Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Shower Silliness

After my five mile run on Monday (which I ran the last mile at a 7:40 pace! Yeah!) I took Dizzle into the bathroom with me so that I could take a quick shower. She was standing there looking at me, when suddenly she blurted out something only a small child would say. She goes, "Mom, what's wrong with your butt? It has hair on it." I know, laugh, it's funny. I stood there thinking, (and laughing so hard I thought I was going to pee) "Should I use this opportunity to teach Dizzle about anatomy or avoid the conversation all together?" I chose to pretty much ignore what she said and replied, "There is nothing wrong with Mommy's butt, and one day you will look like this too." That answer seemed to be enough to satisfy her (for now anyway). But I swear, I will be using that story to embarrass her in the future.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Early Taper Anyone?

Like I mentioned in my earlier post, I was not feeling 100% heading into my final long run before the marathon. The night before, Dizzle felt that it was necessary to conduct an hour-long drum parade while my head felt like it was going to explode. So instead of getting comfy in the corner of my sofa, I shook the bells to Dizzle's renditions of "The ABCs" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." And just to show who was really in charge (I never really am) Dizzle would occasionally break into her military commander voice and belt out, "Hup, two, three, four. Hup, two three, four." And despite feeling horrible and barely having a voice, it was actually pretty cute, especially when I noticed that Doodle was laughing her chubby little baby cheeks off, all while adding to our musical display by shaking the maracas!

But enough digression, once the kids were in bed and I got to thinking about my run, I was actually excited about the prospect of running 18 miles for the last time before the actual race. I had broken it up in my head into three, six mile loops or maybe even six, three mile loops. I was going to get up at five and be pushing it full steam ahead by six. I was going to be amazing.

Going to be amazing? Who am I kidding? I did actually make it out of bed at 5 a.m. after a horendous night of sleep. Suddenly, after two days of a pain-free throat, every time I swallowed hurt more then the next. But I got up anyway, managed to get dressed and ate my traditional pre-run breakfast. As I was about to leave, I did one last weather check ... Rain. Not a downpour, but enough to make an already questionable run even more so. I sat here asking myself, "Is running sick, in the rain, going to benefit me or my running?" The answer was a pretty clear no. With the actual marathon just three weeks away, I really couldn't risk prolonging this illness, just because of my stubborn nature. I knew that I had to sacrifice this run.

And ultimately I think it all worked out in my favor. I went back to bed and awoke feeling far better than just a few hours earlier (with the exception of my non-existant voice). And I did get a run in - 10 miles. Not quite 18, but better than taking the day off completely. I probably could have gone farther. I felt pretty good (going at snail pace), but my ankle started to bother me (I need to go get a brace) and I was getting seriously bored of my treadmill run. So to justify my cut in mileage, I decided that this would be the first week of my taper. An extra taper week is really just an extra recovery week, right? I should be super strong when I actually have to run 26.2.

Ok, am I kidding myself? God, I hope not. I know I will be able to finish (I'm not really the quiting type), but the thought that I can do this is four hours or less is slowly fading. I think I need to start realizing that it's far more realistic that I will run close to 4:30 and I should just see the rest as icing on the cake!! Oh but that is so hard to do!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Not another 18 miler ...

Ok, so I'm not really dreading another 18 miler. I've done it before and while it wasn't the best three hours of my life, I can do it again. Rather I am perturbed that I have been sick all week, I feel like I'm dragging and my poor kids and my running are suffering. I don't feel like doing anything but sit on the couch, which is not a preferred activity for an almost three year old and an 11 month old. They want to run, dance and play and I want to sleep. But I am doing my best. When I get little bursts of energy, I dance and I have done a heck of a lot of reading this week ... Sesame Street's "Just the way you are" is our new favorite.

So while I have continued to attempt to be "Supermom", I am so very far from being "Superrunner." In fact, I'm more like "Below Average Runner." I completely missed my eight mile run on Wednesday and while I did manage to get five in yesterday, it was at a pace that my Grandmother could beat ... trust me it was bad. But those are minor concerns to me as I approach my last long run before the marathon. I'm really wondering how I am ever going to finish 18 miles tomorrow? Will I survive? Is it going to take me six hours or will I just get so weak that I simply give up?

I'm not really sure what will happen. All I know is that today is all about rest, carbs and hydration. Hopefully, that's enough to get me through (Albeit, slowly). Send those speedy recovery vibes my way!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

To Thrive or Survive?

For those who know me it's clear that I am slightly competitive ... well maybe more than slightly. I'm not a fan of losing, falling behind or, to be honest, anything that makes me look like less than an over-achiever. Keeping that in mind, it may seem odd that I like to run, and on occasion race. I never win, and I'm not all that fast, but still, something keeps me motivated.

Have you figured out what it is? Drumroll please ... I do it to beat my friends. I know this is sad and that I really shouldn't feel like I am competing with them, but just running to run is not enough for me. I need to feel like I am good at it, even if it's only compared to those in my peer group. In actuality, I'm not the best. Several of my friends are faster, stronger, overall better runners than I.

My sheer craziness was evident today during my five mile training run. Several of my training partners competed in an 8K on Saturday while S and I were running our 18 miler. That evening I checked out the results and was immediately motivated to go out and run fast then they had. My first chance ... today's run. So with beautiful weather and no babies in tow (Thanks J!), I headed out for an easy five. I got about 1/10 of a mile in and decided that I was not going fast enough, so I pushed a little harder. At the turnaround I checked out my watch and noticed that it read 20:54 ... by far the fastest two and a half miles I had ever run. This only motivated me more. I just kept thinking, "If I keep this pace I will finish just as fast as everyone this weekend." The second half of my run was as smooth as the first. I felt good. When I finished, I knew I had put everything I had into that run and my time proved it, 40:24.

But rather than feeling awesome that I could in fact keep up with my friends, (and I think beat them) I felt that maybe I have been cheating myself these last 13 weeks. While I've never skipped a run, or even walked a step, I don't think I am pushing myself. I'm just merely surviving my runs. I want to thrive during them. I want to be and do my best. And now that I realize this, maybe a four-hour marathon isn't so far out of reach.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What did I get myself into?

Today started the same as every other Saturday in my household. I awoke, long before any other member of my family, to head out for my weekly long run. In the past, a long run consisted of a mere five or six miles, and a congratulatory pat on the back from one (or all) of my running partners for a job well done. We used to finish and act as if we were amazed that our "non-runner" bodies actually survived. That seems like forever ago.

Today, S and I embarked on an 18 mile run (which at the speed we go, is more like a jog for most runners). We were filled with both excitement and fear, having never completed more than 16 miles at any one time. But to be honest, what we should have been feeling was dread. Although we finished in just under three hours, it felt like we were out there for 30. Neither of us had any energy. In fact, on more than one occasion, we remarked on how we felt like we were barely moving and that we were sure that our legs could take us no farther. For the first time in my marathon training I honestly thought, "How am I ever going to run 26.2?"

When we finished (that last mile took FOREVER), I bent over and told S, "If I ever tell you that I want to run another marathon, shoot me." And I was being completely serious. I have to give credit to all those runners who do multiple marathons, whether it be in the same year or over the course of their lives. I want to enjoy running again (at least how I usually feel when I'm done), but right now I am just praying for this training (and the race) to be over. I have made the executive decision to become a 5K and 10K runner, with a half-marathon here and there (very far apart, of course). My body can handle that.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Oh, To Be a Zen Runner

Like I mentioned in my last post, I consider myself a runner. Now I'm not the kind of runner that will ever win a race (or even finish near the top). In fact, while my body has transformed to a certain extent to resemble that of a runner, when you look at me closely it is easy to tell that my body just wasn't built to race, or at least race and win.

In my past life (before marriage and babies), I never ran ... ever! Throughout my athletic career, I chose activities that involved the least amount of running possible, while still being classified as a sport. In soccer, I played defense, or on a lazy day, goalie. In basketball, I was center - just so I could stand there and get in other people's way. And in my real love, track and field, I threw - and my body showed it. At 5'9, I have always been able to carry my weight well, but for most of my teens and early twenties, I was holding on to a little more than most people ever should.

At some point enough was enough (to be honest - it was my upcoming wedding) and I decided to do something about my lack of cardiovascular strength, which ultimately led to a major drop in my "excess baggage." So like many before me, I decided to run - the one thing I loathed the most. And amazingly, it worked (I know, shocking!). I literally shrunk, and while I still hated the activity, I loved the result. Happy ending, right?

Well, not exactly. Shortly after my wedding (a mere two months to be exact), I found myself pregnant. Can you say, "Bye-bye, flat stomach. Hello, maternity jeans." At that moment it all stopped, no more running, no more mindful eating. I figured, "I'm going to get fat anyway, so I might as well enjoy it!" Let's just say that was a bad idea. I see that now, especially since going through pregnancy a second time with a much more active and healthy lifestyle. But hindsight is 20/20, isn't it?

Anyway, enough digression. After my two and a half year hiatus from running, I started up again after my second daughter was born. This time around I decided I was going to approach my most dreaded enemy in a different way - with a training schedule. I figured that if I had a goal to accomplish I would have no choice but to stick to running, and ultimately learn to love it. That was eight months ago.

So how do I feel today? Well, I am mildly addicted to running. In fact, my first marathon is just 31 days away. I often run for hours at a time. But to be completely honest, I still don't love running. On the other hand, I love how running makes me feel and the sense of accomplishment I have after I finish - whether it be three or 13 miles. With that said, I huge part of me longs for more. I long to be a "Zen Runner." I want to be that person, who regardless of the circumstances, just runs to run. Who loves every second and can get lost in the simplicity of the activity. I know deep down that I will never be that person. That little voice in my head is always going to say, "How much longer do I have to do this?" And I guess I just have to learn to be ok with that.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It hasn't always been this way ...

Every once in a while, I have one of those days where you question who you have become. Today has been one of those days. As I changed my third poop-filled diaper and wiped a runny nose with my bare hand (neither of which were my own), I thought, "When did I become so comfortable with bodily fluids that I really found it ok to wipe someone else's nose without a tissue?"

There was a time that the mere thought of all those germs crawling on my hands would have made me cringe in disgust, but today I simply wiped and continued to go on with what I was doing without giving it a second thought. Some people say that you lose the ability to care about those things after you have a child. Spit-up and poop become facinating topics of conversation and a handful of runny snot is nothing more than a minor blip on the radar. For me, I lost my concern for germs (and "normal" conversations) when I had my second. Once Doodle arrived, I couldn't worry about those things anymore. Why bother? Just think about it. My other daughter, Dizzle, was just about two when Doodle was born. How can you stop a two year old (even the most well-behaved) from touching their baby sister with dirty toddler hands? You can't. It is beyond impossible. And maybe it's just me, but really, is it that important? I figure there are bigger things to worry about, like making sure that your toddler doesn't knock out your infant with a quick jab when you're not looking. Trust me this can happen! But let me back up a bit, this rant was meant to be more of an introduction than a digression into sibling relationships.

My point was that at some point I lost the person I thought I was and this new and better person has emerged. The things that were once important to me (mainly me), have been replaced by new, more selfless things (mainly my kids and wonderful husband). And surprisingly, I am extremely happy about this. Now don't get me wrong, I still LOVE myself. Who doesn't? But now putting my family first makes me feel like a better me. That and running (more on that another time). In those moments that I am thriving (or surviving) as a wife, a mom, and a runner are the best. As draining as those tasks can be, they are equally invigorating. Everyday that I mother makes me want to be a better mom and everyday I run makes me want to be a better runner. Crazy, when you think that just six or seven years ago, children and running anywhere (except maybe to the fridge), weren't even on my radar.

Like I said, it hasn't always been this way.