Monday, March 8, 2010

a quick note

Just a quick post to say that I had a GREAT 20 miler yesterday! That's the furthest I've travelled on foot since last October's ultra and I had an absolute ball doing it. The weather was great, with even a few minutes of sunny drizzle, I met several new runners, reconnected with some old ones, and a very artfully prepared cappuccino at coffee afterward. The barista drew pictures in my that! Follow that up with lunch with my best friend and a lazy evening of Oscar watching, and I'd say it was a perfect way to cap off the week.

Monday, March 1, 2010

what perserverance looks like

10. You get to talk to a lot of nice people because you aren't out of breath.
9. There ain't no shame in looking at a bunch of really good runner's backs~anonymous.
8. It's a chance at trying to force evolution from the ground up.
7. It's an awesome feeling to know that you made someone's day by letting them pass you.
6. You get to spend the time thinking of how you are going to cash in on your calories you just burned.
5. Technically, there are only two places that count in a race; 1st and last-people stick around to see who gets both.
4. Somewhere along the way, you feel the thinnest you have felt in months~almost on the brink of sexy.
3. It's better than watching from the start-you get to see who gets what place in real time.
2. Banana split..banana split..banana split
1. The personal crowd of 10 or less who stick around to cheer your finish...and retrieve your timing chip.

That is a facebook post from Saturday's final race finisher. At 9:00, over 400 runners took off for the annual Beacon on the Bay. It was beautiful out. Chilly, but sunny and little wind by Oklahoma standards. For the first time in years, I wasn't wearing a bib, but as a volunteer committee member I'd intended to be out on the course for an easy 10ish miles checking water stations, encouraging runners, and generally helping where there was need. My plan was to be back at the finish about halfway into the race so I could head home to take care of a few things that have been hanging out on my to-do list. As a side note, it's funny that I even start my weekends with plans because my day never goes accordingly. About five miles into the run, there was a minor hiccup that luckily turned out okay. With that slight set-back in schedule, it wasn't long before I caught up with the course sweeper who just happens to be one of my favorite runners. I welcomed the walk break and planned (there's that word again) to hang with him for a mile or two before continuing down my path. The day was too nice, the conversation too good, and the high from the racers too contagious, and before I knew it, I was at the 25K turnaround agreeing to continue sweeping the course.

Just after 1:00 we skip the keyhole to wait at the end for the final few moments before our last runner crossed the finish line. As she made her way down the final stretch smiling and breathless, the last of the volunteers stood to cheer. Over the years I've seen many race winners, PRs set, and speed goals exceeded, but never have I seen perserverance and accomplishment exemplified quite like this.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

deviating from the plan

So last weekend a small group of us headed south for the Austin Marathon. While the OKC Marathon will always be the most special to me for myriad reasons, I love, love, love out of town races! There is little more exciting than the week-long anticipation, waking up ridiculously early the morning we finally head out (but not so early that Starbucks won’t open within a half hour of driving), and finding that perfect driving music to take you straight to the expo. I have this traveling thing down! Or so I thought…

My plan was the same one that has worked unfailingly many times before. I'd work as late as I needed to on Friday so I could be ahead going into the next week. I'd come home and put my favorite bedding sheets in the wash, put less favorite bedding on the bed, and pack using the packing check list I'd printed out earlier. Henry then gets a little extra play time before unnecessarily setting the alarm clock and climbing into bed to lie awake for the next six hours. Sleeplessness aside, it sounds pretty good, right? It was right up until I realized that I forgot to print out my list at work and somehow thought my memory could be trusted.

He hadn't even started the ignition when I announced that I felt like I was forgetting something. Shoes? Got 'em. Garmin? Got it. Gum, carmex? Of course. Then you're set! I resigned myself to the idea that I had the essentials and settled into the drive, Starbucks in hand. Gloves! I forgot gloves! At this point, we were already in Texas and I was okay with that. Gloves are pretty easy to find. I'd just pick up a pair at the expo. Or two pair, since my hands threaten frost bite at any temp below 70.

So seven hours and two Starbucks later, we meet part of our group at the expo and finalize the dinner plans, pick up our packets, I get experimented on with this rolly thing to the amusement of my traveling companion, and we head out to explore the streets of Austin for a couple of hours. We made it as far as Sixth Street before stumbling upon a little dive called the Dizzy Rooster (which for some reason I kept calling the Fuzzy Chicken, I mean Rooster, Damn it Dizzy Rooster!), with a really great guitarist covering old country songs by request. We ended up staying there until dinner. We were going to run these streets tomorrow, so why ruin the surprise, right? And who could possibly leave this bottle-cap decorated, honky-tonk place with the musician large in both physical and audible presence and his well-deserved tip bucket?!

Fast forward through dinner and we head over to meet one of my most fantastic cousins at this fundraiser she helped organized to pick up her house key. By the time we finally make it back to hers, the clock is inching toward 10pm and we're putting on PJs and getting ready for the race the next morning. And this is where I discover that "something" I was forgetting. "But it was gloves, and you bought two pair at the expo," you're saying to yourself right now.... Nope. I am sitting in the back bedroom of my cousin's house in my PJs at 10:00 the night before the race with a pair of running shoes, a tech shirt, a sports bra, six pair of gloves (as it turns out I somehow packed four pair), and no shorts. "Well, at least my hands will be warm even if my ass freezes off!" I joke to myself. Luckily, I always have yoga tights on hand and wasn't forced to trek through downtown Austin in my knickers.

The race itself was spectacularly hilly, had undying crowd support, and was very Austin-like in its steady supply of live music on the course. I started slowly, which is pretty typical, and concentrated really hard on listening to the two voices in my head. No, I don't need a really strong dose of medication...these are just words that have been said repeatedly to me over the past few months. "Don't hurt yourself. I want to run a marathon with you," says Voice One. It is immediately followed by Voice Two telling me to "Quit charging the hills!" Let me tell you, they don't speak rhythmically, so it's hard to get a steady stride going to these two! In any case, my muscles loosened, I was uncharacteristically careful, and 13.1 sweaty miles later, I crossed the finish line feeling great and only 8 minutes off my PR.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

quietly slip-sliding into a run

Have you ever been angry about being a runner? Or if you're not a runner, about anything that is essentially who you are, how you're known, what you build get the idea. That's exactly how I felt this morning when everyone else was out there slipping and sliding their way through the ten mile training run, and my yaktrax remained strapped to my polka-dot rain boots! under armour tech clothes and man gloves for me this morning. Just my stupid shorts and shoes that needed no special gripping devices to walk about the perfectly un-slick gym floor. I'd been preparing for this, though. All week I'd talked to myself abut how a couple weeks to heal a minor injury is far less maddening than months of recovery. Good gravy, I know this! I'd just done this! I'd decided early on to go to spin and then meet the group for coffee after, but that was before the ice storm hit... My gym opened late, spin was cancelled, I couldn't imagine another hour on the elliptical, and I was absolutely righteous because I wasn't running outside! I love those kinds of runs - the ones where people look at you like you're absolutely nuts for being out there. Yes, they're right but that's beside the point. Anyway, I tried unsuccessfully to wipe the pout off my face as I walked into the gym and headed for the cardio equipment. I meant to walk to the elliptical. Truly, I did. For some reason, though, my eyes wouldn't even acknowledge its existence. I was subconsciously giving it the silent treatment, which was perfectly in keeping with my childish mood this morning. I barely glanced at the rowing machines, squeezed right by the bicycles leaving the arc trainers unnoticed as well, and stepped onto a treadmill for the first time in over a year. "Just a mile," I told myself. "I need to guage my left leg...see how it really feels." Now, to those of you in the midst of your exasperated sigh, put it on hold for just a second, because I did start at an easy 9:34 pace. The downfall came when I turned my iPod on, though, and "Holding Out for a Hero" comes blaring through the headphones. I picked it up to an 8:31 and didn't even pretend that I'd stop the hamster game after a mile. So go ahead and finish that exhale. I deserve it...but leave my cheesy 80s running music alone. I was feeling free, despite my confinement to that one square foot in the world. I had uninterrupted rhythm, both in thought and in stride. My head was totally in my run. Nobody even noticed me, much less knew I hurt, so I didn't have to lie about how my leg was feeling. All focus was on putting one foot in front of the other and feeling the exhilaration of a racing heart. After 5.5 miles (of which a good 4 was to the beat of the aforementioned song), I quietly stepped off the treadmill, secretly pleased with my act of rebellion, and headed over to the weights.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

it's never good to be called to the office

"Good questions! For now, lay off running and ice the area several times a day. I will be back in OKC late Tues and I can look Weds AM. Are you available ant time Weds? If so, when? Don't do anything about shoes until I look at it and your shoes again.

How does it feel when you waken in the AM? If it is tight and sore, you need a night splint. The splints are known as 'plantar fascia' night splints. Several runners have them."

The wording above is copied and pasted from an email response from the running doc. Yes, the response was to me. It seems I'm getting called back to his office, and we all know what that meant last time! In the interest of catching you up, since I've resumed training with the group my achilles has been talking to me. Sometimes it screams, but generally speaks in its inside voice. My hamstring has, too, but I know exactly where all that yelling is coming from. I did a 10 mile hill run too fast. Oh, and my last time on the hills prior to that was at our Mt. Scott trip last July, so yes, I deserve a bit of back-talk. Anyway, this Saturday was a 12 mile flat training run. Piece of cake! I'd taken a running break since the Tuesday prior and hadn't really felt anything, so why not run it. Right? Right??? Of course, I caught one of my favorite runners early on who happens to be much faster than I'm ready for, so I had to stay with him. It's stupid, but perfectly in keeping with my running personality. I only lasted a couple of miles, though, until we caught up with another friend. Thankfully she was running slowly that morning due to calf issues, so I had good company for the remaining miles. When we reached the end, I kept going...straight to the bathroom, the coffee pot, and to the doc, where I basically hand him my left leg and ask how to fix it. First, he tells me to quit charging the hills (I love hills) and quit trying to run faster than I'm ready for. Then he prods and squeezes and contorts me about in a gumby-like fashion, and tells me that it's not bad, relatively speaking. I love this! He then tells me that I need to switch to stiffer shoes. I hate this! He points out that all the technology of my shoes is in the heel and given that I only seem to use about a square inch of the outside forefront, I'm not getting any of the benefit. So by Sunday evening (hey, it's been 24 hours!) I'm still concerned with the lack of left leg cooperation and the idea of switching shoes, so I spit out a quick email. Oh, did I mention that Austin was three weeks away, and it's not known for being a flat course! I'm pretty sure doctors like to be told how to do their job, so in my email, I let him know that my options are to a) lay off until the next weekend's training run, b) lay off until Austin in 3 weeks, or c) a complete left leg transplant. It's his choice, really. Upon opening his reply, I was pretty pleased with what he had to say. That lasted about two sentences in when he starts sputtering something about me coming to his office. Last time I got called in there, which by the way was just last July, I didn't run for 14 weeks. 14 weeks! Even then, my runs hurt. It took an exhausting amount of willpower to lay low in the running world until spring training officially started and I am NOT about to do that again. So at the moment, my intention is to lay off running for the week, go through enough ice to melt and fill the Pacific ocean, and stretch like I'm in training to be a yoga master. I'm following most of his advice, but the trip to the office hasn't quite been solidified into my plans yet. Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

a brand new year

A new year, a new training season, new runners amongst us, and a new round of ITB screams. It's FANTASTIC!! I woke up this morning feeling like a kid at Christmas. Today is the first day of official 2010 spring marathon training and I'm so excited that I almost don't need coffee to get me going! I haven't gone completely mad, though, so I fill up the moka pot anyway. Normally, I'd be scrambling about searching for a sock while burning my hands on the bread pan that I just ripped out of the oven and eating my oatmeal out of the pot on the way to the start line. This morning, however, I put on both socks at the same time, ate my oatmeal in front of the news (still out of the pot, though), and left with unblistered hands because the post-race bread was made the day before! Henry even got extra time outside, running about the snow before reclaiming the last of the melting snowman that each of his neighboring pup friends had briefly taken ownership of.

It was icy and cold, but that didn't stop the 100+ runners from piling into the overflowing parking lot at Hefner. What a cool sight it is, too. There is nothing like watching everyone scurry out of their cars, bundled to the point of unrecognizability, and hearing all the garmin beeps as we take our first steps onto the street. For six miles (well, seven if you're in my group that missed the turnaround because we were yammering), I listened to family holiday horror stories, nervous chatter about marathon training, and grandiose New Year's resolutions, and it was perfect....absolutely the way a training run should be.

Those seven miles were supposed to be followed by a few more on the Arcadia trails - a fun run put on by a friend of mine. It's worth mentioning that the longest course he has measured out for us is 50K. Sounds fun, eh? You can, of course, choose your own distance. I chose four. My leg, however, chose .75. Guess who won. Luckily, I was in the company of someone who HATES trails with every running fiber of his being and was more than happy to escort me back to the trail head. No, really. If he said that he truly thought that the trails intentionally moved about to position roots in the perfectly to bring him down attempting to actually knock his legs off his body, thereby causing him to never run again, I'd venture to say that he actually believed it. Nevermind this amusing, albeit irrational, fear of nature running, I was grateful for the companionship. So off we went with day one of spring training officially down - a few miles shorter than planned, but happily headed home to wrap up in something warm.