Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Becoming a "runner"

I've been thinking a bunch lately. [thats what happens when you're on taper.] What does the word "runner" mean to me? What do I have to accomplish in my running adventures to be a self proclaimed runner? How does my body feel before, during, and after a run? What is my daily attitude towards the sport?

I think all of those questions help me personally define the notion of really "being" a runner. I know from an outsiders perspective, I would be considered a runner. Heck, [yes, "heck"] I ran 12 miles in 18 degree weather. I race triathlons [which happen to have a running leg]. I "ran" an entire marathon. I own a Garmin. But none of those things have made me truly believe I am a runner.

I AM a swimmer. I AM a cyclist. I AM a wife. {i am an ironman} But am I really a runner? Of course I know these sports are not who I am; they are a very big part of my life and help define who I am but they are not definite.

[wifeage = sporting? I suppose; there is usually offense and defense. There are rules. There is a love of sport. There is practice. There is perfection, technique, and a lifetime of being teammate.] I digress.

So why do I have to BE a runner?

Because to me, being a runner is something I never have been. It has always been a road block to me fully becoming a triathlete. And unfortunately, running is more than 1/3 of the triathlon.

I have to stop dreading the run. I want to embrace it. I want to love it. I want to be fast.


So Carlsbad half marathon was on the race schedule as a warmup and test before Panama. I had registered for this race 2 years ago for preparation before St. George, but had surgery less than a month before which set me back in the training. I had heard good things about this course and was actually pretty amped to race it.

I have only toed the line to 1 other running race which was also a half marathon. Most people sign up for 5ks. I'd rather do a 70.3 triathlon than a half marathon. "Just" running races have NEVER appealed to me. Yes I realize there is a half marathon after the biking and swimming. But it's different. Your legs are ready and warm.

Listening to the national anthem waiting patiently for wave 2 to start. Running buddy Erin has graciously offered to run the entire race with me. [She is WAY faster than me. She is a runner. She ran a BQ. And was also a collegiate swimmer. Which makes her rare, and an amazing athlete.] Ate 1 orange shot block. And just like that, we were off.

I've never ran in such a crowd! We were dodging people the first 3 miles! People complain about IM swim starts, but this was madness. Remember my IM swim? It was perfect. This was chaos. It helped those miles pass by quickly.

Then time started to slow down. I was just trying to get one foot in front of the other and use as little energy as possible, and keep up the pace. I felt like I was in this crazy person zone the entire race. Saw people we knew but I was very delusional; my responses were mostly grunts of "Hi!"

Ate 2 vanilla gu's the entire race and had water at every aid station. The rollers were nice in the sense that it broke up the race, but man, that is not really a flat course. I look down at the garmin. 9.7 miles. F*ck. I am dying. Legs are already feeling too heavy. Legs are on the verge of cramping all the way through. Quads, hamstrings, hips. Omg, damage control. My mind is trying desperately to do math. Can't I just walk the rest and still get a PR? Internal battles ensue.

I think my eyes were only half open for the rest of the race. 2 miles left I ask Erin to go right in front of me. She's pushing the pace hard. She drops me, but I keep pushing. Downhill comes and my legs are fighting me. Fighting my will. Catch back on. 1 mile. Stride begins to lengthen, even at the request of my hips to not let that happen. Visual on the last turn. 13.1 miles and I "lapped" the Garmin to get my official split (1:43). Finish with the mini-est "kick" ever. It was pathetic. 13.22 miles according to the Garmin. 1:44.

I ran my PR. By 15 minutes. I feel like I'm 9 yrs old where every swim meet is a PR because you've just learned something new. I learned how to be a runner. I broke that 8:00 min/mile mark. for 13.1 miles. YAHOOOOOO!


So here I sit. Less than 2 weeks away from my A race. All those early frozen mornings preparing for a 95 degree race day. I have to stop dreading the run. I want to embrace it. I want to love it. I want to be fast. So, cheers to the power of positive thinking:

I AM a runner. {You've got to say it to really believe it, right?}


Diane Gordon said...

You ARE a runner.
You ARE a cyclist.
You ARE a swimmer.
You ARE a triathlete.
You ARE an Ironman.
You ARE a wife.
You ARE amazing.
You ARE Rachel! Love, Mom

idropboys said...

Congrats!!! You are a runner....huge improvement and you can look forward to the run in Panama! All the best