Thursday, December 07, 2006

Still here, still running . ..

Nothing like training for a marathon and then finding yourself on the other side of that marathon much fitter, much faster. December though, is always my downfall.

I was never a runner until I was 27. I was one of those: I'll-run-when-chased-and-only-then-if-it-is-really-necessary kind of people. Not to mention I was a social smoker too. Running quickly put an end to that. Still a social drinker though. Everyone needs a vice, you know. Just keeping it real, you know.

The reason I started running was mostly for my vanity. I was recently engaged. I wanted to look fit and pretty at my wedding. Unlike most of my friends, who when they got engaged they were able to hire personal trainers to achieve the same goal, I was a poor graduate student. I couldn't afford a gym membership and with a full course load and 2 jobs running was the only thing flexible enough for my schedule. I ran because it was a last resort.

I have to admit that I really envy those runners who've been at it since high school. I guess if I have a regret it might be that I didn't start running earlier. I know that it is totally gay but I really do regret never going out for track or cross country in high school. My gymnastic coach had even encouraged me to do so but no way-- I hated running. I wanted to do flips and splits. I thought running was so dumb. I comfort myself now by thinking I probably would have suffered an injury or burn out if I'd started any younger.

Oh well, it is what it is.

Six months after I started running I ran my first race, which was the Atlanta half marathon at Thanksgiving. Every year the half has always been my goal to work towards until last year and this past year when I stepped up to a full marathon. Then every year in December I always take time off--or rather, not "off" but cut back. I usually start running in earnest in the spring when it is warmer and I have found my jeans are getting tight. Usually around the time I finish off the last of the Samoas.

This year though I have set my goal for the GA ING marathon in March and I am loath to let all this good training go to waste. My plan was to take December and try to focus on speed and run about 30 miles per week. I wasn't planning on tackling any run longer than 10 miles until January.

But I am finding that I need my long runs. I miss them. I'll run 5 or 6 miles and think; that's it? Last week I ran 12 and it was very nice, leisurely even. I didn't wear my watch but just ran and thought and ran. It was comforting. Yesterday I tried a new route and it proved quite punishing with many the hills. I did wear my watch and the course surprised me by being just over 16 miles. What surprised me most though was that it was 16 miles at an 8:45 pace and it was pretty easy. Not easy in that it was effortless but I felt light, relaxed. (Sore as heck after though-- my ass is hurting! Damn hills.) I didn't even bring any water with me and only had 2 shock blocks. I stopped around 6 miles and grabbed a little water at the fountain at a gas station. Normally on long runs I always carry my fuel belt and drink a lot.

I didn't feel done when I was done, but I had to be done. I could have kept going but I had other, more pressing things to do. I have to be honest here and say I really am feeling a little wayward and pretty overwhelmed these days.
Is it the holidays?
Post marathon blues?
Or just the devastating sadness at the loss of Evan?
I don't know.
All of the above?
This is just a hard time of year anyway. It can be really joyous but I just don't feel a part of that-- at all this year. I want to and I am trying but I'm not feeling it. At all.

And I don't know.
Part of me feels like it is a bad idea to start another training cycle not even a month after a marathon but I think that is what I have done and maybe what I need to do right now. I really don't know what to do. I worry that I am setting myself up for a lot of frustration since I know I won't be able to set and/or meet weekly goals with all that December seems to demand. And not meeting my goals will bring me even further down. I do aim low for a reason. I like to succeed and setting the bar low is definitely one way to do that. However you can get your ego boost, I say.

So what is a girl to do?

Currently, I am thinking I am going to shoot for 40 miles a week and try to do one long run a week of 2 or more hours. That might be doable. It never has been in the past for this time of year but I am a more efficient runner so maybe I can do it now.

Okay, so I need to hear how everyone else's training/races have gone/ are going. And post your race plans for the spring too. I don't care if I know you or not. I want to hear it.

--Bruce, best wishes at LV marathon this weekend. I read somewhere that the weather is not in your favor. I hope that changes. You've been a great cheerleader for me so I'll definitely be thinking of you and hoping you have a great race. BQ is yours for the getting.
--Steph, are you ready for Disney? You've been a bit quiet. I know your knee has been frustrating but I think you will be fine. What about Joe--how is his training going? If he did 1:40 a month ago in a half I am sure he can expect 3:35 at Disney.
--Anne, Camille--any future race plans?
--Charlie, have you done your marathon yet? What do you need to BQ?
--Jason, what are your plans? Will you do the GA ING? I think you should. But then I want everyone I know to do the half or the full.
--Lala, Pop, Bubbles, Vinton, Pookie, Danielle and anyone else I have forgotten are you ready to start your training program for the half?
--Poppy, can I count on you to join me for the full?
--Meme, can't let baby sister be fitter than you. . .
--Tracy? the half, the full?
--What about you Paul and hey, Wes, you too. How about you boys put your bikes down and come get a real workout.
--Hunter? I know you run too. . .
Who else is up for the challenge?

Let's hear it.


  1. Hi!

    So, you said you wanted to hear it.. So here it is. I am running a 10k resolution run new years eve, then a half in may, then a full in September. yes. That is the plan!

    Glad to hear your still here and still running! Stay sane, and keep hanging in there.


  2. Howdy! Yup, the weather may not be the best this year for my marathon, the extended forcast says we might even get showers!! Vegas rarely gets showers. What's next hail storms, tornadoes up the Strip, earthquakes at Mirage's volcano, tsunami at Treasure Island's lagoon??? Anyway, I'm already planning a half-marathon race in March or April (maybe the Salt Lake City Half Marathon)...planning another race is my tactic of avoiding those dreaded post-marathon blues...just jump on that saddle and ride. Happy trails, Bruce

  3. I'm up to 5 miles 3x a week, which is on-track to the pre-race goal (from the orthopaedist) of 6 miles 3x a week to enable me to finish Disney. 5 miles of flats/flattish is pain-free, so I'm optimistic that I can finish the race, even if I have to stay at 10 min/mile. Faster hurts so I'll have to abandon my time goals for this race.

    I plan to do the GA ING half in March as you suggested. I hope to be in better shape by continuing the 6 miles 3x a week, but extending the long run until I can get to the race distance (like a real program, imagine that!). Virginia is running it too.

  4. Tiger, that sounds like a great race plan. September for a full would make my training way too hot. Hopefully your summers are much cooler than ours. I too will be looking for a 10k in Jan or Feb. What a great way to ring in the New Year!

    Bruce, I certainly hope you get nothing more than a few light showers and it is not too cold at the very least. Let me advise you to dress light as heavy wet clothes bite and do nothing to keep you warm. You might even think of having someone meet you around the 20 mile mark for some dry shoes. That last 10k in wet shoes is hell.
    I think a half is an excellent idea. I was glad to have mine after the race but now I need another as ING is very far off. I love half marathons.

    Steph, since this is your first half you really shouldn't worry too much about time. Go out slow and push it at the end. Even if you can't be fast a negative split will be a great accomplishment. If it helps, when I ran my first half the longest run I had ever done was 7 miles. I had had tendonitis and a slight sprain in my foot the month before. I still managed a sub 2 hour finish--barely but not bad for a freshman effort. Race day magic will get you through.

    Good luck to all.

  5. Hi Natalie! :o)

    Just a little history...since you don't know me. I started running again to lose some weight after being sedentary for a couple of years after retiring from the military and gained over 20 lbs. My initial goal was to lose some pounds and get fit. Then my goal was to do the Marine Corps Marathon...this was about five years ago...but...I messed up one of my knees rollerblading with my girls and there went the dreams of doing the MCM. This spring, the knee felt normal again and I started running a bit. This September, I registered for a local inaugural half marathon (The Dismal Swamp Stomp in April 2007) and knew I would need to actually do some type of training if I wanted to do well...the competitive side of me always wants to do better than just finish. By October, five miles 4-5 days a week was the norm and I started looking for races. The first was an inaugural half marathon put on by the military base in Norfolk. My lofty goal was to finish with a time of time was 1:45:58. But this first race taught me a few things. First...don't go out fast. I went out with the 1:30 pace group thinking I would go out fast for the first half and coast the second to meet or beat my goal. As most seasoned distance runners know...that is bad strategy. I ended up slowing down way too far down than I wanted with calf cramps around the 12 mile mark. I had never stopped in a run before...these cramps made me stop to stretch and massage them out not once but 3-4 times...but I made it to the finish just a few seconds over my goal. Second...don't under estimate girls (women)...that's why your shirt...Run Like a Girl...made me smile. Macho me thought I could beat ANY girl...the last half all these girls were passing me up like I was standing irritated the heck out of me and humbled me...but by the end of the race...I had a very healthy respect for female runners. Finally...I was hooked on racing...The next day I was looking for another race to run locally. I found the OBX half and full and wanted to do either but the registration was already closed. I entered the Richmond Marathon...and failed goal was under 4 hrs...ideally 3:45. Another lesson learned...a person needs more than a couple of months to run a marathon...anyone can finish a marathon, but only the few can run a marathon and that takes training. It was abnormally hot that day...about 70 at the start and around 80 at finish and there were hills. Here in Chesapeake running up an on ramp is the hillest it gets here. I went out slower this time with the half in 1:55 but around the 15-16 mile mark, muscle cramps started up...first my quads (probably from the hills), then my calves and down to my toes. The last 10-11 miles was pure pain and misery...and I was tempted many of times to pack it in. I finished but not the way I had envisioned.

    Didn't mean for this to be this long...short ending...I just completed a local 10K last week(44:29) and have scheduled a 5K for next week. My plans for 2007...In the spring I will be competing in a distance series of 20K, 25K and 30K (about 3 weeks apart) in preparation for the Shamrock Marathon in March (Registered)...there is a "Whale" category where you run an 8K the first day and the marathon the next day...I'm doing it! April is the Dismal Swamp Stomp Half (Registered), Rock and Roll Half in September and finally the Marine Corps Marathon in October (someone is sending me a guarantied entry form this week :o) ). There will probably be other 10Ks and halves also...will pick and choose as they come up...I still want to do the OBX but that might have to wait till 2008. A very ambitious schedule...we'll see how it goes. Some where in one of those marathons is a BQ...mine is 3:35...I want it in the Shamrock to qualify for the 2008...I want to run like YOU girl! ;o)
    Glad you're back! Hope you are posting more.

    Happy Holidays!

  6. You know I don't normally read your running stuff (I want pics of the kids and funny stories about them)...but this morning I did.
    Hmmmm, is this you practicing for your new career that we discussed? Who's up for the challenge here?????

    I got to tell you...When I read this I thought you said, can't let babysitter be fitter than you. And I'm thinking, she's pregnant and was at least 20lbs overweight prior to that....What do you mean, fitter than me??? What the hell are you talking about? Then I realized it said sister. ha
    It's too early

  7. Charlie
    First, I think 3:35 will be yours this spring. I hope to do around the same at ING and with our half times, it won't necessary be easy, but I do think it is realistic.
    Second, I have learned when it comes to runners the cliche "don't judge a book by its cover" is never truer. I see runners toeing the start with me that I think look 10 times fitter only to see them falter early on and conversely, I will see others who look out of shape, older, whatever only to have them blow past me in the end. Case in point: While we were on the trail in the OBX this girl passed me. She was probably 10 years younger than me but looked about 15lbs heavier. She did not look like she was having an easy time of it at all. At only 9 miles in she was all red in the face. She looked to me like she was going out too fast. I was pissed when she passed me on the trail. So passed her again when we got out of the woods. Then she must have passed me at some point after that because when I finished I saw her standing there on her way out of the finish area. So I am guessing she finished about 5 minutes before me. Lesson here is that you just never know by looking at a runner what they are capable of.
    Third, running is deceiving in its simplicity. You think you can just go out and run but really, especially in distance running/racing, you have to have a strategy--and not only plan a but also plan b and plan c maybe even defg too. Distance running really teaches you about yourself and it is a life long learning curve.
    Fourth, with your ambitious race calendar I think you should start a blog--if you don't already have one--so that those of us who are interested (me) can keep up with your races and tribulations.

    Thanks for the long of the short of it. I always enjoy hearing/talking about running and listening to others' similar lofty pursuits.
    Glad you joined us!

  8. Dearest anonymous
    I have a friend at the gym who told me he was thinking of doing the full ING. I asked, maybe a little too eagerly, if he wanted me to help him get a training plan together for him and he told me no way that I am "too crazy" and would make it "too hard."
    So maybe I will have to rethink the career path. Or at least the approach. But no, this is not me practicing. Just trying to get everyone involved in something I love.
    I am still cracking up over your confusion.
    I promise to get some posts and pictures up of the kids soon.

  9. Well I found your site a while ago when I was searching for pictures of the Silver Comet Half (I finished a few min. behind you) and have been reading ever since. I have not posted, but since you asked...well here I am.

    I am going to run Disney this year (only my second marathon) and if I feel good afterwards I am thinking about doing the GA ING. Then I might talk my sister into Chicago in October. There it is, 3 marathons for the year. We'll see how it turns out.

  10. I guess I must be anonymous II.
    As I said - If Bubbles will try it then La La will too.
    LaLa is mighty low these days plus she's been sick and eating too much. Do you think there's hope? She IS an old lady you know, just ask Carmella.

  11. I took the ankle brace off last week of November, back to the pool last week, and expect to start training in earnest for the ING GA Marathon(!) in January. It'll only give me 12 weeks to get in shape. I try to do 16 weeks normally, but I tend to get up very quickly (base fitness YEAH!!) and I'd rather lose four weeks off the front end than burn out and lose them off the back. Plus I'm not too focused on going fast, just going.
    I'm tossing around the idea of doing the half at Tybee on Feb. 2, that would be a great ego-boosting race, and right on schedule (, lots o'fun! flat, fast, and at the beach!).
    Then in April, I've signed up for St. Anthony's Triathlon in St. Petersburg, FL. Third year in a row there. That is one of the best-run and most beautiful triathlons I've done in my seven year career (wow! seven years?!).
    Sheesh. This is less like a comment and more like a post of my own. And I think it will be...
    Good luck with your training. It can be very soothing. And it sounds like you need some. Keep your balance.

  12. Hi Elhers! Good luck at Disney and have a great race. I hope we see you at GA ING. 3 marathons in a year is awesome. Everyone always tells me I need to do Chicago but I really struggle on my long runs training in the 85 degree heat so I don't think it is in my future as I would need to be out there in July and August preparing. I am thinking Rocket City or St Judes next fall.
    Thanks for reading!

  13. Jason-- I am glad you will there for GA ING and think 12 weeks will be no problem for you at all. Plenty of time. I have heard the course is awesome so I am really excited.
    What sort of tri is St. Anthony's?
    I've been thinking about trying a tri in the summer. I've considered going big and shooting for a half iron for my first but that might be too ambitious. I'm a strong swimmer but pretty crappy on a bike. Any rec's for a good first tri?

  14. Dear Anonymous 2
    Bubbles said to get a few glasses of wine in her and then talk to her about it. I am now thinking we should get ShuShu on board too. I'll even make you guys special tshirts for the race.
    I definitely think the running will help the low feelings and will allow you to keep eating brownies and have a waist.
    Really, you need to quit your belly aching.
    Listen, I need you guys to take good care of yourselves. I need babysitters and I don't want you guys coming to live with me when you get really old.
    Hugs and kisses.

  15. You know I realized I left Tara and Dusty off my list and I definitely think you two need to be there running the half in March.
    And I know some of you are wondeirng about Ryan and I can't have him running because then there would be no one to watch the kids so I can run. That is why he is excused.

  16. Bubbles, ShuShu, LaLa, Pookie, Poppy, MeMe??? Must be Southern thing! :-) I think Ryan should watch all the kids and everyone run/walk! You all would have fun!

  17. Well-ShuShu too would be good. It all sounds so good on paper, something tells me the translation to actual running is a whole different matter. In my head I can still run like I did when I was 35, my knees know better. By the way, you're not giving me any credit for your running career. Remember when you came home from Georgia, shall we say, a tad bit over your usual weight and you were really sad? Your Mama said "Nat, running is what you need to be doing, it will solve both of your problems." And you did, and it did.

  18. anonymous 2
    You are right I am not giving you creidt. I will get right to work fashioning you a medal. But instead of a medal wouldn't rather you me just return the excellent advice: knees shmees, you can do it! Running is what you need to be doing; it won't slove all your problems but it sure will make you feel and look better. Today is going to be warm and nice. Go to the trail and run 6 miles. Make Dad go and run too. And then go get a tree.

  19. Charlie, it might be a southern thing but for the most part it is a Carmella thing.Or at the very least a grandkid thing.

  20. Of course! I can relate!

    Kids come up with the greatest names...and they seem to stick!

  21. hey Nat. It's weird to read that someone else found your site looking for pictures from the Silver Comet Half Marathon. That's how I found your site! I ran the Silver Comet as well, but I finished a long time after you. I'm not a fast runner. I didn't start running until 43 and weighed almost 200 pounds. I've lost fifty pounds since then, but I'm not a fast runner.

    I just ran the Rocket City Marathon yesterday. I'm doing the post-marathon suffle today where I can't lift my legs to step over a door sill. I know I'll feel better tomorrow.

    I didn't do as well as I had hoped, but one thing about getting a bad finish time, there is nowhere to go but up. Next marathon will definately be a PR. I'm doing the resolution run 10K on New Years, the Run the Regan Half Marathon in February, and then the ING Georgia in March. I'd love to do the SLC Marathon in July...but that's currently under negotiation. I really want to do well at the ING Georgia. I have the weird distinction of being the first person to sign up for that race. I get to go to the VIP parties and get free shoes and clothes. Queen Geek. I'll never win a race running, but I am quick on the keyboard.

    My website is

  22. Hi Mom,
    Prizes for signing up first? Who knew. That is awesome. I am thinking about doing Rocket City next year--are they strict about the no headphone rule?
    I feel bad that I have no Silver Comet pictures for you and Ehlers.I did even think of bringing my camera that day and taking pictures during the race. But decided to run hard instead, It was a good race for me.

    In regards to not being fast-- I don't think speed is so important. I mean it is nice to be more effcient and all but there will always be someone faster, younger, fitter etc. Just being there and doing it and improving is what matters. Kudos to you.
    I'll be sure to check your website for a race report on RC. Congrats on finishing and thanks for reading.

  23. I didn't know anything about the no headphone rule and listened to my ipod the whole way. No one said anything. So, I guess that means they aren't strict about it. The volunteers were plentiful and supportive, the course was flat, the weather was was a nice race. The only thing that I didn't like, which is a pet peeve with food or water at the finish line...runners had to follow signs down hotel hallways to find the food and water. I'm always a little dioriented after a race and that was tough figuring out where to go. They did have hot, spicy vegetable soup and ice cream sandwiches, which was awesome....and massages.

  24. well you commented on my post so you know how i did at vegas!

    i am totally game for ga marathon too :-)