I started a training program a few months ago and I’m getting rather excited about it. I didn’t think I’d make it through when I started, but I have learned that I am enough of a cheapskate that if I put money into something, I will almost definitely use the service. I do not like to waste money. As a result, very soon after I joined Nicole’s 0 to 13.1 training program, I also signed up to run a half marathon in June.
This is not something I would have imagined myself doing a year or even six months ago, but Katja has changed my perspective on a few things. I’m 38 this year. I’m not a young mother, to say the least, and people have actually asked if I’m Katja’s grandmother a few times. This amuses rather than offends me, but it does bring the point home that I’m older than many women who have a very young child. I could also stand to lose some weight, which I’ve been rather successful at so far (twenty pounds in six months and working on the next twenty now). I want Katja to have a healthy, happy mother. I want to see her graduate from high school. I want to get to enjoy her company as an adult. That means I need to take care of myself now.
In addition to all of this, I’m a happier person when I’m exercising regularly. Some people in my family have issues with depression. I am lucky enough to be able to control it in two ways: exercise and get enough sleep. For a while right after Katja was born, I wasn’t getting either one of those things. I decided it was time to get back on track and do what I wanted with my life, and Nicole’s program showed up at exactly the right time.
The program is interesting in a few ways. Nicole built it thinking about people, like herself, who wanted to run despite not being currently active. She also included a trainer who helps answer questions as they come up, and both of them have been extremely responsive. There is a Facebook group where we can share the highs and lows, which is really nice. I have made a couple of friends there.
It is an online community, which works well for me since I usually run at times that normal people are tucked comfortably into nice, warm beds. Nyx and I have run in cold weather (my limit is ten degrees Fahrenheit, below which I will find a treadmill at a gym), snow, rain, fog, and once in a while really nice weather. Nyx has taken a while to settle into running, especially since my speed is a trot for her. She still sometimes gets distracted by a scent, but she’s getting better at not stopping, at least. She is also much better at not responding to other dogs than she used to be. I like having her as my running buddy, though I worry a little about how the longer distances will work for her.
I ran a 5k race a couple of Saturdays ago. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed it. I did walk some, but I’m comfortable with that. My speed was faster than I’d been running in prior weeks. That made me very happy. I didn’t come in last, though I did get lapped twice. Most of the people in the race were high school students. I wanted to know what a race would be like and now I know that I can hold my pace despite being passed. I learned a few things, too. I need to bring my own food for the end of the race. They had Quaker chewy granola bars which were much too sweet and made me a little sick to my stomach. They had bananas, too, but they were very green and difficult to peel. The orange slices were a good idea, though.
I think I might end up being somewhat picky.
I have been reading a lot about marathoners and ultra runners, and one of the comments that showed up in a few of them was that they eat real food while they run. I really like this idea. I have a hard time stomaching the gels. I’m sure I could learn how, but pita and hummus sounds like a much better way to go, especially since I know exactly what goes into that food. There’s a mountain biker, Gary Fisher, who eats things like burritos, nuts, and bananas. I will experiment as I run longer distances to see what my stomach can take and what works best for me, but I think that gels are not really my thing.
I have made one other decision since I started this program. I will run a marathon by the time I’m forty. It’s a somewhat scary declaration, especially in a public forum, but I’d like to do it and I think it’s a good goal.
Running does not come easily to me. I spent much of my life with patellar tendonitis. That has gone away because I’ve been running in Vibrams, referred to in our house as toesy shoes. I’m not fast, I am probably not graceful, and I sweat a lot. On the other hand, I keep going. I’m on week ten of the program now (I had to take a break and then go back a week due to the gallbladder surgery). I like running most of the time, even when it’s cold and nasty out. I come home feeling like I’ve accomplished something. I also come home in a much better frame of mind, more likely to be cheerful and helpful. Nyx is happier, too, because she gets regular exercise, even if she isn’t quite sure if there’s a point to running around in circles.
This is good for me. Strangely enough, it is even kind of fun. I ran 1.6 miles this morning, which isn’t far, but it’s 1.6 miles farther than I would have run had I stayed in bed, so that’s something. It was 22 degrees out, too, so I felt just a tiny bit smug about being tough enough to run when it was below freezing. Once I get over my latest cold I should be moving a little faster. Even if I don’t, though, even if I stay slow, I’m getting to the point that I can settle into a rhythm and just keep going. That’s something I have never been able to do on land before. I could do it while swimming, but this is a first for running. It is starting to feel natural, easy, and comfortable, even on days that aren’t good.
Running has never been my thing, but I think I am beginning to think of myself as a runner. That’s kind of cool.