September 25, 2011

Memphis Marathon Training: Week 6

This week, I ran my longest run EVER -- 14 miles. Leading up to my long run yesterday, I was so nervous. I didn't know if I could make it. But I did! And it really wasn't all that bad! I think I must have a selective memory because I've already blocked out how bad my Achilles hurt after I finished and how my feet throbbed the rest of the day. I feel OK now, so it's not important.

All I've really been thinking is...I could definitely do 6 more. While a full marathon is far longer than 14 miles and I'm worried about finishing 26.2, I've also been worried about getting through 20, which is my longest training run. I will run 20 miles on November 12, and if anything, yesterday showed me that I can do it. It will be slow, it will include walk breaks and it won't feel good or be easy, but I'm 14 miles closer to 20 than I was last week. If 14 miles can give me hope for covering 6 more, then if I can get through 20, maybe I'll see light at the end of the tunnel for another 6.2. The closer I get, the more it hurts, but also, the closer I get, the more optimism I have for getting through this thing on December 3. Tomorrow, when I try to run again after my long 14 miles, will be the true test of my sunny outlook.

In week 5, I fought shin and calf pain like I've never experienced in my life. So this week, I didn't do speed work to try to take it easy on my legs so they wouldn't be a disaster before I even started my 14 mile run. And I didn't have ANY pain at all in week 6! I don't know if cutting speed work was the key, but I'm hoping my shins stay quiet again this week.  

Speed Rest
My whole week was off from running the Hillbilly 5K on Saturday and doing my long run on Sunday, so I rearranged my schedule for the week and didn't try running back-to-back days.

Cross train Easy run
Trea was out of town for work all week, so I was on my own for every workout. This is new territory for me since we always do everything together. I've never run more than 5 miles by myself. The weather was perfect and cool, so I went to the Bella Vista trail and ran 4 miles around the pond. My shins had been killing me for over a week, and I didn't want to attempt speed work and make it worse. I intended to run slow and not try to push myself, so I just ran by feel and didn't pay attention to my Garmin.  I somehow ended up running quite a bit faster than I normally do and had an amazing run! I wanted to keep going, but I ran out of daylight and spiders the size of chihuahuas started coming out of the trees. Now, that'll make me run fast!

4 miles/42:20/10:34 avg. pace

5 Tempo Cross train
Since my running days were off, I wasn't able to make it to spin class. Instead, I decided to just ride my bike. I have a bike rack that goes on the back of my car, but if it stays on all the time, I can't open my back hatch, which makes grocery shopping no fun at all. So when we ride bikes, Trea puts on the bike rack right before we leave, and he loads up the bikes so we can take them to the park. But this week, I was on my own. I had no idea how to put the bike rack on my car, so I didn't even try it. Both our bikes stay on a rack on the garage wall, and I had to take down Trea's mountain bike before I could get to mine. I was worried about even doing that, much less getting the thing in the car. But I was able to pick up Trea's bike off the wall and move it out of the way! And then I was able to pick up my bike! Then, I laid the back seats down in my car and put the bike inside. It fit, but just barely. And I did it all by myself!

Solo bike ride

After work, I rode around the dog park until it got too buggy to stay out. I used to think fatigue and dehydration were the most important things to worry about on runs and while biking, but really, swarms of gnats are even worse. It was a gorgeous evening, and the park was super crowded. There were lots of other runners (who wouldn't share the path!!) and cyclists and puppies. I even saw a family having a real picnic...on a blanket, with a basket, in a field under some trees, like on TV. I didn't have enough daylight to ride very long, but I had a great time and was so proud of myself for loading and unloading my bike.

7.77 miles/40:00

Cross train 5 Tempo
I ran with my friend, Laura, for this one. It was cool out and easy to run faster, but we were too busy visiting to hold a tempo pace. I barely even listened to my music. It was so nice to catch up with a friend that I don't see often enough! She's been having aches and pains too lately, and we both realized afterward that nothing hurt the entire time! Maybe we were chatting too much to notice?

5.01 miles/54:44/10:55 avg. pace


14 Long
Trea got home late Friday night, so he wasn't feeling up to an early long run Saturday morning. That left just me, Lori and Laura. We took it slow and kept to a pace that let us talk easily. The first 3 miles were kind of awful, which is almost always the case with long runs. It takes me forever to warm up. For some reason, I felt my best at mile 10, which I never thought I'd say.

The weather was cool and cloudy and it had been sprinkling and threatening to rain off and on the whole time. Around mile 11, it started to seriously rain big drops, but it was just enough to feel refreshing and fantastic. At this point, I was about to run out of water, and seeing the raindrops made me thirstier! I barely sipped the last couple of miles so I wouldn't totally run out, and I made it to the end without any issues. I know I'll need something bigger than my 22 oz. handheld bottle for longer runs, even in the cooler weather, so I'm not sure what to do next time since I've tried three different hydration belts and hated them all. I'm considering a backpack or vest of some sort. I would appreciate any suggestions!

14 miles/2:40/11:25 avg. pace

Total running miles for the week: 23

10 weeks till Memphis!

September 21, 2011

Memphis Marathon Training: Week 5

I had a rough training week last week, with lots of shin pain that I still haven't gotten rid of. I've had sore shins and calves ever since marathon training started. That's also about the same time that I got new shoes -- Nike Zoom Structures. So I don't know if the pain is from the shoes or from increasing my mileage, but whatever the reason, it's gotten much worse. What started as a dull ache several weeks ago ended up in sharp, shooting, stabbing pain in my left leg last week that made my cut my speed work short and take an extra rest day. Could it be medial shin splints? Boy, I hope not.

My chiropractor thinks my gait is affected because my hips are always out of alignment. This apparently makes me run weird and put more weight on one leg than the other. This theory might also explain why I always have a blister in the same spot on one foot, no matter what shoes or socks I wear. While I'm sure my alignment issues play a role, I just looked back at my stats on Daily Mile and think I cracked the code. I went from running 41 miles in July to running 72 miles in the month of August. Yikes! That increase probably should've been a little more gradual. I don't want to risk an injury that would keep me from training, so I'm paying very close attention to my shins and will rest as needed to try to get better. I'm also looking at getting new shoes to see if a little more stability would improve things.

I went to the track and ran a mile to warm up before starting 1600 meter (1 mile) repeats. I was supposed to do three repeats of 1600 meters, with a short rest in between. As soon as I started my warm up, I felt a stabbing pain in my left shin, but I was hoping it would go away after I warmed up a bit and stretched. I stopped to stretch so many times, but nothing helped. I ran my first repeat at 9:33 (right on target!!) and the second repeat at 9:40. My paces were so close to what they were supposed to be, which never happens, so I hated to cut the run short, but I just couldn't stand the pain anymore. I was literally limping after my second repeat and couldn't even finish a good cool down. We home and iced my legs, but it was still very painful even just walking around the next day.

3.25 miles/32:28/9:59 avg. pace

Cross train
Spin class is back after a two-week break for summer! Fall classes just started, and it was so good to be back. My teacher isn't super, but it's still a good workout.

Spinning/50 minutes

6 Tempo Rest
Spin class aggravated my shin pain, so I ended up taking an unplanned rest day.

6 Tempo
Trea and I both worked late and had to run most of these miles in the dark. We kept running into deer along the bike trails in town! I wore my trusty old (worn out) Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10's to see if maybe my Nikes were causing my shin pain. I still had significant pain and struggled a lot, but it was much better than Monday. My legs hurt too much to manage a tempo pace, so I just focused on getting the miles done.

6 miles/1:06:42/11:06 avg. pace

Saw my chiropractor, who put me back in alignment and massaged my calf muscles until I thought I was going to die. It was painful, but it definitely helped!

12 Long 3.1 trail/mud run
I rescheduled and split up my long run for the Hillbilly Mud Run 5K. I ran it with the NWA Jogaholics, and it was certainly a one-of-a-kind experience! For a recap and fun pics, click on over HERE.

Rest 9 Long
I ran the rest of my 12 miles on Sunday in between thunderstorms. The weather was nasty out, but we got a break in the rain for just long enough to run. It was hot, humid and overcast, and I seriously struggled the whole time. I hit a wall at mile 2 somehow and had to stop about a zillion times to walk, stretch my calves and just catch my breath. I was surprisingly sore from running steep hills at Saturday's mud run, so these 9 miles were not pleasant at all. But I got it done!

9 miles/1:45:09/11:41 avg. pace

Total mileage for the week: 21.35

11 weeks till Memphis! (actually about 10 and a half since this recap is late!)

September 20, 2011

I am a runner

I run, plan to run, read about running, map out running routes, shop for running gear and stretch my sore legs in an unladylike manner -- ALL the time. I even got a haircut just so I would have a more comfortable ponytail for running.

It's what I do.

I train usually 5 days a week. So, no, I can't go to happy hour with you. I can't go to dinner with the girls (though I still appreciate the invitation!). Why? Because it's Tuesday. I train on Tuesday. It is written in the plan, and so it must be done. Or because I have to get up at stupid-thirty (as That Pink Girl says) for my long Saturday run, which means I can't go out on Friday. I will turn down a burger or a steak the day before a long run because I require more carbs than that. So I can run. This is my life.

Training isn't always fun. It's a hassle. It's hard, and it hurts. It gets in the way of just about everything. It keeps me from wearing high heels. It means early mornings, running so hard I want to throw up and running so slow that I start to think my Garmin is broken when the miles tick by like molasses. It means uncontrollable napping on weekends and drinking gallons of water every day.

These marathons, they don't train for themselves. It's hard work, and I volunteered for it. But on December 3, I will run the streets of Memphis with my friends. I will arrive at the starting line knowing that I've done all I can do to prepare. On race day, I will be able to look back at 16 weeks of exhaustion, frustration, running through heat, humidity, rain and cold...and say I did my best.

Failure is not an option. This is why I train. 

September 17, 2011

Hillbilly Mud Run 5K

*Edited Sept. 18 for the addition of more photos
Today, I ran a 5K, swung like Tarzan over a mud pit, climbed a rope ladder and stripped to my skivvies in a field. Seriously.

I agreed to this race a couple of months ago, against my better judgment. At the time, it was 793 degrees outside and running through the mud seemed like a bad idea, but doable. And then on race day, I woke up to 55 degrees and torrential rain. Not exactly what I envisioned for my obstacle course debut.

The race was in Ft. Smith, and I just knew we would be freezing and soaking wet the whole time. But when we got into town, it looked like there hadn't been much rain and it was about 10 degrees warmer there. Trea and I were planning to meet up at the race with the rest of our team, the NWA Jogaholics, who were about 15 minutes ahead of us. And then we got lost!! Google Maps failed to mention a very important exit number, and we zoomed right on by...and into OKLAHOMA. It seemed like forever before we got to an off ramp so we could turn around. My friends tried to pick up our packets for us and save us some time, but the race people wouldn't let them for some reason. I thought we weren't going to make it in time to run at all.

We finally found the one-lane dirt road that led to the race...a road that was in such bad shape I was wishing for a monster truck...and it was already 15 minutes until the start time.

Glad we didn't take my car
We had to park in a field that was pretty far away from the start and the registration tent. By the time we went all the way from the truck to get our numbers and chips - and then back to the truck to stow our t-shirts and goodie bags - the race started without us! We ran back from the truck to the starting line and saw our friends well on their way down the trail toward the obstacles. Again, not what I envisioned. Stupid Google Maps.

Thank you, Travis, for the photos!!
We were determined to catch up and made good time. While we were running, the weather was perfect, and I was actually too warm. Fortunately, some hillbillies doused me pretty good with a water cannon (i.e. homemade fire hose), and that cooled me off. There were no mile markers on the course, but I think we were about to the halfway point when we caught up to folks on our team. We had gone over a giant sand hill and had mostly been running on dirt bike paths and through thick brush -- most of which had been suspiciously free of mud -- when we saw our team at the rope swings. Trea swung over the mud pit ahead of me and sank up to his knees in black, stinky mud. This was the first serious mud we had seen the whole time and it smelled way too much like sewage. I swung over and to the side and only sank a little over my ankles. With much squealing and prancing about, I made my way across without falling or losing a shoe. Then it was just more dry trails and thick brush, with a couple more obstacles. Not much mud though.

My favorite obstacle
I'm not complaining or anything. Running with mud in my shoes is not my idea of a good time, so I was happy to not have mud from head to toe. But I had judged the event based on the photos from the previous race and expected a lot more than what we got. I should've looked more closely at the obstacle descriptions for today's race rather than relying on past photos for details...since upon further examination, the race organizers consider a little pile of gardening mulch to be an obstacle. Basically, it was just a trail run with about 4-5 actual obstacles and very little mud. But I will say that mulch is super easy on the old knees!

John found a way to get dirty! Go big or go home! (Notice me in the background realizing there's mud on the mouth of my water bottle. Mud runs ain't my thang, y'all.)

Trea ran with me and made sure I got through the obstacles. I think I'll keep him.

We definitely got dirty, just not nearly as dirty as I expected since there was only one real mud pit. And that turned out to be a good thing since there was no where to change and no operating showers or water to clean up with!

Which leads us to my stripping to my skivvies in a field. 

There was no way we could get back in the truck like we were. Our bottom halves were totally disgusting. My pants and shoes were heavy and weighed down from all the mud -- so they had to come off. I tried to hide behind the truck door, but it was an open field with people coming and going in every direction. Hope they enjoyed the show! We put everything in a garbage bag and tried to clean up with baby wipes. I had just gotten my clean pants on when the skies opened up and it began to POUR. After we left the race area, we drove around Ft. Smith for a bit looking for a place to eat, and it was raining so hard we could barely see the road. The folks that ran the course in the second wave definitely had no shortage of mud!!

So...I don't love mud runs. BUT, we had a good time, and it was fun to mix things up and do something different. And I always have fun with my running buddies. Yay team NWA Jogaholics!

September 11, 2011

Memphis Marathon Training: Week 4

It's time for week 5 already?! That means the Memphis Marathon is only 3 months away! Yikes. Things are going better for me, after weeks of zombie-like exhaustion. I think I finally either found somewhat of a balance for rest and training, or I'm just used to being tired. Whatever the reason, I've been considerably less whiny lately. This week, I ran all of my training runs with friends! And in cool weather! Happiest training week ever.

I was supposed to run 5 repeats of 1K at the track with 400 meter rest intervals...but it was Labor Day and time for the annual Free Bella Vista 5K and pancake breakfast, so I ran that instead. Sadly, they don't like for you to take rest intervals during races. I mean, you can, but it won't work out well. So I met up with some of my favorite running buddies and ran the hilliest little 5K ever. It was lovely, and I had such a good time. Trea set a new PR and finished in 25:55!

3.1 miles/31:25/10:08 avg. pace

Over the holiday weekend, we also celebrated Trea's birthday! He had mentioned wanting to add strength work and tone up, but we both hate the gym, so I got him Insanity. We tried Day 1 on Monday evening, which is a Fit Test to see how much you can handle before starting the program. Oh. My. Word. It was truly insane. In my living room. We had to move the furniture back to make room for the craziness, and we spent the first 10 minutes laughing hysterically because we both have ZERO coordination. We were going the opposite direction that we were supposed to be going, scaring the dogs with all our jumping around, and at one point, Trea almost kicked the TV. It was out of control. Also, it was REALLY hard. Insanity is definitely an amazing workout, but it is not good (for us) to combine with marathon training. Yikes. We'll try again after the race is over. By that time, the weather will be cold and nasty and no fun for running anyway.

30 minutes of Insanity/Survived

Cross Train
I woke up on Tuesday barely able to walk after running crazy hills at a 5K pace and then jumping around with Insanity like a maniac. Muscles in my lower back were sore that I didn't even know existed. My legs were painfully tight and stiff. I foam rolled my legs when I woke up, again over lunch, and used The Stick in the evening, but they were still in knots. For that reason, we went for a walk instead of a bike ride. The weather was gorgeous, and we walked around the Bella Vista trail. We took our dog Bella with us and had such a good time! Near the end of our walk, we found a stick that was perfect for fetching and threw it into the creek. Bella swam and swam and LOVED it! We finally had to make her go home; I think she would've fetched that stick until she collapsed. When we got home, Trea said, "Did you take any pictures of Bella swimming in the creek?" And my jaw hit the floor. Normally, I take tons of pictures and he gets so annoyed with me and wants to just enjoy the moment instead of trying to document it. Before we left for our walk, I purposely left behind my camera and even my phone so I wouldn't be tempted to "ruin the moment" by snapping photos. So you'll just have to trust me, and Trea will have to rely on his memory. Bella was adorable.

Walked 2 miles

6 Tempo
My legs were still screaming on Wednesday, and I was not looking forward to this run. I've learned that my Wednesday tempos are the worst runs of the whole week. Running at a faster speed for a longer distance at the end of a work day is just no fun. But this week, my training friends who also hate Wednesday runs were available to meet up and get it over with together. Lori and Alicia ran with me and Trea, and we were all still sore from our previous runs and just not feeling it. I stopped us 3 miles in to stretch out my cramping calves, but for the most part, we kept a decent pace. Running in a group is so much easier than running alone. It can be hard to find a comfortable pace because there's always someone who wants to go slower (me) or faster (them), but usually, we can meet in the middle, find a pace that will work for everyone and get the miles done. When you're running with other people, you know you can't quit. If I had been alone, I would've quit at 4 miles for sure.

6.02 miles/1:03:42/10:35 avg. pace

Cross Train Packers vs. Saints!
First game of the season means an automatic rest day! Priorities, people.


11 Long
My longest training run yet! When I trained for the Bentonville Half Marathon, I only built up to 10 miles before running 13.1 on race day, so I was pretty nervous about this run. After taking two rest days though, my legs felt fresh, and everything went great. It was a cool 55 degrees and overcast skies, which makes a perfect running day.

11 miles/2:03:00/11:10 avg. pace

I've been running my long runs faster than my training plan says to, and I'm going to try to stop doing that. I'm fine with speeding up toward the end of the run if I can, but I've been running the whole thing faster than I should because I love running with my group, and I know everyone doesn't want to run a 12:00 pace. But as the miles progress through this plan, the prescribed paces will get slightly faster. I can run these miles now faster than a 12:00 average, but I'm not sure if I should. I read something today that said one of the biggest training mistakes you can make is running your long runs too fast. The paces I've been running are tolerable, but it feels like I'm running my race pace each week when my plan says I should run slower than that -- on purpose -- even though I'm capable of running faster. At the end of my training plan, I'll run faster, but right now, it looks like I'm just supposed to be building up my endurance and getting my legs used to running long miles. I know I'm a rookie, but from what I've read, it just doesn't seem like you're supposed to go out and run your race pace every single week...even if that seems slow to most people. I'm running this marathon just to finish. I don't have a time goal; it would be unwise to set one. So it seems like ignoring my plan is not a good decision, and if that means I end up running alone for the last half of my long runs, I'm totally fine with that. I know what comes the week after a long run, and I have to make sure I don't sap all my energy and miss out on the rest of my workouts.

Thankfully, I feel fine today, even though I ran a bit too fast yesterday. The cool weather gave me a boost, and it felt great just to run and not have to wheeze through 90% humidity. But this week, I'm going to try to stick to the pace the plan tells me to and see how that goes.

Total running mileage for the week: 20.5-ish

12 weeks till Memphis!

September 8, 2011

We should've had pancakes

Monday morning, on what I hoped would be a lazy Labor Day, my alarm went off at 6 a.m. I was still exhausted and sore from my 10-mile run on Saturday, and I had no problem hitting the snooze button. However, Trea, who does no favors for my beauty sleep, bounded out of bed ready to race the Free Bella Vista 5K. A few days before, I had tweeted and emailed every local runner I knew, thinking it would be fun to run a free race with friends and get my speed work out of the way for the day. But at 6 a.m. on a holiday, I had no interest in my running shoes.

I snoozed my alarm until 6:50...for a 7:30 a.m. race! I finally talked myself into going, threw on the first clothes I could find, had a quick bite to eat and rushed out the door. The race was just a few minutes from my house in the wooded, rural hills of Bella Vista, and since it was free, it didn't feel like a real race. There were no nervous jitters. I hadn't spent one second thinking about my iPod playlist. I just rolled out of bed and showed up. And y'all, it was 56 degrees!!

It was a beautiful, sunny morning, and several of my friends showed up all sleepy-eyed and ready to run. I don't know how many people were running and the results haven't been posted (Trea is super upset about this). There was no chip timing; just a spray-painted starting line and a kid taking our bib numbers when we came back for the finish. It was awesome. We only had a minute or two to warm up since we arrived just before it started, so I was standing at the starting line with chattering teeth and freezing fingers. Hard to believe that just a week ago I was melting!

Guess who's still sleepy...
At the gun, Trea disappeared almost immediately, as usual. He loves to sprint the first mile of a 5K. My friends, Alicia and Ben, were racing for the first time, and they got a fast start too. Laura ran with me the whole time, and I didn't even turn my music on until after mile 2. She was recovering from the Hotter N' Hell half marathon trail race from the weekend before, and Kelly was recovering from Hood to Coast. We were some achy runners! I had the best time chatting with Laura, keeping a semi-easy pace, but not going slow either. I should've expected hills since every road in Bella Vista goes straight up, but this was seriously the hilliest course I've ever run. I don't think I've ever run so many hills - ever - not in training, and certainly not in a race. It felt almost like a trail run! A good bit of it was on a gravel road that was all uphill, but the cool temperatures made it feel less awful. I was so glad to not be wheezing in 90% humidity.

Laura and I finished in about 31:25, and Trea, Alicia and Ben were already done. Trea set a new PR and finished in 25:55! This is why he's upset about not having results posted. He really wants to see that number on a finisher list, and I don't blame him.

Alicia and Ben both finished well under 30 minutes, I believe, and this was a tough course for a first race. I can't wait to see what they do at their next one!

Alicia and Ben
Kelly did awesome, and I'm so glad she came out to the woods to run with us!

This is the first race that I haven't really raced, and it was refreshing to just get out and run with friends and have a good time. After the 5K, there was also a fun run for kids and later on, a FREE pancake breakfast. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I'm still kicking myself for not staying for pancakes. We had gotten sweaty during our run and still had time to kill before they fed people, and we decided we were too cold to hang around. Big mistake. I hear the pancakes were phenomenal. We'll definitely have some next year!

September 6, 2011

Memphis Marathon Training: Week 3

Week 3 was rough. The exhaustion of full marathon training hit me hard, and all I wanted to do was sleep and whine about how tired I was. I'm still exhausted, but I got some much needed encouragement from my awesome runner friends, so I'm doing OK now. I also went back through my blog archives and remembered that I posted about miserable exhaustion in week 3 of half marathon training, and it eventually got better, so I have hope that I'll get used to this training plan too.

Speed Rest
I felt terrible all day and just didn't have the energy to run. Not sure if was the raging pollen levels sending my allergies over the edge, or just exhaustion bringing on a cold. Either way, I felt like I was fighting off getting sick all week.

Cross Train Speed
Skipped a bike ride to get my speed workout done. I felt pretty good and ran at the local track, but my legs were sluggish and I never came close to the paces I was supposed to run. It was a ladder workout of 1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400 and 200 meters, with 200 meter rest intervals between each one. I even used a fancy pace chart.

4.71 miles/Splits: 9:34, 9:35, 9:30, 9:26, 9:20, 8:51

Tempo 7 Tempo 5
Trea was fighting allergies or a cold on Wednesday, so he wasn't able to run with me. I've never attempted more than 5 miles by myself, but I thought I would be fine. Unfortunately, I still haven't learned that I'm not conditioned to run hard two days in a row. I never could find my groove and took way too many walk breaks. It got dark while I was out and I didn't feel comfortable running in the dark alone, not because I felt unsafe, but because there was no one to run ahead and break through the spiderwebs hanging from the trees. I was so mad at myself for cutting my run short by 2 miles, but I was hot and tired and just wanted to go home. I calmed down by kicking off my shoes and walking barefoot through the splash park. Hardly anyone else was out, and it was so peaceful. The cold concrete felt amazing on my tired, hot feet. I could have laid down in the middle of the jets and taken a nap.

5 miles/57:00/11:24 avg. pace

Cross Train Rest
My new bike spent another day in the garage, and I spent another evening completely exhausted on the couch.


10 long
My first double digit run since the Bentonville Half Marathon in April! I ran with a group again, and that is seriously the way to go with longer runs. We kept about the same easy pace as last week and didn't really take any walk breaks. We were all hoping that crosswalks would take longer to change and give us time to stretch a bit, but we were able to cruise right through most intersections. We powered through and had a great run. I spent the rest of the day with my feet up, in compression calf sleeves and ice on my knees!

10.02 miles/1:56:07/11:35 avg. pace

Total mileage for the week: 19.73

13 weeks till Memphis!

September 5, 2011

We're in it together

Runners stick together. We form bonds and become part of a community without even realizing that it's happening.

Last week, when I had a mini-meltdown and threw myself a pity party, my runner friends came to my rescue. When I questioned everything that I'm doing, they -- you -- reminded me that everyone has rough moments, especially at the beginning of training. You reminded me that we're in this together and that all my exhaustion will be worth it when we cross the finish line in Memphis in December.

When I started running last year, I thought it was something I would do alone. It's not a team sport and it's up to me to decide when I run, how far and how fast. I thought it would be just me and the road. I couldn't have been more wrong. Through this blog, Twitter, Daily Mile -- the interwebs -- I have made new friends that have become dear friends. I've become part of the coolest club that's not a club. I am a runner.

On my early weekend long runs, I'm always struck by how many runners I see out on the road and how many of them smile, wave and say good morning, as though we know each other.

We know each other's pain.

Running is more difficult than anything I've ever attempted before. Physically, it's tough, and mentally, you learn what you're made of. You learn how to tell your brain to shut up when it's telling your legs to slow down or stop. And when you can't go any farther, another runner will be there to cheer you on. Because they know a day will come when they will need encouragement too.

So, thank you, runners. Thank you for reminding me that I'm strong enough to accomplish my goal. And thank you for reminding me that we're fighting the same battle -- on the same team.

September 1, 2011

Narcoleptic Runner

Everyone knows running is my favorite hobby, but lately, I have a new pastime -- uncontrollable napping.

I'm only in week 3 of marathon training, and I have never been more exhausted in my life. I'm not even sure why since I'm so exhausted that I'm not even doing all my workouts. Cross training on my pretty new bike? Not so much. I've ridden it once. The rest of my scheduled cross training days have been spent on the couch, dozing until an acceptable bedtime.

I don't understand why training has hit me so hard, since I thought I had prepared for it. I started spin class months ago to get my body used to being active more days per week and so I wouldn't be introducing something new to my legs as I started marathon training, knowing that the increased training would be tough. I've been increasing my mileage gradually all summer so I would be ready to meet the requirements of my plan. But still, I can hardly keep my eyes open, and my body doesn't want to do anything at all this week. I'm even starting to feel like I'm fighting off a cold. I've had to force myself to get through only 2 of my 4 scheduled workouts, and one of them I ended up cutting short. This is not the way it was supposed to go.

Marathon runners, I need your help.
In your first experience with marathon training, did you have problems with miserable fatigue? Were you distracted all day just thinking about when you could finally lay your head on a pillow? Is it just me?

I'm so tired that I'm reconsidering this whole plan. Maybe I'm not cut out for this. Maybe I'm not one of those people who can just go run 8 or 9 miles and then go to work all day, go grocery shopping, cook dinner, pay bills and spend quality time with my husband and friends. So far, I can't seem to fit it all in. And the physical exhaustion is driving me crazy. Because when I'm not rested, I'm not good at anything. I'm irritable, distracted and I certainly can't run.

What's the secret? Will my body get used to this soon? Will things get better? I'm not asking for training to get easier; I'm increasing my mileage every week, so I know easy will never be part of this equation. But I need to know that this fatigue will pass. If this crazy exhaustion isn't normal for a beginner in training, I might not make it till December.

I'm gonna go take a nap while I eagerly await wise and reassuring feedback.


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