Runner’s High, Runner’s Low

I was flying high for days after the half marathon.  It was so surreal, I kept looking at the pictures because I was still having trouble comprehending that I actually beat my goal.  So it stayed really exciting for quite a while afterward, but then the weirdness set in.

First, although I loved the race overall, there were some disappointments.  Originally, the race directors intended to include finisher medals for those of us participating in the half, but apparently they eliminated that perk about a month before the race “for financial reasons.”  This is not the end of the world, but if I’d have known this, I might have picked a different half to run this fall.  After I missed the Pittsburgh half because of my foot injury, this became my “big” race, and I was really looking forward to adding a finisher medal to my modest display.  As a result, the first weird, post-race thing that overcame me was my desire to sign up for a second, nearby, fall half marathon so that I could have a medal to hang on my wall.  I obsessed about that for a day and then talked myself down.

I could totally run another half in, say, early November (there’s one in a neighboring county – for only $26.20), but I decided to be sensible and stick to the training plans I’d laid out for myself.  Plans I intend to begin next week.  That is, I decided it was silly to train for a second one just to get a medal instead of focusing on the long-term goals I’d already planned for myself.  As it happens, I’m going to participate in a race in early December that will include a medal, but I’ll come back to that in a moment.

The next “weird” thing that happened was that I got a cold.  A bad cold.  I didn’t intend to take a whole week off after the half, but by that Wednesday, I was coughing up my lungs, so running was out of the question.  Not running, in general, kind of makes me depressed, anyway.  So not running after coming off such a big “win” in my half sucked twice as much.  Two weeks later, I’m still not 100% healthy, but I’ve managed to get some runs in even though I still I feel like hell.  It’s disappointing to feel like I was running long distances with relative ease to feeling like three little miles might kill me.  I have a 5K this Saturday, and I’m really not looking forward to it now.  I expect it’s going to be extremely painful to race 3.1 miles and/or my time is going to be severely disappointing.  All I can do is show up on Saturday as ready as I can be and give it a go.  I’m going to have to mentally prep myself so that I don’t slip further into runner’s low if I do end up performing poorly.

So the exciting things that are going to get me back on that runner’s high are:

1) Next week, I’m beginning what’s going to be about a six-month training period based on the recommendations in The Cool Impossible by Eric Orton (info on the book and author HERE).  Eric Orton is the coach who helped Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run, complete a 50-mile race with the Tarahumara Indians.  I’ll spend four weeks doing exercises to strengthen my feet and legs plus drills to improve my form, coupled with 3-4 short runs a week.  After that, I’ll complete some test runs to determine my ideal pace and heart rate zones, which will then dictate how I execute my runs over the following five months.  I’m excited about it, but nervous about the work.  It’s not that I expect that the training will be that much more physically strenuous than what I’m used to, but this training technique is going to require me to run alone during the week.  That means, I have to get myself up and moving with no one to meet me early in the morning.  I’m not as good at this as I used to be, so I’m going to have to double down on my discipline.  I intend to comment on how it’s going here on my blog.

2) My friend Jessica talked me into running 10K at the first A Christmas Story Run!  It’s the 30th anniversary of A Christmas Story, and the race takes place around the setting from the movie.  The race includes “A stellar Leg Lamp themed long sleeved shirt,” free admission to A Christmas Story House & Museum on race day, AND the “It’s a Major Award” Leg Lamp medal!

It must be Italian!

It must be Italian!  (Illegally scraped image from race website….)

This promised to be oodles of fun because I get to spend a lot of time with Jessica that day.  For one, we’re planning to run together.  But we’re also planning to drive into Cleveland that morning, because I’m too broke right now to pay for a hotel room.  (And Jessica is kind enough to go along with this hare-brained plan.)

Plus – hello, finisher medal!  And a super-cool one at that.

Now I just need to get through Saturday’s 5K without collapsing on the course or harming myself over my time.  Wish me luck that I can finish at a not-embarrassing pace!

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