The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the tag “training”

Are you there, Endorphins? Its me, Erika..

Training is ramping up for the marathon in July. My mileage is increasing and my legs are getting that tired/energized weirdness. It is also the time in marathon training where I just want the race to happen already. Mid-training fatigue. Well into training, but not real close to the race, I am having a “mid-life” crisis of sorts. This past week was the pits. Monday’s run went well and was followed by a family bike ride. Tuesday’s run not so much. It was windy and dusty and I struggled through eleven kilometers while eating dirt and gravel stirred up by cars and wind. Then, the rain came. It rained on and off Wednesday, with the only break in the evening when my daughter had a soccer game. I am one of the coaches for her team, so was not able to get a run in on Wednesday. It was fine with me. I was still licking wounds from the day before. But Thursday and Friday offered no relief from the rain. Other issues arose that required my attention and I missed running both days. By Friday evening, I was a cranky mess.
So, what to do? A twenty-nine kilometer training run was on the docket for the weekend and rain was in the forecast for Saturday. Also, all of my kids had activities over the weekend, so to fit in a three-hour run was going to be a trick even on a nice day. I paced. And bugged my husband. And tweeted to friends in town asking for advice. Thing was, if I ran Saturday, chances were I was going to get wet. If I ran Sunday, I would certainly be re-routed by the ScotiaBank Calgary Marathon happening in town. I made a decision and went to bed.
Saturday morning came. I got my daughter to her weekend festivities and ran inside on the treadmill. After lunch, I made my way down to the expo to register for the Calgary Half-Marathon.
Absolutely no regrets. Race day was sunny and cool. I was able to ride down with a neighborhood running partner, running her first race, and met up with other friends prior to the start.
The start was slow. The field was full and moved along steadily, yet slowly. My funk from the previous week was lifting with each step, as it is impossible to stay angry/stressed when running, (Kathrine Switzer guaranteed it). I passed a sign that was meant for a certain charity, “remember why you are here”, and started to think about it. What reason did I have for doing this race? None, really, other than it fit into my training schedule and I was “blah” from the previous week’s training. So I thought about the upcoming full marathon for which I am training. What could I do as a race pace? Goal in finishing time? hmmm..
I sped up to what I am happy to report is my goal race pace for Run Wild Missoula in July. Also happy to report that I was able to maintain that pace, in good humor, for the duration of the race. As will happen on a marathon course, every now and then I would talk with other runners, high-five a cute kid holding out their hand, and laugh at a poster. My favorite today, by the way, was “Other sports require players to bring balls. Runners just have them.”
A successful weekend of training is in the books. And, as a bonus, I have a shiny new medal. So much for the mid-training “blahs”. Sometimes you just need that extra shot of endorphins.



Mindset Shift

I picked my races for 2013.  This year I have done the Virtual Half Goofy Challenge, read about it <HERE> and will do Mother’s Day 5k – May 12, Color Me RAD 5k – June 29, Run Wild Missoula Marathon – July 14 and BMW Berlin Marathon – September 29.  And who knows?  Depending on the how my legs and spirit hold up, there may be room for another here and there.

The two biggies are the marathons in July and September.  I wrote out the training plan on the calendar a month or so ago, noting that I need to begin training this week in order to be ready for the marathon in Missoula on July 14.  Writing out the training is always terrifying.  When I sign up for a race I am excited about the place I will run, the gear I will need (shopping!!), the goal time for the race, all the fun stuff that goes along long distance running.  Then, I write it all down on the calendar, starting with race day and working my way backwards with mileage and hill runs and speedwork, usually 16 – 20 weeks prior to the race is the start of training.  You see, race day is exciting and full of adrenaline.  It’s the 4 months prior to race day on your first run where your commitment counts.  It’s the hill workout 10 weeks prior to race day where your endurance is tested.  It’s the speedwork 5 weeks before race day where your resolve will be tested.  It’s the peak mileage week just before the taper where you will wonder, why am I doing this again?  By the time race day arrives, you’ve passed all the tests and just need to run.

I run all year to keep in shape and stay sane, but when training starts, my mindset shifts.  Today was “Mindset Shift Day”.  The first run of training was on the calendar.  It was a beautiful day, warm, sunny and I would have run anyway because, like the hills calling Maria in The Sound of Music, the trails were beckoning me to come outside.  As I started out, the whole thing felt different.  Prior to today I would run through my neighborhood on a nice day because I wanted to or was meeting friends, with no particular goal in mind with regard to pace or distance.  Today training started.  Today its is prescribed.  Today, instead of thinking, “what a beautiful day, I would like to go for a run”, my thoughts are “I will run today, it says so right here on my calendar.”  And I thought about my pace, breathing, feelings in my legs.

The loop that I ran will be the base for my training over the next few months.  I incorporated a new part of the neighborhood trail to mix things up.  I noticed the condos that were just a pit in the ground last year at this time are almost complete and ready for people to move in.  I noticed how many people were out walking their dogs.  I love that it is lighter out later into the evening, as I don’t feel so rushed to get the run done during the day.

The first training run was a success.  My legs feel great and I am ready to take on the year.  Mindset has switched to training.  Let’s run!

Virtual Half Goofy Challenge

10k one day, 21k the next. For Charity? Count me in.

Cori was on a team raising money for Team In Training, supporting The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, a charity with whom I have run two marathons.  Its is a good cause and I was happy to support her efforts through a donation.  The fact that is was also a run with a medal at the end was a bonus.  She had training schedules on her website for people to refer to and I mapped out my training to complete the challenge by the Christmas holiday.  When that didn’t happen due to a gazillion other things that came due during the fall, I set out to find a weekend where it would work before the January deadline.

I told running friends of my task, knowing that if other people knew I had this goal, they would keep me honest.  A few offered to run part of the mileage with me, which was appreciated, though I ended up going it alone.

Friday was the day I had set for the 10k, as I would have time for the run between my part-time job and picking up the kids from school.  Saturday morning would be the 21k.  I planned for a week, visualizing how I would get this done.

Friday’s 10k ended up being inside on the treadmill, as it had been snowing like a banshee.  I headed to the Y.  I knew that one of the runs would need to be inside due to weather, and that I could handle 10k on the treadmill but 21k was unconscionable.  Many things went through my head during the run.  First, there is a 30 minute time limit on the cardio equipment.  I chose a treadmill in the corner, hoping that no one would notice me running there for about an hour.  Then, I had to finish within an hour, as some of the treadmills cut you off cold after 60 minutes.  While my mind wandered to the usual making up stories about those working out around me, I tried to keep my concentration on one of two things.  First, I scanned the number of treadmills that were open/available to be sure no one was waiting and ready to kick me off of mine, and second, there a chip of paint on the wall.  When I started to get stir crazy on the ‘mill, I returned to the paint chip.

Finished the 10K!

Finished the 10K!

Saturday morning came and it was time for the 21k.  There was still quite a bit of snow around, but the sun was shining and I had a plan.  Since I didn’t train real well for this run (or at all, really, don’t try this at home), I decided to break it up into three more manageable runs. I ran my usual 8k loop around the neighborhood, briefly stopped at home for water and bite to eat and ran it again.  The first 8k lap was great.  I was leaping over snow piles in the street and enjoying the crisp cool air into my lungs.  While it was a little chilly, I welcomed the opportunity to be outside for a long run.  Half way through my second 8k loop, the sun went away and my leaps over snow piles because a little less leap-y.  Nevertheless, I was happy to round the corner to my house for another snack and water break still feeling pretty loose and energetic.  After the break, I did a 5k loop that I have done so many times I could do it with eyes closed.  Only this time the walks were not cleared and I was shin deep in snow and I had to walk for about half the last 5k.  This would not have been a problem except that I was sweaty and the wind was picking up.  Walking made me cold.  I ran whenever I came on to a cleared section of the path or could run in the street. Thankful for quiet streets, I finished up the run and entered my house to the smell of JB’s blueberry pancakes.

It was pretty or fast, but I got it done!

It wasn’t pretty or fast, but I got it done!

During the run I thought about all those running over the weekend at Walt Disney World with Team In Training.  Many running buddies from Wisconsin were there and many that I had trained with last spring had also made the trip.  Mostly, I thought of Cori, who had brought me to this run.  I am thankful to her and to all those making lives better as a result of their fundraising with Team In Training.  I am hopeful that their efforts will continue to search for a cure.  I am grateful for an organization that improves the lives of so many fighting cancer.  I am mindful of all those that are fighting this beast and pray for their healing.

Thank you, Cori, for this virtual race.  It brought me to a happy place and kicked off my year of running.

Let the 2013 running season begin!

Three Bikes and a Pair of Running Shoes

When I was a kid my parents worked opposite shifts so either my dad or my mom was always home.  During my formative years, (I guess.. when are your formative years, anyway?), my mom worked primarily night shift and dad worked second shift.  This left a bit of the taking care of my brother and I to my dad during the day.  Enter my dad’s group of friends that play tennis together.  They play almost every day, weather permitting, either singles or doubles, depending upon who is available to play.  As an aside, we used to (respectfully, of course) refer to this group as our own town’s little United Nations.  I think only a couple of the guys Dad hung out with were actually natural-born US citizens.  As a kid watching them play tennis I probably heard swear words in at least five different languages.  Too bad I was not paying closer attention.

Anyway, in the summer my brother and I would hang out with friends, go to the neighborhood pool, keeping close to home.  When it came time for Dad to meet up with his buddies for some tennis, he had a few choices.  He could not play, (unthinkable), find a sitter (also unthinkable, he’s too cheap), or take my brother and I along.  So, you guessed it.  We spent many a summer afternoon tagging along with Dad while he played tennis.  They usually played on courts that were built into a hill, with a huge, tall cement wall on one side.  Dad would instruct us to take our own racquets and ball, hit the ball against the wall and stay out-of-the-way of the grown-ups.

Why am I writing about this?

As noted in many of my posts and a category on this very blog, I am a runner.  I am also a mother of three school age kids that are on summer break.  Temporarily gone are the days when I could do my midday run alone while they attend school.  What’s a running momma to do?  I need to run for reasons such as stress relief, stay healthy, eat ice cream, you know the rest.  I also want to run a fall race, so to stop training after a successful spring marathon was unthinkable.  This is when I recalled those summers of my childhood and hitting a tennis ball against a cement wall.

I told the kids to get on their bikes.  I explained that since they are not quite old enough to be left home alone, even if it’s for a half hour so I can get in a quick run, they are going to have to come with me.  Knowing that I get rather crabby when not able to exercise regularly, they agreed.  Also, I was pretty clear in that they had no choice in the matter.  If my father is reading this post, this is time when he throws up his hands and says two things to my mom.  First, “It really was not a big deal to take them to the tennis courts.” And, “Why am I always right?”

Our first ride/run was a little bumpy.  They were nervous about the trail onto which I was leading them, the hills we were encountering and how far we were going to stray from home.  It seemed that I was constantly reassuring them throughout the first part of the ride/run that I knew exactly where we were and would not take them farther than they could handle.  The first was absolutely true but the latter entered gray area, seeing this was our first try at this. About half way into the ride/run, they pointed like a pack of hounds seeking a fox.  “PARK!”  They asked if they could stop and play for a bit at this new, glorious neighborhood playground we encountered.  I agreed, but only for a few minutes.

Turning up the trail and heading for home, we came upon a couple of cyclists.  “Start them young!” one shouted.  I nodded.  When we got home there were icey-pops and watermelon for everyone.  It was a nice little run for me, they got to be outside and the kids have a new appreciation for the freedom their bikes provide.  All asked if we could do it again tomorrow.  Win!

So, what have we learned?  Yes, my dad is right sometimes and did my brother and I a favor by taking us to the tennis courts each and every day during the summers of our youth.  Yes, you can be a mom with three kids home for the summer and still keep some resemblance to your fitness routine.  Finally, children like to be outside and enjoy exercise, especially when you, their parent, do it with them.  It also helps if there is a little bribery in the form of cool snacks upon the return home.

Race Day Review

“There will come a day when I can no longer run marathons.  Today is not that day.”

I saw the picture on a friends Facebook wall a couple of days before running the Calgary Marathon and it stuck with me, though during the race it needed to be switched over to a more positive tone.   My mantras on race day were as follows, repeated in no specific order –

Just keep swimming.

Today is MY day.

This is fun!

So a few days after the race, my soreness is gone, yet I am still high as a kite.  To answer the question I get asked by non-runners, “Is there such a thing as runner’s high?”  YES, hell YES.

Back to Sunday for a little race report..

Alarm goes off at 4:30AM.  I snooze it, only to be awakened by the second alarm I set for 4:32AM.  I swear and get out of bed.  The night before I had carefully planned my check bag, running gear, written myself little reminders and piled my running outfit in order of how it gets put on, (so as to not have to turn on lights and wake up JB, thoughtful, right?)  After dressing, I went downstairs for the usual breakfast on the morning of a long run.  Bowl of oatmeal, two pieces of toast, apple juice and a banana.

5AMish – pull out of the garage, head to the train station.  I had signed the “Green Pledge” with the marathon.  I agreed to take public transit to/from the event, would carry my own water and nutrition and whatever I carried in, I would also carry out.  Totally easy.  Actually, carrying my own water and nutrition worked in my favor.

5:15AMish – get on train. Now, as many know, (thanks Jim), I am not a morning person.  I don’t like talking with anyone until I have had a run or coffee or both. It’s not like I am mean or anything, I just like things quiet.  I was quite lucky that the woman who sat next to me talked the entire friggin way to the stop for the race.  The whole way.  It was 35 minutes of listening to this woman go on about her half marathon races and triathlons and how she hated to run but needs to as part of her tri training and blah blah..  I was thinking seriously bad things.  I did not want to engage in conversation, which proved difficult, because true to Canadian form, she was so NICE.  Ugh.

6AM – arrive at Calgary Stampede grounds, go inside building.  It was a little cold outside; I could almost see my breath.  I couldn’t resist crossing the building and walking outside to see the finish line.  Returning inside, I was pleased to see many of the people who I have been training with over the last few months.  We chatted, checked our bags and waited.  BTW, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the bag check was terrific.  Highly efficient and convenient.  The first of many good things done by the volunteers on race day.

6:50AM – time to line up at the start line.  We made our way to the starting area and seeded ourselves appropriately.  What does that mean?  As a runner, you have an idea as to your finish time.  You find the pace bunny with that time on their sign and you line up in their general area.  Our training group had a plan as to where we would line up.  We would start together, but more than likely not finish together.  Another word of advice for newbie runners – training with a group is definitely beneficial, but have “the talk” before race day about your individual race goals and plan to run alone.  Our little group had decided that although we were starting together, we would each run our own race and may not finish together.  As it turned out, we did not.

7AM – GO TIME!  The rest is such a blur.  So here are some highlights.

I love Calgary.  The route went through some beautiful areas and I tried to make mental notes of where I was all the time.  Mostly because I saw a house for sale or a restaurant or something, but the city is just beautiful.  I enjoyed the scenery.

Best signs – “My Mom is faster than your Mom”, “I like your stamina, CALL ME”, and toward the end, ala Ryan Gosling, “Hey, Girl, I am at the finish line waiting for you.  And I lost my shirt.”  I also took advantage of every “Official High Five Station”.  It is so fun to run a race and have children hold our their hands for a high-five.  I tried to thank the police officers and volunteers along the course that held traffic for us and generally cheered us on.  As an aside, why are all the Calgary Police Officers so good-looking?

I had asked JB to be anywhere after the 34K marker as this is when I thought I would need his encouragement.   Funny story, as told from my husband’s point of view..

We (JB and my 2 boys) took the train to downtown so to be close to the 35K marker.  Arrived at our preferred vantage point a minute before the pace bunny Erika had told us she would start with approached.  SCORE!  Pace bunny and group passes, no Erika.  I told the boys to be patient, that perhaps Mom fell back a little and was with the next pace group.  Next pace group comes and goes.  No Erika.  I then told the boys that we had to run back to the train station and get to the finish line/Stampede Grandstand area as we missed Mom.  This was either really good, meaning she was ahead of her anticipated pace, or really bad.. didn’t want to think about nor tell the boys about worst case scenario.  We ran to the train station and arrived in the Grandstand area near the finish line just in time to hear it announced that Erika was coming into the finish.  Luckily, we were right at the finish line to watch her come in.

Okay, back to me.  I felt great almost the entire run.  I had checked my pace band several times, consistently in front of where I wanted to be.  This was scary and exhilarating all at the same time. About the 40K marker, my feet started to feel heavy, like I had lead in my shoes.  I welcomed the uneasiness and gave myself one final pep talk.  My plan was to do 10/1 intervals, run for 10 minutes, walk for 1 minute, and this kept my legs going and my breathing steady.  I stuck to the plan of taking a hit of nutrition and water on each walk break.  Huge fan of the 10/1 intervals.

Upon hearing my name being announced at the Stampede Grandstand, I had to take a deep breath and my eyes watered.  There is something about running into a grandstand with people cheering and feeling great that just kind of gets to you.  As adults, we don’t get many opportunities to work toward a goal and see the culmination of our efforts with a big event and celebration at the goal’s completion.  Think about it.  As kids, we have piano or dance lessons, which result in a recital.  We have sports practices that result in games, tournaments and trophies.  As adults in the workforce, we work hard on projects for promotions and accolades, and at the completion of those tasks we are rewarded with.. more work.  Perhaps the promotion and accolades as well, and those or both really good things, but there is new work that comes with it.  Sorry, I got off topic.

Anyway…  Luckily I composed myself enough for this picture, taken by JB as I came through the corral after receiving my medal.

It was a great day for many people.  I am so thankful for the running group and new friends I have made through training for this event.  I will be back!

One my favorite running quotes.. “It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not the beat the other runners.  Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” – George Sheehan

Never quit, my friends, never quit.

The Big Question

The last few clinics have been about strategy for the upcoming Calgary Marathon.  At this point, as any marathoner knows, physically, we are pretty well-tuned.  We have run miles and miles and miles.  Now, it’s all in our head.

So, the question becomes..  Why am I doing this?

It’s a good question.  And one every runner must answer prior to lining up at the start line.  Trust me, you do not want to be searching for meaning at mile 23 on a marathon course.  You will cry.  You will possibly walk off the course and quit.  Good advice I received from marathoners prior to my first race and now I am passing it on.. know why you are out there.

A little background..  I got started in this marathon thing thinking that it was a “bucket list” item.  I imagined JB and I sitting around when we are old, listening our smartypants grandchildren going on about their accomplishments, when their mother/father says to them,  “you know, your grandmother ran a marathon.”  They will immediately bow at my feet, ooing and aahing, in awe of my prowess.  And then ask how I got so old.  So that ridiculous daydream, inspired by a Chicago Marathon poster on Michigan Avenue, is how it started.  From there, I met Jennifer.  She had a marathon medal and some pictures in her “office” ( I put office in quotes because it was really a tiny cubicle only befitting a Skinner mouse) and I asked what they were all about.  Jennifer proceeded to tell me about The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team In Training and the marathon training program.  It sounded like a good charity, good program, so I looked into it.  But I wasn’t quite ready.  At that time, I had never run more than a 5k and truth be told, it had been awhile.  Jennifer suggested a half marathon in Madison and handed me a training program. We trained and ran the Madison Half Marathon in spring 2009.  After completion of my first half-marathon I was hooked.

I proceeded to run two marathons with Team In Training.  The fundraising for cancer research and patients was rewarding, as were the friendships that came out of training for those races.  When we moved to Calgary last fall I continued to run and exercise.  I wanted to run a spring marathon, but did not know where to start.  Also, training can get lonely.  So I took my own advice and reached out, enrolled in a “new school” and made some new friends through the Running Room.

Back to the recent clinic and the issue at hand.  Why am I doing this?  I have been pondering the question a bit during my solo runs.  Here is what I have..

1. I am running for me.  This sounds selfish and I say it a little sheepishly.  I have run for charity and felt great about it, but this time it’s just me.  I have a finish time goal in mind and it is a number that has been on my mind for about a year.

2. I am running for my family.  I would simply not be able to do all the training, etc, if not for the support I receive from JB and my kids.  I miss weekend breakfasts, stretch while I help them with homework and they always are there to listen to my running stories.  The kids are even willing to help me roll out my legs when needed, (for the going rate of $0.25 each).  So I also run with thankfulness for JB and our kids, my parents and parents-in-law and all those in my family that support me through this masochist adventure.

3. I run for a lot of friends.. some listed here.  Jennifer, who first told me I could run a marathon.  Mike, who probably thought I would not take him up on an offer to be a running partner when the mileage got upwards of obnoxious.  Seth, who is running his first full marathon on the same day as me, though a country and time zone away.  In my mind, I will be running with him.  Rick, who I roped into a couple of half marathons and is running his first marathon this spring.  Lisa, a friend from long ago.  Her mom told my mom that she started running after seeing that I had done it, (we are from Lake Wobegon :)).  She is running her first half marathon this spring and I am proud of her.  For so many other running buddies.  Jess, Dione, Dano, Lori, Captain Efficiency, Mike, Dayo, Paul..  Other friends that, while not runners, are stronger than I can imagine.  Lisa, who is battling brain cancer.  Cheryl, who is battling breast cancer.  Leslie, who battled and WON the battle against breast cancer.  All the other folks fighting battles that make the fatigue/soreness/delirium we face at mile 23 seem so insignificant.

Five days and counting.  I would say that this will be my last marathon, but who am I kidding?

Bring on the Taper!

Saturday brought snow to Calgary.  Soccer games were canceled.  I made soup.  It was an inside day.  Which made me antsy, because of what was on the schedule for Sunday.  Sunday (today) was IT.  Weather forecasters talked of a great spring day today.  I hoped and prayed for a nice day.  Thankfully, the weather forecasters were spot on.

Any marathoner knows the run.  The longest run of training.  The last run before the taper. For our group, it was 34 kilometers from our usual training spot to a park, where we would complete the run and congratulate ourselves on doing so with homemade treats.  I was psyched.  I feel really good this training cycle.  The usual aches and soreness, but nothing major.  It’s hard to believe my spring marathon is only three weeks away.  Where did the winter go?

Three week taper?  I do a doublecheck.   I am accustomed to a two-week taper and this program calls for three weeks.  Hmmm..

My short runs have been great.  They’ve been fast (for me), a slightly uncomfortable pace a little quicker than race pace.  It has built some confidence in my legs that, if pushed, I can go a little faster for a little longer.

So, the run.  Our group started out on the trail in the usual manner.  It was a brisk, clear morning.  The sky seemed to promise good things, though.  As I should be, I was a little chilly at the start (and don’t make fun of me for always being cold, everyone was a little chilly at the start).  We started off north along the reservoir.  Around “the res” is always windy.  We usually joke about it and just brace ourselves.  Since training started in February, I have experienced both windburn and sunburn this training cycle, both from running around the reservoir.  True to form, once we head away from the water I have not a clue as to where we are.  Coming home to upload my Garmin is always a treat, as I take a look at the area of town that I just explored.  In any case, we followed the river, winding north to City Centre and then turning west.  The first part of a long run is always jovial, we recap our weeks and talk about how we recovered from the previous week’s long run.

We even felt playful enough to alter our plan a bit, adding a little distance, to run over the Peace Bridge.  The Peace Bridge in Calgary, a beautiful structure designed by Santiago Calatrava, is for bicycles and people only.  Consistent with what I learned from Calatrava’s project in Milwaukee, (The Art Museum), the Peace Bridge was over-budget and opened behind schedule.  The conversation about whether we should run over it brought political debate (it’s a hot topic in Calgary) and our pace quickened.  Thank goodness for a leader reminding us (almost constantly) to RELAX.  We stopped for brief group photo at the bridge and continued.  I am glad we made the little change to run over it.  It was a fun little diversion during a long run.

About the half way point, the conversation seems to naturally turn one of two ways..  food or sex.  Since it was decided that it was too early into our run to talk about food, well..  you get the idea.  I don’t think this conversation needs to be revisited.  Again, our pace quickened and we had to be reigned in to keep a slow steady pace.  Funny how there are always three things to get the juices and conversation going.. politics, food, sex.

Closing in on the end of the run, we started to talk about food.  I imagined my energy gels as cheeseburgers and another spoke of cinnamon buns.  Pace quickens.  We are slowed.  Do you see a pattern here?

At the end of the run, I let out a cheer.  Our group shared treats made (or bought) with love.  JB brought me a cup of coffee, (isn’t he great?) and I enjoyed a stretch in the park while the kids played at the playground.  It was a good day.

I am ready.  Bring it.

Get it together, woman!

I am having a bad week.  You know, not like a terrifyingly tragic life threatening week, but I just can’t seem to get my poop in a group, (as one Jess would say).

Monday was Tax Day, so naturally Sunday evening and Monday were a bit stressful.  I also had sore legs on Monday, (thankful for rest days when training), due to a run in  the Saturday AM, Soccer Coaches Clinic Saturday afternoon (who would’ve thought they would have the coaches running like MLS players for 3 hours?) and wrapping with a 29k run on Sunday morning.  I am tired again just typing it.  The usual laundry I do on Monday did not get quite done.

Then Tuesday came along and I had the opportunity to do some work in Apprentices’ class.  It is always fun to help out at school, but I gotta tell ya, it throws off my whole week’s rhythm.  So the laundry that was waiting from Monday did not quite get finished, and the cleaning that I usually do on Tuesday also did not 100% completed.  I know, at this point you are all “screw you, these are not problems”, but stay with me here.  Contributing to a perfect storm of scheduling difficulties, JB had a work thing into the evening on Tuesday (11pm, but who notices?) which meant that I was not able to meet my running buddies for the usual Tuesday evening run.  No problem, I thought, I will just run during the day on Tuesday.  As noted above, Tuesday was not the productive day I had hoped for, plus it poured all day, so the run did not happen.  Runners, you know how missing a workout totally screws with your head.  But I digress.

Wednesday I flirted once again with entering the professional world and interviewed for a job.  Still on the fence about that.  However, having to be all presentable threw me off yet again and I failed to get another run in on Wednesday.  So there I was, waiting for the kids to come out of school on Wednesday, having not run in 3 days, but totally ready for Girl’s soccer practice.  I felt like I was in the twilight zone.  As I relived the last few days in my head on Wednesday, I decided that I do not like being the fly, much prefer being the windshield.  So there.  After Modern Family and a Vodka Cranberry, I went to bed, determined that I would be the windshield on Thursday and get my shit together.

So today I come to you a satisfied woman.  I finished all the crap I started on Monday and Tuesday around the house.  I ran.  OMG, I ran.  For those of you that do not run, it is really tough to explain how running makes you feel.  It was a great run on a cool, cloudy day.  I had a nice steady pace for a 10k run around the neighborhood and simply felt GREAT afterward.  I had shaken this “meh” that had been plaguing me in the beginning of the week.

My point, and I do have one, is that when I feel like I have to get it together, I run.  Some may say that I am running away from all that I am responsible for.  I would argue, (successfully, I may add), that running helps me to focus.  While on my run today I mentally prepared the rotations for the girls in their first soccer game.  I (mentally) arranged dinner preparations for the rest of the week.  I (mentally) wrote this post.  Running clears my head, helps me to get things in order.  There are bumper stickers and such that say sweat is your fat cells crying.  For me, it is stress leaving my body, defeated.

My advice to anyone that is willing to listen, is when you are stressed, feel the need to just “get it together”, go for a walk.  Go run.  Get out there!

Something’s missing…

By this time in the spring, or for at least the last three, I am in throes of marathon training.  The last two years I have been on way to an obnoxious number of miles on the Saturday before Easter.  I would get up at dawn, dress, eat, get my running list playing, text my running buddy and slide out the door.

I could do the run in my sleep.  In fact, if I close my eyes and I can still picture all the mileage.  Run north on Comanche, turn east and pass North High School, run around Lowell Elementary, turn left on Madison.  There is a church on Madison that had a “tomb” and two Roman soldiers standing guard starting Good Friday until (I imagine, anyway) Easter morning.  At this point in my run, still in a good mood and really just getting started, I would see these soldiers.  As I approached, they would stand.  Being a Christian on Easter weekend and feeling feisty starting on my long run, I called out.

“He Is Risen!”  I raised my arms to the sky and flashed a huge smile of thankfulness.  As an aside, I love Easter.  The whole idea of the holiday and unconditional love and forgiveness and all that gets me a little choked up.  But I digress.

I expected, and wanted, a response mirroring my proclamation. “Yeah, that’s tomorrow”, is what I received, as if they were fraternity brothers coming home from a rough night.  WHAT? I carried on with the run, a bit confused.  Turning down Moreland I could help but giggle at the silliness of it.

When meeting my friend Mike at the Glacial Drumlin Trail, as I did many a Saturday, I told him about the encounter with the Roman soldiers and we had a good laugh.  As a fellow runner, church goer and generally good person he would run outrageous distances with me for fun while I trained.  I also think that he enjoyed my suffering, as he is a stronger runner than I, but that’s not important now.

Saturdays used to be my long run mornings because of church commitments on Sunday.  This spring my long runs have changed to Sunday mornings for group runs with the (apparently godless) Canadians.  Today, the day before Easter, I had short run in the crisp morning sun.  But something was missing.  As I passed a small church in the neighborhood, I was reminded of the previous years and the Roman soldiers.  I was thinking that if Mike were here we would most likely be discussing legalization of marijuana, same-sex marriage, the recent election in Wisconsin, church, our spouses and kids, goings on at work and do a little singing in the later miles. I was thinking that I missed those Roman Soldiers this Saturday.

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