Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Redefining My Limits!

I started training with elite marathoner Justin Gillette on July 1, 2013.  The past 10 weeks have been very eye opening! 

The top 20 things I’ve learned from training with Justin Gillette these past 10 weeks:

1.       I’ve learned to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

2.      I’ve learned that sixteen 400’s won’t kill me.

3.      I’ve learned that the first mile repeat is always the hardest and slowest. 

4.      I’ve learned that you can add quality minutes and miles into your long runs instead of just long, slow distance runs. 

5.      I’ve learned that about 40 miles a week is the fine line between overtraining and training just enough…. for me, anyway.

6.      I’ve learned that preparation for a 20-miler is 90% mental.

7.      I’ve learned that I don’t want to disappoint my coach by not hitting the paces he has assigned.

8.      I’ve learned that I don’t want to disappoint myself as well. 

9.      I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I thought I was.

10.   I’ve learned that having a coach means that no thinking is required.  Read the training plan and just do it.  Thank you, Nike, I finally get it.

11.    I’ve learned that elite marathoners are people, too.

12.   I’ve learned that while I thought he had too much faith in my abilities when I first saw the training plan, I just had too little.

13.   I’ve learned that getting the training run in is more important than laundry but less important than my kid’s soccer game.

14.   I’ve learned that sometimes I have to get up at 4:30 a.m. to make it all work. 

15.   I’ve learned that much of running really is mental.  If your brain tells your legs to run faster, they usually will.

16.   I’ve learned that I feel equal parts crazy person and badass when starting a 20-miler before dawn.

17.   I’ve learned that earning praise from your coach goes a LONG way. 

18.   I’ve learned that if you run in the evening and are heading back out the next morning, showering is optional.  (The husband may not agree….)

19.   I’ve learned that I have the ability to embrace suffering and finish a workout, even when I’m not feeling it.

20.  I’ve learned that redefining my limits is money well spent.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Obsession? Devotion? Addiction?

I can’t explain it.

Where does this relentless need inside of me to run far, to test my limits, to fully and completely exhaust myself come from??   It seemed to materialize out of nowhere. 

I grew up obsessed with academics, not athletics.

My family members worked and worked hard, but never “worked out.”

I was a teacher and a wife and then a stay-at-home mother, not an athlete. 

But six years ago, something clicked.  That first mile run changed me, and quickly became 3, then 6, then 13, then 26.   Soon I had to know what it felt like beyond 26.  Now, I know how 31 and 38 feel.  Honestly, not that much worse.  As ultramarathoner Ann Trason says, “It hurts up to a point, and then it doesn’t get any worse.”   I want to experience 40 miles, 50 miles, and probably someday, I’ll want to run 100.  (Which is a really ridiculous premise when you think about it.)

This drive to run defines me.  When I run into friends at the grocery store, “Are you still running?” or “What are you training for?” are the first questions, even before, “How are Chris and the kids?”  People mainly try to relate to me through running.  It makes me feel a bit one-dimensional at times.   I posted a picture on Facebook that said, “Running isn’t my life, it just enriches and enhances the life I have.”  A good friend (who is also very honest) replied, “You sure about that?” 

At my twenty-five year high school reunion last weekend, a friend asked, “So how many miles did you run today before you came here?”  (The answer was 14.)   Another one told me that of everyone in our senior class, I was the last one she’d have picked to be running marathons in my 40’s.  I laughed and had to agree. 

Speaking of the 40’s, next week is my birthday.  Not a major one, no new age group or anything.  I am patiently waiting for that 45th one though, because then I can fathom the remote possibility of qualifying for Boston (I would still have a LONG way to go pace wise…. I mean a really, really LONG way to go). 

For now, I’ll just accept my little running obsession.  It has grown to be an inherent part of me, part of my soul.  I have an intense need to be outdoors, to move, to feel the sun on my face and the ground under my feet.  I have to set goals and fight to achieve them to feel complete. I pray that my priorities aren’t too skewed, that I’m not neglecting the things that matter for this thing that drives me.  Right now, I'm trying to find that happy medium, to strike a balance.   Work. In. Progress.