Anyways, that all said, despite suffering from knee problems due to too much too soon, and then despite another delay because apparently, I like to get kinky with concrete, I have been bit by the running bug. HARD.
How hard? I am SHOUTING OUT TO THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE RIGHT NOW THAT I AM SIGNING UP FOR THE KIAWAH HALF-MARATHON IN DECEMBER. There. It's out. Actually - seriously y'all - this is how I quit smoking (back in 1996 for those of you scratching your head and going - wait - Country Girl - YOU smoke? No. I don't. I used to. I quit April 1, 1996.). I basically told everyone I knew at the time that I was quitting because I figured that it would shame me into honoring my commitment. I mean - how embarrassing is it to promise something and then fall short? Anyways - assuming I don't suffer any more injuries (Lord - please I hope not) - I am signing up for the Kiawah half marathon when registration opens on August 3rd. And hopefully December 12th finds me running through 13.1 gorgeous miles followed by a self-indulgent dinner at the Ocean Room and a hard-earned massage at The Spa at The Sanctuary.
What this means is that running and training are my 2 latest obsessions. Seriously - I am downloading training schedules, scheduling runs and strength training throughout the week, and trying to stretch daily. I am even carbo-loading (hard for me, a recovering carbophobe, but more on that in another post.)
What's awesome is that my co-worker Iron Man (seriously - he's 49 and training for a half Iron Man this year and plans to compete in a full Iron Man next year in France FOR HIS 50th BIRTHDAY! How Bad Ass is that?) is a serious athlete and he's sending me training tips and acting as a coach/mentor/motivator.
Sundays or Mondays are speed training. I am running for a short amount of time (maybe 20 minutes) but I am either doing intervals, pyramids, or just flat out pushing myself HARD. The goal is to get and keep my heart rate at 90%. Speed runs increase cardiac strength, biomechanical efficiency, better running economy, and the psychological toughness that racing demands.
Then Wednesdays or Thursdays are supposed to be an "Easy Run" which for me is my usual 4.5 - 5 mile run at my usual pace (these days just shy of a 9-minute mile).
Saturdays are Long Runs or I call them Endurance Runs. Long Runs are any steady run at or longer than race distance designed to enhance endurance, which enables you to run longer and longer and feel strong doing it. The goal is to keep the pace slower than usual but go for time. This past Saturday I ran for 1 hour and 59 seconds. I ran 6.5 miles at about a 9.4mph pace. It's the longest and farthest I have ever run. It's also almost half a half marathon. It felt AWESOME! Going forward, as per Iron Man, I am to add a few minutes per week to keep building up.
And in between all of this training, I am also going to actually sign up for a few 5Ks and 10Ks to get a feel for the competitive nature of racing. In fact - I signed up for my first 5K the other day - it's in Asheville in September and I can't wait! Of course, when I told Dad I was signing up for a half marathon - he was like: "To win?" And I was like: "Ummm...NO. Just to race and have fun and challenge myself."
So there are some things I have discovered about myself as a runner:
* I like the solitude of running. Sure - I bet it would be great to join a running group and be in training with someone and have someone to actually go through the process with, but when I slip my tootsies into my Mizunos and head to the track, all I want to do is turn on my iPod and tune out. Seriously - the notion of talking while running is foreign to me. And besides, I am sharing this with Iron Man because don't think I don't email him after every run with time, pace, accomplishments, etc. and don't think he doesn't email me back with some sort of "You Go Girl" encouragement.
* I like the control of running at the track. There are those who would probably prefer to keep changing it up and to hit some trails or map out some new routes because the notion of running in constant circles for an hour or more would drive them batty. Not me. I am routine oriented and frankly, in a world that offers us little control, I feel very in control at the track. I know exactly how far I am running, I can (kind of) monitor my pace, and I enjoy the rhythmic slap slap slap of my feet on flat ground. Of course, eventually I will have to venture out into the real world because no marathon is that flat.
* Treadmills are awesome. Seriously. I am on the road alot these days and most hotels - even the rinky dinky ones - have a treadmill. The Hyatt Place I just stayed at had an AWESOME treadmill and I went for an AWESOME 5-mile run. I completely controlled my pace, I could adjust the inclines at will - I had a blast. Again, I know running on a treadmill is very different from real world running but it's good to keep me motivated and active while I am traveling.
So these days I am thinking about investing in some more $9 socks (because OMG - I could almost start to feel the blisters after Saturday's epic run - a problem which plagued a friend of mine when she was training for a 15k), considering a Garmin GPS watch which Iron Man assures me is essential to my training (hint hint hint for anyone wondering what to maybe get me as a birthday present), wondering at what point I need to buy one of those Batman-style utility packs so that I can fuel myself with goo packs and water throughout my long runs, and wondering if the Mizunos I purchased in June will still be in decent shape by the time December rolls around or will I have to buy new ones because the dudes at Run For Your Life told me running shoes need to be replaced every 6 months (especially if you are doing a lot of running which clearly - I will be) only I don't want to get new shoes right before the race so maybe I need to buy new ones in October.
I am also thinking that maybe I am insane. But then again...I am kind of thinking I am pretty Bad Ass myself. What do you think?
Either way, I love a good challenge.
And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...