great expectations.

I had so many plans today.

I planned to wake up early and attend my favorite Zumba class. What I actually did was oversleep and wake up to the sounds of my dog getting sick (yes, that kind of sick) on my gorgeous duvet cover.

I planned to drive into the city and attend the Marine Corps Marathon Expo at the D.C. Armory. What I actually did was look out my window and saw sleet (in October!) and ended up not driving anywhere.

I planned to PR at the 2nd Annual Ghost, Goblins and Ghouls 5k in Leesburg, VA. Instead I chickened out and stayed home for fear that I’d slip on some ice and ruin my training.

I spent the better part of my day eating Pizza Hut (mostly veggie lovers with a a slice of pepperoni thrown in there because I still haven’t fully grasped the concept that meals can be consumed without meat), eating candy that I should have saved for Halloween and cleaning out my closet. I didn’t want the day to be a total waste so I hopped on the treadmill around 6pm. I was determined to run a 5k today.

After warming up for a few minutes on the elliptical, I started running but still felt out of breath. That’s normal for me for the first half mile so I pushed through it. I had set my treadmill to a 5k course that included some monster inclines. I was really pushing it but I felt sluggish, I was sweating like crazy and I was discouraged by my time. Even though my treadmill said I was running a 12:30 pace, my nike+ app kept pausing for no reason and my garmin said I was running super slow. Like 15:00 – 18:00/mile slow. I know treadmills give you a false sense of hope but not a 5 minute difference! The numbers on my garmin were stressing me out so much that even when I felt my body get adjusted to the run, I couldn’t get my head in it. My feet started to hurt halfway through (breaking in new shoes) and pretty soon I crashed into a big wall. Right after a particularly dreadful incline, my body decided it had had enough. I tried slowing down but I really had nothing left at that point so I stopped at 2.5 miles.

I was really discouraged that I didn’t finish the run, but I realized that bad runs will happen. I felt better when I looked at my nike+ app and saw this…

12:26/mile. Exactly where I wanted to be. So who do I trust? I’m thinking from now on I’ll go with my Garmin outside and my Nike+ app inside. Because obviously my Garmin foot pod hates me.

All-in-all, I’m glad today was kind of a fail. Setting expectations keeps me in check. When I meet them, I feel accomplished. When I surpass them, I feel so proud and eager to find out how much further I can go. When I don’t meet them, I feel determined and focused. I want to find out what went wrong and how I can change it. And I will. I reworked my training schedule a little and now I’ve got another 5-miler planned for tomorrow. Come hell, high water or snow, I will finish it.

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freedom from want. freedom from fear.

Today’s run was one of those perfect runs that I never imagined I would experience. I had originally planned to run during my mid-day break from classes, but I forgot a change of clothes and didn’t want to show up for Evidence all sweaty and gross. That meant rushing downtown in 5pm traffic to try to beat the sun. Despite my rush, I decided to drive past the National Mall and park along the Potomac River in West Potomac Park. Best idea ever. The sun was just beginning to set and the park was full of joggers and walkers and, of course, tour groups. I had forgotten my headphones at home, but I was glad. I’ve decided to ditch the music when I’m running in the city (for safety reasons), but mostly I just wanted to be present.

I set off on the trail that goes along the water and, despite just having visited the ladies room before I left school, realized that I must have over-hydrated on the car ride downtown. It happened to be a blessing in disguise though because I followed the signs to the nearest bathroom which just happened to be at the Jefferson Memorial. I’ve been wanting to visit the MLK Memorial for weeks now and I remembered that it was just across the Tidal Basin from Jefferson so I planned to give myself a little running memorial tour.

The FDR Memorial has always been one of my favorites. It’s full of famous FDR quotes and amazing statues. It’s also one of the least crowded memorials in my opinion. The above picture is my favorite spot in the memorial and running past it really made me think. We’re blessed to live in a country that has given us the freedom of speech and worship, but have we freed ourselves of want and fear? I know that FDR’s definition of those two freedoms referred to our standard of living and our relationship with other countries, but today they hit me in a personal way. Have I freed myself from the pressure of “having it all?” A pressure that has purely been created by myself. Have I freed myself from the fear that stops me from pushing myself to be better just in case my best isn’t good enough? I’m a work in progress…

After the tranquility of the FDR Memorial came the chaos of the MLK Memorial. I still haven’t gotten over how amazing it is that this memorial has finally been erected in DC. It’s a long time coming and I’m so excited about it. I didn’t stay too long because it was crowded and I didn’t want to use up all of my energy weaving in and out of tour groups, but I can definitely tell you that it is absolutely stunning. I ran to my next destination smiling because I looked down at my watch and saw that I had run 2 miles at this point without even realizing it.

I finished up the last mile by running back to West Potomac Park and running along the river. The Potomac waters are pretty yucky but today it was absolutely gorgeous. It was the perfect day for a run and the crisp Fall air mixed with the river breeze made me thankful that, after too many years, I finally got my lazy self off of the couch and started running. Around this time I realized that even though I had paused to take pictures a few times, I was still extremely close to my 5k pace from a few weeks ago and I wanted to see how closely I could match it. I sped up and gave everything I had left for the last half mile and finished in 40:10. Less than a minute behind my 39:29 finish (and current PR) at the Anthem Great Pumpkin 5k. Looks like there might be another 5k PR waiting for me this weekend!

I don’t really care what happens this weekend though. It’s been almost a year since I started running, and that first day I could barely run 2 minutes without huffing and puffing. Last weekend, I ran 5 miles (!) and I’ve run 3 miles with no walking consistently for the past 2 weeks. I am so proud of my progress and I’m ecstatic that I’ve come to enjoy running so much. It’s the greatest gift I’ve ever given myself.