these habits and choosing to change them rather than mindlessly following my "stress routine." But that is also hard work. (Ugh, look how good I've gotten at excuses.)

Maybe I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop, maybe I'm waiting till I hit bottom with this stress business. I seem to enjoy testing my limits.

Open to suggestions: How do you deal with stress in your life?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I'm Almost a Somebody!

So I almost crashed the car while checking my email today (don't judge me). Now hold you're breath: I HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED into the Brooks Wear Test Program!! Oh I hope you weren't driving ...

You may remember I applied to the program. I don't know why I think this is so awesome, perhaps you don't also think it's awesome, I don't really care. But they will send me the newest and most bomber shoes for free to run all over in, then they want me to spout off ad nauseum about them. I mean it's an absolutely perfect fit. Oh! I punned.

So, at the end of the email -- well in truth it was probably the last three quarters of the email -- was a disclaimer that I have simply been added to their database of possible testers. This email does not imply a contract. I have not been selected for testing at this time. I have only been added to the pool of possible testers.

Oh my GAWD! I'm so excited. (I said that out loud while typing, and I may have spit on the screen a little.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Exercising Demons

I know, right, it's very funny. It's not mine, my funny DM friend said it first.

But I love it, and it really applied to yesterday's run. I had lots of stress this last week, and therefore found lots of excuses not to run off the stress like a good little girl. By Saturday, I was feeling very toxic from said stress, bad eating, not so much sleep, and too much beer. Solution = run. No brainer.

But OMG it was so horrible. I could not make myself get dressed. I could not make myself walk out the door. After the first mile, my music died. I was on my own. With my demons.

Then I remembered exercising demons, like my friend says, and I got a good case of the giggles. I'm a very visual person. So I see 2' tall smoky imps chasing me down the road and trying to trip me, and snickering in their helium-balloon voices. At first they taunt me over their shoulders and make snide remarks about my lumbering technique and inability to breathe, but eventually I'm in front. Their teeth are clamped firmly into my calves by about the fourth mile, but I picture them flapping in the breeze behind my fast legs. Eventually they give up and skulk away. And I have a great rest of my run.

Demons don't much care for exercise.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pick me! Pick ME!!

I have applied to be a wear tester for Brooks and New Balance. Wear testers volunteer to try out new products and provide feedback. OMG! I'm so excited!!

I've only just applied, I understand there is no implicit agreement that I will be chosen to review any (or all) new running shoes or apparel that these companies develop. But I'd just like to say, to the product developers that obviously read my humble blog, that I'd be so awesome and you should start sending me stuff EXPRESS.

On a related note, after last night's rainy-sweaty beautiful-people group run, I will be switching to waterproof mascara.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Running for Others

I had a fantastic run today with my friend W. We ran around the trails, like we have many times before. But this will be one of the last ones.

Today I remembered why it's so great to have friends to run with. The right friend will call you out when they think you're sandbagging, or wait for you at the turn-off if you're really hurting. They push you and nag you to go when you were going to stay home eating cereal instead. I love running with people like that, because I always give my best for them.

Today, I did not run for me. Left to myself, I would have had a nice little shuffle to get the miles in. Or maybe I'd have just had cereal. Today I ran my best so that my friend would have a better run. And I was amazed at how much I found to give.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ladies! Get off yer asses!

I saw the most amazing thing during my run the other morning. It was the beginning of a beautiful day, and there were a lot of other people out running and biking. Two of those people happened to pass me.

They were a man and woman, dressed in jeans and brown leather jackets, with matching full-suspension Wal-Mart bikes. As they passed me, I noticed he was the only one pedaling. She was holding onto his jacket getting a tow.

They were not moving very fast, so they were in my field of view for about 15 minutes. During that time she never pedaled.

This made me so sad. I thought, maybe she had: cancer; brain lesions; multiple sclerosis; a wooden leg; the flu.

Really I was sad because she was probably just lazy. What’s up with that, girls??

Why do so many of us lack the desire to push ourselves? Why do we feel justified in loafing around because our lives may be demanding in other areas? Why do we cling so desperately to the notion of comfort???

There is nothing that makes me feel more thrilled (well maybe not nothing, but let’s be dramatic here, huh) than seeing some other chick push herself like crazy. Especially when I’m trying to do the same. Maybe the competitive nature may not be altogether natural in us girls, but shouldn’t we value it all the more?

Props to all you go-getters out there.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

On the Road to Nowhere

I’m from Minnesota. Over ten years ago, my husband and I decided to follow our romantic wanderlust and see what else the world had to offer. And we discovered there were mountains. And they were good.

We moved West (with a capital W). Montana felt wild and alive to us. We spent all our free time outdoors. We got in shape, kind of on accident, so that we could enjoy the outdoors better and longer.

Eventually we moved to Portland. Things morphed, like they do over the years. We still enjoy the outdoors, and getting in shape became our big focus. Now I’m a runner. And that is easy and excellent, because Portland is awesome for running. The weather is temperate all year, the terrain is challenging and inspiring, and there are a lot of wonderful like-minded people.

Now we’re moving back to Minneapolis. I’m all grown up with a grown up job. But I’m still the same wide-eyed dreamer that left. I feel like I’m returning to something I’m not anymore, and it’s a little suffocating. I can’t envision bringing the me that I am now back into my world of then.

I know that this is not really the case, that the city can be what I make of it. And like it or not, it will not be the same as it was ten years ago. And that with different interests, I will notice things there that I took for granted before.

I know all this, but I don’t want to run in the cold.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Um, Hi Again

So, a lot has happened since my last post in May. Perhaps that's why I didn't get around to blogging about it. The long and the short (well mostly the short) ...

In January 2010, I established some incredibly lofty goals:

1. Run a 5k
2. Run a 10k
3. Run a half marathon
4. Run Hood to Coast
5. Run the Portland Marathon

I did all that. I DID ALL THAT! Well, I didn't run a 5k, but I ran an 8k. I'm crossing it off.

A couple weeks ago, I thought I'd add up all the miles from my training journal, just to see. I'm thinking, how cool would it be to have over 500 miles logged?? I ran over 1000.

2010 was such an awesome year. I had no idea I was capable of all that. I owe so much to the friends that supported and believed in me along the way.