Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A History Lesson

Mrp reminded me this morning that I've officially been back in Cleveland for a year (well, technically 364 days, but close enough). I was in NYC for just about 9 months, but man was it difficult. Mostly it was hard being so far from mrp. I can't tell you how much I missed him. That's actually the origin of my cookie baking. I'd stay in my apartment on Friday night while my roommate was out on the town and bake cookies for mrp. Just spending time doing something for him made it feel almost like I was spending time with him. It's pretty much the same now. I love baking cookies.

It's funny. My New York period was almost like an incubation. I went away for a few months and came back a better person. This is true on many fronts, but it's especially true with running. New York is where I got my comeuppance for being an overzealous newbie and where I wised up and started to smartly train.

I started running the first Monday after I took the bar exam: August 1, 2004 to be exact. I was so disciplined. Starting then, I went out there 5 days a week. For the first week I walked 2 minutes, ran 1 minute for 30 minutes. For the second week, I walked 1 minute and ran 1 minutes. And so on and so forth and by about mid-October I was able to run a whole 30 minutes at about 10 minutes/mile! I remember one run at the end of October of that year, and I pushed the last mile of my 30 minute run so hard. I huffed and I puffed and I'm sure my wonky arm was going crazy and I pushed and came flying into the mile marker at...drumroll...8:50!

In November, I started running a little longer once or twice a week. I'd run a 5 miler here or there. By December I was up to 7 or so once a week and I think I ran 9 miles once--it took me about an hour and a half. All through this time I consistently ran at least 3 miles 5 days a week. By February I was up to about 27 miles per week! I was slowly improving. I ran a 5k race in 24 minutes (just a hair under 8 minute pace). I remember I still had the tail end of a flu and I ran the first mile in 8:30 and then picked it up and really redlined the last mile at around 7:30 or so. I was hurting!

In March I started to push the pace on my treadmill runs. I would usually finish below 8:00 pace for the last few minutes (or at least that's what the treadmill said--it probably was miscalibrated). I remember I'd have a heck of a time cooling myself off and getting my face to unflush as I tried to get dressed and back to my office! In April I decided to add another day of running. I was running about 6 miles each day now. If I ran on the treadmill I often would start the run at 8:00 pace now and end at about 7:40 or so. Sometimes, I'd drop it down to 7:20 for the last half. I'd end my runs feeling all bad-assed for running a 10k PR on a daily treadmill training run--how awesome was I?! I remember my legs started to get sore more often and I'd get this pinchy feeling in my butt but I ignored it since I could keep on going.

I switched to outdoor running once the weather warmed up. I think this saved me from getting injured since I didn't know my actual pace I'm sure I slowed it down. Plus, I ran at the park on the soft trails for each of my 6 running days a week. By the end of summer I was up to about 42 miles per week or so. I don't know how fast I was running them. I'd guess in the lower 8:00 range. Somedays faster, somedays slower.

This is when I went to New York--the end of August. Mrp stayed with me for the first few days. After he left I had tons of time on my hands. Classes had just started and I didn't have a whole lot to do. All my friends had jobs and lives. I might as well run, I figured. So of course, I added another day of running to my schedule and I also started doing a long run and going to a track twice a week. Do you see where this is going? I remember getting up on a Sunday and just starting hard and running 12 miles and wondering why I'd get stitchy and feel like crap the last couple of miles. Duh! (Of course I blamed it on being dehydrated and just knew I'd solve the problem by drinking on the run. Didn't help!) Then even after that I'd go to the track a couple of days later and pound out 6 800's as fast as I could. Then a couple of days later I'd go up there and run 2 miles as fast as I could. Yes, within about 6 weeks of this I was toast. Down for the count with severe Piriformisitis and IT Banditis (I made these terms up--they mean ouchy piriformis--a butt muscle--and ouchy IT Band).

I remember being devastated! How could this happen to me?! WHY me!!! I took myself to the gym and would elliptical for 90 minutes because I was petrified of losing the fitness I had gained. Mrp tried to reason with me. I thought I was above all that ease into things, be patient stuff. But somewhere between elliptical sessions it started to make sense. Instead of going gang-busters right back into training the next week when my legs felt better, I decided to ease back and be smart. Of course, Rome wasn't built in a day. But instead of 8 hard miles through Chinatown, I'd run 3 hard miles on the nice flat and soft resevoir path (I remember those runs fondly, because this wonderful little old guy who was out there rain or shine wearing a medal would say enthusiatically, "looking good today!" in his thickly accented English everytime I saw him there).

I took it easy and by the time I came home for Christmas my legs were much better. While home, I talked to mrp about training for a Spring marathon. He strongly urged me to wait on a marathon. Afterall, I had only been running a little over a year, I was just recovering from an injury, and finishing school. "FINE," I'm sure I hmmphed. I'll do a half. He offered to help me but I had to listen to him. I was actually excited about this, until he told me I had to run most of my runs at 9:00 pace. "GOD! That is SOOOOOO slow!" But, I didn't want to be injured again, I trusted mrp more than anybody, and I wanted to improve. So I listened and I did.


Jim said...

What a great story Salty. Such an inspiring testimonial about sticking with it and focusing on the BIG plan. To see where you came from and where you are now - wow!

AddictedToEndorphins said...

Thanks for the comment you left on my blog a few days before the race!
I love these, 'look how far I've come stories!'
It looks like you have come very far!

GP said...

The best part of your "look how far I've come" story is that you're such an awesome runner now.

I grew up with the notion, and I'm so close to finally getting it out of my head, that you had to be a born runner to run well or even complete a marathon. In fact, I think that fallacy was the reason I waited nearly 27 years to get serious about running.

I'm sure uber-elite runners have that something I'll never have, but it's nice to hear that someone else started off by walking 2 minutes and running 1 minute... and has grown into a superstar.

And NEOhio is glad to have you back!

DaisyDuc said...

Wow it is such a interesting story. It is funny how so many of us are so head strong that we never realize the nescescity of slowing down sometimes!

Robert said...

You must have listened carefully to your body and learned from your mistakes early on to get where you are now. It is truly inspirational to know you were that slow once. Keep adding days... hmmm. What did you do when you were running 8 days a week? :P