Saturday, January 16, 2010

Training For Joy

My new miracle shoes

It’s funny when you’re out on your long run and a million different things pop into your head about what you’re going to say on your blog that night about your run; fun, witty and full of expression words….then when you sit down to write, none of those thoughts out there come to mind and you're left staring at a blank screen for an hour.

Sooooo, today: Matt, from running group I occasionally run with, told me the other day he’d run my 17 miler today. Well, originally it was 16 but with a mileage week going further and further in the red, I upped the run another mile. He was game. I was afraid. Matt runs a sub 7 min/mile. I do not. I think I can run one mile at 7 minutes, possibly 2. Proved in October I cannot run a 5K at that pace so 3 miles at 7 is out!

I emailed Megsie the other night and expressed my anxiety and prayed for my survival. Matt’s a sweetie, though, and said he’d run my pace; he just wants to get in the miles since his brother’s generous birthday gift to him was the registration for an upcoming 50K next month in Alabama. Matt found out by an email confirming his registration. Gotta love siblings!

So I’m game. What the heck. It’s only my legs. My sanity. My annoying glute. My “mystery” ailment behind my knee. My slower than molasses long run last weekend.

Matt said he had the perfect “fun” course for us to run: a 17-miler from his house near City Park to Sloan’s Lake, a lap around the lake, then back to his house. Oh, and btw, “the last 5-6 mile are uphill.” Um, did I ever mention me and up hills are not bff’s? It is hard for me to find peace with my body - I struggle with air (aka, need mask and oxygen tank on wheels with a pole, beside me). He said the long, arduous hill at the end is good Boston training for me since um, yeah, that lovely set of hills at mile 17 in Boston kicked my butt last year (welcome 3-way lunges, in case you were wondering why I’m obsessing over getting these puppies in each week!).

I was nervous about the hills. The pace. The fact I don’t normally run that far with anyone and I’m not a big chatterbox when running. Give me a Michelob Light with Cactus Lime beer and some great Mexican food and I’ll talk your ear off; but I’ve always been a lone long run runner- I’m usually gasping for oxygen, the more the better, so how do I mutter a complete sentence for 17 miles? The thought had my head spinning. Sometimes the anticipation and fear alone will inhibit my breathing and jack up my heart rate long before I even set out for a run.
But I was also ready to stop being afraid and give it a shot. I knew Matt would wait, if I had to slow, but I was ready to see what the legs, and the head, had in me.

We took off after lunch; which also had me worried since I’m an early morning long run runner and thus wasn’t sure what to eat. Sensitive stomach girl here didn’t want poor Matt waiting for me in the bathroom for countless hours. Been there done that with my friend, Dennis, one time (actually, the very first time I ran with him. Can’t believe he ever ran with me again after that fiasco). So I made sure not to eat any form of any sugar, since I’m convinced this is the culprit for my bad stomach issues. From his house, up a slight hill, downhill through the historic preststigious mansions surrounding the Denver Country Club and onto the gradual downhill Cherry Creek Path (which happens to be along Cherry Creek). A little concerned about my pace being a bit faster than the normal snail’s pace but figured we were on a gradual down so just maybe I could hold on with Matt’s help. Cross the creek at the fabulous flagship 4-story REI store, potty break and over the highway onto 23rd street and into a part of the city I have never run before. Not overly scenic but new is new and it was so nice to look at something “different” for a change. Turn on a side street and we’re suddenly at Sloan’s Lake. Wow, like wow! We were half done and I couldn’t believe it! The time went quickly. Amazing how fast time goes when in the company of sounds other than my own wheeze!
Matt did most of the talking - things like the 23-hour relay we were on this past summer; the paces and mileage of elite marathon runners (and how we’ll never be. Ha); crazy, stupid things we did as kids and how we never managed to break our necks doing them; his upcoming 50K; things that make our stomach cramp during a race. You know, just “stuff.” I muttered a few single syllable words like: uh-hu, right, ok, sure, I know, wow, really?....with an occasionally 3 to 4-word sentence. I loved listening, just can’t speak and run well – despite the multi-tasker I am!

Mile 12 brought us back to the REI with a potty and gel break and then back on the CC path – which is now uphill. And thus the mind begins to cramp. I put my headphones on and told Matt I’d just follow in behind him, he’d set the pace and I’ll see what I can do. Usually, when I’m alone, I just slow down here. But I was feeling surprisingly good and wanted to see what I had left. Parts of this section are rough. Not steep, by any means, but just loooonggg and gradual. I kept looking at my watch and it was fluctuating between 8:30 and 9:30. Matt said, “You’re only a few seconds off your marathon pace.” I know. WOW! A few times it jumped to the higher 9’s as the steepness increased but I was in awe that I was holding strong. And no aches and pains. No screaming glute. No mystery ouchie behind the knee. No stomach problems. Only a minor hot spot on the left foot as I was wearing new shoes and I always need a couple weeks of miles before they feel good. Matt said, “Let’s take it strong here for a couple miles, give us a small break then charge it the last mile.” Um, okay.

With two miles to go, I dropped my water bottle and stopped for a brief couple seconds to get it. I let Matt go on ahead and I caught up with him at the Country club. Crossing the road, we now were back at the gorgeous old mansions and a very difficult hill. I slowed but remained under 10’s here and just felt so incredibly strong. We turned and were on a gradual uphill on 7th Ave with gorgeous big, old trees lining the road. Living in suburbia U.S.A. where trees are scarce, I love this street - it reminds me of the large Oak trees from my childhood in Iowa. I decide it’s time to push the pace, with a mile to go, and was really happy my legs decided to agree. I looked at my watch a few times and was ever so pleased to see the pace in the low 8’s with a couple high 7’s. THIS, kids, is not typical Jill.

We finished the 17 miles with an avg pace of 9:00 on the dot. Wow, WOW! Last week I ran 15 at a 9:20 pace and felt like crap…today, I ran 17 with an awesome friend 20 seconds faster and felt great!

It was 60 degrees and sunny – such a gorgeous day in Denver and in my head. An exclamation point of a beautifully written run! I won’t always write solely about one run but I had to share today with ya. Maybe it was my new shoes that left my legs feeling great for once, or that my dear friend, Matt, was a wonderful diversion to my own negative thoughts (I'm trying to talk him into being my coach - ha).... but I’m grateful that running empowers me, and grateful that I am part of this running legacy. Now if I can just hold this feeling, cup it carefully in my hand the way I used to catch fireflies as a child, Boston is going to go well. It's funny how you can train for other aspects of running, but you can't train joy. It blinks and disappears; elusive as that firefly, but when you have it ...ah, you are a different runner, even if it's just for that one run.
Whew...I think that beer from above is calling my name....
I hope everyone had great runs today and tomorrow. And to those running marathons and others, run strong!

27 comments:

naomi said...

I had to laugh when you wrote that you have all these thoughts about what you want to say, then when you sit down to write, you draw a blank. I relate to that all too well.

Great recap and fantastic run. I enjoyed reading about it!

ESH said...

Way to kick a@@ on your run! It's so funny to gear up to run with a new running partner. It's like a first date! Are you going to move too fast? Will the conversation flow? Sounds like Matt was a great person for you to train with! Phew.

Jamoosh said...

Nice!

Running and living said...

I always get nervous when I run with people who are faster than I am; I don't want them to have a bad run and have to slow down for me. But the thing is, I end up running faster than I think I can, and it works out great. Congrats on a great run. I think Matt should become your long run partner!

adamrculp said...

I love it when a run surprises you, and turns out to be wonderful. It is part of what keeps us running. Sounds like an awesome day.
Shoes can make a difference, so perhaps you really needed some new ones.

Love the new "look" of the site. Clean, seems more organized.

Laura said...

I so understand what you mean about running with someone...I am so jealous of people that have someone to run with...but I don't think I could do it! Oh and the joy thing...it's the most awesome little firefly! I ran outside yesterday after forever on the treadmil...and WOW that was a really joyful moment! Thanks for stopping by my blog...and the advice and encouragment..I did get a coach...an old friend from years ago..we start in Feb. and I'm psyched to see what happens! Thanks again...

Mikey B said...

When we run alone, we have time to dwell on our weaknesses and have a horrible run. When we run with a friend, we try to show off our strengths and end up exceeding our expectations.

Great job on the run, Jill. It's good to see how friends and new running partners can bring out the best in you.

Melissa said...

Running with someone makes it all better. I'm really hoping my buddy will follow the 1/2 plan I'm on with me so we can do our long runs together. I've got my fingers crossed.

ajh said...

Sounds like a great run. It's great to run with a friend who pushes you that little bit without killing you. I had a good run with a friend today and was pleased with my pace (wayyyy slower than yours) too. I loved your first paragraph. I get these ideas to put in my blog while I am running and get home and they are history!

Becca said...

Sounds like an all around great run! Congrats!

MrsCJ said...

I totally agree with having a bunch of amazing thoughts while running and then when sitting down to write it doesn't come out. I'm glad your 17 miler went well! Sounds like a wonderful run!

CJ

Meg said...

I love it when we suprise ourselves with a run that we didn't think we could do, it's such a confidence booster. WAY TO GO JILLIETTE! AWESOME pace and nice work on the hills. Having them at the end of the run is such a challenge but you did it. You didn't even need the Cali sun either, sounds like your weather was perfect. Go enjoy the rest of your weekend with a smile; have that beer and Mexican food, you deserve it. Big hugs and congrats,
meg(did you know there's another megsie blogger?-do you think that's me and I'm her? I told her I liked her nickname...so confused now! Who am I? :)

Jennifer said...

Awesome long run and fun to read post. Good running friends are like diamonds; priceless! Cheers!

Chris said...

Very nice long run. It always helps me to run with faster company, and it's great that Matt helped you out. Sounds like a great new course for a long run. Nice and warm there in Denver, that's awesome too.

Denise said...

GREAT job!! Sounds like a challenging run and you nailed it! With a fast pace, too.

I'm with you, I always think about what I'll blog about while I'm running and then when I sit down to type, I got nothing.

onelittletrigirl said...

I totally relate to thinking about my blog while running...and biking...and swimming...and pretty much always! I try to jot notes down so I dont forget or I start a post and just wait until I am ready to write. At this moment, I have 6 half-done posts. :)

Run Jess Run said...

Congrats on a great run!! Runs like that is why we all do this!

Julie said...

Hi Jill,
I totally forgot that you are from Denver!! I spent so much time there when I was a flight attendant! I loved shopping down town and people watching!! At that time Minneapolis did not have a Cheesecake Factory so we would always stop there and get our sugar fix:)

It sounds that you had a great run!! Your splits were awesome you speedy chick!! You are going to give Boston "Hell"!! Go Jill:)

ShutUpandRun said...

A great run for you. I live near Denver and I've run in those places you talk about, so it was fun to read your post. Are you thinking of doing the Denver Rock 'n Roll in October?

shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama said...

I thought I already left you a comment on this...my day has been crazy! Ugh!

I am jealous of your great run. I am looking at getting on the treadmill at 9 p.m....I am hoping to get 15 miles in now. A total rain out all day. This is when it gets hard. Cold I can deal with but rain makes everyone tell me I shouldn't be outside. grrrr nosey family members. ;-)

Staci Dombroski said...

Great job on the run!!! I am amazed at the pace :-)

Slomohusky said...

congrats! sounds like a happy run! take care and thanks for sharing the new title shot of Denver.

Marlene said...

Congrats on the 17-miler! Nothing like a great buddy and a new route. Nice pace!!!

L.B. said...

Great recap. What a fantastic run!

Can I borrow your legs to see what it feels like to run that fast?

C2Iowa said...

Nice on the 17. +LB - I would like to see what it is like to go that fast. BTW - the new page looks good.

onebadrunner said...

OMG!! I saw the post and thought "Jill got the shoes!!"
Aren't they the best!?!? I officially have two waiting for when the new ones are past their prime. So...5 pair of the same shoes in this house. I have to date them or I'll be a mess.
PS - love the new look!

Katie A. said...

That recap was great! I felt like I was right there with you! SOOOOO proud of you girly! You did amazing! I REALLY need a running partner for the long runs - they are killing me right now. Even with the hubbs on the bike next to me, it's not the same - misery loves company! Wanna move to NorCal? Maybe in July I won't let you leave :)
I am with you, along with everyone else, I always have an entire post in my head when I am done running - then I get home to write and am blank! ((((huggss))))