Wee! Race day for Adrienne Martini at the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon is just one week away, and her dog couldn't be more thrilled for her. (Catch up on her journey with past episodes of Martini Fridays.)
Perhaps the most dangerous part of this whole taper thing is that I have enough energy and headspace to start fomenting future running plans. If nothing else, all of this day-dreaming keeps my mind off of accidentally turning an ankle while walking to class or picking up a stomach bug from one of my children.
This musing about life after the Pittsburgh Half Marathon isn’t good, though. I’m thoroughly in the don’t-count-your-chickens-before-they-hatch camp and, right now, all I’m holding is a basket full of easily smashed eggs. Potentially, my first actual running chicken is about to peck free but there are no guarantees in the hen house.
Still. Here I am.
Potential Chicken #1: I’ve actually said the following out loud: Wouldn’t it be fun to run a half-marathon in every city I’ve lived in? To his credit, my husband didn’t even flinch. Possibly, this is because he was half-asleep and I might have whispered it so that I didn’t wake him all the way up.
It’s a fun list, full of races I’ve heard nothing but good about. Pittsburgh can soon be scratched off -- and typing this means that I’m courting a DNF -- and I’d be left with Orlando, Austin, and Knoxville, Tennessee. There are plenty of halfs to choose from in cities close to Oneonta, like Albany, Utica, or Binghamton. If I wanted to be kicky, I could add the cities we lived in before I started kindergarten: Wilmington, Atlanta, and Chicago. Totally do-able.
But then what? Should I add all of the cities where I know someone? All of the Zoomas? All of the Ragnars? Places I’ve always wanted to see? One in each state? One in each country? Then I could write a book about all of the running, full of both cautionary tales and uplifting finishes. It’ll be huge, like Eat, Pray, Love huge. I’ll call it Eat, Kvetch, Run. Eat, Pack, Run? Run, Run, Run?
And now you can also see why I tend to avoid down-time. It gives me all sorts of unsustainable ideas. But I will admit that I am casting about for another half, maybe in the fall. Or maybe the Disney Princess. Unless it turns out that I really hate running halfs and then that future-me can come back and laugh at past-me.
Potential Chicken #2: My most immediate post-Pittsburgh running goal is to finally get serious about a PR in our local big 10K: The Pit Run. My current PR is 1:16, which is certainly faster than sitting on the couch. Still, I think with some training I can get closer to the 1:10 or 1:05. I’ve already marked my calendar so that I remember to start the Train Like a Mother 10K Own It! plan at the end of July.
I take an almost perverse pride in my slow-but-determined running style that it will be weird to think about speed. It’s good to be weird every now and again, yes?
Potential Chicken #3: A couple of days ago, that same husband was trying to get my attention and put his hand on my thigh, just above my knee. What really got my attention was what he said next, with a note of surprise in his voice: “Wow. It’s like a rock.” Reader, I loved him more.
Like so many women—most of us, I’d wager—my body and I have always had an uneasy relationship. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve reached a point of mostly happy acceptance. It’s not coincidental that this is right about the same time I started running, too.
But I never expected or, frankly, aimed for, changes in my body composition. I wasn’t obsessed with losing X pounds or lowering my BMI or fitting in a size 6. Because I have other stuff in my life that gives me more joy than any of that would; that’s why.
My post-baby belly is always going to jiggle. My upper arms are always going to sway. I can run, though. And when you run in this body, apparently, you get rock hard thighs that are growing increasingly challenging to fit into pants.
Which started to freak me out. After so many years of monitoring myself for any changes in what my body looks like, any one part getting bigger is bound to incite panic. It took me longer than I care to admit to accept that my muscle-y thighs are the reward for my work. They are a sign of strength rather than weakness.
So how is this a chicken? I don’t want to lose them and need to come up with a plan to maintain my newly found fitness even if I’m not in the heart of training for something. I have zero idea if it would be better to always be training for something or to develop some kind of maintenance plan. I’ve mentioned I’m a planner, yes?
If nothing else, this whole training for the Pittsburgh Half and writing about has taught me that there is no problem I’ve faced that another mother runner hasn’t faced as well. So what solutions to keeping your fitness gains have you come up with?
(And, no, the answer “start training for a marathon” isn’t on the table. Never say never, I know, but at this point, running a marathon holds zero appeal for me, no matter how much I enjoyed this week’s Boston Marathon.)