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Yesterday, I did a lot of thinking about running. I also did a bit of writing about running. Did I mention I thought about running—a lot? In fact, when I stuck my head out the door to let out the dog , I REALLY thought about running, until the north wind greeted me with an icy slap in the face. I shut the door and left the dog to natural selection. By the time he was whimpering at the door, I made up my mind: it was time to write about running.

To keep the children busy, I began them on their schoolwork for the day. But they had forgotten to tell me it was “Ask Your Teacher a Question Every Sixty Seconds” day. And since I happen to be their teacher, it didn’t make for the ideal writing environment. It was like fartlek for writing: a frantic jotting down of ideas, and then slow to sound out a new phoneme; more writing as fast as my neurons could pop, and then leisurely define “Constitution;” a mad dash to elucidate my main point, and then relax to convert square yards into square feet. But, I pushed through it all, and finally finished the blog about running. Then it was time for lunch.

I had a bowl of hot, cooked quinoa, a bundle of raw broccoli intermittently dipped in Ken’s Steakhouse Ranch (gluten-free, thank you, Ken, whoever you are), a liter of water, and a Super B vitamin, which, I’m hoping will eventually give me special powers.

After lunch, it was time to walk the dog, so I let him out on his line again. I watched through the glass door as the wind made the tree limbs bob up and down. I measured the amount of sway, trying to determine if the wind was enough to cause frostbite. The dog came in, shivering as he waited for his treat. That settled it—I would do the treadmill.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for treadmills. And doing the treadmill is better than sitting at the computer, wolfing down peanut m&m’s; a hypothesis I’ve actually tested scientifically. But since I began running outside last spring, I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with the mill itself—and the feeling is mutual. That thing hates me.

As I donned a thin layer of high-tech spandex, which goes under things very well but is actually not suitable as armor, I thought about how dark it is in the basement. And even if it’s just about the only time I watch TV, I would prefer running up and down the stairs while pulling out my hair, to getting on that thing. Then I saw it: my Supersuit, folded and sitting patiently on top of the clean laundry pile.

I bought my Supersuit last month when we had a thaw, and all of the cold-weather running gear plummeted in price. It’s cozy, tight, and black with crazy turquoise zigzags across it. When I put it on, I feel like one of the Incredibles.

I looked outside at the swaying bushes. They didn’t seem to be dancing as violently as earlier. The sun was shining, and just maybe, if I ran into that blasted wind, the way back would be okay? I am solar-powered, after all.

I took off my treadmill shoes and grabbed the pair with last fall’s dirt still on the bottoms. With my Supersuit, ear wrap, stocking cap, fuzzy scarf, gloves, and a light vest, I headed out to combat Ms. Icy Wind.

It turns out, I had miscalculated the bobbing trees. The wind wasn’t that bad—especially with the sunshine urging me on. Halfway through the three miles, I picked up my pace, the wind pushing me home.

Stats:

Miles: 3.2

Terrain: The high crown on the gravel portion of the farm road was a problem for my right ankle, which is still a little tender from my battle with the treadmill last week. I ran in the middle of the road, which was fairly safe, since the farmers are currently hibernating. The B-road, asphalt, was icy in spots, which meant a little Lippizzaner stallion type maneuvering. There were patches of snow too, but it was navigable as long as I followed the rabbit tracks. After a circular detour through the sugar beet field, I ran to one of the neighboring villages: a route with a lot of long, fairly steep hills.

Heartrate: I kept it in the 80 percent range, not wanting my enthusiasm to hijack the training schedule.

Overall feeling: it was a good, easy run. No humans or animals were harmed in the training.

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Why run a marathon? I have a healthy BMI, I can run three miles without dying, and I can fit into size 6 jeans. Okay, so they’re from the Misses department, but it still counts.  

A year ago, my lifestyle began to change when I found out I could no longer eat gluten. Not only were brezen, bier, and strudel verboten, but I had to say aufwiedersehen to most processed foods as well.

Despite the hardships of reinventing my food life, I began to feel better. I had more energy and actually felt like running. It wasn’t easy at first, especially when dodging manure trucks and enduring severe looks from ancient German farmers, but I kept with it.

Then I made friends with two people, who each happened to be marathon runners. The seed was planted. I wanted to run a marathon—the year I turned forty.

That deadline was a comfortable 4 years away. It occurred to me that my “goal” was just a way of procrastinating. Unless I do this now, my dreams of a truly healthy body will remain that: merely dreams.

But physical goals aside, I want to banish the echoes of childhood that tell me “Good try! But you’re not really good enough.” I don’t want to merely finish a marathon, but I want to run well. I want to learn about nutrition and its connection to my own physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. I want to enter my forties triumphant, not slinking in through the back door.

Here we go. I registered for the marathon last night. I have twenty weeks in which to train.

 Stats:

Height: 5’9”

Current weight: 162

BMI: 23

Dress size: 8-10, depending on fabric & bulginess factors.

Health & guidance: I have been running fairly consistently for the past 9 months and am using The Complete Book of Running for Women, by Claire Kowalchick, and The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer, by Whitsett, Dolgener, and Kole, as my guide books, not to mention countless bits of advice picked up from actual runners.

Goals:

Maintain current height (I think I’ve got that one nailed!).

Achieve a true size 6 (where my jeans don’t leave pink marks on my skin).

Lose inches around the waist and other parts of the vast lower realm.

Build enough upper body strength to do 10 actual push ups (no sissy bent knees, and chest ALL the way to the floor).

Get rid of the muffin top. I don’t need washboard abs…just something less resembling a deflated bicycle tire tube.

Oh yes, let’s not forget: the ability to run 26.2 miles, without hurting myself or others.

Optional goal: My son says I should try to beat one other person in the marathon (basically, to NOT come in dead last).

This marathon is not about completing 26.2 miles. It is about a change in lifestyle that will contribute to a healthy life. And God willing, it will affect the lives of the people who count on me to have good health mentally, physically, and spiritually. Those are the things that matter most, in the long run.