Martini Fridays: Could we not?

During this weekend’s ten-miler, I finally came up with my grand unified theory of what makes runners run. Yes, I know it’s foolhardy to try to describe an entire group of people with the same word but this particular limb is one I feel comfortable wandering out on. Plus, I can always say that I didn’t really mean it because that run was so hot and humid that I wasn’t really in my right mind. I’m covered either way.

My theory is this: we don’t run out of an innate love of the way running makes us feel or the time alone or the sound of shoes on pavement — although those are very nice — runners run because they are too stubborn not to.

Or maybe that’s just me.

At mile four in a hot, humid run, I know how the meat feels.

After my disappointing half marathon on July 11, I’ve been in something of a running slump. Enthusiasm has been as hard to find as a hairbrush in my teenage daughter’s haystack of a room. For the past two weeks, when the 6 a.m. alarm has gone off, my first thought has been, “can’t I just not?”

But I have anyway, even though the siren call of more sleep has been nearly irresistible. Instead, I’ve channeled my inner Dimity, the one who mutters “Don’t think; Just go,” and run anyway.

This is the point in the essay where I should say something along the lines of “and I am a better woman/mother/employee because of it. Just look at how fast/strong/centered I’ve become!” But I’m not sure that’s true. I do know that powering through the last few weeks have been a measure of my stubbornness more than anything else. I simply will not let something as silly as an early morning training run beat me. And I imagine that, to greater or lesser degrees, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

It was sheer stubbornness that pushed me through 7 miles two Saturdays ago when it was hot and humid. That same mule-headedness pushed me through an easy 4 on the heaviest legs ever two days prior and another easy 4 two days after, when the morning air was saturated enough to chew. Was I running for the love of the run? Nope. Not even a little bit. I was running because it doesn’t get to win.

The same was true last weekend when the four of us — five, if you include our dog — decamped for the wilds of Southern New Jersey to stay with friends from college. I had two runs scheduled during our time in the Springsteen state: four miles on Thursday and ten (!) on Saturday, because Coach Christine seems to want to keep my double-digit run bona fides up-to-date between now and Wineglass in October. Or -- and this just occurred to me — she wants to wear my legs down to bloody nubs. But I strongly suspect it’s more the former than the latter.

The four mile jaunt was relatively straightforward. I ran through our friends’ neighborhood, added a few laps around a nearby cemetery, where I discovered an older section where the headstones were all in Russian, then headed back. I misjudged the distance a little and my course was closer to 4.5 miles because accurate estimations of distance are not in my wheelhouse, even with the number of electronic devices I have.

Theoretically, I could have just done that route twice, added a mile, and done that for the ten. But I was itchy for something a little less repetitive and familiar. Fortunately, Heidi, one of the friends we were staying with, had trained on her streets for two 3-Day for the Cure walks. She also is handier with Map My Run than I am. I mentioned what I needed to do, she disappeared into her home office, then bob’s-your-uncle, I had a route.

Five miles down, five to go. Note the Saucony Speed of Lite Short Sleeve Top, which I wear when I'm feeling extra paranoid about getting run over and/or mistaken for a deer during hunting season.

Even though I had a plan, ten was harder to wrap my head around, so much so that I spent a good part of the 24 hours before it psyching myself out. We drove the route the night before just so that I could pick out some landmarks for the turns. I printed out a paper map and tucked it into my hydration belt just in case my phone died. I laid out all of my gear -- from Herr Garmin to Gu — so that I wouldn’t have to think too much about it.

And yet I was still anxious. What if I got lost? What if I got run over? What if the Jersey Devil stormed out of the pine barrens and ate me?

None of those things happened, of course. Instead, I got up, I ran ten miles, misjudged a turn but recovered easily, grabbed a glass of NUUN once I was back, then stood in their pool until I had the energy to take a real shower.

I can’t recommend that last part highly enough on a hot summer’s day. If you have a pool you can stand in after a long run, do it.

One of my better life choices.

While standing there, I scrolled through Facebook, where I’d posted a status update about heading out on this run. “You are amazing,” Heidi had replied.

“Not really,” I thought. “I just had ten miles worth of stubborn in me today.”

If stubborn is the word I’d use to define us runners, which word would you pick?

25 responses to “Martini Fridays: Could we not?

  1. Thank you Adrienne. I’ll likely put something similar on my Christmas list or buy one closer to my next race. I’ve been on a serous mission for running gear with pockets lately.

  2. You don’t look stubborn, you look glowingly young and sassy! My husband used that word to describe me and my running just this weekend. I really can’t think of any better adjective for those of us who do this! I also admit to being “committed” because I am “scared”. So afraid if I don’t follow the training plan I won’t be able to do this very hard thing I have committed to! I guess I am a follow the rules kind of girl, but I am not sure at all that this is going to save me. We’ll see, I guess.

  3. You guys are all great. And stubborn. 🙂
    I had ten miles worth of stubborn in me for my long run yesterday. Sadly, it was a 12 mile run. Still, I got through. Hope your long runs were tolerable, if not outright enjoyable.
    Confidential to Stephanie, who I can’t figure out how to message: the Saucony VisiPro shirt is pretty sweet. Light and comfy, not to mention bright. I’m not certain, though, that they’re offering that style anymore. But anything out of that fabric should be lovely.

  4. This was SUCH A GREAT POST! Good job digging in your heels and making it happen even when you did not want to. I like the word “determination” for when my “motivation” is lacking.

  5. I did the same thing last Saturday. Slept in a camper during a thunderstorm at my parents’ house then got up and ran 8 miles on a totally new route then lounged in their pool. I highly recommend the pool afterward. I like to say comitted but stubborn works too.

  6. Stubborn is perfect! Will add that recently while training for a very hilly high altitude run I likened training to giving birth! Sucked while I was going through it but each time I was done I thought, “well that wasn’t so bad, I could do that again!” ( I have 4 kids! Ha!)

  7. Yep, stubborn is a great word to describe why I actually get out of my comfy bed in the morning. I have always said I am “consistent” but stubborn is probably more like it!

  8. After 44 years of getting up and out the door before work, I guess I could use the word “relentless” to describe my running…certainly not “obsessive”! ha!

  9. Also everybody seems to have that shirt is it awesome? I’m tempted to order it just bc I’ve seen it on so many people I figure you can’t all be playing some extended con on the rest of us.

  10. Stubborn definitely gets me out there over and over…. but I’d say I’m seeking or in need of something of my own…. something done just for me that shows I am strong and have my own thing…. running is my thing.

  11. Heidi sounds great. I have never understood why some people say that they cannot get in a run because they are visiting friends and the friends wouldn’t be cool with them taking time out for a run. I always think to myself, “Well, you just need to get some new friends!”

  12. That’s what I’m missing right now! I thought it was my motivation, it’s my stubborn that’s gone. I need someone to tell me I can’t handle the Hansons plan, then my stubborn will kick in and I’ll be good again. ;o)

  13. Stubborn is perfect for me. Stubborn has gotten me throughout many difficult things in my life, including running. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it has rubbed off on my children. Bad for me now, but hopefully it will serve them well in the future. Keep running and writing Adrienne, we love you!

  14. Stubborn is the word I would use for my ‘running’, so slow it’s comical at times. Most people would have quit by now, but I am determined to keep going.
    I am also a WASP from New England and a Capricorn, I never had a chance to NOT be a poster child for stubborn…

  15. Once again love your posts! I would use the word RESILIENT!!! Knock us down and we get right back up!

  16. Heck Yeah! You nailed it. Never thought of it this way before, but I totally dig what you laying down sista! Sure, sure, I love the crisp fall mornings, days when I feeling I’m flying, and when all the running stars align for a great run. But day in day out, yup, it’s just what we do. We run.

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