Sunday, September 05, 2010

I Run For Life

When I started running several years ago, it was a very selfish thing, that I needed to get through a very difficult time in my life. I wasn't sure then where it would go, but I needed it at that time and so I stuck with it. I never dreamed that I would enjoy running. I never dreamed of how powerful and strong running would make me feel. Something that I wasn't able to feel in my life, due to past circumstances. I remember the day I first went out on the tracks and ran uninterrupted for the first time (I had been following the C25K plan which has you start out with walking and short bursts of running). I think it might have only been a mile, but when I started, I couldn't run down the end of my street.

Over time I built up to a 3 mile routine. It involves a bunch of hills, one which is very steep, and in order to keep running further locally, it would require more hills. The thought of doing more hills makes my legs cry out in protest, and so I have stayed with a comfortable 3 mile run. I tried to get out 3x a week, and some weeks were better than others. Running is 90% mental, and 10% physical. You can convince yourself fairly quickly that running that day is silly. You are too tired, too sore, it's too hot, it's too cold, it's too late, you don't have enough time before work.. etc.

Early this summer, due to the hot temperatures, I started running at 6:00am. I discovered that I'm a morning running. The reason I was having such a hard time running after school is because I AM too tired. It IS too hot by then. I had stuff going on with the kids and DIDN'T have enough time. When I started my job at the blueberry farm, and was faced with working 8 hours a day outside in 100 degree temperatures that first week, the idea of running before hand made me want to hang up my running shoes.

Then I thought about my friend C. She's been battling breast cancer since around Christmas, She is also a runner, although she'll tell you she's not a very good one. She puts on her sneakers and hits the road... that's all it takes in my opinion. I thought about how much she had gone through those past 6 months, and how she couldn't run. About how some days, she was lucky if she could walk from the couch to the bathroom and then back. I thought about how petty I was being, not wanting to run because it was too hot, when she would probably jump at the chance, just to walk half a mile down the road and back. It was very humbling.

I decided that I was going to dedicate my running this summer to her. I signed up for a Half Marathon, that was going to be held on September 5th (today), to force myself out the door. I needed motivation to run on the days that it was 85 degrees out already at 6am. On the days that on top of being 85, the humidity was 100%. I switched my running schedule to get my long runs in on a day off, and would get up earlier to take The Boy™ to work so that I could run out by the HS where the ground is flatter. EVERY time I wanted to skip a run, or felt that it was too ______ (fill in the blank).. I thought of C and put my sneakers on and hit the road.

During the weeks that I trained, I sprained my ankle at work, pulled a muscle in my calf, broke my little toe and had an issue with a tendon in my foot. Last Sunday, as I headed out for my 10 mile run... the last long one before the race, I noticed that my calves were tight. This is an ongoing problem that I have had my whole running career, which I think might be brought on by stretching before I warm up. I'm going to switch that up and see if it helps.. but anyhow, last Sunday they were tight. As I started my run, they stayed tight. The left muscle seemed to loosen up as I ran, and the right did not. At the 3 mile marker, that calf muscle cramped up into a giant, tight knot. I stopped running, walked about, and tried to jog to see if I could keep going. The answer was a sharp painful no. I walked 1.5 miles to the HS where The Boy™ was, and went home, feeling really defeated.

I haven't run 3 feet all week. There is a tiny bit of residual tightness there, but I'd like to think it's 98% better. Either way, it doesn't matter. Today is the day. Today, I will run the longest mileage I have ever run in my life. I will head out, knowing that I can only manage an 11 minute mile on my best day, with the goal not to beat a time, or come in a place, but to finish. When I think it's too hard, or I'm too tired and just can't go on, I'll think of C. Next time, I will run with her. Today, I will run for her.

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