Thursday, February 17, 2011

Funny Story

You know, or not.  On Monday I ran over 6 miles, and I felt great.  Ready to go and run a few more miles on Tuesday.  And then on Tuesday, I was rejected from a job I had applied for some weeks earlier.  I had interviewed for this job, and I thought I had a pretty good chance of at least getting a second interview, if not the job itself.  Sadly, the organization thought otherwise, and they decided to go another direction (or something).

I'd like to think I take disappointments well, but truthfully, I don't.  Not at first anyway.  This particular rejection was a huge blow to my confidence, and it hurt to receive the news.  Anyway, the long and short of this is that right after I got their e-mail, I went and, in a blind fury, kicked my car.  Full on with my left big toe.  Needless to say, I wrecked my toe.  Haha, there really is such a thing as karma.  I deserve the pain and inability to put any weight on my left toe.  Probably shouldn't have reacted so physically to my job rejection.  But life is hard sometimes, and sometimes you just need to kick an immovable steel object.  Unfortunately, said kick, while briefly satisfying, has left me with a bruised big toe and no chance of running for a few days.

The toe seems to be getting better, although it is still comically swollen and multicolored.  It's still just one more stupid thing heaped on top of this year of not-so-much-awesome.  I know most of my gripes are petty and comparatively lame.  Even if I don't like it, at least I have a job; food to eat; running shoes.  The world is chaotic; our country is slouching towards a Congressional throw-down; people in my own town are a lot worse off than myself.  I know all this, and still I bitch and moan about a bruised toe, a job rejection, a life that isn't what I want it to be.  But forgive me this.  For being only 24, I've paid some of my dues already.  I'm allowed to get upset at some things because I know life is difficult; I've put up with a whole hell of a lot of its difficulties already.  I have a job; I have my (relative) health.  And yet when it rains, it pours.  Haha, and then, hopefully, the sun comes out.

Probably, I'm just battling some serious February cabin-fever.  I'm going to try and get in some sort of running tomorrow, otherwise, I don't know, my head might explode.  My gut is expanding too, another fun side effect of the winter doldrums.  Phew.  Alright, now that I've had my verbal-vomit session, I'm going to try and do some work.  Happy almost-Friday...  Think Less.  Run More!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cost-Benefit analysis

The benefit of taking a few days off vs. the cost of taking a few days off.  While probably not advisable all the time, I didn't run the past four days.  Blame it on mild injuries or hormones or just plain laziness, but there it is.  The cost - I ate too much and felt guilty every day that I didn't run.  Today, however, I was mentally and physically ready to go out and run.  It helped that it was sunny and something like 40 degrees outside.  So I stepped out my door and plugged through 6.5 miles.  (!)  That's the farthest I've run since before Christmas.  The benefit - Having been given a bit of a break, my body was healed and ready to go for a longer run, even though I haven't logged a long run in quite a few weeks.  In this instance, the benefit of my lassitude outweighed the cost.  I don't feel broken or winded or that I overdid it today either.

There is a couple in our little town who runs every day.  Or 6 days a week, at the least.  I'm not sure if they are any more, but I know they used to be relatively competitive, running Boston a few times.  I have nearly limitless admiration for these two, partly because of their dedication, but also because they're really nice people.  Nothing gets in the way of their morning runs.  Even last week, when the morning's temperatures were somewhere around 0 degrees (yes, Zero), they were out.  Although, on Thursday she qualified, "We only did about four miles this morning."  Right.  No big deal.

Perhaps their bodies are so finely tuned that they don't need to take any stretches of time off or only rarely.  Their morning runs are just a thing like any other thing they do during their day.  Wake up, run, breakfast, work, etc.  It is their routine.  So what am I missing that I can't incorporate running into my daily routine?  I suppose part of my problem is that my days are not routine.  My work schedule changes almost weekly, and I work funky hours: 4:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., 1-9:30 p.m.  Certainly no 9-5, certainly not "routine" in the traditional sense of the word.

At least I do run.  The weather is slowly turning around; I will be running more and soon.  Today's run was heartening because it means that I'm not as much of a slouch as I feared.  I've shaken off my January sinus infection, and I'm beating my IT band pain.  Let's see if I can squeeze in another bit of a run tomorrow...  Thinking less, running more.  Loving it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Two days in a row!  Today was a treadmill day though.  Comically, I have spent the past four hours cradling my distended stomach in considerable agony following an overdose of Chicago-style hot dogs and fries.  There are trends at play in my life...

Gym tomorrow but probably no running.  Need to give my knees a break.

A wonderful friend of mine posted online earlier today that she propelled through "8.5 fantastic miles this morning."  She is amazing and has pushed her way through a lot of life's unfair realities over the past few years.  Every day I am awed by her persistence at Living, at moving on and literally running past her demons.  Yesterday I mentioned our predisposition towards comfort and safety.  Yet we are also remarkably resilient.  We can take our bodies, willingly or not, to the edge of death, wear them down to their physical breaking points, and then turn around and, with some recovery, run 8.5 or 13.1 or 26.2 miles.  We can thrive despite life's conspiring to bring us down.  A few of us push our bodies and our minds just a little bit farther because we Can, because we are still around to be able to run and bike and climb and ski.

I run and my friend runs and gradually we see our bodies heal and grow stronger.  We have visible, measurable proof of our returned health.  We cannot be stopped.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Made it happen today.

Today's temperature reached a whopping 28 degrees Fahrenheit, more than warm enough for a jog through my idyllic snow-covered and slick suburban streets.  Or something...  I didn't get an hour in, more like 45 minutes, but still, I'm pleased with my 4.6 miles.  It was a pretty glaring reminder, though, that I am very far behind in my training for this upcoming race.  And whatever progress I made today I am currently eating away at with my Starbucks' milk chocolate graham cookies.  Mmm, so good.

But the run wasn't great.  For some fun reason, when I run in the cold, my nasal passages constrict and I cannot breathe through my nose at All.  I dunno; it's just unpleasant.  Maybe I'm a "fair-weather" runner, but I really do not like running outside in winter.  My self-preservation instinct is considerably stronger than my desire to run.  I read some article once explaining that our bodies are programmed to seek the easiest, safest route to the longest life.  Running, especially distance running, places a tremendous amount of stress on our bodies.  It isn't fun, and in the 21st century, it is no longer a necessity for survival.  We impose powerful mental blocks against running, and when faced with the prospect of venturing outside into below-freezing temperatures wearing naught but a few thin layers of wicking fabric, it is almost physically impossible to get out the door.  At least, this is what I've found.  And getting out the door really is the hardest part.  Once you've over come that block, once you've started to move and warm up and regain feeling in your toes, the endorphins kick in and it really isn't that bad.

Supposedly it takes three weeks to form a habit.  Today was a good start.  Tomorrow it is supposed to be snowing, but I've got a back up.  I am taking my workout clothes with me to work, and I am going straight to the gym from work.  That is the plan.  The goal.  To get to the gym.  Once there, we'll see how long I can run for.  Shooting for 35 minutes.  Right.  Less thinking; more running.  Go.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sometimes I run

I am not very fast, and I struggle with motivation. Yet I consider myself a "runner." It is part of who I am, part of the person I am growing into. Running clears my mind. It is physical proof that I am healthy, that whatever struggles my body has gone through, I have overcome them. Am overcoming them.

After months of training and in the midst of a failing romantic relationship, I finished the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Key word is Finished. Stumbling, dehydrated, hurting and disappointed, I crossed that FINISH line, was given my finisher's medal and collapsed on some grass across from Buckingham Fountain. My finishing time was an embarrassing 5:55:54 (really). My hazy goal had been a 4:30 finish, but my body mechanics won the fight against my mental fortitude. Basically, my IT band decided it would be a blast to go and get royally screwed up one month before the marathon. So I finished the race, but I could barely bend my knee after and for the next two days.

Yet somehow, I still finished. Then 4 weeks later, I ran a 15k race (~9.3 miles). IT band be damned; I am going to keep running. I am registered for a 30k race (~18 miles) at the end of March. I would like to run at least one more marathon this year, perhaps a few halfs.

I am a runner and my biggest problem is I am struggling to get out the door this winter. How in the hell am I going to get through 18 miles in less than 8 weeks when I haven't run more than four or five miles at a time for the past two months? Is it even possible? I am full of doubt and chocolate covered pretzels, neither of which are terribly conducive to a successful run. So if you've happened across this blog, welcome to my newest forum for my thoughts. Maybe, if I try to write something worthwhile every day, I will hold myself more accountable for my training. Perhaps it will just be an outlet for my guilt. All of those things. Who knows. Maybe I'll see if I can't go for a long run tomorrow... Shooting for an hour.

So, welcome to my weird, inconsistent, generally self-deprecating world. More running, less thinking.