Feb 28, 2008

i did the unthinkable

it was a gorgeous day out. and i mean gorgeous. sunny, 38 degrees. an absolutely perfect day for a nice long run. i have a great new playlist that is just begging to be taken on a run, and i felt so great from yesterdays' very promising 4 mile pain free run and i was so optimistic about my knee not screaming at me anymore, that i was just dying to get outside.

and here's where i did the unthinkable. for me, anyway. you see, it would be just like me to be feeling so great and be so eager to try to run farther, faster, longer and potentially hose myself with another week of knee issues. i mean, i would totally do that. but on this stunning day, i went to the gym and cranked out 3.5 miles on the elliptical. then,

wait for it.
wait for it.

i. got. on. the. treadmill.

all those days of running in 11 degree weather, torrential downpours, 35 mph winds and being very proud of the fact that there is no weather that would force me onto a treadmill -- there i was, cranking out 1 measly mile on a gorgeous sunny day - inside. what had become of me?

here's what i think happened: somewhere along the way, and i don't know where or when it happened, it could just be a fluke - i got a weensy bit smarter. i thought: sure - yesterdays run was without a doubt, the best since the marathon, no knee issues whatsoever. lets not rush into this zanne. i know you are dying to run more than 4 miles so you can feel normal again. hell, i know you're dying to just run two days in a row. but how about if you just do one more day of cross training, and maybe a short stint on the treadmill to see how the knee goes? just to be really sure yesterday wasn't a fluke and it really is all good. then, after your magic mojo massage at physical therapy tomorrow, you could see what she says & go for 5 miles tomorrow afternoon. how does that sound?

i actually listened to myself. despite the gorgeous day, the new tunes, and the fact that my heart was just begging me to go run and soak it all in; i really wanted to make sure the deal was sealed. so i worked up a good sweat, got my heartrate way up on the elliptical - did 3.5 miles, then cranked out a good mile on treadmill - i felt great, but time constraints kept me from going longer, which is just as well i guess. but my knee never said a thing. beauty. i fully expect to be back in the game by monday. three weeks after the marathon. that's not so bad. as far as injuries go, this was way minor & pretty short lived. phew!

Feb 27, 2008

four miles

i don't know if the ITB thing is totally better,
all i know is i just ran four miles.
four pain free,
non stop miles.
my knee never said a thing.
not a whisper.
not a whimper.
i could have very easily kept going,
but i thought it would behoove me to leave the party while it's still fun.

Feb 25, 2008

runs with dog

at least, i am trying to run with dog. this is mabel. we used to run together all the time. and it was great - cause she is fast as hell and she could run forever. she never wanted to stop. the perfect training partner. our short lived running romance ended the day we were running in the park and a cyclist rode by us - too close and too fast - mabel freaked out and ran in front of me, then stopped dead in her tracks and because we were literally attached at the hip by her leash, i fell over her and the two of us were a crying jumble of runner girl and dog. and even though i was the one with bloody hands and knees, she was crying more than me. i tried to run with her after that, but every time we went out & got passed by a car or a bike, she would freak out & stop dead in her tracks. and because i was always on some sort of prescribed run and pace, i'd spend more of the run pissed off at her for stopping and messing with my mojo. so after that, i'd gear up for runs and ignore her excitement when she saw me put my running shoes on, and i would leave her home. my husband said that she'd just watch out the window and whimper till i got home. after a while, when she realized i wasn't going to take her anymore, she just stopped expecting it.

well. i figure now that i am not on any sort of training schedule, prescribed paces or mileage (and that is still a hard pill to swallow - i hate the willy-nilly lost feeling it gives me ... ok. moving on) it is the perfect time to try and run with mabel again. so we went for a little 3 mile run tonight. and for better or worse, this pathetic 3 mile run in which i had to stop 4 times for either my knee or my skittish dog was the best run i have had in two weeks (since that hilly mofo of a marathon).

i spent much of the run either talking to my knee, or my dog:

to my knee: ooh! look at us. wow, we are doing great. omg. thank you. do you see how nice this feels? don't you get it? it could always be like this. omg. this feels great. i feel great. i love running. this is going to be a good run. oh thank god. its all fixed. we're all better. maybe we can do 10 miles tomorrow and feel normal again. see how happy we can be when we work together? ok. whoa. what are you doing? i hear you. we were doing so great. didn't you feel how nice that was? oh for the love of god, what are you doing? why do you have to mess with everything? pleasepleaseplease. stay with me. stay. with. me. ok. fine. we'll walk.

to my dog: good girl! good girl! this is fun. you are doing great. come on. come on. (approaching car) goodgirlgoodgirlgoodgirl. see! not so bad! you're fine. you're fine. its ok mabel, its ok. its just a car. there. see. you are okokokok. good girl. good girl. see. you like this? maybe you will run on the trails with me someday. oh this is good. you're doing great. ok. its just a car. you want to just stay behind me? that's fine. just dont trip me and run in front of me. ok. that's just another runner. oh, gosh, i wish i could run that fast right now. ok, see. you're fine. goodgirlgoodgirlgoodgirl. what? wtf? there's nothing there! no car! what! why did you stop! for the love of god dog, lets go. you're fine. ok. fine. we'll walk.

despite the stop and go and go and stop, we rounded the corner home - running & happy. i for one, had a huge grin on my face and perhaps mabel did too - i'm not sure. despite the fact that i ran 3 measly miles and had to stop 4 times during said 3 mile measly run, the stops to walk were short, the running intervals were longer and the pain in my knee was more of a dull ache than a pain, and there may be some promise in mabel if i don't take her down the busiest street in town. it was still the best run i have had in two weeks. things are looking up. a little bit. there's still an undercurrent of lost-ness. there's that whole sick sad thing at being blue over no schedule, no exact date of any race or goal on the horizon. but still. things are looking up!

if anyone has any advice on how to run with your dog -
bring it on!!

Feb 21, 2008

operation attitude adjustment

a little light bulb went off the other day. actually it was two lightbulbs, or maybe it was three. the first one was:

  • get to a happy place before my husband packed up the kids & left me to my sad sorry pathetic whiny self. am sure he wishes this lightbulb had gone off several days ago.
  • the second was the realization that while my head and heart had no intention of resting, my body clearly had other ideas and forced me into rest by messing with my illiotibial band mojo. i should just be a grownup and listen to it and go with it. yeah - this one took me a week to figure out.
  • thirdly, it might hurt too much to run more than 2 miles, but there were other things i could do. i should do them. this too, took me a shamefully long time to come to terms with. i couldn't see beyond the whole ithurtstoomuchtorunbutthatsalliwanttodo.

i am a work in progress, people. a work in progress. and so operation attitude adjustment began on wednesday. first order of the day was a fast angry swim that resulted in a nice little swimmy pr. i finally got my mile-in-30-minutes swim. well, close enough - i counted my laps, plugged it into log and it spit out .99 of a mile. i'm calling it good. fast angry swims do wonders for taking the edge off.

the next day, i went to the gym and got on the elliptical machine. and after i got over the fact that i am a total gym dork and didn't even know if i was on the right contraption, and didn't even know how to start it and almost fell off of it when i tried to read a magazine, all while desperately trying to look like i knew what the hell i was doing - once you figure it out and get going; if you close your eyes and listen to happy tunes, and move your legs and break a serious sweat - even though you are not outdoors moving forward through the world, it still takes the i'm-not-running-right-now edge off.

the other thing that takes the edge off is finding out what exactly is wrong with your damn knee. i finally got in to see my physical therapist today. it had been seven months since i was there last and it would seem that a few of my bio mechanical issues had come back to haunt me since my last visit. my left leg is slightly shorter, this results in my left hip getting torqued back after months of running which makes left leg even shorter and then it all goes downhill from there. i had been keeping everything in a happy place with my regular massage, i've been faithfully doing my keep-my-hips-aligned exercises for the last seven months, and hadn't had any hip pain whatsoever for months. but things had still gotten out of whack and this time it affected my knee. so i got popped and yanked back into place. the diagnosis on my knee? exactly as i had thought thanks to the magic of google: it is an illiotibial band thing. she said they can get pretty bad and mine didn't seem to be anywhere near pretty bad. in a way, it was good that it was too painful to run through, becasue if i could have run through it i would have - which would have made it much worse. but the pain just stopped me dead in my tracks. and this was good i guess. it made me listen. she did her magic ASTYM massage and i'll go back next week for two more. i can try to run in 2 days - run 5 minutes, walk 1, run 5 minutes, walk 1 - for 2 miles to start. knowing exactly what is wrong and taking measures to fix it always does wonders for the attitude.

the other item on my operation attitude adjustment plan was going to see the spirit of the marathon. i knew i would love this movie - i was hooked with the first line and wiping away the tears by the end. and i was already planning marathon number 4 by the time i walked out of the theater. (truth be told, i was planning it last week, but the marathon movie sealed the deal). the best part was that it was a date night with my husband. the fact that he even wanted to spend any time at all with me after the piss poor mood i have been in all week, and to spend time with me at a running movie of all things and watch me cry over it is just further testament to the fact that the man should be canonized.

i've just loaded up my old friend waterproof ipod with some groovin' new tunes and i'm off to the pool for a pool run. i never thought i'd see the day where i'd voluntarily subject myself to the mind-numbingness that is pool running without having it officially on a schedule. but here i am. happily headed off to the pool - a self imposed pool run. i think operation attitude adjustment is working.

Feb 20, 2008

enjoy the recovery?

everyone says i should enjoy the recovery time. i think this is a crock. i keep trying to embrace the downtime. be one with it. i mean maybe, just maybe if i could get out and run more than two miles at a time without my knee hurting like a mother, i could handle this grinding halt of all things runningtrainingschedule-related much better. but i've become a statistic. one of those post marathon injury statistics. i've been on the google, i've talked to friends. i have self diagnosed & think i know what it is. crazy common and totally fixable - which is all well and good, but i want it fixed right NOW. or, how about NOW. physical therapy is on friday. friday can't get here fast enough. because right now, my whole body, mind and heart are just screaming to run. and i mean screaming. i'm trying to be a grownup, but instead i've been reduced to a big whinybabypeepeepants. i'm not proud of this. i am trying to realize that these things happen and be okay with it. and in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing. its' a little tiny blip. my husband tries to explain that i should be thankful that i just got through 30 weeks of training and two marathons without any injuries. its just like him to look at the bright side, when i am busy looking at my half empty glass. so i now find myself in a perpetual state of mad. in fact, i might explode soon. this post marathon thing wouldn't be so bad if i could just go out for a run.

oh. wait.
i can't do that.
it hurts too much.

Feb 18, 2008

two tickets please

so i am at the movie theater buying tickets for the spirit of the marathon. i say – two tickets to spirit of the marathon please. she looks at me. blankly. so i take this vapid look to mean she has no idea what i am talking about. so i explain, i'm here early. the movie doesn't start till thursday at 7:30 its one of those one night only gigs, they sold out last time. then i think to myself shouldn't you know this? i mean, you are the one working here - selling tickets to said one night only movie. but i refrain from going what my husband calls all new york sassy on her, cause i've now lived in the south long enough to learn that it doesn't really get me anywhere. so instead, i'm nice. and chatty. and this is a huge feat in itself seeing as i have only run 5 miles in the past week. she's looking it up in the computer and finds it. then she announces "the tickets are ten dollars?" and looks at me with a look that i take to mean, are you sure you want to pay ten dollars? and i want to say, i wouldn't be here four damn days before the movie even starts to buy tickets if i didn't really want them. but instead say, "yes, that's fine. two tickets please."

and then my favorite part – she says,
"spirit of the marathon? what's that about?"

Feb 15, 2008


the grimacing sideways-shuffle-down-the-stairs-soreness has abated and the weird funky fog, and imminent danger of a flood of blubbery waterworks has lifted. i totally googled "post marathon blues" yesterday. they exist, people. so i am not totally crazy. if it exists in the google it must be real, right? it must mean i am normal. then again, people all over the world google 'long boobs', and that cannot be normal. or real. eew.

i tried to figure out the blues. it wasn't sadness over anything in particular. in fact, it was just that - i was sad about the nothingness. no running, no schedule, no singular focus, no goal. while i know my body and mind need a rest; i miss the running. the singular focus. the goal. and while i can't say i miss being up at mile repeat street or getting up at 4 am to run with the big dogs, i do miss the routine. i told my husband this yesterday & he said: "its only been four days!" yes. its only been four days. but when thirty weeks of training and two marathons come to a grinding halt; four days can feel like a lot. you can get lost in those four days.

and even though i'm elated at having completed my third marathon and in much the same way that if you have three of something, it is considered a collection - i feel that three marathons makes you a marathoner, and i absolutley love that the number four has been replaced with a number three in my personal bests over there in that sidebar; i was still feeling lost. but i'm not lost anymore. i realized i need to remember all those days i longed to run without my watch, without my heartrate monitor. all those days i wanted to cut a run short, skip a hill, or walk for a bit. i can do that now. i can make a run longer if i am feeling great. i can cut it short if i'm not. i can run fast or slow and not worry that i'm jacking around with any prescribed paces or mileage. i can run some races and just see what happens. i can get back on my bike and try to get last summers' mojo back.

i've spent the last several months longing for this sort of freedom; its' here now and i need to just go with it. this is a weensy bit hard for me, because i've learned what having a plan can do. but now i think the next lesson is to learn to be okay with just being. without a schedule to tell me how to be or what to do.

what do i do now?

a slow run or nap?
five days after marathon
grueling decisions

Feb 12, 2008

post marathon musings

i always get the post-marathon blues. like postpartum depression i guess, marathon style. the ridiculous weepies are more prevalent in the immediate hours after the race, and are more of a release and combination of exhaustion, relief, joy and pain; and i'm over it now. but after that and usually on the second day comes the obscene tiredness and the constant rethinking of everything. what if there were no hills? what if there were no portapotty issues? what if i had just pushed it a little more? what if i had not walked those two weensy times? what if? i can't help it. it was a shit hard course. the hardest course i have ever run. but still. in between the pride over finishing, i mull every mile over. and just wonder ...

but then i get amazing emails from coach, and supportive and funny comments here, and i get spirit-lifting words of encouragement and pride from my sister and my mom, and emails from friends who are not runners and don't know what a pr is but still want to know everything. all the overwhelming support from family and friends (both bloggy & real-life!) is enough to always reduce me to a puddle of tears of gratitude -- and put it all into perspective.

my coachs' sister took us all in for the weekend, and served as sherpa to our sherpas; riding her bike with my husband and marcia all over town, serving as their tour guide & riding alongside us shouting words of encouragement. and marcia, who hates hills, rode all over them (for the second day in a row, because she had already tackled them on a ride the day before) to cheer us on and take amazing pictures to document the day. my husband, who stood at various corners holding out food for me and rode a portion of the last mile - i swear, the hardest one - with me. it was so great to have them at various points along the way - its the kind of support that is so humbling and makes one so grateful to have such amazing friends.

then there are the friends at home. the friends that offer to take your kids for the weekend. and do crafts with them, get them bathed & ready for school on monday. the friends that get your 11 year old to happily do his homework and even do some extra credit. and even take a shower before mom & dad get home. friends like this make leaving town for a weekend to run a marathon a little bit easier. and anything that makes a marathon a bit easier is a gift. friends like this are good friends to have. i am lucky.

and then there's coach. he called my husband last night to go moutain biking at 10pm in the new fallen and rarely-seen-here snow. as i hobbled sideways down the stairs gritting my teeth through the screaming quad pain and heard coach was going mountain biking the day after running a marathon - i was once again in awe. and said to my husband as i grimaced down the last two steps, i want to be him.

even though there were points during the race where i hated him for roping me into it, i was glad he did. you see - soon after the columbus debacle, and before he officially told me, i got wind of his idea for plan b. i poured over every race and course review there was. and i thought he was insane. and so i went to search for another, flatter, easier race. and i found one in columbus (of all places). it was a lap marathon - 26 laps around a mile circle. i thought surely i could qualify there. but coach had higher aspirations and knew that i'd go mad running in a mile circle 26 times. that, and being able to say i qualified on a shit hard course as opposed to a flat lap course left room for a little more pride.

well, i may not have qualified, but once again and as always, coach was right. and because he had faith in me, and gave me a shit hard ass-kicking schedule, i was able to finish that shit hard ass- kicking race. and it did kick my ass, but i do feel pretty cool at having just run my third marathon. the hardest one. in the best time. i'm willing to bet that running in 26 little circles wouldn't provide the same satisfaction. and i have coach to thank for saving my pride and encouraging me to aim a bit higher. i have coach to thank for running 26.2 with me when all he had planned to do was 13.1. i have coach to thank for starting me on this crazy journey of marathoning.

as much as i was ready to hang it all up on sunday and never run again; much less another marathon - i know i'll be back to run another one. believe me, i've already googled all the tempting suggestions left in my comments. maybe the next one will be the one. and then again, i'm learning that it isn't so much about the actual qualifying, but the journey on the way to the BQ. it's a wild ride. and i like it.

thanks coach.

the day after the marathon

sleeping in late. getting a massage. lying around on the couch, the only activity being lifting a glass of wine to drink. having ice cream with hot fudge sauce for breakfast. not cleaning the house or doing laundry cause it hurts too much to go up and down stairs - these are all good things to do, or not do the day after a marathon.

but i think my personal favorite is the thing i did late last night: my husband had just left with friends to go mountain biking. in the snow. cause there was a real honest-to-goodness blanket of it outside. he was like a little kid getting dressed to go out sledding in the first snow of the year - he was so excited. and when coach & his wife pulled up on our lawn and my husband headed out with them, it looked like it was going to be fun. and i had snowy activity envy. but activity was something my screaming quads were not really interested in. but that snow! i couldn't help myself. i had to do it. if the forecasters were right, it would be covered with ice by morning.

i dug out my ancient xc skis, poles & moth eaten boots, and cross country skiied for an hour on the streets of my neighborhood. my quads stopped screaming at me for just a little while and enjoyed every stretchy stride. it was quiet and would have been much darker if it weren't for the blanket of bright snow. ginormous snowflakes were falling on my face. perfectly dreamy. once home, i resumed my spot on the couch and had some more wine. which, after cross country skiing may be my second favorite post marathon activity. fittingly, it is also a good apres-ski activity.

Feb 11, 2008

the hills of birmingham. part 1

this race report could be easily summed up in one sentence: it was a hilly mofo of a marathon. but that’s no fun. i know when i read race reports, i want every detail, every split, no stone unturned. i want all the agony of defeat & the thrill of victory. so here it is. plenty of agony, thanks to the hills and victory in simply finishing.

i have never gone into a race more calm that i did yesterday. i didn’t wake up yesterday and spend 30 minutes maniacally pacing the room, as i did 12 weeks ago the morning of the columbus marathon. i woke up, got my oatmeal & climbed back into bed to eat it. my husband said he liked the new me. when i asked what he meant, he replied “you’re not up on the ceiling”. and in my head, i thanked jen for this nice place i was in on race morning. this was the third race i have run with coach and i was always in awe of the calm zen he brought to the start line, cause i was always on the opposite end of the spectrum; a bundle of crazy nerves, entertaining thoughts of running off to the side to throwup real quick. i finally felt like i was in this calm place while waiting in the corral for the race to start. it’s a nice place to start a race.

so we started. with no fanfare - not even the blaring of sweet home alabama - we’re off. the pace was a bit hard to gauge, because the mile markers didn’t jive with what coachs’ garmin was telling him. some miles were not quite a full mile and others were just over. some of our splits were 7:23 and 7:35, i knew this was not possible, because it certainly didn’t feel like i had just run a mile repeat. because it was jacked up, i said to coach that i was actually happy that we never found any pace bracelets at the expo, they just add to the pressure. i just wanted to run, hit the button for my lap splits and not have to compare them obsessively to any bracelet on my wrist.

so that’s what we did – we just ran. the first few miles downtown were rolling and there was a big hill ahead at mile five. it was tough and long, but we stayed right on pace. at the top was a little strip mall of stores – “red mountain” shops or something like that. yeah – mountain. that’s about right. and that was just the beginning. now i honestly can’t really recall too many specifics between here and 10 or 11. this is where coach is good – cause he remembers every mile and knows every split. if he posts a report, i’ll link to it. mostly, it was just hill. after hill. after hill. with weensy flat parts in between.

the hills would crop up where i wasn’t expecting them, or maybe, just as the miles went on even the little rollers were killers. there was a point, going up yet another hill, i don’t know at which one or which mile when i announced to coach: i hate you a little bit. and there were other points where i thought running marathons suck. running sucks. i hate running. and i thought of vanilla’s post where the advice he gave to new runners was to quit. quit before its too late, quit before you find yourself running a hilly mofo of a marathon. (he didn’t say that part – i threw that mofo marathon bit in for good measure). that's what i was thinking. this is madness.

at mile 13, the course went off the main road onto a really nice running path. it was gorgeous, and i wished i could have enjoyed it more, but at this point, i had started to feel some familiar and disappointing stomach cramps and i tried to figure out where they were coming from. what had i eaten or done wrong? i was disappointed & surprised, but not freaking out – i had dealt with this a few times on long runs (even after getting my ducks in a row) and knew that i could just work through it & the feeling would pass. unfortunately it never did pass and i knew i would need a bathroom. soon. and i also knew that would mean lost time & i was bummed. but there was no getting around it. my foray into the porta potty took way longer than i planned. there was a bit of a wardrobe malfunction. timing is everything. and if you can’t get those damn shorts off in time and you’re dealing with a fairly explosive situation, you could be hosed. or rather, you could have to hose yourself off with the heed from your water bottles. enough said. 4 minutes later, i emerge from the porta potty.

so i don’t know where we are now, somewhere in the hills. i knew the next mother was coming up at mile 22. but before we got to 22, there was a little hill leading up to it. yes – there were hills that led up to hills. just for fun. just in case it wasn't challenging enough. but it was on this little (comparatively speaking) hill that i got slower and slower until i finally admitted to coach “i justhavetowalkalittlebitjustforasecond”. i must have really been hurting, cause i don’t normally walk and i certainly would never, ever voluntarily walk in front of my bad ass coach who would give me all kinds of grief for walking. but i totally caved - i was powerless to stop my legs from the brief respite. we started again, and turned the corner where team zanne was in full force and cheering loudly - and headed up the last, biggest, baddest mother of them all. but the operative word here was last. and just to add insult to injury, it had a little kicker at the end – it got even steeper at the very top. i walked a little bit of this part too, but ran (cause coach made me - that's what coachs' do, make you run when you want to walk) to the crest – where it took a sharp turn and immediate and very steep descent. he reminded me to shorten my stride, but it got a little wiggy right at the turn and i could see how things could cramp up or get blown out, very fast & very painfully. and in fact, my toes, which had been going into little charlie horse cramps for a long time, all cramped up making that turn. now we had a blazes fast & long downhill that, at the bottom, made a sudden transistion to just flat. coach said going from a downhill to a flat like that was like running into the ocean and he was so right – there’s a weird and big slowdown in making the adjustment to stride & speed, it hurts as much as the uphills.

the hills behind us, we had about 3.1 miles to go. i was thrilled to have just crested that hill, the worst one and come out the other side of mile 22 and still be running. as opposed to 12 weeks ago, when all i heard at this point was "runner down" and it was me. i looked at my watch and thought there was a very slight chance i still had 3:50, but i’d have to really push it. and when i looked again with 2.2 miles to go and 15 minutes left on my watch, i knew i couldn’t do sub 7:30’s for the last two miles. miles 23 and 24 felt pretty fast. i was excited and felt like i had really picked it up and could finish strong, but by 25, it was like a swicth went off and it was all gone. i felt like i had lost all juice. that last 1.2 miles may have been the hardest. i wanted to stop, i wanted it to be over. i had nothing left to give and couldn’t even punch it a little bit.

we crossed the finish and i decided i never wanted to run another marathon again. i would have been happy to pick a sport, any sport other than running out of a hat & try that one. of course, a day later. i am thinking of the series of races i may do in the spring. and i'm wondering what flat qualifier i could try for in the fall, and i think i'd like to ring in my 40th this fall by running a 50k. it's sick. my quads are still killing me, and yesterday i was perfectly happy to hang it all up. but today, i'm thinking after a nice week off, i'll run again. strangely, even though there was no BQ, the pressure for one is off. i can run just to run. boston will always be there and i will try again.

other than the hills, the most significant thing about this race in comparison to last time is the place my head was in. i felt physically and mentally strong and really good – as good as you can feel in those hills. and even with the stomach issue and the portapotty fiasco, i wasn’t worried. there wasn’t the all out obsession or the desperation over the final time or the BQ. maybe that’s because i honestly thought going in to this race that i had it. but even when it was clear that i had lost it, i didn’t freak out. it was just a race. a shit hard race. and i did it. and i finished in one piece with a better time than my first marathon.

like coach always says, "it's just running".

part 2, the post-marathon weepy and much deserved thank yous to coach and team zanne forthcoming.
team zanne was as always -
amazing, in full force and with a new member.
there was also a team at home that must be thanked...

Feb 10, 2008

that was one mother of a hilly marathon

that's all i got right now.
come back later.
there will be good stuff.
i promise.
it was not a BQ
but it was a PR.
and it was the hardest damn course.

Feb 7, 2008

the flying trapeze

in addition to the fact that my friend jen is a font of enlightening information; and without her, i would not be in the calm, balanced place i now find myself in 3 days away from a marathon, she would also send me inspirational little gems, like the one below. i thought i'd share the love. enjoy.

Sometimes, I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I'm either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments, I'm hurdling across space between the trapeze bars.

Mostly, I spend my time hanging on for dear life to the trapeze bar of the moment. It carries me along a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I'm in control. I know most of the right questions, and even some of the right answers. But once in a while, as I'm merrily, or not so merrily, swinging along, I look ahead of me into the distance, and what do I see?

I see another trapeze bar looking at me. It's empty. And I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart-of-hearts I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present well-known bar, to move to the new one.

Each time it happens, I hope—no, I pray—that I won't have to grab the new one. But in my knowing place, I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar, and for some moments in time I must hurtle across space before I can grab the new bar. Each time I do this I am filled with terror. It doesn't matter that in all my previous hurdles I have always made it.

Each time, I am afraid I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless basin between the bars.

But I do it anyway. I must.

Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call faith. No guarantees, no net, no insurance, but we do it anyway because hanging on to that old bar is no longer an option. And so, for what seems to be an eternity, but actually lasts a microsecond. I soar across the dark void called "the past is over, the future is not yet here." It's called a transition. I have come to believe that it is the only place that real change occurs.

I have noticed that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as a "no-thing," a no-place between places. Sure, the old trapeze bar was real, and as for the new one coming towards me, I hope that's real too. But the void in between? That's just a scary, confusing, disorienting nowhere that must be gotten through as fast and as unconsciously as possible. What a shame!

I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and the bars are the illusions we dream up to not notice the void. Yes, with all the fear that can accompany transitions, they are still the most vibrant, growth-filled, passionate moments in our lives.

And so, transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away, but rather with giving ourselves permission to "hang out" in the transition zone between the trapeze bars. Allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens.

It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening.

Hurdling through the void, we just may learn to fly.

c. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition

Feb 6, 2008

out with a bang

the mile repeats are officially over.
i repeat: the repeats are over!
and if that wasn't exciting enough in and of itself,
the time on my watch at the end of the last lap
on mile repeat street
wait for it
wait for it
a full twenty seconds faster than my maddeningly consistent
mile repeat pace for the last 12 weeks.
i just ran my last mile repeat.
and i was fast.

Feb 3, 2008

what do i know?

the thing about the taper is the little worries that tend to creep in: you wonder - did i work hard enough? am i ready? can i do this? but the taper is too late for those worries. it's all done. all the hay is in the barn. and you know in your heart that you did work hard enough. you are ready. and in fact, have probably never been more ready for a marathon. and that's a nice thing to know.

after the columbus marathon, when it became painfully apparent that my nutritional life was not jiving with my running life, i knew i had to make a change. something had to be done to get everything to work together. so i consulted with a health counselor to help me get to the next level. and we have spoken every week for the past eleven weeks. i started referring to them as my weekly couch sessions. we didn't just talk about "food" - there was a bigger picture. if i wanted to progress to the next step i had to be totally honest and come to terms with and admit exactly how many gumdrops i ate. and 'gumdrops', really, at this point is merely a euphemism for the poor state of my nutrition. i had to confess that i hated food. hated supermarkets. hated cooking. would rather not have thought about any of it at all. i would have been happy to exist on air if i could. i had to make some big changes that were not just about incorporating more greens into my diet. and all along the way, i have learned amazing things about myself, my running, getting my body back into a balanced rhythm, and the nutrition that would keep it there.

i had homework every week. while some assignments were easy and fun; others were harder, but all were amazingly enlightening. all the homework, weekly chats, self-reflection, increased awareness of the way my body works, why i do certain things, rethinking the way i think, or didn't think about food; all while training for a marathon -the second in 4 months- was a huge undertaking; but i'm not sure it could have been done any other way. i got to see first hand, real time - how the food and the running worked together. and then i got to see how it all worked and fit into my life. the past four months have just been a series of lightbulb moments, one after the other. the ducks lining up.

it can be a little disconcerting when something you've done forever is no longer working and you're not quite sure how to fix it. i took a leap of faith four months ago when i called jen, saying something needed to change and i needed help to do it. and when the first order of business was to give up all refined sugar, wine and coffee; i wasn't sure what i had gotten myself into. but knew that whatever it was; it would work. i knew if i was given the knowledge and worked hard enough and stuck with it that it would work.

and in seven days, i'll put it all to the test in birmingham. i don't know what this test holds in store for me, (there's the little matter of those hills). i am going in hoping that once i hit those hills they will pale in comparision to what i have built them up in my head to be and i will sail over them. i also go in knowing i am well trained and well taught on how to fuel properly. and most importantly, i'm going in a bit calmer. all the new knowledge equals a greater confidence, less fear. while there is something to be said for the self fulfilling prophecy that may accompany the sort of optimism and confidence that comes with going into something saying 'i am going to reach my goal', it is not in my nature to have quite that level of confidence without thinking i've just put the whammy on myself. but here's what i do know: i do know what the goal is, and i know i'll give it my all to reach it - that said, it is a marathon - and you just never know what it may throw at you.

what i do know is - i'm ready.

Feb 2, 2008

ten day forecast

i have officially entered the window during which i can start to obsess over the ten day forecast at weather.com. while i realize these things can change at a moments' notice - so far, the weather for plan b marathon looks dreamy!