A running club with weekly Group Runs in Aurora, IL., Montgomery, IL. and Oswego, IL.
(No Caroline isn’t in this pic, at least as far as I know, it just goes with the title! -Ellen)
After your laughter dies down, let me explain. I am eyeball deep in my marathon training. I decided to participate in a 28 day run challenge for the month of February. I was to run at least 1 mile a day. I was a little hesitant at first, thinking “girl, aren’t you supposed to take days off?” I dove right in anyway, keeping track of my mileage in my Minnie Mouse calendar. 147 miles and mountains of laundry later I learned…
Everybody has good days and bad days. I rocked a 16 mile run, late at night in 20 degrees. Sometimes, it was torture getting out of my warm bed to get out for a run. I hated that I would be running when everybody else in the world was having fun (or so it seemed) on a Friday night. I dislike the treadmill, and I tried to form a bond with it. Major fail, but I did, watching Parks and Recreation to pass the time. Foam rolling? Gah! No glass of wine tonight? Rats! In the end, I realized it wasn’t running that made my life un-fun. I was doing what I wanted to do. The wine could wait.
For those of us that ran every day, some ran one while others ran 20+ miles daily, sometimes doing a double (i.e., two in a day). Nutso, right? However, they are non-crazy individuals that choose to run longer than I because they can. They have lives, families, work, and hate the cold slushy puddles too. I never crushed a 29 mile run, but I ran my longest solo runs. With each week, I was running further and further. My quads weren’t screaming as loudly to stop. I was actually getting stronger! I’ll get to the 30 milers soon enough. When I do, you can call me beautiful, courageous, or amazing, because that’s how I feel afterwards.
If I was in pain or not completely recovered from a long run, I did 1 mile. Compared to some, I had many 1 mile days. I would sneak a mile in on cross-training days. I would run an easy mile around my neighborhood with the world’s greatest dogs. The encouragement from the others to get that one mile done was exceptional. People would post about running in place, on stairs, running in only their underwear, barefoot, or in their work clothes to get that mile in. After reading the posts, I had no choice but to run, (fully clothed, of course).
February in Illinois is well…cold. This made things sticky sometimes, with the majority of my miles outside. I learned how to dress myself for the cold, bought an awesome new windbreaker, tried out different socks, hats, and neck gaiters, learned how to keep the tube on my Nathan camelback from freezing, got myself those spiky things for my shoes, kept a spare set of running gear in my car at all times, and found that a $10 pair of fleece lined tights makes an excellent base layer. I ran through snow, slush, icy rain, wind, and my favorite, sunshine. Sometimes the sweat would make my hair freeze. Vaseline makes a great wind barrier on the face. My right nostril runs first. Getting out the door was the hardest part. However, once I started, I always tried to finish strong, despite the elements (and my runny nose) conspiring against me.
Now about me specifically: I was hungry all of the time, but I didn’t eat just anything. I found myself more cleanly than ever before. I had three times the amount of laundry than normal, which was annoying but tolerable. I woke up at 5 A.M. to run even though I’m not a morning person. I found I love these organic fruit bites as mid-run fuel instead of GU. Classical music makes for excellent running music, but so does Jay-Z. Running with friends is awesome, but I treasured the time by myself, where I could let my mind go and just run. I found new routes, made new friends, and was doing what I would have thought to be impossible a short time ago.
I survived! I PR’ed in total mileage per month. I ran 27/28 days. My legs aren’t going to fall off. I met some fantastic new people.
Most importantly, I still love running.