>Running on Empty

21 Jan

>I’ve decided to re-start my running ‘career.’ At age 39. And it should be just fine since my career to date has been less than inspiring. Speed-wise and stick-to-it-wise. After almost 20 years of alternating between sucking eggs on very small hills/wishing I could take a swing at anyone who mentioned running and feeling the unbelievable high of a great run under a blue-bird Colorado sky — I’m ready to try again. Needless to say, I’ve had a fickle relationship with the sport since I started. And quit. And started again.

I took a running class to satisfy my PE credit my junior year at Carolina and had to go through the torture of walking 4 minutes and running 1 then repeat (4 times) just to run a mile without stopping. At the end of the semester, I was hooked with mixed feelings. Back in those days I could induce myself to suck it up and keep going by repeating the mantra “no pain, no gain” because I was sure that I could feel my thighs melting off the harder I went. I was literally a twig and liked to think it was because I was such a great runner. But you can’t stay looking like Twiggy when you only run a 12-minute mile. (I had also completely cut out fat grams and would only eat sugar-free candy. Psycho.)

I kept at it off and on through the years in spite of a skiing injury to my knee that occurred the first time I hit the slopes. (Long story.) And in spite of the insane heat of South Carolina in the summer. I also tried to keep at it when bursitis hit my ankle. And every other myriad excuse that came along.

Once we moved to Boulder — the running mecca of the universe — my love/hate hit a new high. I started running 10Ks. (You can’t live in Boulder and hold your head up if you don’t at least try to run the Bolder Boulder.) This whole time, mind you, I was being passed. High-fived by old geezers in their neon spandex get-ups. “Keep going! YOU CAN DO IT!” I wanted to stick a foot out, watch them topple and say, “GET UP! YOU CAN DO IT!”

Then, I actually finished one of the Bolder Boulders in under 60 minutes (meaning I now had a 9 in my mile minutes), so I had a little gloat time after that — hey, maybe I’m getting faster. I even did a mini-triatholon. But that involved a bike ride with a chain incident too, so let’s just forget that, shall we?

Then I decided to take on a half-marathon. Get up at 5 am and head to south Denver to run through an office park for 13.1 miles. Fun times. I tried to pretend that the office buildings were canyon walls. The only thing that made me finish was the beer at the end. And I did okay. I shocked my friend who had finished way ahead of me even. When he saw me he said, “Wow! I thought you’d take A LOT longer than that.” Then the guy at the next booth (beside the beer) opened his fat mouth and said, “have you ever gotten plantar fasciitis?” I said no and then proceeded to get it.

So, orthotics later — I was back at it again. With a vengeance. Some friends and I decided to tackle…a marathon. In Boulder, where every other person is a century runner (meaning they run 100 miles in desert heat because they think it’s fun) or are training for Imogene (cue Purse Girl), I was pretty impressed with myself. I took to the training in earnest in spite of a grueling travel schedule for work and a hubby who thought I had lost it.

I attended my first Hash Run in Marin County, got up before meetings to run the boardwalk in Newport Beach or hit the hotel treadmill in Detroit. Then, I’d come back to Colorado and the hubby would follow me on his bike — headlamp lighting our way — while I tried to get in 10 miles at Teller Farm. There were also those longer runs where I’d call in to my boss, beg for the morning off and hit South Boulder Creek Trail with my friends. We’d exchange Seinfeld episode anecdotes to keep us going. I would then go home and puke my guts out in the shower. Or that other time when we had a century runner as our guide for the 20-mile training run and I proceeded to puke and run upright. Glorious days those.

I did finish the stupid thing at a less-than-stellar 5:26. But, hey, I finished and didn’t end up in the med tent like some people I know. I proceeded to the Gaslamp Quarter (we were in San Diego for the first ever Rock-n-Roll Marathon) and ended my two years of vegetarianism with a chicken fried steak. Yum. You really just have to eat protein if you’re a runner.

After that, I pretty much quit (running AND my job). I was so sick of running and having to slurp that nasty Gu that kept me from puking and just the whole thing. And I became self-employed. I did a little running, but mostly spent the next couple of years fattening up in preparation for my first baby. It would’ve sucked to go into motherhood all skinny and expecting to stay that way.

Every now and then, I dabble. I’ve run a 10K or two. I bought the jog strollers. The amazing BOB. Two of ‘em. I’ve registered and paid for the New York Marathon three times. And then dropped out. I’ve bought Brooks running shoes by the boatload — renewing them every six months or so just like I did in the old days. So I can’t say that running hasn’t been on my mind. Every year in May, Miss 8-i-TUDE’s elementary school does a Fitness Club two days a week to prepare for the Bolder Boulder (I told you this town was rabid.) And I go and drag along Bean in the BOB and suck eggs while I push that damnable stroller up the biggest ass hills in South Boulder (besides the mountain trails). I smile and breathe rapidly and try to pretend I’m fine while all of those svelte little moms wave and smile and try to pretend they aren’t attending my pity party with me. Meanwhile I’m pretty sure my ass is jiggling to the beat of Jay-Z. “I got 99 problems…and a bitch ain’t one. Hit me!”

But now I’m back. Injuries be damned. I’ve been at it for three whole weeks and I just know this one is gonna stick. I even did 5 miles last weekend with the hubby in an astounding 1 hour and 5 minutes. Or maybe by talking about it I’ve just jinxed myself straight into a life of water aerobics…

TODAY’S THEME SONG: Keep the Car Running. Arcade Fire. They know my name cause I told it to them. But they don’t know where and they don’t know when. It’s coming…


2 Responses to “>Running on Empty”

  1. Meta Megan January 21, 2010 at 11:52 pm #

    >This post simultaneously makes running sound terrible, and yet. makes me want to do it. Good work! Fortunately the feeling didn't last long, and I am sticking with my bad knee excuse, PurseGirl be dammed.


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