Let’s Look at the Numbers

I thought it would be fun to post some info-graphic type data from my training, which began on October 31st — the day I decided I’d run a half marathon.

Number of days trained: 149

Coldest temperature I ran in:-5 (not including the windchill that day)

Number of times I was caught without a port-a-potty and became good friends with mother nature: 4 (including once on that -5 degree day)

Number of runs during training: 58

Times I felt like quitting: 3

Times I felt invincible: 55

I have run 279 miles, or just over the width of the state of Wisconsin.

WI

I have run 4010 minutes (67 hours), or just about 3 and a half Harry Potter movie marathons.

Harry

I have burned approximately 44,416 calories, or about the caloric value of 15 large cheese pizzas.

Pizza

I am still really nervous about the hills on this course. My average time with some hills is about 13:45. Max time for the course is 3 hours and 30 minutes (16 min mile pace), so I am going to really push to not burn out and keep an even 14 minute pace for my whole race. Walks and runs seem to be my best method, taking my mile time from 14 min a mile to 12:45 on flat terrain.

Deep breaths. Relax. You can do this. You’re a rockstar. You trained for this.

One Week Away

Well, it’s official. I am one week away from running the half marathon that inspired me to start this blog that I so rarely write in anymore. I am a mix of excited and nervous. I know I’ve trained. I know I can do the distance. I’ve just hit that point now where I am anxious to actually get on the course and just… go. I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed in my time, but I am also excited to see what I can do. Everyone keeps telling me the point is to go and have fun. Yes, it indeed is. But I also want to kick on serious booty on the course. Well, kick serious booty for me, that is.
img_0436
I watched this little peek at a part of the course and I immediately began dreading the hills – but instead of worrying about slogging the hills, I am getting excited for all the zooming down hills I will do.

I am nervous because it is in my nature
to worry about the unknown. I am also trying to be better about that. The unknown is a terrifying thing to me. As Nikki Limo says, I just want to do a good job. And as Grace Helbig says, in general, I just want to be a better human. This training and race have been big steps in my life. I’ll yammer on about that in my race recap in a week or so… But for now, I’m going to take deep breaths and walk forward into the unknown with JOY and EXCITEMENT and do my damned best to love the crap out of this race, no matter how much my anxiety is making me want to accidentally oversleep and casually just call is a vacation and not a destination race.

We’re gonna do this. And we’re gonna kick ass. Ok self? Ok.

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

img_0431

Let’s get one thing out on the table…

I don’t know what I’m doing.

I started running after hearing about the Warrior Dash in 2011. Want to know how much running I had done before signing up? Pretty sure my last sprint was in high school… in 2000… for a fitness test. And I hated it. I hated every minute of it. I logged an 18 minute mile in high school, shuffling along as best I could but running a block was a nightmare.

My husband patiently taught me how to use a treadmill. I was terrified of it, and the first time he got me set up on it, I almost started to cry. I remember arguing with him about how I couldn’t do it. It was moving too fast… how was I ever going to stay coordinated enough to not fall on my face? I mean, I’m not the epitome of ‘accepts new things willingly’, so this was way harder in my head that it actually was in person. New things frighten me and send me into a flight response. I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to not knowing exactly how something will work and what to expect from in… so this treadmill was like that walking naked into a test I hadn’t prepared for dream everyone has.

Still, I kept at it.

Still, I hated it. But I wanted to run the Warrior Dash so bad!

I decided to try running outside. The app Zombies Run had just come out, and I gave it a go. It made the time pass quicker, and it made going for a run more exciting. I wanted to run, because I wanted to know what was happening in Abel Township. Still, I walked most of my miles, and my pace was only slightly better than high school, averaging to 16ish minutes.

I remember telling a friend I ran a 16 minute mile. Their response was “you must be doing something wrong, that’s not very fast”. I remember being proud of my 16 minute mile, knowing where I’d previously been, but this comment crushed me. They told me to come running with them and they’d help me get faster. Cue the anxiety girl again. I felt like I wasn’t good enough, suddenly, and running with friends became something I actively avoided. I didn’t want to be made fun of or criticized, and pushing myself made me feel faint and sweaty and awful… so I made excuses to keep running alone.

Going it alone is something I resort to, a lot. And in this case, it probably wasn’t my smartest choice. I’ve been fairly stagnant, thanks to trying to just run how I thought a runner should run – but what the hell did I know about running? Literally nothing other than right foot, left foot, don’t fall down.

It’s been quite some time, now, and I have just been running however I feel like running. Sometimes it’s intervals. Sometimes it’s slow and steady for distance. Sometimes I push myself as had and as fast as I can. Still… Not much has happened in the “Kat Getting Faster” camp. I now run about a 13:30 fast pace, but a 14 minute long run pace. And I want to be faster. This is where the struggle comes in.

I don’t know how to get faster.

People tell me “interval” or “do fartleks” (hehe, fartlek), or whatever have you, but I can’t seem to figure out how these things work for me. So I just… run. I have yet to find someone who tells me ‘this is a plan I have used to get faster, follow it’.

What I have learned I that I can’t be trusted to just do it myself. I have to have a plan. While training for the half marathon, I followed my plan and that was easy. It was less scary to me to know there was a path laid out, and all I had to do was follow it. It wasn’t advice coming from someone who doesn’t know what running with a heart murmur is like, or advice from one of those people who just naturally run fast… it was just a piece of paper telling me “go 8 miles today”.

I have learned that running is not an easy sport. Running is hard. It’s challenging. It’s mental AND physical, and it can break your spirit one day and raise you up the next. What I want to do is have a better relationship with running… with clear goals and a plan to get there. So here is my plan:

After the half marathon, we’re working on speed. Somehow. We’ll figure it out. We’ll develop a plan. And we will do our best to take advice and stop going it alone…

 

PS: I know I’ve been pretty awful at regularly posting – consistency in blogging hasn’t ever been my strong suit. I’m working on that!

You Never Know…

The other day I was loading up all my running apps (read: being a data obsessed runner) and  waiting for my GPS to pick me up. I was just locking the front door when I saw my neighbor returning from her walk with her dog. I waved and said hello; she smiled and waved back.

img_0430As she got closer to my driveway, she called up to me “You always make me feel so guilty! You get out here and run almost every day and I’m down here freezing my face off just walking the dog a block!”

My first instinct was to laugh and tell her I don’t run every day. Or that I run really slow so it doesn’t really count… or to put myself down in someway. Instead, I laughed and told her you warm up a lot when you run, and to not discount walking her dog every day — that’s exercise, too!

She laughed. She tried to put herself down again by saying it’s more for her dog than for her, so I said “well, I decided to run a half marathon – I set a goal, and it’s what gets me out here. Maybe there’s a goal you can set, too!”

She thought about this for a moment and said thank you for motivating her. It felt really, really nice to be someone else’s motivation – especially when I’m not elite athlete. Not by any means. I’m just some gal who goes running because she likes it. I’m not fast, I’m not skilled, I’m not anything special. I’m just another runner…

But I inspired someone.

Moral of this story (aka TL;DR). You never know who you’re inspiring. Just keep at it. Someone out there is looking up to you and you may never even know.

I Shall Run No More, Forever

Today, after I complained about my crappy run, a friend said:

“Some days you own your run. Some days your run owns you.”

Today my run certainly owned me.

12511435_10100582170274750_1801978882_oSo you know how somedays you head out and you’re super excited for a run and nothing in the world can stop you?

Yea.

I thought that was today.

What today ended up being was the most humbling run I have been on in a long time.

My stomach was upset. I was over tired. I had to pee (used the woods like a champ), the air temp was -3F if not lower, my back still hurt from over use earlier in the week, it was incredibly icy, I couldn’t get my breathing to even out. My joints were angry with the four layers of compression I had them layered in, so my stride was awful… I was running, at my fastest, a 15:25 mile.

At one point, I cried. I honestly believed I should give up running forever today. I haven’t maxed out at a 15 minute mile in two years. All that negative energy just latched on to me and I felt terrible, cold, miserable… And I swore I’d never run again.

After about 4 miles, I slowed my roll and realized I was being just a tad over dramatic.

Thankfully, my two cohorts kept pep talking me and urging me on. Yes, today was not my best run, but I’d be happier knowing I did it. Yes, I was going slow, but I was outside! I was doing it! Yes, I was struggling… but I 12540330_10100582173772740_509548361_nwasn’t letting it best me.

So I put one foot in front of the other for 5.1 torturous miles, and I pressed on. If they hadn’t have been there, I’d probably have laid down in the fetal position and just called someone to come get me.

Today my run certainly owned me. But what I can take away from this far less than perfect run is a big serving of humble pie. Not every run will be great. Some are going to be awful. Some are going to be slow. Some are going to suck so hard you’ll wonder why you ever started running…

But that next run? I’M totally going to own it.

You Don’t LOOK Like A Runner…

 

Dear Me,

It’s nearly the end of the year, and while we didn’t do much running at the beginning of the year, we sure kicked some ass on other workouts! You killed 21 Day Fix and hit your weight loss goal in March. You rocked some Les Mills COMBAT and PUMP. I know we said this would be the year we got more muscles, but it didn’t go that way for us. You did, however reignite that love of biking, which pushed you to start running once again. You did 150 miles in a month for Great Cycle Challenge on your bike and you didn’t let two flat tires slow you down! Way to go!

Yea, we’ve crept a little back up in weight lately, but so far this year you have logged 141 miles of running. Yes, it was most likely more than that… but tracking wasn’t really our ‘thing’ until mid-summer. As this year comes to a close, remember how awesome all of those miles were. You really did great! Believe this. Please.

Really I am writing this today because there is this nagging thought we keep having and I want to address it here and now so we can move past it in 2016. Remember that time you enthusiastically talked about running… and someone dropped that horrid comment that wasn’t meant to be critical but you instantly internalized it and let it eat away at you?

“You run? Wow! You don’t LOOK like a runner!”

Instantly you felt hurt, demoralized, fat, sluggish, worthless, like working out was pointless… You felt like all that hard work and effort you’d put into becoming a healthier person was obviously stupid and maybe it was time to go buy a pallet of Cheetos. And this comment just kind of stayed in your brain, festering. I know this, because I AM your brain.

It was kind of like when someone said to you “you don’t LOOK like you lost 30 pounds!” which was really meant to be a compliment on how you didn’t look like you’d needed to lose weight… but it stung. It burned. It made you want to cry, because, let’s face it, your self-image sucks.

You do a lot of hate talk. A lot of personal self-deprecation. You’re not pretty enough. You’re not skinny enough. You’re not great at anything… just kind of good at a lot of unimportant things. People don’t actually like you. You’re boring. Nothing you do is really worthwhile…

STOP IT. KNOCK IT THE FUCK OFF. RIGHT NOW.

I know we’ve had this talk before. You constantly tell yourself you have to apologize for not actually being a runner because you can’t consistently make at 12 minute mile. Hell, a lot of the time 13 minutes is still really hard for us. But remember where we came from? 16 minute miles. 17 minute miles.

So many times I’ve heard you say “I run… but I’m not really, like… a runner.”

Hey, dummy. Are your feet moving as fast as your heart will allow? THEN YOU’RE RUNNING. And on top of that… you’re a runner. You hear that? Quit telling people you’re ‘not really a runner’! That’s that self-hate bullshit. YOU. ARE. A. RUNNER.

In 2016if-you-run I want you to stop apologizing for doing your best. Constantly I keep hearing you apologize for going to your max, just because you aren’t going as fast as someone else, or because you can’t lift as much as someone else, or because you tire out faster than someone else… Stop letting this constantly hold you back!

This running thing? It’s a journey. It’s not an instant pudding mix… Just add water and POOF YOU’RE A KENYAN! You remember when Doc Johnson told you that it would take you twice as long to get half as good because of your heart murmur, but not to give up? REMEMBER that.

Don’t quit because Suzie Q over there just started running and has progressed up to a 10 minute mile in four months. SHE ISN’T YOU. She doesn’t have your past. She doesn’t have your limitations. Don’t beat yourself up over what you THINK you should be.

GO BE IT.

I want you to remember one thing when you hear “you don’t LOOK like a runner!” again. Because it’s happened more than once. No, you DON’T look like a runner. Remember that article we read about fitness body types? There are two main types of fitness frames: athletic, and muscular. People see runners as thin, lean, light looking people. People see weight lifters as muscular, stockier, thicker looking people. That doesn’t mean weight lifters DON’T run. That doesn’t mean runners DON’T lift weights.

Your frame is more prone to that weight lifter look. Always has been, since puberty. Don’t let assumptions like ‘you don’t LOOK like you run’ hold you back because you know what you do. You run. You punch things. You lift. You bike. All of these things are for the health and wellness of one complete you. So stop letting that stupid little comment get to you. You’ve run races… you’ve seen how many different body types are out there running. THEY ARE ALL RUNNERS. And so are you.

In 2016 I want you to set a goal. Your goal is a consistent 12 minute mile. That is YOUR goal. For YOU. For nobody else out there. It’s YOURS and you OWN it. Stop trying to compete with someone when it isn’t a competition. Set your goal for you, and go get it, killer.

So. You’ve got your goals:

  1. Quit apologizing for yourself
  2. 12 minute consistent pace
  3. Like yourself more, damnit

You can do this. Focus on these little things. You’re on the path to being a better you… you just have to believe you’re worth all this work.

And it will be work.

And you ARE worth it.

Trust me.

Love,
You

 

That Dam Run

I wanted to stay in bed Sunday morning. I’d worked a full day on Saturday, stayed up until midnight to watch the Aldo/McGregor fight at night, and the idea of setting my alarm for 6:30am just hurt.

When I woke up, I was somewhat excited to see that it was raining. Mayhap this would mean I could just crawl back under the covers and pretend like I didn’t actively seek out my friends to see if they were going for their weekly run at the Coon Rapids dam and if I could join.

I let out a groan as I realized it was time to stop making excuses and just go to it. It wasn’t raining that much. It wasn’t that cold. It wasn’t that early…

Off I set to meet the group for what I had decided would be a 5 mile run. That sounded okay by me. My friend, Lisa, had even assured me we could turn back whenever I wanted to — the guys would just go their ten miles and meet us up at the end.

We took off (after I realized I parked in the wrong location and they had to come find me), clipping along at a good pace until I realized I was gassing myself out. Remember, self, that you have’t run any quantifiable long distance since October.

Looking at my app timing, sustaining 12:12 wasn’t going to work for me that day. We settled into about a 13:50 pace – good for aerobic work and friendly banter – and we just kinda kept going.

The weather wasn’t terrible. Drizzly and brisk didn’t phase me so much – not after the Halloween 10 miler! We got comfortably warm, never too cold, and time and conversation passed easily between us. Holding a conversation while running is new to me, but it’s enjoyable. I’m normally alone, listening to  Zombies, Run! mission, or silently mouthing along to whatever iTunes is playing for that moment. It’s been nice to have a little challenge of talking while running, and the company has been quite nice, as well.

The guys we ran with are faster runners, and off they went. As we hit a point where I thought I might need a break, we decided it was about time to turn around. Much to my pleasant surprise, it was 4 miles in. Take that, brain. I win again.

4 miles out meant 4 miles back, and 8 miles just made me happy.

It wasn’t until we were sipping coffee to warm up after we all made it back to our cars that I realized I might have a twisted little addiction to inclement weather running.

A friend had texted, inviting me out to the Mall of America for the afternoon. The following thusly occurred:

I smirked to myself. Dedicated? It hadn’t occurred to me until that moment that it might seem odd to someone that another human would actively put themselves outside for an 8 mile run on a 35 degree day with a slight frosty wind and intermittent chilly drizzle on purpose.

Like, because, why wouldn’t you?

I got goals, man. Goals don’t achieve themselves!

It was in that moment that I realized I had finally recommitted to myself and all I want to achieve by April. I’ve been tired, sick, and making excuses… but if these goals didn’t mean something to me, then why was I out on a long run on a day like yesterday when I could have been eating a pint of ice cream in my fluffy purple robe in a cozy, warm house?

Because I have goals.