Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Four days and sixteen hours from now, I will cross the starting line of the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. For nearly six months, I have been training. There have been Good Runs, and Bad Runs. There have been injuries. There have been moments when I thought myself crazy for even attempting this feat. There have been moments of elation and anticipation. And there have been many, many pieces of writing composed in my head during those endless long runs around Central Park. I may or may not have occasionally composed them out loud. Apologies to my fellow runners. Whatever gets you through right?
This past Sunday, I completed my very last long run. During that six mile loop, my mind was spinning with ways to encapsulate this entire experience. Because training is not really about a single run, Good or Bad. It is about the sum total of all those hours. About mental and physical fitness. Because, honestly, at mile ten, I'm pretty sure it is my mind, rather than my legs, that will carry me through to the finish. And whether I run, skip, walk, crawl, or am carried across the finish line, I will finish.
Somewhere around East 95th street, it came to me. How to best sum up the past six months. Before I knew it, my run was over, and a blog post was composed.
So here, for your reading satisfaction, in an homage to my amazingly talented and beautiful cousin Jena Friedman, writer extraordinaire for the Late Show with David Letterman, are the Top Ten Things I Learned While Training for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon:
10. Map My Run is the best website ever. I now know what landmark is exactly 1.5 miles from the front door of my apartment in every direction.
9. I get jealous of other runners. Even if I have already run that morning. Or even if it is a rest day. Seeing someone running instantly makes me want to don my gear and head for the park. Major change from my previous reaction of "ugh, that looks horrible, why would anyone want to do that?"
8. I do laundry just so I have clothes to run. I hate doing laundry. Loathe it. It is my absolute least favorite household chore. In law school I sometimes bought more underwear rather than do laundry. But since I started running, I find myself in the laundry room far more often than I used to be. Running clothes are way more expensive than new underwear.
7. Running requires a lot of gear. Handheld water bottle. Fuel belt. Foam roller. Running gloves. Running headband. Running hat. iPod. Headphones. Stopwatch. Not to mention t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, jackets, hoodies, shorts, tights, shoes, socks, and the like. And I kind of love it all.
6. I love running in the morning. I have always been a morning person, but mostly a wake-up-early-and-drink-coffee-while-watching-the-news kind of person. Not a don-running-gear-and-head-to-the-park-for-a-3-mile-run kind of person. But I love it. Dearly. Unreasonably.
5. I am the kind of person runs on vacation. 5 miles in Tel Aviv. When I could have been sleeping. Or reading a book on our hotel room terrace overlooking the ocean. Or drinking coffee on the beach. Or any number of other things that don't involve physical movement of any kind.
4. I consider the aforementioned 5 miles a "short" run. I believe this lunacy needs no explanation.
3. I say "I'm never doing this again" and "I hate running" with stunning regularity, and mean it. At least once every time I hit the park.
2. Running in extreme weather is amazing. Seriously. My best runs have all been in weather I previously thought meant "stay home and watch tv. Or read. And have a snack. Do not attempt physical exercise of any kind. Even walking ten feet to the drug store is far too taxing." Heat wave. Bitter cold. Pouring rain. Blinding snow. Give me those over 65 and sunny any day. I understand this might make me a little crazy. Ok, a lot crazy.
1. I run in my dreams. No longer is my most common anxiety dream showing up for a test I haven't studied for, or leaving for the airport having not packed for a trip. I now dream about showing up late to the starting line. Or getting lost on the course. Or finishing the race dead last. Or starting the race and forgetting how to run.
So, there you have it. The culmination of six semi-insane, but superbly fun months. Friday morning, romance novels (I'll have the new book in Nora Robert's Boonsboro Inn Trilogy to help combat pre-race anxiety) and running shoes in hand, I head to Pittsburgh for the weekend. And Sunday morning, I'm (literally) off to the races.
I wonder how many blog posts I can write in my head in 13.1 miles? I think we're all about to find out.