Saturday, July 30, 2011

Longest and Hardest Run Ever and Why It Matters

Mark and I were planning on running 14 miles today.  We were going to run at River Park where Team in Training was meeting, but our plan was to start at 5:30, an hour before the rest of the group, to avoid the heat and because we were going a little farther. Seems like a great plan, right?  Well nothing went according to plan.

Instead of getting up at 4:30, we turned the alarm off and slept until 5:30.  My stomach very much did not want to participate in the run.  After 2 bathroom stops, we finally made it in time to start after the group.  But it was overcast and not yet ridiculously hot, so there was hope. 

When we got to 2.5 miles we saw lightning and took cover just before the storm hit.  On the radar it looked like it was going to quickly pass, but then it appeared to move right on top of us for a long time.  We waited about 30 minutes and after the most severe weather was gone we took off.  Which, of course, was hard after not moving for so long.  It rained on us for the next 8 or so miles. 

I'm so familiar with routes at River Park that I didn't do much to prepare for this run.  Big mistake.  When we got to Ravenwood, we'd only been 4 miles.  So we went down Raintree and then back and then through Oakhall.  Then we came to Crockett Park. 

At mile 8.5, I realize we are only 1.5ish miles from our car.  What to do?  We both really wanted to get 14 in (ok maybe me a little more than Mark), but our car was so close.  And our conditions had been so bad for most of the run.  My shoes felt like they weighed 10 lbs each.  It seemed so easy to just go back then, but we decided we were committed to 14 so we, somewhat hesitantly, turned around and ran the opposite direction of our car.  

This was a big moment for me - it was a mental win.  It was a moment where I recommitted myself to the full the marathon in Dublin, to fundraising $10,000, to training on a set schedule no matter what, to eating properly to fuel my run and to my goals.  It's also the moment that reminded me why I signed up for this to begin with.  Because I have a choice to run, and people cancer have no choice.  They don't choose to be sick.  I choose to help them.

making silly faces with Tanner
For the next several miles I thought about sweet Tanner Page.  And how I would gladly run this far everyday if it meant she didn't have to have treatments for over 2 years and that she could just be a sweet, spunky little kid.  I also thought about my friend Jennifer Dunn who lost her son Chase to blood cancer.  I can't even imagine what she's been through.  When I wanted to quit today, thinking of Tanner and Chase and their families kept me going. 

When we got back to Ravenwood, we should only have had 4 miles to go.  However, with the detours we had taken it was really 5 miles.  At this point, my ipod was doing crazy things.  It had a mind all its own.  I couldn't turn the volume up or down or change songs.  This isn't tragic, but somehow it kept playing Christmas songs, which got really old when the sun came back out and it felt like it was a million degrees out.

The last few miles were by far my fastest - yes I'm surprised too.  I ran ahead of Mark with only about 4 miles to go.  Which was probably a smart thing to do, especially because I'm sure he wanted to kill me when he realized we were going to run 15 miles instead of 14. 

Since it's been a few hours since we finished, I can say it was a really good run.  It was hard, but empowering.

Our full marathon is just 3 months (holy crap) from tomorrow!  Our running only makes a difference if we also fundraise.  Please consider making a donation.  Visit our website at  Thank you so much for cheering us on and supporting us!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Letting Go of the Security Blanket

It's been almost 2 years since I started this running journey.  I began with Fleet Feet's No Boundaries Couch to 5k program.  Training ended with us being able to run 4 minutes/ walk 1 minute.  I was an interval runner, which was just fine with me.  I loved my walk breaks. 

However, there was a tiny part of me that wanted to run without intervals.  Now to be clear, when my legs and lungs were burning and my watch beeped signaling a walk break, that tiny part of me was quick to shut up.  But there's still been this desire to move beyond intervals.

A while back I learned Fleet Feet would soon begin a 10k training with a goal of running it without walk breaks.  This is very exciting because, I know myself well enough to know my chances of success are greater in a group.  I also knew a few my friends would be doing the training too.  It's much easier to stop and walk when I'm alone than it is when I'm in a group.

A few weeks ago on one of our Monday night runs, we decided to try it without intervals.  I ran 2 straight miles.  The most I'd ever run without a walk break.  Then on July 4th, I ran the firecracker 5k with someone who was finishing the no boundaries 5k training and wanted to run the whole thing.  It was my first 5k without intervals, though I did stop and walk a few times.  And in the interest of full disclosure, I had to let the person I was running with go ahead of me during the race.  She was so fast; I couldn't keep up!  But it was a giant step for me to run the race without the comfort of intervals.

Last Thursday at our group 10k training, I ran 3.5 miles without walking at all!  Drew Jones is leading the 10k training.  Before we started the run he said, it doesn't matter how slow we go just don't walk.  So I played that over and over in my head when I wanted to walk and kept pushing.  And amazingly, I was able to finish with a much faster time than my normal 3.5 miles.

I'm excited to be a part of this training and to be challenging myself.  I've known for a long time that I was physically able to run without intervals...but it's been a matter of convincing my mind.  I know it's going to get harder as we increase the mileage, but it will be worth it!  I'm planning on running my shorter weekly runs without intervals and keeping my intervals for our long runs and for the marathon.  My goal is to start the half marathon training next January in a non-interval group! 

* Mark and I will be running our first marathon this October in Dublin with Team in Training.  We have to raise $10,000 in order to participate.  All the money we raise benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which is a charity we've actively supported and volunteered with the last few years.  Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer.  Please help us find a cure.  Visit our website to make a donation and for more information.