Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sweet Redemption

I’ve probably never mentioned my weakness for mediocre frozen pizza (it’s not nearly as subversive as my weakness for Ben & Jerry). But, apparently this is the dinner of champions: Strawberry cupcakes and a Red Baron frozen four cheese pizza.


The strawberry cupcake was courtesy of @. I had two. Go ahead... judge me. I’ve had a rough week. I actually said to @ while sitting at her kitchen table inhaling my second helping of strawberry-cakey goodness, “If I have a good run tomorrow, you’re going to have to make these for the night before the marathon.”

From my mouth to God’s ears.


Geez, I feel nuts right now. It’s because I’m giddy. I’m overcome with the joy of running and the word of… well, myself. Sometimes I do smart stuff and think smart things and take the lessons I have learned and apply them in situations and everything works out. The end.

A reading from the book of Lou:
Thou runth, she says, but I will fall back. If any of ye too want to runth slower than an 11 minute pace know now that I will be there, behind you, maybe 100 yards back, runthing at my own pace. Ye who runth at her own pace shall reapth rewards.
OK. I’m going to stop acting crazy now. I hope I’m not offending… like… every single one of you. I worry a lot about offending people. But, that’s another story for another day.

So last weekend the half marathon was kind of shitty. Shitty in like a, “Hey MM, you might need to carry me down these here steps because my legs won't bend on command” way. I was hurting. But, moreover, I was scared to death that I was only halfway to a marathon. If I felt like that at 13.1 miles, how on earth was I going to go any further? So I moped. I told my story to anyone who would listen, including you guys. And then, I decided to take control.

The sad truth is that CARA’s training program does not cater to the AHEM speed-challenged runner. I’m not dissing (Does anyone still use the word "diss?" Should I replace it with “disrespecting?”) CARA or anything; it’s just a fact. Mid-week runs top out eight miles, and I’ve been stressing about how on earth I’m going to run 30-35 miles a week especially come fall when I am traveling for work constantly (that’s also another story).

I emailed Lindy and Meg on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday (it's all a blur) and asked if either of them still had the CES marathon training calendar from last year. Lindy forwarded it to me approximately four minutes later. Yay for Lindy! Then you know what I did? I took my Marathon Training tab in my Google Calendar and I changed every single mid-week run. The longest CES mid-week run is 50 minutes. Much more doable. Much less stressful. Much more conducive to actually cross training and lifting a few weights every now and again. And EVERYONE (unless they are a complete moron or running nutjob) will tell you that slightly under-training is far preferable to over-training.

Today I showed up at the CARA long run, ready to drop back to a 12 minute mile pace. Unfortunately for me, there’s no actual 12 minute mile pace group. So I started off with the 11:30 group. By mile two, I knew we weren’t actually running at an 11:30 pace. I knew this because the 11 minute group was only 50 yards or so in front of us, and our group was closing the gap.

I dropped behind the group and planned my escape. At the first water station, I caught the group and made an announcement:
I don’t know if you guys noticed, but uh... I dropped back. I’m going to run a 12 minute pace so if anyone ends up needing to slow down, you’ll know that I’m only a little bit behind and you can run with me if you want.
Or something to that effect.

I ran alone. I ran alone somewhere between a 12 and 13 minute pace for 11 miles. I felt fantastic. I listened to my music and took solace in having some time to myself after a particularly stressful work/home/life/everything week. I people watched. I picked out the “good” swimmers and the “bad” swimmers at Oak Street Beach. I love watching the swimmers.

I hit mile seven and a half, turned around, and headed home. I stopped at every single water station, but only drank water. No more Gatorade. I decided to try taking half a GU at a time instead of a whole GU and that seemed to be significantly more pleasing to my stomach. I stretched at a couple of the later water stations, but I ran every single step of 15 miles. I have never done that before.

At mile 12.5 or so, I caught up with a woman from the 11:30 group who was walking. She said she was hoping that she would see me and asked if she could run with me.

So we did. I’m not going to lie and make the end of the 15 mile run sound all sunshine and rainbows and puppies and kittens and shit; I fought hard for that last half mile. All told, it took me approximately 3:20:00 (several water stops included). I don’t know if 16 miles would have been possible today, but I suppose we’ll find out next weekend. Hell, I can still walk down stairs today. That's a victory. And I'm not going to worry about next Saturday until next Saturday.

I am so proud of myself. I feel like I finally get it now. This is not my marathon with CARA. This is just simply my marathon. It’s my training. It’s my pace. It's good or bad only for me. If their program does not fit with my life, then I need to switch gears. Today, I finally took ownership of all of it. I have consistently avoided training for long distance races by myself. And now, I know why. It’s because I didn’t trust myself to actually do it alone. But, I told myself, Lindy trains alone. RBR trains alone. MM often trains alone. Various other runners I know get out there and consistently put in the time, alone. Now I trust myself. I can do this alone.

So this is it. This is why we run. Because the growth, the lessons, the journey... it never ends. We learn and we get stronger and smarter. We keep going and we always come back. Hell yeah we do! We love this shit.


Lindy said...

Dang Lou....and I literally waited for you at Oak Street Beach. Weird. I feel like "we are one" in the running world. Read my blog to see what I'm talking about.

Anyway, glad you had a great run, I'll be looking for one of those next weekend. Maybe I can meet up with you or something.

Meg said...

Lou, I've been feeling guilty myself that I convinced you to sign up for CARA/PAWS training, and then I had to bail on you (even if there were circumstances beyond my control!) I'm so excited for you about your new-found running freedom, and I can't wait to get back out there with you in a month or so - albeit at a snail's pace and only for your warm-up!

Lindy said...

STOP THE PRESS....does this mean a new blog is coming, Meg????

heidikins said...

Yeah, you're my hero. I was watching bits of the Women's Olympic Marathon last night, and I kept thinking "hey, at least Lou would make this entertaining."

(PS Love the Book of Lou)


@ said...

would you like another cupcake? i've got plenty.

Roisin said...

Damn! That was awesome :) And I think i saw you on Saturday...somewhere around Belmont, I think?

Kendra said...

Yay for cupcakes! Wait, I mean, Yay for running!

Jaime said...

Loved this whole post.

Anytime you want someone to run with for even part of the run let me know and I'll come and help!

Gretta said...

I am seriously impressed with your dedication to running. I am also impressed that you are out of the Vegan phase=D

erika said...

Lou, I'm enjoying your blog. I think you are the one person who bitches about running even more than I do! :-)

Glad you enjoyed your solitary run last weekend. Let the CARA robo-runners sprint on ahead. If you ever want a partner for a 50 min run during the week, give me a call. Believe me, I am so not fast.

L Sass said...

Awesome. Sometimes I feel guilty for being so serious about running (ha! I should say "theoretically" being serious about running... I haven't exactly practiced what I preach lately) but not being a speedster. It's hard not to compare!

I hope I see your friendly face on the 14th when I (inevitably) stop to walk!