Early yesterday morning I sat down at my computer to start this entry. I typed in the title and just sat there. Nothing came to mind. I was distracted by the footsteps of a runner outside my window at 4:30. I know this runner. He lives in my neighborhood (the neighbor ladies, ok, myself included, refer to him as "eye candy". Spare me the text or e-mail, John. You already know this). He runs most mornings before work and I often hear him run by my house since I keep my bedroom windows cracked open when it's not too cold. For some reason, the sound of Jamie running by produced an overwhelming feeling of sadness. I knew an hour later, my friends would be meeting for a morning run. I know this happens most Tuesdays and Thursdays, but yesterday it was hard to accept that I had not been able to join them for these. I thought grief got easier with time? Not so much for the injured runner. The more time passes with a running injury, the more panic sets in over thoughts of lost running fitness and the more you realize just how much happier running made you.
Today, however, is a new day. Windows are cracked and I anticipate Jamie's footsteps at any moment. I might even do something fun like yell out the window and scare him since I've never seen him wear music. Might be fun to watch his reaction. I'll let you know how that goes. On with my story...
Upon returning home from the Athens marathons, one of the first things I did was get out my calendar and start counting back 18 weeks from October 18th. In other words, when would training officially begin for the Columbus Marathon. I came up with a date in mid June. It was the beginning of April and in order to start Higdon's Intermediate 2 training schedule, he recommended that the runner "be able to run 8 miles comfortably". Ok, I had some work to do. I had just nearly gone into cardiac arrest running 2.5 in Athens. BUT, the good news for runners (news that I'm clinging tightly to these days), is that your body has a "memory". Sure, you may have been out for a while, but you should be able to build your mileage base much quicker than a true beginner. So I began to build. Running just a bit further each time out. I was pretty amazed how quickly I reached the 8 mile point. As a matter of fact, I had a few weekends of doing an 8 mile run comfortably prior to the beginning of training. Mid June arrived and I began my "official" training schedule. I was insanely scientific about it all. After each run, I would rush home and plug in my Garmin USB cord to the computer. Up would pop all my running stats.... average pace, distance, fastest pace, slowest pace, elevation, blah, blah, blah.... Little did I know how much that freakish insanity would work against me. I'm not saying it's not for everyone, I'm saying at the time, it wasn't for me... but I didn't know it.... Hey, I hear Jamie. He is late today... 4:48 and I missed yelling at him. I'll do it tomorrow. Do you think I have ADHD?
I plowed through training without hip issues. One Sunday, my brother Jack, also a runner (a freakishly long distance runner...) invited me to come along and run with his group, the Westside Running Club. They would meet for their typical Sunday 7ish mile run and Jack and I would continue to complete my scheduled 16 miler. This was a welcomed invitation. With Sarah not doing as much distance (she was still running, but had also started getting out more on her bike), I was doing most of my running alone. I don't mind running alone. There are days when I prefer it. Days when I have a lot to think about or a lot of praying to do. But the long runs were always hard for me to do alone. I had not built "mental endurance" quite yet and that made for some very rough long runs. That particular Sunday, I got to the designated meeting place before Jack arrived. I was shocked by the number of runners convening for this run. Was there a race or something I didn't know about? No, this was just their Sunday running group. Man, how freaking cool was this! I hopped out of my car and looked around. Immediately, someone came up to me and introduced himself. I explained that I was Jack's sister and that I was joining them and then continuing on to finish out my long run. With that, I started "jogging" around the parking lot with all the other runners who were warming up. Another new concept to me... the warm-up. With that jog, followed many more eager, friendly introductions from the other runners. I instantly felt at ease and accepted. Jack arrived and we took off. I kind of realized the value of the warm-up. I was, well... warmed-up. The first couple of miles were easy. Then we entered what I like to call "hill-ville".. JEEEZUSS! Suddenly I was freaking out. Who were these hill happy freaks and don't they know I have an additional 9 miles to run? I am not supposed to be running this pace. Why aren't they slowing down for me. Damn, now I am in the back and why the hell isn't my brother back here with me? What a jerk!
We finally finished the run. Everyone spent some time cooling down, stretching out and chatting. I was messing with my Garmin, calculating my pace and trying to figure out how to pace my next 9 miles (I told you, I was/am a weirdo). My brother and I walked over to the steps so he could introduce me to someone. That someone was a woman named Kathleen. I learned that not only had Kathleen run Boston (many times), but she had also done her first ultra, the JFK 50, that previous fall and had convinced my brother to do his first one the coming fall. It would land on his 41st birthday. Also Kathleen's birthday. Kathleen asked me what I was training for and upon hearing Columbus, invited me to join some of the group on their long runs. They did long runs on Fridays, which worked perfectly for me since my husband's office is closed on Fridays. He could get the kids up and off to school, and I'd have a group to meet... perfect! She gave me her card and cell number and told me to call her for the time and meeting place the following week, then Jack and I headed off to finish our run.
Thursday arrived and I started to feel very nervous about calling Kathleen. This group was above my running capabilities. I did not want them to slow down for me, nor did I want to be left in the middle of downtown alone. But I so dreaded doing my long runs alone. So I e-mailed Kathleen, letting her know that according to my training plan, I was to be running "this particular pace" and that I did not want to hinder their run. Oh my God, I was such a NERD! She probably thought so to, but she humored me with the response of "I think you will be very happy running with us." And so I decided to go.
Friday morning I headed over to Western Hills. I was so nervous. I did not know these people and I did not know where they were taking me or how fast we were to be running or if I could keep up. I just knew I wanted company and I do like adventure. We met in the parking lot of Walgreens, decided on a route and headed out. That morning I ran with Bill, Gretchen, Ken and Kathleen. The five of us headed out toward downtown. I spent some miles chatting with Bill and Ken, then Gretchen, who with Kathleen, mostly ran a bit ahead. As the miles passed, I began to feel at ease, enjoying the company and pace. We stopped at the firehouse before reaching downtown to get water. The firefighters obviously knew this group, asked them "how far today?". We then headed over the bridge into Kentucky and got to the halfway point, at which there was a bakery... where they stopped... for a danish. Huh? I politely declined and explained that I had a "peanut butter sandwich before I left". Stupid mistake as I struggled up Eighth and State on the way back (I think that is the correct monster hill we took home) and my quads were screaming for glucose!
I ran those final 2 miles in complete misery. I was not used to running hills like that for my long runs. I was training for Columbus, and so were they, so why the hills? We finished up the run, cooled down and said our goodbyes. As I walked to my car, Kathleen said "See you next week?" "Yup, I'll be here. Thanks again. It was great" (a great ass kicking). I drove home feeling spent and happy. Man, how I wished Harrison had a group like this!