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Half Marathon tomorrow??!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Yup. It's happening. And yet, I feel like there's been no real excitement build up over the past 8 weeks. Yup, I've only trained for 8 weeks. Previously, my training plans lasted 12 weeks, but I look back and see that at least with my first half marathon, I didnt have a mileage base, whereas this time I already had a solid base of 5 miles. Anyway, I've been following my training plan mostly - I admit that sometimes I skip a mid-week run here or there. Does anyone else find that once you get into higher mileage, you arent as enthused for shorter mid-week runs? My 8+ mile runs are much more enticing to me than a 3-4 mile run. I just feel like I havent talked it up like I have previously. I'm just like "meh, running a half marathon. no big deal."

But it IS a big deal. And I feel like I need to emphasize that. To someone. Anyone. I havent run a half marathon in almost 2.5 years. At some point along that way, I feared I would never run one again!

I havent always been a runner. When I was a little kid, I was very active, running around, playing outside with the neighbor kids. I played softball and volleyball, and I danced. The only running I really ever did was running the bases at my softball games, or maybe if I was in the outfield, running to catch a ball. I was always a pretty fast sprinter in gym class, though my mile runs kind of sucked. I remember my freshman year of high school I joined the winter track team as a sprinter. My forte was the 55m! I also ran the 400m relay and the 800m. Man, I hated that 800m. I think I still have a strong aversion to running 800m repeats! The sprinting helped improve my mile run time A LOT - I think I was done to a 6:45 mile at one point in time. But I really never ran more than 2 miles at a time, and I truly never enjoyed it. In college I danced. No desire to run. But I distinctly remember one day where I ran the cross-country route with some friends because I was bored. I didnt die, but I had no desire to run it again. Then, when I had my patella realignment surgery and the doctor told me I may not be able to participate in high-impact activities, like running, in the future, I thought "why would I want to do that anyway?!" Amazingly, a year after my surgery, I started running 1 mile in the evenings during the summer before I started law school. I dont really know why, but I did it pretty regularly. It just seemed like the thing to do.

In law school, I really never ran for any real purpose until my last year when I decided to join the Air Force and realized that running was kind of a key part of the fitness test. I struggled. I remember running for 2 minutes was the worst thing ever, and I couldnt understand why my roommate ran marathons (I was in complete awe and horror when she ran the NYC marathon our 2nd year of law school!). But I kept pushing myself. And after law school graduation I set a goal to run a 5k by the end of the year. I remember being so excited to finally run a mile! And then 1.5 miles! But I think it took me two months to increase over 1.5 miles. I didnt follow any sort of 5k training plan - I just set out to run further every few weeks. At around that point I also hired a personal trainer to help me build some strength since I couldnt even do 1 pushup (yet another key component of the fitness test). He gave me some of the best running advice ever: If you want to run further, slow down! It seemed so counterintuitive to me, but I trusted him so I did just that. And the VERY.NEXT.TIME I ran, I hit 2 miles. That easy. What a concept! Run slower to run further. Go figure! I continued to do this and easily hit 3 miles, 3.5 miles, 4 miles, even 5 miles! And I did indeed run my very first 5k in December of 2008.

You could say I was bitten by the bug, because I really enjoyed running at that point. I craved it. And then in March 2009 I went to Officer Training School (OTS) and ran every single day - usually 3 miles each day - and developed shin splints, and really just became burnt out from running. Eventually I recovered, got over it and by early 2010 I was back to enjoying running again. I ran 5ks monthly, but I had no real desire to get over that distance. A good friend of mine ran marathons on the regular, and it was inspiring, but it never seemed like something I *could* do. She even signed up and trained for an Ironman Triathlon. I thought she was crazy! On Labor Day Weekend of 2010, another friend of mine ran the Disneyland Half Marathon, and I went with her for the mini vacation. I was amazed at the different people who ran half marathons. In my head, only elite super fast runners ran half marathons. Not everyday normal people. It was such an eye-opening experience, and I truly believe that if I hadnt gone with her and watched the race, I would probably still have this skewed perception of distance runners. There were really every different type of person you could imagine running or walking or running/walking the half marathon! And I thought "I could do this!" My Ironman training friend convinced me that if she could put in the time to train for this crazy event, that I could train for a half marathon. So I did. You can search my previous blogs and read all about that experience, but in November of 2010 I ran my first half marathon. And I LOVED it. It was wonderful, and I couldnt wait to do it again. And I did - in February of 2011 at the Disney Princess Half Marathon...

Where I ended up injured. My training kind of sucked. Sometimes you can plan for life craziness. But I was devastated. I finally found something I really enjoyed doing. I didnt hate the long runs - I really felt like I NEEDED them. They helped me feel balanced with my crazy job. They gave me time for me that wasnt spent lying on my couch watching DVRed lifetime movies. And then it was gone. And it was HARD to cope. As months went by and I felt like I was just never getting better, it seemed like my hopes of running more half marathons went away. And I think with that went my motivation too. Dont get me wrong - I was motivated to get better, but my motivation changed from wanting to run half marathons again, to just wanting to be able to do anything without pain! It took 9 months, but I finally recovered, and to celebrate I ran a 5k on NYE with J (on like our 4th date!). I reached a goal - I got better and I could run again.

But I was scared. I was scared of running further. I would try. I would set a goal. I would never meet it. During the entire 2012 year, the furthest I ever ran was 6.5 miles. It was like my brain would hit a mental block, and I couldnt allow myself to run further than that. I could wrap my head around it. And I constantly felt that if I tried I would end up hurt. And I certain set many different goals throughout the year to run a half marathon. Didnt happen. I ran one 5k in 2012 - the Color Me Rad run. And then again, even in the beginning of this year, I set out to run a half marathon, and I just couldnt do it. I made excuses for myself and then I gave up. So how did I end up here - running a half marathon tomorrow?!

I think my new job has a lot to do with it. Well, for one thing I have a lot more freedom and flexibility, so as long as there is nothing emergency pressing, I can leave early to workout, or come in late if I want to work out before work. But also, I am amazed and inspired by my clients, each and everyday. They go through such horrific events, and yet they keep pushing forward with their lives. They dont live in fear - they are some of the strongest people I know. And I realize this probably sounds incredibly lame and maybe even slightly selfish, but it occurred to me that if they can move forward, I can stop being so scared of my own insecurities, and just train for a long distance race. In April I signed up for a 5k every week that month. I ended up only running 3 because work got in the way of the last one (literally, I had to work on a Saturday all day). But running 3 races in 3 weeks caused me to run more consistently during the week. I had set goals. And I reached my goals. And it just reaffirmed to me that yes, I can do this. And yes, I enjoy this. When I decided to register for a full marathon, it just seemed like this was the logical time for me to do so. I finally felt that my head was in the right place.

And ya know what? It is. I've been focused on my training. Like I said, I miss a mid-week run occassionally, but I'm focused on what I need to do. I keep a detailed training log. I analyze how my body reacts to certain environmental affects. I read running forums to learn more and stay motivated. And most of all, I am simply enjoying the process again. I might not be writing about it everyday like I did when I trained for my first half marathon, but it's exciting to me to be doing this again.

It seems kind of surreal that tomorrow I will get out there and run my third half marathon. Even though it's a training run for my full marathon, I'm going to finally conquer this distance again. It's privately overwhelming feeling. I've been checking the weather everyday for the past 2 weeks. There are scattered storms called for tomorrow, but it looks as if they will hold off until after the race. It's a small race. Maybe 75-100 people running the half, with more runners running the 5k or 10k. I could be the slowest person out there, and finish dead last. I am not as fast as I used to be. But I am training smarter. I may not be pulling any speed work these days, but I am still hypersensitive to getting injured through the process. But I know what I am doing is what I need to be doing. I know tomorrow's half marathon will be a good race. It will be a proud feeling, if only in own personal thoughts. I have a realistic goal time of under 2:40. I think I'll make that, but if I dont, I dont. I'll still get a medal regardless of what time I finish. And if I finish, then I've hit another goal along the way.

So even though I havent been shouting it from the roof tops, I'm excited for tomorrow! Think happy thoughts of me! I'll be thinking of all of you, and my clients, while I eek out some 13.1 miles of running, possibly in the rain. ;)
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