I did it all for the banana. And the Thanksgiving sides.

The night before, I got nervous.

The morning of, I got real nervous.

I think I went to the bathroom 11 times.

And then I was nervous about being nervous because nervous poops.

This is my life, y’all.

I wore my new running leggings. I congratulated myself for choosing the long-sleeve shirt because it was cold as hell. I got my free shirt. And my number.

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My friend Jennifer decided the night before to run the race as well, and she was giving me a pep talk. My cousin Anna – my running buddy – got there and we found our places in line. After one more bathroom trip.

I saw a few more friends lining up and silently cursed at/judged the people who were running before we had to run – you know, those people who will do the course before, just because, or will do a few laps around the parking lot to get warmed up. I was praying I’d just finish before the people with the strollers and the old man with the ski pole.

And then we started.

It felt good, at first. And I told myself I’d run as far as I could, then walk, and then run, and it was OK if I walked some, people do that in races.

I made it further than I thought I would before the cold outside air (this is where my training being indoors became an issue) literally took my breath away. I stopped to walk and told Anna to keep going.

“Save yourself!” I said. “I’m gonna screw up your time so badly.”

But she refused to leave. And I love her so much for that.

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I walked until I’d caught my breath. Then I ran again. And that’s how we did it – walk, run, walk, run, walk, run. My achilles was pulling, I was a full-on mouth breather and I needed Chapstick. I kept apologizing to Anna.

She assured me she did not care about her time, she was doing this with me, start to finish. On our walking breaks we looked at/smiled at/talked about all the dogs running with their owners.

She made note of our distance for me with a smile and kept me going. I saw one of my athletes halfway through and when he and his dad smiled at me and said “Hey Coach!” that was a boost of energy I needed then.

I tried not to look at the time on my Fitbit, reminding myself that this was the first one I’d done in years, the first one I’d actually “TRAINED” for, and any time would be acceptable, because I was doing it.

And when I saw the home stretch, I told myself, and then Anna, that I was going to run the rest of the way, even if I wanted to stop. So I did. Not far from the finish line I saw Jennifer, cheering me on and taking a picture (I was hoping I didn’t look like I felt – which was cold and a little achy). And I kept running through to the finish.

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My time was under an hour (which is really all I wanted for my first one). And I finished way ahead of the old man with the ski pole. And I immediately felt like crying because I’d actually done it. It didn’t look like I thought it would, but I’d done it.

I’d gotten 10,000 steps in for the day, done 3.1 miles, and was still going to make it home in time for the Dog Show. Oh, and all the food.

I could not have done it without Anna that day. She kept me going, never made me feel bad about stopping to walk, and was by my side from start to finish.

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I smiled like a goofball because I was so damn proud of myself. I’d set a goal and completed it. And I wasn’t lying on the side of the road in the fetal position (which I’d wanted to do last time I ran a 5K).

I got my banana, posed for some pictures, and smiled all the way back to my car. Later that morning, I looked up other 5Ks in the upcoming months.

2016 was the year I conquered Couch to 5K, and it changed everything.

2017 will be the year I am a RUNNER.

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On the downhill part of this running thing

If only I meant that literally.

I have now completed the official halfway point of the running program I’ve been using to get my ass in gear – Couch-to-5K, a nine-week running program that gets you from “Oh my God I can’t run for longer than 30 seconds without fear of dying” to “Oh, a 5K? No problem. That all you got?”

Allegedly.

Here at the halfway point, things are getting (knock on wood) easier. Today I ran for the longest amount of time (consecutively) in my life. Twice. WHAT?

No seriously. This is a longer stretch of time than I ran in any of the three 5Ks I did a few years ago on a whim.

Yeah…that was stupid. It was when I worked at the job before this one and my editor was like, “Do this 5K with me,” and I said “OK” and she said “Tomorrow morning” and I said “OK” because I am dumb and I like free T-shirts.

I wrote about it all on this blog before. And in a weekly newspaper I worked for. And it was when I tried Couch-to-5K the first of the four times I’ve tried it. And only got to week 2.

And with all this running I’m doing, I’m becoming more of a regular fixture at the gym. And y’all, the people-watching there can be great.

Weird things I have noticed at the gym:
– The guy that works out in jeans. There’s always one. Usually he’s old. There can’t be anything comfortable about that as workout attire. The friction alone from running in them could probably start a small fire.
– The guy that sits on the machines and reads the newspaper. I think he completes about 10 reps total the entire time he’s there.
– The woman who is entirely too dressed up to be at the gym. You know you’re gonna sweat, right? Maybe?
– People that are too motivated. Let me explain this one. I’m all for pushing yourself. And being proud of yourself. But if you’re on the treadmill next to mine and shouting/loudly growling encouragement at yourself during your run, it scares the shit out of me. And makes you look crazy.
– People who will talk on their phones like they’re in private. Meaning LOUDLY and unnecessarily. Like if you need to take a call that bad, maybe get off the stair-stepper. And also, if I can hear you over my headphones (when I have the music up ALL THE WAY) you’re too loud. Who comes to the gym and thinks: “Oh, this is a good time to catch up on some phone calls” and is convinced its a good idea?
– The Zumba group that meets in the back on Thursday nights. At least I think it’s Zumba. They make a lot of weird, sex-type noises. I’m afraid.
– Nobody will come into the bathroom when you are trying to change or when you’re in there at all, until you pull your pants down and your butt is out. Then the ladies just walk right in. Awesome.

Maybe the weirdest thing of all – to me – is that I’m now looking forward to my evenings there. I wanna see if I can do the next run on the app, see if I can surprise myself and keep improving, which so far I have.

And I just found out the dates for those races I did on a whim five years ago. I’m planning to do them all again. Because y’all know how I feel about those free T-shirts.

Will run for puppies

So I’m back at the running thing again..

And before you guffaw in disbelief or get to wondering how long it will last this time around, it’s different now.

I’m using Couch-to-5K, a program you can use through an app on your phone, for like, the third or fourth time now.

As part of the program, you are taken week by week for 9 weeks building up your endurance and running times. The first week makes you run for about 30 seconds, taking breaks to walk. And you gradually build up and build up until you’re running the whole time.

Once upon a time I got to week three. And got so scared of week four I stayed at week three for three weeks, repeating those days over and over. And then I quit. Yay for willpower.

Then there was this time, which has been different. In a good way. I started a little over a month ago, going every other day after work to the Y up the road. After each run, I’d do a couple of machines – work on arms one day, abs one day, legs one day, stuff like that.

Even when I had to take a week for one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with, I got back soon afterwards, picking up where I’d left off.

It helps that I have two runner BFFs, one of whom is basically a ninja – read his blog, you won’t regret it – who have always encouraged me and this time was no different.

I decided to look for a 5K to sign up for because I knew that would make me follow through completely and keep it up. So, at Jennifer’s suggestion, I picked the Waggin’ Trail 5K in May that will benefit the Humane Society.

She and Matt do the race every year, with their awesome doggies – Hunter and Oreo. I think Brendan, their 10-year-old, has run it once or twice, too.

You see, I have puppy fever right now like some people have baby fever, and telling me there’d be a bunch of cute dogs at this race, well, sign me up. It also helped that they’ve told me I get a puppy for participating AND if I win. (Whatever it takes, ya know?)

I also think it would work if you just hold a puppy in front of me like you’ve seen with carrots or whatever to make me keep running to try and get it.

Anyways, I’m doing the last leg of Week 4 on Saturday and I’m actually excited about it. Because I was scared of Week 4 once. And here I am about to complete it.

I’m on track to be ready in time for the race and am already looking at one to do in June or July nearby.

Even though it gets super hard sometimes in the middle of the run, I haven’t once come out of the gym in pain and saying “I’m done.” And I love that feeling.

Well, that kind of sucked

I’ve said it before. And I will continue to say it until it’s no longer true – if we ever get to that point. I suck at running.

Seriously. Put me next to an 80-year-old man with a walker and he could probably beat me to the finish line. If not, our running styles will look remarkably similar.

Last week I sprinted for all of 30 seconds in a Derby event called “Run for the Rose,” where you have to run while carrying a tray full of wine glasses and try not to spill.

Any race where you’re rewarded afterwards, especially with an adult beverage, well, you can count me in. Plus we got free T-shirts.

I’ve documented a little of my previous attempts at running…like a few years ago when my then-editor talked me into a 5K the night before and I almost died like 9 times during the race. Not to mention looked like I was only running when I saw a cop (they were strategically placed along the route so Jackie would set goals for me like “run to the third tree” or “run until the cop can’t see us anymore.”) and was lapped by Hot Scott – my crush/a local police officer.

I did two more that summer, improving my time each go-round and managing to come in just about dead last all three times. But Swarles (Rachie’s boyfriend and no that’s not his real name, don’t you know by now we use nicknames here on the blog?) ran it with me and because he is my Best Band Friend and an awesome person, he ran ahead of me, finished, and when he saw me approaching the finish line ran to me so we could cross it together.

My close friend Jennifer – you may have heard me mention her before as I know she is one of the people who reads every single post and for that I love her – used to not be able to run either. At least she says that, which is hard to believe coming from someone who just completed the mini-marathon and wants to run a full one by her birthday in October..

She told me about Couch to 5K. Which I think I’ve mentioned on here that I wanted to start but didn’t ever get around to it. Imagine that.

A few months ago I started thinking I wanted to try running again when the weather got nice and I could do it outside, because I detest running on a treadmill, especially the 58-year-old one in the clubhouse of my apartment complex. Then, ya know, it went all Book of Genesis and rained for 40 days and 40 nights and well, there was yet another reason I gave myself that I couldn’t do it.

But lo and behold the sun has come out and it’s actually pretty pleasant outside – knock on wood – so after seeing Jenn’s Facebook status today announcing her intentions to run a marathon and hearing that my sister was starting this whole running thing as well, I thought “well, shit.”

Oh, by the way – whenever we talk about running, there will be some four-letter words like that. Mainly the one I just used. ‘Cause right now, it’s rough.

So armed with my one pair of workout pants, which I put on backwards when I first changed clothes (if that doesn’t sum it all up I don’t know what does) and the Couch to 5K app on the ol’ iPhizzle, I began my first day of this nine-week training that will allegedly prepare me to run a full 5K by the time I get back from London.

The app’s pretty cool, you can set it up with your playlists and it does this cool checkmark thing when you’ve completed a day of it and you all know how I feel about marking things off a list. It tells you when to start running, when to start walking again (you alternate), when you’re halfway done, and when the workout is complete.

Mine is set on a woman’s voice, who I’ve named Christine. Like the car who kills people in that Stephen King book. Because she almost killed me. Every time she’d say “Run, now.” I’d grumble, make a face and usually say a bad word. Near the middle of the workout, when my ankles started hurting something awful and she told me to start running I actually said out loud “Bitch, can’t you at least say please?”

I wanted to quit several times. And I kept telling myself that next time Christine told me to run I’d walk for that minute because I couldn’t breathe and is it natural to feel your heartbeat in your skull? But I didn’t give up. For several reasons – none of which I’ll tell you all. Yet. But they’re good reasons, I promise you that.

And regardless of the fact that I probably looked like a weirdo to all my neighbors – I ran around my apartment complex parking lot – and need to bring my headphones home next time, I’m gonna keep up with it.

Not too sore at the moment, unless you count my shoulder, which I think is because the sports brasseire was at maximum capacity (that’s how long it’s been since I’ve done a serious workout).

I’m saving day 2 for Thursday because tomorrow it’ll be 90 and Wednesday I work late and don’t run in the dark because that’s how girls get murdered. And I’m gonna make it a regular thing.

Part of the reason I’m writing this is so people know and will hold me to it.

And so that maybe this time next year when I’m trying on bathing suits I won’t want to jump off a cliff – or go to the dentist.

‘Cause when I want to go to the dentist rather than do something, you know it’s bad.

Doing things a little backwards

I may have said it before but I will say it again, I don’t run. Not good at it. However, I’ve run in three 5Ks this year – and I decided to start running them really on a whim. I didn’t train for the first one and for the second and third I tried to get some running in the weeks before but really probably didn’t do it the right way.

So now, after three 5Ks, I’m gonna start training for running in 5Ks.

Crazy, right?

My friend introduced me to Couch to 5K, a running plan that gets you ready to run a 5K in nine weeks. I’m gonna start next week. I don’t know when the next race is I’m gonna do but my goal is to run the entire way in the four definite ones I know I’m doing next year.

Wish me luck. 🙂

Here’s a column I wrote for the paper recently on the subject:

NOT BORN TO RUN

I’m not a runner.

I never have been. Never in my history have I been that person who wakes up before the sun for a quick morning run. Honestly, I’d prefer to never be that person who wakes up before the sun’s out at all.

Seriously, it’s a life-long issue. When I was in elementary school I played recreation league softball. I learned to hit far into the outfield, so I’d have time to get on base. Case in point: once I hit the ball to the fence and got a triple. If I’d had some speed, any speed, it would’ve been a home run for sure.

I don’t know why I’m not a runner. I’m just not. So when I started seeing information about the county’s Grand Slam of Running, I focused more on the walking aspects of the races and thought – hey, that might be fun. I go to the gym when I can, which can be one day some weeks and five days the next. Never have those gym visits included running, but I can kick butt on the elliptical.

I digress.

The day before the first race of the Grand Slam I mentioned I’d like to sign up. Jackie agreed to sign up with me and I thought, “How bad can it be?”

Did I mention I made this decision the night before the first race? As in, with no training and no preparation? I figured I’d walk the 3.1 miles as fast as I could with maybe a little running. Ha.

The next morning as we started the race, we weren’t five minutes in when Jackie said, “Hey, let’s run a little.” I figured, OK, I’ll be fine. So we started to run. About 15 seconds in, my calves were burning. Did I mention I wasn’t prepared?

Most of the race I spent walking. And complaining. And apologizing to Jackie for complaining. And asking her if she was punishing me because she kept telling me we should run.

We set small goals. “Just to the stop sign… Just past five trees… Just to the policeman.”

We ran to the police roadblocks a few times and now realize it probably looked like we were just running whenever we passed people. Not true. It was just an easier stopping point than “That tree up there.”

After feeling like I couldn’t go any further and feeling bad about not doing anything to prepare, I finished the race. It was better than what I expected could happen – me lying on the side of the road in the fetal position while my legs throbbed and my calves felt like they’d explode.

Though I finished with a time I wasn’t personally proud of, it was hard not to smile and feel good about even finishing at all, as everyone who finished before me stood cheering all the runners and walkers to the end. There were lots of “good jobs” and it didn’t matter that I couldn’t feel my legs, I was happy.

I missed the second race because I was out of town for vacation. But soon after I got home – and realized how close the next race was – I vowed to spend as much time in the gym as I could and as much time as possible running. And I did. I’ve been trying to run at least a half-mile a day with walking breaks. I’m not going to try and overdo it, what with 25 years of not running.

So this past weekend, after a whole lot more preparation, I participated in the third race of the Grand Slam. I started the race running – can you believe it? – and unlike last time, made sure to run again every time my heart rate started slowing down. I shaved almost seven minutes off my time from the first race and had anyone been running/walking with me, I definitely wouldn’t have complained as much as in the past.

As I finished, people were clapping and cheering, telling me “Good job!” and “You did it!” For a moment, I couldn’t believe I’d just run across the finish line, and in less time than I’d done it before. From a life-long non-runner who accidentally holds her breath while she’s running, that’s pretty cool.

At the last race of the Grand Slam, hopefully I’ll continue improving my time, running farther and for longer amounts of time, and remembering to breathe. Running has become easier, but I’ve still got work to do.

And if you happen to pass a girl during the race curled up on the side of the road, keep going. It’ll be me, waiting for the exploding-calves feeling to go away and trying to remember how to breathe. Don’t worry though, I’ll catch up.

Promises, promises.

I am making some changes in my life. Seriously. It’s time.
No one thing has really happened to make me change my mind, just decided some things needed to be done.

First – I’m eating better. I honestly feel like I’m addicted to food sometimes. It can be like a drug for me. For about a month now, however, I’ve been changing that. I’m eating healthier, paying more attention to what I am eating and just being careful.

Second – Exercise more. I was getting mad that I couldn’t get motivated to work out, but it was my own fault. I have plenty of time to do it, if I make it happen. I’ve walked in a 5K! Me – who would’ve thought..and I’m signed up for three more! I didn’t do too great in the first one, as far as times. I walked with Jackie, who tried to push me to run. I couldn’t run too far, and realized I needed to get some practice in before the next one.
So now, I’m trying to work out every other day (or at least 2 to 3 days a week, as much as I can). I’m slowly building up my running – jogging, really. I’m walking for about 10 minutes, and running for 1 to 2 minutes. Then repeating that. I’ve gotten up to about 7 minutes so far – not in a row, but baby steps, kids. I’ll never be a runner – I am a slow runner. I really can’t run that fast. So I will work up to jogging as much as I can. I’ll keep you updated after my next 5K – on July 17!

Third – Stop worrying so much. I am so tired of being stressed out about stuff that’s either a) out of my control; b) not that big of a deal; or c) not even my problem. I am also taking it slow with that. It’s hard not to worry about some things. But when it’s as stupid as traffic, it’s really not worth it. Not that I still don’t get pissed at stupid drivers (and there are about a million of them out there) but I am finding myself just shaking my head and laughing now when I see someone driving like they’ve never been in a car before, rather than cussing at them from the safety of my car. 🙂

I’m working on my OCD, too. I heard a good tip from a lady at my church that’s gonna sound funny, but bear with me. What I have OCD about is locking my doors and setting my alarm at night. It comes from living alone, because when I’ve had roommates, I am not as bad about it. And it has gotten better, before I would go to bed and get back up just to make sure I’d locked the door, even though I know I did. I’ve gotten down my apartment steps to my car and came back to make sure the door was locked. It’s pathetic, I know, but I really can’t help it.
Lately, though, I’ve tried to keep myself from going back to check. I tell myself I wouldn’t go to bed without locking the door or leave the house without locking the door. The lady at church said if I feel like I might go back and check, I should make a little mark on my hand when I lock it so that if I feel like I need to turn around and go look, I have a visual reminder. She said I question it because I have a million other things on my mind (true) when I’m getting ready for bed or leaving the apartment and even though I know I’ve locked the door, since I don’t think about it as I do it, it makes me second-guess it.

And my last change is to try and keep up with this blog more. I know it may not seem that important, but it really is. I am the kind of person who really expresses myself best in writing. It helps me deal with things and get out my feelings. Plus, it’s pretty fun. So. Starting today, I’m going to keep up with this thing a lot better.

In other news: Obsessed is the craziest show I’ve ever seen. And I watch COPS and Cheaters and that kind of crap. Obsessed makes me glad that my OCD is as mild as it is. I couldn’t stand to be as sick as some of these people. The episodes get crazier and crazier though. Watch it sometime, it’s on A&E, after Intervention on Mondays. NUTS.

OK, that’s all for tonight. Keep reading, all three of you. 🙂