Guess who set a Personal Fucking Record this morning?!?! I did. That’s who. Sweet Thang beat me in the sprint to the end but I still finished in 2:26:56 an 11:12 pace. AND I ran the whole thing. I chopped off 33 minutes from my last half. It. was the easiest half I’ve ever run. I just focused on the moment of each mile. When it got a little hard I focused on form. Keep breathing, lean forward, use my arms, land on a mid foot stride. I had a great attitude. And I noticed I was booking it but tried not to get caught up in it or think too much about it. I wanted to run as strong as I could when I felt good to pull and carry us for the earlier miles. I didn’t know what miles 11-13 would bring. Turns out they were no big deal. I feel so good about this race. I even love the fact that in mile 12 we started getting pelted with icy sleet, that my fingers were unusable cold even with gloves. We had these results because we consistently worked our asses off. In heat. In cold. In wind. On hills. Three times a week. Week after week. The hill route we have been doing and the wind sprints coach Guido on the cross country team subjected the kids and by default me to all paid off big time. The course was great. The volunteers were awesome. There was a lot of love on that course. Super fantastic excellent race!! I’m kind of sad I’m not planning to run the Santa Hustle Half Marathon. This was officially my last half of the season. Time to focus on strength and cross training before training season starts. What’s your winter training plan?!
I had to look at the blog to see when I last wrote about running, How sad is that? Maybe it’s a good thing I reached the point where I just do it and don’t really tell anybody about it. That hasn’t been on purpose, I only just noticed it now. So let’s see what’s up with the running. I ran my most recent Half over Labor Day weekend, then I chose to do something different. I wasn’t injured or lazy so within a week Sweet Thang and I were back out running.
We had to change our schedule and our routes a little because MiniMe and The Destroyer began running on the local cross-country team. Yes, they really do start them at age 6. We have had mixed results with the experiment but overall they both like running and both run faster than I can. MiniMe even beat her brother by less than a second when she pulled an 8:53 mile in the Liger Mile. It was the first time my baby left it all out on the course and I was so proud of her. The kids in cross-country has added another layer of chaos to our lives but it has also resulted in Sweet Thang and I accidentally discovering the BEST hill route. Start at Founders park and if you head right around the circle there are two hill to climb, head out onto 106th and depending how far you go East you can grab 2-4 more. We do out and back so we repeat the same hills back, you get one more into Founders Park.
The funny thing about accidentally discovering this hill route comes from one of the multitude of great running things that have happened since Labor Day weekend. The weather cooled off and we are both getting faster. There are runs where I’d venture to say I have more left at the end than Sweet Thang. We are just enough competitive with each other. Of course if left to her own pace she could still smoke me in a half, but I bet I’d last a lot longer than those Early Spring training runs for the Y where I couldn’t do it past 2 miles or so. I’ve been getting up early to run on Saturday morning for so long my body wakes up no later than 7:22. This can be annoying when I go to bed at 3am at the Chateau and I don’t have plans to run that early on my girls weekend. But it’s also just another sign in a long line of signs from the fall that I AM a runner. I am a runner. I AM A REAL RUNNER!!!!! Squeeee! I sure never saw it coming two years ago when I picked up the habit. Which brings me to weird things runners do, like getting excited about running on new road before cars can drive on it. Or driving along, seeing a hill and thinking…”Man I’d love to run up that effer”. Or calling your running buddy and saying crazy shit like ” You know, if we loop back and forth along abc street we can pick up BOTH the overpass hill and the long one in the other direction, waddya think?” Which is why it was funny when within 24 hours she picked the hill route mentioned above, we have been running it a lot lately. It may be my favorite out and back route.
I’ve also developed a preference for route types. Out and back are great for when I need to force myself to get ALL the mileage in. But sometimes for the longer miles I want scenery so we make bigger loops through neighborhoods we haven’t explored yet. As Sweet Thang and I put in our mileage for our next race, Indianapolis Monumental (Half) Marathon in two weeks, our furthest distance from home mileage has climbed. For instance, I now think nothing of seeing friends driving while I am out running. If they aren’t distance runners they always go ” Wow, you were all the way over there?” To me it’s just part of X mile route. About a month ago on our 10 miler Sweet Thang and I calculated we could get a great 10 miler in if we ran to the Starbucks and back. I countered with, we would have to stop at Target and shop as well, but as luck would have it neither of us run with purses so we had to make do with running our planned 10 mile route instead.
My public running declarations have waned, maybe less so on my private Facebook, but my running hasn’t. In two short weeks I will cross another 13.1 finish line and someone will place my 5th Half Marathon medal around my neck. I will stumble over to the nearest patch of grass and begin the battle between stretching vs am I going to puke. Sweet Thang and I will be praising and cursing our individual performances. Then we will no doubt have the crazy runners delusional moment where we talk about, ” I know we said no more halfs this year but Santa hustle is just 4 weeks away…..” Hopefully one of us will remember our pact and enforce the winter of cross, strength, and speed training. How do I know I’m going the distance with running in general…It’s because I also know Sweet Thang and I will seek one hill day a week. Ask me how that is going when there is 4 inches of snow and ice on the ground and I’m running in 10 degree weather in the dark…… Then remind me how I went on and on about preferring cold weather running to the 105 BS we had last summer.
How’s running going for you? Fall is a great time to pick up outdoor running if you’re considering it. Have a great day Lovies, I’m off to buy flower bulbs and get them int he ground in the next 36 hours while it is still 77 degrees in Indiana.
It’s too damn early for this. Now that fall is here 7:30 is cold and dark. Only a few more weeks of longs and then I’m done with distance until the spring. One more race to get done. Ten miles this morning.
And I’m not done yet!! Consistent hard work yields results!!
Yesterday morning Sweet Thang and I ran the Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon. Sweet Thang is by far a faster runner and could of finished the race easily in about 2:30 or so but she stayed with me the whole time because that is the way we trained, “In this together”. Partially out of a desire to simply be a more hard core and better runner and partially out of a desire to work hard for her to make her sacrifice more palatable (to me and my own insecurities not from any feedback from her that she wasn’t as happy as clam running slower next me to all summer long), I trained harder and smarter for this race than I have for any of the previous three half marathons I’ve run. What did that get me, a race finish at just about EXACTLY the same pace as all the other halfs. We finished at 2:59:15 and 2:59:18. I actually got the three seconds faster time which is total bullshit because we crossed that finish at exactly the same time and she did it with FAR more energy left than I.
On the drive home I found myself simmering in some disappointment that I didn’t finish faster, that I’d somehow let myself and Sweet Thang down. Again I really don’t think she cares, and I more than realize the I’m running for life not just a certain race. There are ways to train into speedier times and I really shouldn’t be spending any time at all beating myself up over what in fact is the strongest race I have run.
I trained my butt off:
- I gave up smoking and a few other unhealthy regular habits in late June. Not only because I needed to for my health and sanity, but also because I wanted to increase my running prowess.
- Sweet Thang and I started training for this race about the time the record heat and drought conditions were plaguing most of the country, yet we never missed a run in any of the weeks leading up to the race. We never let the heat or sun derail us. We simply made adjustments and found a way to make it work, one run at a time, 3 days a week, week after week until race time. We often ran with less water than we should of been drinking. Sweet Thang is a Camel compared to me and sweats far less than the buckets at a time I do. In doing this we accidentally accomplished heat training and hydration training. We didn’t plan it this way, we didn’t dwell on how badass we were really being in doing this. Mostly I think we just knew we needed to run, we wanted to run, we couldn’t control the weather so we just DID IT! I can’t tell you how many times I climbed in my car after finishing, looked at the temp gauge reading something like 101-105+ and just thought, “huh, we are crazy but it’s done”.
- Not to dwell on the weather, but we live in Indiana, it does NOT get that hot here. We usually have a few weeks of 90-95 temps in maybe July and August and the rest of the time it’s somewhere in the 80’s. What we do have normally is humidity, which this year we had much less than usual but enough thick air sticky days to condition us to running in that too.
- In the past I’ve had muscle pain, tightness, and soreness difficulties and/or foot injury difficulties, this time I had none of that. Towards the end I did start battling some upper back and shoulder pain and tightness which had me a little worried. I think my lack of injuries this time was a direct correlation to the fact that I actually accomplished some cross training via spin classes and weightlifting. I also stretched a lot more regularly and made liberal use of my foam roller.
Race conditions were extreme:
- When Race morning came we arrived to a course with about 3000 other runners and discovered we were under a Red flag with talk already of what the plan was if it was Black flagged. Red flag means the course and the day are under extreme weather. It means slow down, stop more, drink more water, don’t try to PR, don’t push yourself, don’t be stupid. Black flag means the timers are stopped, the race is over, you can get your medal but there isn’t any official time. I hated the idea of this because if it happens I’m STILL OUT ON THE COURSE AND HAVE TO GET BACK. I’ll get a medal but I’m not going to feel like I earned it. If that ever happens I’m sitting my ass down on the side of the course and waiting for someone or something to come get me. If it isn’t going to count I’m not doing it anymore, harrumph! All that training to waste, all that effort put in so far for naught, the pissiness this would invoke in me would be pretty close to infantile and luckily it didn’t happen. In our case it was 90-93% humidity and Isaac storms headed our way without ever getting there. Temps were not too bad, mid 70’s and over cast, but the air was Indiana thick and heavy already at 6:30 am.
In spite of them I still ran strong and hard, I pushed myself:
- In my last three halfs I’ve run out of ability to run somewhere around mile ten or so and had to walk most of the last 3 miles, one of my goals is to complete a half that I can run in entirety. I REALLY wanted to be able to run all 13.1 miles this time. I didn’t make it BUT I made it much further and felt much stronger than I have in the past. I don’t know how you measure “running the whole thing”, but for me I have always considered it OK to walk through a water stop and not have that count against me. This time we didn’t even have the need to use every water stop and when we did I ran all the way up to them and started running sooner after them. I felt strong in my run all the way to that dreaded mile 10. I was starting to get physically tired, running for over two hours straight will do that, but I didn’t want to give up. Thus began the mental battle for perseverance and strength of will vs. fatigue and the dementia that starts to set in when I can no longer think straight. There is nothing worse than the battle inside my head during a half marathon. I’m tired and I hurt, so I want to walk and shake it out a little. I’m stubborn and I don’t want to “fail” so I don’t want to stop running. I want to cry because the two sides of me are really starting to piss me off. This affects my confidence , which starts to screw with my head even further, which starts to make me acutely aware of every tiny thing on my body that is bothering me. It is really easy to work myself up into pissed off despair. So I have to trick myself. I start with my head, I call upon some kind of inner strength. I tell myself things like ” Shut up, Sherry can’t run anymore, but I get to.” or ” My angels are with me giving me strength, I can just picture them up above me helping me along.” In yesterday’s case I pictured my dead older brother running in front me with his back to me giving me the it’s ok you can do it pep talk. Or ” All .runners have rough patches, I just have to push through this and I will feel better, that’s what those girls in the Olympic Marathon did.” I also try to be very logical with myself. I start at my toes and take inventory. Socks are soaked through with sweat but these are good socks, there shouldn’t be any blisters. My knees don’t hurt, my thighs don’t hurt, my back is getting a bit tight but I can adjust my form to accommodate this. My shirt is soaked through ( did I mention I sweat buckets), but my skirt isn’t dripping yet, so that is a good thing. All this mental chit chat can take 10 seconds or 10 minutes depending on the “place” I am in. I was able to run soley until after mile 10. In miles 11-12 I was able to run way more than I walked but it was starting to get harder. In Mile 13 usually the excitement of being almost done allows me to force myself to the finish, this time the way Mile 13 was laid out and my extreme fatigue and mounting attitude problem caused me to walk more than I ran it.
Usually Mile 13 is “Wahoo, only a little further to go I get another medal, let’s do this”. This time I was more like “F you and your stupid freaking medal, just give it to me you assholes, I don’t even want a finish picture I’m so pissed off about how you laid this last mile out I could spit in your face you stupid race organizers. Who puts 4 turns, 2 water stops, 2 hills and 2 curbs into mile 13 and makes it so I can NEVER see the finish or how to GET there until the last .10, what kind of idiots ARE you? What? I STILL finished right around 3 hours, this is pure crap, F you and the rest of the damn world except Sweet Thang because we were in this together” . There is a reason they say hard core runners are crazy, this is what 13+ miles does to your brain. There is nothing left at the end.
Then 30 seconds after crossing the finish line someone handed me a full bottle of water and the pride of getting another medal kicked in. Then I managed to stumble/fall into some nice soft grass and start stretching, oh man did it hurt but it was over. I could even imagine doing another one, soon. I suppose the lesson learned here is that you can’t judge the success of a run by the bib time, you really should judge it by how you feel. I feel I trained harder, smarter. I feel I pushed myself more physically and mentally. I do not feel like I let myself down, I feel like I can actually consider myself a hard core runner now. When I got to the end there was NOTHING left, I put it ALL out there on the course, and that is the true measure of success.
Someday I’ll run the “whole” thing and some day I will break 2:45 and maybe even 2:30. All I have to do is keep up the good work and maybe find a freaking cool weather race!