Saturday, January 31, 2009

Testing the limits

I run my LSD runs at a faster pace than my weekday shorter runs. I suppose that means calling then long, slow days is inaccurate. But having long fast days and short slow runs on weekdays sounds ridiculous -- even if it is true.

Running with a partner pushes me to go beyond my comfort level. I can't get away with an easy pace because I'm accountable to someone else. So I (mostly) rise to the occasion. I will my legs to go faster and my lungs to keep working. I start estimating where the next quarter mile falls and staring at that point until I reach it -- and discover I've gotten worse at determining quarter miles!

We ran today's 4 miler in only ten minutes more time than last week's 3 miler -- and given that our pace is generally slow than a 10-minute mile, this is an exciting thing. It means we were faster this week.

Tiffany, who often morphs into my personal trainer, told me -- as she sped up -- that she had a goal for me to shave 15 minutes off my half marathon time. Days like today remind me it is possible. I'm faster in community, and I like that. Nice little theological moment showing how much we really do need each other. I need Tiffany to believe for me when I feel my body is going to give out -- it never does, but it's hard to believe that alone. She needs me to say "hey, guess what -- we're going to be marathoners." I guess I believe for her that we can tackle distance. Who knows, without each other, she may be content to be a 10k runner, and I'd be a happy 13 minute miler! With her -- as she so kindly pointed out -- I get to test my limits. And so far, I'm crashing through the barriers.

3 more pounds down this week. Hoping to lose 20 by race day...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Running rhythm

Step. Step. Step. Step. The rhythm is familiar. And this time of year, I not only hear, but see my breath. I breathe, I step. I step, I breathe. It's the way of the road.

I watch people walk to and from their cars. They look at me puzzled. The snow hasn't completed melted, ice lines the sides of the roads, and I'm out pounding the pavement. "Someone chasing you?" Yes. Myself. The non-running Jennifer is back there, reminding me of what I was before I tied on a pair of runners. The Jennifer who didn't understand what it is like to cross a finish line and feel the cold weight of a medal around her neck. She doesn't get the exhilaration of making the impossible happen.

Sometimes I feel her catching up to me. Those moments when my legs feel too tired or the bad running days get the best of me. The days when I don't want to leave my house.

Today was not one of those days. Today I grabbed my balaclava, layered up and waved at the old Jennifer as I raced past. The rhythm of the road has won.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Running therapy

There is a great onemoremile slogan: "Running is cheaper than therapy." It is ranked as one of the top contenders for the shirt I will buy myself for completing the half marathon in April (because apparently, the only time I can purchase from them is after completing races... I think I need to rethink this plan!).

However, I'm beginning to wonder whether running is therapy for me, or if I've just turned Tiffany into my counselor. Probably a combination of both.

During the last half mile of our Saturday run, we were giving ourselves a pep talk about all we accomplished this past year. Neither of us thought we'd ever be marathoners. We shared stories of how excited we were after our first 5ks (again), and I voiced aloud how with my first 5k, half marathon and marathon, I felt I had something to prove. I thought others on the course were thinking "what is SHE doing here? Like she can run this distance..." And of course, no one else was worried about me. *I* was the one who doubted. And I'm good at continuing the doubt "what if I can't do it again? what if I have completely forgotten how to run?"

And while there have been plenty of days when it felt my legs didn't remember, I keep being able to pound out the miles.

They say running is mostly mental. Seems that the phrase has two meanings. It not only takes building of mental strength, but it changes you mentally, too. I'm not sure whether it is the endorphins, the thrill of accomplishing something I never thought possible or simply time to process... but I like it.

In health/fitness notes, I lost 1 pound this week. Yay! I like when the scale moves in the downward direction. I took my fitness test at Wilson's this morning and scored Excellent in core strength (crunches), Good in Strength (sitting bench press), Average in Fitness (heart rate recovery after step test) and Below Average in Flexibility. Not sure what was up with my heart rate. It was at 116 when she checked it after I sat down. Have to say I was disappointed in that "average" fitness assessment. Guess I need to train for an ultramarathon instead!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Registration... check!

Finally took the time to register for Go! St. Louis. registration always includes the question "is this your first half marathon or marathon?" It was fun to be able to answer "no" for the first time.

Now that I'm over the winter season depression, I'm really looking forward to this race. Last time I ran a half marathon, the distance was brand new. Those last miles were REALLY hard. After completing the marathon, running 13.1 with thousands of other folks in downtown St. Louis just sounds fun. And while I plan to train hard and hope to set a new PR on the course, realizing that this race will be just for enjoyment really makes me happy.

It is strange not to have the "oh no! what did I just do??" feeling after hitting the "submit" button on registration. Half marathon, you no longer scare me! (someone remind me of that the week before race day!)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New non-running blog

Also, for those who may be interested, I've started a blog to chronicle non-running things, you can find it at

St. Louis, here I come

Things have been quiet around here, as the off-season isn't very exciting... especially when said off-season is WINTER and holiday pounds and seasonal depression kick in. Saturday starts my training for the Go! St. Louis half marathon. My eating habits have been back on track all week, and I took the plunge and joined a gym today.

Since it is too cold to bike or swim, and I get bored with fitness videos, I finally decided it would be worth my dollars to invest in a gym membership so I can have access to strength training equipment and actually do cross training. Spinning classes are first on my list!

I have an appointment with a personal trainer at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning to evaluate where I am and what steps I need to take to improve fitness and shed some pounds.

Also chatting with a new friend from my favorite justice organization about running future races on behalf of WaterPartners. I'm proposing some crazy ideas about setting up a far less elaborate version of Team World Vision. We'll see.