It’s the end of week 8 and I am just back from my 10-mile lakefront long run, which, despite the hovering-around-freezing temperatures, was fun. And joyful.
That’s 5 times now (in as many weeks) that I have run at least ten miles at a pop. It is becoming much easier for me and my improvement continues to blow my mind. It was not long ago, after all, that running a 10K seemed unfathomably out-of-reach, and that’s only 6.2 miles.
Joyful. Yes, I am starting to find running joyful. It is, I think, the ultimate expression of freedom. I credit most of my new and improved attitude to my decision to get off the motherfucking treadmill,
which makes running a grinding, monotonous, mechanical task. Here is an anecdote that illustrates this. On Friday, I ran four miles on the treadmill after my HIIT-It class. Talk about slogging! It was excruciating! The first mile sucked. My speed stuck at about 5 miles per hour — if I tried to push faster, I tired out too soon. It took me 48 minutes to run 4 miles (exacly a 12-minute mile).
Less than a week before that, I ran in that 5K race at McCormick Place convention center. Now, this was indoors, and the course was all on concrete with very sharp 180 turns and it felt very very much like I was running in a giant rat maze.
But I ran it in just over 30 minutes (a 9:45 minute mile pace, and my very best 5K time ever, by the way). And even though this was inside in a kind of dismal environment, it still didn’t feel as sloggy, tedious and ardous as my treadmill 4 miles.
Today, for our long run (Nikki ran with me — yay!), Nikki had her fancy running watch on so we could monitor our pace. Our goal was to stay at about 5:30 mph, which is what I’d like my marathon pace to be. Except, I couldn’t help myself. I kept creeping up — to 5.8, 6.1, etc. Because it was fun! And unlike on the treadmill, 5.5 seemed super slow to me. At the end of the run, I felt like I’d had a good workout, but that I could also go a little further if I had to. In fact, we both still had enough energy to finish fast. Back on the treadmill on Friday, it was serious work to endure the whole 4 miles. In fact, it was despiriting. I thought, “if it sucks this hard to run 4 miles, how am I ever going to do 26.2”? Today, after the 10-mile lakefront run, my confidence has been restored.
Despite the fact that in the winter, there is no damn place to pee on the lakefront. All the fieldhouses are closed. What the?! Guys have it so easy! We had to run off the path to use the restroom of a friendly neighborhood independent business that I know and love.
By the way, I finished reading the book, Born to Run, that I mentioned last week.
If you are a runner, you’ve probably heard of this book.
It’s a bestseller and creating a lot of buzz and chatter. in essence, it combines a narrative that builds towards this super race that takes place in the Copper Canyon mountains in Mexico, with the life stories of a league of rogue, punk rock ultra-runners and an exploration into the theory that humans have been genetically engineered to run for long distances. The book introduces some pretty radical ideas (particularly about running shoes) and is not without faults: reviews on Amazon present some valid criticism. It was, nonetheless, a fast-paced, very fun, provocative, inspiring and page-turning read, and I’d totally recommend checking it out as long as you read it with a responsible amount of skepticism. Also, my friend Beth recommended a documentary called “The Spirit of the Marathon,” that we watched last night, which I’d also recommend for anyone out there who thinks they could benefit from a little extra motivation — and who couldn’t?
Regarding my pledge of a couple of weeks ago to get my diet and social habits more in line with that of an athlete training for a major endurance event, I’ll have to confess that my habits still leave much to be desired. To be fair, my diet doesn’t suck. I don’t eat a lot of meat, and eat very little processed food and virtually no fast food (admitted weakness for Potbelly). But I love eating fancy! I can’t help it!
I want cheese and wine and rich sauces and butter and chocolate. What’s a girl to do? I was tracking all my caloric intake, as well as carbs, fats, and proteins but I stopped a couple of weeks ago — it was just too time consuming and obsessive. I know how and what I should eat. And I certainly know I shouldn’t have that cigarette after my fancy meal. But come on, what do you want from me?
I did, last week, finish that indoor marathon that I was doing to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
The goal was to run 26.2 miles in 8 days (average 3.27 miles/day), but because of my for-real marathon training, I actually ran 38 miles during that duration, plus raised more money that my goal amount!
This coming week, I run 3 miles, then 7, then 4, and end the week with my longest run so far: 15 miles. The following week is my 16-miler, which has been one of my mental benchmarks for this training; the first was 9 miles, which mentally affirmed that I might be able to pull this off. With 16 miles, I feel like, if I can run 16, I will be able to finish the marathon. I’m kind of excited for that.
10 weeks left to go!