May 27, 2010

Sometimes running is amazing

This past week, I had been getting very nervous about the upcoming 5k. I said back in February or so that I would do this, and have been training (albeit slowly) ever since. Up to last week though, I had yet to ever run greater than 1.5 miles at a time. In addition to that, I have never trained as often as I thought I should (I've only made the 3 days/week goal maybe twice), and I just generally didn't know what I thought I was thinking attempting a 3.1 mile run.

So, after much freaking out and misdirected frustration, I settled on the fact that I just had to get down to brass tacks. I had to actually GO at least 3 miles. I just had to do it, no matter what it was going to take. Monday evening came, and I told Bryan to come pick me up at the end of the rail trail in an hour. He had already Google Earthed the route for me, and from our front door to the end of the trail is 3.1 miles. I just had to go try it, see how long it took, and work from there. The race was in less than 2 weeks, after all.

Off I went. I had prepared a running mix with a 5-minute warm-up song (to which I would walk, pace be damned!), then 25 minutes of "running music," followed by a 3:40 minute walking song. I figured at this point I would be halfway done, so I put 25 more minutes of "running music" after that, and figured the journey would take me 50-55 minutes to complete.

I walked to the rail trail, which took more than 5 minutes, but oh well. I didn't feel like running on the sidewalk just yet. I was prepared to run when I got to the trail, so that's what I did. Still very self conscious about running in front of strangers, I [cussed] in my head when I got to the trail and saw several people sitting on benches. I thought "should I wait 'till I'm past (or out of sight of) them before I start running?" I considered it, but then started my jog just as I was walking in front of them. Screw it! Watch this big-legged lady run, people, and love it!

I ran. I just ran. As usual, after about 1 minute my body was like "What? We're running again? I don't want to..." (or is that my mind?). I pushed through that, of course, and it went away. I ran past a guy walking and smoking a cigarette... I ran as a cop car came driving down the rail trail towards and past me (ever heard of bikes, cops?), I ran past several bikers (going the opposite direction; no, I cannot yet beat wheels with my mere legs), and I ran past one lady who was walking in exercise clothes, listening to music just like I was. She could've been me--except that I was running!

At one point I was feeling ready to stop, and I was convinced that my "break song" was directly after the current one. When that song ended, I instantly started walking in anticipation of sweet Nina Simone in my ear, but it wasn't her time yet. I walked for maybe 15 seconds, a little dejected, but then started running again. Two songs later, Nina came on, and I thanked her for the break and started to walk.

I realized that I was much further than halfway to my destination. I had been in an unrecognizable area of Beckley, but now I was going under an overpass that I have driven many times. I knew I was pretty close. I started to run again even before Ms. Simone was finished, and soon came around a bend. Ahead of me was one very long straight stretch, and I could see the picnic pavilion that meant the end of my run. I just thought, "Well, I can run to there. I just have to." And I did.

I reached the end, ran a little further (because weirdos were doing some kind of drug deal in the pavilion), and then walked. I had done it! I looked at my Runkeeper, and it said I had gone 3.02 miles in... get this... 40 minutes! Couldn't believe it.

I waited for Bryan and the kids at our rendezvous spot for 20 minutes, happy as a clam. I stretched, drank water, and just sat on the grass. It was awesome. I knew that I could do it. I can run that 3.1 miles next Saturday, and I might not even have to stop to walk at all. Great feeling. I'll never forget it.

May 11, 2010

Sometimes running is really hard

Well, the good news is I already knew that running was hard. In fact, I knew that running was much harder some days than it is other days. I have read and heard that from enough sagely runners that I know it well, and I have had my share of days that are harder than others, and also those that float on by without much fuss.

Yesterday I didn’t much feel like going out to run. It wasn’t one of the worst days, just a “Nah, don’t want to” kinda day. But I did what I normally do when I’m scheduled to run but I feel that way: I made up a meticulous playlist, timing the walks with easy songs, the run with increasingly intense songs to get me through; then I changed into my running gear; finally, I went outside with the intention to “just take a walk if that’s all I want to do.” When I get my Couch to 5k Running App on though, and the dude says “run,” I know I will obey.

So, I go out. It’s not too bad, and I know I’ll ease into it. I knew it would be kinda hard anyway, because it’d been 5 days since I last ran (due to being sick at the end of last week, not really able to breathe very well).

One thing that I hadn’t factored in was that, while I was feeling much better, my chest/throat/face was still quite full of phlegm. It is hard to run through phlegm. Phlegm wants to come up, it wants to get out, and it gets desperate about that when lungs start pumping and noses are breathing hard. I was a mess, like Dean Koontz’s Victor Frankenstein creation, Werner, who eventually went terribly awry (from Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: City of Night):

Werner, security chief at the Hands of Mercy, was such a solid block of muscle that even a concrete floor ought to have sagged under him. Yet he never lifted weights, never exercised. His perfected metabolism maintained his brute physical form in ideal condition, almost regardless of what he ate.
He had a problem with snot, but they were working on that.
Once in a while—not all the time, not even frequently, but nonetheless often enough to be an annoyance—the mucous membranes in his sinuses produced mucus at a prodigious rate. On those occasions, Werner often went through three boxes of Kleenex per hour.
Victor could have terminated Werner, dispatched his cadaver to the landfill, and installed Werner Two in the post of security chief. But these snot attacks baffled and intrigued him. He preferred to keep Werner in place, study his seizures, and gradually tinker with his physiology to resolve the problem.
Standing beside a currently snotless Werner in the security room, Victor watched a bank of monitors on which surveillance tapes revealed the route Randal Six had taken to escape the building.

I was a mass of snot, phlegm, coughing, wheezing, chest pain, and I didn’t have the determination to run through all of that. I was supposed to run for 25 minutes straight yesterday (the longest I would have ever run), and instead I nearly threw up, and walked about 40% of that 25 minutes.

Oh well, we only do what we can do, right? That was all I could do yesterday, and I have plenty of room for improvement.

I know I’ll continue, and I know I’ll do the best I can do. I also know that I’m doing that 5k on June 12th, and I will do the best I can do on that day. But my question is, what will be my best that day? Will I have another chest full of phlegm? Will I be feeling crampy or whiney or complainey? Will I have prepared enough to be able to actually run the entire time, without having to stop and walk?

I’m hoping that the answers to those first 2 questions will be ‘no.’ I probably won’t be sick that day, and I am unlikely to not be jazzed to run that morning. It’s a race, after all, and I’ll be pretty excited about it, albeit scared. But the third question might very well be answered unfavorably. I might not have the stamina to run for 3.1 miles straight with no walk breaks. I just might not.

And aside from not wanting my family to have made a trip to “see me run,” only to see me walking part of the way—aside from that, I’m okay with it (I think). I don’t want to have to walk, and I don’t want to finish in >45 minutes, but if that’s where I am, that’s where I am. I’ve lost 48 pounds in the last 9 months, and I never ever thought I’d be running in a race. I’ve never wanted to run farther than about 40 feet.

But I’m going to do it; nay, I am doing it. I’ve found that that’s one of the hardest things to realize when you’re actually doing something difficult. You think the difficulty is in the future, and you won’t be able to do it. But I am doing it. I’m doing it right now, and every step I take gets me closer to finishing it. It will be okay. I’ll save 5k #2 or #3 for trying to get a better time. This time, I’m just doing it. 

May 4, 2010

A Much-Needed Task Enema

Ahhhhh, what a great feeling! My two Spring term classes are finally over, and I have a 2-week hiatus before the next class starts. It's a great feeling. I don't know if any of you share my woes of having the bowels of a much, much older woman, but the feeling I have now about my life being free of back-up and gunk for the next 2 weeks is so much like the feeling I get after a really satisfying trip to the ladies' room (see, if I say "ladies' room" that makes it totally couth).

Since finishing my classes about 24 hours ago, I have cleared so many little tasks off of my desk, both personal and work-wise. These things just piled up on me for the last several months, and now that my mind is clear of "learning" for a little while, I can easily knock these things out in 10-15 minutes apiece. My bills are scheduled to be paid, I have called Zene's future preschool and arranged a registration form, medical bills are either paid or arranged, and my drawer of "things to deal with when I have time" is practically empty (or, at least very organized). I feel GREAT!

I've found that living a healthy lifestyle finds its way into many other aspects of one's life. They were not totally crazy on The Biggest Loser this season when they invited that crazy money lady to come and talk about the contestant's finances. These things really do go hand in hand. I've actually been paying down credit card debt for the last few months--unprecedented! ...I can't say that my house is in much better shape than it usually is, day-to-day-wise, but Bryan and I have found the gumption to do many valuable home projects in the last 6-9 months ("Sixty-nine moths??!" "No. Six TO nine months")

When I'm feeling this good and flushed out, it's hard to make myself think back to what it feels like to be all bound up with tasks, but I feel like I should at least consider how to keep myself from getting that way in the first place. On the bowel front, I know that flax, water, and fruit/veggies will do me just fine... for tasks though? Well, I guess I need to sometimes set everything else aside, put schoolwork and everything in a compartment in my mind, and concentrate on those tasks. It's hard to do when other stuff seems so much more important, but if I can manage that, then maybe I won't have the need for a task enema a the end of every semester.