Wednesday, December 16, 2009

1-Mile Runs

For nearly a month I have been taking it easy.  I've been loading up on ibuprofen and Aleve, stretching my leg, and rubbing my IT band and knee every day.  I know that this has been a good decision; after all, I do not want to cause permanent damage to my knee, and I don't need to run every day to prove to myself that I am runner.  On the other hand, I have noticed that I am healthier - physically and mentally - when I am running, and I think it is about time for be to get back out there - out in the snow and ice and slush and wind and cold. 

I am running 1-1.5 miles a day after work along the cement path by my house.  I take it easy and quit running when I start feeling the first signs of discomfort in my right knee (which is hard to do when I still have time and energy to run farther).  I plan to keep this regimen up until the 26th or so when I return to Pullman.  My hope is that I can start increasing my distances before the new year and that I am back in shape (and 5-10 pounds lighter) within a few months.  I haven't forgotten my goals for my first half-marathon, and I want to start training as soon as possible.


Monday, November 30, 2009


I had a dream last night that I could run so fast that every few steps, I could lift up my legs and glide above the ground.  Every few steps, I flew a few feet, and when I landed, my legs were already moving forward in another long, fast stride.  The dream didn't last long, but I awoke around 3 AM longing to go for a late-night run.  I felt energetic, invigorated.

I didn't go.

Soon, I need to get back on the trails and have strong knees again.  This dream told me that even my subconscious self needs to feel all that running makes me feel.  I miss it.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stupid Knee

My right knee has been hurting me lately, and I haven't been running for almost a week.  This will not do.  I weighed myself this morning, and I am three pounds heavier than I was last week.  I have all kinds of emotions and thoughts that I usually "get out" when I go for runs, and without running, I am stuck with them.  I don't get my endorphins.  I don't get outside.  And I don't get any of those awesome experiences that I like to write about in this blog - the sensations, the earth, the moon, the snow.

I've been icing, soaking, and massaging, and I hope that my knee is almost healed.  I want to get back out there.


Monday, November 16, 2009

November 6-8, 2009

New experiences this week:

Running by moonlight - 3.5 miles

The moon was full, and the golf course was quiet.  Since I was running on the asphalt path, I didn't have to worry about stumbling on rocks or slipping in the mud.  My legs felt strong.  I ran toward the light, my eyes fixed on the glowing orb.

Running along the Snake River (in my new Cascadias) - 7 miles

I got up at 5 AM, and we were at the trailhead at Pittsburg Landing about four hours later.  We ran along the Snake, high above the rapids.  The trail was fairly technical in places, and I hoped that I could keep up with my companions.  Highlights: the views, the company, and my new Cascadias.


Running in the snow - 9 miles

My long run this week was up to Paradise Point.  Before reaching the top, light snow began to fall.  A few hundred yards later, the snow started sticking on the trees to my right and left.  A bit later, I found myself smiling as I watched the flakes fall around me and melt on my legs and face.  The non-runner part of me wondered what I was doing in shorts...on a November.   But then I felt my muscles flex, looked around at a world that I wouldn't otherwise experience, and noticed the expressions on my companions' faces, and I knew what I was doing up there.  <3

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Summit

Another beautiful Sunday run on Moscow Mountain.  This time we went all the way to the summit.  My legs were tired after the first couple of miles up.  (Part of the run was on a trail called Nemesis.  Need I say more?)  Total distance 9.9 miles - my third longest run to date.


(A well-deserved break at the summit.)

(So you can see what I see...)


Today I am going to let my legs rest. <3

Monday, October 26, 2009

13 Miles!

I am constantly reminded of how blessed I am when I run.   It seems that every time I go up to Moscow Mountain, I experience something different and beautiful - new views, new textures beneath my feet, and new sensations in my body.  Yesterday I ran on trails I had never run before, and I felt the soft, dark soil under me.  In places the trails were covered in pine needles and a blanket of orange, yellow, and purpley leaves. I breathed in moist, earthy air; I breathed in my first autumn on Moscow Mountain.

Another first happened to me yesterday without even knowing it: I found out how it feels to complete a 13-mile trail run. 13 miles! Can you even believe it? When I saw that number on the ol' GPS, I could barely contain myself. Sure my feet were tired, sure my hamstrings felt so tight they could've snapped at any moment, and sure my shirt was completely saturated. But when I saw that number, I felt so... well, I just felt so good. I am doing something now that I didn't think I was capable of, and I am continually inspired to do more and get better.

(Anyone remember Bridge to Terabithia?)


All of a sudden my goal for my first half marathon seems too distant.  I may have to start looking for races soon.  Really soon.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Side Stitches

Ever since my first day running, I have struggled with side aches. In my first few weeks, I got them only seconds into my runs. They always occurred on my right side, and they would only go away when I stopped running. Frustrated by my ailment, I asked friends and experts about the cause. Some said they had to do with cramping in my diaphragm; some said they resulted from my breathing; and some said they were related to my diet and fitness level.

Months later, I still get the darned things, and I can't help but feel a little frustrated. When my breathing is good and I don't feel like I am going to pass out, when my legs feel strong and aren't begging me to walk, when my mind is in a place that wants to move forward instead of plan my next walk break, I do not want to stop running!

So, what should I do?

I went online today and found conflicting schools of thought in regard to pain (including side aches) and running. Some people advise runners to listen to their bodies, walk for a while, and then start running more. The opposing side - the "No one has ever drowned in sweat" side - seems to believe that pain is a part of progress. They "run through the pain," claiming that side aches are temporary annoyances that will go away if ignored.

When given these two options, I like the bad-ass side. I have always believed that the best things in life aren't easy to attain, and I like the idea of physical and mental toughness.

So I tried to run through my pain yesterday on Moscow Mountain. After about 1.6 miles, my right side felt like someone was trying to put a knife under my ribs. I kept running. Breathing became increasingly difficult, and I felt my body try to stoop over in an attempt to ease the pain. But I concentrated on my breathing, stood upright, and kept running.

At about 2.8 miles, my side was still killing me. One knife was replaced by two bigger ones. My only defense was my voice. I started yelling. Quietly and then louder came my chant, "One two three four, Two two three four" and so on. When I could no longer count, I yelled at my side and told it that I wasn't going to walk. I not only kept running, but I sped up along the final stretch as rain started to fall on my head and cold, bare legs. At 3.1 miles I slowed to a jog and then to a walk.

After only two minutes of walking, my side ache was completely gone.

So what does this experience prove to me? First, I think it is a myth that side aches go away if you just keep running. I ran a mile and a half with a side ache, and it never went away. Second, I am stubborn. There was nothing short of a missing leg that could have kept me from running that last mile and a half. As a result, I think I ran one of my fastest miles ever. And third, I may be a little bit crazy. What would people say if they saw a lone runner yelling a cadence as she sprinted in the rain?


Monday, October 19, 2009

Spirit of the Marathon

Yesterday I went on a 5.5 mile run on Moscow Mountain. Having taken two days off because of a sore calf muscle, my legs felt rested, energetic, and strong. I was glad to be back on trails. Although I walked almost all of the uphills, I ran the flats and downhills faster than usual, and I remember looking down at the dirt and feeling a flying sensation for a second or two. (This particular sensation, if that is what it is even called, is new to me.) It was a great, although brief, experience.

After the run, I rented Spirit of the Marathon, a film that follows six runners through their trainings for and competitions in the Chicago Marathon. It was awesome to watch how running has impacted those people's lives, and I could see the power that human beings have within them.

As the credits started rolling, I started Googling marathons and half-marathons. What's the recipe for catching the marathon bug? Apparently a strong run in the morning and Spirit of the Marathon in the afternoon. My goal - recorded here on this blog so that it will be harder to back out on - is to sign up for my first half marathon by March and my first full marathon by the end of the summer. Are these realistic goals? I don't know. But after watching the grace and speed of Deena Kastor and the determination of Leah Caille, I am 100% inspired.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

200 Miles

When I went on my first run - on July 29, 2009 - I didn't know about the journey I was about to embark upon.  I didn't know how running could make me feel, how it could transform my body, how it could show me places in the world that I would otherwise miss.  

On that warm, summer day in Denver, I didn't know if I even wanted to be a runner.  After all, running was always just a part of other sports for me, and I had never been particularly fast or graceful or good.

My first run, consisting of multiple laps around the pond near my brother's house, was painful.  My heels quickly bloodied, and I could take exactly sixty steps before my side ached and my legs begged me to let them walk.  Even as I was running, I didn't consider myself a runner.
I entered my first 5K three days later on August 1.  I ran in black yoga pants, a black shirt, and my K-Swiss tennis shoes.  I finished in 37:49, and I couldn't wait to tell my running friend back in Pullman how I had done.  I didn't think I was fast, mind you, but I was happy about my accomplishment and felt - for the first time in a long time - the pleasure one feels when her muscles are in absolute anguish but her heart and mind are happy and satisfied.

In the past 2.5 months, I have been loving this surprise journey of running.  Whereas I had once thought that running was only for those being chased, I now chase my own goals and hopes down the paved paths of Chipman Trail, down the railroad tracks behind Jack in the Box, through the hills of the Palouse, and to the peak of Paradise Point.  Whereas I used to gaze upon the mountains from a distance, I am now jogging through their trees and feeling the dirt and rocks and pine needles beneath my feet.  My entire perception of running has changed.

Yesterday I ran my 200th mile, and with that, I think another change is in order: a change in my own self-perception.  As I write this now, I do not feel like a woman who runs;  I feel like a runner.  So today I am creating this blog so that I can share my thoughts and successes and struggles with anyone who might be interested.  My vision for this blog is that it is not just a record of my runs, but an album of sorts that documents my journey.  And I will compile my album with images and with words written from my heart.  <3