Monday, January 19, 2009

Ready, set, go!

Today I registered for the Big Sur marathon. That seems like a good-as-any hook for the start the running blog I've been itching to write for months.

Running has been my thing for as long as I can remember. A solid pair of waffle-soled shoes, a T-shirt and some too-short-to-be-cool shorts were essentially my uniform as a child (add a hooded sweatshirt in the winters) and remain my most-comfortable outfit. When I'm bored, I write training plans in the margins of my calendar, calculate mile paces in my head or map out new runs. I don't leave home without a water bottle.

Big Sur will be my fifth marathon, and the third time I've run the breath-taking course north up Highway 1. When I ran Big Sur in 2006, I was terrified. The hills were daunting, the distance still a shock and I only hoped I could finish. Last year I trained alone to see if I had the mental toughness to run so far on my own. The race fell on my 27th birthday (perfectly enough, April 27th), my college running friend Sonja also ran the race and my parents came to watch both of us.

This time around, I was already worried about a lack of motivation even though the race weekend is shaping up to be great gathering. Sonja is coming from Montana again to run with me. Even my sister, a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala, is coming to run (she will be in the 10.6- or 9-mile race) before we drive up to Oregon to see our family. Still, I couldn't get amped up to train. The thought of sacrificing more days for three-hour runs or getting up in the pre-dawn hours to crank out five miles before work drained me.

But in my 20-plus years of running and racing, I've learned three important things about how I run:
1. It makes me happy. Once I get past that initial challenge of hitting the road, I'm bound to enjoy myself and be cheerier. And if I don't head out the door, nothing else will bring me that same happiness.
2. It gets easier the second, third and fourth times. For many runners, the very act of exercise is addicting. I'm one of them.
3. When all else fails, sign up for a race. That clock over the finish line will hold you accountable, more than a running partner or coach or even yourself will. Therefore, a race date looming in front of you is the supreme motivator.

I ran 10 miles Saturday morning. Today, I paid my $135 bucks to sign up for the marathon. I even ordered a Big Sur hoodie, so I can snuggle up to the thought of the two-mile summit of Hurricane Point, the camber of highway as you come to those last few rolling hills outside of Carmel or that goofy sign right before the finish that announces "D-Minor Hill at D-Major Time."

D'its time!


  1. The only time I've seen you leave home without a water bottle is when we're going to bars. Well done. Look forward to reading more about my Jen. :)

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"So be prepared to quit. Do it willingly and with honest resolve. You'll be back. The marvelous thing about running is that you will never become jaded by it. Boredom, injury or anguish may overtake you from time to time, but the reward that first drew you to begin logging the miles remain untarnished and available -- always. Just put on your shoes and head out the door."