Posted by: deerharas | February 3, 2008

My sport is your sports punishment. (Yes, I know there should be an apostrophe.)

 I’m taking a cue from Kristin Armstrong (ex-wife of Lance and blogger for Runner’s World) by deciding to chronicle my own experience in training for a marathon.  Yeah, remember that whole 26.2 miles in my 26th year thing?  It’s still on, and I figure blogging might provide some much needed accountability in said pursuit. 

Training is going well so far.  I haven’t missed a single long run, although I’ve opted out of a weekday workout here and there in hopes of giving my right knee what seems to be some needed breaks.  I thought getting new shoes would help (which they have somewhat), but the persistent ache recently reminded me of my parking lot mishap last spring.  I was walking back toward West Hall talking on my cell phone when an absentminded driver kind of tapped me (me … not my car … tapped ME) with his car.  “Um, I’ll have to call you back, Stacey … I just got hit by a car.”  I took the driver’s information, but it was just a tap and I seemed to be fine.  My knee was a little sore for the next couple of days, but then everything was back to normal.  I didn’t even remember this until a few days ago when the light bulb came on in regard to my knee.  It’s been almost a year, so the two are probably unrelated.  However, should my training somehow take an unfortunate downhill, I’ve got that “I was hit by a car!” card ready to play.  J 

Another training update … I have a partner!  Back in October when I publically declared my marathon aspirations, I was completely prepared to walk (actually run) that road alone.  However, soon after the declaration, my friend Jamie offered to train and run with me.  I was so surprised.  Jamie’s a natural runner.  She’s tiny and fit and already has a marathon under her belt.  I once heard her say that if she ran another, her goal would be to break four hours.  That’s a nine minute per mile pace.  I can barely run one mile in nine minutes!  Needless to say, I was humbled and honored that she would be willing to train and run with me knowing that there was no way we’d be meeting her goal. 

In all my experience, I must say that running with a partner is infinitely better than running alone.  On and off for the past three years I’ve run with my friend Stacey, and some of our best conversations and moments together were had running.  One dark early morning we head out for a run around Heritage Hills/Mesta Park in what began as a light mist but soon progressed into downpour.  Running and I have a fickle relationship.  Sometimes I hate it.  That morning, however, I have never loved running more.   

Jamie and I have done a couple long runs together, and the “two are better than one” adage still applies.  It makes a remarkable difference.  I still like to go on my own for shorter runs during the week, but any time I hit more than five I thank God for a partner.  I had to run nine by myself a couple weeks ago when Jamie was out of town … yuck.  Picturing myself come April 27th, I am incredible thankful that I won’t be alone. 

This past week was incredibly windy, and being from West Texas I’m a pretty good judge of wind.  I opted for a Wellness Center treadmill over my usual after work outdoor Monday run.  I quickly got bored on the hamster wheel and switched to the indoor track.  I noticed a girl pass me (a couple times I think J) wearing a shirt that said, “My sport is your sports punishment.”  I laughed for two reasons.  First of all, there was no apostrophe in “sports.”  Second of all, it’s so true!  Running was always a punishment growing up.  I ran lines in volleyball for missed serves and miles for missed practices.  For so long I had a mental block against it.  I never thought I could actually enjoy running.  But here I am, training for a race I never thought I would or could do. 

I mentioned Kristin Armstrong at the beginning of this post.  Thanks to my friend Tracy’s recommendation I’ve been reading her blog lately, and something she wrote the other day caught my attention as it could have been my own words.  So because it’s not truly a blog of mine without some sort of quote/lyric/attribution, here is what I think and feel about my own running via the words of Kristin Armstrong (italics mine): 

“And something else entered my mind as I grunted through the final miles to finish 4 minutes slower than my PR.   Something between gratitude and epiphany on the realization scale.  I realized that I am out here, most days of every week, pursuing something that does not come naturally or easily to me.  And I have been doing this for 5 years.  Never in my life, before running, did I ever push hard after something that did not rank high on the list of things that come easily to me.  I have always aspired to/excelled at things that I was already good at.  This probably stems from fear, pride, laziness or some perfection compulsion; my priest or therapist would know for sure.  But running isn’t like that for me.  It’s hard for me.  I struggle.  I suffer.  I get discouraged.  I get mad.  I celebrate, sometimes.  And when I chase after Paige, Katie or any other zippy friend, it’s not because I suck, it’s because they don’t.  Running for Paige is one of her passions, one of her God-given talents, as natural for her as nursing a baby or riding a horse bareback.  It isn’t one of mine, and that is okay with me (or will be as soon as this epiphany sinks in), because I love it anyway…I just love it differently than she does.  I love it the way you love a rivalrous sibling, deep tissue massage, a session with your therapist, giving birth, or a big fight with someone you love.  It doesn’t always feel good in the moment, but ultimately you are a better person for it. 

So I may not always run the way I want to run, race the way I imagine myself racing, and my performance outside may only rarely reflect the runner on the inside, but there is a certain endurance rush reserved for those of us who have to work extra hard just to stand on the start line and dream.   

There is a unique beauty to pursuing the glow that resides just beyond our reach.”

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