The Year of Running

I started out 2009 with a few resolutions.  Let’s just say that #2 was a fail on all accounts.  Moving onto #1 – expanding my exercise horizons to more than just running – well, that didn’t last and now I am training for a marathon.  #3 was to keep my house more picked up & organized.  While I am making a better effort, I have come to realize that this is an ongoing process.  It will never be “done”.  I just have to learn to accept it and move on.

So, let’s focus more on the running now.  When I started out 2009 I really had no goals in mind when it came to running.  As I went through the first couple of weeks, I set my sights on a 10K in March that didn’t happen.  Then one day as I was getting the mail in the spring, I saw a “Team in Training” postcard that was recruiting people to run the Columbus Marathon & Half Marathon to help raise money to fight cancer.  While I didn’t end up running with Team in Training, I did set my sights on the Columbus Half Marathon that was to take place on October 18, 2009.  I also decided that I should run another race of some sort before the half to get accustomed to running a race.  I chose a 10K in July.  Then, the training started.

I was following all the “rules” I should have been for training, though I wasn’t really following any one specific plan.  It was Mother’s Day weekend when my right foot started to hurt.  The more I ran & walked, the more it hurt.  I couldn’t figure out why, as I had even bought my shoes at a running store after having my run/gait evaluated.  After seeing a couple different Sports Med docs, I was diagnosed with a Morton’s Neuroma.  The first treatment I was advised to try involved buying new shoes with a wider toe box.  If that didn’t work, come back & there were a number of other things to try.  Well, it worked!  Got some new kicks and within a few weeks I was as good as new.  I ran my first ever race on July 18, 2009 and finished 2nd in my age group!

It was now time to really get down to business.  Time to start running longer runs.  I had to learn how to properly fuel myself so that I was able to make it through the runs, too.  I quickly learned that any distance of 8+ miles required mid-run fueling for me.  I also learned that 6+ mile runs required eating before the run.  I typically run at 5 AM, so that was tough to do.   I started out with bananas.  They were too filling for me to eat that close to a run.  Then I moved to Sharkies and Gu/Clif Shots.  While I love that these products are gluten-free, I wanted to try to stay away from “processed” foods during my runs.  Well, that didn’t work.  I had to learn to make it work on the longer runs – I needed quick fuel that I could eat while running.  I was practicing for the big day in October.  I wanted to mimic the foods I would be eating on that day so that I could make sure that my stomach agreed with my head.  ;)  I finally figured out a system.  I also added watered down Gatorade (also gluten-free) to my 8+ mile runs to help fuel & keep me hydrated.

Over the course of the training I was running 30+ miles/week.  Those miles sure add up quickly!  I knew that I was ready for my big day.   I learned all about carb loading and how to do that gluten-free.  Brown rice pasta, quinoa pasta, brown rice, buckwheat & millet all became very good friends of mine.  Served up with roasted veggies, beans or lean meat/fish and I had a great, well balanced meal to fuel me through my run.  I also had to keep an eye on my “diet” to make sure that I wasn’t losing weight.  Long runs tend to make my appetite disappear, so I began having to watch the clock to eat on those days.  Making sure to eat something well balanced every 3 hours or so.

Half marathon day came and I was sick with what I now think was H1N1.  I was fever free, but had a nice cough going on.  I ran anyway.  I managed to finish in 2 hours 1 minute & 22 seconds, just over my goal of coming in under 2 hours.  I was beating myself up at first, then I remembered I was sick.  Okay, I’ll take it.  :)  I worked hard for that and am proud to have done as well as I did.

This brings me to the present.  I have continued to run to maintain my fitness.  I am currently running about 25 miles a week.  I have also been incorporating weights to build strength in my upper & lower body to help me achieve the goals I have set for 2010.  I have 3 races that I am planning to run in 2010.  The first race will be March 21, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  It is the ING Half Marathon.  Not only am I running this race, but so is my sister & a group of  people that we have recruited to run in memory of my nephews, Wyatt & Jack.  This half marathon will only be a training run for me – I will not be looking for a new PR during this half.  Why?  Well, because I am getting ready to start training for my first marathon in Cleveland on May 16, 2010!  I do have a goal for this marathon – I would love to finish in under 4 hours.  Can I do it?  Only time will tell.  Will I be upset if I don’t?  Maybe, but that will only make me train harder for race #3 – the Nationwide Columbus Marathon in October 2010.  All of those races will have me running lots of miles over the course of 2010.

So as I look back over 2009 I have come to the realization that I have run over 1000 miles this year.  If you would have told me back in January that I would have run 1000 miles this year, I would have laughed.  Then I might have cried.  Will I hit 2000 next year?  I have no idea.  I think the race goals that I have set are enough.  I don’t want to set any mileage goals and end up hurting myself in the process.

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