Friday, November 22, 2013

My Runner-versary

I was born on Aug. 9, 1975.

I was married on June 26, 1999.

My kids were born on Oct. 1, 2003 and Oct. 19, 2005.

I became a runner on Nov. 22, 2009.

There are specific dates and moments that created an imprint on (or in one instance began) my life. The big ones are, well, important and life-altering, but the final date there has had a big impact on the person I've become and helped set my own bar high.

I'd actually been running quite a bit before Nov. 22, 2009. I'd run a half marathon, two mud runs, a 5K and a couple of 10Ks... a 15-miler too. But I was in Seattle and was supposed to run 18 miles that day with my running group. Since none of my group made the trip with me, I was left with two options - either run the whole thing alone or skip it. I wasn't about to skip it.

The run (read about it here) was absolutely the most difficult thing I'd ever done. With the help of some local runners/bloggers, I figured out what the weather was like, how to prepare for it and where a good running path was. It rained from start to finish, and the temperatures hovered in the low 40s.

I powered through. The run became increasingly difficult as it grew longer. The last two miles were torturous, and the final stretch the most painful I'd experienced before.

To this day it stands alone as the most difficult training run I've ever done. I don't think I can experience a tougher one, to be honest. 18 solo miles in unfamiliar territory under harsh conditions? Good luck topping that.

But I felt like I joined an elite group that day. I felt like I did something that only a true runner would do. I felt like I earned my runner label that day.

I've since gone on to run 10 marathons and 14 more half marathons and there have been many times, either during training runs or the aforementioned races, where I question myself, where I doubt that I can get something done, when I let in those negative thoughts, but all I have to do is to remember how, when I was an inexperienced and determined runner, I was able to accomplish something great. I can do it. I proved that and so many other things long ago.

Monday, November 18, 2013

When A 10-Mile Run Isn't A 10-Mile Run

It's been way too long. I don't mean since I last blogged but since I last blogged regularly. It's been so long in fact that I don't want to say that I am going to be doing this regularly or even semi-regularly. All I know is that I want to get back into running long distances regularly and I feel like I am close to that point, and that when I was at my best running, I was blogging regularly. So perhaps the two go hand-in-hand.

Anyway, this isn't a what-have-I-been-up-to post. This isn't a what-plans-do-I-have post either. This is just a... well... I guess I should jump right into it.

Sunday was a challenge. Better put, the approach to Sunday was a challenge. I wanted to run 10 miles. Not only were my in-laws celebrating Thanksgiving later in the day (a lot of hectic schedules forced it a bit early) but I was primed for such a distance. The last time I hit double digits I was somewhere in Fontana running the city's half marathon on June 1. The last training run where I hit double digits was... I can't remember. I had barely run the few weeks before Fontana.

So my training had been going well recently, very well, but the most I had done was one eight-miler and several six-milers. Most everything else was in the five-ish range.

I went ahead and signed up for the Lopers Holiday Classic half marathon on Dec. 1 so not only did I need to get back into running long distances for myself, I need to do it in preparation for my next race.

I got up early Sunday, threw my stuff on and went out the door about 5:40. I made my way over to my new favorite running place, Bonaminio Park by Mt Rubidoux, and I was off. I had been a little worried that I wouldn't be able to find the mental strength to get up and do that but I did and that was a bit of a hurdle cleared.

Once I was running, I was fine. I got back into the long-run groove somewhat quickly. I mentally planned out a route, scrapped it and decided to run on some city streets. Eventually I made my way around Fairmount Park and then took a trail back to where I started. Six miles down, four to go, which had been my plan - I'd wanted to run the final four up and down Mt. Rubidoux. Even though I'd already run six miles, my legs attacked the hill with ferocity. I wasn't necessarily flying up the hill but my legs where churning at a steady, solid place.

At the top I rested briefly and off I went downhill. As I was in my long-run mode, I didn't try and hit some top speeds like I normally do down Mt. Rubidoux. I felt good though, and felt like if I needed a kick I had one to give. Finally I was back in the parking lot and coming up on my truck. 10.2 miles done and I felt great, but more importantly I felt like I could have given more. Of course, later in the day I was wiped out.

It's funny how this whole run and day went. While the run itself was not overly taxing, the aftermath was. The way I felt afterward - tired, sore, desperately needing sleep - was how I usually felt when I ran more than 15 miles. Usually with 10 miles, not only do I not sweat it mentally, I go about my day afterward like normal, with no physical setbacks.

Just shows that I have a long way to go until I get back to where I was. But I have the desire, the time and possibly this blog to help me get back there.