Why Do I Run?!

 

Oh, hey guys!

Long time, no talk (well, actually, long time, no one-sided conversation with myself). And WHOSE fault is that?! Oh, right, mine…

So here’s the scoop. It turns out that when you’re training for a race, working, and desperately attempting to have a life, it’s a challenge to find time to do things like writing in a blog about the aforementioned race training. It became one of those situations where you put something off and then as you keep putting it off for longer and longer, it becomes more and more of a challenge to get back on track.

Here we are, just one week and one day away from my first half marathon, and it’s been weeks since I’ve written. Inspiration simply did not come, no matter how hard I tried to summon it. Not until today, that is.

I was dragging my feet at the idea of going on an ACTUALLY long run, especially because I am on vacation. However, the day of the race loomed overhead, serving as an ominous warning that I’d better keep up my training if I wanted to succeed during my first half marathon. I told my inner dialogue to shut up but still heeded its advice, somewhat motivated by my two cousins, ages 10 & 13, who decided to tag along and act as my entourage.

Before recording my run with Strava, (because if you don’t, it means the run never happened) I was choosing a playlist on Spotify and I selected my go-to for runs, one called “Why the Hell am I Doing This?” (it’s a good motivator). My 13-year-old cousin read the name of the playlist and chuckled, and as we began our run (actually, I was running and my cousins were being wusses and biking), she said “so…why the H-word DO you run?”

In spite of being asked that question many times by others and myself, I never pondered the answer as thoroughly as I did right then. I was momentarily silent, trying to concoct some sort of honest answer, but I came up with nothing. “I’ll let you know around mile four,” I said.

Every step I took, I reflected on my time running over the past years and especially on my recent reconnection with the activity. I thought about how puzzling people found the fact that I ran so much, and participated in so many races, yet spoke about running so negatively about 90% of  the time. I complained almost constantly about the running-associated knee pain. I whined about the boredom induced by a treadmill. My inner self kicked and screamed like a spoiled child when I dragged it on a run almost every day. Yet in spite of all this…I haven’t stopped.

Mile four rolled around and my mind was blank. The “Running Pro/Con List” in my brain was, in reality, a “Con” list. This time it was the 10-year-old who asked me. He slowed down on his bike to wait for me, and asked why I run. I told him that I like getting the T-shirts at the end. I mean, it wasn’t a total lie; I do enjoy the “swag” they give you that feels free but isn’t actually because of the insane cost of registration. So, the thinking cap went right back on.

My goal had been to run 7 miles. It seemed excruciating until about mile 4.5, when I was overcome with this feeling of wellbeing (I know, I know, runner’s high), and I felt like running 7 would be a piece of cake. I was jamming out hard core to the “Why the Hell am I Doing This?” playlist, and suddenly it came to me. It was right there, in that moment, where I was in the zone and doing something honestly challenging for me both mentally and physically that I felt strong. Not just physically, but mentally.

It’s one thing to get myself climbing or mountain biking. I love to do the things about which I am passionate, yet it seems to be even more rewarding to accomplish that which you find truly difficult; that you honestly wonder if you can actually do. For me, that thing is running. When I cross a finish line, I feel epically spent but simultaneously motivated. As I continue to participate in races, I continue to break down barriers and accomplish goals I didn’t even know I had. It’s true that I often wonder why the hell I run, and I’m glad my inspiring little cousin (who’s not so little anymore) planted that seed of thought in my mind. After she did, and after I finished not just 7 miles but over 8 (yeah, I got a little lost), I couldn’t help but feel accomplished and motivated anew.

Now, I know why I run. Either that, or I am experiencing runner’s high big time. Not to mention I had a really rocking playlist for motivation. Either way…half marathon, here I come!

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6.2 Miles: Long Distance in Longmont

Ok, so here’s the deal- I am not Hermione Granger, and therefore I don’t possess a time turner. If you don’t understand that reference, stop reading this blog and go read Harry Potter instead, or at least watch the movie. I guess you’d have to watch and/or read the first three though to get to the aforementioned time turner reference. I’ll wait.

All caught up? Good. It’s about time. You’re welcome by the way for introducing you to the magical world of Harry Potter. So back to the point- I am not Hermione Granger, and thus do not possess a time turner, so I can only fit so much into my schedule. Trying to write about EVERY single run I do leading up to my half marathon will do nothing but drive me insane. So, I’ll just give you the highlights. Try to hide your disappointment, will you??

Last weekend I ran a 10K in Longmont with the Endurance Racing Series. I could lie to you and say it was a phenomenal experience that changed my entire perspecitve on running and changed me as a person. But, that would be, as I just said, a lie.

It was early, although not nearly as early as some races. Yet waking up to a 6:45 alarm after a night of not-too-great sleep is a challenge. For me, at least. Maybe not for you. I finally got going after a few snooze cycles (is there anyone in the universe who actually gets up without snoozing??) and barely made it to the race start at 7:45 in Longmont, Colorado. My thought process throughout went something like “is this over yet?” on repeat followed by silence because of my exhaustion followed my my realization towards the end of the race that my upcoming half marathon was TWICE as long. Twice.

Will I survive?

Good news: the race packet for this 10K was amazing. A $40 gift card to a spa, coupons, and a really good shirt. It seems like a lot of races are all about the shirt. Anyways, here are the only pictures I took:

2.9 Miles: All Aboard the Struggle Bus

Yeah this run was… yeah. See the title. I ran with the pup again, although this time he was off leash. Yes, I am THAT irresponsible person. No but really, he was way more tolerable a running a partner when he was off leash, and he actually listened when I told him to stay or stop attacking the other runners (that last command was a joke, which I feel the need to point out so that no one reports me for allowing a dog to attack runners).

It was hot out, I was running on empty as I hadn’t built up proper energy stores by means of enough sleep, the dog was making me feel inadequate because of my running pace, and I accidentally stopped recording my run part of the way through meaning my distance wasn’t accurately measured anyways. My music was kind of okay I guess. It got me through. Hey, want to look at some pretty pictures?! I thought you’d never ask.

 

 

4.2 Miles: Wild Kingdom

I don’t know what to name this run. Maybe that should be the name of the run. Clearly I am feeling very creative (sarcasm). Man, I have been procrastinating writing this blog for so long. Now they are starting to stack up, I’m so behind! HELP!! Okay self, calm down, this is literally not a big deal at all. Okay self, thanks for the reminder. Okay, I am nice and calm now. So where was I? Oh yes, my 4.2 mile run from like four days ago now…

Oh! I just thought of a name for this run! I ran with a dog and I saw a huge fat toad on the trail so…wild kingdom? Yup, sounds good. The dog is so fast it is almost degrading. He and I stopped briefly near the creek, and guess who got bitten by a million skeeters? Not me! Just kidding, it was most definitely me. Seymour escaped unscathed by mosquitos (actually, I cannot confirm that…), but I was not so lucky. After the mosquito creek stop, we continued on, my confidence in my running ability waning with each step as I compared my stride to that of a dog (because that totally makes sense). At one point, I saw something lying on the trail but thought it was a rock, and I squealed like a little girl when it started hopping and I realized it was a fat, lumpy amphibian. I didn’t even know we had those here.

I felt super terrible and wanted the run to end for about a mile as usual, and then things got way better so I ended up running farther than planned, which hardly happens. Must have been my killer awesome playlist!

 

3.8 Miles: Holy Humidity!

So remember those ominous clouds I mentioned in my previous post? Well, they rolled back with a vengeance this morning, saturating the entire sky with their darkness. Wow, that sounded depressing. I guess I am just not used to grey skies living here in sunny Colorado. For some reason, I had trouble coming to the realization that it would rain later (because generally, clouds equal rain. It is simple weather math…) until I looked at the forecast.

Around three or four in the afternoon the heavenly flood gates burst open. The rain was relatively heavy until around 6:00, which worked out perfectly because the Flatirons Running Company Fun Run (which I generally write as a “fun” run, but today it was actually pretty fun so I can nix the quotations [because they indicate that fun is sarcastic]) 5K started at 6:15.

Holy humidity, it felt like running through soup. I was probably being sensitive, however; we are used to bone-dry air here in Colorado. At the start of the run, I felt aggravated, and feared that I would lash out and punch someone in my nearby radius. I am currently dog sitting for a friend, and brought Seymour with on the run. I bestowed upon my coworker of running alongside the canine athlete, whose running speed made me feel terrible about my own. When I was running at almost max speed, panting and wheezing for air, Seymour looked like he was walking at a comfortable pace.

I will say that this run went rather well. Around the first mile and a half or so I began to feel that familiar and unwelcome tinge of knee pain, but I surpassed it and it didn’t end up developing into anything debilitating. I found a comfortable pace, felt amped up by my music, and allowed my body to flow through the soupy air for 3.8 miles.

3.4 Mile: Mosquito Log

The run of the day hung over me like an ominous storm cloud. Ominous storm clouds also hung over my day like ominous storm clouds, so I decided to get my 3-ish mile run over with before the aforementioned ominous clouds expelled their ominous rain. Yes, I just took the record for most times ominous has been used in two sentences.

On Sunday, I enjoyed a run that was so pleasant I was suspicious of it. Every time I started to feel good, I gave myself shifty eyes (an expression that isn’t easy too give to yourself) and questioned my motives. Like, “hey brain, what makes you think you should be feeling good?! We are on a RUN. How stupid ARE you?!” Yet in spite of this positive run experience, I still dreaded the run on Monday. Sunday’s run was, after all, an anomaly and nothing more.

When the sky started to darken, I took its threat for rain more seriously. I told my coworkers of my goal to run 3.2 miles since I did 3.1 the day before. Then, I walked down the office stairs and out the door, measuring my run with Strava and trying to amp myself up with some pumpin’ jams. Then my shoelace came untied. I was not off to a great start. I ran over the bridge up South Boulder road, and turned at the gate. My internal dialogue sounded something like this:

“Wow, this seriously sucks, this seriously sucks, this seriously sucks… but remember how awesome this felt yesterday? Ugh, now the fact that I had a SINGLE great run means I am going to forever feel disappointed when I’m not having a great one…how annoying. Hm, I guess I should stop at some point to try and awkwardly take some self-timer photos to post on my new blog… ok that area looks good. Holy crap has it really only been .1 miles?! Okay, I’m not going to look down at my watch until it’s been 1 mile. WHAT?? It’s been forever since I looked and it’s only been .2?! HOW is that possible!? I was hoping this song was going to be more inspiring… I need a better playlist.”

When I DID stop to take a photo I did so right next to the creek, and I propped my phone up against a tree trunk that ended up being FULL of mosquitos. So that was fun. You all better appreciate the awkward photo of me with my weird sorority girl arm below, because I incurred at least 20 skeeter bites because of it.

Oh, Hello There!

Hello reader. It is lovely to digitally meet you! My name is Marisa. I don’t LOVE to talk about myself, so I’ll limit myself to a brief intro. I live in Boulder, Colorado and am an avid climber, guinea pig owner, traveler, writer, and former runner slowly transforming into a current runner. Emphasis on SLOWLY.

I recently began working for a company based here in Boulder called Stryd. We make power meters for running. Visit our website to learn more! Wow, that got a little promotional…sorry guys. Now that I work with runners, I figured I may as well convert back into a runner again myself. A couple of years ago, it was rare for me to go a single day without running. Then, I developed knee pain and put running on the back burner except for running the Bolder Boulder 10K every year with my dad for the sake of tradition. A regular yoga practice alleviated some of the aforementioned knee pain, but not enough so that I could run more than 3 miles or so without pain.

Back to the present moment. On a bit of a whim last week, I signed up for about five races; mostly 10Ks, but also a half marathon. Yes. A HALF MARATHON. That’s like, half of a full marathon!! What was I thinking?! It is a few months away, but it can take that long just for the body to adjust to the stress of running. Goodie. Somehow, my knees have been handling this whole almost daily running situation quite well. I expected them to plan a mutiny against me, but at least up until now they haven’t. I probably just jinxed it!

So, I’d like to invite you to follow along on my training journey. It won’t be easy. It won’t be fun. Just kidding, I expect it to be at least a LITTLE fun. It will be more fun if I am accompanied by a digital cheer squad (which you are part of, just FYI). Who’s in?!