After the first week with successful, purposeful runs (read: I said I was going to run and actually did it without bailing), I finally felt the drive to dedicate myself to training again.  Maybe it is the leaves changing color and the slightly cooler weather reminding me of cross country races, who knows.  Last weekend I set out on a fun run in the first day with crisp, Fall weather and all of a sudden it hit me. I knew what I wanted to train towards, not necessarily the race, but definitely the distance. I’m ready for the marathon.

I came home and laughed at myself though. This feeling well disappear in a couple days.  In the meantime I appeased myself by looking at potential Spring marathons within driving distance, which to me, is 8 hours or less for a quick trip.  I can push for 12 hours for a weeklong vacation. I think Spring is the best for me because I love to do whatever I want in the Summer.  Yes, it will be absolutely awful training through Buffalo winters and I hated half marathon training in the winter, but I’m hoping training for a longer, slower race will make it more feasible. Besides, my mind is going to change in a few days anyways. I’m not running a marathon.

I found the Carmel Marathon after looking at few others and headed to Twitter for some local input.  Of course, reviews were great and then some friends were all about it.  I joked to J about it, “spring marathon?” and he asked if I had enough time to even get ready for that sort of thing since I haven’t been running.  Sometimes dating a non-runner had its perks. But don’t worry, I’ll change my mind.

I purchased Hanson’s Marathon Method just to see what it was about.  I like reading about training and finding new plans, what’s the harm? Next purchase will likely be a book about training and CrossFit, because I’ll be damned if I have to totally stop doing what has kept me injury free. It doesn’t matter though, I’ll change my mind.

Well, it has been a week and my mind hasn’t changed. I haven’t pulled the trigger and signed up because I’m being careful with spending until we close and buy all the house necessities (budget, what?) but I have the price increase reminder on my phone at the end of October. Mentally, I’ve committed. I’ve told J and friends my plan to do this.  I’ve recognized what it’ll mean for my winter… But I think I’m ready to step up again. 

So there. Next April, I’m going to run another marathon.

The Things That Have Happened Since I Stopped Training

I’m still trying. I’m still trying to get back in the swing of things. I’m failing miserably. But it’s okay. I know how to get myself back at it (sign up for a race) but I haven’t found The Race or felt compelled to really suck it up and just get out there. So in the meantime, here I am just doin’ me.  Besides, I would never miss the Lake Effect Half Marathon so likely that’s going to be the It Race back. 

Now that it’s been about for months since my hiatus began, I’ve realized somethings have happened. 

I drink more coffee.

I’ve been a coffee drinker since student teaching in 2010, but I was the girl who could skip it on weekends or randomly during the week without any issues. Now? Without it, I feel like a zombie. Like that time I tailgated way too hard thinking I was still 19 and went to bed drunk, but had to work Monday on poor drunk sleep.

I sleep more.

Related to the coffee, I sleep so much and still require all the coffee.  When I’m training, I expend more energy and feel tired but it’s a different tired. It’s an energized mind, but tired legs and muscles.  I sleep from about 11pm to 7am and then come home and nap for about an hour (or 2.5 on Friday). I probably don’t need the sleep but my body doesn’t function well without it anymore.

I gained weight.

I’m not sure if this is a lack of cardio paired with terrible diet weight gain or a #gainz (ha.) weight gain. I feel like my body looks the same, particularly my midsection, which is where any gain usually goes if it isn’t muscle, so maybe the CrossFit is doing things. Plus my biceps and shoulders are looking like I’m relieved it’s still tank top season, but who knows when you’ve put on about 8 lbs. There is a fair chance it’s the combination of the two!

I drink less water.

Because I drink more coffee.

I drink more beer.

I feel less guilty about eating like shit, this includes beer. After a run, I’d enjoy some Nuun and maybe a beer, but not after every run. Plus when I get frustrated, I’d just run it out. Now? Pop the top of whatever craft beer is in my fridge, please.

I’m happier.

It’s true. Nailing runs, hitting paces and feeling that sense of accomplishment on race day feels great. But the other things in life make me feel just as good and lately, kind of better. I’m enjoying more time with James, I’m hanging out with friends I normally didn’t because after putting running first, I had to choose between my fam (J and Dunkin) or spending more time away from them. You can guess which I picked.

I’m enjoying the reprieve, though. Which is a huge reason I’m not chomping at the bit to get back out there.  Life is a little busy still (hopefully closing on our home in less than a month!) and I’m transitioning over to a new job at the same time so truthfully, even if I did miss the running and hard training, it just isn’t the right time.

Funny story though, the above was written all on Saturday… And now, as of Monday night? I think I found The Race and The Groove is starting to come back, too.


Preface: the majority of this was written before I passed out in my car last Saturday night/Sunday morning.

I sit here writing this from my car. It’s 3:30am and my good friend (Ms. Trash Panda) is in the middle of her third loop on the Beast of Burden 100 mile course. 
I just finished a Big Mac and am working on some Coke because let’s face it, being a race Sherpa is hard work!  Slightly kidding — I’m enjoying this because it’s 3:30am and what else do you think is open?  I have Honey Stinger waffles and chews in my car. After spending 3+ hours pacing and a couple more spectating, that wasn’t cutting it. 

Before today, I was convinced these people who do this whole ultra thing are nuts. After about 3:45 of running in Chicago, I was so over it. I didn’t want to put one foot in front of the other anymore. To this day, I still can’t fathom running another marathon, despite all the times I say I’m considering it. Those last 4 miles or so were absolutely the worst 4 of my existence. They say you forget it? No, no you do not. At least I don’t. 

After this experience though, I think ultramarathoners are less crazy than they seem. I think marathoners are crazy!  

Each time I run a longer distance, the previous shorter distance becomes “the worst”.

When I ran my first half marathon, 5 and 10ks became awful. Originally, the 5k wasn’t terrible. It was two miles of moderate running followed by one mile balls to the wall. Then I ran a half marathon and that became the nice, easy paced long run, therefore the 5ks and 10ks became “the worst” because it’s not a leisure pace to race those now — it’s not stop, fast, and hard.  Well, it’s the same once I ran a marathon for the half marathon. The marathon was a fun, but hard ass race. Now half marathons are “the worst”, nothing about that is leisurely!  And because I’m a more seasoned runner now, I’m aware that to properly race a marathon, it’s going to be even harder than it was before and that was hard af (no, that’s not a typo, Google it — not at work.)

So now I’ve experienced the atmosphere of the ultramarathon. These guys have the right idea. As long as you can get over the loss of toenails, lack of sleep, and get yourself into a positive mental state, well, ultramarathons might be the thing. 

You don’t have to run balls to the wall for all 50 or 100 miles. (Not that you “have” to for any other race, but it’s more likely you’re running straight through and your heart rate is going to be high. So high.) You can stop. You can walk. You eat grilled cheese, pizza, and candy. These people were right all along!  

Sarcasm aside, doing this is no joke, at least this course — for the mental aspect, not the terrain. The Beast of Burden is a 12.5 path along the Erie Canal in one direction, then you turn around and go back to the start to finish a loop (25 miles). It’s really exciting. Each end has an aid station and there’s one a little off center, but kind of in the middle. They offer a 25, 50, and 100 mile race. 

How do you keep yourself entertained for that long?  Hot damn. When we ran, I played 80s and 90s music, talked about God knows what, and basically tried to keep moving forward — run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute; run through the chorus of songs, avoid all the effin’ frogs in the pitch black darkness. But that was only 3 hours of something like 26? Yikes. 

Ms. Trash Panda finished in a little over 24 hours, with plenty of room to spare in the 30 hour timeframe and aside from some sunburn, she was pretty unscathed. 

I’m also happy to report she beat the dude who commented, at mile 62.5, “Oh you could walk the rest and still finish in the timeframe. I mean, that’s what you’re going to do anyways, right?”

End of 50 miles!