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The Time When Five Miles Sounded Impossible

I never would have guessed I would be a long distance runner.

When I first started loving running enough to do it as a sport in middle school and high school, I thought "distance runner" meant you ran the 5k.  I even thought the people who ran the 2-mile race in high school track were batty.  Who wants to run around the track 8 times when you can train instead to run around just 1/4 of a track!?

So I started out as a sprinter.  I ran the 100 meters in middle school, and if you run the 100 you by default also run the 200 meters. And being fast also helped propel me into the long jump sand pit.


Long Jump 2001

I learned I was fast from playing soccer.  I had a few coaches who would instruct the teammates to just chuck the ball over everyone's head towards the opposite goal and let me chase after it.  It was always easier to run fast when I had a ball that I wanted than to run fast on a track.

I did well enough in these sprints for a white girl, knocking out 13.1 seconds in the 100m and I think my best 200m was a 26.4.  Eventually I was pushed towards the 400 meters, which was a distance that would make me soak through 3 shirts with nervous sweat.  This distance made me nervous because I was so untrained for it! I would burst out in a full sprint that would last for the first half-lap; as I turned the curve my legs would begin to tighten; and by the time I was sprinting the last 100m straightaway, I was certain that I had no legs.  They fell off around the 330 meter mark every time.  I just wasn't training my body to be strong enough to finish with the power that I started with.  Is this an allegory for how I run the marathon and half-marathon, or what? My best in the 400m was 60.x, I would guess 60.8.  Pretty good if you remember I had no legs for part of it.

Looking back, I wish I had recognized that I had the ability to run fast for longer.  I wish I tried the mile, or the 2-mile.  In that fresh state, I'm sure I could have broken 5:00 in the mile, no prob.

I was also a relay girl, through and through.  Oh, I adored the relays.  Loved them! I ran the 4x100 and 4x400.  The relay teams I was on set a school record in both races while I was in high school, and the 4x400 record still stands!  You can see it here, if you don't know my real name, the first and last both start with a "C", but the rules in here are that we don't write out my real name.  Professional security, ya dig?

4x100 Relay, 2001

I remember when we did "fitness" for soccer, we would sometimes warm up with a 1-2 mile run.  I was fully cognizant of the fact that running aerobically at a steady pace for longer than 10 minutes was super challenging, and I would play mind tricks to help myself last.  I would think things like, "pretend that your mom's life depends on running one more mile! Some evil guy has a gun and is saying if you don't finish this mile, she's a goner!"  I would take that a step further, and ponder whether I could run 5 miles without stopping if my life depended on it, and I'd be like "well, I guess I'm dead either way, cuz I would die at the 4 mile mark."  I swear, once I pushed myself to finish a 3-mile run by imagining that N*SYNC was watching me, and would like me more if I finished.  And give me concert tickets or something.

Well, now 5 miles is a short run.  And Justin Timberlake is a nobody.

Another change from teenage RoseRunner to adult RoseRunner is....that now, for the life of me, I cannot say "yes" to an invitation to join a relay team.

Every year my name gets thrown in the hat when people ask around for a runner who might be able to join a relay.   I have said thanks, but no thanks, a lot lot lot of times.  Once I said yes, and then because of law school finals, I had to say no.  Which was kind of a relief.

Here's all I really know about adult distance relays:

1) They are usually huge fundraisers for what I imagine are worthy causes
2) They involve sleeping for 1.2 hours in a van.
3) They involve running between the hours if midnight and 5:00 a.m.
4) They involve sleeping in your own stank.
5) They can make for incredible memories.
6) THEY INVOLVE SLEEPING IN A VAN.

I'm not your token prima donna.  I love camping. I don't like primping.  My insomniac brain seems to love not sleeping well.  I love running.  I love memories.  I like other runners.  But I haaaaate being in cars, and I haaaate trying to sleeping in cars/buses/trains/airplanes.   I also dread the jet-lag feeling that follows for a full week when you skip a night of sleep.

I was going to write a classic RoseRunner "divisive" post about relays about a month ago when I was asked to join a relay.  Then the influx of Hood-to-Coast and Nuun relay stuff started developing on many running blogs, and so it seemed too obvious and desperate to devote a post to it.  Especially because I didn't (still don't) really have anything to say about relays, except that I can't bring myself to do one.  I wish I could say I was a good enough person to do it just for the charity aspect.  I will run for charity during the day between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., but after that, these legs are hibernating.

I do think that running on a relay team for the purpose of competing -- like really competing, for one of the top 3 spots in a relay race -- would be fantastic fun.  And even more fun if the relay was during the daytime. 

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Today I ran 14 miles, and threw in 3 one-mile "efforts" at miles 5 (6:49), 8 (6:15), and 12 (6:29).  I'm all over the place...the fastest one felt the easiest, the slowest one felt bloody hard.

Last, in case this motivates anyone else to take the GU giveaway, I'm also forking over two of these big powder packets of Gu Roctane: lemon-lime and tropical fruit.  They have caffeine in it.  I'm keeping the no-caffeine grape one for me.  We're now up to 9 Gu, and 2 of these.


If you have run, or would run, an overnight relay: why?  Why are you so much braver than me?


Did anyone else run track events, at any age?