Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New favorite breakfast

My hip still hurts, but not enough to keep me from running. I met Zani for a river loop this morning. I love how quiet it is in Charlestown at 6:45 in the morning, and I love getting home and having breakfast feeling totally relaxed the way I do after a good run. The Harborthon 5K is this Thursday, so I won't run again until then. Last year I came in 3rd and won a $200 gift certificate to Del Friscoes, a beautiful steak house on the waterfront. As much as I would like that to happen again, I'm doubtful that it will. I'm still hoping to give it my all on Thursday, though.

This past weekend Alex and I went for a run along the river via the new footbridge (have I mentioned how awesome the new footbridge is yet?) and then stopped by his cousin's coffee shop in the North End for breakfast. I tell this story because it's running related and allows me to write about my new favorite breakfast: an everything bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese. Yum. There were also tomatoes and capers on the bagel, and the cream cheese was filled with chives. The coffee was also delicious. I'm  looking forward to doing the exact same thing next weekend. Running + eating delicious breakfast foods is one of my all-time favorite things to do.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Olympic Illusions

I thought I had lost my will to run before I started watching the Olympics last week. There seems to be something about watching unbelievably fit athletes of all shapes and sizes who have trained long and hard to be at the peak of fitness to perform in their event that makes me think I'm one of them. I've found myself running faster and longer than I was originally planning to, imagining that everyone's eyes are on me, rooting for me... Similarly, after seeing the terrible Woody Allen movie To Rome with Love recently, I left the theater terrified that I might live in the same crazy world all the crazy people in the movie inhabited... My hip has been bothering me since Vermont City back in May, but lately it seems to be getting better. I ran about 8 miles on Sunday morning, and yesterday morning I met a friend for a magnificent run along the river to the BU bridge. I think I ended up doing 9 and a half or so, because in an effort to go across the new footbridge linking North Point Park with Paul Revere Park in Charlestown I got lost on the wrong side of the river and had to backtrack. Another runner asked me for directions to MGH while I was at my most-lost moment, and as I looked around confusedly, he said, in confirmation, "you look really confused." Running in the morning is something I'm going to try to do more of - I forget that it's such a great way to start the day. I was in a great mood for the rest of the day and felt very productive at work.

Today I'll do my 8-minute abs routine along with my push-up routine (I'm working on convincing Alex to buy me a pull-up bar that we can put up in the doorway to our bedroom - I think he resists because he's scared of how strong I'm becoming). My hip feels fine today but I don't want to risk putting too much strain on it. I've missed runs along the river, so looking forward to many more heading into the end of the summer.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

VCM and Fatigue

I'm tired. My whole body is sore and achy, I've been yawning every 10 minutes for the past three days, I've been sleeping nine hours a night and taking afternoon naps, and my beloved wants me to go to the doctor to make sure there's nothing really wrong with me from a medical perspective. I think I'm just tired. The VCM, my most favorite marathon/ relay/ weekend ever was this past Sunday, and Alex and I participated in the 2-person relay(we came in 6th!). I did the first half, and felt good for the first 6 or 7 miles, then on the beltline turnaround I started to lose focus and slowed down without really realizing it. By the time my mind noticed that I need to speed up, my body was reluctant to follow. The last couple miles were quite painful - my hip and knee were bothering me. I couldn't wait to get to the transition and see Alex. I finished my half in 1:34:46, which isn't bad but isn't great either. Alex killed his leg; he ran a 1:32 half and is no worse for wear. I, however, went for a run yesterday for the first time since the half, and could barely move. I was running as slow as it is physically possible to run without walking, and I did stop to walk after a few miles. Today everything hurts, and I'm contemplating taking a break from running. For the past few weeks I've been wanting to try something different; ballet, yoga, salsa dancing, tennis... Just a new way to get excited about moving my body. I guess I'm feeling a bit burned out from running. I don't feel fast right now, nor do I feel capable of getting faster by putting in the time at the track, because I don't feel like going to the track. I guess I'll take a few days off and see how I feel after the weekend. At this point I just want to get my energy back.
We got a cree-mee at Burlington Bay after the race - best part of the weekend? Quite possibly so.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 13 - 19

Sun - 0 miles, slept 14 hours, walked to get coffee, walked to Whole Foods, had to stop for a frozen yogurt along the way, slept some more...
Mon - 0 miles, it was raining, but I did yoga and push-ups and 8 min abs
Tue - 5 miles
Wed - 7 miles
Thur - 5
Fri - 0
Sat - 5
Total: 22

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ragnar Cape Cod 2012

Boston River Rats at Ragnar Cape Cod
With less than 24 hours of distance from Ragnar Cape Cod, I've already gone through the progression of: This is so much fun!... This sucks, and If I ever have to use a foul, disgusting "porta-john" that's already been used by hundreds of runners ever again I'm going to die... well, now that it's over I'm glad I did it... I hope they're putting together a team for next year...

It's kind of a typical post-race thought process, but at Ragnar everything is a bit more intense. For those who don't know (you may want to stop reading now: ignorance is bliss) Ragnar is one of the increasingly-popular 24 hour, almost 200 mile-long relay races that test ability to withstand lack of sleep and extreme proximity to other runners as much as physical fitness. Typical teams are made up of 12 runners, but two of ours dropped out the day before the race began, which meant we would have to pick up the slack. We left for Myles Standish State Park at 8 a.m. Friday morning to check in and go through a safety briefing. Our first runner took off at 11. I was in the second van, so we had until about 3 p.m. until our first runner (myself) began.

I won't go on about all of the details, but in brief: we all ran between 10 and 24 miles, I had a 9 miler at 3 p.m., a 10 miler at midnight, and a 6.3 miler at 7:30 a.m. My first run was a pleasant jaunt through Plymouth on narrow roads. The weather was perfect - about 50 degrees, and it started sprinkling toward the end. My first leg out of the way, the other four runners in my van each completed their first legs, with one runner picking up an extra leg to cover our missing runner, and then we passed off to van 1 and had some time to get something to eat and rest before our next legs. We got pizza at a small local restaurant near where we had finished (famished runners were descending on their business in droves, and we got the feeling they would be happy if they never saw another runner in their lives), then after sitting in traffic caused by construction on the Sagamore Bridge, we drove to the next transition area at Dowse's Beach to try to get some sleep. It was billed as a designated sleeping area, but that area was on the uncovered beach, and as I and the others in my van were loath to sleep outside in 40-degree weather, we converted our van into a designated sleeping area and tried to get some rest. I think I was the only one who actually fell asleep, and was confused and irritated when, 45 minutes after closing my eyes, the phone rang and we were told it was time to get ready to run again.

My midnight run was one of the best of my life (how many times have I said that?). The weather was cool and misty and as I ran through Hyannis on residential roads I could smell that distinct sulferous cape smell and feel the salty ocean air. I couldn't see that much, but I passed by Craigville beach where the beach side shacks selling ice-cream and clams looked other-worldly in the middle of the night. I passed by beautiful beach houses and as I ran I dreamt of someday living on the beach. Something about the air felt, at the risk of sounding silly, magical, and I almost felt like I was floating. I felt light and strong and was running faster than I had thought I would. I was trying to soak up the feeling, and at one point thought about slowing down to make the experience last longer. I finished and passed off to my next runner, and she to the next, and so on until about 4 a.m.

Our van's last legs began at 7:30 a.m. with my last run, which was a beautiful, sun-soaked run through Wellfleet, but I was tired (we had slept for almost an hour on the floor of a school gymnasium) my legs were sore, and I was ready for it all to be over. Deb had the last leg - a 7 miler, and we all were in Provincetown waiting for her when she arrived. We jumped in to run the last 100 meters with her, exhausted, cheering the whole way, and when we finished and got our medals we got a beer and sat on the grass of the beer tent  reminiscing about the trials and tribulations along the way. I did this race because I wanted to hang out and run with other women-runners (we were an all-women team) and in the end that's what I loved about it. I got to spend more time with some runners that I really like and respect, and get to know some new ones. We got to talk running, but also just hang out and have fun. And I got to spend some quality running time essentially alone, forcing myself to reflect on my own life - a race like Ragnar helps you remember to take things as they come, to soak up the beauty of doing something crazy in the middle of the night, that you can get by with less sleep than you thought, that we're all in this together and everyone's doing their best, and that peeing in the woods is way better than using a porta-john, any day.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Week of May 6 - 12

Sun - 12 miles listening to REM along the minuteman
Mon - 4 miles, 8 min abs
Tue - 0 miles
Wed -
Thur -
Fri -
Sat - 24 miles over the course of 16 hours
Total: 40

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Week of April 29 - May 5

Sun - 11 miles along the river with Alex - the best part was after we finished when we made (Alex made) delicious gingerbread banana pancakes
Mon - 5 miles
Tue: 0 miles - last class of the semester!
Wed: 5.5 miles with 3xmile workout
Thur: 5.5 miles
Fri: 0 miles
Sat: 6 miles
Total: 33

Wednesday Workout

I'd been trying to get Alex to do some mile repeats with me for months (he wasn't that resistant, but somehow it just never worked out) so yesterday evening we finally jogged down to the Charlestown track to do a speed workout. It was a cold and windy day and the barely-a-mile jog to the track was refreshing. We got right into the mile repeats, clocking 6:20 for the first, we took a minute break, clocked 6:20 for the second (I was psyched), took about a minute and a half break, then clocked 6:21 for the third. It was a fun workout (fun being my word, not Alex's), and we jogged a slightly longer loop around Charlestown on the way back. Back home, we did 8 minute abs, which is a whole other story that I'll have to dedicate a blog post to another time.

objective: 3 x mile

rest: 1:00

results: 6:20 / 6:20 / 6:21

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Boston Marathon, 2012

I don’t know if spectators realize how vital they are to marathoners’ success. Yesterday, in the grueling heat, we couldn’t have done it without them. It was a hard race, probably one of the most painful I’ve experienced, and there were many times I wanted to stop.
Running a marathon is largely a mental struggle; I spend 26.2 miles fighting to convince my tired, sore body that running 26.2 miles isn’t total insanity. The pain started early on for me yesterday. “OK, I’ve gone 11 miles. That should be enough, right? That’s a lot, right? I could probably just stop now…” I remember thinking to myself. Then I started to play the, “if I make it that far then I will” game. “I’m going to see Annie at mile 16. Once I see her I’ll stop and rest for a little while.” Then, after seeing Annie and NOT stopping, “OK, once I see Alex at mile 24 I’ll stop and walk the rest of the way.” I started clumsily counting on my fingers the number of miles I had to go until mile 24. I didn’t stop once I got there, either, but telling myself that I could if I wanted to got me through the previous miles.
I love to run because running gives me so much. It gives me joy, it makes me feel strong and exhilarated and it helps me relax and stay grounded. And it keeps me fit. What’s curious about the marathon is the way it makes me question one of the things I love most. “Why am I doing this? This sucks. I’m never doing this again,” I thought, over and over and over again yesterday. Trying to reconcile why I had been looking forward so much and for so long to something that was causing me so much pain kept my mind busy through many long miles yesterday.
I like to think that inner strength gets me through long, hard races, but after yesterday I know that’s not true. What got me through was the encouragement of the thousands of spectators along the course. Wellesley College women are incredible. We could hear them cheering before we saw them, and once we did there was a line of them that went on for probably a quarter of a mile. They held signs (ex: Kiss me, I’m a chemistry major) and screamed into the crowd of runners like their lives depended on it. I couldn’t believe the wisdom of small child, mid-way up heartbreak hill, who yelled, “I’m proud of you!” over and over again into the crowd. And at the end of the hill section in Newton I stopped to walk at a water station and didn’t want to start running again. I was walking slowly (limping, I think) with my head down. I finally got up the courage to start running again, and as I lifted my head and broke into a jog I heard “That’s right, you got it 11225!” It sounds silly, and it probably is, but the fact that a stranger at mile 22 believed in me made me believe in myself and kept me going the rest of the way. Those split-second connections made between runners and spectators, complete strangers to one another, are powerful beyond measure. As I finally turned right onto Hereford Street, putting one foot in front of the other and trying to distract myself by gazing into the crowd, a woman saw me and yelled, “Keep working!” I nodded at her, looked forward, and kept going. Left on Boylston.