Runner's High

My Friday To-Do List started with a 5:30 a.m. wake-up followed by a short run. I’d be home by 6:00 a.m. to stretch, shower and eat breakfast before waking the kids up for school at 7:00 o’clock.

            My husband had given me a hard time the night before when he saw the yellow, memo pad resting on the bathroom counter where I’d see it first thing in the morning. “You’re getting-up at 5:30 in the morning to go run? What, running a half marathon on Saturday isn’t enough for you?”

So when I FINALLY hoisted myself out of bed at 7:15, frantic about getting the kids up for their showers and breakfast – Chuck looked at me and said, “You're about six lines behind on your To-Do List.”

            It’s not that I’d missed the alarm. No, I heard it loud and clear. I just chose to ignore it – rationalizing in my head that the week before the marathon we’re suppose to be getting as much sleep as possible (a miniature hibernation if you will.) So I’d convinced myself to sleep while I could. I was ready for the half marathon in Louisville I was running the next day, and I didn’t want to over-do it before the full marathon the following weekend.

Fast-forward to 2:00 p.m. I’m cranking along, crossing things off my To-Do List left and right. I’ve been to work, I’ve been to the radio station to record some PSAs for the Relay for Life, and I’ve been to the post office and grocery store. Now I’m home where my To-Do List is telling me it’s time to shower and get packed for Louisville.

I’m suppose to be pulling out of my driveway at 3:00 o’clock, and I’m sitting at my computer calculating whether or not I have time to squeeze in a quick run before showering and packing… all, supposedly, in an hour. ‘There’s just no way!,’ I’m telling myself while downloading the last few songs to my running play-list when my heart starts to race. It almost feels like I’m beginning to have a panic attack, so I try to breathe deeply while reminding myself that I am prepared for the half and full marathons. I don’t need to stress myself out over a twenty-minute ‘tune-up’ jog.

By this time, however, not only is my heart racing…but my lower back is beginning to ache and my legs are getting twitchy. ‘I can’t imagine having to sit in the car for an hour-and-a-half feeling like this,’ I’m thinking as I notice myself gnawing on the end of my pen.

‘Oh my Lord!’ I think. ‘I’m jonesing for a run!’ (I don’t really know what Jonesing means, and it’s not a word I would use in normal conversation, but it seemed to fit in this scenario. Not only do I not know what Jonesing means, I’ve never experienced it before since I’ve never tried drugs that would cause you to Jones.)

            Now, I have NO idea the agony that drug addicts go through (and I do consider it a real medical condition), so I’m not trying to make light of their struggles… But I was NOT getting in that car to drive to Louisville feeling the way I was feeling! I would have been miserable – tight, fidgety, anxious, uncomfortable… All words I’ve heard used when describing drug withdraw.

            So I decided to throw the schedule out the window, lace-up my running shoes and hit the pavement. And as soon as I took that first deep breath of fresh air that sent oxygen to my moving muscles, I began to calm down. And after I got home and stretched-out really good, I felt like a new person.

            I’ve often had people ask me about the ‘runner’s high’ associated with long distance running. Until now, I’ve always answered with, ‘I’ve never experienced a euphoric experience while running…I’m usually just thankful it’s over when I’m finished.’

            And I still might not get the rush while in the actual act of running, but I now know what it feels like to go through withdraws!

 

It’s been a few days since I began writing this blog, and I’m now only 2 days, 16 hours, 31 minutes and 12, 11, 10…seconds away from my first marathon (thanks flyingpigmarathon.com for adding that extra surge of anxiety); and the amount of adrenaline, endorphins and nervous energy flowing through my body feels unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

            So, it is my unprofessional opinion that the runner’s high – for me – is felt in the days leading up to the marathon. (I mean, I’ve been up since 3:50 a.m. cleaning house, doing laundry, cooking dinner, running, writing, taking care of my three little girls… like I have the energy and focus of five people.)

      If I could bottle this feeling and sell it I’d be a rich woman – or in prison because I’m pretty sure this is what being on cocaine would feel like.

Am I A Runner?... Maybe I’m A Runner… I’m A Runner!

*This is a blog I wrote the week before the tragedy in Boston. While I didn't want to post it last week, I still wanted to share. This is for all the running moms out there. Let me know if you agree.

Does anyone remember the show Mad About You? Helen Hunt? Paul Reiser? Newlyweds living in Manhattan? I know I’m dating myself, but it was one of my favorites.

Anyway, there was one episode that has always stuck with me…especially during my pregnancies…where Helen Hunt’s pregnant character finally has the revelation that she’s going to be a mother while arguing with her husband. “I’m the Mommy!” she keeps repeating to herself until it finally sinks in.

Well that is how I feel right now about being a runner.

You see, I’ve been training to run my first full marathon for almost four months now – and until recently I really haven’t spoken much about it outside of my running group. Subconsciously, I think I’d convinced myself if I talked about it – made it official – then there was no backing out. Where, if I kept it to myself – nobody would know if I ever actually ran a full marathon.

But the other night while I was lying in bed, unable to sleep due to the throbbing pain in my aching legs & the nervousness in my stomach about race day, it hit me – I’m a Runner!

This revelation finally sunk in when I made the obvious correlation between running and pregnancy. ‘Hey,’ I thought to myself. ‘I’ve felt this way before… unable to sleep due to aches, pains and apprehension…’ I just NEVER thought I’d feel that way again because I’d vowed to never have another baby!

 

The first trimester of pregnancy is a joyous time. You are sooooo incredibly excited you can hardly contain yourself, but – if you’re anything like me – you only want to tell close friends and family because there is always that chance that something could go wrong.

You might be feeling a little nauseous and – in my case – a lot tired…but overall your excitement makes up for it. You find yourself calling every girlfriend you know who’s had a baby and asking her a million-and-one questions to try to fill your brain with as much knowledge as possible. Little do you know, none of her advice will amount to a hill of beans as you blaze your own pregnancy trail…

            Well, this is EXACTLY how I felt when I joined my running group! I was nervous, yet excited. I was a little unsteady on my running feet, but the distances were short so I was fine. And like I said earlier, I was quiet with my news… Let’s face it, there’s a HUGE difference in running six miles & twenty-six miles!

And I asked as many questions as I could of the other women in my running group. What do you eat before the marathon? What do you do if you have to go to the bathroom during the marathon? (BTW - The unknown answer to this question – just like it was during pregnancy about what would happen during childbirth – remains my biggest fear about the marathon!)

 

Then comes the second trimester… my personal favorite! You’re over your morning sickness!!! Yippee! You have some of your energy back, and you can finally start telling people that you’re expecting. (Somehow, just like with my marathon training… this is the part of pregnancy that seems to fly by.)

            I felt great in the middle of training! We were up to about half-marathon distances & I was running negative splits. (I even knew what negative split meant!) I was making friends in my running group, figuring out what foods worked and what foods didn’t (PS - Don’t eat broccoli for dinner before you run! DUHH!), and actually enjoying this process! I felt like I just might make it to 26.2!!!!

 

Then… Tragically, the third trimester must come! Now, I know the importance of this time, I really do… But that doesn’t mean I have to like it! This is the time when your baby is growing strong enough to survive outside of the womb. The lungs are developing, weight is adding protection to the bones and organs, the brain is transforming…It is a true miracle from God how this all happens in such a short amount of time! But on the outside… Poor mom is swollen, her feet hurt, her BACK HURTS! If she’s anything like me, she can hardly eat due to heartburn and indigestion.

You’re so tired you can hardly move, but the second you lie down to rest your mind starts racing about the fact that, ‘You’re The MOM!’ One way or the other, this baby is coming out of YOUR body! There is no turning back! OMG!!!! And as absolutely, completely, one hundred percent terrified as you are about labor and delivery – you want nothing more in this world than to NOT be pregnant anymore!

            Well, my friends, I am at that place! I lie awake at night trying to imagine what is going to happen to me at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 5, 2013. What if it’s raining? What if it’s 90 degrees? What if I am so nervous the night before that I can’t sleep? At the same time all of these thoughts are racing through my head, my body is reaching its breaking point. (I truly thought it impossible that my lower back would EVER hurt as badly as it did while carrying around two six-pound babies in utero, but I was mistaken!)

            While I was pregnant and couldn’t sleep due to the leg cramps, I would carefully lower my heavy body into a warm soothing bath. Now, I’m carefully lowering my aching body into a tub of ice after twenty-mile runs.

The positive thing about having experienced childbirth is that I know – one way or the other… natural, c-section or epidural – the pain is short-lived compared to the joy it brings.

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing a marathon medal to one of my children – but I’ve heard the feeling is pretty exhilarating. And I’m assuming it must be somewhat similar to birth…because – after all – why would people keep doing it if it wasn’t?

 

Why I Run...

Ask almost any runner with children Why They Run and somewhere in their answer you will hear this:

I run so my children will see me run. I get up at 5 a.m. on Saturday mornings to show my children that NOTHING in this world worth having comes easy. I sacrifice free time, junk food and Girls’ Weekends to show my daughters that hard work and determination will ALWAYS garnish results. I run through three-feet of snow, torn back ligaments and blistered toes to show my sons that when you put your mind to something and work hard, ANYTHING is possible. I run for the thrill of seeing those five smiling faces cheering me on as I cross the Finish Line…

Saturday was a beautiful, warm & sunny day in Cincinnati. After completing a 15-mile training run in the morning, Chuck and I loaded our three, little girls in their car seats to drive the Flying Pig Marathon course that I will be running in three weeks.

     On one of our long runs, I’d spotted a great playground that I thought would be a perfect place for my husband, parents and children to cheer me on as I passed mile 16 of my first full marathon!

      I was so excited – pointing landmarks out to Chuck. “And then we turn and run up this hill to Eden Park,” I said as we approached the notorious ‘mountain’ on the Pig course.

      My husband was really amazed, surprised and somewhat curious about my mental well-being as he got to see – for the first time – what the last four months of literal blood, sweat and tears have been preparing me to do.

      As we approached mile 26, I pointed to the walkway over the Finish Line. “I think this would be a great place for you all to watch me, “ I said. “You’ll get a great bird’s-eye view.”

 

After our drive, Chuck and I took our girls out for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. It was the perfect ending to the perfect day. I remember sitting at dinner, looking out at my family and getting a little emotional. Training for a marathon isn’t just a sacrifice for the runner – it’s also a sacrifice for everyone in his or her family (especially when kids are involved.)

     Every Saturday morning – since the beginning of the year – I’ve left my home before dawn, before any little eyes have opened… and my husband has been in charge of our house and all of our five kids. And as any fellow runners already know, when training for a marathon these Saturday runs aren’t just an hour. No, they stretch into the afternoon. Then when you get home, all you want to do is sink into a relaxing bathtub of ice, pop some pain medicine and go to bed. So, in all actuality, I haven’t spent a Saturday with my family in 2013.

 

The closer I get to my marathon, the more emotional I become. I can already tell I’m going to be a Finish Line Crier. (I think I’m also going to be a Starting Line Crier too.) I’ve NEVER worked this hard for something in my entire life – especially something I decided to do for Fun.

     I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m prepared.

     I’ve spent the last four months training not only my body, but also my mind, for what is about to happen. And being the type of person I am… I’ve thought of every possible scenario that could happen out on the course. What if I can’t sleep the night before and start the race with less than two hours of sleep? What if my back gives out at mile 15 like it did on my ‘BAD’ run? What if the blister between my toes bursts? What if it rains? What if it’s 95-degrees? What if… What if… What if…

     Never in my wildest, over-active, hypochondriac-induced thought did I wonder, What if a terrorist plants bombs at the Finish Line? What if my children – the very people I’m out there running to set a good example for – are harmed?

     What happened in Boston yesterday is completely unimaginable. There are no words to express how I will never understand why people – other living, breathing human beings – would want to hurt the innocent. My heart wept as I heard how 8-year-old Martin Richard was cheering for his father at the Finish Line just moments before the blast took his young, vibrant life.

 

WHY?

 

I don’t know. But what I do know is that whoever did this…obviously didn’t do their homework.

     All I’ve head on the news is how attacks like this are meant to instill fear and terror in their subjects…Well, this lunatic targeted the wrong group of people.

 

We are RUNNERS! We have always run & we will always run. We run through snowstorms, monsoons and heat waves. We run through stress fractures, torn ligaments and sprained ankles. We are not individuals out on the streets on race day. We are a unified front – conquering the course. And among us are some of the bravest, strongest people on the planet.

     We have Bob Wieland, a Vietnam veteran who was left with no legs after stepping on a mortar mine. This man has completed multiple marathons on his HANDS!

     We’ve got Regine Sediva, who was just a few miles from the finish line in Boston when the blasts shook, a legally blind marathon runner. She is literally running BLIND!

      We’ve got Rick and Dick Hoyt, the father and son team where Dick runs while pushing his son’s wheelchair. Whoever said you can’t run a marathon if you have CEREBRAL PALSY?

 

We are RUNNERS! We are determined, dedicated and slightly deranged! If someone thought they would scare us away, strike fear in our hearts, STOP US… Well they were WRONG!

We train for months to run…And RUN we WILL!