Monday, December 15, 2008

Hmmm, so you're really doing this

Welcome to my little running blog, charting my blood, sweat and tears as I train for the Rome Marathon, March 22, 2009.

I started training about a month ago, but I'm still in the regular-people mileage stages, doing about three miles, three times a week, with slightly longer runs on Saturday mornings.

What got me started? I wish I could say it was because of some life-changing milestone, like turning 30, which I did a little over a year ago. No, actually, it was because I was in a wedding this summer, and when my J. Crew bridesmaid dress came in in early February, there was probably a good six inches between me and the zipper actually closing!

Totally panicking, I went into my little Curves on 85th and Columbus and asked Christina the owner what to do. I thought she'd tell me to come in and do the 30-minute workouts as often as possible, but no. She said the best way to burn back fat fast (say that three times fast!) was crazy amounts of cardio. And the best way to do that was to go to the park and run.

Turns out she herself had just shed a full-dress size for a wedding by doing just this, so I decided to take her advice and start walk/running six times a week for the 10 weeks before the wedding. Looking doubtfully at the course that very first day, I thought back to my last try around the resevoir near my apartment a few months earlier. All I can really remember about it was thinking, "I can't breathe. No seriously, I can't breathe." I hoped this time would be different, but really, unless I wanted to purchase a whole other dress to cut down into side panels for my non-zippering one, I had no choice.

I set off around the 1.6 mile resevoir in Central Park and at first I could barely make it half-way around. There was this one lampost near 90th street I'd push myself to reach, but much of the time, I'd give up and start walking 50 yards in. I think my problem was that I'd be thinking about that lamppost before I even started running, and somehow fooled myself into believing in some "French Women Don't Get Fat" way that walking was just as good as running anyway. (Forget the fact that the rest of my day was not strolling the boulevards in Paris, but sitting hunched over a computer screen in midtown.)

Fast forward to wedding day, my dress zipping up perfectly, a few pounds shed, I couldn't believe it. Somehow over 10 weeks, I'd turned 200 yards into a regular 3-mile habit. Basically just by doing a little more each time. I even think my non-pushing myself attitude worked for me, because I never started hating the run, like I had before when I'd push myself to total red-faced, lungs-collapsed exhaustion.

But then when the wedding was over, I started to wonder, would I be able to keep it up? But little did I realize--it was the middle of summer, and therefore an entirely new reason to get out there: hot men.

Yes, I'm not afraid to admit it. They were everywhere, without shirts on, glistening with sweat. It was like I'd stumbled on a secret six-pack shangri-la. That and the Mama Mia! Soundtrack were all I needed to keep up the running throughout the summer.

In the fall, the NYC marathon was taking place and my friend Holly and my coworker Kim were running it. I've had friends run almost every year and every year as I watch the runners go by, I'm totally amazed and inspired and wish I could be doing it, too.

This year was no different. As I met up with Holly after the race, I could tell I was almost there mentally. I was literally eating her good vibes at the after party, and after recently running the full six-mile loop without stopping, I just needed one final push. Then the brochure from Team in Training came, mentioning a marathon in Rome. How fun. Without thinking about it much, I went to a meeting, and signed up on the spot.

So now I find myself four weeks in, getting up out of bed a half hour before sunrise to circle the park. I've run in the rain, in below-freezing weather and hungover. Each time now, I feel good, not like I'll die of asphixiation. And I can start to see how it might, possibly, hopefully, be somewhat imaginable that I could actually do this!

So if you feel like following along as I brag (to myself mostly) about running moments in the chill of winter and the realizations that come along with it all (I've been known to love sharing a good "a ha" moment), then come back often!

P.S. this post is super long, but I'll probably stick to random short observations from here on out!


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