It’s That Time Again.

There are two times in the Hanson training cycle that brings me to my knees.  One is about half way through…when you realize, holy shit I have a lot more miles to run.  Just as soon as you get through that, and you continue to ramp up the voluminous miles week after week, you sort of accept that you are just.  Running.   A lot.  You do your life, but you do the miles…over and over again.  It’s really not a problem…because you know you have to do them.

The second time, and I recognize this…is right before the steep taper that is Hanson.  Short and sweet.  Less miles but you are still running 6 days a week, right up until that last week.  It’s weird, because you’d think you’d go a little crazy DURING taper.  But, in this plan, it’s right before taper…when you can barely make one. more. training. run.

Take this week and compare it to last week.  Last week, my tempo 10 miler in the rain in Clovis, was perfect.  Spot on Marathon Pace.  Wednesday, I did 16 miles.  I was tired…after running 10, 6, 6, and then 16.  I recognize this, because the whole goal of Hanson is to have you run on tired legs.  Yes.  Always.  On tired legs.  So, that 16 on Wednesday, I finally remembered it was like running on 22 miles of work.  It was hard, but I did it.  Mightily.

After a rest day…truly 48 hours of nothing, I was ready to go.  This Sunday’s tempo slayed me.  Every mile was hard.  It was sunny and windy, and I erroneously thought if I went after noon in the chill, it might be easier.   Not so much.  The wind was like, a 30 miles an hour wind.  And, every corner I turned, I was running into the wind.  It was almost as if the gods moved the wind right into me just the moment I turned.

That ten miler was hard.  Yesterday’s 5 miler was hard.  FIVE?  Really?  Today’s 8 was hard.  It’s all hard right now.  I have  the rest of this week to look forward to.  10, 5, 6…and then rest.

Three weeks away, and what a normal taper looks like is not so much these days.

I remember it well.


I remember when I was a new runner.  I blogged about every. single. run.  The 3 milers, the 5 milers, all of them.  It’s been a long time since I did that, and hardly ever in this training cycle.

Today though.  Today simply must be acknowledged.  I had a 16 miler on the plan, and I had been doing some pretty decent runs since I recovered from the upper respiratory illness.  In fact, I’m still on antibiotics.  However, I am so not a fan of the long run.  I don’t care that they are important.  I dread them.

I carb loaded last night.  Like, a lot.  Not overkill, but I really wanted to nail this run.  My first step out the door should have been a huge sign to me.  I was slow.  Tired.  But.  Since this is a LSD run, I had no fear.  It’s supposed to be long.  Slow.

At mile 1, I stopped at the gym, where a long time friend…the friend who helped me see the truth in 2007…she was there and said “Oh My God…we need to catch up…LOTS going on…right?”  And honestly.  I’m happy.  It’s fine.  However, it’s not the way I wanted to start this run.

Mile 2 & 3 took me over the green bridge.  I was on my way to Modesto, and had planned to run 8 out and back.  At mile 4, at the end of the trail, there was a LOT of mud.  Or a huge puddle.  I chose to turn around and come back.

I was okay at mile 5 and had a restroom stop and was not in the mood to keep running.  I realized I was at that moment that you know you have a helluva long way to go to NOT be in the mood.  I ran through Spring Creek, and longed for the Garmin (hereby known as Nuke LaLoosh) to tell me I was in the single digits, but no.  On and on this went.  I weaved in and out of neighborhoods.

Did I mention it was raining and windy?  Like, the whole run?  At mile 7, it stopped, but started again at mile 7.5.  Wind, rain, bad music on the iPod.  More wind and cold.  My shirt was heavy with water.  My hat was dripping.  My gloves and arm sleeves were heavy.  It was ugly, people.

I got to Mistlin Park, and was just at halfway, and depressed.  My legs were lead already.  How did this happen?  This training cycle has been KICKASS and I have never felt better.  I took my second Clif Shot and was running on bricks, and it was here I stopped and stretched.  My legs were wooden boards, and I was hurting.  Plus.  Did I mention the rain?

I got to the truck stop, very slowly.  I smiled at one of those homeless dudes with a cardboard sign.  It was really my only contact with human life the whole run.  I got into town, resigned to 5+ more miles.  Trying to suck it up.  At the corner, I crossed with the light, just as a dude texting in his lap rolled into the intersection.  He nearly hit me.  I stopped, and raised my arms in disgust.  He slowly drove by me and flipped me off.  I stopped in the intersection as he burned out.  In the rain.  Total tool.

On and on this went.  Running.  Walking.  Drinking water.  on and on and on.  I got to the golf course, and started to cry when Dolly Parton’s, “I Will Always Love You.” came on the iPod.  This was the song that was playing the last time I saw my Granny.  Right before she died, I was looking into her eyes, and it was playing in the hospital, and I started crying and she held my hand and said “I love you Linny.”  So, I start crying right on the trail.  Wailing. I miss her.  And, in most marathons at about mile 20, I imagine she says to all her brothers, “Ok, get up and stop playing cards.  Linny needs us.”  And I imagine her with her broom and blowing me on my way.  Sorta like the wind.   It helps.

At one point, I thought about why I’m running.  I thought about my Grandpa.  How much I loved him.  I thought of all the people who are dealing with cancer…and you know what?  It didn’t help.  I was knee deep in self pity.

2.5 more miles to go and I want to cry.  Third Clif Shot.  This is misery.  My feet were numb and wet, and I was remembering the LA Marathon, and how the hell did I do that?  I  finally turn down my street.  I had been at a 13:25 pace for a little while, what with all the walking.  But.  With every training run in this cycle, I do two things.  I never walk hills, and I always sprint the last .2, just for that last push in a marathon.  You know.  When you see mile 26, there is still so much further (farther?) to go.

I nearly threw my Nuke LaLoosh in the garbage.  I could barely walk.  I pounded down a cup of chocolate milk, and made a Nuun.  A bowl of spaghetti later, a nice conversation and texts from friends…but the best of all…a text from Harley Guy.

Me:  ❤

Him: ❤ Back

Me:   Even though I’m a shit runner?

Him:  Baby, you are not a shit runner, but I would love you if you were.

I feel terribly shaken.  The only thing worse is knowing that I have to do 7 more miles tomorrow.  And the day after and the day after…I’m hoping my mood…and my legs improve.

determination, dedication, self-discipline, effort

There comes a point in every marathon training where my head kicks in and says, “What are you thinking?”  It’s somewhere in the middle, when I have lots of days behind me, and lots of runs in front of me.  My head starts barking at me with old noise.  The chatter that says, you should have taken this road or you shouldn’t have done that.   You’re old, and you’re never going to bq at this rate…blah blah blah…

Except.  Not this time.  This time, I’m clear about what I have to do, how much I’ve done, and how much more there is to do.  I’m incredibly confident.  I am imagining a PR in San Luis Obispo.   And, it’s not some wish.  I am working, and it shows.  15 pounds gone, 330 miles run since January.  I am doing the work.

So…on Tuesday, when I was feeling these aches, I should have simply gone to the doctor.  Because, I knew.  I knew that above the neck, you can run…below the neck, not so much.  You can read about running sick here.  I knew this.  However, my symptoms were up above AND in my chest.

I finally went to the doctor today, when I should have gone on Wednesday.  The doctor said I have an upper respiratory infection, and I need 10 days of antibiotics.  I am not to run until 48 hours have passed with medicine.

On the one hand, I’m irritated that now I will have lost 40 miles on the training.  On the other hand, there’s something about a doctor saying YES you can run, or NO don’t run, that sort of legitimizes the condition.  It’s having a medical note that says, “she’s not faking this!  I’m a real doctor, and I diagnosed this.”

It’s gorgeous here in NORCAL.  So yeah.  I’m not thrilled about not running.  But.  Tuesday.  48 hours from now.  I will lace up and get out there.  I’ve lost a week, but gained some wisdom.  I can’t wait to run, and I’ve not felt this for awhile.  I still can nail my goals.  I have 3 16 milers left in this cycle, and I will be fine.

I don’t have to live out my history.  My imagination is on fire, and my goals are very much in reach.

why i love leap year and wall calendars.

Today was a planned 16 mile run.  I went to bed feeling like something was going to beat me down, and by 5am that feeling was confirmed.  It’s a sore throat, but achy all over.  It’s not sneezy breezy, but just general can’t drag my body anywhere because there’s lead in my legs.  And, not from running.

Today is Leap Year.  It’s the day that women get to propose, but only if you’re Irish, *so I’m told*…but it’s the cancellation of a run day.  An LSD run day, which is SO important.  If I missed a run in the old days, I would try to shove those miles in somewhere.  I would panic until the miles were “made up” after an illness.

However, much like missing work, you have some stuff to catch up on, but you really have 80 emails that don’t even really apply to you anymore, so you do the best you can with today’s tasks, and keep on doing the next task that comes your way.

So it is with today.  I will rest until I lose this bug.  If not today, then tomorrow.  Because.  I know in Marathon training, if you aren’t listening to your body now, you won’t be listening at Mile 20.

Oh.  And I love my $2 wall calendar.  Those numbers circled?  The miles I ran each day.  Pretty proud.  140.41 for the month.  2 months until the marathon, and I’m right where I should be.

Leap Year couldn’t have come at a better time.

So this might be some kind of weird wall.

Everyone knows that I am having a STELLAR training cycle. Like, this might be the time I nail that PR at the San Luis Obispo Marathon.

On my birthday, I awoke with dread from an email. Yes, one of those emails. The one that says “you’re doing it wrong”. I cried. I called for help. I finally had had enough of the stress, and decided that I could not do this to my life. This angst, this fear when I turn on the computer. Oh yeah, and it was my 53rd birthday.

I’ve lost weight the right way. 15 pounds in 3 months or so. Perfectly slow, which is what I wanted, because I don’t want to lose the muscle. I also counted calories, using The Daily Plate…because I get in a trap that I’ve run 8 miles, so I deserve a burger. And fries. And maybe a milkshake. Well, this time, I didn’t do that. I counted. I ate right.

Harley Guy and I have had movement in a very positive direction. We ended our 13 month relationship. I focused on my recovery. I cleaned up my past with amends and worked on the maintenance steps of our program. I got healthier than I have ever been when it comes to relationship addiction. Then, of course, we discovered that we are both still in love with each other. We spent some precious time together, and then both came to terms with the realities of the relationship: We are 100 miles apart, to start with. We have some different and possibly conflicting ideas about how to spend our adulthood. I have teenagers, he has some adventurous dreams of his own. That kind of stuff. That being said, we are going to see where this goes. We are together…but neither one sure of what will happen. I remain, in love with him, and he with me. Very interesting turn of events.

Then I hit a mental wall. And, I pray it’s a coincidence. That none of the above made it happen…because, I have trouble with balance on good days. Last week, I was just tired. I looked at my schedule. 9 or so weeks to go of six days of running. And I just went…um…no. The last few runs have been very sluggish. I went to a spiritual retreat last weekend and ate like the end of the world was coming, and added 2 pounds.

Today, I made an 8 mile run at 11:53, when it should have been 11:45-11:15. I had to fight to stay under 12:00. I missed my tempo run on Sunday due to hours of driving, so I kept up with the schedule.

Funny about the Hanson plan. I am stronger at the end of every run. I save the last .2 miles for sprinting of some sort. I have 10 tomorrow. I pray I have not hit a wall, because I have a hell of a long way to go.

week 10. done.

Week 10 and done.  37 miles.  7-5-6-10-6-3x1s.

Rest.  I’m no longer looking at the rest day as a day to overeat or splurge.  I look at it as part of training.  I am no longer seeking the rest day as relief from running, for God’s sake.  It truly is a time for my legs to re-energize.  For my soul to replenish.  For me to wash everything and get it ready for Sunday.

Because on Sunday, I start again…I run a tempo.  A tempo of 12:00 mile, which is exactly what I would need to run for a 5:15, a 45 minute PR.  I think it’s doable.

Today.  I have calmness in my heart.  A wedding.  A funeral.  A renewal of sorts.

Rest.  It’s part of the routine.

BQ BY 60

I did something today I haven’t done for a few years.  Runners know that you don’t wear race shirts of races you didn’t race.  However, a few years ago, my sister was at the Boston Marathon, and got me a shirt…before I knew this rule.  I wore it everywhere, because I thought it was a cool shirt.  Once I realized I didn’t really EARN this shirt, I tucked it away in a drawer.

A year or so ago, I decided I wanted to BQ at age 60.  To do this, you had to have a 4:30 marathon.  I’m a 6 hour girl, and proud of it.  Proud that I persevered at Golden Gate Park,     Mile 18, the Potomac River & The Monsoon Marathon.  Last year, I saw that BQ would be completely out of my reach.

Until today.

I ran those angsty miles yesterday, and today I had 6 on tap.  With Hanson, you just run.  Not if you will run today, but how long.  I laced up and hit a nearby trail.  I was floating.  Like, I can’t believe how I felt.  Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” on my iPod.  Me, singing that LOUDLY…Just like a prayer, I’ll take you there.”

Perfect 11:30 target.  Exactly what I wanted.

I’m not over-confident.  I’m working my ass off, and it shows.  It’s not false bravado…You can do it.  Way to GO! You got this!…It’s real.

So, I drug out the shirt, and I put it on.  Not afraid for anyone to say, “Hey, you have never run Boston!”  I put it on, because I can see it.  I can see a BQ by 60.  I turned 53 last week…I’m training for my 5th marathon, and I’ve never been stronger.  Let’s see what I can do in San Luis Obispo, in Tucson.  I’m shooting for 5:30.  That’s a 30 minute PR, and I think it’s doable…and I have 7 years in which to work at it.

Let’s just see.  In the meantime, I’m grateful for the way the tide is shifting…