Thursday, March 12, 2009. 17 days until my first half marathon. First things first, I am honored to have my blog published at sportsiplay.com now. They have been a huge supporter of Sweet Sara's Chargers, donating athletic bags to our team, and office space for me to use as I wish. Thank you Kristy and Fred and the whole staff over there for making me feel so welcome! I had to go back and read my last entry so that I would know where to pick up. Writing has not been on the short list of things I have been able to pull off lately because I have been swamped. I have been doing just enough running to keep up my mileage for the last few weeks because things have been very overwhelming. I envisioned myself being a running and cross training machine six days a week when I first started this program…but more often than not when Galloway gives me the 0-2 miles option on the calendar, I opt for 0. I am crazy busy. I have a new job that I am still settling into full time at a bar. This means many double shifts… still keeping up with all the kids activities and projects, the non- profit project and running group, and to top it all off Sara had 3 days of testing and day surgery 7 hours away from home; two days before the group’s first 5k event. I put February to rest and have since spent at least 12 hours on the phone ironing out the red tape involved with switching Sara’s medical equipment provider, and transitioning from private insurance coverage (she lost it Feb 28th) to Medicaid. I know; I lost you. I get lost in it too. That’s why I run. I would much rather be doing speed work on those off days, or some hills. Not going to happen any time soon, and that’s o.k. I set this marathon goal roughly four months ago, and my last long run was just under 16 miles. I can run 16 miles. I love telling myself that, because I have worked my butt off to build up that mileage. I am not going to focus on the things I have been unable to do. Anyway, I think my last entry I had gotten up to 10 miles and had just gotten new insoles for arch pain. I finished the Polar Bear run 5k somewhere around 27 minutes. My arch pain is completely gone, for two reasons: my insoles that are designed to correct my stride..and also because I stopped pushing myself too hard. I needed more rest to recover than my program called for. When I increase my mileage, I need longer than a week to recover. So after my 11 mile run, I cut back to 6 miles the next Sunday, then bumped up to 12 the next Sunday, back down to six the next Sunday, theoretically anyway. When I run with Matthew I always go farther than I had planned…but somehow it seems easy because we are keeping pace and chit chatting. I do much better with a partner out there. It helps that traveling such a long distance comes very easily to him. On our last long run we went over 15 miles…almost 19 according to my Nike+, definitely more than the 13 I was supposed to do, and guess what? I did just fine. After this long run I took my first ice bath. If you know me you know what a chicken I am about the cold. I don’t have much meat on my bones and it takes me a while to warm back up…so I may be more proud of taking the ice bath, than the run that preceeded it. I had to work that night, and probably walked another 2-3 miles serving. It was a heck of a day. I had to get back out the next day for a four miler in beautiful weather with Nick and his buddy Brandon..and guess what? That wasn’t so bad either. I think I am finally getting used to all this hard work. The four mile runs feel especially natural. I know my pace, and I know how long it will take, and I just enjoy it. It is not a big deal anymore to carve it into my day. I did take a week off when I traveled to Cincinatti with Sara..but the end of that week was the Guns N Hoses 5k, and all that rest made for a very special day! It was pouring the morning of the race, but our little team had spent a fortune having Sweet Sara’s Chargers t shirts made, and we had already collected pledges for this race…so I was running it no matter what! My friend Jenee flew in from Virginia to run with us, her first 5k ever..and so many of my dear friends and family where in rain or shine. I felt very scattered and worried about how the rain had really messed up how I pictured our day going. I envisioned sunshine, and lots of easy, pretty photo ops with our t shirts and bags… an being able to talk with everyone, and thank them for their hard work… I pictured Sara, the object of our team to be there too, but it was cold, and wet and miserable and I just barely made it to the finish line on time shooing Griffin off with my cousin. The race began and I pushed my way to the front of the group and stayed there for the first 400 yards. Kathi’s son Jacob had asked to run with me, and I thought for sure I was going to need to look back and check on him every once in a while. Soooo not the case. He actually slowed down to keep close to me. What a gentleman already at 13. He is a very talented long distance runner to just show up and keep that pace. He definitely would have placed in his age group had he not been so sweet to stay with me for as long as he did. What a doll, he made my day. It was exhilarating to hit the halfway point and turn back to see so many friendly faces cheering me on as I passed back by them. I don’t remember the last time I felt such crushing joy. The kind that can make you almost implode. The last hill was a killer, before the last ½ mile loop to the finish line. I crossed it in 25:29; a personal record. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. I have shaved nearly 1.5 minutes off my 5k time in a little over a month. Not only that but I placed 3rd in my age group. I laughed when Brandie told me because it sounded so absurd to me. I don’t place, I just finish right? Wow! Here I am getting my first medal. My friend Jenee placed too…in her first 5k!!!! Brandie placed 2nd in our age group and her dad placed first in his! It was a great day for our team. We raised money for a great cause and everyone hit their personal goals. It was one of the best days of my life, full of love, and positive energy. I am so honored to know the people that came out that day both to run and walk, and to cheer us on. Things are never as I planned them, but at the end of the day, just as good. Here we are cold, wet, and finished with our first event: I am now focused on the ING half marathon at the end of March. I have been feeling a little fatigues since my last long run (the 15+ mile one) so I have been taking vitamins again which I had gotten lazy about with everything going on. The weather has been nasty and wet for the last few weeks and it was hard to stay motivated after the excitement of the 5k. I worked a double last week and had to pack my bag in a rush to squeeze in four miles between shifts. When I got there I realized I had forgotten to pack socks…and lotion…and so I ran in black foldover socks with dry scaly legs. I guess I am not as vain as I was because I never would have done that before…I would have just excused myself from the workout rather than look foolish. It was a crappy run, and my time was awful, but I did it. The weather stunk this weekend but I HAD to get in at least a six miler…and I did. It was boring and cold and crappy too..but I got out there in Nicks big old Patagonia rain tarp knocked it out. I looked like a blueberry in tights I’m sure. I dropped my license and keys, and some nice guy chased me down to return them to me. He had found them on the trail and asked me if I was Melissa Brown. I thought he was an axe murderer or some weirdo stalker that had read my blog at first; turns out he was just a good samaritan trying to be helpful. He saved the day and for that I am thankful. I feel like a jerk, but am reminded to carry my mace all at the same time. Anyway, what I was getting at is that I have taught myself to stop coming up with excuses to get out of these parts of training that are unpleasant. They are just as much a part of the process as the days that are perfect and inspiring. I feel much stronger after completing a run when I felt crappy that morning..or had a good excuse that I chose not to cash in. I don’t like excuses any more, they cheat me out of accomplishing the great things that I see myself doing. I like doing much more than not doing…even in black socks.