Only “Half” Dead!: The Half Marathon Edition

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Saturday was THE DAY. It wasn’t easy, but I did it! I ran the Fort4Fitness Half Marathon for the second time! I’m pretty proud of me right now. And I’m a whole lot sore.

Although my Starbucks did not make good pre-run hydration, (translate: I felt really ill for the first two miles), and though I told Barry I have never had to make a pit stop in any of my training or races, therefore ensuring that I had to, and though I had to pull from deeper than I knew I had in me to cover that last two miles, I did it. (That aforesaid Starbucks and the two glasses of water beforehand didn’t help, I’m sure.)

The good news? My knee made it; it’s truly healed. The bad? Walking, climbing stairs, and moving in general doesn’t feel so great right now. They say to rest one day for every mile you run. Yeah, that’s not likely to happen, but I think I will take a few days off.

To my dear husband, Barry, who took Friday off work and insisted on using his reward points to book us a hotel right beside the event, huge thanks. He also took photos and worried incessantly (I later learned) when the race notification system did not alert him to my progress. For all he knew I’d dropped out somewhere before mile 5.

To Oakdale for putting out the Christmas decorations and for all of those who dressed up and cheered us on, thank you. That was so fun. Especially Santa!

To the multitude of volunteers who handed me water and Gatorade as I ran past, thank you.

To PNC for placing the personalized sign for me at mile 10, thank you. I needed it about then!

To those who supplied the beer shots at about mile 12, deep gratitude.

To those runners who shared a smile, a comment, a pat on the back, blessings on you.

To the man on the bike at mile 8 who asked if I was ok, I’m sorry all I could manage was a thumbs up, but thanks for asking.

To the woman who handed me water and looked at my bib and pronounced my name properly, making me cry, thank you.

To those of you who pretended not to notice when I caught sight of the Parkinson’s Awareness tee shirts, thought of my departed dad, and cried again, thank you for your tact.

To the volunteers who allowed us to safely navigate traffic while also cheering us on, thanks.

To the group who gave me wild applause for no reason I can see other than your generosity, I thank you. Your clackers, drums, and pom poms were highly appreciated.

To the guy playing guitar on the street corner, I took my earbuds out to listen. Blessings!

To the young woman who gave me my much-coveted medal at the end, you have no idea how much that meant to me.  If I hadn’t been so tired, I would have hugged you.

To those who handed out after-race fuel, thanks. Chocolate milk and bananas never tasted so good.

To the man who was there at both the beginning and end, quieting the fears of his over-caffeinated wife, the most thanks of all. (I know I’ve thanked him twice but he deserves it!)

Overall it was an awesome experience and I can’t wait to do it again next year. Though I hope to be in better shape (did I mention my knee feels better?) for it. Let the countdown begin!

Here’s what not to plan two days after a race: an art exhibit that requires carrying your paintings up stairs. Back and forth…that’s my subtle way of saying oh yeah — I’m having my first humble art show at the café where I often write.

It kinda feels like I’m writing from home because when I look up I see my paintings. I’m ridiculously excited about it because it was on my bucket list.

I am truly a newbie painter, but I enjoy it. That’s all that’s called for, in my opinion. I heard Elizabeth Gilbert say something so true this morning on a podcast: we’re all creative. To her it’s more a matter of exploring what we are curious about and that, she believes, leads to creating.

I buy that. Create on!

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Pull It, Push It, Drag It: A Running Update (with a whisper of writing)

Living in a small town has a sweet advantage: others are interested in your activities and talk with you about them when they encounter you. I like that. So here are the running questions I’ve received lately and my answers. In case you’ve been wondering. Or not.

(By the way, the title references those horrible car dealership commercials. While I half regret objectifying myself in that way, come on, it’s funny. Right?)

Also, I am determined that come what may I WILL finish this half, even though, truth be told, I don’t feel as prepared as I would like to. So in all likelihood I will be pulling, pushing, and dragging myself across that finish line. But barring injury, it will happen.

Now the questions:

Q: Are you still running? I’ve seen you walking some days.

A: Yes, I am still running, but due to two knee injuries (one just last month!) I am having to follow the beginning runner’s half marathon plan. That means cross training or rest days. Since I can’t bear to rest more than one day a week, for me that means walking.

Or perhaps you’ve seen me before or after a run. After I try to walk a ways to cool down. Some days I do intervals, alternating running and walking.

Q: Are you going to participate in the Fort4Fitness Half again?

A: Yes indeed! That is the very half I am training for. It’s a fun half with beer shots near the end — not that that’s why I chose that one or anything. 😉 It’s two weeks away and I can’t wait!

Here’s a question in response to a statement I made recently. I told someone that my running plan said I should not lose weight toward the end of my training plan. With shock on her face (I assume she believes, as do I, that I could stand to take a few pounds back off) she asked “Why not?”

A: I don’t know. I am just following the plan, Ma’am.

For the record I have taken a few pounds back off (about 15) and I’m eager to finish my training so I can kick the weight loss back into high gear. But right now my priority is this half. And I have learned my lesson after two knee injuries: slow and steady in both running and weight loss. What’s my hurry?

(Wait, did what I say a couple of lines up contradict that last sentence? I am not totally immune to society’s expectations, though I am usually successful in calling them what they are: mechanisms to try to control me. I’ve got to be happy with me. But I’ve also got to not be defiant in a way that harms my body. It’s a fine balance. I’m working on it. Maybe I should stick to wearing whatever I want. That seems to stick in plenty of people’s craws. Though I was pretty tickled when some women at church told me that I inspired them to wear pop color pants a few years ago. Yay!)

Another aside: I truly don’t like my body when I get too thin — I feel as if I don’t know that person in the mirror. Not a good feeling. Still figuring out where that comfortable size is.

Q: Did you change the time you run?

A. Not exactly. I don’t have a schedule, which is a safety precaution as well as the result of my body not always getting up and around as quickly as I would like. Yeah, let’s just call it a safety precaution.

One early morning I was running and realized I was being followed by a rusty red pickup. Thankfully I wasn’t too far from home. Our street is a sleepy one and when the truck followed me down it I became even more concerned. After I got into the house it moved on. I was thankful that my husband was still home! (Is that a antifeminist statement? I was glad ANYONE was home.)

Recently I had the police’s number at the ready when a vehicle started behaving erratically near me, doing donuts, ducking in and out of driveways. I have no idea what that was about, but as it was dark I didn’t feel exactly safe. When they parked in the cemetery I figured they were better parked than not so I didn’t call in on them. I did increase my pace, just in case.

Q: Did you change your route?

A: See above answer. But a partial answer is that when you train for a half, boredom can set in. Big time. You’re running for over an hour most days. So I need long, quiet stretches to run on. Alas, my favorite stretch is about to be turned into a housing development! No!!

I have been finding some relatively new quiet areas that are nice. But if I share those, they might end up not so quiet, so…

Q: Will you continue running after the half? (No one asked, but I want to answer it.)

A: Yes. Not as far, not as regularly, and I will intersperse it with other activities, but definitely. There’s nothing like pushing yourself that (literally) extra mile. There’s nothing like reminding yourself that once upon a time you thought you would never, ever be able to run, and now you can run a half. Not just a 5K (though I have), not just a 10K (though I have), but 13.1 miles.

Oh, and writing: so after my bad writing day I went for a run the next day. While running I figured out exactly what I need to do to become reenergized and focused: put the handwritten words from my tablet into my computer. Go back to the first section that was so fun. I did and I am roaring on.

Do I credit the run with my breakthrough. Yes. All I do is ask the question and wait for the answer. And it comes. Always. Not all at once sometimes, but it comes.

Tomorrow is my longest run before the half. Think of me. Gotta say, I’m feeling a bit intimidated. I’ll just load up on podcasts, take a couple of aspirin, and head out.

Pull (self), push (self), drag (self). Stay tuned for a half update in a couple of weeks…

This is photo of me two years ago after the race. Boy was I bushed!

drema after race 2013