Thursday, February 17, 2011

"The Joy that is Running"

Do the work. Do the analysis. But feel your run. Feel your race. Feel the joy that is running.
Kara Goucher, American long-distance runner
I felt the joy Sunday at the Mardi Gras Half Marathon in New Orleans, LA.  When I sat down to write about running the race "by feel", and saw this quote, I couldn't help but smile.

I was very nervous, as usual, before the race on Sunday.  I hadn't trained like I should have.  Seriously.  It seems everyone says that, but I had only done one 10 mile run, and that was over a month ago.  My weekly running miles have not been more than 20 (and usually more like 15), other than maybe two weeks, for the last several months.  Yes, I have been swimming, and have been on the bike a few times, but that is not the same as running miles.

When I planned out my training calendar, I set reasonable weekly mileage goals and planned out my workouts, but it seems I don't really adhere to a plan very well.  I had also set A, B and C goals.  (A-sub 2:15, B-2:20, C-2:30)  When Sunday morning rolled around I had decided, given my lack of sticking to my training schedule, I would also toss out the goals just to be fair to myself.  I decided to simply run by feel, make it an enjoyable experience, and see where that got me (even if that meant not finishing the race, or walking).

I pretty much stuck to that plan, if you can call not having a set plan "a plan".  Other than not having my usual running buddies with me, I have to say that was one of the most enjoyable runs of my life!!  I ran for a solid TWO HOURS AND NINETEEN MINUTES at a remarkably steady pace (until the last mile which I sped up a good 30 seconds!).   Every time I started to think about the run (What time will I finish? Can I speed up?  Do I need a Gu?  Is that a pain?  Will I be hurt tomorrow?) I made a decision to just keep running and stop thinking (except when it came to Gu--I made sure to take in fuel and drink water).

As the quote said, I felt my race run (I was NOT "racing").  It was a struggle because my mind has a hard time being quiet.  (If my husband is reading, he is now seriously laughing out loud.)


As I write this, I'm sitting in Starbucks watching a mother and her small son.  From the moment they walked in, he has been talking non-stop.  Excited, exuberant, demanding...loud.  She tried giving him something to eat; that didn't quiet him.  She tried giving him something to look at ("look at those big machines out the window"); that didn't work.  She tried distracting him with toys; that didn't work.  As I was writing, and blocking out the noise (albeit cute noise), I didn't even realize it had stopped.  She gave him her iPod and earphones.  Given the way he is intently looking at the screen, it's some kind of video.  She has relaxed and is reading her kindle, sipping her coffee.

...until five minutes have passed and we all hear, "MAKE IT TALK AGAIN MOMMA!!!"

The place is full of noise and activity and music and conversation.  The boy isn't bothering anyone and is incredibly cute, but he is keeping Momma from reading and sipping.  She calmly tells him it's time to go.  ((Not in an exasperated way, not in an annoyed way...just in a matter of fact way, as if she were planning to leave at this time all along... although I have the feeling if he'd continued to have been occupied, she'd have sipped and read much longer.))

She puts the earphone and iPod away.  She tosses the uneaten portion of his muffin in the bag and sweeps up the million fallen crumbs.  She wipes up the spilled milk.  She packs up the toys and leads him out the door...both of them smiling from ear to ear, holding hands.

That is a perfect illustration for my run on Sunday...I spent more time quieting the child that is my mind than I did reading and sipping my coffee.  But we both (my mind and my body) ended the run smiling and happy and knowing completely "the joy that is running".

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon....I should have a full recap written soon!

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