Now what?: part one

I’m probably going to chop the “now what?” section into smaller bits, because it covers a lot of stuff. I’ll try to make it make sense, but as you probably know by now, “Kat” and “sensible” don’t always belong in the same sentence.

Anyway, chronologically, armed with my new diagnosis and my new medicine I headed off to see family for the holidays. I went on my first long run as a person-with-UC, and got in 8.6 miles on Christmas Eve – not quite the 10 I’d been after, but I was dead tired the night before and didn’t want to overdo it. I did discover that if you run on major roads that lack sidewalks while wearing a Santa hat that drivers are much less likely to actively attempt to run you off the road, as if they have some personal vendetta against the very fact that you’re up that early and – horror of horrors! – running. I also finally pinpointed the house along the route that I swear must cook bacon every single morning for breakfast, because the past 3-4 times I’ve gone running past it it’s been pumping out this aroma that screams “stop what you’re doing and crash this breakfast party right now!” Augh. Torture! (Sidenote: I had to change one of my running routes back home because it took me too close to a fried chicken joint for comfort, and I knew one day I would cave in.) And then I settled in for a long day of watching football and snacking, and baking the apple pie for Christmas dessert.

Christmas came and went, and the rest of my travel-filled week to see other family and friends came and went all too quickly. I’d sort of decided before the week that I was going to not go out of my way to exercise, so as to let my body reset itself; that, and the timing worked out such that I’d basically be starting my half-marathon training program as soon as the new year started. So I didn’t run. I did exercise, but I didn’t run, and (confession: I hope this does not make me a bad runner) it felt kind of good. Based on the food I was eating (*ahem* never again can I have cheesecake for breakfast and Cook Out for dinner in the same day) it’s a miracle I didn’t gain 10 pounds, so when I was more or less home and closer to a regular routine, I decided to see off 2011 by giving the 10-mile run a go. I’d had some doubts as to whether or not this was actually a good idea, but the Cook Out-style footlong and onion rings for the aforementioned dinner the previous night convinced me that I really, really, really needed to do something in order to not feel like a degenerate sloth.

It was as if the fates had themselves decreed my path: New Year’s Eve dawned ridiculously warm. Like, 50 degrees at 7am warm. Clearly I couldn’t not run in that weather, given that I can’t remember the last time I was in Virginia and able to go running in shorts on December 31. So, off I went, going as slowly as I possibly could without falling asleep.

I learned yet another important lesson that morning: “mind over matter” is very much a real thing, and I am going to have to contend with it when I start going on my really long runs of 18-20 miles. After 8.5 miles, my legs started whimpering at me, asking me when we were going to turn for home and go grab a shower. I’d deviously mapped out a route that allowed me to take a shortcut that would do just that, but I decided to ignore my legs and keep on going. After 9 miles, they were full-on whining, and at 9.5 miles threatening revolt and collapse. But honestly, at that point with only half a mile to go, was I really going to fall over on the sidewalk and take a nap? No, I was going to go on and finish. I had to actively convince myself that I was only 4 blocks away… 3 blocks away… 2 blocks away… and then, huh, there was my endpoint. I stopped to walk to cool down. My legs did not collapse. (Were they happy? Oh no. Not even a bottle of wine and a puppy would have placated them in that moment.) I felt oddly disquieted. I’d just run farther than I ever had in my life… and I felt like I could maybe actually keep going. I didn’t, obviously, but it was such a kick-ass thing to realize that not only was my mind strong enough to get me to the end, but that my body was as well. For someone who’s just lost a good bit of control over a fairly large part of her being, this was huge.

I took a couple of days off after that to recover, and started the first week of the half-marathon training plan this week. I’ll have to repeat a few weeks before the timing is in line with the plan, but I don’t mind that, since I’m not used to running three days in a row and it will be nice to have some time to acclimate to that. Plus, should I get sick or be called for jury duty, I’ll have room in my schedule to make it up. These are all good things.

Right now I’m in that odd lull before classes start again in a couple of weeks, so I’m trying to work as much as I can in the apparently many spare hours I have. The possibility of jury duty every day between now and the 20th makes things a bit tricky to plan for, but (fingers crossed) so far it’s been cancelled every day for which I’m called. I’m looking forward to having a regular semester schedule soon, though, since I go kind of wonky with all of this free time. I mean, there are things I should be doing (*ahem* all completely academic-related), but come on, this is winter break! 🙂

In part two I’ll look at answering the food-part of “now what?”.


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