Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Other Adventures--Run, Diva, Run!
So one of the things that J & I started to do last year (besides join a gym to try to lose the weight we packed on after the wedding) was start running. Yes--me, the aging ballerina--running. Running because I want to and not for the bus because I am going to be late. J grumbled about running. "I hate it", he said. "I never liked it.", he said. But I wanted to run the Pirates 5K last year after some friends had run it in 2011. I was just motivated to try something new in my 40s, and I always wanted to be a runner. I tried when I was younger, but knee problems and also the lack of stamina from my scrawny, teenage body made for little success. My brother was a cross country champion. Ran track & cross country in college. Ran marathons. Ran the 1996 OLYMPIC TRIAL marathon. And came in 14th. Meanwhile, I ran for the bus, when I thought I might miss it or saw it coming, and knew if I didn't get it, I would be late. So I stuck with ballet, and for years wished I could run, convinced that I couldn't. But something in me said, I want to do this. And my outside voice told J that I didn't want to do it alone. Hint, hint. So he said OK. Then a funny thing happened. We gave it a go, and the first time, we made it further than expected. Then as days and weeks went on, we kept going. And we liked it. Actually, we loved it.
We started running 5K (3.1 miles) races. Didn't do too badly. Until we got to three races in the summer that had at least one significant hill. Then we realized how spoiled we were running on the (flat) South Side trail. So we started adding hill work into one of our three weekly runs. And adding distance. Our original plan was 5Ks last year, 10Ks this year, and maybe a half marathon in 2014. But last year was a difficult year for many reasons, and running actually helped get me through that and give me an outlet. And we started to realize with all of these things going on that life is short. My body and my old knees handled the running much better than I expected, but I realized that there was no guarantee that I would still be running in 2014, or that I would be able to handle that distance then. So I said let's go for the Pittsburgh Half in 2013. J agreed. So we continued to add distance and hill work. We found a 10K to run in October, which was great, because we got to reap the benefits of our distance and hill work on that course, but also we then had the mental note of "OK, that was almost half of a half. We're halfway there and have months to go."
We continued to run through the end of the year, finishing out 2012 with a 5K race on New Year's Eve. Despite the cold, we ran outside when we could, as once we got used to outdoor running, we dreaded the treadmill. We both were sick in December, so lost a little ground, then I had an unfortunate 3 weeks of illness in January that set us back from the plan we had mapped out. We have kept at it as best as we could, being smart about adding distance gradually, and not focusing on how fast we are doing it, but just DOING it. We have gotten to 11 miles, and run almost the entire half marathon course, as most of it is accessible any time. We feel really good about where we are with things, and no longer look upon parts of the course with dread. I never in my life thought that I would be excited beyond belief about running 13.1 miles. But I am.
One of the best parts about this--besides the feelings of accomplishment, besides making new personal records sometimes, besides feeling good and healthy and strong--is how much more awesome it has made our marriage and relationship. I mean, everyone has their moments, and we still do too. But getting out and getting fit together, and the teamwork we have put into doing this is just really, really cool. We have sometimes run in silence, other times we have talked for miles and miles. We have laughed a lot, met a lot of cool people and dogs, and seen a lot of cute ducks and bunnies (clearly, I love animals). We have explored a lot of different areas of Pittsburgh in order to keep our runs interesting, and rewarded ourselves with beers and/or grub at many local eateries afterwards.
When I registered us for the half marathon, I had to choose estimated per mile paces/expected finish times. I put myself in a category that would set me to finish between 2.25 and 2.5 hours, while I put J in a category that would bring him to the finish line in 2 hours or less, which he is more than capable of. On our last long run last weekend, J told me that he wants to switch his category so that we can run together. That with this being our first, and such an accomplishment, that he wanted us to start and finish together. I am so happy and proud to be able to run this side by side with my amazing husband.
On a final note, the running community is an awesome community, and we are happy to be a part of it. Our thoughts on Sunday will be with all of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. You are unstoppable in the face of adversity, and are an amazing group of people. When I run, I will be running in memory of someone very special our family lost on May 3 last year. JLW--you are missed, your courage and strength was astounding, and I am grateful for the butterflies you sent me each time I was struggling last year. I'm also running for JB, who continues her fight with amazing faith and determination. You are all loved. XOXO