Sunday, October 28, 2012

Enjoying a 5K is not Impossible

For those of you know me personally, you know that I despise running a 5K.  I am built for endurance, not for speed.  Amongst my fellow runners, I am the proverbial Clydesdale, plodding along for miles, so the 5K is not my preferred distance.  I mean, what's the point of a race that you finish just when you are properly getting warmed up and finding your groove?
I do love to go to running events with a group of people, though.  And, I really do believe in the power of a race to build community and/or raise money for a meaningful cause.  So, when I got an invite to join my cousin at the Undy 5000, I immediately registered the hubs and me for this 5K.  The Undy 5000 is a race series sponsored by the Colon Cancer Alliance to raise funds and awareness for colon cancer.  My cousin is a survivor and I was more than thrilled to celebrate him and do a 5K in his honor.
Yesterday, with my hometown dipping down to a chilly, breezy 38 degrees, we bundled up and headed out.  Here we are huddled up before the race.  The race environment is intended to be a fun-filled race with a wink because you are encouraged to wear underwear on the outside.  We weren't quite that committed, but we did see some crazy costumes.  One lady who wore a thong - and nothing else covering her backside.  The guy who came in first ran only in a pair of whitey-tighties.  Brrr!

I have been bonding with my treadmill as I discussed in my last post, so I haven't run outside since June.  That meant my race strategy was to walk with the hubs and enjoy the scenery.  He's not a runner, but loves a good walk.  Since every single time that I have attempted this race strategy, I have ditched my husband, he wisely brought his own headphones because he predicted he wouldn't have company.

He was right. (shh! Don't tell him I said that)  I used the excuse that I wanted to warm up by running and took off.  Two miles later, I was still running. Three-point-one miles later, and I was still running.  Not only was I still running, I was feeling great!  I was having fun and vibing on the energy of the race participants.  I crossed the finish line and was greeted with this image on my watch.

Nope, that's not a PR.  Not even close.  But that is a guarantee that I am still a runner.  In this period of my life when so many things feel like they are not guaranteed, I will take that 5K and run with it.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Treadmill As a Way of Life

Whew!  It's been a while.  In that while, a lot and very little has happened.  Let's start with where I left off on my last post.  I was a week out from The Hottest Half.  I didn't get a DNF because I didn't even start.  Blech.

A few days before that race, I looked at the DH and asked, "If I don't finish this half marathon challenge, does that make me a loser?"  He answered honestly and told me that if it were under any other circumstances, then yes, I'd be a loser, but that for now, I'm not.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief and let go.

I let go of all of the expectations that I put on myself; the ones that are illogical or beyond the norm. Let's not get crazy, folks.  I was still showering every day and getting myself to work and I even cooked a meal every now and then.  I just quit punishing myself for missing boot camp or a run or for leaving clean clothes on the couch three days after laundry day.  I quit worrying about eating a cookie or too many carbs and I had too many glassy-eyed nights out to dinner.

Then, I realized that I might have let go of some expectations that make me feel like me.  And, I was packing on some pounds and that made me really feel like someone I didn't want to be.  The problem was that I just couldn't get my butt out the door.  I was crushed with anxiety that I wouldn't be able to finish a run; that I'd be stranded out there in the early dark of the morning feeling like I couldn't go on.

I'm someone who (thinks I) thrives on stress.  I over-pack my life with commitments and goals.  I find it thrilling to see an event ahead on my horizon.  It's a part of me that helped me write a dissertation and to become a runner.  But I'm here to tell you, friends, that the personal stress that has come from my mother being treated for leukemia with these crazy long hospital stays, has/is/may crush me.

Somehow, I had to get out from under that weight.

I stepped on the treadmill.  I convinced myself that I only had to stay there for 30 minutes and that I could walk, run, or crawl, but I had to stay on that thing for 30 minutes.  Turns out that all I needed was an exit strategy, but I didn't actually need to exit.

September was about remembering how to run.  It was a great relief and joy the day I once again ran for 30 minutes without stopping.  Then, in October, the DH and I began a challenge to work out every day and to not eat pizza.  It's been a little rocky for me, but I'm doing better.  This morning I ran for 45 minutes and was happy.

The treadmill has been a metaphor for my life in many ways recently.  There are days that I just have to put one foot in front of the other.  Just keep staring forward.  Just keep moving.  Just keep going.  Just hope that tomorrow it will all be fun again.

If I were a triathlete, this is the part where I would say, "Just keep swimming."  But, I'm a runner, so I'll just keep running.