Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Longest Mile

That's right. Seven miles. Done.

My husband and I met my friend from work for a Saturday morning trail run.  The weather was cool and overcast, but close to perfect for running.  Heading into the run I was excited because I was about to complete a personal record.  My previous recent longest run was six miles and I had felt pretty good completing that one.

We had a set pace of ten minute miles, but for whatever reason we either ran too fast or too slow.  Maybe it was because we spent the majority of the run chatting and not really focusing on running.  I have to admit though, it felt really good to be able to run and hold a conversation at the same time.

When we reached five miles, my mental challenge began.  My body is just not acclimated to the longer distances yet, and begins to anticipate that the end is near, or should be.  I was still feeling pretty good, so I knew I just had to concentrate on not giving up.  Training my muscles to run for longer periods of time is, ironically, more about what I'm thinking than the activity itself.  I reached down inside me for the strength to keep my legs moving.  

At mile six, in the home stretch, we faced a small incline.  On a short run, this incline is barely noticeable.  When your legs are getting heavy and your muscles are screaming to stop, the incline is torture. I found myself staring at the ground to avoid seeing how much further we had to go.  I refused to look ahead knowing I would only notice the rise of the road.  Impatient, I did peek only to be slapped with the realization that we still had about half a mile to go.  I wanted to speed up to make it end sooner, but my legs couldn't do it.  It was warmer now, and I was tired and thirsty.  I kept thinking, "are we there yet?" and spoke up, "I'm struggling."  Fortunately, my friend, a marathoner, had the needed motivation for the both of us and offered words of encouragement all the way to the end.

Most days I either run alone, or if my husband joins me, finish alone as he usually runs shorter distances.  I am used to talking myself through the mental challenge.  This time, I needed the support to get through the last mile, the longest mile. Mile seven. Done.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Road to 211

Today I met my goal of running 211 miles in 2011.

In 2009 I ran 188 miles. Last year, a measly 59. So when I saw the challenge of 211 miles in 2011, I knew it was just what I needed to jumpstart my running...again.

My track record with running has been a lot like the roads around here: up and down, up and down.  I lace up the shoes, put in the time, add on the miles and then...ouch! shin splint!  Discouragement sets in behind the pain like a giant incline ahead of me.  Instead of slowing down and shortening my stride, I let frustration overpower me until I gradually come to a stop.

This time I vowed it would be different. I would follow the training program faithfully running when scheduled and sticking to the assigned distances.  I researched techniques to prevent shin splints and improve muscle strength.  Impatience would not overpower me this time.

Today is day 123.  I have been loyal to the running schedule and staying healthy.  Running is becoming my thing, my passion.  I am looking forward to seeing how many miles I can run by the end of the year.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Trail Run

Today I discovered that I like running on trails.  This morning I read an article in the monthly town newspaper about the New Boston Rail Trail.  I was planning to complete my run along the main road in town, but the trail sounded better...

A deserted railroad bed from the Boston-Maine Rail line has been converted into a trail that makes a perfect location for long runs.  The trail runs parallel to the river approximately four miles to the neighboring town line.  Instead of running along the road dodging and worrying about traffic, you can cruise along the path and through the trees, listening to the birds and the flow of the river.

About three miles down the path is an 80' footbridge that spans the river.  It was built using the original granite abutments from the rail line.  Crossing the arching timber decking connects you to the second half of the trail path.  It is a beautiful sight.

Running on the trail was amazing and it made me think about the children's story, The Little Engine That Could.  Running or more specifically running in New England has been my mountain.  I have been doubting my ability at times to increase the distances and conquer the hills. Today was a day where I got to say, "I knew I could, I knew I could" because I completed a six mile run that felt smooth and easy.  My hard work and determination, mixed with a little optimism, made me the little engine.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

500 miles and counting

My first 5K time. Before Nike+
My running began in 2006 as a New Year's Resolution. I completed my first 5K in March of that year and my first 10K on Thanksgiving Day.  I continued running and training through 2007 completing more 5Ks, a 4 miler, and another 10K on Thanksgiving Day.  Other than battling an on & off shin splint, I was in the running groove.

I started using the Nike+ sensor in 2008 after a friend gave it to me as a birthday gift.  A few days ago, after syncing my run on Nike I received a video notifying me that I have logged 500 miles using Nike+.  I consider myself a competitive person and I have fallen in love with the ability to sync my runs and login to the website to SEE my results.  I get a thrill out of joining challenges, setting goals, and using the Nike coach program to train.  Seeing my results posted keeps me motivated and is a little internal reward to myself even if no one else is particularly interested.

The Boston Marathon is tomorrow and we are planning to be at the starting line in Hopkinton, Massachusetts to cheer on the runners.  Despite the fact that I am not a marathoner, I am inspired by the dedication and sacrifice these runners have given to their passion.  This year as I am attempting to become a new england runner, I am learning what it takes to be a true runner - to follow a schedule, put in the miles, and to face the hills.

River Road ~ Piscataquog River
My run today certainly did not include Heartbreak Hill, but I did face supreme wind gusts that shook my pace by about 30 seconds.  The 5 mile route was a new one that I sweet-talked my husband into joining me on so that we could enjoy the beauty of the river while we ran.  The first half of the run was just like drifting along with the flowing river - relaxing, rhythmic, and effortless.  After the turn-around, it became a battle against the current.  The tumultuous winds were like fighting upstream against the rapids.  Another test in my training quest. I conquered.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The "Loyal" Hound

My husband calls our dog, "the royal hound." He clearly believes that he is kingly: he expects a treat every time he returns from a potty break, he assumes we will drive him all around town, and he demands to be pet by shoving his nose under your arm - even when you are holding a cup of coffee! He doesn't care. Ah yes. He perches on his sovereign pillow watching, waiting.

Then with one shove of my foot into a running shoe, he becomes "LOYAL HOUND!" He doesn't understand yet that you still have another shoe to put on or some warm-up to do; he is ready. He will turn multiple circles, whine a little to get you to hurry up, and stare between you and the door. If you walk out of the room, he is on your heels trying to pass you as if he knows exactly where you are going. Ah yes. He is the perfect running partner.

Loyal hound is always excited to go for a run. He will never turn you down. I love that he always wants to go. If I am feeling a bit under-motivated, his energy can become contagious. A little pick-me-up to make sure I don't falter on my running schedule.

Booney, the loyal hound, waits patiently to resume running
Our run today was a four miler to a new place near the pond: Scobie Point. On the map it looked like a side road that led right down to the water. I was hopeful that it would provide some pretty views. On the back road, I let the loyal hound off the leash and he became my pacer. In the beginning of the run I had to call him to heal several times because his pace was too fast for me - especially on the hills. Ever faithful, he slowed down to rejoin me. Nearing the two mile mark, we still hadn't come upon Scobie Point. The loyal hound was unfazed. He looked at me as if to say he could run forever. Eventually we had to turn around without finding Scobie Point. The loyal hound, steadfast in his role of running partner, remained anchored at my side all the way home.