Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Because I Got High

So in an effort to not jinx my registration to the Broad Street Run (and with their website issues, was questionable), I can now officially say that I made it into the race again this year! Have I mentioned I HATE running?

What you say? You hate running yet you're doing a 10 mile race down Broad Street in Philly for the second year in a row? Why yes my friend and let me explain why. I'm addicted to the high. Here's how I got my fix.

I was not very active during my college years, other then bringing the beer bottle up to my lips (not until I was 21, obviously). I did get a personal trainer when I graduated who was crucial in helping me to get in shape before my wedding (and learn proper lifting technique). After that it was just normal everyday cardio and gym classes.

My lovely, wonderful mother had a mid-life crisis about 2 years ago and decided to get in shape (she looks fantastic by the way!) Part of her life re-vamping was not only eating right and weight training, but she also started running. A lot. She tried to get me to go along with the whole running situation but I was just not having it. It was boring, and it was hard. And I absolute HATE the treadmill (yes, let's make running even more dreadful by staying in one place) so cold/rainy days left me run-less. Then she signed up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon in November of 2010. Like any good daughter, I went with my father to support her at the finish line (plus, the promise of Pat's Steaks).

Being at the half-marathon that day changed everything in my eyes. There were people everywhere. Of all ages, shapes, and sizes. All were there for one thing: to run this half marathon. We saw mom to her corral. The energy in the air was tangible. There were family members with signs and bullhorns, shouting words of encouragement to their loved ones. Racer's had hilarious shirts that read "Does this shirt makes my butt look fast?" and "Please let there is someone behind me to read this". These people weren't here to break records, they were here to have FUN. As soon as my mom crossed the finish line I was hooked and told her that next year I was going to run a half marathon too.

So I started training spring 2011. It wasn't pretty. I am slow. Like slower then slow. Turtles might have something on me. But you know what, I finish. I made three different playlists with songs that I loved because to me, having an awesome soundtrack was the only way I could get through my runs. I needed the music to help propel me forward. Everyone kept telling me at a certain point you'll feel a runners high. Whatever you say crazy, I thought as my quads were on fire and I tended to yet another blister on my foot. I was convinced that the runner's high was something people just told you to make you keep running. It had to be a lie.

I believe it was my best friend Colleen who got us interested in running Broad Street 10 miler last year. I was terrified. I hadn't run anything further than a 5K in race setting, and the last training run I did was only 7 miles. But hey, if I was going for a half marathon this year, a 10-miler is a good stepping stone. The morning of the race, my mom, Colleen, and I met a good friend of ours at his house in Philly and went down to the Septa station to get to the starting line. The train was packed. We were runners on-top of runners ontop of runners. No personal space here . Nerves were high; this was a lot of people's first race. We were all joking about how we were 'glad we showered' and 'hope everyone wore deodorant' to help calm ourselves. Last words of encouragement were spoken as we got off the train and into the masses.

Once again, there were people everywhere. It was organized chaos. I have never seen a crowd like that in my life. My mom was leaving right after the race for vacation, but Colleen and I had a plan of where to meet at the end. I was grateful to be running with my iPhone because I was sure I would get lost. How could you not with 30,000 people? We found our corral and waited. The guns finally went off for the first corral, and then the crowd starts moving forward. After about 20 minutes it was our corral's turn to start. Colleen turns to me and says "you ready?". I don't know if I even responded, I think I managed a nod. All I know is we started our race timers/play lists and off we went.

I managed to keep pace with Colleen for 7 miles (which is a feat in and of itself because she's amazingly fast) and could not believe how many people were LINING the race course. Everywhere you looked there were choirs singing outside of churches, people clapping and cheering, kids waving and putting out their hands for high-fives as you pass. I don't think there was a stretch of that 10 mile run that didn't have people there. Talk about encouragement; complete strangers were rooting for you. Even runners as we went by each other were commenting on shirts being worn and motivating each other.

Broad Street Run ends at the Navy Yard in Penn's Landing. I'll never forget the feeling that surged through me once I saw went around the arches to enter the Navy Yard. That was my landmark; I knew I had only a half mile left. I've got this I told myself, I can finish this. The feeling when I crossed that finish line was indescribable. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to laugh, cry, and shout out loud all at the same time. I was shaking from exhaustion and excitement. That was the runner's high I'd been missing. I had lived to tell about my first distance race.

No, those purple nails aren't just matching my polish color 

 Naturally after I came down off that high, I had some  battle wounds. I had blood blisters underneath two  toe nails (photo left) and my legs were like jelly for  most of the next week. But toenails grow back (albeit,  extremely slow and not a pleasant process). But I  wanted more. I wanted that high again.

 I ended up doing two half marathons in the fall, one in  September and one in October. I for one, do not  recommend doing two so close to each other, but  lesson learned. Although I still got the rush from  finishing, it didn't feel the same as Broad Street. So  that's my running goal this year, push myself more. So  much of running for me is mental. It's not that my leg's  hurt, it's my mind messing with me. And I'm not going  to let it win this year.

Training starts March 1st for me. I have the Phillies 5K on March 31st. Broad Street May 6th. Tour de Shore Bike Race July 29th. Baltimore Relay with my mom, aunt, and cousin October 13th. And possibly a half-marathon in there somewhere. Just look for me!  I'll be the slow and steady one, just happy to finish the race.

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