Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Running on Empty
So hard to believe that it's been about 5 months since the last post. What in the world have I been doing? OH yeah, homeschooling. Juggling church, Awana, choir, library meetings, Mt St Laundry, soccer, life.
But my newest experiment in the life of me has been doing something I never, ever thought I would do. Interesting, isn't it? How many times have the lives of the unsuspecting taken a 90 degree turn from these experiments?
It all started out with a friend. The more activities we do, the more moms I meet. Some moms are really neat, the kind that you wish you could be when you grow up. The kind that have it all together, or at least brush their hair every day and wear shoes that match. Some moms are the crazy overbearing, scary kind. Some are so discombobulated they make me feel like I should be getting some kind of trophy for remembering my kids' names. And a select few are Friend Material. For me, finding moms made of this special fabric are few and far between. I think I have 2 or 3 right now, to be honest. Maybe a few more than that if I actually spent some real time with some moms at church.
One of these moms, however, was into all sorts of stuff that filled me with awe. She homeschooled her son, then 5. She was into all this organic and 'crunchy' stuff and didn't feed her kids refined anything. No sugar, white flour, etc. And her kids drank water. Without crying or being promised video game time afterwards. Wow! And she was completely unfazed by my kids' food allergies and even made them special brownies out of almond flour. They didn't exactly turn out, but we laughed our heads off at the treacle-like glue sticking our teeth together. I was too overjoyed at the taste of actual chocolate to complain.
Since then, this dear friend has moved to another state, but praise the Lord for technology. We email some and Facebook often. And when I decided to amp up my workouts a bit, she paved the way down the road of running by doing a half-marathon.
She fussed about her short, stubby legs and her slow run time, but the woman has a 13.1 sticker on her car. She RAN 13.1 miles in miserably cold, rainy weather. Even when I scoffed at running, a year or so ago, she was encouraging. She loved it. She felt great. There were endorphins. She was addicted to feeling this good. Try it. You'll love it.
Run?! Me? WHY?!!!
I am not an athletic type of girl. Believe me. It has always been thus. This is why I like books. I was in band. I had a disastrous middle school basketball career and I still have no idea how to play the game. Really. But the uniform was...uh, not neat. It was polyester and the girls on the other teams (and my own team) were scary. It only took me 20 years or so to figure out that I liked the practices and the drills, but not the game.
So I got on my treadmill and tried to run. *The first 2 and a half months were, let's face it, not fun. Constant interruptions (kids, dog, phone calls), I can't run fast and read at the same time, there was nothing good on tv, etc. There was no way I could run outside and leave my kids to wreak havoc on the house and each other. Treadmill it is. So my friend encouraged me to try a 5k. It's only 3 miles, she said. You can do it! You'll love it so much you'll be running them all the time. You'll want to run more and do longer races.
Ok then, I thought. I can be like those weight loss stories where the lady loses 50 pounds and runs this impressive feats of athletic prowess (a short-lived fantasy). So I ran every other day or so. (*see above)
There was a 5k in my town, a little podunk town, for our annual Loyalty Day (Loyalty to what? I always wanted to know.). It was sometime in May. Hm. I could do that. Tell me again why someone needs to pay someone to run? I have to pay $15 for registration to kill myself running on a badly paved road and all I get is this t-shirt? Okay. All right. Fine. But after that, that's it. I'm done. I'll tell everyone I tried it and that will be it, because I hate running! It's why God invented bicycles and rollerblades and cars!
Later on, I was at a gardening meeting and got into a conversation about running (because misery loves company?) and someone mentioned a run in town (the actual Town where we go grocery shopping, not the one I live in). "So-and-so is a runner. I used to run with her all the time. She's in our homeschool group, do you know her?" I did know her; she goes to my church and is in the choir with me. I had never really spoken to her. She is tall and thin and beautiful and looks like a runner. She sings beautifully and uses mushroom compost in her garden. Sigh. Wow.
So the next choir practice, I screwed up my courage and mentioned that her name had come up in a conversation with (insert name of previous running partner). Later in the conversation, she mentioned the run in town and that she wanted to run in it. "You should do it," she said. "It's weekend after next." Uh. That was the weekend before my town's run. How in the world was I supposed to be ready a week early?!
I signed up for it anyway. I also signed my family up for something called a Family Fun Run.
So I ran my first 5k and it was miserable! By the time I got to the turnaround I was ready to sock the measurer in the eye, because whoever measured this race was a liar. It wasn't this far on the treadmill! The second half was long and hot and the kid in front of me started throwing up repeatedly and shriek/sobbing noisily. I remember thinking "too late to change your mind." Yuck!
Granted, there was some pretty scenery and a scary bridge made of mostly mesh metal where you could see the water below you (urp). Not to mention the inclines (looking back, those weren't really hills, though they felt like it at the time). I rolled over the finish line ready to give up the ghost, sweaty, nasty and chafing.
I also loved the look on my husband's face when he saw me and gave me a hug. "We weren't expecting you for another 5 or 10 minutes!" Oh, balm to my winded, heaving soul. He changed his tune when he realized I hadn't been joking about the Family Fun Run and he actually had to run a mile with our 3 year old. (They ended up walking, with the kid on his shoulders while I actually ran with my oldest.)
The next weekend was the race in my town. I got up at dawn's early light (okay, fine it was 7:30, but everyone else was sleeping) and walked a couple of streets to where our run started. It was another interesting run. I felt like I did better this time, but on a flat country road with nothing but pasture on either side, your mind plays tricks. Wavy heat coming up from the pavement can make the end of the road seem like you're never going to get there. I tripped in a pot hole. I got busy watching horses running in a meadow and almost ran off the road. I counted the phone poles I had to pass to get to the end of the road. And then I got there and had to turn the corner and run still more before I got to the finish line.
I got a really good deal on this one. Due to the smallness of my town and the race, there weren't that many people there. So even though I finished almost 10 minutes after the first person, I was the first female to cross the finish line, so I got a plaque and a medal (for my age group) and some prize money that paid for my 2 races and the one I wanted to do the next week. The look on my husband's face when I waltzed through the door with all that loot was very satisfying. Oh yeah. More balm to my soul.
The next weekend was a Wellness Festival and my husband and youngest opted out of the Family Fun Run. This run was the worst by far. It was cold and windy and I ended up wearing a pair of cotton house-capris because I don't own any cold weather running gear except a fleece pullover. Because I run on a treadmill, that's why. And this run had HILLS. The kind where you look up at the top and the runners above/ahead of you are tiny and you can hear yourself wheezing. I also found out that all those running articles on Running Downhill weren't a joke. I could picture myself tripping and rolling to the bottom so clearly.
This was another race that Would Never End. The last length was uphill. Whose idea was that? My husband texted me "take off your sweater and put it around waist." HUH? Well, one of those great things about having running tights or yoga pants to wear is they don't show sweat like gray cotton. I feel bad for the people running behind ME! Having to stare at someone's sweaty butt-crack could be an incentive for passing someone, but not much encouragement if you can't. Oh, mortification. There will be no picture for this one. We can say it was too cold.
Then I decided to take a break from runs. It was expensive to keep running and I had accomplished my goal. I had run not one, but 3 5k's and even accomplished my secret wish to medal in my age group. I had improved my time to a respectable 28 minutes and change. And I was sore! My knee was hurting and I had a sore heel.
I waited a week and when I felt better, I got back on the treadmill. I realized I felt better when I was doing some sort of exercise. Then one day I wondered how I would feel if I ran 5 miles. What was 10k? Oh, add 2 5ks together. Okay. Well, I got a phone call after I hit the 5 mile mark and had to walk the last 1.2 miles of my 10k, but I still did it.
My friend from out of state congratulated me on Facebook. She said she'd be in Tulsa in October running a 15k (about 10 miles). "You should do it with me!" she said. "You did 10k, so what's another 5?" Uh...so I looked online for a training schedule for a 15k and it doesn't look so bad. Now my 'easy' run is 3 miles. Yes, this is me. When did 5k get to be the easy run? I'll let you know how it goes in October. Either way, I'm kind of amazed that I am still running. Why would ANYONE want to run 10 miles, much less 13.1? OH yeah, the t-shirt, the ball cap, the sticker. Because anyone who puts themselves through all this, physically and mentally, deserves something tangible. Especially if they never got their endorphins.