How far have I come? How far to go?

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I wrote previously about my journey to identify myself as an "athlete." But I didn't delve in that post into another significant factor to my identity as a "non-athlete," which is my unique physiology.

I have had trouble since adolescence with cracking and pain in my knees, although teasing about how I walked and ran "like a duck" began in elementary school. General consensus was that I was too lazy to point my feet forward. It wasn't until I consulted with a sports podiatrist in high school that anyone ever pointed out that my feet and knees simply didn't go in the same direction. When my knees point forward (as they should), my feet naturally splay out at about a 30 degree angle (relative to straight ahead). If I turn my feet to point forward (which looks "normal" and makes other people more at ease), my knees point inward--alignment not conducive to walking or running, hence the years of discomfort and noise.

With this as my starting point, it's little wonder that I thought of myself as incapable of doing anything vaguely athletic. After all, my body wasn't built right for physical activity. And more than simply physical pain, running gave me plenty of the emotional variety, as well, as invariably someone pointed out how spastic I looked when attempting it.

How to run in a body so obviously not equipped for running? After I was inspired to try and start running in the spring of 2007, co-workers assured me that I would be fine with the "right" running shoes. I went to a fancy (i.e. "elitist") running store, and was equipped with a pair of fancy (i.e. "really stinkin' expensive") shoes. After all that expert advice and all those dollars, I should have been golden right? Right! Especially if by "golden," you mean "mega-dosing ibuprofen and ice after every run, none longer than three miles"! Yeah, I hurt.

But somehow, the aching and swelling didn't phase me. I told myself that I was a novice runner, with congenital knee problems, and conventional wisdom said that running is just hard on the human body, irrespective of the level of experience. I took the pain in stride (HA! Get it? See what I did there? Running pun! Ahem.)

To play Junior Psychoanalyst with myself for a moment, and with the benefit of four years' hindsight, I suspect I still harbored vestiges of the idea that I was not truly an athlete, and so the constant pain I was in as a result of running merely served to reinforce that. As if I "deserved" to hurt for trying to do something I really couldn't.

In spite of the difficulty and pain, I completed my first 5K in June 2007. Then life intervened, as it so often does. I underwent a personal and professional situation that left me reeling, grappling with my sense of identity and self-worth. During this time, running did not make it to the top of my "to do" list. When I started to come out on the other side of this crisis a few months later, I tried to get back into running--but I just couldn't. It hurt too much. The physical pain in my knees, on top of the still-fresh emotional and mental wounds, was more than I could take on.

What turned things around? How did I ever get from that point to this one? Stay tuned for more . . .

Sunday, August 14, 2011

3.1 miles COMPLETE!

The Tomato 5K went great! The weather was beautiful, a welcome break from the normal mid-August humidity.

Emily and I are ready to go!

We have our shoes on and EVERYTHING!

Okay, okay, enough stalling . . . I'm sure you're wondering if I met my sub-44 goal for the race? How does 40:34 sound to you? :)

Next stop Warrior Dash!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

46 hours . . .

In about 46 hours from right now, I hope to be closing in on the finish of the first 3.1 miles of my 40! I'm feel ing good and looking forward to it. I'll try to remember to take some photos on the day to share here after the fact!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mater 5K Training Update

Remember in that earlier post when I said that the 4 a.m. training thing was not happening for me this summer? Well, this morning I actually got my bottom (and the rest of me) out of bed and Minnie (acquaintances call her Garmin) and I hit the road a little after 5 to get 3+ miles in before work at 6. Here are the results:

(Sorry for the blurry photo; my phone doesn't take good pictures.)

3.24 miles in just over 44 minutes! I am feeling good about the possibility of reaching my target of finishing the Tomato Arts 5K next Saturday in under 44. Yay!

Friday, August 5, 2011

My new toy

Here it is! "It" being the fancy GPS that my friends got for my birthday. (Okay, that's really just a picture; the real thing actually exists in three dimensions!)

My friend "The Wiz" and I took ourselves and Garmin out for a spin yesterday morning at 6:15.
The temperature was "only" 80 degrees, but so humid that you could see it in the air.

I'd like to say that Garmin made the run easier. In fact, I will say it: "The Garmin made the run easier!" No, that's a lie. But in spite of the less-than-ideal conditions, it was encouraging to be able consistently to track our progress over the three miles that we ran. I usually have no idea how I'm doing while a run is going on, but the Garmin allows for constant monitoring. This may not ultimately be a good thing, but for now, it's a nice change from the anxiety of wondering.

Unfortunately, in spite of the gadgetry, my pace was not quite where it will need to be to finish under 44 minutes for the Tomato Art Fest 5K in just over a week. But according to the current weather forecast, it looks like it may be cooler that morning than it has been recently, so a sub-44 finish is still a possibility! Here's hoping! My goal is to get at least one 3+ mile run in before TAF, and at least one shorter run, too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

This is REALLY. HAPPENING. (yikes)

Yesterday was my birthday! Which means that "40 before 40" has officially begun! Eeeek!

I'm a little daunted by the task I've set out for myself. Partly because it is SO STINKIN' HOT here in middle Tennessee at the moment as to make training runs almost unimaginable.

BUT. A group of my very sweet and ever-supportive friends chipped in for my birthday and got me a really swanky Garmin GPS/heart monitor/calorie calculating watch! It is super fancy. I think it might also do your taxes. So I feel pretty legit and prepared to conquer the open road! Once I figure out how to work it, that is.

My first 40B40 event is the 5K that kicks off the East Nashville Tomato Art Fest. My goal is to finish under 44 minutes, which I think is achievable but going to take some effort as the course is quite hilly. Only 12 days to go!