Monday, November 1, 2010

What I've Got Going for Me

On Saturday morning I ran 10 miles and felt great doing it. And I felt great later, too, though I really wanted a nap and didn't get one (see prior post with mention of small children and their effect on sleep). I wore my current favorite shirt, an orange one that has a picture of a snail and says, "Feeling a bit slow. Run anyway." Not that I want to feel or look slow, but I feel there's a humility in the sentiment that will serve me well when setbacks occur--and give me an added feeling of triumph when something goes unexpectedly well.

Which leads me to the topic of what I've got in my favor as I embark on this perilous quest. It looks paltry compared to the obstacles, but I'll take all the assets I can get.

First some practical matters:

--I'm starting off with decent endurance. Though I didn't run my half-marathon last month as fast as I wanted to, it ensured that I now see 10 miles as an easy long run, a springboard for building up to the longer and longer runs (20-miles plus) that will be necessary once I launch my marathon training. My intermediary goal, because I don't expect to qualify on my first try, will be to beat 4 hours (date as yet unchosen, but June 2011 is my initial thought).

--I am not afraid of speed training (puke-inducing laps on the track) or hills. Trucking up Baseline Hill toward Chautauqua park in Boulder--a steep hill that's nearly 3/4 of a mile long--is now a routine part of my Saturday, as is running the gritty Mesa Trail. Right now I am focusing on the 5K, training for the Colder Bolder on Dec. 4 and hoping to get my time in this speed contest back into the range it typically was before I got pregnant (anywhere between 23 and 24 minutes would put me over the moon, and anything under 25 minutes will be progress). I know hills and speedwork are key to this. Ultimately, a little more speed will also be important to my Boston effort.

--I train at altitude but will run my attempts to qualify at (or closer to) sea level. This doesn't make as big a difference as you might suspect, but hopefully, combined with the aforementioned hills and speedwork, my extra red blood cells will help me come race day(s).

--Knock on wood, I am not easily injured. One good thing about having been a teenage couch potato is that I am not saddled with muscles that have been twingy since 10th grade or tender spots where surgery was performed on my joints. I've spent exactly four nights in a hospital (not counting my own birth), and those were one for a premature labor scare and three following my C-section. Aside from that C-section, the only surgery I've been through was the insertion of tubes in my ears at age nine. It's true that, while I am in better aerobic shape now than I was at 18, I can tell my body isn't as springy and lithe as it once was. But (and please let me stay lucky this way!) the only real chronic pain I deal with is in my lower back, a hangover from pregnancy-weakened abs and carrying toddlers on my left hip. Running actually makes it feel better.

And now some psychological factors:

--Other people who bill themselves as average runners have done this. Check out this blog. Her best marathon time prior to embarking on her quest was 4:16:52, almost three minutes slower than mine. Her first few attempts failed. But she finished by blasting through her qualifying time with 12 or so minutes of cushion--inspiring! Granted, she hired a coach to help her along, something I patently can't afford, and her marathon efforts weren't interrupted by pregnancy. But her story gives me hope. (Her diet scares me a little, but as I've said, that's a whole post of its own some other time.)

--I have lots of support from my family and friends. My husband, Dan, is a runner, and he understands my obsession and gives good, realistic advice. Unlike me, he ran cross-country in high school, so he knows about race strategy and toughness. I know a lot of other runners, too, who will offer sympathy and advice.

--Boulder is a fantastic running town, with lots of races, specialty running stores and running groups like the one I joined in Houston all those years ago. There are trails, roads, and tracks at my disposal. The vibe is pro-runner and literally "pro" runner. You see a lot of sponsored athletes around here, amazing fit specimens; the gold medalist in the last Olympic Marathon lives in a nearby town. I try to let this be inspiring instead of intimidating.

So do those advantages outweigh the obstacles I described in the last post? I'm going to keep putting one foot in front of the other until the big four-oh, by which time we'll have the answer.


  1. Terzah, Thank you so much for the shout-out in your blog! You can definitely do it, and I love your attitude and your very sensible approach. I really enjoyed reading about your quest.

    Although I didn't have a pregnancy during my training--long story--I did have three pregnancies, including my last which was a very difficult one with twins. So, I totally get you on balancing running and being a good mom. There are some nice challenges in there :)

    I will enjoy reading about your progress. The 5K training is an excellent idea, as it will help you feel more comfortable at faster paces. --Alex

  2. Alex, Thanks for reading! I know I'll return to your blogs many many times in the next two years (at least!). BTW, the other thing I found cool was that on some playlist you had "Kryptonite" as one of your running songs--that's on my playlist too, one of my favorites--when I saw that, I thought, OK, maybe I *can* do this. I'll certainly be posting about how the Colder Bolder goes. I'm doing a trail half on Nov. 13 and a 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, but won't be as worried about my time in those.

  3. How do you find the time for 10 mile runs?

  4. Hey Penny--
    Dan and I have a trade. I get Saturday mornings "off" from kid stuff, and he gets Sunday mornings off. When it was super hot, I would get up at 5 a.m. on Saturdays to get the long ones in, but now that it's not I just sleep until the little living alarm clocks come in (usually about seven) and head out at that point.