Catching Up…Again…

Clearly I haven’t written much lately, but I’ve been busy and running. Things have been a little rough. I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of this mile challenge, and looking forward to the one mile portion of the Turkey Trot to gauge where I’m at (since treadmills are good tools but running on roads is very different). I’m struggling hard core with my marathon training long runs, they’re just not going as well as I want (or feel like I need) them to. However, I’m at the point where it’s do or die…less than 2 months to get my act together and I need to focus and go all in–which admittedly I haven’t done up to this point, for all my talk. I have a small handful of races before the marathon, but I have worked them in and will run around them if I need to (GULP).

I’m on track for 40 races this year–which is incredible even to me.

The truth is I’ve started writing this blog post about 50 times and it just didn’t solidify for me until this weekend. Things have been crazy at work (not in a good way) and that pushed me harder in my workouts this week. I know I should do a proper race recap for the Brookline Breeze, but it was kind of an unremarkable race for me. The weeks since, however, have been mind-blowing in a way. Since that last post, I’ve been running with people more and I’m finding that I really like that. I went out with my buddy and another chick from our running club and while a lot of the run itself was awful and a struggle, I had a blast. I cut my mileage short that day because I was miserable, it was hot and humid, they reassured me that I had plenty of time and not to stress about it. Which of course, I still am, but that’s neither here nor there. It was nice to share the misery of that run and have fun despite it.

The next week my husband and I went on vacation, so I largely ran alone since he and I do NOT run together. And that was also good. Got massively sunburned during our beach day and had to take it easy so no long run that weekend either. Seriously stressing at this point. And I found I really, really missed my Wednesday night running buddies. But we had a great trip.

I came back and my work life took a nosedive. I’m a workaholic. I’ve always worked as much as I could at this job because I loved it and the rug was ripped out from under me when I got back. I still have a job, but it’s almost unrecognizable at this point. I’m trying to roll with it and stick it out, I know this is largely growing pains for our division and I’m optimistic that it will get better, but oh god, seeing things done so badly is painful. I just want to scream–I literally did my Master’s work in Organizational Development and they’re going about it all wrong. It’s so frustrating and a 180 from what I’m used to there. So I’ve been channeling that frustration and energy into my workouts and at least those have been going well. Returned to my Wednesday night group and it was great. I realized this week that when I started going I could barely manage 3 miles without wanting to die, and now I’m up to a solid 5 miles. It’s fun to see how much stronger I’m getting just by showing up and doing the work. Still I’ve shied away from the group runs on Saturdays–they never seem to go well for me, my social anxiety kicks up and it throws my world off it’s orbit. The girls talked me into showing up on Saturday.

So I showed up on Saturday. And it was fine. The crowd is a little smaller this time of year than when they have their Pittsburgh Marathon training runs. And having people to look for and talk to eased my anxiety over being lost in a crowd and not knowing anyone. It was an adventure, let me  tell you. Three of us stuck together, and we ran the first 7 miles with the group–should’ve been 10, but we ended up starting off with 2 guys who only meant to run 5 but followed us and didn’t bring maps, so we got them back to the garage and used the opportunity to refill water bottles, take some gels, use the bathroom, etc. One chick needed 20 miles, the other one and I both needed 16, so we planned to stick together–misery loves company. Along the way we encountered an Indian wedding procession, complete with groom on white horse being followed by a crowd through the streets of Pittsburgh. A female figure competitor getting bikini shots taken on the South Side. We ran into my buddy who was not running but tailgating for the Pitt game. Then we encountered the warm up performance by the visiting teams marching band. It was the most random sequence of events. And we were all kind of miserable, but it was still fun. And I largely kept up–at least until the last couple of miles. Once we got back to the trail and I knew I wouldn’t get lost I was less concerned about getting separated and I pulled back. I was hurting and needed to walk more (though I have to wonder if we’d not been on trail where I felt ‘comfortable’ if I would have run more to not lose them…). Regardless, I’m very glad they talked me into going to the group run.

Monday, I did the Steelers 5k for the first time. I was doing awesome and was on track for a PR for the first 2 miles, but I lost it in mile 3. And I was really okay with that. I’m not really training for speed right now. I had a good time. My time was respectable–not a PR but still a lot faster than last year at this time. And I’m really proud of my effort. I worked.

I also realized some things about myself this weekend. I feel like I’m really finding myself as a runner. Finally. It’s not who I always thought I was, and it’s not who I thought I *wanted* to be. I always thought I preferred running alone. It turns out that I don’t. I always thought I wanted to focus on long distance stuff. It turns out I don’t. I never thought I could be fast. Turns out I was wrong, there’s potential there. I have all of these options open to me that I never realized I had, because of the box that I’d put myself in. I’m committed to this marathon and seeing it through, but I no longer care about the time goal I’d set. I’m definitely going to shift my focus for the next year. Stick to half marathons and shorter because I love running all of the races and I hate turning things down for the sake of getting in a long run. I want to do more speed work and see what I’m capable of. I want to finally break 30 in a damn 5k. I want to run more with people because other people push me to be better–not just my buddy, but anyone who is a little faster than me or stronger than me. And if they don’t force my hand on pace, they at least make it way more fun. I’m gonna stick to the stuff I like, and the stuff that makes me feel good and love running, and stop doing the stuff that I think I *should* do.

More soon. Happy Tuesday, friends.

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