Thursday, July 31, 2008

Report Card

It's time for Take It and Run Thursday, and Runner's Lounge has challenged us to "look back, look ahead" at our running in 2008. Sounds like time for a report card.

My goal for running in 2008 was to take my running to the next level. My non-running friends didn't get it. "You ran a marathon," they said. "What else is there?" To me, the main differences were in training - and in attitude.

For the first time since high school, I incorporated speedwork into my training. I love my track workouts and look forward to them. I have to admit, I am not such a fan of my tempo runs. They're really hard for me, but I understand their benefit, so I'm going to keep at it. For my last tempo run, I broke from form and listened to a podcast instead of music, and it really helped. I was so engaged in the story that I was able to distract myself effectively from the fact that it was blazing hot, horrifically humid, and I was running pretty fast. That might be my plan moving forward.

I am also proud to say that I've kept up my running during the winter better than I ever have before. I've never been a fair weather only runner, I do tend to slack off when the weather gets cold. But this year, I kept at it - in rain, in snow, and most recently, in hail. Honestly, it's not about suffering for me. I suffer more, mentally, at least, when I don't go running.

I added a new distance to my resume - the trisko (half marathon, if you're still calling it that). I can find something to love about any distance, but I am a big fan of the trisko. It's long enough to be challenging, but short enough such that the training doesn't take up quite as much of my life. I will definitely be running the trisko at the Quad Cities Distance Classic every Mother's Day from now on. I am also hoping to find an earlier trisko to run, maybe in April, next year.

I'm paying closer attention to my diet - or, to be more accurate, I am not seeing my running as an all-access pass to eat whatever I want whenever I want. I didn't gain any weight during my training last year, but I made frequent trips to the coffee place down the street from my office that, according to my extensive research offers the finest chocolate chip cookies in all of downtown Davenport. I haven't had one of those cookies in ages, snacking instead on almonds, fresh fruit, and other annoyingly virtuous items. I don't think I've lost any pounds, but I can see a difference in how my stomach looks, which is always a good thing for those of us who've given birth.

I've added weight training to my regimen, but I have to admit that I've been slacking off lately. Work has been ridiculous and... well... this entry is about looking ahead as well as looking back, so Internet, I promise - I am going to go lift at lunch today.

Then there's the mental aspect of things, which I suppose goes hand in hand with the rest. When I saw a doctor over the winter for a nagging knee problem, he repeatedly described me as an athlete. I was immensely flattered, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like the description fit. I may not be ready to win any age group awards yet, and I'm not fast enough to qualify for Boston, but my running is a huge part of who I am and is very important to me. That makes it easier for me to go to bed early, eat good foods, and generally take care of myself. It gives me the ability to tell the very nice race director who I met at the track on Tuesday that his 5K sounds like fun, but that it doesn't fit in with my training program right now.

Looking ahead, I have tremendous confidence about my upcoming marathon. Last year, I was thinking, "I'm pretty sure I can do it," but this year, I know I can. I already feel like I am mentally and physically able to turn in a solid performance and get a PR. Remind me of that when I start in on the taper madness, okay?

After the marathon is over, I am declaring the rest of the fall to be cross country season. After the Bix, Tom and I reminisced about how much fun cross country season was. It brought back great memories of the cool weather, the feeling of running on dirt, the beautiful scenery in the woods, the challenges of the hills. I am going to seek out as many cross country style races as possible, culminating, of course, in the most fun race of all time, Living History Farms.

Sure, it'll be tough, but I can handle it. I'm an athlete.

Especially if I lift today.


kara said...

WoW - you sound so totally right on track!
I'm jealous ; )

AK said...

The word athlete is such a motivator! When I realized that I was in this for the long hull I realized that I was an athlete and then began training like one...

Joe said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa. What do you mean we runners can't eat whatever we want? Is there another reason I'm burning all those calories??? :)


Tom@RunnersLounge said...

Betsy, your post just oozes with confidence.

And when we saw you on Saturday at Bix, you looked very fit and athletic.

Keep up the great training and you will amaze yourself on marathon day.

Love what you said about, "but my running is a huge part of who I am and is very important to me."

Thanks for a great look back and look ahead.

Laura said...

I totally agree that doing a marathon isn't always the be-all end-all of running. I think training and what you put into it is much more telling as to whether you're a runner (my favorite topic!) versus the final product.

ritu bajpai said...

Hi Betsy,

I am a beginner at running but your blog (which I came across while googling for running articles), has added so much more motivation and a new perspective to what I am doing. Thank you for your amazing posts and you are definitely a great runner!

Heather said...

Betsy! Loved reading your post. Way to go! You're doing great.

Reid said...

You definitely have a lot to be proud of! Way to go!

The Happy Runner said...

Keep it up, Athlete! That is such a right-on attitude.

Nitmos said...

Cross country is a nice "change up" from regular road running. I like to mix in some trail runs when the road (or sidewalk) gets a little stale.

That pic with the snow already has me frightened of winter.

Petraruns said...

That is a wonderful summing up and looking forward very inspirational. And you have every right to consider yourself an athlete - you are!