The Marathon

I started running back in 2012. It was really out of necessity. I was two kids in and could not run after them at the park when they took off on me. It was pathetic. It was also the cheapest thing I could do to get in shape and didn’t take a lot of time out of my already busy day.

Fast forward 8 years. I’ve run three half marathons, a handful of 10ks and many 5ks. And then the pandemic hit and I stopped running. (Okay, so I shouldn’t really blame the pandemic – several other things happened like a major depressive episode, my dad moving into a retirement home and a busy life with three kids). But suffice it to say, I got lazy. And soft.

One afternoon while sitting on my front lawn with my neighbors for a “physically distanced drink” my girlfriend texted me about having to walk her London marathon virtually and asked me to join her for a portion of it. I was a glass or three in when I wrote “I’ll do it all with you!”

So I started going for more walks to train. I started walking 10 km once a week to work and it felt good. About once a week I force myself out for a run, which is really mostly walking with some running. Every October where I live there is a big race and this year it went virtual, of course. The race organizers offered a deal where you can sign up for all four distances (5 km, 10 km, 21.1 km and 42.2 km) with the stipulation that you have to complete them during the month of October. Participants can run or walk the distances.

So, I signed up for all four races. I mean, it’s just walking, right? Can’t be that hard, and I figured I would run a little too. It was the motivation I needed to get my ass off the couch and exercise

The 5 km and 10 km races were easy. Not my best times to be sure, but that was to be expected given how lazy I’ve been all year.

I set out for the half marathon two weekends ago. By 12 km I started flirting with the idea of just doing the marathon. It had been weighing on my mind a lot. I was rightly scared of the distance and as I imagined finishing the half marathon I realized that I might not want to start over again another day to do the full. So after some back and forth texting with my husband who was at home with our 3 kids, I decided to seriously consider doing the marathon.

And I did!!!

The second half was grueling. My brother and his wife met me around 30 km and walked 4 km with me. The distraction was exactly what I needed because by then my hips started to hurt, the blisters on my heels were burning and I was feeling defeated. At 40 km I started texting my husband to meet me. I tried running a little because that didn’t hurt nearly as much as walking did.

And then I looked at my watch and saw it.

I became a marathoner.

And I’m pretty sure I will do it again. But maybe in a year.

Resilience.

I haven’t written lately about the running. I think this is mostly because I’m afraid of jinxing myself.

While I was off on vacation in cottage country, I did a few short 3-4 km trail runs. The area we were in was pretty hilly so I did walk most of the hills. My endurance sucked but the previous weeks’ rest overall helped the groin injury.

When we returned from vacation I set out for a slow 6 km run to test the legs. And man, was it ever slow!! My groin did ache a little bit right at the end but the pain never persisted. I was very, very cautiously optimistic. I stretched after the run and foam rolled and hoped for the best. I also added back another short run of 3-4 km during the week.  And the groin cooperated.

My next long run was 9 km.  Again, I felt pretty good for most of it but the groin ache kicked in around 8 km.  While it was frustrating to experience that ache again, it was also reassuring that it only happened near the end of the run.  It’s the little things, right?

The following week’s long run was 12 km. No groin pain, just a little bit of lower back stiffness at the very end. Last week, I ran twice during the week; a steady 3.5 km run and then a 5.1 km run.

Yesterday, I set out for 15 km.  My girlfriend had just given me a new running shirt for my birthday and I was excited to wear it.

Image-1(1)

I ran all the way downtown and back.  Around 13 km, I started getting real tired and hungry!  Thank goodness for traffic lights. I was able to stretch my legs at the red lights.  In the end I completed 16 km and felt pretty darn good.

Today, not so much.  Today, everything hurts, even my upper body from supporting myself while foam rolling my legs. Oy. I can’t quite tell if it’s the good muscle soreness or the groin injury rearing its ugly head.  I leaning towards the good muscle soreness.

I also realized that I should probably take the next day off work after the half marathon.

IMG_0066

Mid-Year Run Report

Back in January, I accepted a challenge from a fellow doctor mother runner blogger to run 1000 km in 2015.  I can hardly believe that six months have passed.  It’s been a pretty eventful six months, I have to say.  I never thought I’d ever run a race and I have done three this year already.  I am definitely doing one more (have already signed up) and might sign up for another one.  I guess you could say I caught the racing fever.

Here’s a breakdown of my monthly mileage to date:

January – 77.5 km

February – 49.4 km

March – 73.1 km

April – 81.1 km

May – 87.5 km

June – 68.2 km

…. and the six month grand total is 436.8 km.

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

I feel I have overcome a lot in these past six months – shin splints, SI joint issues, weak glutes, etc.  I’ve done a lot of work on getting stronger by introducing weights and working with my pilates instructor on fine-tuning my strength training.

For the first time I really think I might actually run 1000 km this year.  With my half-marathon training getting underway I am trying to make my weekday runs a little bit longer (5-7 km) than they have been (normally 3-5 km) and aiming for a long run every 7-10 days.  If I can accomplish this without getting hurt then I could very well reach that goal.

Wish me luck!!

Overcoming Yourself.

Boy, is this ever true.  I never believed it until yesterday.

I still can’t quite believe I finished my 15 km race. I have run 15 km twice before; the first was just a 15 km long, slow distance run and the second was during my last long training run of 18 km.

I decided to sign up for this 15 km race right after the 10 km race in May.  Since I finished that race, I started flirting with the idea of earning 4 running medals this year – 5K, 10K, 15K and 21.1K.  Yesterday’s race seemed like the perfect choice.  The race course was along a trail I have run before, it was close to my house and looked like a lot of fun. Challenging, for sure, as it had a few small hills as well.

I got up two hours before the start.  Baby boy was just starting to stir but everyone else was still asleep.  I got a ride with my neighbor who was also running.  It was a beautiful morning, a little cool and overcast with the threat of rain.  Honestly, the conditions were perfect.

The start was tough. Psychologically tough.  There were no corrals.  All the 15k runners started at the same time.  I should have started near the back, but I made my way closer to the front.  I’m not sure why.  Excitement?  Anyway, it was a big mistake.  Runner after runner started passing me.  I tried to move over to the right but it was hard.  They just kept flying by me. By 2km it felt like I was running alone.  I felt suddenly defeated and couldn’t stop thinking I would place last and I really felt like a failure. For a little while I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was out of my league.  But somehow I soldiered on knowing there was no way I was going to DNF (did not finish).Things started to change a few hundred meters after making the turn at 5 km.  I noticed that I wasn’t the last 15k runner and my spirits lifted. As I approached the half way point, my Nike app was telling me that my average pace was improving.  It was around the 8 km point that I realized my hips were starting to ache.  I decided I just had to run through the ache.  It wasn’t pain but they were definitely telling me that they were tired.  I felt this same ache during the last 2 km of my 18 km training run two weeks ago and I’m thankful I did.  I kept telling myself that if I could finish 18 km I couldn’t certainly finish 15 km.

I also started to notice that I passed a few runners who had been ahead of me for most the first half of the race.  Suddenly I realized that I wasn’t going to finish last. Sure, I’d be in the pack of final runners, but I wouldn’t finish last.   I think this is when I got my second wind.

At 10 km I checked my time – my first 15 km run before this race I completed in 1:49:32; during the 18 km training run, I reached 15 km in 1:52:59.  I knew I could finish this run a little faster if I kept up my pace.  I dug real deep and ran full tilt to the finish (even with my scheduled walk breaks!). There were some people who were running in their friends with 150m to go.  They were really motivating and I stole from them to cross the finish line.

I really understand the concept of a “Personal Record” and a “Personal Best” now.   I wasn’t running against anyone but myself and I almost felt like quitting when the little devil on my shoulder told me I was out of my league.  I ignored that voice and persevered.

Yesterday I set my own PR and PB.  And damn if that doesn’t feel good.

Running really is 90% psychological.

To A Marathoner.

My friend ran her first marathon today in Chicago. I’ve been following her training over the past 19 weeks and have been completely in awe of her. Her determination, perseverance and dedication is to be commended. She crushed her expected finishing time by 7 minutes.

I have been giddy with excitement for her all day.

When I started running 2 years ago, I’m not sure I even knew what a marathon distance was, let alone have any desire to run one! So tonight I wanted to honor my friend somehow. There’s no way I could ever run for as long as she did today but I felt I had it in me to try for a personal best for her.

I headed out for a 5km run. I pushed myself and gave it my all. I tried to run a sub-35 minute 5km but fell short by 45 seconds.

I’ve run 10km four times since July. Every single one was hard, but the last one felt different. I ran it 4 minutes faster (1:14:13) than the first time (1:18:20). I didn’t feel like everything hurt the next day. I actually felt stronger than ever before.

The very thought of running 42.2km has always seemed a little crazy to me. But suddenly half that distance doesn’t seem all that far. Maybe in a few years it might even be possible.

Never say never.

So to my friend GK, I say THANK YOU for inspiring me to keep going 1 kilometer at a time.