Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Half marathon it is, then

I've been going back and forth about whether or not I should be doing this full marathon in Columbus.  Yeah, it seemed like a great idea and I had all these romanticized ideas about long runs and all that jazz, but the reality is that it's been freaking hard to get the runs in, and more have been bad than not.  So I raised the question with Haakan, all teary eyed and full of anxiety, and we decided it probably wasn't a bad idea to scale back.  I was supposed to do 14 miles as my long run this past week, so we decided I'd still do that.

Disaster is a good word to use when I describe the 14 miler, which ended up being a 12 miler.  The first few miles were ok, it was hotter than Hades out there, but I was holding my own (went out around 5pm, after a particularly bad night with Charlie kept me from going out early in the morning like I had planned).  I was ready to throw in the towel around mile 7, but I dutifully took my gel and soldiered on.  I kept telling myself, if I've made it to 7 miles, I can just as well do 10, and then I'll reevaluate.  I got to 10 miles and though, I've gotten this far, I'll finish 12 miles and then decide if I can do the last 2.  Miles 10 and 11 were rough, and when I stopped to use the porta potties and almost passed out, I decided that I probably should concede defeat and head for home after 12 miles.  And I barely made it home.  I was a shakey, sick, low blood sugar mess by the time I got home, and I had to ask Haakan to make me a hotdog because I couldn't stand up long enough to do it myself without getting nauseatingly dizzy.  Very unpleasant.  I had this happen with a 10 miler and I *thought* I had fueled appropriately throughout the day, but apparently not.  It's just proving very difficult to eat enough while I'm breastfeeding to have enough to pull it out for these long runs.

So it looks like I'm either going to do the half marathon in Columbus, or else just defer on the full until next year.  I'm doing the Ikea Half Marathon about a month before Columbus, and I'm not sure it's worth it to drag the whole family to Columbus, get a hotel, etc etc, just for a half marathon.  And at the same time, I can't really go alone because Charlie will be so little still.  We're still working out the details, so it's up in the air, but as of now, I'll try for the full marathon in Pittsburgh in May of 2011.

I feel kind of like a weight has been lifted since we've decided to bag the full marathon in October.  I feel like I've been getting slower and slower, which is the opposite of how I should be feeling.  Maybe I can concentrate on getting faster for some races and such and can definitely have a more positive marathon experience in May than I probably would have had in Columbus in October.  Yeah, I feel like a little bit of a loser, but this is supposed to be fun and it was feeling like more of a job than it should.  I have enough not fun things that I have to do throughout the day, the thing I do for myself shouldn't be one of those things I *have* to do, it should be something I *want* to do.  So hopefully I can get back on the wagon the right way and this blog can stop being so damn depressing and whiny!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

THIS is why I run

When I started running a few years ago, I had this fantasy about the perfect long run.  The weather would be lovely, sunny but not too hot, I'd look good running wherever I was, and the run itself would be challenging, but not so difficult that I'd want to melt into a puddle of goo by the end.  Yesterday, I had that run I'd always fantasized about, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

My hip ached for a few days after my disastrous 10 miler and truthfully, I was afraid that I'd really screwed up and was feeling pretty low (if that wasn't obvious from all the "woe is me" I've been posting lately), but I managed to get it stretched out and thought I should try an easy 3 and see how I was doing.  Before I attempted this, I happened to come across a copy of last month's Runner's World, which had an article in it about meditation and running that caught my attention.  I think I'd looked at the article when I first got the magazine, but I didn't really read it.  I did this time.  And for some reason, things just clicked this time when I read it and I had an epiphany.  I've used breathing techniques to control pain and discomfort before.  Hell, I had three non-medicated labors and used breathing and relaxation techniques through all of them (my last labor was shorter than the marathon I did last January, too).  I don't know why it never occurred to me to use the same techniques while I was running.  "Return to your breathing and your feet", the article said, and this would help to center you as a runner.  It also said something to the effect of that we shouldn't spend so much time worrying about doing things without pain.  Life is pain, you deal with it.  The proverbial light went on and I somehow felt like I'd stumbled onto something that had been missing.  I went out without my iPod to do my easy 3 miler.

It worked great!  I thought about my breathing, my feet, and when anything hurt, I just accepted that it would hurt and tried not to worry about it or obsess on it.  This kind of thinking probably would have been really helpful to me during the marathon, but for some reason I thought I would be able to finish it without my feet, and every other part of my body, aching and screaming for me to stop.  After the success of my easy 3 miles, I felt brave enough to attempt the 12 miler and did it the next evening.

Folks, runs like that are the reason I run.  At no point did I question why I was out there, and at some point I realized that I was in the middle of one of those rare runs that was just pure pleasure.  My pace was good, I only had to stop for water every 3 miles, and when I started to feel sore or my mind started to wander where I didn't want it, I just brought my focus back to my breathing and my feet.  Amazing.  It worked so well, I went out and bought myself a copy of Chi Running today and will hopefully read it over the next week and pick up a few things at least.  I am continuing on with my marathon training renewed and full of confidence that I really *can* do it.  Hopefully this feeling will last and I'll have even more fabulous runs like the last one.