Friday, March 13, 2009

Today, I am a runner!


Yeah, so I had to put that all in capitals and big letters, because I'm VERY excited that I did it! Where better to yell that out than on the internet? Especially since most of my neighbors don't know about my journey to "runner," so they might just think I'm a little weird.

As you may know, the couch potato plan called for me to run 20 minutes without stopping today. Until today, my longest running interval had been eight minutes (on Wednesday), which felt like a lot to me. So I'd been dreading the 20 minutes since I found out on Monday. Both my coach and another triathlete told me that I could do it, and should think about it as four five-minute intervals. But still. I was freaking out.

So I stretched extra. A lot, in fact. And I took Advil in the morning and before I went to bed to ease any soreness. I drank lots of water. I ate protein. I thought about downloading the Chariots of Fire theme, as suggested by my best friend, but thought it might encourage me to run in slow motion (not that you'd know the difference). I tried not to think about it.

I tried not to think about it all day yesterday. I tried not to think about it during yoga. I tried not to think about it while watching Grey's Anatomy. I tried not to think about it while trying to fall asleep. I wasn't that successful.

So this morning when my alarm went off, I pretended it was like all my other workouts. I put on my running clothes and put in my contacts. I laced up my sneaks and put on my headphones. I got out my gloves, because my dad had texted me to say it was cold and windy. Yes, that's right. Not only did I have to battle my own fear of failure and of running, but I had to deal with the cold and wind again. I figured I might as well get it over with! Plus, at 30 degrees, I figured it was alerady ten degrees warmer than some of my other runs.

I started out with my five minute warm-up and told myself that I'd do it five minutes at a time. It definitely was chilly out, but I'd dressed appropriately, so I knew I was ready. Then, it was time to run.

The first five minutes were tough. My knee always starts to hurt as soon as I pick up the pace, and my mind tells me "Ah, see, you can't do it!" But I yelled at myself (not out loud) and kept going. I told myself it was only for five minutes, while the little voice in the back of my head said "No, it's 20 you fool." But I knew that if I ever wanted to run in a 5k, I had to be able to run this 20 minutes. And if Coach J, my twitter friend, and the Couch Potato Plan thought I could do it, it probably was possible. Probably.

The next five minutes were okay. I'd run eight minutes on Wednesday, so I just kept telling myself that it was only a little bit more than that, and I would soon be turning around to head back. The wind started to pick up, which was not fun, so I turned around with about 45 seconds left to go, thinking that the wind would be at my back.

Not so much.

It was even worse heading the other way and that felt defeating. But I kept slogging along at my slow pace because I really wanted to run 20 minutes without stopping or walking. I prayed that the wind would die down and it did! So then it was just me against myself.

The third five minutes were good. I was more than halfway through, and although I was tired, I hung in there. The wind eventually died down and I was thinking about finishing strong.

But I still had to get through the last five minutes. And those were tough! I had a bit of a stitch in my side, though my knee seemed to feel fine again (thank you Advil!), and I was just tired. But so many people knew about my quest for 20 minutes that I could not picture coming back home and saying that I hadn't made it. I had to at least try.

When I hit the 2:30 mark, I knew I would make it. Only 1/8th the way to go? No problem! Short of getting hit by a car, I was going to finish running. And I'm sure the determined look on my face kept all of the cars far, far away. I even forced myself to run as hard as I could for the last ten seconds, which by that time, was not very fast. But I was so proud of myself - I did it!

I did it!

So I guess that makes me a runner now. I know a few people have said it to me already, but today, I really feel like a runner. I ran about two miles without stopping for the first time in my life! I am so excited! I am so proud! I am so...tired!

But I can't rest on my laurels, since I still have that pesky 5k to worry about at the end of April and the 18-mile LBI run in October. Now, I can't wait until I think of 20 minutes as a quick easy run instead of the hurdle of a lifetime!

Next week, I am changing up my schedule again, starting on Sunday instead of Monday because I am going to the premiere of "Brothers at War" on Monday. And Gary Sinise will be there. Seriously. Lindsay Gump and Lt. Dan in the same place - excellent!

And yes, I know I won't be at the premiere the whole day, but I like running at the beach, so I'd rather stick to my familiar place right now and switch up my days. So it's Sunday/Wednesday/Friday next week and I'm back to intervals. Sunday will be 5/8/5 running, Wednesday is two 10-minute intervals, and then Friday I have to run for 25 minutes without walking. One of my twitter friends told me that now that I know I can do it, I'll be able to do it all the time, since it's all mental. Now that I've done the 20 minutes, I think that might just be right!
So, one more time...


Now I might just have to make some brownies to reward myself...

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