Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's My Party and I'll Run if I Want To

Tomorrow is a big milestone for me. It will be my 30th birthday. Like all big occassions and events these days, it is bittersweet. Smiles and sadness in seemingly equal measures. I continue to marvel at the fact that I've managed to continually surround myself with amazing, loving and supportive people in my life. For that reason, I have so much to celebrate. So, that is what I choose to do.

My plan for my 30th birthday to was run my age. 30k (18.6 miles). It seemed like a fun thing to do, and bonus points for an early marathon-training long run! Since my birthday falls on a Wednesday, though, and the Queens Half-Marathon was this past Saturday, just four days shy of my birthday, I thought it would be fun to kill two birds with one stone, run the half-marathon and then just tack on another 5.5 miles to hit 30K.

On race morning, when I woke up, it was already 83 degrees. I slathered on the sunscreen, got myself together, and woke Jeremy up for some pre-race kisses. He smiled up at me and in his best Adrian-to-Rocky told me, "Win!" I smiled back, "I will!"

After an adventurous cab ride through the uncharted regions of the Bronx, I finally made it to race, where I met up with a few Twitter friends at the start. Amy, Maria, TK, Mary and I started together but after a mile or so, I kind of zoned out, put on my headphones (still feeding my ears a fairly steady diet of Faith No More) and just ran comfortably. It was definitely disgustingly hot and I was really feeling it by the 3rd mile. I made sure to stop at every aid station, sip some Gatorade and water, and dump a cup of water on my head. And wouldn't you know it, by mile 8 or so, I felt like I was cruising. I knew I had a lot more running ahead of me that day and I felt great. Just past mile 9, I saw Erika's bright yellow socks up ahead. I sped up to catch up to her and ran with her for a bit.

I kept running and as I kept running I got more and more excited for the rest of the day, to complete my 30K and then head out for beer and nachos with friends. When I crossed the finish line (2:02:54, 2nd best HM), I was all smiles.

On the subway ride back to Manhattan, I met up with Erika again, and Baker who told me they'd join me later for beer and nachos. I got to Central Park and headed out for a solo 5.5, still smiling. It was hot, I was tired, but I didn't care. This was my celebration, just for me.

Later, over a few beers, several plates of nachos, tater tots, some cupcakes and about 74 glasses of water and lots and lots of laughs, I looked around the table at my friends, new and old, and family that joined me (and did not complain about the fact that I probably smelled like a hockey player's gym bag) for my crazy little party and realized that I am really very, very lucky.

In spite of the sadness of the last three months, I have so much to celebrate.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Batwings: A Memoir

Janeane Garofalo once famously opined that there are two types of women in the world -- those with visible biceps, and those with matronly upper arms. So true, Janeane, so true.

When I was a little girl, I was a gymnast and definitely had the visible biceps. I could lift myself to a handstand from a fully seated position on the balance beam and held the second place record for rope climb in gym class (insert Wayne's World reference here). However, as I succumbed to angsty teenage malaise and suburban drudgery I gave up all athletic endeavors for the less physically demanding hobbies of dyeing my hair odd colors, brooding and writing bad poetry. And that was when I developed the Batwings -- the jiggly flesh where my triceps once had been.

These days, when my fitness is on my mind and I've begun to really test the limits of my discipline, I mourn the loss of my visible biceps. Whenever I watch Terminator 2 (which I do from time to time, because it's AWESOME), I stare in slack-jawed envy at Linda Hamilton's amazing upper body strength.


But before I tip my bed over and start doing chin-ups, maybe I should take a more sensible approach to reclaiming my upper body strength. Just have some discipline. If I can make myself run and train the way I have been lately, why I am so lazy when it comes to other things? Why can't I wake up and do some push-ups or lift the weights that have been collecting dust in my living room? In my commitment to running why can't I have an addendum with just an overall commitment to my strength? It's all towards the same goal in the end, right?

I want Sarah Connor arms, dammit. I want my visible biceps back!

"Hello, Dr. Silberman... How's the knee?"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Correcting my Form

When I first started running with Speedy Sasquatch & crew a few weeks ago, one of the first things Josh pointed out to me was the length of my strides. He and I were pretty evenly matched. He, of course, lives up to his moniker and is of rather sasquatchian height. I am practically pocket-sized. My form looked something like this:

No bueno.

I've worked on correcting my form over the last few weeks so that it resemebles something more like this:

Much better! I could definitely feel the difference, in that I was just moving more efficiently. During my 10k race on Saturday, I was running along, doing pretty well, fairly pleased with my pace when I felt a bit of a twinge in my right hamstring. It wasn't too bad, so I powered through and finished the race with a new PR to show for it. I rested on Sunday and ran a bit on Monday and felt the twingey-ness again. Last night, at our Tuesday speed workout, the hammy was BARKING. I did our first mile repeat and felt okay, but definitely tight. By the second one, my left quad had declared mutiny and was clearly trying to undo me. I stretched after each repeat, and finished up the workout, feeling sore but fantastic.

This morning however, I feel sort of like this:

I'm hoping that a day of rest, Aleve and stretching will patch me up just fine. In the meantime, I'll just be sitting here, obviously very busy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Because it was there...

I run because not too long ago, I could barely do this at all.

I run for the joy of knowing I did better than last time, and the hope that I'll do better next time.

I run because every step I take grants me perspective.

I run because it has made me a better person. It has provided me with an outlet and focus I didn't know I was capable of. Each little goal leads to a greater accomplishment, each little failure can be overcome. It has taught me patience and determination. It has helped me balance my emotions and my actions. It has made me ask, "What are you capable of?" and while I may never fully be able to answer, I know that I will never stop asking.

I run because, sometimes, "Get out of bed and run," is the most I can ask of myself. And because sometimes, it's easy. And because I love it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The beginning

A triumphant start to marathon training!

I began yesterday...with a rest day.

Having run 11 miles in 90+ degree heat on Sunday, yesterday was a designated rest day. So, rest I did (and then I went to an outdoor Faith No More concert, during which I jumped around, screamed and sweat a lot. Restful? Perhaps not. Awesome? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely).

Today, there will be speed work with Speedy Sasquatch . It's expected to be about 100 degrees. My training schedule for the week has been posted, and I'm really excited to start, and a wee bit nervous. This weekend I have a 10k race, and I'm going to race it's face off. I hope, at least. We'll see.

But, here's to beginnings!
::raises giant bottle of ice water::
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