I ran for the first time in over a week yesterday. With less than two months to go before the next ½ marathon I was worried to find that the 3 mile run was much harder than I expected. Just like with any workout, if you spend extended time away from running it basically feels like you are starting over. My absence from running was not a result of laziness, but rather, the consequence of having a cold. As I mark off the days on the calendar leading to the next big run I have been faced with one reality, running the ½ marathon is probably not going to be as easy as I thought.
The act of preparing for my first outdoor run in a while was met with confusion. I could not, for the life of me, remember what it is I needed to take. I nearly forgot my water bottle, which would have likely played tricks with my mind and led to, what I like to call, “overactive dry mouth.” This occurs when water fails to enter the mouth in proper intervals. The mind realizes the lack of moistness and causes slight irritation to the throat. The feeling is intensified when one obsesses over the lack of water in direct sight and leads to heightened throat irritation or even
death slower running. Needless to say, I miss my water like a child misses their blanket. (No, I didn’t steal that. Ok, I never had a favorite blanket. Mine was a pillow.) Thus, water is always a necessity for me even on short runs.
Just as I was walking out the door I remembered another important item, my cap. I could go on and on about the beauty of wearing a cap. Not only does it shade your face and keep it free of sweat in the hot summer months, but it also provides substantial warmth in the winter. If I had forgotten my cap I would have forgotten what it meant to look like an experienced runner. I mean, really, you can’t tell me people are not impressed when I run by them with my Nike Dri-Fit cap. It just screams, “RUNNER.” Sometimes I even point at the Nike swoosh as I run by people just in case they didn’t notice. I don’t even say a word. I just point, smile and give a nod that says, “I know. I know.” And maybe even a little wink. When I smile I think my teeth actually give off a quick sparkle like in those toothpaste commercials, at least I would like to think so. Well, not if I am suffering from overactive dry mouth at the time.
When I arrived at the park I realized I had forgotten the most important thing, my shorts! No, I did not forget my shorts, but I could have. Actually, I have done so in many dreams. Fortunately I was fully clothed. However, I noticed I was missing one important item, my watch! This simple little instrument fits around my wrist and often whispers little soliloquies regarding my slow pace. I eventually use the harsh words for motivation after I wipe my tears. Sure it can be cruel in that it never stops timing me nor moves slower when my legs lack energy. I must admit, since it was my first run in over a week I didn’t miss my little
The run itself was a struggle. I sort of reached a “what the hell” moment along the way. The first mile, although a bit slower than usual, was met with a wide smile and an exuberant amount of energy. Then, as my second mile was finishing I noticed my legs sluggishly slapping against the pavement. I knew I was possibly running too fast, but without my watch I had no way to gage my speed. My problem is that I do not know how to jog. Jogging might as well be absent from my internal dictionary. I know how to run in two ways, fast and faster. Rachel can surely attest to this. I usually have her there to make me scale back my runs and learn to pace myself. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring her on my run as well. I told you I was forgetting everything. In all honesty she was at home nursing a cough so I knew it would be up to me to pace myself correctly. As I said before, I don’t know what jogging means so I am sure I went well above an acceptable speed. When I finished it felt like I had run three smiles for the first time in over a month. It had literally only been eleven days.
In the end I was so proud of myself for running hard. Yes it was far from being easy, but I stuck with it and finished. It made me realize how important it is to keep running every week in order to stay in running shape. There was a point when I said, “Oh my gosh, how did I ever run a ½ marathon?” But, then I finished and I knew it just takes time and effort. You are going to have runs that you are not proud of. There are going to be some days when you stop because you just can’t go anymore. The important thing is that you keep running. Find inspiration anywhere you can.
Last night, after my discouraging run, I noticed I received an email from a fellow runner, Joe Martella. He informed me that he had started a new site called Running by Joe and that he decided to start running after reading my site. As I read his words I was filled with an immense amount of excitement. The funny thing is, he was telling me that I inspired him and yet I was the one feeling inspired. I started my site with the hope of inspiring at least one person to sign up for a race and experience the same life changing feelings Rachel and I have, because it really makes you look at life differently. Knowing that Joe decided to make that change and attempt to run his first 5k in February (Track his journey here) inspired me to get over my bad run and move forward. We are all in this together and thus it is important to support and push each other. My run was hard and there are going to be harder ones ahead, but, I am going to keep running. Today I am inspired by Joe, tomorrow, well, who knows. But, I know I will continue to be inspired by someone or something.
What inspires you to run?