Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Running Solo

Greetings from my couch.  I am on Spring Break and have managed to avoid turning on my computer for the last 5 days and it has felt really good.  I had a nice relaxing few days at home and now am trying to avoid thinking about the fact that I accomplished very little today.  I'm trying even harder to avoid thinking about all the work that lies ahead of me in the next four days...

So, in the spirit of avoidance, I thought I'd write a little about running.  I'm training for my 4th half marathon, 3rd Lincoln Half Marathon.  Overall, I think training is going well, however, it is a very different experience this time than it has been in the past.

Things that are different:  scenery (I'm living in Missouri now, which is quite a bit different-looking from Nebraska), hills (I no longer have to drive to find hills - I walk out my front door), timing (in the past, most of my workouts were done in the mornings, except on Tuesday and Thursday nights, while this year most of them are done after noon), mileage (I'm running less mileage during the week, but it seems to be working out well).

The most important difference, though, is that most of my training this year has been done on my own.  For the last two years, I have participated in a running class designed to prepare people to run a marathon or a half.  The class is run by Ann Ringlein (aka the running guru of Lincoln, NE) and includes scheduled group runs every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday for 4 months.  The class is inspirational and motivational and, along with my fabulous running group, provides a girl with an enormous amount of support.  Knowing you have a knowledgeable group of people to learn from, and knowing that 5+ people are waiting for you at 6am on a frigid January morning offer a sense of security and assurance that have motivated me to keep coming back for more (hence, my 4th half).

I was seriously concerned about training on my own this time.  Would I be able to fit weekday runs into my already busy schedule?  Would I be motivated to do them without someone waiting at the trail to hold me accountable?  Was I even capable of completing a 10+ mile run on my own???  And would I be able to reach a new time goal in the half this year without the support of all of those fabulous people?

The answer to the first three questions is YES.  I have managed to schedule my time during the week in order to be sure to fit in at least 10 miles of running (usually on 3 days) and a day of cross-training, plus my Saturday long run.  I'm certainly not motivated to roll out of bed at an ungodly hour, but I make sure to get my runs in later in the day (although I still go early on Saturdays).  And I have done a lot of my long runs by myself, which will soon include a couple of solo 12 milers.

It is a lot harder and not quite as much fun to fly solo all the time, but I'm making it work.  In fact, I find myself running a faster pace most of the time because I'm usually in more of a hurry to finish the run, plus, I am not talking during the run, so I'm able to go a little faster naturally (breath not used talking = breath saved for running).  It should actually be noted that my running is done solo by choice.  Columbia has a great running community (so I've heard), but most of the time, I find my running time to be an excellent opportunity to get some thinking done and generally clear my mind.  Plus, they meet at 5:30.  A.M.!!!  No thank you.

As for whether or not I'll be able to meet the very challenging (to me) time goal I've set for this year's Lincoln Half Marathon, I'll just have to wait and see! I managed to finish last weekend's 10 mile race just under my goal time, but it was really hard and a slower pace than I'll need to run the half marathon in.  I'm hoping my training plan will prepare me to run as fast as I need to and hoping that within the next few weeks I'll have a very good idea as to whether or not I think my current goal is realistic.

Are you training for anything?  How's it going?  Have you been doing most of your running on your own or with friends?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Happy Place

Although I am really enjoying my classes this semester, I am definitely starting to feel that middle-of-the-semester bogged down, can't see the light at the end of the tunnel feeling.  And it's happening a little early this time.  It probably has a lot to do with the fact that the amount of weekly homework is more than a little overwhelming, evidenced by the fact that I have spent countless Saturday nights this semester at home doing homework.  Go me.  That's ok.  I'm learning a lot.  And I'll appreciate a little break at the end of this semester like never before.
But...  Every now and then, I have to close my eyes, take a few deep breaths, and go to my Happy Place.  I'm sure you could all easily guess what that is:

Let's just say it involves me, the beach, and a good book.

So, when I start to feel stressed or overwhelmed, or whatever, I have a cup of Lighthouse Cafe coffee in my Sanibel Bean coffee cup, and think about the sun and the breeze and the fine white sand.  And for a few minutes, all is right with the world...

What's your Happy Place?

p.s.  Mine has some serious competition:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Slippery Slope

So, lately, I've been having all of these ... well ... thoughts.  Or maybe I should call them fantasies?  Except that they're based on reality...  so let's stick to "thoughts."

They creep into my head while I'm running.  I'll be struggling during a tough part of the run then, all of a sudden, a great song with a heavy beat pops on and the thoughts begin.  One, followed by a RUSH of adrenaline.  Then another.  Then, before I know it, I have a full-blown story line going on in my head.  And I find myself nearly sprinting, running as fast as I can, feeling absolutely on top of the world.

I'm talking about volleyball, of course.  That's right.  I have been having volleyball fantasies while I'm running.  All of the great players I have been on the court with in the past are there with me in my thoughts and every great play is being replayed over and over again.  And I feel alive.

I miss volleyball.  Running and I have a good, solid relationship (minus the fact that I'm not all that good at it).  Running keeps me in shape.  It allows me to set goals and go after them like I used to do with volleyball.  Running has been there for me when volleyball hasn't.  But it just isn't the same.

Volleyball and I are soulmates.  And I miss my soulmate.

It's a slippery slope, my friends.  I've been mentally cheating on running with volleyball for the last couple of months now and it's only a matter of time before I cheat for real.  I don't want to break up with running.  I just want to have a little extra-curricular fun every now and then.  Is that SO wrong???  :)