Ready to roll

A 15-week training plan sounded like a long time, but here we are, two weeks away from putting that mountain under our feet, literally. Today we had the last really long run (14 miles) before we do one more “normal” week, run 8 next Sunday, and then we have one week of taper.

Just in the past few weeks, I’ve really been ramping up my training, following our printout of all the runs to the T… and guess what? It’s starting to show. My running was consistent during the summer, but it was hot and I hadn’t trained for a race in a long time. I was happy with just getting the miles in. Now, I’m hitting paces that make me proud and really feeling good on the runs.

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It was a chilly 53* when we started. I’ve become such a pansy to cool/cold weather since moving here. But what can I say, it just makes me fit in with El Pasoans more. ūüėČ I wore a long-sleeve shirt which was a good idea; I encountered my running high a few times during the run and it always gives me goosebumps.

I felt strong going up the inclines; there were three big hills. Going back over Scenic after I’d already come over the other side AND run to the edge of the canyon (Alabama is straight and uphill) I still felt strong. When I hit mile 7, I knew I had this run in the bag.¬†I didn’t have negative splits like last week, but I was smiling from ear to ear when I reached the top of Scenic on the way back over and hadn’t stopped to walk. I felt like a rock star.

I bypassed the last water stop at mile 11-ish because I had my Camelbak and I was rocking a good pace (around 10:00), so I just kept on runnin’. Around mile 12 my legs started burning, but it was just a sign that I was almost done and I was gonna make it!

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I mean, look how consistent those last four miles were! That’s what I want when I race in two weeks.

I confess that when I completed this run, I almost started crying. I’m like Kristen Bell that way: “If I’m not between a 3 and a 7 on the emotional scale, I’m crying. I’m crying if I’m too sad, and I’m crying if I’m too happy.” I just couldn’t believe that I’d come to El Paso HATING running, I mean… HATING it. It was too much elevation, too much like an oven… and now I feel like I’m back to where I was mentally¬†before the Illinois Marathon in 2011.

The other fantastic thing about today was that I felt comfortably vulnerable during church today. When I get there, my body and mind are spent – I’m tired, sore, and still HUNGRY (but caffeinated with a venti extra hot extra vanilla nonfat caramel macchiato), but the transition from runner’s high and to the presence of God is pretty great. I love worship and I really gave Him my all today. I was in a place of complete surrender.

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Moral of the story: I’m not gonna be upset. All that’s left to do for today is take a nap, foam roll the heck out of my legs, and feel satisfied because while y’all were sleeping, I was running. Go get you some.

Absence of Running

I’ll let you in on a little secret..

I’m not one of those people who just can’t wait to get up at the wee hours before dawn and run.

Most of the time on my runs, I count the miles I have left.

I run to eat.

I eat to run.

I’m not fast.

Running in the desert heat has been a huge struggle for me.

BUT. I can feel a change in my body and mood when I don’t run. I become lazy and start teetering on the brink of depression. I’m anxious. I mentally count every calorie and feel guilty about things I shouldn’t be eating. ¬†I start comparing myself in a negative way with other runners/athletes I follow on Facebook and Instagram.

I took a couple days off because I had an “upper respiratory infection”. I’m not even going to lie; I didn’t mind having a reason not to run. I ran long on Sunday, begrudgingly, and even more so because I had to start earlier than normal. It was okay… not great, not defeating. Just.. a run. So for the past couple days, I slept, a LOT, and didn’t actually miss the getting out to run part that much.

This morning I Skyped with my husband, which is a usual thing on Wednesdays, so I decided to run this afternoon. It was 79*, HUMID (67%), and super sweaty, but it was good. My pace was “slow”, but since I got the run done I really didn’t care.

During a run like I said I’m usually counting down the miles if Nike+ isn’t doing it for me. I’m trying to control my breathing and my stride. I love it when I run early and can see my shadow on walls or my reflection in windows… I look strong, fit, unstoppable. I’m usually the only person running when I’m out and I own it.

When I get home from a run, I’m so glad it’s over. But I love that I have a good reason to take a hot shower, to eat some food and stretch. I don’t know about you, but it feels weird to stretch when I haven’t done anything! If the run is less than 6-7 miles, I feel energized. I feel proud that I can post proof of my run. It feels good that I got through the mental battles of “Should I run or not?” and “This part of El Paso is not pretty at all, and it stinks like dog crap.”

I wish I could be one of those runners

that just can’t wait to get out there,

that gets crazy taper madness (I so look forward to resting more in those weeks before a long race!),

that goes crazy during “zero week” (I enjoy every single minute of it!!),

that has energy to cross-train after running or on rest days….

but in a very strange way, the absence of running does make my heart grow fonder.