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Running For Life...In So Many Ways

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Thursday, May 31, 2012

If you've been hanging around my SparkPage lately (I'm sure there are LEGIONS of you that have! pssshh), you may have noticed a couple changes recently. I'm not talking about my weight loss ticker or all the pics I keep posting (although, those are great and very motivational...I highly recommend checking them out!) Last night, I changed my "About Me" section to reflect my upcoming races. I've seen this on many pages of runners and tri athletes alike and I liked the idea of throwing my intentions out there for the world to see and keep me accountable.

More subtly, you might have noticed that, in this list of races, there are 3 half marathons...the first of which is MUCH earlier than I originally planned. Yeah, you're right if you're thinking to yourself, "Didn't you just run your first 5k ever?" Yep.

So, here's the explanation. I had signed up for a few 5k races over the next 6 months or so. But it was recommended by my trainer that I work up to at least 10k endurance at my own pace, but as soon as my body allows...to prepare for the Indy Mini next year in May. Last night I went online to see if I could maybe find some 10k races around me in the midwest, so I could gain that valuable race experience before going straight from a 5k into a half marathon.

And then it happened. I stumbled upon the MOST perfect half marathon for me. The Purdue Boilermaker Half Marathon on October 20th. I sat there and stared for what seemed like half an hour. My heart was a-flutter. Why? Because this is my alma mater. I haven't been back in years. I have so many special memories of my time at Purdue and the very thought of my first big race being on that hallowed ground...it literally almost brought tears to my eyes. There really wasn't any other choice. When I saw it, I thought, "I HAVE to do this." And that was that.

Once I realized that the training plan for a half is about 15 weeks long and that I'd need to put that training plan into effect literally...like next week, things suddenly got VERY serious. I have plugged in every single run and crosstraining day in my calendar from now until October. I'm not messing around, y'all. I refuse to go into that race unprepared and out of shape. I know racing isn't for everyone...but, for me, this is a sure way to keep me on track with my fitness goals and also, in large part, my nutrition goals as well.

In fact, this very morning, I was pretty angry at that alarm for having the nerve to go off so stinkin' early. Of COURSE the thought ran through my head that no one was holding a gun to my head and forcing me to go for a run today. But, right on that thought's heels came another..."Someone WILL be holding a gun on October 20th to start a 13.1 mile race that YOU have said you want to do. So...maybe you should get up and just do it."

Well...wouldn't you know? I got up.

And found I'd lost another pound. And set a personal best 5k time at 41:49. This was not an easy run. I had some stomach issues about halfway through, but I am rather proud to say that I ran the entire first half of that 5k without stopping. That's a big deal for me. It staggers me that my endurance has built up so quickly (literally about 6 weeks ago, I could barely run a 1.5 minute interval). This run this morning was really tough near the end...the last half mile was just sheer determination. But my gosh...I wanted to beat that 5k time from my race last Saturday and I was gonna do it, come hell or high water or the most miserable blister forming on my left heel. I pushed my body hard today.

And I feel amazing! I know a lot of non-runners that HATE running (ha...I was one for YEARS). They look at me like I'm insane and I know they think, "WHY are you doing this?"

[Warning: TMI alert. Stop here if you are overly-senstive]

1. Obviously, endorphin rush is pretty amazing. I'm gonna be honest and say that I do think it's better than an orgasm...because...the feeling lasts ALL DAY LONG. And that's pretty powerful as a motivator.

2. I thought about my Aunt Lois this morning, as I drew a deep breath in and felt my lungs expand...so clear and strong. I literally watched her die as she drowned in her own lung fluid. I don't mean to be crass, but I know that she would want me to take care of these lungs. And to use them to their full capacity...to enjoy life with my breath every day.

3. My legs feel INCREDIBLE. They aren't lookin' too shabby these days, either. *wink* After the injuries that I've seen...the strength that I feel just walking upright is inexplicable.

4. My entire body feels tighter...more compact and like it's finally all working together the way it SHOULD be.

5. My core is just about as fit as it's ever been. Crosstraining with weights, pilates, resistance band, jump rope and my own body weight have completely changed the way I carry myself physically and the level of exertion it takes to do so.

6. My heart. And I'm not talking about the one with blood vessels and chambers...although, that's working pretty nicely now too. There's a feeling of confidence that I've never experienced. Did you read that? NEVER...in my entire life. I have never loved myself, accepted my flaws, had faith that I could change the things about myself that aren't quite right...until now. When I say I'm a completely different person, I quite literally mean that.

And the most exciting part is...if all these things have happened and changed for me in just a short 6 weeks or so of running...what kind of a person will I be by the time I run that half marathon in October? I have no way of imagining it..but I can guarantee strength, confidence, joy and health.

And those are some pretty great guarantees.

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