Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why I'm Gonna Run This Race

Late last April I challenged myself and some friends to run a "Hundred-Mile May" to give my running some pizazz. It worked. It went so well that I kept it up through June and July. August, too, but August just about killed my running partner and me. When you set off on a run at 9:00 at night in order to take advantage of the "cooler" 112-degree temps, you know you're crazy. Or bad-ass. Or something.

September and October got wimpy, so in November I kicked off a "Holiday Streak," inspired by Runner's World magazine, where participants commit to exercise of any sort (running for me) EVERY DAY from Thanksgiving to New Year's. As you can see, I'm a gimmick-y kind of a girl. In December, right in the middle of the "Holiday Streak" gimmick, my friend asked if I'd want to run a half-marathon in April. "SURE!" I said. Another goal to keep me going! But then in January, I got sick - for weeks. And when I finally got better, I remained slothful and many more weeks went by without exercise. I'm happy to say I've been off the couch for a couple weeks now - diligently "pushing play" on my P90X3 DVDs every morning. There's cardio. There's core-strengthening. But I haven't actually run very much, unless you count that downhill less-than-a-mile I did the other night with my running partner. As of that night, I still thought the half-marathon I'd signed up for was in the distant future -- like, maybe 2016. I went home after our mostly-walk and looked up the date for the half. WAY sooner than 2016. In fact, at that point it was less than two weeks away. I promptly decided not to run the race.

The next couple days, I had a near-constant battle going on between two of my personalities. Let's name them to illustrate this. We will call the bad-ass runner girl Electra. And the slovenly lazy-bones is Bertha. Electra and Bertha don't have much good to say to each other. They have nothing in common - more than that - they have a lot of disdain for the other's lifestyle. You should have heard them pick at each other! "Gimme a break!" Bertha would say. "It wasn't that much money to register. You'll never even know you let yourself down. Stay home and have a mocha latte. Who do you think you are, anyway? An athlete? What?"

Then Electra would flex her glutes in her shiny running pants and spit in the corner (told you she was bad-ass) and say, "What's thirteen miles? I've done it before. I can do it again. I laugh at pain, barfing, and fainting!"

I don't know who you side with, but Electra won the argument. Bertha keeps reminding her she could find herself face-down on the asphalt at mile nine, but Electra persists. Here's what she has going for her mentally:

1) She HAS done this before. A few times. And no, the finish was never pretty. Shakiness one time, barfing another. Sore knees. Furious quads. But there's a precedent of survival and accomplishment, even when accompanied by vomit.

2) This woman has given birth four times... at home!...no drugs...to babies weighing more than should be legal. No stitches. No crying. Well, some crying. And more vomiting. Even bleeding! PLUS... the childbirth thing takes WAY longer for Electra than running a half-marathon.

3) There was a momentous mountain experience in Wyoming a couple years back. Electra tackled a hike with about 3,700 feet of elevation gain, miles of steep trail, river crossings, snow fields, and wounded feet. It was... I gotta say it again... bad-ass. And when discussing the hike with her sister-in-law beforehand, Electra remembers hearing her say "I know it will be hard. But I'm not afraid of hard." She made it to the top of Table Mountain and back in 13 hours. This race can't take more than four, tops.

You can bet that I (Electra) - (you can see how having multiple personalities gets blurry) will be nervous standing at the starting line. But I won't be afraid. I guess, when I reflect, I've never been very afraid of difficult things. I may not always like them, or excel at them, and I actually prefer to shine - but there's something to be said for tackling the things we aren't super-duper at. This will be one of those. Let's just hope for no barfing this time.
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