That’s me in the pink, finishing my very first marathon in Cleveland, Ohio seven years ago. In what that run offered in humility, it doubled down on in mediocrity, and in turn a reality check to my status as a middle-of-the-pack runner.
(There’s nothing like seeing a comma in your finishing place to swiftly kick any dreams of going pro to the corralled curb.)
To the chagrin of the competitive jerk inside me who hates not being the best at things, I ran a few more marathons after Cleveland – even trained pretty hard for a couple of them. I also swore up and down after each one that it was the last, that I wasn’t putting myself through that pain and misery again. I’d find a different hobby that didn’t come with disgusting goopy stuff in little pouches meant for either eating or smearing on your body to avoid chaffing. I’d get my weekends back, save a billion dollars on race fees, and actually maybe have a social life again.
And eventually, I made good on that promise. (And I DEFINITELY stopped eating disgusting goopy stuff in little pouches.)
I continued running, though in the most ardently casual form of the term. I ran when I felt like it, and didn’t when I didn’t. I quit logging miles, “lost” my GPS watch, and even stopped getting offended when people called it “jogging.”
Life as a casual, slightly out-of-shape run/jogger was pretty primo.
So how did I wind up here, on the brink of a 12-week training cycle for my first marathon in half a decade with one of America’s best female distance runners (who also happens to be my boss) prescribing workouts for my mid-pack ass? Did I hit the jackpot or just sign my own death sentence?
Both, maybe, but when the competitive bug bites it’s hard not to scratch it.
This is week one of my twelve week voyage back to the Cleveland Marathon. I’m moving trepidatiously – both out of necessity because of the out-of-shapedness and also like someone who just took back an ex who they swore they were “never, ever, ever getting back together” with.
But, here we are.
Lauren will be assigning a workout a week, and (pending my survival) I’ll be sharing the good, bad, and ugly of the process. If you’re on your own long distance mission maybe you’ll get a few tips or pointers, or at least some misery-loves-company type of camaraderie. And if you’re just here for the entertainment at least keep an eye on my warm ups while I go dry heave into these bushes.
Fleshman calls it: Double-Double Baseline Test
Sarah calls it: A Rude Awakening
Effort: “Hard, but not all out. You should be happy it’s over.”
Threat of puking: 4-out-of-10
Man I was nervous all day about this. (mental note: try early morning workouts to avoid choking down butterflies for hours at your desk.) The best comparison I can come up with is walking into an annual review with your intimidating yet well-respected boss*. You want to please and impress them, but a pile of worry over “Did I do enough? My best? Could I have done more?” burns like a garbage fire in your gut that makes your palms all sweaty and your throat taste like dirty pennies.
*ironically this has nothing to do with LF being my boss
Welp, too late to fix anything in the past, time to buckle up and own the present!
After a (possibly procrastinatory slow) warm up I took a deep breath and one last look around for any reason to not start running, and hit my hand-me-down chrono watch as my feet started moving forward. Without any concept of pace or fitness I trotted out at a speed somewhere between our group lunch runs and sprinting-through-the-parking-lot-because-it’s-freezing-and-you-forgot-a-jacket.
Really calculated stuff.
The running was obviously hard, but I think the biggest challenge was not freaking out when I started breathing heavy barely two minutes in. Like, “Oh great this already sucks how in the blazing hell am I supposed to get through the rest of this?!” Believing that there’s a plateau between Chatty Cathy and Hyperventilating Harriet to hang out on is a really hard thing to do when you’re so unfamiliar with the territory and your own fitness. (Or lack thereof…)
Despite my brain trying to conspire with my lungs against me, my legs carried me through the first rep feeling strong (15:18), and then miraculously through the second two seconds faster (15:16). Even more impressive though I managed not to barf in Banana Republic’s bushes and enjoyed a wondrous endorphin high that lasted approximately 29 hours.
Armed now with some data points, Lauren will use these results to work her magic on the rest of the training schedule and upcoming workouts.
Here we go…