My One Big Goal - 700 miles

My One Big Goal - 700 miles

Running from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Savannah, Georgia

Miles Run So Far: 63.7

Miles To Go: 636.3

Sunday, October 24, 2010

even if i'm last

The old joke goes: What do you call the person who graduated at dead last in their class at med school? DOCTOR.

Yesterday's long run was designed to show me what I can reasonably expect of myself in my upcoming half marathon on November 6th. The Amish Half is a very hilly course - last year I biked some of those roads in the MS Bike Ride and let me tell you, those hills are constant and fierce. Up down, up up up level up some more...tough on a bike for this newbie. But, I was feeling fairly confident of running this course.

The goal I had set for myself in this race was to finish in 2:20, maybe - dare I hope for it? - 2:15. This was a real, achievable goal, I thought, when I set it two months ago. Then, I lost a couple weeks of training, and after a painful return to running doing 7 miles in the hilly and beautiful Valley Forge Park, I thought, "Uh oh."

Yesterday, I drove away from my flat neighborhood and headed to the hillier part of the county. The topography matches Lancaster County, and I thought, this run will let me know what I'm reasonably capable of. The first 5 miles were good enough - even if I didn't run all the way up the non-stop hills, I kept my walks to less than a minute. I was feeling strong. I took my gu at the right time, was hydrating well. A good run. That all fell apart.

Suddenly, my legs just didn't want to go too much more. A little more than an hour in, and everywhere I looked was an uphill and my quads were cursing me with words that would make a trucker blush. I realized that I was delusional when setting a 2:20 goal and a 2:15 hope. In fact, I was delusional to think that I should even race in 2 weeks. Better, I thought, that I delay my registration til next year. I quit. In my head, I was done. Not prepared to run the race I wanted, just not gonna do it.

That thought process lasted for about 2 minutes...maybe it would have lasted longer if I had any clue where in God's country I was and just how close to my car...but I was several miles from anything, so I couldn't quit running at that moment. And then I thought, "Well, someone's got to come in last." Maybe that someone is me. While that may sound like Loser Lurgy, really it was comforting. There's no reason to quit. My goal just needed to be adjusted (and thank you Runner's World for your November issue whose theme is just that).

I plugged on, taking walk breaks every 7-9 minutes, a slow little turtle trot. I began to enjoy the incredibly beautiful scenery again. Blue sky blanketed the rolling farms, Holstein cows out grazing, the stumps of corn stalks poking like a five o'clock shadow out of the dusty fields.

My cranky hip decided it had enough my last mile or so. And then I remembered. I'm not sure how these words didn't stick with my my whole run, but they were said and then instantly lost. Just as I began my ten miles, a woman in her 40s in a motorized cart was out with her dog, moving along the opposite side of the street for me. As she saw me, I did that courtesy flip wave, and she said to me, "Wish I was doing that."

Wish I was doing that. Too many people's bodies won't let them enjoy the simple freedom of walking down an autumn street, never mind attempt the challenge of a ten mile run on a Saturday morning. I was humbled, no, chastened, for my quitter's thoughts.

Later that night, Glenn told me that if I want a 2:20 then I have to run my half as a runner who will get a 2:20. And he's right. I love his confidence in me and the way he pushes me to be the best person I can.

This morning, I read this quote on my friend Heather's facebook page (she's aiming for a 1:50 half time this morning).

"It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit".- George Sheehan

Ain't that the truth? I might be last in my upcoming half...but I will be out there, trotting and running, hoping for a 2:20, thankful for the health and strength in my body and the limits I can push myself to.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

memory lane - my first half marathon

As I prepare to run my third half marathon, I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane about my first distance race...

The BackStory

I signed up for the Philadelphia (half) Marathon on November 23rd, 2008 and gave myself about 7 weeks to train for it. Though I'd been running for a while, I'd only had a few really long runs before I signed up. And, then after I signed up, as life always has it for me, I hadn't logged too much running the first 2 or 3 weeks of "training". I got a cold, I started dating an awesome guy (who is now my awesome husband), my boss left for 3 months of FMLA...the excuses piled up and I wasn't running.

I was starting to get nervous that I was going to be walking ten of the 13 miles and wasting my extravagant entry fee ($100!!!!) ~ and disappointing myself and the goal I've had for 2 years to run a half...

In order to get some running in, I'd have to do so from work. I mapped out a route to travel through the Philly neighborhoods of Wynnefield and Overbrook. It was a 2.5 mile loop and for a week I walked it every day. Then, I started running the 2.5 miles on my lunch break a few times a week, but running nothing longer than that. I still had a LONG way to go to make 13 miles seem do-able...however, I was feeling really good and my time was reasonably ok too (I usually run a 11:20 mile and these runs had me at a 10:50 mile).

Finally, about three weeks before the race, I got back out for a long run, and I was so anxious to see how I'd do, kind of to take stock of where I was for this half. Well, I ran 9 miles in 1:38 and I am thrilled! I actually shaved 8 minutes off my time from my last 9 mile run a month ago. Progress!


My goal time was to run the half in 2:30 ~ and I beat my goal time!!! I ran in 2:25:33!!! Well, officially I ran 2:33:48, but I waited for 8 minutes at a port-a-potty stop to pee. Next time I don't care how cold it is, I'm just peeing next to a building like the guys did.

The Race Day was totally awesome! My parents and nieces drove down from Massachusetts, and with my daughter cheered for me at the half way point, complete with signs and t-shirts that read "Team Jill."

Glenn got up with me at 5:00 am to drive me to Philly in 23 degree weather, and stood at the start/finish line for me. We were newly dating and he HATES driving in big cities, so that tells you just what a great guy he is.

And a new friend of mine, her hubby, and daughter drove from Delaware to Philly and were at the finish line! It was so great to have people I care about there to be proud of me.

The spectators out there were a pretty quiet and frozen bunch. It was about 28 degrees at start time and was 36 when I got back to the car at 10 am. Everyone was silently shivering (conserving energy I'm sure ~ it was FREEZING!), all except for a group of fraternity brothers who were outside their house bright and early (with beer) and banging on pots and pans. Every time the spectators cheered, it really did give me (and the other runners) such a boost and pick-me-up. I wish there had been better crowd support.

It was so pretty to be running through Philadelphia that early in the morning: I remember I turned up one street and saw the skyline all lit up with the early rising sun, golden and pink reflected on the buildings, and it was breathtaking! It was cold, sometimes the road was icy and dangerous...but it was AWESOME!! 3 years ago I couldn't have run a mile...and now I just ran 13!

After the race, when we were all back at my home and getting ready to go out for a celebratory lunch, my 2 1/2 year old angel said to me, "Mommy, I so proud of you!"