Well, I finished week 4 of training today. Can't say it was a great week for me. My husband left for 6 weeks last Saturday, so I've got no choice but to do my weekday runs with the stroller now and get a sitter for the long run on the weekends. And it's much harder to find the motivation I need to get out of bed extra early when I'm mopey and even more tired than usual. But I find that weighing myself every morning seems to do the trick. Nothing motivates me to run like that horrific number. I shudder just thinking about it. Anyway, today's long run was supposed to be a repeat of the 5 miles from last week, but I was feeling so skippy I ran 5.67 instead. I'm a little worried that I may actually be getting SLOWER, if that's even possible, but my sister, who has finished 2 half marathons using the same plan I am and is training for her 3rd, said it's normal to get slower as my mileage increases, so I'm going to believe her. I'd hate to think it's just me because if I get too much slower I'll be getting passed up by walkers during the race, and that would be a serious blow to my ego. Plus she's in med school so she's got to know something about, well, something, right?
During my run this morning, I passed quite a few fellow runners. I know a few of them, but most of them are just random people sweating it out just like me. Now, I am not, in general, a social runner. I like putting on my headphones and running until my muscles stop complaining about how bad it hurts and my mind stops going a million miles a minute. I like getting to the point where my body has settled in to the movement without me having to think about it, which leaves my mind free to wander. I do some of my best thinking and brain-clearing at this point. Running helps me clear away the mental junk that tends to accumulate with a husband, 2 kids, 2 dogs, a house, and a life, and it helps me focus on the things that really need my mental attention. Which is why I usually run alone (well, as alone as I can be while pushing a 3 year old and 8 month old in the double jogger). But that's not to say that running, even running solo, isn't a social activity. In my opinion, the exact opposite is true. Running is one of the most social activities I have ever done. In a lot of ways, I think it's like riding motorcycles.
If you've ever ridden a motorcycle, then you probably know that there is a whole culture that goes along with it. One part is what I call "the motorcycle wave." When one motorcyclist passes another-regardless of age, motorcycle type, or personal style-they acknowledge each other with a simple lift of the hand. This uncomplicated gesture is a way to recognize that they share a common interest and, therefore, are members of a club that is exclusive to them. I've found that runners do the same thing. Not all of them, mind you. There are some I pass on a regular basis who are either so in to their run or themselves that they don't spare as much as a glance for anyone else. I've even been guilty of it...I'm having a bad run, it's hot, kids are screaming in the stroller, I'm sweating wine from the night before, and I just want to grit my teeth, avoid eye contact, and get it over with as quickly as possible. But for the most part, people who run like to acknowledge that other runners are experiencing the same things they are with a wave of their hand. A quick, straightforward, "I'm right there with you" kind of recognition that we are part of something bigger. And that is what makes running a social activity for me. No matter what your physical condition is, your running level, anything, other runners have been there.
Running is also social for me in that it has become such a common interest among my friends. We encourage each other, celebrate the victories together, and support each other through the rough patches that go along with running, such as injuries. I've made new friends because we start with the common topic of running and build on it. I've found wonderful pages online that have forums for discussing everything from elite training to how to get off the couch for the very first time and run. And no matter what level or how new a person may be to running, the other runners are so eager to share their knowledge and experiences about doing the thing they love that it doesn't matter at all. I totally get that. Running has become such a huge part of my life that I want EVERYONE to experience it too. This camaraderie among runners has added another bullet to my long list of reasons I'm doing this. So while I may not join in group runs or seek out a running partner anytime in the near future, I am definitely enjoying being a new member in the club of running.
On an entirely different note, I believe I may have found my sports bra of choice, although I still have 2 more I want to try. I have run several times now in the CW-X Ultra support, and (trumpet sounds please)-NO CHAFFING!!!!!! If you read my previous blog, you will know this is a BIG deal to me. I still need to try the Enell once I get the smaller size, and I have also been told to try one called the Ta-Ta Tamer, but for now, the girls and I are very happy campers...I mean runners :)