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Archive for December, 2011

Ice Ice Baby

It’s that time of year again – WINTER. The winter months can be some of the toughest months to get through as a runner. We not only have the cold to deal with, but all of the other elements (snow, wind, ice) that sometimes makes running more of a contact sport than most of us are used to. With a long run on Saturday of 10 miles, I knew it would be tough mentally and physically. What I didn’t know was that I would question whether or not I really was that “crazy runner girl” out on the road, which is often expressed in gaping stares from neighbors and passers-by.

We’d just gotten another few inches of snow and it was still snowing, was bitterly cold, and the roads weren’t plowed yet. I knew I had my work cut out for me. I bundled up in all of my gear and headed out the door. I never thought about not running. I’ve come to learn that if I think about the cold, snow, rain, whatever, that I can too easily find a reason to not lace up my shoes. It was 3 degrees this morning. It’s supposed to be -9 tomorrow morning, but let’s face it: cold is cold. I run first thing in the morning so that I don’t give myself time to back out. I’ve never had a run I’ve come back from where I wish I’d never gone. Funny.

This run was no different. My first two turns nearly landed me on my butt in the road.  The third turn the road won, and I wanted nothing more to do but go home and try again tomorrow, but I figured it would be the same thing to deal with so I thought I should  just play it safe and smart and slow down around the turns. I was aggrevated that the roads weren’t plowed, and that I couldn’t get my footing and any decent speed. I powered down the watch and figured it best to just get through the run without injury. I got in a groove (believe it or not). I learned where the slickest spots were and trusted in my footprints from the previous laps to guide me.

I eventually finished that run. My quads ached from plowing through four inches of snow for 10 miles, but I felt good. It was cold enough that I figured I didn’t really need to ice my shin and forearms from biting it earlier. Hey, I’ll take it. Most importantly, I chalked another one up to determination. I’ll tuck it away and use it on another snowy, cold day when I think the elements will get the best of me; and I’ll win again.

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Running Strippers

So, the hubby is in Las Vegas running the Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon on the Strip tonight. Las Vegas is usually not my thing during the winter months. I prefer sitting by the pool in the heat of 100+ degree weather sipping on more favorable drinks. Not bundling up in a jacket and running from casino to casino in the cold and rain (yes, it rains in Vegas) and making sure I eat healthy and stay fit to run in a race. I’ve also determined time and time again that I am not a night runner. I try to change it up every few months. Mostly, because I get lazy and don’t want to get up in the mornings, or I try to justify that I need to get something else done, or that the weather will just be better later in the afternoon. None of these ever prove to be true. So when determining whether or not to go with my husband to Vegas and run in the dark, I opted to stay home with the kids and let him have a guys weekend with his bud.

He had pneumonia a few weeks ago and missed out on two weeks of training time, but that hasn’t deterred him from spending countless hours at the race expo, geeking over running on the strip at night, and expressing nothing but sheer excitement over looking forward to what will take place in just a few short hours. He has reminded me that running should be fun. Sure, we work hard. We train hard. We are competitive and beat ourselves up. There are times we get mad and just want to give up. But sometimes we need to ditch the Garmin, tracking devices, and all that tech crap and just hit the road and have fun. We get too caught up in time, pace, turnover, and mileage, that it’s easy to forget that sometimes we just need to get out there and have fun.

So, tonight my hope is that you have fun. That you see the Strip in a whole new and exciting way. And, that you might even see some “exotic dancers”, since Vegas apparently doesn’t have strippers.

Happy Running.

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Mental Shredding

It didn’t occur to me that people thought running came easy to me just because I’ve always done it. I remember when I started running. I was 11 years old and in the 5th grade. I used to hate to run. No, I mean I really hated to run. It all started with the Presidential Fitness Test. You remember that one, right? You had to run “The Mile” in a specified amount of time. I was never a fast runner. In fact, I was in high school when I ran my fastest mile in 8:11 (nothing worth noting). However, it was my elementary school teacher that got me hooked. I remember him talking about running, and it seemed so easy, so I thought “Why not?” If I practiced running a mile, maybe I wouldn’t dread it the two times a year I had to do it. So I started running.

The more I ran, the more I wanted to run. Before long I noticed how much I started enjoying the empty country roads of Indiana and the chance to break free for a while. I can still feel the cool fall air, see the dark overcast skies, and hear nothing but my feet on the road with not another soul in sight. Those were the runs I lived for. Some days felt better than others, but there’s a lot of mental shredding that takes place when you’re pushing your body and mind and it pushes back. I’ve always been a competitive person; first and foremost with myself. I have never backed down from a challenge. I don’t like to be told that I have limits, but that doesn’t mean it comes easy.

I’ve re-focused my running over the past several months. Found that I have even more to tap in to. Got smart and asked for help and have shaved nearly a minute and a half off of my high school mile time.

A run is never just a run. If it feels easy, then I’m not doing anything to make myself a better runner. Sometimes, I beat myself up because I just can’t seem to get my legs moving, or because I’m not running the pace I know I can. It’s a tough sport. Those that don’t run don’t understand the conversations we runners have with ourselves every day we’re pounding the pavement. Sometimes, it’s a pep talk. Sometimes, it’s a beat down. But every time it’s a mental game that requires us to shred out the nonsense and focus on the core of what makes us runners.

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I usually like running in the snow, especially when it’s just starting to fall. It’s not only pretty, but there’s something peaceful about fresh snow falling. Most people decide not to run because of “inclement” weather. I tend to do just the opposite. I like knowing that I’ll do what most people won’t. It’s the rare occasion for me to prove to myself that I’m tougher than the elements, and a majority of the time I’m glad I decided to run no matter what the weather.

This morning was easy compared to last Saturday’s run. It wasn’t snowing on Saturday, but running 8 miles in wind that sometimes kicked my feet sideways left me tired and I’ll admit…a bit cranky. You know when you’re running and trying to be mentally tough, but then there comes this strong gust of wind that stops you in your tracks? Needless to say, I yelled a few times at Mother Nature, but kept plugging through. I remember saying out loud as if it mattered, “Seriously?”. Like the wind was going to stop blowing on my behalf.

We’re ignorant like that. We think things should come easy and when they don’t we give up, or better yet don’t even bother trying. We look outside the window and say, “Wow. Looks cold out there.” It’s those times that we look out the window and say, “Wow. Looks cold out there. Can’t wait to kick some Mother Nature butt.”  that allows us to step outside of the norm and do something that makes us stronger.

I’ll continue to run through the snow every chance I get. I might even buy a pair of ski goggles in case the wind decides to blow.

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