I set a goal to run 500 miles in 2009. I’m not really sure why I chose this number, other than it was larger than my 2008 miles and seemed attainable but not easy. I do not remember every one of those 500 miles, many of them were logged on the same sections of road or trail over and over again. Here are a few things I remember about the miles and learned while on those miles.
1. Running while you have to pee is uncomfortable. Running while you have to do the other thing is downright painful. It is almost guaranteed that when either of those two urges arises you will be no where near a port a potty, gas station or area with trees where you can relieve yourself.
2. I spend most of my non-running time in my brain, over thinking any and everything. When I run I am often thinking, but not about running, for the most part my body does all the work and my brain processes other “stuff” I need to work through.
3. Although most of the time my body does all the running, my brain has at times made bargains with my body- just one more mile, you can do it, I promise this will be the last one today. And the opposite has happened where my body has said nice try brain, but we’re done it is time to go home now- and I’ve learned to listen to this too.
4. I don’t really like running on hills. I know they are good for you, and help increase your endurance and speed, but they suck. Often it is the only time I run with hate… hate the hills. Although I did run a hill that I was goaded into running by a running friend who is a much faster better trained runner than I am- he has yet to run the hill. Just saying.
5. Speaking of hills, I ran a 10k this year that is ‘marketed’ as the toughest in the state. I thought nah, can’t be that bad. At first you are in disbelief of the hills. Then you hate the hills with every ounce of your being. Then you can’t help but laugh because you have to wonder what God and geology where thinking when they made the landscape this way and then you’re done.
6. I ran races in 4 states this year. The one in CA was early early in the morning. And even that early it was hot and humid. So hot and humid that before the race even started I needed to put on a new wiking shirt. The one in CT was a cross country course- which I had not expected, run on a day after several inches of rain had fallen.
7. I don’t really like running with anyone- I enjoy running races and setting people to catch up to, but having someone run with me I feel obligated to talk or entertain or go faster. That being said, there were several races where friends who are much faster than me came to meet me and bring me down the home stretch, and I am very grateful for them.
8. I love the supportiveness of runners at races. You often see the same people who run the different events and you get to know the people who run at your pace. You push each other, sometimes you are faster, and sometimes they are faster. But you cross the finish line, you hug, say congrats and you move on.
9. Running at night is fun, and in the summer, often cooler and at least where I live, the roads are often quieter.
10. When a dog runs at you, stand perfectly still. And although I appreciate you telling me your dog is harmless, that doesn’t help the fact that my heart rate is now off the charts.
11. I know putting a race on is a lot of work and I appreciate all the effort that goes into the event and as I run, I thank the volunteers I pass. No matter how small the event participant list is, do not assume everyone running has run the route before, marking all the turns and changes in direction is a good thing.
12. There was only 1 race this year where I longed for water. So much so that at the first water stop I took 3 cups of water, stopped and drank them all. It was only a five miler.. but it was a hot July day with a late start of like 10, it was also the only race this year I stopped and walked up a hill. Heat has an amazing capacity to make running really really difficult.
13. Changing your sweat soaked shirt in a parking lot after a run and letting it all hang out is accepted and often expected.
14. A Guinness milk shake tastes pretty darn good.
15. While running on the dreadmill I have watched several tv series- Weeds Seasons 1-4. The whole run of Sports Night. And so far am through Seasons 1 and 2 of Arrested Development. I also watched several movies, although I can’t remember all of them. Incidentally, having watched with the subtitles on, the first time I heard the voices of the characters in Weeds I thought ‘this is wrong, they don’t sound like that’- at least not the voices I had made up for them.
16. The sports bra is a wonderful invention. More women should look into wearing them when running. It is very supportive until it reaches the end of its life, at which point it lets you know in no uncertain terms that it is done helping you out by inflicting vast amounts of great discomfort.
17. Before the start of the half marathon, I saw a shirt that said Half of Nothing. I have to agree… 13.1 is a lot of miles and I’m proud of every one of them.
18. Stretching is your friend, really.
19. Running after eating a meal is a bad thing. Running after eating chili is something you do only once and never never again.
20. I once almost threw up at the end of a race. I had pushed myself really hard (and not after eating chili) and my body was trying to tell me something. Interestingly, my friends were very supportive standing by to watch the event.. much like being unable to turn away from watching a car accident. That’s runners for you.
I haven’t quite decided what my running goals will be for 2010, although I am leaning more toward working on improving my times by more speed and hill workouts and probably not running more miles than I did this year. But only time and the miles will tell.