Panic! on the pavement

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Oh my god, I just realized it’s September 7th, which means that yesterday marked the one-month countdown to my first half marathon. This realization sort of makes me want to barf.

Okay, not really. My mindset right now (I think) is pretty healthy about 85% of the time. Actually, 85% is the statistic I use for everything, so it’s probably not valid. Anyway, I do feel pretty good for the most part. As my training has progressed, I’ve realized that I essentially stopped “training” a few weeks ago, and now I just run to run. That is, I stopped allowing the 13.1 to loom in the back of my mind as this Big Scary Thing during all of my runs. So I lost that source of motivation, but honestly I think it’s for the better.

Not really training means that I will mentally approach this race as I would any other 13.1-mile run–for better or worse. I’m hoping this attitude will alleviate some of the race day anxiety that I experienced during the 10k I did about a month ago and this 5k I did with a running group at work (then, I was so nervous that all that extra adrenaline pushed me to run what was likely the fastest mile of my life, but then it fizzled out halfway through the 5k).

But it also means that I will have few qualms about taking it easy, which means I’ll never really know how fast I’m capable of running the thing. It’s sort of a trade-off–without pushing myself, I won’t be testing my true limits; yet I’ll also be less likely to burn out in mile 8–but it’s a trade-off that aligns more closely with my primary race goal, which is simply to finish. I can “push it” later.

Presently, my systems are still all configuring. There have been numerous obstacles and learning experiences so far and I don’t doubt that I will encounter new ones as I continue trying to become a runner.

  1. First it was my knees, and I solved that with some handy dandy knee stretches and targeted strength training.
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  2. Then it was my breathing, and I finally sucked it up and admitted to myself that my breathing woes were not likely to be just be down to fitness. After a visit from the doctor, I came home with a exercise-induced asthma diagnosis and an albuterol inhaler, and I miraculously stopped hating every step of my runs. I owe the majority of my aerobic improvement (but also some jitteriness) to that little red albuterol wonder. Being able to breathe like a normal person was–sorry to make you throw up in your mouth a little bit–an awakening. The first run was a little like “Holy shit, is this what normal people breathe like?! I am the CHAMPION!”
  3. My ankles also started acting up, so I had to add some ankle stretches.
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  4. My toenails were falling off (sorry for the inevitable visual). And also my feet were getting so sweaty during my runs that by mile 4 I was forming blisters (again, sorry). I ignored both issues for a long time because I suspected the culprit was my running shoes, which as I’ve said before, I love more than any other shoes I’ve ever owned (aside from the aforementioned ruby slippers of 1989). But sometimes, love just ain’t enough, and I went out for a new slightly larger pair. I ended up getting these bad boys on sale (for $35, whaaaaat) in a half size up from my usual as well as a few pairs of socks. They’re trail running shoes, like my last pair, and they have more ventilation and zero drop (the angle between the heel height and the mid-foot). They are so light, it literally feels like I’m not wearing shoes. Literally.
  5. The new woe is the shins. The shins….What can you do? I must triumph!

But! All is not kampf! I went on this week’s distance run with The Boyfriend yesterday, which ended up being 8.5 miles of trail running instead of the requisite 10 because we were pressed for time, and we were able to converse the whole time–something that would not have been possible two months ago. I owe it all to you, albuterol!

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**All cartoons in this post are from Allie Brosh’s “Hyperbole and a Half Blog.” She is a comical genius. I can only borrow.

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