You see them all the time along side the road and in the local park. Runners. Most are grimacing as they make their way through the course for the day, but a select few are actually smiling. They seem to float over the ground and are in some type of nirvana as they allow their feet to carry them closer and closer to their goal. That's the type of runner you want to be. The one who is enjoying the time spent pumping their legs as the heart pumps the oxygen rich blood throughout the body. The ones with toned legs and a strong core. Not those other suckers gulping for breath and flubbering their way down the road.
So you do what all good Americans do - buy a bunch of unnecessary equipment to look the part, pump up the jams and hit the road. Your cute running shorts/capris/skirt matches your carefully chosen tech shirt with the running graphic and your bright and shiny new running shoes betray the lack of miles you have yet to go.
Bravely you step out of the front door and start to move yourself down the road. You smile remembering your promise to not be one of those grimacing fools and the first few minutes pas by in a state of near bliss.
And then you realize a vital piece of information you were previously lacking: those few smiling runners used to be those very same flubbering joggers. A very, very select few have a natural ability to coast down the road effortlessly with minimal training, but the vast majority have to work for it. And you are one of those.
I have taken up (and subsequently put right back down) running numerous times throughout my life. I "ran" track my junior and senior year of high school and many times after I would get hit by the running bug and set off on my journey to bliss only to be slapped in the face with the reality that I completely and totally suck at running. I don't float. I don't coast. I shuffle and sweat and swear.
The last foray was my best. The summer before Wyatt emerged into the world, I found myself in an odd situation. I had time on my hands. It was the summer of my chief residency year and I had a stellar group of underlings chomping at the bit to stay late, get up early and cover every case imaginable. It was great. Dusty had been bit by the running bug the previous year when he hooked back up with an old high school friend who was into distance running himself and helped Dusty through his first half marathon the previous spring. When Dusty went to sign back up for the full marathon at the same venue, in spring of 2012, I decided what the heck I can go 13.1 miles too and signed up for the half. Prior to that day I had only ever made it 4 miles at any one time. Mind over matter.
The morning of the race the full was cancelled and all entrants were allowed into the half, so Dusty spent the 13.1 miles tagging along beside me keeping me company and in general annoying everyone around us with his way too fit for this event body and attitude. I managed the first 10 miles in good spirits, but then the bill for my pride came due and my joints started burning and I shuffled my way along the remaining 3 miles. I think it was around mile 11 when an 80+ year old, lanky man soared passed me that I felt at my all time low. I still managed a respectable first half at 2:23 and was happy in my accomplishment.
Following that event, my brain went on vacation. Dusty had joined the Marathon Maniac online running club and I found out there was a Half Fanatic one as well. Now this group is special. You can't just sign up. You have to earn your membership and there are multiple different levels and different ways to accomplish this. The easiest for me was to complete so many events in a certain time frame. I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but I believe it was 3 half marathons in 90 days.
I signed up for my next one and actually thought about preparing for it, but ran out of time. I figured the first one was good enough training in itself. This race was smaller and occurred on a bike path following alongside the old railroad tracks. It was straight, very, very straight and either side of the path was bordered with 10 ft shrubbery. I felt like I was running in a tunnel. I didn't have a watch and there weren't any timers on course, so I was left to my own devices and just kept shuffling along towards the end. I finished in 2:21.
The next race was only a few short weeks later and I was too sore to actually run in between. This one was killer. Middle of the summer in high heat and humidity. The course started up hill and continued that way for the first 5 miles. By the time we plateaued I was over heated and dying. It also didn't help that only 20 people were entered and of those the other 19 were exceptionally fast. I was dead last and the drag people on an annoying motorcycle were riding my butt the entire way. I was miserable at the end and vowed to actually train prior to my last of the 3 (the first one was too far away in time to count toward the 3 in 90 days). I finished 2nd to last in 2:24.
Time went by and I actually started to train a bit. I followed a friend's recommended guide for 3 days a week and singe dup for the Women's Half in MN. That race was my favorite. I wasn't in tip top shape, and still sucked at running, but I felt manageable and enjoyed the larger amount of people signed up. I finished in just about the same time as the others.
And then Wyatt came along and time grew short. I either could ride or run, not both. I vetoed running and continued riding.
Now you would think with a resume that boasts 4 half marathons in 4.5 months, that I wouldn't be half bad at running. My times weren't remarkable, but didn't completely stink either. Yet, I do. I shuffle along. My body picks a 10:40 pace regardless of how hard I try to push it and I just amble along. Dusty has remarked several times at my natural ability to put mile after mile away at the exact same pace. This would be great if that pace wasn't so darn slow.
Anyway....I bet you are all wondering what on earth this has to do with anything. Well, not a whole lot really. Sorry.
With the horror that is day light savings time upon us, I have officially run out of time to ride Mon-Fri. It is way past dark before Wyatt goes to bed and I have nowhere to go. Up north every barn had a lighted indoor arena and so even in the darkest, coldest parts of winter I could still ride and get something accomplished. Usually I went back to jumping to ease the boredom or worked on transitions or patterns. Anything to keep us both moving and not go insane with boring circles.
Down here there isn't an indoor in sight.
Monday night I sat down to watch Gotham and it hit me. I am becoming a blob. Instead of heading to the barn, I sit on the couch. If this continues, come spring I won't be able to physically get on my horse let only ride her at all. I have a 50 planned for Feb so that won't do.
Last night I donned my cute little running capris, running graphic tech shirt, endomondo running cell phone and a head lamp and hit the road. I looked at myself and laughed. This again. Only this time my running shoes are covered in horse manure and don't betray my newbie status anymore. I have Gem to thank for that. I put in 2 hilly miles with Einstein in tow and called it a night. I hope to run 2-3 times a week until the sun becomes my friend again and hit the 50 running (perhaps literally if Gem is a brat again).