Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'm a RUNNER, not a quitter

Today's run sucked. I know, my mom doesn't like that word, but it's the only one that really describes how not-well today's run went. It was sucky.

I wasn't even sure I wanted to run today when I got up this morning. Yesterday, I had the worst migraine I've had in a while - it started the night before and woke me up off and on until I was lucid enough at 4:45am to take some Excedrin. After about three hours of real sleep, a shower and some more Excedrin, followed by the biggest frappuccino Starbucks makes, my headache was gone - always a good thing. But, as migraine sufferers know, the headache is only part of the deal, and I had to contend with a general feeling of yuckiness for the rest of the day. So this morning, I still had a bit of a residual headache and blah feeling. I wasn't planning to run until after I'd gotten back home from north Jersey and running does make me feel better generally, but running after a migraine? Uh, not so much.

But on the drive home, the weather was just so beautiful that I didn't want to waste it. It's 64 degrees here and sunny - perfect running weather! I was feeling much better, so I threw on my running clothes and decided I would head out around three. I was even happy to put on my sneakers (seriously, who is this person??). But as I sat at my desk, I realized that although the thermometer says 64, it was pretty windy, which made my house a bit chilly (since I had all the windows open). So I grabbed a fleece and threw some sweatpants on over my running tights, and I was STILL cold! I know, I know, this is even weirder after I called 45 degrees tee-shirt weather the other day. I don't understand it either.

I knew running would warm me up though, so I was happy to head out, sans sweatpants. I kept on the fleece and did my five minute warm up, feeling pretty good in the sun. Then the running started - today, two ten-minute intervals with three minutes of walking in the middle. Manageable, right? I even thought about doing a little slow-motion backwards running, as per Miss Ive, though she's asked me to videotape this when I do it, so I have to wait for someone to be around to act as videographer. Any chuckling I got from that thought went out of my mind though as I started running, because it all quickly fell apart.

First, my ankle hurt, like I had tweaked it a little. This has never happened to me before, so I paused for a minute (seconds, really, for those of you worried I only ran nine minutes), rolled it around, and kept going. I wondered if it was the same ankle I'd sprained falling down the stairs after my comp sci final in college (a story made far funnier by my attempts to crawl back to my dorm so as not to miss any Devils playoff hockey, only to have to be carried to a friend's car by two of my classmates who took pity on me. Plus, I only saw the last few minutes because my friend insisted we stop for ice first. Priorities, people!). Once I got past the first five minutes, my ankle seemed to sort itself out and felt fine. But it occurred to me that I actually hate the first five minutes of running. I can do about two, and then, I feel tired. And I want to stop. I don't stop, but I want to. And the rest of my interval seems to stretch endlessly ahead of me, unless it is actually only five minutes. It doesn't matter that I've done it before, and run longer, because it just feels like I won't make it.

But, as the title of my post suggests, I'm a runner! Not a quitter.

That's where having a prescribed program comes in handy. If I just went out and said, "hey I'm going to run today," I would stop after two minutes and think, "Woo! THAT was hard." I'd never push myself at all. And I'd never get past that five minute mark, which would mean I always would hate running. But miracle of miracles, I don't hate it, even after today's sucky run (there's that word again Mom!).

So I made it through the first five minutes and was feeling a bit more tired than usual, as if I was running on a full stomach (which I wasn't). And then, my old nemesis showed up.

The wind.

The good news? It was blowing north, so I only had it for the first half of my run. The bad news? It was so strong, I swear I was running in place at one point. Seriously. I mean, I'm slow, but I never run in place. I'm all about getting somewhere.

Somehow, I managed to make it further than I've ever run though, so I must have been pushing myself harder at some point during the run, in addition to running against the wind (cue Bob Seger...). I actually made it to the beach near my house (probably at least a mile and a half away) and all I wanted to do was lie down on the sand for a minute. I didn't. But I really wanted to.

Instead, I walked my three minutes, turning around about a minute into it to head back. I was really feeling tired after those first ten minutes and had a cramp nudging me in the side. That's the other reason I don't like running in the afternoon, even with this beautiful weather. First thing in the morning, the most I've eaten is a banana. It's tougher after breakfast and lunch, even with a long break in between lunch and running. I thought the three minute walking break would help.

Not so much.

I started my second ten-minute interval, and my legs were nice and warmed up. They felt great, minus the usual knee pain and tightness in my left hip, which I figure are pretty much a given. I was pretty excited because usually my legs don't feel that strong during a run. But immediately, my side cramp started up again. Not too bad, just enough to let me know it was there. Awesome.

That's when I became a serious clock watcher. I didn't look for the first two minutes, and thought, I've definitely only got eight minutes left. Checked it - I was right! But then I was checking every fifteen seconds, sure that thirty or forty seconds had passed already. Ugh - worst way to run. But I was really struggling. People on bikes gave me a wide berth. Cars let me go first if they were turning because they could see how serious I was. Finally, "Let it Rock" came on my iPhone, and I actually said "Thank you" out loud, because I knew it would get me through the final three minutes.





And I wanted to stop (well, part of me did). But a bigger part of me (the part that knows I have to run 25 minutes on Friday) knew that I could do it, and that I wanted to do it. I'm a runner, not a quitter, after all. So I finished the two intervals, and even pushed myself to run as fast as my poor body could go in the last ten seconds. My legs hurt. My stomach hurt. My lungs hurt. I could swear I tasted blood in my mouth. Even my arms hurt and what was I really using them for? But I felt great! I was so glad I'd run today when it's so beautiful out (minus the wind), and happy that I'd pushed myself. We all know I will eventually have to stop taking walking breaks and just run, and I won't get there if I cut myself too much slack. (Wow, I'm tougher on myself than Coach J - fortunately, he's more about the pep talks than scolding!)

As usual though, it was motivating to finish the run/walk set out by the couch potato plan, which I'm almost at the end of, by the way - only seven workouts left! I just read in there that I could have repeated weeks in the program if I wanted to. It's probably a good thing that I didn't see that before today, or I'd be back in week five. Or four. Instead, I'm almost to the end of week 7, which feels so, so good. I even felt good enough after being home for a few minutes that I wished I'd been out there longer (not sucky running, but good running).

Wanting to run LONGER?!?

Loving the feeling of putting my sneakers on?!?

I could feel the desire to run creeping over me as I drove home today. So weird, but also good. Definitely don't recognize this side of myself, but I don't miss my couch potato self! Who would have guessed? I'm a runner after all.

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