Titles.

The next time I post, I will hold the title of marathoner.

So freaking cool.

We’re heading out tomorrow on a flight to DC. It’s like a mini-family reunion of sorts; my sister and BIL will be there, my uncle from New York City, cousins and aunt and uncle who live local will come to  cheer me on. And friends in the area too.

The ratio of excitement to terror is high. Mostly excitement and anticipation, but also sheer terror. What the hell have I gotten myself into? Is it too late to back out?

Can I REALLY run 26.2 miles?

All at once?

But then I remember.

I’ve spent the past six months running.

I’ve completed two 20 mile runs.

I’ve been running double digit long runs since July.

I’ve gotten up at 4:30am in order to get 8 miles in before work.

I’ve run in the heat and humidity, the dark, the rain, the wind.

I’ve run on vacation and during my regular work weeks.

I’ve run when we’ve visited friends.

I’ve run before dinner and after dinner and gotten a run in during naptime.

I have run 776 miles in 2011.

I can do this.

(I think.)

Anyway. If you are friends with me on Facebook, my times will be posted automatically to my account.

Full race report will be published next week.

In the meantime? I’ll leave you with this video. And don’t think I won’t be saying “don’t pants your poop!” at some point on Sunday. 🙂

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The (New) Goal.

OhmyfreakingGODIAMRUNNINGAMARATHONTHISCOMINGWEEKEND!

Okay, thanks. Got that out.

Whew.

I’m at the anticipation-okay-mostly-freaking-out part of my taper. In like 5 and a half days, I’m going to run 26.2 miles.

You know, in daylight. In FRONT of people.

My usual race motto is to be anonymous. I can count on one hand the number of races I’ve done where my family has been there. And NOT my extended family.

Because, yeah. Not only will Charlie Brown and Lucky be there, but my sister, brother-in-law, uncle J, uncle P, aunt J, cousin T, and cousin E will be there. And that’s not counting the friends I’m hoping will come see me – Charlie Brown’s friend from high school and her partner, my friend from freshman year college and his wife and daughter.

And they’ll get to see me running 26.2 miles in all my sweaty nasty glory.

The good news?

I’ve actually let go of the idea that I have to finish in a certain time. If you know me? It’s HUGE. I’m Miss-I-Put-Really-High-Expectations-On-Myself.

I did it with my first half marathon. Within seconds of finishing, I wanted to cry because I finished 3 minutes slower than I wanted. And that night, I had signed up for the NEXT half, where I was going to kill it.

And that next half marathon? I was mostly happy with the time, but I had positive splits. And man, the next time? I’d REALLY kill it.

It’s a vicious cycle, and I really don’t want to repeat it here.

Because when it comes down to it, I’ve worked my butt off for the past 6 months getting ready to run this distance. I’ve gotten up at 4:30 for months in order to get my runs in. I’ve run in rain, wind, heat, humidity. I’ve had runs where I just couldn’t finish, and I’ve had runs where I think I can go forever.

Thing is. I don’t know if I’m ever going to run another marathon again.

I might cross the finish line and think “yeah, I did it. SO not for me!”

So when I run on Sunday, I want to ENJOY the whole atmosphere.

But mostly, I really, really want to savor finishing this marathon without feeling disappointed that I didn’t do it in the time I wanted to.

I want to cross that finish line and feel like all the time I’ve spent these past few months was WORTH it.

So being nervous about the whole race thing is silly, really. Because I know I can finish a marathon.

I can probably even run most, if not all, of the race.

I’m TOTALLY ready.

Chaos, Control, and Choices.

(You’re going to have to forgive me for being single-mindedly focused on this damn marathon right now.

A week away, and then I’m SURE I’ll find something else to talk about.)

A friend on DailyMile recently posted about why he runs and what he wants to get out of running. And it’s had me thinking, pretty much non-stop about why I run.

The honest truth is that I started running because I wanted to lose weight and do something awesome. And truly, if it weren’t for my friend D’s insistence that I could, in fact, run a half marathon… well, I’d probably 30lbs heavier and even MORE of a headcase than I am today.

Because running plays really well into my need to control The Chaos That Is My Life.

When you sign up for a race, it’s chaos and panic. Holy shit, what have I done? How will I manage the distance? No fucking WAY can I run [insert distance here].

Then there’s the planning mode. The research of running programs. Is Hal Higdon’s better than Running World’s program? How about we cobble together BOTH of them?

Then putting it into a spreadsheet (I SO love my spreadsheets) and printing them out to post at h0me and in my office.

And then logging the times for my training runs.

See, the data keeps me honest. On the mornings where I don’t want to get out of bed at 4:30 to run – it’s the only thing that gets me out of bed. I have a Plan and if I don’t follow it, I won’t be able to run [insert distance here].

Yet this tendency also puts a lot of pressure on me. I’ve really seen it this training cycle. If I skip a run, I’m not going to make my weekly mileage goal, and OMG I can’t possibly run a marathon if I don’t do the miles. And then, even on a run, the goal is to better my times, to get fitter and faster so I can be a real, legit runner.

I’ve been very fortunate in that this single-minded focus on a training plan hasn’t gotten me injured. Because this sort of behavior is ripe for injury – pushing through the pain because I need to do what the numbers on my spreadsheet say!

Ironically, I’ve never thought of myself as a perfectionist.

I’m starting to realize that maybe I am.

The past week and a half of taper has really brought things into focus. I was SO TIRED last week, and just couldn’t pound out the mileage like my training plan told me.

And everything I’ve read has been that taper should equal rest. That it’s one of the most important things that so many runners ignore. And if I focus on resting, it’ll help me have a better race than if I showed up at the start on tired legs.

This concept has set off a war between Jekyll and Hyde in my head. I skip a run because I focus on rest, which at the time feels like the right decision.

But then the OCD chick in my head second guesses that decision all freaking day, because I have a plan and OMG I didn’t follow the plan! Chaos!! I can’t handle the chaos!!!

And I’d love to tell you that I don’t listen to the OCD chick in my head, but too often I get sucked into her mindset.

Because uncertainty is scary.

I don’t KNOW for certain that I can run 26.2 miles all at once. I’ve never done it before.

Trusting uncertainty is hard. That’s why my OCD chick exists. She tries to remove uncertainty, to control the uncontrollable.

Maybe I need to learn how to let her go.

Transcendental Tuesday.

This morning’s run was SO MUCH BETTER than Saturday’s, I very nearly cried with relief.

Whatever I did to piss off the running gods, let’s hope I don’t do it again in the next 11 days.

Frick.

11 DAYS.

Eek.

_______________________

So yeah, okay, there MIGHT be a touch of putting-a-little-too-much-pressure-on-myself with this marathon thing

(You know, just a little.)

It’s just so BIG – this idea of running a marathon.

Because 11 years ago I decided that I was going to run the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage, AK. I’m not sure what prompted me to decide that was my thing, given that I had never actually run before, but whatever. I was going to do it.

I think I managed 4 miles all at once, on a treadmill, before I succumbed to shin splints from ill-fitting shoes.

And that was the end of that.

What happened, though, was that “Run a Marathon” went onto a List.

In fact, it became the FIRST thing on my “Things I Need To Do Before I Die” list.

A winter of loss and emotional darkness last year made me realize that my time on this earth is actually FINITE.

It scares me a little, this realization. Not only am I not here forever, but in some inexplicable fashion, time has snapped me FORWARD, surging past me. 15 years has passed since I was in college, and it feels like it was only 5 years ago.

So yeah. This marathon is more than just a marathon to me.

It’s a big EFF YOU to Time and Loss and Death.

It’s proving that there are SOME things in this life where it’s still true that if I work hard, I will succeed.

It’s proving to myself.

I am strong.

I am capable.

So yeah, I overreacted and worried a bit too much about a bad run. And maybe my expectations are just a little too high for myself.

So here it is.

My goal for this race is to finish strong.

I don’t care if I walk. I have a time in mind for where I’d LIKE to be at the finish, but if I don’t manage that, I’ll be okay.

Either way? In 11 days, I’ll get to see what I’m made of.

 

Nerves.

I have no idea what happened last week, but training-wise the wheels fell off. My weekday runs were awful, so I cut them short.

My long run on Saturday, though? Took the title Worst Run Ever.

I didn’t do anything different than I usually do. I slept plenty, ate something I’ve usually had Friday night, had a PB&J sandwich in the morning and water like I usually do.

And when I started jogging to warm up, it felt like I was trying to run through quicksand.

Still, though, I thought maybe I just needed to warm up a bit. Because sometimes the first 4-5 miles hurt but then my body figures it out.

I wanted to do 16, but by mile 6 it was clear to me that 16 miles would be near impossible. So I told myself that I’d turn around at mile 7 – my halfway point – and compromise with 14.

My legs were completely shot at the turnaround. Literally SHOT. It was like I was in a nightmare and someone was chasing me but I couldn’t will them to move faster.

Somehow I gritted my way to mile 10. And I stopped. And looking at my garmin, seeing my pace and time and distance on my watch made me want to cry. I had to do 4 more miles, and I didn’t know if I could. I didn’t have my cell phone with me, otherwise I’d have called Charlie Brown to come get me.

My only option was to walk. So that’s what I did.

I walked most of the 4 miles left home. I did jog a couple of times, and at the end told myself I’d run the last 1/4 mile downhill to my house, but I walked.

It was awful.

Because here I am, less than two weeks out from my first marathon. I often wonder if I actually have what it takes to run 26.2 miles. It just seems so DAUNTING, even knowing that I’ve done two 20 mile runs before.

It’s totally mental – a huge block for me. I’ve been thinking about running a marathon for more than ten years now. It’s on my Things I Have To Do Before I Die list.

And this whole training cycle, I’ve been focused on nailing the mileage on the piece of paper I have hung up at my desk. That’s my training program, and if I don’t do everything it says I’m going to blow it.

I know that’s not the way it works, and that my BODY is ready to run a marathon.

It’s the mind crap I need to get a hold on.

Because now the worries and anxiety are sky high. I had a great 20 mile run followed by an absolute crap 14 mile run. Race day could be the same. Then what am I going to do? Walk the entire marathon with my family there, watching me?

Gah. The pressure!

What I’m trying to do is look at Saturday’s run as a warning. I need rest.

And, you know. I got the bad run out of the way.

MUCH easier said than done.

Thankful Thursday.

Pretty soon after Lucky woke up this morning, he asked me, Mommy, can we go to Dunkin Donuts today?

Back in July, when daycare shut down for the week, my sister flew up from North Carolina for a visit.

She’s a self-professed Dunkin ADDICT, since they don’t have many down there. So every day while she was here, she and Lucky walked to the Dunkin that was close to our house and ate breakfast together.

Ever since then, Lucky and I have tried to go there for breakfast one day a week. Because he loves his blueberry bagel with cream cheese and I love the fact that I don’t have to do anything but pack our lunches for the day.

Today was no different. We walked in, Lucky chose his drink – orange juice instead of chocolate milk today – and we ordered. Meanwhile Lucky gets us straws and chooses a place in the store to sit.

When our food is ready, he gets it and makes a big show of giving out the food. This one is MY sandwich, Mommy! That means the OTHER one is YOURS!

And we sit there, he and I, eating our bagels.

This morning, though? Halfway through the meal, he leaned over and said Mommy, I want to give you a kiss.

And he leaned over and kissed me.

For no real reason other than because he loves me.

THIS is the part of parenting I love.

So today, I’m thankful for our breakfast at Dunkin Donuts.

18 Days.

Before I start? The story of how I found this blog name can be found here.

I also need to find a better name for me. Suggestions welcome. 🙂

_________________________________________

So my first marathon is in 18 days.

And I think I’m ready.

I had my last 2o mile run this past weekend, when we were visiting my friend D in Kentucky. I was really apprehensive about it for a lot of reasons.

The run would be in a place that wasn’t home; and really my track record for runs on my own away from home isn’t good. I’m 1 for 3. I’ve had two failed long distance runs on vacation – one in New Hampshire and one in Acadia National Park. The last aborted run was the worst – I really came away from it doubting my ability to run the 26.2 miles I needed to. The one run that I did successfully accomplish? 13 miles of it was with my friend Heather, who I knew would hold me accountable for running that last 7.

I didn’t have a car with me, too, so getting there would require one of my friends dropping my butt off at 6 in the morning.

But I NEEDED this run. I needed to know that I could do a long run on my own.

When we got there on Friday night, I realized that I had forgotten my fuel belt. I carry 32oz of water with me and all of my fueling gels. I briefly considered not going.

But we were able to get directions to the location so Charlie Brown could drop me off instead of having to wake up my friends to do it.

And I figured I’d just set up a 5 mile out and back and run it 4 times. I’d put water/gatorade and energy gels at either end and work my way back and forth. Which was really a good thing, mile-wise. Only 5 miles each way! That’s a short run!

Shockingly, it went really well. The course was really hilly – Kentucky is NOT flat. But I felt pretty good the first 5 miles, then FANTASTIC the second 5 miles. The third 5 miles were a little harder – felt like it was all uphill and I was fighting a headwind. Miles 15-17 went much quicker than I expected.

And the last three miles were very nearly impossible. My own fault, really. I’ve been experimenting with nutrition – seems like most all the sports nutrition gels and drinks gives me a stomachache and makes me want to puke. I had two different kinds of chews with me there – all natural stuff which worked REALLY well and didn’t give me a stomachache. Problem was, those were at the OTHER end.  So at mile 15 I had some gatorade which turned my stomach, and I couldn’t manage to eat my energy chews because I knew they’d make it worse. So I’m pretty sure I was out of fuel at mile 17.

But I finished. And the best part was that I found my marathon pace. All season I’ve been focused on going slow. I’ve aimed at a pace which I THOUGHT was best for me; because slow and steady is better.

Turns out that my ideal marathon pace is faster than I’ve been allowing myself to go. 16 out of the 20 miles I ran that day were within 10 seconds of this pace.

So with 18 days to go, I have a nutrition and hydration plan. I have a pace. I even have an outfit – a blogger friend gave me an AWESOME shirt which not only fits perfectly, but it’s still comfortable at mile 20. No chafing, either!

I’m about as ready as I can be.  I’m going to focus on getting enough sleep, eating right, and just staying the course for a few more weeks.

18 more days. I can’t wait.