Friday, August 28, 2009

Excuses Are Always Easy to Come By

There are always reasons why we can't do something, don't do something or didn't do something. Reason is just a kind word for excuse though. There is a saying: The person that really wants to do something finds a way; the other person finds an excuse.

I am the queen--okay princess, of finding excuses. I just can't help it: they come so easily. The tough part is seeing past the excuses to the object of my desire and reconciling what I have to do (and don't want to do) to make it happen.

A long time ago I dated a man who said to me, probably during some fight; "You always get your way." Now, I will maintain that this is absolutely irrefutably not true but yes; I do strive to get my way. I am sure he was trying to hurt me or make me feel guilty by making such a comment but mostly I was just perplexed by it: as I've always been under the impression that everyone wants to "always have their way". Why would you fault them for that--you know on being human? At any rate I didn't do the girl thing and apologize or feel guilty for "always wanting to have my way". I just said, "and your point?" It is easy to see why that relationship didn't work out.

Oh, and this is most definitely not to say that Ryan lets me have my way all the time. Most times I think we just agree or we bicker until the most stubborn one wins. And trust me, Ryan is more stubborn than me. I will admit though to being the more manipulative one.

I am getting off topic and taking this in a different direction. The point I am trying to make is that I struggle every second of the day with excuses to not do something. My inclination is ALWAYS to take the easy or lazy way out. I can always come up with an excuse. But I am certain that the path to success is not paved with excuses. As a result I have to have not daily but pretty much minute to minute pep talks to keep myself on track--on that path towards success.

It is no secret that I want to be a better a runner. There are certain things I am not willing to give up to be that better runner (beer) but I am willing to work really hard in training to get myself there. Right now that means consistently running and running more than I ran last year.

I have been on my way to 70 mile weeks and I am looking towards later this fall for some 80 mile weeks. I was hoping that this week would be my first week in the 70's this year (I had 2 weeks last fall in the 70's and ended up with an over training injury).

Unfortunately having a sick child this week derailed my run 70 miles plan. I tried my best to not use that as an excuse but fact of the matter is that my kids take priority and everything else has to fall to the side when they need me. Running is important to me but I am not so addicted that I can't separate out what should (and does!) take priority. And just because I do know where my priorities are does not mean that I will not grumble when I have to miss a run. I just cannot help that I am a little childish. In the end I do the adult thing but I do it pouting and stamping my foot. Unfortunately, it is unrealistic to say that I am immature at 38 so I think we should all agree that this is just a less than glamorous aspect of my personatalie.

And btw, Carmella is MUCH better. Thank you for your concerns. The tamiflu is working. She still has her cough but she has her appetite back, energy back, has no fever, no vomiting etc. And Beau luckily has not gotten sick-- nor me. Ryan is out of town so I assume he got out before the sickness got him.

So back to the point (I am getting there! You know it takes me forever)--I was on the right track to hit 70 miles this week. Sunday was a rest day. Monday I ran 15 miles, Tuesday I ended up running 10. My plan had been 6 and a swim but my shoulder still hurt (from trying to ski) and I figured if it was bothering me while I ran it was going to hurt like hell trying to swim. So I ran the time I would have spent swimming. Wednesday I was suppose to run with Kate for 10 or so miles at Kennesaw Mountain but I took Carmella to the doctor instead. Ryan was home in the afternoon and I managed to get 12 miles in. I had to bail on my planned 7 miles for Thursday since she was still sick and Ryan was out of town. And because of that I knew there was no way I could reasonably squeeze 43 miles in 2 days to hit 70 miles for the week.

And that's okay, I still have plenty of time to run 70 miles other weeks. But I still needed to stay on track and I couldn't afford to cut back mileage too much this week. Luckily Lala offered to watch Carmella today so I could get my long run in after all.

My plan all week had been 21 on Friday. Maybe a little more if I felt up to it. Last night my sleep was interrupted by my dog (who never barks at anything) barking her head off at 2 am. I got up to investigate and nothing. Crazy dog. Last time she barked--a couple of months ago--it was at a plastic bag blowing through the yard. Huskies are so weird.

At any rate I was up for a few hours trying to get back to sleep. 6 am came extra early today. I could already feel the no way can I run 21 miles today on so little sleep excuse forming. And then as I checked the morning's weather I could read the I do not want to run for 3 hours in the pouring rain and potential lightening excuse underneath the 100% rain and cloud with lightening icon. And the litany of excuses began to flow easily, quickly into my psyche.

They even came with a rant: I am so freaking sick of running in crappy weather! I have endured 6 long runs this summer in the heat, rain, humidity etc. I am tired of running shoes that are wet from monsoon rains or from the ridiculous amount of sweat that streams off my body. Wet shoes at the end of three hour run are freaking heavy. Not to mention the humidity makes you feel like you are running with 20lbs of wet towels draped over your body. I am tired of sucking it up; hardening the fuck up. Not to mention lightening storms are kind of a deal breaker for me. I am just scared I am going to get struck the whole time--because I do have that kind of luck--and I am, after all, a mother! I can't be risking my life like that.

So see, there was even the I can bail on this run because I hardened the fuck up all those other times.

Lala graciously offered to watch the kids Saturday so that I could do the run tomorrow in better weather. And see that right there is an example of an enabler of excuses. And enabler lets you feel okay about making excuses. And I will tell you it is okay to make excuses; you just need to own up to them and recognize them for what they are.

Luckily, I realized-- considering how this week has gone--that something else is bound to happen so I wasn't comfortable with my excuse being enabled. I could already see the potential building for more excuses. See, I do like sticking to my plan even if I constantly seek out reasons to not have to stick to my plan. I know. It is all very confusing!

It occurred to me-- as I weighed it out--that I did have another alternative; the treadmill at the gym. The longest I have ever run on the treadmill was about an hour and fourteen minutes. I was in a pinch that time and I needed to get a 10 mile run done. I think that was the fastest I have ever run 10 miles in training. Now, I do like the treadmill--for short runs. But I rarely make it an entire hour on there.

So the possibility of me ever doing a long run on the treadmill was an impossibility. I have often marveled at those that can do long runs on the treadmill. I have done marathons and long runs in every kind of weather: sub freezing, hot, humid, rainy, snow, ice --even under the threat of tornadoes. I think that alone says how much I do not want to do a long run on the treadmill.

I debated for an hour. Back and forth with rain, tomorrow, treadmill. And finally the treadmill won out. Today I decided that being bored for 3 hours sounded better than being wet, hot and miserable for 3 hours or potentially risking not getting it done tomorrow. Once I made my decision I made a deal with myself: 3 hours or 21 miles--whichever comes first. And quite honestly I didn't know if I had the will to do either.

I was very slow going getting to the gym. I even drove the speed limit. I walked as slow as I could possibly manage through the gym up to the treadmills without someone thinking I was injured. I even made eye contact with strangers hoping someone would chat me up--no one did. I kept looking around, hoping someone was there that I knew and I could stall even longer by passing more time making social niceties.

Then, once I made it to the aerobic area, I was like Goldilocks trying to find the absolute perfect treadmill that I would be able to stand for 3 hours. The first one I tried I wasn't happy with what was on the TV and got off after a minute. So I moved to the other bank of treadmills.

My gym is kind of hot--not as hot as outside but not as cool as I keep the air-conditioning in my house. And it gets kind of humid--all those sweaty people. And the treadmills are upstairs. But they do have these giant fans set up here and there around the aerobic equipment to help cool it down and circulate air. When I have the opportunity I will commandeer one and position it so it blows directly on my back. These fans are big and cumbersome and not at all easy to move. But they are totally worth it. They also keep the treadmill from looking like it is sweating right along with me.

There were two treadmills that would work that had view of the TV station I wanted to watch and close to a fan.(I of course had my ipod to listen to and all the people pretending to lift weights to watch but I need MANY distractions on the treadmill.) The only problem was that there was a woman on the treadmill next to my first choice. The fan I needed to use cord didn't quite stretch to my second choice. But I didn't want to bother the lady on the treadmill next to my first choice. In the past some people have gotten mad at me when I turned on the fan. They are the people who walk on the treadmill and read a book so I don't think they understand exactly how hot it can get. And the woman was there first. Also, since she was there first and I didn't know how long she was going to be there I thought it would be even more rude to get on the one next to her (when there were plenty of empty ones available) and sling my sweat all over her. Of course she probably would have gotten off sooner . . .

So I got on second choice treadmill with less ideal fan wind. I ran for about 6 minutes and the lady on the other treadmill left. So I switched and started over and adjusted the fan. Perfect.

I have to say once I finally got everything just right this turned out to be the most luxurious long run I have ever done. I didn't have to carry anything since treadmills have cup holders. I had the wind at my back. It was 15 degrees cooler than I have been running in. And, best of all; there were no hills! Save the Museum of Aviation marathon I have NEVER done a flat long run.

From my vantage point I could see the rain, which is always lovely to look at--I just don't enjoy running for several hours in it. I could also see pretty much the whole gym. And then the show The Doctors was on. I really didn't pay much attention to it but I do like looking at the hot doctor that is on that show. I don't know why the doctors I go to see don't look like that. Makes me feel a little cheated. I also had a view of Fox News.

The only real downside to this was that the treadmills at my gym shut off after 60 minutes. But this wasn't a huge problem since on my long runs I have to stop for water breaks, to pee or buy Gatorade. Lately, because it has been so hot, I've been stopping 3 times--sometimes for up to 5 minutes just so that I can make sure I don't spontaneously burst into flames. I am not kidding. 3 weeks ago I spent some extra time in Walgreens with as much of my body as I could get into their freezer.

My goal was 7 miles an hour. This is faster than I have been running 21 miles this summer but not faster than I was running 21 miles last spring/winter/fall. So it was a little optimistic and hence the "3 hours or 21 miles" deal.

First hour--once I finally got the right treadmill--was awesome. I tried to be conservative because I didn't want to wear myself out in the first hour. My first mile was a little over 9 minutes. And would be the slowest mile I ran today. The hour ended with me running 7.37 miles. About an 8:10 avg pace.

I hopped off because I dying to pee. Unfortunately the bathroom at my gym is down stairs but I figured that would help keep the blood flowing. I peed, ran back up stairs, did a few lunges and hopped back on.

Since I was good and warmed up I didn't need to start with the nine minute mile. I started at an 8:34 pace and pressed buttons up and down for the hour between 8:34 and 7:20 pace. I started having the GU I brought. I do better if I take it over a few miles. I had finished it by the time I got to 10.5 miles and I was super excited to be half way done.

I was feeling really good-- so good I started to get some wild ideas. I was thinking about how Joe Reger had run 23 miles the other day in 3:21. I started think I could totally beat that today! Kick his skinny, younger and fitter Ironman ass with my awesome treadmill in air conditioning run. Then I had the even grander delusion of running 26.2 miles, musing that maybe, you know if I really started to push it I could run a marathon PR today. On the treadmill! How cool would that be?! Awesome.

There was still that part of my brain that wasn't yet totally stupid and it finally piped up with a "why don't you wait until you start the 3rd hour before you think about such things."

I ended the second hour at 7.52 miles for an average 7:58 pace. I was pretty happy to be at that mileage and still felt pretty good. I hopped off the treadmill and did a few lunges. My quads were starting to sing a little and my knees were missing the hills but other wise I felt pretty good. No different than I have been feeling at that point on my long runs this summer.

I got back on and started into the 3rd hour. I started out at an 8:44 pace and it felt horrible. It made everything hurt. After the first mile I sped up. The 7:53 pace felt best; most natural but I was having to work kind of hard--harder than I normally work in the last miles (but then again lately I have not been running 7:53 pace at all during a long run). I played around the pace--going back down to 8:20 for a few minutes and then back under 8 minute miles towards 7:30 pace. It really felt more comfortable at a sub 8 pace than at 8:20ish. But it was hard--my heart rate was creeping up. I was getting tired and was getting "done" with being on the treadmill.

I started doing the math. How much longer and how much further? I added up the first 2 hours miles: 7.37 and 7.52. So 14.89. So 6.11. At first I estimated that I would probably hit the 6.11 that I needed to get to 21 miles in 53 minutes. Let tell me you at 23 minutes-- another 30 minutes sounded like an eternity so I started running as hard as I could manage just so I could get done.

I was getting sloppy. I kept spilling my Powerade all over me every time I took a sip but I still was holding the sub-8 pace. I was a constant clock watcher. My eyes darting from the minutes to miles and then pressing buttons and changing the pace, then changing the song on my ipod, back to changing the pace--anything to make it feel like time was passing faster. Finally I was almost to 6 miles and started to speed up and kind of just closed my eyes. Not really, but maybe. When I allowed myself to look I was at 6.07. It was like counting down to New Years Eve. I hit stop at 6.12--just in case my math had been a little off. Time? 48 minutes and 22 seconds. 7:54 average pace.

Holy Negative Split BatNat! 21 miles in 2:48:22! 8:01 average pace. I think the fastest I have ever run a 21 mile training run was in 2:53. So maybe, just maybe 3:20 at Rocket City isn't so unrealistic after all. But we'll see. I am just happy that I did not let the excuses win today. I know this is a tiny victory over them but hey at least I got one battle won this week. Now, I've got 15 more weeks of battles to wage.


  1. I can COMPLETELY identify with making excuses as to why I shouldn't do that tempo run or long run.... and I am SO EFFING tired of heat and humidity kicking my ass. About a month ago I did 17 miles on an indoor tiny track (12.65 times around = 1 mile). Blogged about that.

    This morning was too f*cking hot and humid AGAIN (even at 6 am)... so I've put off my tempo run. Still hafta do that tonight....

  2. Great run Nat! It's almost like you were recounting my morning. Only difference is that my excuses began to flow when I pulled out of the garage and realized it was raining. I only did 12 on the treadmill today. It got long there near the end and felt painfully slow (in fact I cheated near the end like you did and upped the pace) but overall it was a nice run. Generally speaking I love the treadmill for anything less than an hour. But over an hour is miserable and all mental. Not at all easy to get control of. Big kudos on your pace and total distance on the belt today!

  3. I started reading your blog a little bit before you went on a break. You're really funny, so I'm glad it is back and hi.

    My run got pushed to the treadmill today because I am both an excuse maker and procrastinator. You're much faster than I am, though, because I did 18 miles in 2:48:48. That's a lot of Fox 5 news and the Real World, but yeah, you can't beat AC and not carrying drinks.

  4. Well, if 3 hours on the treadmill isn't the way to HTFU, I don't know what is. Good run and really enjoyed the whole lead-up discussion. Good to hear Carmella is doing better!

    Procrastinators of the World Unite!!!

    Uh . . . tomorrow . . .

  5. You make me laugh. Way to ROCK your LR! I also loved your reasoning about doing it there. Unless you live in the south, you don't know how brutal those LRs can be in the summer. I see good things for you in Rocket City...

    Ps. I've done that one before, if you need in info.

  6. Great post!! It takes a special toughness, stubborness, and just plain craziness to run long on the treadmill, and you did very well indeed. It does get tougher to run on the treadmill day after day after day, and you do learn tricks like totally zoning out, perfecting progressive speeds, checking out music CD's from the local library, etc. Treadmills are not like running outside, and I can't wait to eventually run on the roads again. My dream is to eventually OWN a treadmill and set perfect training conditions in my little piece of paradise.

  7. the time it took me to read this post was about as long as the time you ran.

  8. Glad your daughter is feeling better. Sounds like that H1N1 is really for your run, you are my HERO! I cannot believe that you did 21 miles on the treadmill, enjoyed it, and whipped out an 8:01 avg pace. That is insane. I am inspired. And 70 miles per week???? What are you training for?

  9. And BTW there is no way in hell I am giving up my beer/wine while training. That's my payoff after a run.

  10. Nat ! What a terrific run and an even better post! You had me on the edge of my seat, since I"ve done 20 on the tmill before, I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. Especially how quickly 30 minutes can seem like an eternity.

    Yeah for blackjack!

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