Friday, October 12, 2012

Milestones

Today was my last long run before the marathon!! I decided to drive to the Metropark to start my run, and on the way there, I was thinking about how this was kind of bittersweet for me. I know I always complain about my long runs (well, any run, really), but there is obviously something about it that makes me keep doing it.

It's not "fun" by any means, but I've come to enjoy seeing the "regular" cyclists, walkers, and runners on the Metropark path. Seeing the seasons change so up close and personal from winter to spring, and then summer to fall has been really interesting. Marathon training has allowed me to run on trails I'd never used before, listen to hours upon hours of podcasts, and see some interesting people, animals, and things along the way.

I learned a lot about my body--that I have good days and bad days when it comes to running, that my knee prefers shorter distance runs, that I can chafe in places I never would have thought I could chafe. I know where all the public restrooms and drinking fountains are in a 15 mile span across three cities. I can tell you the exact distances between parking lots, bridges, and other landmarks.

Things I will not miss about marathon training: knee pain, having to turn down drinks and certain foods the day before a long run, looking at the same old scenery for mile after mile, having to spend calories on GU and Gatorade, having to wear a hydration belt while running, and using races as "training runs" for a bigger race.

My last long run today was eight miles. Eight miles is a relief to run after the 18- and 20-milers! But today, while I was running, I thought about the first time I ran eight miles. I'm sure I've probably written about this before, but eight miles was a huge milestone run for me.

I was following a 15K training program that was 10 weeks long. I wasn't training for a race, but I was a beginner and wanted to build up my mileage. On week nine, I was scheduled for an eight-mile run. It was an extremely hot day in August, and I had to run in the heat of the afternoon (the only time I could get away). I couldn't believe just how HOT it was, and I wanted to quit so badly.

I was really struggling, and just wasn't sure if I would make it. I didn't carry water with me, and I felt like I was really overheated. At mile 7.5, I had to pass by my house (where I would circle the block and arrive back home at the 8-mile mark). My vision was blurry, I could barely put one foot in front of the other, and I was actually worried about my health--so I quit. I only had a half-mile to go, but I know I made the right decision.

A week later, I was visiting my brother in Minnesota. He said that there was a nice trail along the Mississippi River where I could run, and I decided to run my eight-miler there. The weather was nice (still hot, but it was morning and not horribly hot--and it was along the river, which had a breeze).

I just wasn't feeling it that day.

Maybe it was the traveling, and vacation-mood I was in, but I ran about six miles before calling it quits. Attempt #2 was another fail. I was getting frustrated, and starting to think that I would never be able to run eight miles.

When I got home from my brother's, I went to the store and bought a piece of carrot cake. I had been craving carrot cake with cream cheese frosting for MONTHS. I put it in my refrigerator, and told myself that when I ran eight miles, I could eat it. That got me motivated ;)

I went to bed at 9:00 that night, to rest well so that I could wake up early the next morning (before it got too hot outside). I was determined to run those eight miles!

Third time was a charm.
August 2010, my first 8-miler
I ate my cake, and enjoyed every bite! I was prouder of finishing those eight miles than I was after my first 5K, first 10K, first half-marathon, and first marathon. That eight-mile mark felt like Everest to me.
After my first 8-miler
I had a rough run today--my six-milers this week were awesome, but today I was just having an "off" day. I kept reminding myself how HARD it was to run those eight miles a little over two years ago. Today was a "short" long run. And I finished.

I kind of miss being a "beginner" runner, because everything was so new. Every distance was new, I was bettering my pace with almost every run, and I had no idea how far it was from my house to the main road, or the mail box, or around my block. I remember when a 12:00/mi pace was my goal, and when I reached that, a 10:00/mi pace seemed unattainable, yet I reached that goal, too.

After my marathon, I'd like to go back to the basics, and start fresh. I can't wait to have an "easy 3 miles" on the schedule, and a long run that doesn't get into the double digits. I want to run hard and fast, just to see where my body stands now. I've been running long and slow since January!! When I do runs on the treadmill, it will be nice to be done after watching a half-hour sitcom, instead of a full-length movie ;)

A week from Sunday, all of this training will come to a head when I run the Detroit Free Press Marathon. And then I am declaring myself a "beginner" again--and I'm so looking forward to it!

I hope this post doesn't sound whiny, because that's not my intention. I'm just trying to describe how marathon training coming to an end is bittersweet, and how this marathon is almost like closing a chapter of my life. I've come so far as a runner the past couple of years, and today's run really helped me to absorb all of it.

I've become the stereotype that I used to hate--the "results not typical" person who lost 100+ pounds and is now running marathons. BAHAHA, I never would have foreseen this.

26 comments:

  1. Wow, you're awesome! I've been doing C25K and I'm doing about 3km in about 20 minutes (which I know is very slow, but hey gotta start somewhere!) and when I hit the 3km mark I was pretty proud!

    Good luck in the marathon, you've worked so hard and you deserve to put this event on your "been there, done that" list!

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    1. Hey, everyone is slow when they start--but that's how you build up your mileage, and eventually you just get faster! Reaching the 3 km mark is an exciting accomplishment, and you have every right to be proud!

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    2. You're right, it was a pretty happy moment when I saw that. Good luck with the marathon!

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  2. I'm just starting out running too. Still have 35-40 pounds left to lose, but you inspire me to reach my goal to lose 110 pounds and be a runner! You are amazing! Good luck with the marathon! I can't wait to read about it!

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    1. That's great Eva! Congrats on your weight loss so far, and I think it's awesome that you've started to run :)

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  3. This is one of your best posts! So inspirational!

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    1. Thank you Ashley! I was worried it would come across all wrong, like I was just bitching about running--when that's not at all what I was trying to do! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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  4. I started reading your blog earlier this year. I ran my first marathon in June, just a few weeks after yours. Now I'm 4 weeks from my second marathon. I feel like we've been on the same journey! I totally get this post! I'm ready to run just for the enjoyment, not because my plan says "6 miles at marathon pace" or "strides" or "long slow distance."

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    1. Yes, marathon training is so long that it stops being enjoyable at some point! I'm glad I did it, but I will be so glad when I can go back to running the way I enjoy most.

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  5. I can relate... well, not about the double digit runs - but how it feels to be a newbie runner and the sense of accomplish when you run a distance you never even thought you could do.

    I still remember the day I ran 5 miles like it was yesterday. It wasn't the easiest course (a couple steep inclines) and I was 239 pounds at the time - but when I finished I felt like a total rock star. I wanted to walk around with a shirt saying "I RAN 5 MILES TODAY!"

    At the time I thought that was the farthest I would possibly run - but I've gone on to run as much as 9.36 miles since then...

    I also remember dreaming of being able to run a 12:00 mile. I thought that was super fast pace for me (considering I started out running a 15:00+ mile) and it would be ages before I was ever able to run "that fast." Now I'm running a 10:40 mile for longer distances and I'm downright AMAZED I can do that!

    I can't wait to see how much further and faster I can go as I continue to lose weight (I'm currently 193 and I have another 50+ pounds to go before I reach my ideal goal).

    Here's to your new beginnings! :D

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    1. That's fantastic, Serena! You've certainly come a long way as well. Congrats on your success!

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  6. I definitely need to work on my speed again. I want to keep up with you and Jen in that 5k! What are your training plans for Ragnar? I know I asked Rik about it many moons ago and haven't got an idea on what to do!

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    1. I think Jen and I are running our own races in the 5K--and you should, too! I don't think I'm going to be running it hard--I really just want to enjoy the fact that I'm running NYC :)

      I'm not doing any kind of formal training for Ragnar--just a couple of short runs and one long run per week. Basically what I was doing before I started marathon training.

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    2. I'm not planning on running hard either - I'm running to enjoy and take it all in. Katie, I soooo remember your 'first' 8 miles and the carrot cake. :) I really related to this post.

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  7. I love this post Katie. As a beginner runner it gives me hope that I can continue this and one day run a 10k, half marathon, etc. And maybe one day I'll want to be back at "beginner" status too ;)

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    1. You certainly CAN run a 10K, half-marathon, or whatever you choose--I'm sure of it! But for the meantime, enjoy all the firsts you get to experience as a beginner :)

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  8. I'm a daily reader and I really enjoy reading your blog. Your weight loss is inspiring but after months of reading it's obvious you don't like running. In fact, on most days it sounds like you dread running. I mean I guess I could be wrong but it's the way it comes across in your writing. Not that any of this matters. It's your blog and you can certainly write what you want. But I just don't get the point if the running posts on a blog called 'Runs for Cookies' are kind of downers sometimes?
    I won't be surprised if you delete this but I thought it might be helpful for you to know how one reader feels.
    Good luck on our marathon! I'm sure you'll rock it!

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    1. I don't delete comments unless they are extremely rude or malicious, and this comment was neither of those. I can understand what you're saying. I've never claimed to love running--but I DO run in order to eat cookies, or other desserts that I love, which is why my blog is titled "Runs for Cookies".

      I'm also very honest, so all of my posts aren't "sunshine and rainbows" type posts. I write what I'm actually feeling, because this blog is basically an online journal of mine.

      The truth is, I have a love/hate relationship with running. I obviously love it enough to keep doing it, but I do dread running a lot of the time because inside, I'm still "the overweight girl who hates exercise", if that makes sense. I rarely WANT to do it, but I'm always SO glad that I did!

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  9. I'm GLAD you're a "results not typical" sort of gal!! When I saw your pictures on pintrest I thought "hmmmm let me check it out". That was in December. On January 1st I started dieting. On February 4th I started running. On April 1st I ran my first 5k. On July 23rd I ran my first 10k. I've lost 50lbs - and counting. I've gotten rid of diabetes, high blood pressure, and my anxiety disorder. I still have about 90 lbs left to lose but it was YOU that gave me the kick start I needed. I didn't think it was possible. Then I saw that it IS possible, that YOU did it and you didn't use drugs or have surgery. You did it the HEALTHY way and you look BEAUTIFUL! Ok - I'm going on and on. I just wanted to tell you how absolutely amazing you are and to THANK you from the bottom of my heart! :-) Oh - and just so you know, I have that love/hate relationship with running too. I have a 4.5 mile run for today and I'm DREADING it! Especially since this is my first run in the rain!

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    1. WOW, Monica!! You've done some amazing things this year! Thank you for sharing that; I love to read stories of others reaching their goals :)

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    2. I wouldn't consider it a downer post. Seemed more nostalgic to me--you are saying good-bye to an important part of your life. You loved it, you hated it, you did it!! I feel the same way about my impending retirement--so happy to be walking away from the work-a-day world, yet apprehensive and yes, a little nostalgic about leaving what has been a safe place to go everyday for the last 35 years!

      That being said--it's not going to surprise me if you sign up for another marathon cause I remember that first marathon was going to be your first and last. Good luck--I know you will kick that 26.2 mile's butt.

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  10. thanks for mentioning that a 12 minute mile used to be your goal! that's where I'm at right now, well a little slower. I want to run a 10 minute mile so badly! after my 1/2 marathon I'm planning to start the couch to 5K again at a faster pace!

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  11. You are so amazing. I am running my second half marathon next weekend and I am terrified!!! I ran my first half last year while pregnant and then I stopped running regularly after that. Running while preggo was not fun. My baby is almost 5 months old and I am slow as molasses but I run still. I run (with my Garmin thanks to you)!!! Thanks for always being so inspiring. I LOVE your blog!

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  12. I love this post! I completely agree with the mention of a 12 minute mile being your goal. I just did my first 10K last weekend at 271 pounds and I did it at a 13:35 minute pace and I'm just itching at improving my speed. I decided to "start over" as well to work on my pace now, so we'll see how it goes! Thanks for sharing your story.

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  13. "Results not typical". Brilliant. It's true that they're not typical but you've proven that the results are possible. THANK YOU for that!!

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  14. I totally understand what you are talking about. I ran my first marathon on October 7 (Twin Cities marathon), and this last week, I have started the C25K program with my husband and then otherwise running when I WANT to, not because I have to, and I have been adding in other things that I have been wanting to do, like tennis, strength training, and crosstraining (which I should have done anyway during training but didn't). It is SO refreshing. And though I said on Sunday that I can't imagine running another marathon...well, we'll see.

    I can't wait to stick with some 5K/10K/half marathon races this year coming up! I can work on having fun or getting PRs, something I haven't even thought of.

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I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :)