Thursday, September 17, 2009

Polly Perky and the 5 Mile Run

I love the title of this post. The title sounds like it could be from one of the many “made up” stories my dad would tell us as kids (of which, my sister and I would think everyone knew of the story/song and we would go to school and be met with empty stares from our classmates. Ever hear of Fast Mary? Exactly.) And the story would start like this, “There once was a girl named Polly Perky. And Polly loved to run…”

I met the real life Polly Perky. And yes, I called her Polly Perky to her face. Repeatedly.

Bit o’ background-last Friday, I started out on my long run of 18 miles. And failed miserably. By mile 14, I was dying, and by mile 15, I was walking. I pooped out at 15 miles, went home and promptly became ill, not knowing if I was going to puke or pass out. I was seeing stars, knew I needed to get my blood sugar back up, but couldn’t even stomach anything. I think 2 main factors contributed to it-1. I ran about 30-45 seconds faster than I normally do on my long runs 2. I think I had some sort of crazy virus, as I’ve never had a reaction to running like that before. Despite these “excuses” I was crushed. I have 3 weeks left, not many long runs to complete, and I just couldn’t do it. I was defeated and I just wanted to cry in the corner and have a big old pity party that included lots of chips and ice cream.

On Saturday, I was signed up for the Fox Point 5 mile race, as part of the Seacoast Series. This was the 6th and last run I needed to complete to get my Seacoast Series jacket. I had talked with my best running partner, Christy, about taking it easy on Saturday, since I would have (or was suppose to have) run 18 miles the day before. Being the great, easy going person she is, she agreed.

It was raining, the race was at 5pm, and I was still pouting over the previous day’s events. We start the race and at mile one, we’re running a 8:48 minute mile-which is relatively fast for us, especially when we are suppose to be taking it easy. I feel pretty good though, or at least better than I thought I would. Our next mile is a bit slower, but still running relatively fast. By mile 3, which we did even faster than mile 2, I hear something. It’s breathing. And footsteps. And weird snorting sounds from some old dude next to me. Oh my goodness, my own breathing is so quiet, I CAN ACTUALLY HEAR OTHER PEOPLE BREATHING. Normally, I am so winded, I can’t hear anything but the Darth Vader sounds I am producing. I am thrilled at this, as it makes me feel like I have made true fitness progress.

Once mile three begins, so do the hills. Since I can actually hear people talking, I hear a woman next to me shout “I love this hill!” I look over to see a woman, mid forties, sporting pigtails and smiling as we approach this hill. Sarcastically, I say, “Wow, Polly Perky, that’s a good attitude towards hills.” Polly responds with, “Oh I love this hill. I love running it. I love all hills.”
Um, ok, you are a little too enthusiastic about this, lady. But it’s hard not to be a little inspired by a 40 year old in pigtails. At the top of the hill, she spouts some other words of wisdom, and I kiddingly say, “I want to run with Polly Perky.”
“Come on, we’ll run together and get through these hills!”
Prior to this, Christy had given me the high sign to go on ahead, as her knees had been bothering her. So off I went with Polly. Polly asks me about my running, and we chat about various topics. At one point, she says “Keep your chin up.”
“I’m trying to, but sometimes this running thing gets me down.”
“No, I mean literally keep your chin up, it helps with your body alignment on the hills.”

Not only is Polly a philosopher, she an expert in biomechanics.

She continuously checks on my status-“You doing ok? Feeling alright?” I tell Polly I think she needs to be a pacer in a marathon.
“Yeah, a slow pacer. Well, not that you are slow.”
Ooh, Polly IS human, and opened mouth, inserted foot.
I inform her I am completely aware of my slowness, and I’m ok with that.

At the end, Polly tries to push me for a fast finish, but I am spent-I am happy just running at my current pace and making it over the finish line without needing a medic. 46:01, best time ever for a 5 miler. Thank you, Polly Perky.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

18 Miles

Last week, I completed my first 18 mile run. Let’s start with the positive: I didn’t die. That’s about all the positive things I can say.
The dread started earlier in the week when I realized I really couldn’t run 18 miles in my neighborhood. It would be rather tedious, and as my other post mentioned, the neighbors are started to comment (Side note: during my shorter run yesterday, the aforementioned neighbor yelled, “Keep it up!” out the window) . I tossed around the idea of running at UNH, but quickly thought better of it because I wouldn’t have access to fluids and a bathroom as easily as I do when I’m near home. And I wondered if the college kids would care about my comatosed body on the sidewalk, if God forbid, anything happened to me.
So I could run up and down excessively in the ’hood, or I could do it at the gym. I chose the latter.
This had its pros and cons as well. Pros-access to fluids and bathroom as much as I wanted. Lots of people to call 911 as needed. Cons-Staring at the same wall space for almost 4 hours, feeling like a hamster on my hamster wheel.
I decided to play mental mind games to get me through. I mentally broke the run down into three, 6 mile increments. I was thinking the most ridiculous things, such as “Only 3 more hours to go!” or “Wow, 15 miles left, I can do this!” After the 1st 6 miles, I was doing rather well. And at 12 miles, I was still happy and smiling. I was so happy that I decided I would break to go to the bathroom, then get right back on and finish out the last 6 miles strong. WRONG. When you have been moving nonstop for 2+ hours, then decide to stop for a minute, its not so easy to get back in the groove. My legs didn’t want to restart, my arms wanted to swing all willy-nilly, and honestly, I just wanted to sit down. I decided I needed a change of scenery, so I decided I would do the last 5 miles (as I somehow got one more done) on the indoor track. Of course, my Garmin foot pod really needs to be recalibrated, so I couldn’t count on it for mileage. I needed to count 18.5 laps in my head, 5 times. Yeah, that was fun.
Then I started to get rather light headed. I was trying my best to drink and get in enough carbs to sustain my energy. I clearly did not succeed. These last 5 miles took what felt like FOREVER. The last few laps, I regained my mental and physical composure, and ran them fast and strong-and I even ran a victory lap, while “raising the roof.” Who cares, no one was around. And hell, I had already been there for half a day, people think I’m weird anyway.
Tomorrow is my 2nd to last long run before the marathon. 18 tomorrow, then in 2 weeks, 20 miles. Tomorrow I may convince myself I need to run just 2 miles-and do that 9 times. Hey whatever works.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Quick Glimpse Inside My Neighbor's Mind

I ran 10 miles today around my neighborhood. The area is not very big so I have the run up and down (and up and down) the same streets over and over. I see a gentleman outside of his house at his mailbox and I say "Hi".
"I have a question for you-how far are you running and how many times are you going to run by my house? I just saw you a bunch of times in the past half hour."

I think I need a new running route.