Mile 20

Friday, April 06, 2007

April 7th, 2007
Good gracious, I didn't even finish that post and 2 weeks have slipped by! The other day I finally ran longer than my perfunctory 6 mile run. It was a beautiful day, I had worked from 8am until 6pm on Organic and I was determined to run far away. I speed walked from my lab across campus to my dorm, sprinted past my friends in the lounge and finally bounded down Franklin Street. My body was zinging with excitement of going on a long run and I kept up that pace for a good 3 miles. So I finally got to my fourth mile in the back of a neighborhood in Carrboro and I was on runner's high when I noticed some really realistic deer lawn ornaments. I'm thinking why do people put fake deer on their lawns? It's so tacky. Wait, that one blinked. And then my focused haze lifts and I realize that I'm looking directly at 4 very curious deer. Later I was stretching in an almost enclosed courtyard and a rabbit came up and sat next to me as I was stretching. Cody said that the rabbit knew I was of the same spirit, which is why it was fine with me. I just love having that connection with nature.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention that I'm doing some sort of leadership with Carolina Marathon next year. Finding that out plus running that day has me convinced now that before I graduate I'm going to either run the NYC or Boston Marathon. In order to run the Boston marathon I need a 3:40 time and for the NYC marathon I need an even faster time. If I can't speed up my timing my fall back is to get guaranteed entry into the NYC marathon by donating to charity. I would need to improve my time by 1 hour in order to qualify for Boston. I think I can shoot for improving my time by 30 minutes for the next marathon I run. Oh and I'd need to run a qualifying marathon too. Man that's actually a lot of marathoning come to think of it. In order to run that fast I would need to run 7:30 minute miles. I'm thinking this summer I can speed up my pace by starting with 5ks and consistantly run 7:30 minute miles. I need to learn to appreciate speed and I need to give up the lazy run and really commit.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

March 17th, 2007
This semester has been a landslide! I've breathed for the first time since the marathon last Friday when my Spring Break started.

Let me tell you the endurance that I gained from the marathon has translated into my work habits. The week before spring break was a marathon in itself! I had planned to start studying 3 weeks in advance and had started regularly going to the Chem Tutorial Room to do 3 packed hours of organic homework. Still, it's not an exam week if I'm not verging on the speed of light in order to complete everything in time. Physics was finally becoming logical and I was starting to get the hang of it just in time for the test to come and me to realized that I had an orgo exam in 24 hours. Physics mania, then orgo mania, then realized that orgo homework was due at 12am on the test day not the day after. Who assigns physics homework on the Friday before Spring Break on material we only lightly touched on? Hernandez my teacher, that's who. Oh yes, and my physics lab report was due, not to mention I was anxious to know if I had been appointed to be an RA for the summer and/or the next year. At noon I had 5 hours to go till I heard about the position, had to have my HW in and I was kicked out of the dorms. With strength that I didn't know I possessed I finished all my tasks with flawless execution and recieved two acceptance emails. Not only did I get both positions but I'll be an RA for Kenan community! Some RA candidates were saying that they would only accept the position if they got the better communities like Kenan. I was hoping just to get any position and now I'll be working the community that all of my friends are in! So this has been an anecdote of how my semester has been going.
Anyways, now I'm finally able to catch you all up on the marathon! So I was finally starting to run regular half marathons by myself. The day I ran the 20 miles I went to church at home, was dropped off at Chapel Hill and then hit ground running. The key to doing anything is to Just Do It and keep going. I've been called the Juggernaut because I have 99% momentum and 1% stopping power. One of these days I'm going to bowl over an old lady.

Since blogging is not my forte, I'm piecing together the random notes I wrote to reconstruct this whole experience. I sent this letter to some of you, but if you've read this blog it is also directed to you.

Dear Family and Friends,
Last Saturday I ran the Myrtle Beach Marathon and accomplished one of my life goals. You were such an influential motivator in achieving this goal! Some of you were dedicated runners and by your example I learned to love running. Others of you ran marathons and I was so awestruck that I wanted to finish one too. Many of you listened to me talk about my runs in gory detail and encouraged me in my training. Regardless of the role you played, all of you taught me to perservere, to seek higher goals and to do the best I could do. You all are incredibly inspiring people and I am so thankful to know you! I hope you are all doing well!

January 28th, 2007
I ran 20 miles today! Holy crap! It's so mindblowing for me to physically train for a marathon. 20 miles is 80% of a marathon and I could snap through the first 8 miles like it was a warm up. It was even more mindblowing that I was able to coach myself through the last 6 miles. This ability is so important because then the race is something I do for myself and not because someone else is pushing me. I didn't think our program would go past 18 until I got to practice. So the idea of doing the marathon was to run 20 miles for my 20th birthday because it's the number of years I'll be but also because the 20th mile is "the wall", where you physiologically breakdown. The point is not the wall but it's getting over it and accomplishing even bigger things.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas every body! It was tough getting here to this moment but Christmas was excellent this year. I got a gift certificate to Dick's Sporting Goods so I can go get my official running shoes and gear for the marathon. This lofty goal of mine is becoming more concrete every week (haha, concrete... running on pavement, yeah I know I have a bad sense of humor).

In my last blog I was describing running my first 10 miler and getting dehydrated. Since then my run buddy and I have been scheduling water stops on our runs (don't worry). Finals soon came after that post and it was hard tearing me away from my work to run. I also got sick and my run buddy ran a long run off campus, which all boiled down to missing two long runs. Very bad, yes very bad on my part. I ended up going from the 10 miler that I described straight to running a 15 miler... in the freezing cold rain without my running buddy!

So this 15 miler was composed of running a 5 mile Findley Golf loop (with the mile long hill) and an extended loop that included parts of the tough 10 mile loop. When they explained the 10 mile route they said that running up Estes drive in the middle would be easier than finishing running up hill on Franklin Street. That was a complete lie because it was uphill both ways. Seriously! This route started with a road that dropped faster than the Tower of Terror and the rest was uphill. Myrtle Beach will be such a change in compaison to Chapel Hill. Also it's not until you run that you realize that there are no even roads, everything has an inclination. Roman road building means so much more to me now. It's amazing how they were able to construct arrow straight roads for miles at such an early time.

Despite everything I trotted along and didn't have much trouble at all! I was anxious about running up Estes Drive since I had trouble the last time. So I stretched my IT bands and mentally focused. I fell behind a bit, which was disheartening. The girls told me to lead which empowered me to plow up the next street. Once I realized that Weaver Street Organic Market was just around the bend I started bolting to the organic double chocolate chip mocha truffles. Oh yes, Weaver Street is something to run to! With that I ran my first half marathon.

Now during break I'm maintaining my endurance, rather than increasing mileage and training. I'm canvassing the southeast side of Wake County, NC and running my dream routes (such as running to my friend's house in another city). Another cool thing is that I'm learning to run by myself. A huge part of the marathon is learning to focus, entertain myself and motivate myself without the motivation of the pack and that is what I'm focusing on right now. I was worried about not having that mental drive but on Saturday I ran 12 miles by myself (again in the rain, what is that?) and proved my worries wrong.

The best thing about training for the marathon is that, no matter where I end up on the race day, I will have accomplished something that I never tried before every day. I can run a 10k and now I can run a half marathon. Now let's see about the marathon!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I'm now up to the half marathon level and half way through my training. Right now I bet you're scrolling up and down the page wondering where the first half of the training blogs went. Well I'm not the most natural blogger. Please ask me about my training because I'm not going to write everything- and I need my hands to communicate the full extent of the journey.

So you know why I wanted to do this from my past blog. I originally was going to start training in November. I couldn't believe my luck when I found out that not only did Carolina have a marathon club but they were running the exact marathon that I had set out to do (the Bi-Lo Myrtle Beach Marathon on Saturday, February 17th, 2007.) Before coming to the club I was running 3 miles in 27ish minutes, 3 to 4 days a week on a treadmill. My first club meeting was the culmination of pre marathon training training, so the club was running up to 5 miles.

Coming from a treadmill, I was worried about running far away off campus, getting tired and not keeping up with the pack. We ran across an exit ramp and up a mile long hill. Since I lost the pack on that hill, I walked up the hill and then took a long cut around campus that I knew of instead of following the route. I didn't run the whole route, I had lost the pack on a comparatively short run and my competitive ego was hurt. I was feeling defeated until I got back and found out that there was a group of slower runners behind me!

With that encouragement I showed up to the next practice. Now this run was on my favorite route (the Hospital route) that was 3 miles. I started out at the Varsity pace again and was depressed again when I fell behind on such an easy run. You know it's actually a very good thing that I didn't blog these first couple of weeks. If I had ruminated over those disappointments I probably would have convinced myself out of the marathon.

I've taken Alex's major for granted, but looking back I'm realizing how provident it is that I'm dating a Sports Medicine major. Around this time I told Alex about how I was fulfilling my fears by tensing up and falling behind the pack. I don't think he realizes it but his coaching me on how to run loosely and helped me to psychologically relax. That next long run, I found what I call the rec pack. The recreation pack actually runs for fun, the company and to get out in the sun. There were runners like me who exist? Most mediocre runners are cynical and hate every minute that they run. If you constantly complain about running I suggest you try swimming since it is a low impact sport and spreading negativity is just annoying for those who try.

The best part about training has been finding out how far my body will naturally go. I didn't measure the hospital route and so I only used it when I was tired because I thought it was only 2 miles. It is so much easier to run outside and now that I've trained I feel like whipping out a 5 miler every run rather than a dinky 3 miler. After the 6 mile run when I found my running buddies I came across another problem. Since I lost weight while increasing my mileage my IT band was rubbing against my hip bones. I had snapping hip syndrome or ITBS and it was painful not to run. (What a terrible problem.) I'm almost done with physical therapy.

Although my ITBS was literally a PITA, the hardest physical strain was on my 10 miler when I didn't properly hydrate. My run buddy and I are working on making water stops now that we're running longer. On the 10 mile day though we did not have a water stop, we ran up hill for 8 miles (what were they thinking?) and by the 9th mile the saliva in my mouth was crusting on my teeth. We were almost back to campus running from the Carrboro side of Cameron to Raleigh Street when my throat just closed up. I was still running because I couldn't stop and was breathing in hard ratteling breaths. Breathing was frustrating and I was emotionally chocked up. My run buddy coached me to run to the Old Well and with effort we finally got there. I chocked down the water, spitting and heaving, trying to get myself back together again. I've drank from the well on the first day of classes for the past two years but I've always regarded it as the Alumni's poster child. That day was Family weekend and so some poor family was taking a picture in front of the landmark. They have no idea how important that well was at that moment while I was clinging to it for dear life.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Picture the single frame from the blockbuster Titanic that surveys a well done relationship confident to the end; where in the height of the ship's visible demise an elderly couple serenely curl together on their bed nearly consumed by the gulf of rushing water.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

It's the second day after I have decided to run the Myrtle Beach Marathon for my 20th birthday and I'm starting to wonder if I'm not entirely insane. Of course, yesterday it was my hot topic of the day and I couldn't help but tell everyone. Today though I was randomly sleepy and I started thinking about how far 18 miles, much less 26, really is. Doubtless this will be one of the most intense periods of my life.
Anyways, welcome to the mental side of my training! It's still June and I'm desperate to go back to Chapel Hill and start making progress in school. When I left school I was just crushed. Physics crushed me mentally, financial issues and lack of communication with my parents had me crushed emotionally, moral instability had me crushed spiritually and all of this burden was bearing down on me physically. After finals I just slept for a week. I knew that I was missing a lot of foundational respect for myself and in the weeks of May I started to deal with those issues that exhausted me.
I have a couple of months before my formal training starts and so I have time to make things easier for myself. This will be a challenge since I'll be in NY this week but first I hope to loose 15 pounds to make running easier. Next I want to run 6 miles 2 times a week and then upgrade to 4 times a week.
This upcoming year I really hope to train myself to live. I don't know what I'm doing wrong or why my hard work is not matching the output I receive. I think I've been thoroughly disappointed for the past 5 years because I couldn't find that junction or what Csikszentmihalyi calls "the flow". Even though everything looks clearer in retrospect, I know that at least in 8th grade, and maybe 11th, I had the flow. I wonder if I've cheated myself into giving up because I thought I couldn't live perfectly.
There's something for me to learn at this Mile 20 and that is that there is something to acchieve at mile 26.