Thursday, April 18, 2013

Last Minute Races: A stRUNg out Confession

Okay, I’ll admit it. After the marathon I was jubilant. I was proud. I was, let’s face it, a bit of a braggart.
I ran an EFFING MARATHON people!
But, like every addict, there comes a point where you come down from the high.
I needed to know where my next fix was coming from.
I gave in and signed up for a half marathon this June, but that didn’t seem soon enough.
Then through the magic of Social Media, the answer came to me in the form of a post.
It was this picture:
And this caption:
“Waiting for Costco to open so I can get more cups”
Last year I ran the inaugural Hollywood Half Marathon and when I was at Mile 7ish, they ran out of cups. On the whole course. The volunteers were awesome! They did their best. But, as the organizer of a race (albeit a VERY small one) I found this not awesome.  They had a couple of other kinks to work out as well.

This was all on top of the fact that this race was scheduled a mere 3 weeks after my first marathon. I didn’t know if I’d be broken or if I’d ever want to run again. (Turns out I was running 3 days after, who knew I was so resilient?)
But I never signed up for the 2013 Hollywood Half. 
I so LOVED this pic and the sense of humor at their own expense so I posted their pic on my Facebook page saying that their fun attitude made me want to sign up again if only money wasn’t so tight.
Then I got a sweet email and a discount from the race directors.  A sweet enough discount that I could afford it!
In the meantime, I had signed up for a free entry in a contest…and I won that too.
My friend Sue said she’d run with me and we registered on Tuesday…for the race on Saturday.
Yep, you read that right.
Four days before.
Both Sue and I had done a full marathon less than 20 days prior and neither of us had run more than 5 miles at a time since.
I’ll let you be the judge.
But as much as this blog is about my experiences with running and weight loss, it has also become about the friendships and community that comes with becoming a runner.

In light of the events in Boston this past Monday, I want to focus on a couple of key points in this story.
·         Runners have a sense of humor about themselves and their sport. 
Before becoming a runner, I thought it was so serious.  Spending all that time alone has to make someone seriously introspective and can’t be any fun, but go to any race and you’ll see people in funny t-shirts (usually poking fun at themselves!), hilarious signs and a general sense of a good time.
·         Runners are all inclusive.
We come in all shapes, sizes, genders, colors, religions, sexual orientations, etc. etc.  I think we have an idea of what a runner “looks like”. I certainly don’t look like that, but it doesn’t matter.
For runners the size of your heart is FAR more important than the size of your ass.
·         Runners are generous.
Look at Ken from Superhero Events. His CAREER is to put on races and raise money for OTHER people. He has a young family and has to provide for them, but he had no problem giving away registrations to his race for deserving people and helping someone who couldn’t afford to pay the registration out!   That generosity of spirit is rampant in the running community.
·         Runners are tenacious
We’ll do anything to get a good run in. Including register for a race 4 days before. AND finish regardless of how crappy we feel
·         Runners are a little bit cuckoo
We do things that most people find odd. Like run. ALL.THE.TIME.

The simple truth is I did not have a great race at the Hollywood Half. I stopped to pee THREE TIMES! (Twice before MILE 5!).   My time was 2:55:55

But I ran well.

I had negative splits (ran the second half of the race faster than the first!).
I ran 5 minutes faster than the 2012 Hollywood Half.
AND I got to see some Team Captains before the race!  (I missed the main meet up by about 15 minutes-stupid LA Freeway Road Construction!)
Running this race may not have been my brightest idea, but I NEVER EVER regret a run.

Running is an addiction and although I’m sure part of that is chemical. A lot of it is emotional. After the events on Monday, we felt our community band together.  Through the fear and the anger we found one another. I respect all runners because I know first-hand the dedication and commitment it takes to be one.  I ache for the bystanders who were hurt and killed because my mom and my friends are often at finish lines waiting for me.

I literally thought to myself, “OH NO, YOU DID NOT JUST MESS WITH MY PEOPLE”

Because runners are MY people.

And if I’m addicted to something, I’m glad it’s the feeling of being healthy, the joy of accomplishment and the camaraderie of a race.

That’s the kind of addiction, I’m okay having.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Voice In My Head

I have a voice inside my head.
No, I’m not crazy.  I hear it when I run.
It says:
“Relax your shoulders, Heather”
“You got this, Heather
It is the voice in my head that makes me a better runner. The advice and training that have helped me PR more than once.
This voice makes me believe I can do things I never thought I could do, like get faster and run a marathon.
It’s the voice of my hero.  It’s the voice of my running guru.
It’s the voice of my friend:
My friend who ran and finished the Boston Marathon yesterday.

What happened in Boston yesterday was a tragedy in so many ways.
People were murdered and injured. 
Some people were denied their dreams.  And some people got to fulfill their dreams but have that overshadowed by an act of terrorism.
My friend has been running for a long time, but this was her first trip to Boston, the Super Bowl of foot races.
This weekend she sent me text messages from Boston with pictures of her with Olympian Meb Keflezighi and telling me much she loved the city of Boston.
She posted pictures of herself at the expo and we all tracked her during her run on Marathon Monday.
She ran so strong!  Finishing in just 3:35!!! 
She is AWESOME…and she is safe.
And for that I know we are all grateful.
I went for a run on the treadmill last night. It’s the class she normally teaches where we do speedwork. We’ve been working on getting me to a faster base pace.
She wasn’t there, but she kind of was.
She was in my head as I ran intervals at 6.0.
“Relax Your Shoulders, Heather”
She was in my head as I watched the Boston coverage on CNN on the treadmill TV.
“You got this, Heather”
And when someone told me they got a picture of her enjoying a glass of celebration champagne as she was sequestered in her hotel in Boston I cried.
I cried for those who died and were injured.
I cried for the runners who didn’t get to finish their race.
I cried for those who, like Jodi, did finish but their celebrations were short-lived.
I cried for my friend who found a way to celebrate this amazing accomplishment even in these horrible circumstances.
But even though I felt sad,  if there is one thing I've gained since becoming a runner, it’s the ability to hope.
I hope that they find the people who perpetrated this heinous crime.
I hope that the people of Boston can heal swiftly.              
I hope for those who were affected by this because the net was widely cast.
I hope someday I can run Heartbreak Hill.
But most of all I hope my friend realizes what an inspiration she is to so many of us.
I hope she knows how proud we all are to know her and to have followed her journey.
And I HOPE she is PROUD and still feels the JOY that only going for a really great run can bring.
I hope.