Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I Think I Can. I Think I Can

So I've randomly decided to become a runner.

Last year I became quilter, so I needed something else  to become this year, I suppose. The truth is that I really like doing stuff that's hard. Except when I hate it.

My initial goal was to run two miles without stopping. I am fully aware that for people who run regularly, this is like saying I set a goal of ten jumping jacks. Don't judge.

I started off running moving myself two miles on the treadmill, alternating one minute walking with one minute running. Then I increased to two minutes running, one minute walking. Can I tell you that running for a full two minutes just about killed me? It did. My nose was running faster than my body, and I'm pretty sure the Aerofit folks were standing by with some oxygen or maybe an AED machine. At first it really, really sucked. Did I say really? Well, I meant it.

Then I increased again. Then again. Then one day, accidentally, I ran a whole mile. Shockingly, when it came time for me to walk, I didn't want to. I am ever the planner, controller, scheduler and this was certainly not planned, controlled, or scheduled. I wanted to run, and I felt like I had conquered the world!

(cue reflective music to accompany wise quote)
"Sometimes the best things in life happen spontaneously." ~Stormy Hickman
(end reflective music)

I don't know how much longer it took me to run two miles without stopping on the treadmill, but it wasn't very long. Maybe a week. Off to goal #2: Run two miles outside.

I decided to run on a track because I am severely task oriented and knew I would be able to clearly see how far I had left to run. Also, as a school employee formerly of the high school nature I have access to some tracks because I know some peeps. To the track I went.

It sucked a lot.

I was hot and sweating and tired and good Lord the shin splints! My plan was to run a lap and walk a lap, but that pretty quickly turned into run 200, walk 400, try not to cry, run 200,  "Stormy Gale, you are not a quitter!," walk 200, run 100, walk 400, crawl to car.

I have not been back to the track.

Instead I mapped out a little route around my house that covers 2.5 miles if I do it twice. I began alternating running a quarter mile, walking a quarter mile. I realized immediately that my running pace was too fast. On the treadmill I ran two miles at about an 11 minute pace, and I was running my quarter miles at about a nine minute pace. I knew if I wanted to run for longer stretches I needed to slow down. As much as I tried, I just could not slow down. I was suffering by the end of every run. Also, good Lord the shin splints.

But I'm a resourceful gal. I started icing my shins after every run and applying Pan Away Essential Oils (some new voodoo I'm into). Then I did me some googling and found a web site called JogFM. I used it to make a playlist of songs on my phone that are at an 11 minute mile pace. That was a couple of weeks ago, and since then I have consistently run at a pace between 10:30 and 11:10.

(cue reflective music to accompany wise quote)
"Music can inspire us do things we don't think we can." ~Stormy Hickman
(end reflective music)

I coaxed my sister into running a 5K with me on March 28th, and we agreed that we would walk as much as we needed. It was a great race, and I felt good. We finished in 35:40. I am still super proud of that for my first 5K!

I continued to run 4-5 times the following week.

Then we were in Rice for Easter. Wendy (who, did I mention, is four years younger and four inches taller than me) asked if I wanted to do a 5K Fun Run, and I quickly agreed. The voices in my head were supportive. "I am a 5K rock star, man!  Did you see me last week? I wasn't even last!"

And so on the freezing cold morning of the race, it was freezing cold. In the 40's, I think. Cold. I decided to put my race t-shirt on over my dry fit and under my jacket because I needed the extra layers. Someone announced the pre-race warm-up, so we made our way there. A crazy excited trainer person made us do jumping jacks and high knees and lunges (lunges are from the devil, by the way). I was quickly becoming unmotivated tired angry. "DOES HE KNOW WE HAVE TO RUN AFTER THIS?" I may have said that a little too loudly.

Once the pre-race personal training session was over, they made a couple of announcements. The first was about some giant dogs about half way through the course that would probably bark and chase us "but don't worry they won't bite." The second was about how the county had grated (graded? who knows.) the gravel road the day before, so be careful.

The race began, and Wendy and I ran through the sandy, boulder filled road. I know it sounds like I'm exaggerating, but clearly I do not embellish with these blogs posts. It was like basic training on a rocky beach in the Antarctic.

Wendy didn't want to leave me behind, but I told her it was fine and she took off ahead while I walked. I ran a little in the ditch when it was flat, but mostly I just walked. Good Lord the shin splints. At one point I felt discouraged. The voice in my head said, "You are not a 5K rock star. It was beginner's luck. A fluke. This running business is not for you." Then another voice in my head said, "Shut up, stupid voice. This road sucks. I might injure myself and then how will I run?" I didn't have headphones, but I cranked up my music anyway for all the world to hear, and decided to walk my happy self right on through the whole thing. (I did run at the end because the road was flat and because you have to run through the finish, right?)

On Easter Sunday (the next day), I took the day off from running. By Monday (yesterday), my back was still sore and my shins still screamed, so I took that day off, too, feeling a little defeated.

Then, this afternoon I had a quick conversation with someone I admire a great deal. She's 65 and was encouraging me to sign up for the Aggieland Triathalon. She's registered for four triathlons this year. I told her I'd been running and gave her the short version of my journey so far, and she said, "I'm just not that competitive. I want to enjoy my walks and bike rides." It was a small moment in a small conversation, but it got me.

I came home and ran. I walked a quarter, ran a half, walked a quarter, ran a half, etc. All the while I kept telling myself to stop thinking about shin splints and paces and just enjoy myself. As a result, I ran more than I ever have on this particular course.

Tonight, no shin splints.

I started this whole thing with how I like to do things that are hard. Some people have to do hard stuff because of physical disabilities or learning challenges or whatever else. My mom has MS, and do you know what she does? Yard work. Volunteer work. Raising two grandkids. When things are hard, she keeps going. That's what hard work looks like. I expect it from my children, from my students, and from the staff I have the pleasure of working with. The least I can do is expect it of myself. I can make an effort to find things that are personally challenging and not give up. I can commit to finding joy in the challenge.

So I'm becoming a runner. I'll be 38 in a couple of weeks, and while that's not old I don't ever want to be too old to try something new. I don't ever want to think I can't.

Because I think I can.


Unknown said...

I liked it. Really honest , and that's refreshing. Good luck becoming a runner.

ErinB said...

That's really inspiring to me. I'll be 39 in June. I've been thinking a lot about trying to get in shape before I'm 40. My "stupid voice"keeps telling my that it's too late and I'm too old. I certainly do wish I had a treadmill right now!

StormyHickman said...

Thanks, guys!

Unknown said...

Shin splints are awful, especially just before a marathon. I got them some years ago and know that they were linked to me changing shoes. If you want to find out how your shin splints actually cause so many problems in the foot and ankle stay tuned to my blog (http://never-never-never-give-up.com).