Reaction Time

October 12, 2010 at 9:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Training Calls for: 3 miles (check!)

Miles Run So Far: 267.2

Days Left: 5 (deep breaths…deep breaths…)

Confession time:

I had a panic attack yesterday thinking about the marathon.

I’m normally a very low-key, low-stress person (stop smirking, Sam) who does not get ruffled by future things.  I did not have a panic attack about any of these past majorly-life-changing events: graduating from college, moving several states away to take a job where I knew no one, getting married, telling my first boss I quit, starting a new career, going back to school, buying our first car, buying our first house.  Not a single panic attack in any of those segments of life.  But on a random Monday, less than a week away from 26.2 miles, my heart started to pound uncontrollably.

I guess there’s a first time for everything.

I was scoping out the marathon website to email information to my parents when everything started to overwhelm me.

That route on the map looks incredibly long….Wait, how many water stations are there?…Parking is going to be a nightmare….Quick, check the weather….What am I going to wear?

Pretty soon, I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath and I actually had to go in my office, close the door and put my head down on my desk.

Breathe.  Deep breaths.  In and out.  In and out.  Stop.  Freaking.  Out.

I may have joked about hyperventilating into a paper bag in the past, but I kind of get how that little piece of grocery garb could be clutch in a situation like this.

When I told my sister about my little “episode”, she asked: “what exactly are you worrying about?”

Good question.  I have no idea.

And then it kind of struck me how silly the whole thing was.  If I don’t know what I’m specifically worrying about, then there’s nothing to worry about.  I have trained for more than four months for this one event and while it makes me nervous, there isn’t anything to worry about.

What if I can’t find my groove and I struggle?  Well, I know how that feels, I dealt with it during our 18 miler and I overcame it.  I showed it who’s boss.

What if I wear the wrong thing and overheat?  I’ve been testing outfits for two weeks and if I make a boo-boo, I’ll ditch the clothes.  They’re donated to the needy anyway.  No biggie.

What if I surprise myself and it feels effortless?  Um, keep running, goofball.  Just like you did when you ran half the 20 mile run without stopping.

It all comes down to reaction time.  Not reaction time as in the ever-inadequate “hey look out!” before a softball smacks you in the face, but reaction time as in you have to wait until the time to react.

I can’t run a marathon ahead of time just so I can feel prepared and less scared and know how I’m going to handle every little curveball or pitfall.  I’m going to have to react when the time comes.  It isn’t here yet, so no sense in getting my running shorts in a bunch over nothing.  My training has shown me that I can not only run the distance, but I have learned to react well to just about anything.

I’m always surprised by how much running mirrors life.  Maybe it’s because over the past year I’ve become a devout discipline of Saint Hal Higdon, maybe because running gives you an incredible amount of peaceful time for self-reflection.  Whatever the reason, you can’t tell me that this whole theory of reaction time isn’t applicable to life in general.

Wait until the time comes to react.  Don’t bother with the what ifs.  Otherwise, you’re wasting energy having a panic attack in your office with the lights off wondering who will explain to your husband that it was the mental preparation for the marathon that killed you, not the actual physical exertion.

Someone sent me an email recently and included in their signature line was the quote, “The miracle isn’t that you finished.  The miracle is that you had the courage to start.”

Amen to that.  The hard part is over.  If I have to crawl across that finish line, it doesn’t matter.  I had the courage to start.  I’ll just take whatever comes my way and rely on some well-prepared reaction time to deal with it.



File this one away…

September 27, 2010 at 9:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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…in the “you’re never going to believe this” category.

Only this time, it isn’t something fun I’m sharing, it’s something sad.

Yep.  Last Thursday, the 16th, my hometown was hit by a tornado.  No, I’m not kidding.  Yes, we’re okay.  No, our house was not damaged…but plenty of other people became uprooted and homeless in the blink of an eye.

It happened so quickly.  I had just gotten home from work and the next thing I knew, Sam herded me and the monsters down to the basement.  I even said to him, “are you sure it’s a tornado warning? It must be a watch — we’re never under a warning.”

It only took a few minutes for the tornado to apparently pass down the road behind our house.  It’s spooky to know that a tornado can rip through the neighborhood one street over where trees fell on houses and our little home was untouched.

The power was out for about 3 days, so I fled to civilization with Sam where he had to work an event for our university.  Our wonderful friends, Joe and Kathy, took us (and the monsters!) in as refugees.  We promised to return the favor if a tornado ever hits their hometown…although I hope that never happens.

Sam and I completed our scheduled training run of 14 miles along the beautiful Olentangy River trail under near civilization and it was a pretty good run.  The trail is beautiful and has so curves and winds, so it isn’t a boring old straight-arrow path.  Very nice!

When we got back home Sunday afternoon, there was so much to do to get the house in order.  Food to throw away, cleaning to do, groceries to buy (and replace) and this week just took off like a freight train.  Every time I had a minute to sit down, the last thing I could think of doing was firing up the laptop to try and explain what had been going on over here in my little land.

I know it all seems like a big apology — and that’s because that’s kind of what it is.  If you read this blog with any regularity, I know you expect to see something new every once in a while.  I kind of got a big, fat “F” in that department.  I’ll try and make it up to you :).

Saturday night, my friend Kelly and I took advantage of a pretty cool local event.  The 30-mile meal was the final event in a week long program celebrating local food production in the form of a dinner made completely from food grown or produced within a 30-mile radius.

My delicious plate:

Trust me when I say I took a nibble of everything on this menu:

By biking to the dinner, Kelly and I saved $5 off our admission.  I’m always up for a little exercise and it helped work up an appetite.  The dinner started at 6 and the line was supah long.

Peeps recognize good food when they see it!  I’m glad there were plenty of carb-friendly options on the menu, but I was prepping (mentally and physically) to run 20 miles the next day.

Sunday morning, Sam and I got up nice and early to found a good, cool morning awaiting us.  The weather was in the upper 50’s with a slight breeze.  Perfect.  We had agreed ahead of time that we wouldn’t be running these 20 miles together.  It was a hard decision to make, since we’ve been running buddies for all of the long runs, but in reality, we won’t be running the marathon together.  Sam is a faster runner and I don’t want to hold him back.  Besides, the kind people of the Columbus marathon have decided to place us in different corrals. 😛

I packed my Clif Blok shots, filled Alice the Camelbak with Gatorade and started to gear up for this run.

It’s going to be fine, it’s going to be fine, it’s going to be fine.

Running a long distance like that is more mental than anything else.  Your body can do almost anything — it’s your mind that needs convincing.  Think of your body as a leaderless pack of cattle and your mind as the sheepdog that corrals them.  If you’ve got your mind focused and in agreement with your plan, your body has no choice but to follow.

The plan was to follow our 10-mile route twice.  10+10 = 20.  From the bike path to our house one direction was 6.4 miles, from our house back to the path in another direction was 3.6 miles.  We parked a car at the bike path and used both the vehicle and the house as “aid stations”.

I totally surprised myself by making it back to the house and feeling great.  Six miles in and I was doing good.  I made the decision to keep with the momentum and not stop at the house for water.  I had my Camelbak and I wanted to just keep running.

Um, I ran the first 10 mile lap without stopping.  I probably could have kept going, except I knew I needed to actually stop and conscious drink water and take energy gels.  Since I’m prone to dehydration, things could get nasty if all the hydrating I was doing was taking little hits off my Camelbak.

I stopped at the car, drank up, chomped down and stretched a little.

A little walk break and I got back to business.  I ran the whole 6 miles back to the house without stopping.  Who am I??  That’s 16 miles and just one walk break.

While I was running, I thought a lot about my parents.  They are undoubtedly my biggest cheerleaders on this planet (besides Sam).  When I was younger, my dad always told me, “your best is good enough“.  On this run, I really felt like I was following that idea.  I could have stopped and walked earlier, I could have taken it slower or given in to the sore legs and achy feet, but that wasn’t my best.  If I was going to give forth the effort, only my best was going to be good enough.

My best is good enough.  My best is good enough.  My best is good enough,”  I repeated over and over.  It became a mantra.  Incidentally, it was a better mantra than what I started the run with: “lookin’ good and feelin’ fine…feelin’ fine and lookin’ good“.  😉  A little self-absorbed, no?

Around the point when I started back towards the path (miles 16-20), I was starting to lose steam.  My legs were achy, my IT band started to flare and I was ready to be done.  I had walked for almost .75 miles after I hit 16 miles and it was a little too long.  My body had tasted the temptation of a walk break — and it wanted more.

No way.  We’re going to do this, I told myself.  I kept trucking through to mile 18, took a mini-walk break (maybe .10 mile) and pushed forward.

This is where it starts to get silly.  I had about a mile left, I knew I could make it and then, I started to lose my mind.  No joke.  I’m glad no one was around to hear the things I was saying out loud to keep moving.  But since this is an honest blog, I’ll tell you anyway. 😉

With a half mile left, I started to talk to myself about the girl I was.

I am the girl who could only run a quarter of a mile last year.  I am the girl whose butt was glued to the couch.  I am the girl who was thin but out of shape.  I am the girl who was hooked on fast food.  I am the girl who listened to that little voice too much.  I am the girl who told herself no.”

It morphed in to me talking to myself about who I am now.

I am the girl who ran a half marathon.  I am the girl decided to do this.  I am the girl who told the little voice to get lost.  I am the girl who is running, who is a runner.  I am the girl who will dominate a marathon soon. I am the girl.  I-am-the-girl.  Iamthegirl.

Flying down the last hill, I powered through and hit the exact point where I started 3 hours, 38 minutes and 4 seconds earlier.

I am the girl who just ran 20 miles,” I whispered to myself as I hit the button on my stopwatch.

And damn, it feels good.

That’s 20 miles, peeps.  Twenty whole miles.

So bring it on marathon, bring. it. on.

P.S. Don’t fret pets, I’m back with more regularity now.  Sorry for the hiatus, I’m doing my best.  And isn’t my best good enough?

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