Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Don't call it a comeback

But I ran on 4 of the past 5 days. This hasn't happened in months!
Don't call it a comeback. I’m resetting. I'm starting over. I'm redefining my relationship with running and what being a runner will mean to me in the future and how it got me to this point.
I started "really" running in the fall of 2008. I was sad, lonely, and miserable. Things change. Addresses, friends, jobs, goals, priorities, relationships, families, interests, everything, attitudes--change.

Fast forward to 2011 and I’m anything but sad, lonely or miserable. I’m crazy busy and happier than ever. I keep getting bogged down in what my running used to be. It was a defense mechanism and a way of establishing myself in my own terms. I used to run when I was unhappy. I used to run to prove it. I used to run because I didn’t have anything else do to. I used to run because I was afraid of gaining weight. I used to run because I wanted to be stronger, faster, leaner. I used to run because other people didn’t. I used to run because I needed to feel some form of accomplishment in the day. I used to run because I did not feel good about myself.

Those deep-seated motivators simply don’t light a fire under my feet anymore. I’m not so worried about gaining a few pounds because I’ve finally learned that what is in my head is far more important my pant size.

I used to run to prove “it.” I would run through or over whatever “it” that was missing in my life or the “it” that I was not succeeding with. I had to prove I was something outside of ‘editor’ or the unhappy person I was on the verge of becoming. Would you rather have someone say, “oh, she’s a runner,” or “oh, she’s a bitch.” I might have made another mistake at work, but I ran 6 miles that morning. I don’t see the connection either but that got me through the day. I might not have any one to go home to but there was always a treadmill waiting for me. I didn’t need anyone because I had my sneakers and myself. Get it?
Running is often about challenging yourself and reaching deep down to see how far you can go. I now know I can run 13.1 miles and am capable of doing more. It taught me how to set goals and plan. I don’t feel the same urge to go further and faster. I’ve achieved the goals I wanted to achieve through running and in a few months will have achieved some significant life goals as well.

I’m currently working a new set of running and life goals. The past month(s) off was not a slump. It was a reset. I will continue to run and sign up for races and buy adorable running clothes because I simply enjoy it. It’s a part of my life now but it is not my life now. I have an ultimate goal of running 2011 Philadelphia Marathon in November and beating my half-marathon PR of 2:09. But first, I have a Master’s degree to complete, a career to manage, boyfriend to spend time with, and a family I’d like to see more than once every three months.

As my favorite singer/song-writer and this blog’s namesake once said,
“I’ve got more and more to do/ I’ve got less and less to prove/ And it took me too long to realize that I don’t take good picture/because I have the kind of beauty that moves.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Defeat at Gasparilla: Running without Respect

In my last post, I was expressing concerns and excitement over the Publix's Gasparilla Distance Classic Michelob Ultra Challenge. I was going to be running a 15K and 5K on Saturday and a half marathon and 8K on Sunday. And attempting to say the entire name of the race correctly, holy brand names! Well, friends. I did not complete the challenge. I got through the 15K and 5K on Saturday.

My legs were a little more sore than I would have liked as I was lining up for the second race on Saturday morning. I heard someone in the corral say that the 5+ 3K was  5 miles. When I thought that a 5 + 3K was 4 miles, it was bearable. But the thought of having to run 5 miles after running 13.1 miles when my legs were tired enough after having only run 15K, was just overwhelming. I decided then and there on the spot that I wasn't going to do the fourth race.

My favorite part of the entire weekend was that I was running the majority of the half marathon with my friend, Kylie. This was her first half and she did so well. She maintained a strong pace and didn't stop once. We were together until around mile 4 when I got a call from Mother Nature. I jumped into the slowest line ever for a porta potty and promised Kylie I'd catch up. I ended up doing a sprint/walk/sprint/walk combo for about the next three or four miles, finally catching her at around mile 6. I  The sprinting wore me out (or the 13 miles the day before) and by mile 11, I just couldn't go anymore. I watched Kylie's white hat and long pony-tail truck forward and was crushed. It was one of my worst runner moments ever. I so wanted to cross that finish line with her. Finding her at the finish line and our sore, slow walk back to the car was one of my best runner moments.

It's been a few weeks and I'm still digesting my defeat at Gasparilla. My  head and heart were never really in any of the races. I was too busy with work, school and social life to have properly trained for ANY distance race. I knew that. I could not rely on the confidence of good training. I expected the ego and hubris of having run so many other half marathons and distance races to carry me for 30 miles. Stretching and hydration, I thought, would be the keys to success. I stretched. I drank loads of water and Gatorade. I ate super well. I did not train.

I said I was doing this four-race challenge because "I needed a win." To be honest, the amount my butt getting kicked to me kicking butt lately has been disproportionate. But I lost. And I needed to lose. I needed to be reminded that just like everything in this world, runnning requires dedication and practice. You can not just think about running. You have to respect the distance and the sport.

 I allowed, or had to allow, life get in the way of running this winter. I had three very challenging graduate classes, an overwhelming amount of work and stress, a new apartment, a new (real) relationship and simply did not have the time, or energy, to properly train. I have to respect my limitations and learn from this experience.

Even though I didn't complete that fourth race and the three races prior weren't my best, I did run 25 miles in one weekend. And that is STILL something to be happy about. Maybe next year, when grad school is done and I've finally unpacked this apartment, I'll train properly and return to Gasparilla for round 3.

I may have lost that battle, but I'm gonna win this war!