Five things I learned today

  1. Running in 102-degree temperatures is like running in a sauna. Or in hell.
  2. Nuun hydration tablets taste like alka-seltzer in plain water, but mixed with flavored sparkling water, they’re manna from heaven.
  3. There are 126 steps between fire hydrants in the neighborhood where we do our training runs.
  4. I really need to quit stopping my watch at the last water break. Twice now, I’ve forgotten to restart it.
  5. Running through sprinklers is quite refreshing. Standing in the sprinkler gets you weird looks from passerby.
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Carpe Diem

Pretty much from here on out, each week’s long run will bring a new personal best. When I started July 7, I could slog through a slow 5K. Last week I  ran five miles, this week six. But because I’m more of a glass-half-empty kind of girl, I just keep thinking I’m not even halfway to my goal of 13.1. I tend to focus on (and become overwhelmed by) what I still have left to do instead of how far I’ve come.

I mean, for the first time ever, I ran six miles. In a row. Yes I stopped three times for water and walked three short hilly sections. But I ran the rest. That’s pretty great, right? Yet all I can think about is that I’m so slow it took me a mile to overtake a couple walking their dogs. Hell, on last week’s five mile out-and-back run, I was still on the way out when I passed a woman already heading back. She was 38 weeks pregnant.

Everyone keeps telling me “You’re out there doing it,” “Run your race, not anyone else’s,” and “You’re lapping everyone on the couch.” While that’s all true, if I set out to do something, I want to kick ass at it. I definitely don’t kick ass at this.

I’ve also been known to get caught up in what might happen and forget to enjoy the here and now. Instead of recognizing “Yay I did six!” I’m looking at next week’s schedule and thinking “Oh shit, next week I have to do seven!”

So here’s an addendum to my goal: I signed up for the race, but it’s the three months of effort, sweat, and probably some tears that will get me there. Every week brings something to celebrate. In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast sometimes. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Carpe diem.

We’ve invited you here to play a game we’re calling “Laps and Relapse”

I was supposed to run three miles today, but after crashing and burning last time, I went for nearly four just to prove that I could do it. I even outran my “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” podcast.

Let me tell you, listening to WWDTM is great for keeping my mind occupied as I loop around and around my neighborhood. But people look at me weirdly when I shout out answers to Lightning Fill in the Blank: “Jeremy Lin! Pole dancing! Call Me Maybe! Yahoo!”

One time, author Jack Gantos was the celebrity guest on Not My Job. He told a hysterical story about smuggling hashish from Florida to New York City and toting it around in a shopping cart, then, surprisingly, getting busted. He started writing while in prison (which he said really wasn’t much different from his previous residence–a college dorm) and hit the big time with young adult literature while still on parole. I was laughing so hard I could barely maintain upright forward motion.

Every episode is like that. Sometimes they get Rob Reiner or Bill Clinton to play. Others, it’s the White House chef, a teenage fashion blogger, or that guy from The Decemberists. Henry Winkler was on once, and I almost fell off the treadmill when the answer to all three of his questions was “Ayyyyyyyy.”

Someday I want Carl Kasell to record the greeting on my voice mail, preferably in limerick form. In the meantime, once a week I’ll run more erratically than usual, shouting things like “Underwear! Penguins! Fukushima!” and occasionally spitting out my water. My lemon-RHYME water, that is.

Persevere

I have a silver ring I wear when I run. It reminds me that when things suck, suck it up.

Remember my goal?

Finish and not die.

I came perilously close to screwing that one up today.

It was nearly 100 degrees at 7 P.M. when my training group took off for a four-mile run. About a mile into it, I started thinking maybe it was not going to go well. The sun was still brutally hot and there wasn’t a lot of shade. I drank a lot of water but after another half-mile or so, I started to feel kind of dizzy. I walked. My coach was waiting at the turnaround with a cold water cooler and that helped some–I was able to run almost the last mile back. Very slowly, and not in a completely straight line. I wondered if passers-by thought maybe I was drunk. But I made it back, albeit in pretty sad shape.

I didn’t die. Goal (barely) achieved. Persevere.

This seemed like a good idea…

…before I actually started training. In July. In Texas.

So let’s be realistic. I only have one real goal: to finish and not die. That’s my mantra for my training runs as well as my overarching goal for the race itself. Persevere, finish, don’t die.

So far, so good. On Saturday I ran five miles. In a row. That’s something the old me would have scoffed at, saying “I’d only run that far if someone was chasing me. Or there were margaritas involved.” Well, I’ll still run for a margarita. Or a mojito. Perhaps even a good piña colada.

But back to the five miles. I stopped twice for water and I walked in a few places (there were a couple of hills that are rough on my still-recovering hip flexor) but that totaled no more than a quarter-mile. The rest I ran, realio trulio.

I’m the slowest runner on the planet. I would be ecstatic to finish a half marathon in under three hours, although that may be a bit ambitious. But again, if my basic goal is Finish and Not Die, then any pace will achieve that. As long as I get there before they pick the cones up.

Persevere. Finish. Don’t die.