I talked last year about our running club and the awesome people in it, but I haven’t talked about my personal history with running. Here’s the short version:
I played soccer as a kid, but when I got to high school was forced to give it up (blood clotting disorders and contact sports don’t mix…I still miss you, soccer!). I was told I had to pick a fall sport and there were two non-contact sports to choose from: Swimming and cross country. I knew how to swim, but not well enough to compete in it so I ended up on the cross country team. Which led to the indoor track team. Which led to the spring track team. And so I spent four years running in circles (lots of them! I ran the mile and two-mile). When I got to college I had no interest in continuing to run in circles, but I ran on and off with friends. Post-college I was “too busy” to run, but continued to stop and start a running habit for a few years. Eventually I stopped stopping, and that was due to signing up for the frequent 5k/5-miler/10k races that I run: putting down money and committing to a race is the motivation I need to maintain my base fitness.
Just kidding, not really the end! This is just where we stop talking about my running history and start talking about my
addiction racing and how I ended up registered for a half marathon.
It’s become a joke among my running friends: I mention an upcoming race, they ask if they need to have an intervention about my race registration habit. I wasn’t intentionally running one race per month, but I was pretty close to hitting that average. Last year I thought (as any good daughter in a math/numbers obsessed family would) “13 races in ’13? Sounds fun!” and so that became the goal. As you saw in my Year in Running: 2013 post, I ended up doing a few more than thirteen…and spending more money than I realized on entry fees! I swore to myself that I would cut back and really try to do only 14 in ’14. Until I added a 2014 tab to my race tracking spreadsheet, started looking at the calendar, and spent some time thinking about which races I wanted to run again. Umm…it was never going to be only 14 in ’14. I’m already registered for fourteen races this year (and one next year!) and there are seven more on my radar.
When people hear how frequently I run races they expect that some of them are endurance events – half or full marathons – but that’s not the case. I’m a relatively pokey runner. It takes me nearly an hour to run a 10k, and why should/would I spend more than an hour running? That’s enough to make me feel like I accomplished something and get plenty sweaty! For years running friends have been telling me “You’ll run a half, then you’ll run a marathon. It’s a slippery slope!”. I’ve always countered that it would take me almost two and half hours to run a half marathon, and do you know what else takes two and a half hours but is much more enjoyable? Dinner and a movie! Three and a half episodes of Party of Five! A NAP.
Then I ran the Falmouth Road Race last year – at seven miles it was the longest I had ever raced, on a challenging course during less-than-ideal weather…and I loved it, and thought to myself both during and after the race “I could totally run a half marathon if it were like this”. By “like this” I meant that it had heaps of crowd support – it would be another “party on the run”. I ignored that thought for months, and in January decided I was going to do it. Once, and probably never again. I spent months training the two years I walked the Breast Cancer 3-Day and I still remember the time it took and the impact it had on every other aspect of my life. While I recognize that training for a half marathon, and even a marathon, doesn’t eat up as much time as training for a 3-Day, I have zero desire to repeat that experience (to be clear: the experience of training. The 3-Day itself was one of the most amazing experiences of my life). But I can train for a half once for the experience…so I changed my registration for Boston’s Run to Remember from the 5-miler to the half marathon, and I promptly enlisted help.
And now here I am! Twelve days from running my first half marathon! The training has been fine. Actually, it’s been good and I’m just whiney. I am annoyed to spend time each week matching up my training plan and my personal calendar. I’m annoyed to have to put extra thought and time into prepping for my Sunday runs instead of just meeting up with the Running Dawgs and running an easy, familiar route. But the reality is that neither of those annoyances take much time, and they’re small inconveniences! I’m just tired of thinking so much about running instead of just going and doing it. Honestly, the differences between my training plan and my usual routine are minimal – I run four days each week instead of three, and my Sunday run is longer than our usual 5-6 miles. I really should not complain, especially given that none of my fears have been realized (yet? Knock on wood!): I have not reacted badly to mid-run fuel and pooped my pants (seriously! This is, hands down, my biggest fear*), I have avoided injury so far, and my exercise-induced migraines have been more manageable than I imagined they would be.
* This fear of pooping my pants is not unfounded: when you spend long enough running your body starts to divert blood flow from “less essential” things, like your GI tract, to “more essential” things, like the muscles you’re using to run. This often leads to GI distress for folks training for and participating in endurance events. I’ve heard the horror stories…I don’t want to be one of them.