Running smart

My sister-in-law is running the Mercedes Half today.  Gun goes off in about 20 minutes.  She’s trained hard for this.  She is also, in what is becoming almost a tradition, sick.

She ran our first half marathon three years ago injured.  She had to stop at mile 8.  Couldn’t walk another step, much less run one.  She had injured her hip flexor during training for the race and it took several months of doing nothing afterward to allow her body to heal.

She ran Chicamauga this past November sick but she PR’d, so …  As I said, she’s again sick and standing at the starting line of the Mercedes.  Kym, if you’re reading this: I hope you achieve your goal today, that you had fun … and that you’ll take the next few days off to let your body rest & get well.

While she will begin a race injured or ill, actually witnessing what she went through is my constant reminder to take no chances.  Three months after our first half, I was training for my next race when I twisted wrong at work two weeks before the big day.  Two days before the race at packet pickup, my back was spasming.  Turning in my timing chip was the hardest thing I ever had to do.  That is until I had to repeat the timing chip turn-in when I was dealing with foot issues in the months leading up to the first Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio.  I spoke with every foot specialist I could at the expo the day before that race.  Not a one of them recommended I show up at the starting line.  I listened to them and tearfully threw away my racing bib.

In the long run, I’m glad I didn’t start either race.  I know my body and I know my heart.  Very much like my sister-in-law, my heart would have continued to push my body through the pain and who knows what kind of injuries I would have sustained if I started either of those races?  Anybody that knows me will tell you, if I start something, I don’t stop until I’m finished.

My sister-in-law is the same way.  I know it killed her to not finish that first half, which is why I tempered my euphoria as much as I could after I finished 2 minutes faster than I had anticipated.  While I didn’t know exactly how she was feeling emotionally, I could imagine.

*** ~ ***

I’ve started training, although half-heartedly at this point, for my next half-marathon.  Half-heartedly because 1) it’s rained A LOT in the last three weeks meaning I’ve been out running twice since the middle of January; and 2) November is still pretty far off.  It looks like the weather just might be working in my favor this week and so I’ll get out as much as I can before the next rain fronts blow through the area. Although November is 9 months away, it will be here before I know it.

My goal for my next half is to run it.  I’ll train to run the whole 13.1 but in the words of Bart Yasso, “Even if you train to run the whole thing and you end up walking most or even all of it, the important thing is that you finished.”  I like Bart Yasso.  He and John Bingham are my heroes.  Oh yeah, and the pleasant and encouraging voice of Robert Ullery on my Couch-to-5k podcasts that I don’t leave home without.

I was talking to a colleague the other day about running and she said something that I have already been practicing.  Even if I wasn’t already doing it, I wouldn’t refute this wisdom: “Lisa, you’re not 18 anymore.  Listen to your body.  Adjust your running to prevent even the slightest injury.  Women our age get injured easier & we take longer to heal.”  She’s a few years older than me and started running at the very same age I am now.  She has also remained predominately injury-free through countless 5 and 10ks.

*** ~ ***

Why did I start running?  Good question.  I know Hub wonders, especially since I have said for years that I’m a walker not a runner.

No, it wasn’t to try to keep up with my sister-in-law.  I may have had a fleeting dream of running beside her one day rather than to always watch her back as she heads off in front of me but the reality is she & I are motivated by two totally different reasons.

I started running because I wanted to see if I could.  I can run, albeit my distances are short … for now.  But I can run and when Ullrey says “Good job!” at the end of each podcast, I have to agree with him.  Bonus: I don’t hate running like I used to say I did.  Kind of like a little kid with veggies.  They hate ’em until they try ’em.

My 50th birthday is a little over 3.5 years away.  I want to celebrate breaking the age barrier by finishing a full marathon.  A lofty goal?  Perhaps to some.  But in the words of another of my colleagues, “Lisa, you show no fear when it comes to difficult situations.  You tackle them head-on and it’s amazing to watch.”

26.2 by my 50th?  See you at the finish line!

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