Guess Who Ran 17 Miles Yesterday?

Um, yeah, that would be me.

I’m really venturing into unknown territory here. I’ve never run this far, or this often. Some days it’s really just a guessing game. Am I drinking enough water? Am I getting enough protein? Am I eating enough carbs? Should I feel bad about eating a dozen bagels for breakfast? (not really, but almost.) Are these blisters normal? I mean who gets blisters at the tip of their pinkie toe? (um, yeah, that would be me.) Why am I doing this? Am I over training? Should I be pushing more?

In a way, it’s a lot like early sobriety. ALL THESE FEELINGS. ALL THESE QUESTIONS. Some days it’s just pointing yourself in the right direction and putting one foot in front of the other and going through the motions. It kinda sucks when you’re going through a rough patch, but the next day when you wake up refreshed and renewed and you look back at yesterday’s success (not drinking, running 17, not screaming at anyone for looking at you sideways…), you can feel pretty damn proud of yourself.

The first ten miles of my run felt great-I was breathing well, my legs felt strong, I started slowly, no problems.

Something happened at ten, a little light switched, that voice started talking, “hey, did you know you’ve just run ten miles? Aren’t you tired? You should be tired. You’re in double digits now, that’s crazy. I’m going to flip all the tired switches on in your body. And you’re going to go inside and eat cake.” You know what I said to that voice right? “F*ck off, I’m busy running.” So I obviously have a mental block at mile ten. Okay, note to self made,  I know what it is, when to expect it, I can run through that block. I continued running (no walking! yay!) on, then I hit fifteen.

Fifteen miles. Then 15.1, 15.2, 15.3… Holy crap, I’ve never run this far before! Legs feel good, but I know if I walk for any reason, they’ll tighten up and it will take an act of god to get them running again. I must keep going. My breathing starts to get tired, I focus on the rhythm of my breaths. In, in, out, out, in, in, out, out.

I’m at sixteen miles. There’s no way I’m stopping now. Andy Roddick’s voice in my head, “It doesn’t matter how much energy you have. You just keep going.” I switch to Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out.” “And it’s hard to dance, with a devil on your back, so shake him off…” I can feel the sweat starting to chill on my arms, the goosebumps and the hairs starting to rise, “it’s always darkest before the dawn…” I wonder for a moment how in the world I’m going to run nine more of these miles in a marathon (flipping to the back of the math book. I hear my mom’s voice, “Don’t get ahead of yourself. Focus on where you are, you’ll be stronger then”…) I come back to the moment, and I’m steps away from finishing.

And I’m done. I take a moment and lean over for breath, feel the legs tighten, feel the emotion well up, where the heck are these tears coming from?, look at my time- 3:33:21. My mom died on 3/21. I feel those goosebumps again. Nice one mom. (And yes, I told you all that I’m a turtle. But turtles are cute and determined and they carry their homes on their backs. Turtles are awesome.)

I feel really strong, and tired, and spent, and proud. I feel accomplished. I feel hungry. I go eat two soft pretzels and a glass of milk. Then I feel nauseous. My legs twitch and ache. Why am I doing this? I don’t like these after-effects, caught up in the pain. I wonder again how I’m going to finish 26.2. I feel hung-over. I go to bed.

I wake refreshed and renewed. I ran 17 miles yesterday! My body is amazing! My mom was with me! I feel like running 17 more! (ok, not really, not today.) Was it worth it? Absolutely. I think of the caterpillar morphing into a butterfly, no doubt that process hurts. Would the butterfly say it was worth it? I think yes. I think of my mom, battling cancer, the fight with chemo that added a few years to her life. Was it tough, was it painful? Yes. Was it worth it? I think she would say yes. Absolutely. Will I continue with my training and my long runs that bring blisters, sweat, tears and nausea? Yes. Will I finish 26.2 with pride and accomplishment and gratitude? Absolutely.

Bring on next Sunday’s 18. I’m ready. I’m absolutely ready.

***

Listened to this a few times on my run. “I said a hip hop the hippie the hippie
to the hip hip hop, and you don’t stop…” They don’t make ‘em like this anymore folks.

***

I finished up with this one. I shared Glee’s version a few weeks back, but the original is my go-to. “And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off…”

41 thoughts on “Guess Who Ran 17 Miles Yesterday?

  1. cleo

    You are just awesome. However I do believe that you live on another planet – one that gives you 48 hours in the day. Given what you achieve you cannot possibly be doing it in 24. I find myself quite envious. And then I gave myself a pep talk and said instead of being envious, be inspired and get out there and do the same! Been downloading training programs for a half marathon. i did 16 kms recently so it should be possible – but another 5kms seems like a lot! Well done, you are so great.

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    1. runningonsober Post author

      You know, I have always felt like an alien LOL. Envy is fair, others have mentioned it (back when I was posting my Runkeeper app results on facebook), someone even told me she had to block all of the Runkeeper stuff because it made her feel “less than.” I’ve certainly felt it too toward others at some times. But keep in mind, I don’t have children and I have a really supportive husband and I have a TON of demons that need their exercising, so there are always trade-offs.

      I think it’s awesome to turn an emotion into a motivator though. And I think it’s fabulous you’re looking into half-marathon training plans! I used a training plan off of the RunKeeper site for my half this year, but I know Hal Higdon has a couple too (his link is on my blogroll toward the bottom under running links.) I’m using Hal’s Intermediate I plan for my marathon training.

      You know I will be your biggest fan with your training! I can’t wait to hear more about it! I’ll try to write more this week or next about how I got started with this whole running thing… Have a great night C. xx

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    1. runningonsober Post author

      I *heart* bagels! Actually, I *heart* all carbs, LOL, but especially doughy, yummy carbs! And see, I can’t imagine biking for 20 miles. One of my best girlfriends loves to ride. In the back of my mind I’m thinking a tri may be a fun next challenge for me. I’m not a great swimmer either, but I guess I could doggie-paddle the whole way. A turtle runner, a snail biker and a doggie swimmer. I’m my own zoo!
      Oh, I’m running!!! Just not today. This will be a high mileage week: 5 on Tues, 8 on Wed, 5 on Thurs, 8 on Sat, then 18 on Sunday. I’m gonna need more bagels. :-)
      RIDE GIRL RIDE!

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  2. facingfactsaboutmyself

    That is just awesome and I’m envious! I was getting back into running a few years ago and would run ten mile at lunch but then my forty year old knee just gave in. Couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs for a few weeks. Physio said that running wasn’t for me anymore.

    So after twenty five years of running hard and wondering what the use of stretching was, I found out. Doh! Moral of story… Remember to Stretch and limber up.

    Really good job, Paul.

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    1. runningonsober Post author

      Thanks so much Paul. I really am lucky to be healthy enough to run. So many folks have been sidelined by injuries or misfortune, I remind myself of that too when I am getting tired.

      Stretching, yes… I need to focus more on this after my long runs instead of just collapsing on the sofa. Hope you have a great week Paul. ~ RoS

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  3. sswl

    This is so impressive! Not just that you ran 17 miles (my mind boggles), but the psychological barriers you broke through. Just curious: were you running while you were still drinking? And does it feel different since you’ve been sober?

    Love Florence and the Machine.

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    1. runningonsober Post author

      Hey Susan! Thanks, it really makes my mind boggle too!

      You know, I’m glad you asked that (did I run while I was drinking, and how it feels sober…) I ran short distances for about a year or two before my drinking became habitual. I always abused alcohol (binge drinking, drinking to avoid things/get drunk) but I could usually keep it from interfering with “life.” But as I started drinking more often to deal with life stressors, I found my running would become more and more sporadic. Even if my brain thought I could still get out there and run, or run a certain distance, my body would say, “uh uh. No way.” In my final year drinking, no, I really didn’t run; I was too trapped in my denial and grief and stress.

      Running sober feels amazing. The fact that I have stayed committed to training plans for over a year and dedicated to progress and eating right and just not giving up or giving in has been a miracle to me. Running has definitely helped to keep me sober, and has been really good for my sanity too, and as I mentioned recently to Cleo, it’s helped me get back in shape and lose weight by keeping the focus on my overall health and not quick fixes (starvation diets).

      Running is my “spiritual practice” but it’s good for my mind and body too. I’ve been meaning to write a “why I run” type of post, so you helped me spark some of those little wires up there in my mind- thank-you!

      I love that you love Florence and the Machine!

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  4. karenlessscripted

    You have no idea how inspirational this is to me and I’m not a runner! I can absolutely feel your enthusiasm, your questioning and your determination. Is this unpredictable life worth it? Yes. YES. YES!

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    1. runningonsober Post author

      YES! Unpredictable, but so worth it. ABSOLUTELY! Wow, if I can inspire a non-runner with a long ole running post… then that’s a huge compliment- thank you so much!

      (I’m so glad to see you! I hope you’re doing well and that you had a blast on vacation!)

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  5. byebyebeer

    Yep, awesome, amazing…all of that and more. When you were ticking off the miles and describing the process, you made 9 miles sound like nothing, lol. You can do it and you will and please share it with us so we can feel like we’re running alongside you and not sitting on the couch and reading about it ;) You rock.

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    1. runningonsober Post author

      All of that and more… sweet!

      Oh I’ll find a way do it, one way or another… I just have to bitch and moan about it a little bit, LOL.

      Everyone says that a marathon is really a 10K (6.2 miles) after a twenty mile warm-up. That the 6.2 is where it’s at. So I think I’ll try to break it down to 10, 10 and just a little 6.2 jog. If my brain wants to start talking smack at mile 10, then I’ll just reset it at each 10m mark LOL.

      You know, I had this mental block against writing about running stuff, but your encouragement has really helped me break through that. So I thank-you very much; YOU rock. Hey, as long it stays interesting to a few of you, then I’ll keep sharing. :) I may just post the same thing next week, except replace 17 with 18. It’ll be like a deja vu post. Hmmm… this sounds familiar!

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      1. byebyebeer

        If there’s one thing I know about ex-drinkers, it’s that we like our sweets and running. So I know there are plenty that find your running posts inspirational. I also meant to mention that I recently shazam’d the Florence and the Machine song for my 4 year because it was on the radio and she said she liked it…she already has good taste in music, yay!

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        1. runningonsober Post author

          Ooooh a four year old with stellar music taste, I LOVE IT! I’m sure she gets it from her momma! I can see why a young one would like it- something about the song just begs to be danced around to like a carefree child jumping and laughing and spinning around like no one is watching. You two should try it, it’s fun! :D

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  6. awindowofwisdom

    I am so proud of you and so blown away that you ran that far!!! I always wanted to do what you are doing but too many surgery’s on my knees have stopped me but I felt your run through your words and it was an amazing run! I love that song “Shake it out” it is my go to song to build strength when I feel under attack! seriously you totally rock my friend what an accomplishment! Keep on keeping on. xox

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    1. runningonsober Post author

      This means so much to me, thank you! You will definitely be running with me in spirit :)

      Isn’t that an amazing song? It just *does* something to me. It’s funny when I put it on while I am running, I will sometimes shake my arms and just let them go slack and I look like some weird Gumby out there running with my arms all flailing, haha. It’s such a cathartic song. The only one that comes close for me is Andrea Bocelli’s “Time to Say Goodbye.” Pshew, talk about waves of emotion! Have a great week! xox

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    1. runningonsober Post author

      Ha! Thanks so much PC! Yeah, running is definitely a mental sport. We are all insane!!! (hardee har har) Oddly though, it is the best thing I’ve found to keep the little sanity that I do have in check. :)

      Great to hear from you, thanks for dropping by!

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  7. Belle (Tired2012)

    i am also a slow runner and i’ve done some very long distances (including a marathon). just like you, i also feel nauseous when i eat after long runs. gotta take little bites and space it out, and slowly get rehydrated. if i eat too much or even drink too much, i end up on the couch for the rest of the afternoon :) once you get over a certain distance, though, you’re supposed to taper every second week … you’re following a book or something right? cuz lemme tell you there is NOTHING more depressing than being injured and not being able to run for 6 weeks :( I had a stress fracture my first year from overtraining and cried almost every day for 6 weeks. now i’ve been running for 12 years and i wouldn’t overtrain for all the tea in china cuz i want to do this FOREVER :) (i haven’t been injured since, either.) Take very good care of you, your feet, your nutrition. and take enough time off. and yes, most definitely, bagels rule. on my very long runs (4+ hrs) i used to imagine my celebration meal i’d eat upon finishing, and it was always the same: toasted sesame seed bagel, two slices of bacon, smoked applewood cheddar, latte.

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    1. runningonsober Post author

      Slow runners like to take their time and make it last :) I joke with others that they should thank me, that because of me, they have someone to pass! I don’t mind though, my goal is just to finish. Then if I am crazy enough want to do another one, I’ll go for a timed finish and it will be easier to beat my personal best, haha.

      Thanks so much for the message and guidance. It’s nice to know what I’m going through is “normal.” I’ve gone the “don’t eat anything after” route and felt ill after, and so then this week I felt pretty good & even hungry, but I probably should have spaced it out and nibbled more like you suggested. Next time I will! I am being such a germ-o-phobe, I DO NOT want to get sick before my race. I had a big half marathon planned at the end of last year, but I got pneumonia toward the end of my training so didn’t get to do the race. :( Yeah, it was a big bummer, but it actually worked out for the best because my husband and I really needed to be in town that weekend for an emergency. It’s funny the way things work out sometimes.

      Yes ma’am, I’m following one of Hal Higdon’s plans. We reduce mileage every third week. I have an 18 this coming up Sunday, but the following Sunday it will be a blessedly shorter 13.

      Yummmmm, bacon, bagel, smoked cheese….. I’m drooling now! That sounds so good! I’ve recently discovered a delicious line of Maple Turkey Bacon that my grocery store company (HEB) makes- I fantasize about it while I run!

      I’m so happy you commented Belle, thanks so much for everything! xx

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  8. Saving

    Wow, how inspiring! Running is such great therapy. What a much better use of energy/headspace than sitting around mindlessly drinking or not drinking and but thinking about it endlessly! How tiring that hobby was! How proud your Mom would be of your determination and ability to ignore the voices in your head that tell you that you will fail! There is nothing we can’t do now, we know that! I will think of you when I run tomorrow! I love Florence too…Dog Days Are Over is a favourite of mine.
    Happy Recovery!
    Savingmylifeandsoul x

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    1. runningonsober Post author

      Hi Saving! So great to meet you! You are so right, sitting around feeling sorry for myself was doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for me. Having a plan and something to work toward, especially during those early days, probably saved my butt. And got it a lot skinnier and in shape too. haha! Sweet of you to mention my Mom, thanks. She knew how important music and running were to me, so I think, no make that I know, she sends me little messages and thoughts periodically. Of course she would be there with me on completion of an important run. A lot of folks may think that crazy, but hey, it doesn’t matter to me. :)

      Dog Days is on my “tried and true” running playlist, I love that song too! “Run fast for your mother, fast for your father…” It’s like being happy REGARDLESS. Like you couldn’t be unhappy if you tried. That’s what the gift of sobriety has done for me. Life is not a cake walk for any of us, but it’s just so short and sweet once you have rediscovered it. It’s hard to not be happy and grateful.

      Have a rocking run!!! Drop by and let us know how it goes. Happy Recovery indeed to you too! ~RoS

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  9. Drunky Drunk Girl

    Totally inspiring! I ran a marathon once, sans training (I was 19, so it wasn’t all that big of a deal! Doh!). Today, I’d just like to run again. Do you recommend running if you’re in pain (lower back, hamstring), but it’s not too bad and you can manage it, just for a few miles even? I have to start sometime, and it doesn’t look like my pain is going to go away completely before I start running again (or any cardio exercise). Advice much appreciated!

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    1. runningonsober Post author

      Ah the freedom of our youth :) I really am blessed to be able to run without burden. I just saw an interview on tv today with the girl from Georgia who had both arms and legs amputated, and she was just so joyful and bubbly, it was amazing. If she can do so much without complaint, it just inspires me to keep going…

      That’s a tough situation regarding back and hamstring pain. I really don’t have any experience with it myself, so I’d hate to tell you something wrong. I would suggest getting out there and walking first, see if you can walk for 30 minutes without too much pain. Then maybe add a few short stints of jogging? Maybe like the couch to 5k training plan? Just very slow training to let your body adjust. And if the pain worsens or is horrid the next day, then cut back and give it some more time. I mean you really don’t want to screw your back up for life or suffer a nasty hammie pull or injury. Sometimes our situations in life just change and we have to adapt to them- maybe swimming or bicycling or walking… I guess to wrap up, do some research, talk to a doctor, and just start out walking and add small increments of jogging to it… and listen to your body girl. After all the crap we did to our bodies with the drinking etc, we’re lucky we’re still here to get out of bed each morning, you know?

      Keep me posted, I’d love to hear how you’re doing! xoxo RoS

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  10. Imogen

    Omg you are one inspirational turtle :)
    I cannot fathom running even 10 miles. Congratulations on such an epic achievement!
    I’ve been thinking of you/this post most mornings when I’m on the cross-trainer and feeling ready to give up… i wonder how you must have been feeling and the mental strength you have harnessed to keep pushing through. I think, ‘what would RoS do?’ and on i go.
    Great stuff xx

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    1. runningonsober Post author

      Haha! I LOVE this! Well now you know my secret-when I want to quit, I just cuss out that little voice in my head and (usually) keep going, haha! I have fallen victim to it in the past, and realistically, I probably will sometime in the future, but I know I will feel like crap after I quit when I know I physically could have kept going. (Dang, must I relate everything to sobriety? Apparently so… because it’s like those early days of slipping, you get to a point where you say F it, I’m done giving up, I’m done slipping. I can do this, and I KNOW I can do this. I’ve invested way too much in my self to quit now.)

      I have a run today that I was feeling ho-hum about starting, but now I’m gonna go rock it because “what would Imo do? She’d rock it!”

      Thank you for this sweet message… when I started running, I could barely trudge along for 60 seconds. I pinch myself when I’m like “Wow! I just ran for 3.5 hours!!!” Have a great day sweetie. xx

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      1. Imogen

        Haha, and now we’ll go around in circles… when you think ‘what would Imo do?’ you can think, she’d think ‘what would RoS do?’ and so on and so on, and by the time we’ve sorted out what the other would be thinking, the run/cross-trainer session will be over!

        Does this comment even make sense?? I dunno.

        Anyway, have a great run today xo

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  11. 8yearslater

    Wahoo!!! Good for you. Great post. Loved the thoughts in your head and the lyrics, pushing you along. The number reference to your mom. Very moving.

    I have been AWOL with sick kids so I have some catchin’ up to do on your blog!

    XO

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    1. runningonsober Post author

      Thanks so much! It was a really cool run, and fun to write about too.
      I’ve missed seeing you around, hope the kiddos are feeling better. I know that makes some long days for momma… Hang in there sweetie! xo

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  12. Pingback: Eighteen Miles- Owned! In the Bad-Ass Time of “Oh Who Gives a Crap” | Running On Sober

  13. Nicole Marie

    Thank you for leading me to this post – beautiful descriptions here!! You are so determined, and that is awesome. Run every single mile for your mama. What a wonderful accomplishment. You are going to kill that 26.2!

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    1. runningonsober Post author

      Awww thanks! When you said you teared up at 10, I knew exactly what that well of emotion felt like. Those years catch me at the craziest times. I’m so glad you came by to read this- thank-you!

      I have a feeling my mom would be proud. :) That just makes me run harder. Well that and the idea of cake afterward.

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  14. Tara

    Awesome! Great work. I totally cried after the marathon…right when I saw the finish line! Blubbering like a baby. Consider it part of the training!

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    1. runningonsober Post author

      I have my first of two 20′s tomorrow. I’m sure if I have any fluid in my body remaining after pouring sweat, that I’ll be practicing my crying too (as part of the training of course)!

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