Running Though the Bad

I’m in a bit of a snit with running lately.

Truly, I have no idea why. My guess is that as I’ve become more aware to the running community, I’m feeling intimidated.

I joined a bunch of running groups on facebook and added several members of the two local running clubs of which I’m now a member. At first seeing everyone post their daily miles and races was exciting, but being inundated with paces in the 6-8 minute range has caused me to compare myself.

There’s that envy again! Now Lent is over, but I still struggle with it.

Suddenly, the activity that inspired me and was starting to feel natural got harder. I’ve fallen back with my pace– my confidence took a major dive with it. I’m feeling stuck.

However, there are also awesome benefits. For the first time ever, I (kinda!) knew some people running the Boston Marathon. Seeing their bib numbers and progress posted was exciting. And if these are the individuals in my running clubs, aren’t I lucky? I’m bound to learn and absorb SOME of their skill and running mojo.

If you want to be great, surround yourself with greatness. These people genuinely LOVE running– they run early, in all kinds of weather. Some race nearly every week. They look fit– like runners. They know their pace and seem RELAXED while running– they are able to go on long group runs and even have conversations while running. They travel to Boston just to support other club members– that kind of devotion is impressive. They know who they are — runners– and they’ve built a comfortable life and group of friends around it.

I want that!

I’m in the process of doing the same. I just have remind myself that I can’t compare my beginning to the established routines and athletic excellence that took years to develop.

And I have to be more forgiving of myself and the humility of my body’s limits.

As much as I aspire to it– I’m not Haruki Murakami. I can’t magically up my mileage whenever I feel like it and run endlessly, without walk breaks. He was born with some genetic predisposition to running that is truly a gift.

The rest of us have to earn all those skills and miles under duress.

But I know that I have the heart of a runner, even if my legs and my lungs fight me.

Because I’m reading books about it, signing up for races months in advance, and making major lifestyle changes to better enable myself to perform at a higher level. I’m foregoing other purchases, thinking, “I could put that toward a race fee.” The next thing I fantasize about buying is a new pair of running shoes– mine are starting to feel flat.

Because although right now trying to improve and acclimate myself to this sport honestly sucks, I’m thinking long-term.

Growing pains are awkward, but that’s all these are. Pains of transition.

I can’t wait till my next race– this weekend. It’ll be my first 10k– in an arboretum.

No one I know is doing this race, and I love that. I’ll be free.

No pressure. I’m just going to enjoy myself, push my pace, and look at the trees.

 

Carry On, My Wayward Feet

“THUNDERSTRUCK! YES!”

I felt like a bad ass in a movie montage this morning at circa 5:45 a.m. as my training class headed out into the parking lot on our first group run on the street. Nine of us assembled and I was pumping my fist like John Bender at the end of “The Breakfast Club.”

AC/DC came over my Pandora into my my earbuds and we were warmed up. I was ready. ¬†I had also jogged 1.5 miles to training this morning since my car is in the shop till about 8 a.m. and who am I going to ask for a ride at 5:30 a.m. anyway? I realized my predicament last night after a friend dropped me off, but decided then it didn’t matter. I was GOING!

My alarm went off at 4:15 this morning, I was up by 4:45, and out the door by 5:00 a.m. I gave myself 30 minutes to make it on foot and was still eight minutes early! Which is hilarious because otherwise I’m usually a couple minutes late.

Today was my favorite day in this training. We ran a full three miles and I kept my pace under 15 minutes!! I’ve been feeling anxious about the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle this Sunday, since it’s my first timed race and I need to finish in under 1:15 minutes to qualify as a finisher. I normally need 1:30 to complete five miles.

Now I’m believing I can accomplish this. My first mile was 13 minutes even! I was a straggler, but our trainer Gloria kept an eye on me and made sure I didn’t get left behind. She gave me some pointers– such as committing to using a set run/walk interval time. She said certain apps can help, and to ask my classmates for recommendations.

We ran at a 2 min run/1 mile walk interval. Usually I would think that I had no time for that– just trying not to get left behind would be the priority. But there was no pressure to do that– she would call out to me, “Walk!” I learned that even if you’re slow, the run/walk method is still a benefit. And I can feel a difference– my pace improved substantially today. My overall average was 14:42 miles, which would have me finishing the race with time to spare on Sunday!

And the coolest thing happened on the run– I saw some flashing light packs and sure enough, it was four members of the local running club I just joined. I waved and smiled at them– they run at 5 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. When class is over I plan to transition to running with them to keep fit.

To recognize friends on the route was such an incredible feeling!

On the home stretch back, “Carry On My Wayward Son,” played by Kansas. Hell yeah.

When we ended the run, all of us stretched by the wire fence. I’m learning great dynamic stretches, too.

Best of all, I made a new friend today! I mentioned to someone I had jogged here and another short woman like myself who I had talked to before offered to give me a ride home. Since I’d already gotten in 4.5 miles in, I was happy to accept. Turns out, she’s Catholic, too! I saw the Rosary in her car and asked. She gave me her number for a ride to class anytime. ūüôā

Life is extraordinary, if you’re willing to change up your routine a bit.

 

 

Cinco de Miler: crying at the finish!!

Today I broke my seven-month hiatus with racing by running the Cinco de Miler 2016.

And finished FIVE MILES!! Along Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.

It was my friend Lisa’s idea, and this morning she picked me up and we made it happen!! She invited me around January, but I was ambivalent about committing for quite awhile. First, I wasn’t sure I was up to two extra miles beyond my standard 5k. Second, the race shirts were hideous and I didn’t want to pay for one!

But she was so excited about it and we motivated each other. She was waffling herself not too long ago, and I encouraged her. We both decided to wear something of our own rather than those ugly shirts. This is our second race together!

We took a ton of silly selfies– one of the best parts of a race! I’m so glad we did this.

In the parking garage, I noticed the women parked next to us had a Joliet sticker on their vehicle. I introduced myself and we got a long great! She was with a few of her friends and it seemed a few of their daughters. Her name was Kim.

All the festivity– flowers in women’s hair, men running with Mexican wrestling masks, children wearing fake black mustaches that curl, some women with traditional cotton tops embroidered with flowers. Salsa blasting on the speakers as we lined up in our corrals!

Yesterday I mostly walked four miles, to warm up after months of nothing. I was shocked how easy it was. How natural I felt returning to this exercise.

In past races, I always felt insecure; I needed someone by me. If my friends ran ahead, I felt abandoned. Especially if they disappeared into the crowd.  As long as I could see them, I felt a little

I was so much in my own head that all I could think about were all the people passing me by– I was always glancing behind to reassure myself that I wasn’t last. ¬†That *I* was ahead of others.

Or I was so fixated on the miles ahead— counting down, worried about my time. There was a part of me who never fully relaxed.

I was hard on myself if I had to slow down and walk. Always comparing.

Today, I broke free of all that.

I didn’t try to keep up with Lisa– I let her go and decided to do my own thing. And I felt calm, steady.

Maybe because this is my sixth race now– I knew I would find her afterward. I wasn’t worried about getting separated or lost.

I trust her more. I trust *myself* more.

I chose to run my own slow, steady pace– right down the yellow line of the streets blocked off for this event.

Proud to say I ran the first 1.5 miles at around 13 minutes!! I had set my Pandora on my phone to Selena and that driving Latino beat was perfect for the occasion.

But after that, I was conscious of the two added miles and felt I’d slow down and walk a bit. And then first my right knee and then both knees began to hurt. And I had to acknowledge it.

I ¬†tried running sporadically after but had to accept that with the added miles I couldn’t push it or I might not finish.

But oh, running along Lake Shore Drive!!! Since I began running it’s been a fantasy of mine. I always thought I’d drive up and park somewhere and be one of those cool people you always see while in traffic, inbound to the city North on 41.

Until Lisa mentioned it last night, I had no idea this was part of the course route.

God arranged my dream to come true.

And thank Him that I wore pants, not shorts– and brought two long-sleeved shirts. Since it was a 9 a.m. race and I tend to get cold, I brought an extra hoodie in case it rained or was cold by the lake.

Talk about The Windy City!! Once we hit the third mile and were right next to the lake on our right, both those shirts felt like a joke!! But I felt badly for those wearing only tank tops or shorts, or even t-shirts. Had I been otherwise attired, I might have quit.

Between my knees, which seemed to get worse– and the serrating chill lakeside, I was beyond tempted.

But I saw racers returning, wearing medals. That energized me.

And each mile marker surprised me. I had learned to just ENJOY the race.

I was always moving except when I stopped to take a few pictures– a tree in front of the lake, the MARIACHI band performing!

I loved the man around mile 2– a tall old man with white hair waving maracas. “Everybody’s gonna finish,” he said with a smile.

And I believed him. When I felt weak, I thought of him.

Not long before mile 4, one of the women also from Joliet in the parking garage¬†before the race appeared next to me. She tapped my shoulder and smiled. I slowed down and we commiserated about our knees. She gave me a vital tip: she takes Ipubprofen before a race. I prefer Tylenol– but I’ll remember that next time.

Maybe start taking a supplement to help my joints. Loosen them up by running regularly.

Rather than accept my joint pain and give up running– I’ll learn to take better care of myself to prevent it.

Even the Tin Man couldn’t walk the Yellow Brick Road with un-oiled joints! Oil is needed.

God was showing me that we’re never alone in the race. This race called life.

I allowed her to pass me, and felt at peace.

I had told Lisa to text me when she finished– and when she did, I was happy for her! Glad she did her thing and I did mine. For one of the first times in my life, I didn’t feel envy.

What a blessing!

I felt stronger than I thought capable once I saw the FINISH around the corner!!

I started running again: it was important to finish RUNNING.

Volunteers were standing in a cluster, handing out finisher’s medals.

When I arrived I was shocked to feel emotional– tears started to well up.

I almost cried– but I didn’t allow myself. I admit at that moment I did feel self-conscious.

I suppose I associate crying with loss– grief.

When was the last time I cried with RELIEF?? I don’t remember.

I couldn’t totally let go. But I teared up again, gulped deep breaths.

And vowed to start training again. My time is 1:36: 05

Lisa and I are already planning our next race! We talked non-stop on the way home.

I know I can do it. I’m already getting better.

And one day, I will let go enough to ACTUALLY cry with joy at the finish line.