No Expectations

Very rarely do things go according to plans. Like this winter’s training.

At the beginning of the year, I vowed that the coming months of running would be different from my sporadic bouts of running last winter. While I can say I have been pretty good at getting my miles in, they have definitely not been in the way I would have preferred.

For starters, mileage logged on the treadmill far surpasses the miles logged outside. I didn’t think this winter could tops last year, but I proved wrong. Several of our weekday workouts had to be cancelled due to ice and snow, leaving me to do speed and incline indoors. On days when it wasn’t cancelled, temperatures still hovered dangerously low; one of the few runs to go on as scheduled took place in the coldest conditions of (unofficial) Fleet Feet training history. Although I loathe the treadmill, my preference to retain feeling in my feet, fingers and nose convinced me that any evening workouts scheduled for sub-20 degree temperatures would be done indoors with a post-it note dictating my intervals (and subsequent looks from neighboring runners confused by my high speed sprints and constant adjustments to the incline).

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Think Spring.

IMG_1293If I learned something from studying a couple of months for the LSAT it was the logic of sufficiency vs. necessity.

For example, it is not necessary that the feel-like temperatures be in the negative degrees for me to cancel my runs outdoors, but it is sufficient.

It is necessary that I do all my training runs, but it is not necessary that I do them all outside. If I run on the treadmill, then I have completed part of my training. Outdoor training isn’t a necessity of a running program, but it does make things a hell of a lot more interesting than running inside on a machine that only provides a good view depending on who is working out nearby.  Continue reading

This Thing I’m Doing in a Week

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.

I have 9 days until I’m supposed to run 26.2 miles. I’m ready for October 26th to be here already, but I’m also beginning to feel the nerves because of what I will do on that day.

Yes, will.

These past four months have been an emotional and fatiguing experience; yet it’s also been an uplifting and empowering journey of self-discovery. If you want to push yourself to the limits and see what you are capable of, sign up for a marathon.

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In the classic novel Les Miserables, Jean Valjean, the story’s protagonist, is also known as 24601. His identification during internment, the number is a reminder throughout the novel of the pain and suffering the character experienced as punishment for his crime of stealing a loaf of bread.

I now also have my own self-identifying number, albeit one with a more positive association: 18351. It doesn’t have the same roll off the tongue sound that makes it perfect for a few musical notes, but it is the number that sums up everything I have been working towards for the past four months.

In less than two weeks, I will wear a bib reading 18351 and join nearly 30,000 others as we weave our way through Virginia and D.C. for 26.2 miles. As the day gets closer and closer, the anticipation is titanic.

Fellow runners in my training group ran the Chicago Marathon yesterday and while I could not have felt more inspired by all their posts and results, I also felt slightly jealous that I still have to wait until it’s my turn.

I just want it to be here already! Continue reading

A Relentless Pursuit

IMG_1799.JPGFall is here, and my running body knows it.

The sun is not rising until nearly 7 AM, and it is setting nearly 12 hours later; daylight hours are getting shorter and shorter. Now the mornings call for sweaters and scarfs, and hot coffee (or pumpkin spice latte) is the obvious choice for the morning’s pick me up.

As my body adapts to the weather by swapping out shorts for pants and light blouses for blazers, so too is my body adapting to the cooler temperatures through my running.

Waking up this past week since the fall equinox, my alarm has coincided with pitch black darkness. Sunrise remains at least twenty minutes away when I begin my morning runs, which means running through streets still lit by the street lights and birds still not alert enough to realize that morning is upon them.

Yet even as I run down shaded roadways, I’m reminded why this time of year is the perfect time to be a runner. My skin feels a slight tingle when I walk out the door and realize that the humidity has finally left the city and been replaced by a refreshing chill. As my feet hit the pavement, the hard crunch of leaves breaks up the silence on my path.

My pace picks up, too, No longer pushing myself through swampy feel-like temperatures or sunshine burning down on my bare shoulders, my body settles into a comfortable pace that is remarkably speedy, yet comfortable; it’s not as challenging as it felt previously to run sub eight, even sub 7:45, min/miles. It seems I have hit my groove.

IMG_1801.PNGMaybe that groove can be attributed to the last three months of effort. Leading up to October, I have spent the majority of my marathon training running in temperatures over 80 degrees and relentless humidity, with the awkward tan lines to prove it. Now with fall’s arrival and the big race less than a month away, my optimism is beaming.

As I hope to stay strong and healthy, October will be a month of self-care and dedication. I have worked so hard up to this point. The hardest thing between now and race won’t be my 20-miler on Saturday, but rather ensuring that nothing gets in the way of me crossing the finish line on October 26. I can’t control the weather that day, but I can control how my body performs.

Sure, something could go wrong, but I can’t let myself focus on those “ifs.” Earlier this year a situation had me spending too much time doubting myself and whether I should have taken certain actions to avoid what led to an unfortunate result. But rather than letting myself do that through this process, I am staying optimistic; I know I have worked hard and when it comes time for race day, I don’t want to have any doubts about whether I am ready. Because I will be.