Monday, August 08, 2011

It Was A Good Year Running!

Another year has come and gone. It's time to look back, and since there's been a lot of running, that's what I'll be discussing! Before rewinding the clock, first I'll begin with tonight's run.

It seems fitting that I ran 10 miles this evening, and shortly I'll explain why. Knowing it was the eve of my birthday, and after a personally aggravating week, I was bound and determined to go just a little beyond my normal range of 7-8 miles for a long run... and it felt great!!! After a storm passed through the area, I zoomed over to Olentangy Trail at Antrim. Still cloudy with heavily dripping trees, I headed north up to Worthington Hills, enjoying the fresh, rain-cooled air. My shoes stayed dry for a scant 27 minutes -- that's when I hit an ankle-deep puddle that covered the entire bike path. I figured, "If my shoes are getting wet, I might as well make this worth it," and then bounded through it like a little kid. Soggy shoe alert! When I got to the turnaround at Worthington Hills, I cracked open my Jelly Belly Sport Beans, drank a few swigs from my water bottle, and then headed back to Antrim making sure to keep my pace steady and slow so that 10 would be possible. My musical mantra, set to the beat of The White Stripes' Seven Nation Army was: "To last: please don't go fast." Dumb? Yeah, I know. LOL Whatever works, right? To avoid the lure of stopping my run at 7 miles by pausing at the lake deck, I ran by it. My lungs and energy level felt great, but I could tell that my legs were beginning to slowly lose power. Every subsequent time I took a walking break the last 3 miles, I had to make them brief so that my legs didn't stiffen up. Despite the legs beginning to faintly cry mutiny, I felt pretty darn good while doing this 10-mile run! My overall pace was 11:41. Not bad for a fat chick! This felt better and much more enjoyable than the last time I ran 10.

Last year at this time I can remember being in the final stages of training for my very first half marathon. It still makes me smile in wonder and pride that I ran from Tuttle Mall to downtown Columbus. That still seems far to me, one year later! The furthest I ran prior to the race was 10 miles, which is why I felt that doing 10 miles tonight seemed a bit magical. Last year's 10 in August was victorious, yet extremely grueling. When you go 10 miles for the first time, it's quite shocking, and I mean that both mentally (Yay!) and physically (Oh crap, my legs!). Here's a video near the finish line of the race. If you wait for me to cross, you can hear the announcer say my name :-)

After running The Spirit of Columbus Half Marathon at the end of last August, I decided to take September to decide whether I wanted to tackle the Columbus Half Marathon in October. Looking back, I'm so glad that I listened to my body and just ran however I felt. I modified my training by scaling back the frequency of weekday runs and focusing more on the long runs. After signing up for the Columbus HM, I made sure to get in some longer long runs, the last of which was 11 miles on an out-n-back from Antrim to Ohio State on Olentangy Trail. This ad libbed training style worked well for my 2nd race because I felt fantastic the entire race! My time was bettered by over 10 minutes, and I kept a steady 11:00-minute pace throughout.

Two days after my 2nd half marathon, I badly injured myself. While lifting my right leg, I snapped and/or pulled more than one thing in my hip and inner thigh area. It was excruciatingly painful to put weight on the right side of my body to crawl up the stairs to the phone. In hindsight, I should've gotten a second opinion and x-rays because I now believe that I had a stress fracture to go along with the "strained groin" that was diagnosed. My hamstring tendons and inner thigh tendons were pulling on a weak part of the bone which probably cracked a tiny bit. That was the end of my serious running schedule for a while. I ran through the winter, but managed only twice a week with very low mileage. My pace also got immediately slower. Despite those physical challenges and having to slowly recover over several months, I'm grateful that I was able to still exercise and get back to running fairly soon afterward. Running on the snow and ice proved to be funner than usual since I finally bought the proper attire to ward off excuses and the cold air. I even knit myself a neck gaiter for the coldest runs! My favorite gear were my jacket and Swedish winter running shoes. Wind? Ha! Ice? Ha!

Since late spring, I've been happily returning to a more regular running schedule. A few months ago, my knitting friend Ann and I completed a very difficult 5K on a hilly course at The Wilds (after which we got a really cool safari tour!). This 5K inspired me to try getting back into my busier summer running schedule. So far I've been injury free. I'd like to do a 10K or half marathon soon and just need to narrow down the races I've been considering. Scenery vs. large crowds of supporters, location, etc. So many choices!

Running has been such an important part of my life, especially over the last year, beginning again in March 2010. It's my therapy, my chance to get outdoors, my way of escaping, my way of challenging myself and pushing the boundaries, and, of course, my exercise. I wish everyone experienced the same joy I get from running! You know that iPhone commercial where the guy says, "If you don't have an iPhone, then... You don't have an iPhone." I feel the same way about running. If you're not running, you're missing out on something great. There are few other forms of exercise that compare, and it brings together so many people who love the challenge, the fitness, and the endorphins.