Running Anchorage half marathon April 27

Running is hard

Running is hard. Repeat after me, running is hard. Now tell my coach because he doesn’t seem to believe me.

Running hurts. My knee hurts, my ankle hurts, my feet hurt and surprisingly my shoulder likes to hurt too.  The original excitement that accompanied most prior workouts seems to have vanished.  I must have hit some sort of plateau – no longer does my cardiovascular system seem to improve by leaps and bounds with every run, no longer do I look at my watch and see entire minutes shaved off my mile pace, no longer do I finish and think- wow I can’t believe I did that! Nope.  Now I overhear myself saying to a friend, “I can tell my ability to run through the pain is getting better…”

Running isn’t pretty. Even my toe nails are annoyed.  One of them keeps threatening to come off. After each run I take off my shoe and talk to it nicely. I cajole, charm, administer first aid, and tell it you musn’t leave me because it’s springtime…it’s time for cute toes in cute sandals and sassy flip flops. Please toenail puhleeeease. I beg.

AND don’t even get me started on the changes to my bathroom habits.  Oh yessss.

Speaking of bellies,  mine is getting bigger. I call it my “runner’s belly”. It comes around the corner first and then you see me…trying to catch up.  Run 10 miles and Lose weight? Oh noooo. My jeans now fit Tighter around my thighs… I can only hope it is some extra muscle pushing all the fat farther out. Fabulous. Just what a girl was hoping for.

Running is not for rebels.  For the last month or so us women on the team have been advised Not to wear high heels.  I believed them after going dancing for 5 hours wearing stilettos.  “Beauty is pain” I like to say but running on numb toes is not easy. They were numb for two weeks. Every. time. I. ran.  One would think this minor annoyance wouldn’t really register on the list of things to be noticed while running… alas it’s the small things that make you want to lose…your…mind.  So for the next month I faithfully wore flats and sneakers and thick soled shoes. Until Easter.  I decided that the new ounce of muscle on my calf was meant for a skirt and heels as I got ready for church on Easter Sunday.  Thinking, “how bad could it be?” Church is about sitting for an hour.  I waltz in on my little heels with my little skirt and am promptly ushered to the back. Standing room only.  I had to laugh at the universe punishing my vanity, as I kicked off my heels and stood for the length of the service.

Running is hard to improve.  To improve at running one has to do things like speed drills or ‘fartleks’ which is swedish for…speed drills.  My coach likes to laugh maniacally as he shouts out “fartleks!” during our weekly runs.  Basically you are supposed to sprint for one minute then run at a normal pace to recover, then sprint again, over and over until… well until you want to vomit or cry.  I usually recognize my limit when the thought crosses my mind, “if I vomit I bet they would let me stop.”

Running makes me whine.  My coach calls me the official team whiner.  Other team mates when pushed hard say “I am channeling Kate” and then proceed to whine about it.  I say that someone has to fill that role and just like nature abhors a vacuum, a team of stoic achievers needs a whiner.  I gladly take one for the team.

But then one day I found myself running 12 miles.

Running might be crazy wonderful.  That Saturday morning I was nervous as it was going to be my first 10 mile day.  Double digits. HOLY cow. Cajoled by the marathon team into running 12 with them, we set out.  At about 8 miles we took a quick bathroom break and started off again- our muscles angry at the brief respite.  By mile 9 I started to pull away and by mile 10 I thought, “if my  knee didn’t hurt I wonder how far I could really go?”  It felt like I could run forever. There was this powerful rush of love for my body as I fell in love with my crazy wonderful machine that only four months ago would have stopped at mile two. I have not felt that before, or since. But I know it is there.

Running makes me strong.  Some days the runs are hard.  It feels like I am alone slogging through the cement for one hour… or two.  Then I find I am not.  The lone runner heading the opposite way on the path passes me and gives me a thumbs up, the voices of people who are now friends soothe the hurt as we share our stories, and if I do happen to hit the trail alone- I have discovered the mental drill Sargent in my head.  She lives there, and waits.  She waits for times like these. I never knew she existed before.  Man she says the most amazing things…and I find myself believing her.  The cement is still cement and the slog is still a slog, but it passes and I am better for it.

Running is about today And what we can do tomorrow. When answering the question, “how far did you run today?” I hear myself say, “Only seven miles,”  or only five or only… the number does not matter, it matters that it is “only.” I run with people who run 15… or 18… or 20 miles.  My numbers seem small when compared.  One of my coaches is a two time iron man finisher. He did it once and then went back for more.  I don’t even know what to say to that. It sure impresses the hell out of me.  I brag about him to friends and family when the conversation winds its way back to my running and training… “yeah my coach has done an iron man..twice. yep.” As if that fact will rub off on me in some way. That there is Some magic out there that will make me better just by being around people who can do things like that. Im pretty sure there is and it does. At least that’s what my mental drill sargent says, and you know what? I believe her.

Five days till race day. 13.1 [check it out]