Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Like Water for ... Air

At approximately 6:45 a.m. this morning, 6/29/05, a strange phenomenon of the natural world occurred: invisible rain.

The air simply turned into one giant raindrop, covering the sweltering smoldering sinkhole that d.c. becomes in the summer. It didn't splash down, refreshingly. No, no. It just enveloped the entire city, like the way the fake sky enveloped the fake town in the Truman Show. So if one ran far enough, one would eventually bump into its outer edges, and perhaps through to the outside.

In other words, it's not the heat, honey, it's the humidity.

It was like running through water, my lungs sucking in vain for what few precious oxygen molecules remained. I do believe I became amphibious. Which will come in handy the next time I'm drowning.

Despite not being able to breathe, I finished my four-mile run this morning in 46:24, approximately 36 seconds faster than Monday's run.

I guess I've been breathing air all these years purely out of habit, for kicks, for the fun of it.

One less vice.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Chariots on Fire

So Monday I ran four miles. Again. So I guess that I can do that, then.
And shaved off two minutes. Down to a blazing (see reference above, to fire) 47 minutes. About killed me, but no walking.

So that's that, then.

And I have some, well, what feels like fire (ok, chafing—but see how I worked "fire" in again?) under—well let's just say in a place I was warned to put body glide. But didn't. So now I know that, too.

And, people, I think that's a wrap for tonight.

Although someone did ask me a provocative question on Sunday, which still has me stymied, which was: Why are you doing this? (Running a marathon, that is.)

I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to have an answer. So, I'll be busy working on that for the next post. Or the next few years.

Don't touch that dial.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

It Was Really Hot, and I Ran 12 Miles

Well, something is just not right.

Twelve miles this morning was ... no problem-o. I can't explain it, and it's starting to freak me out.

It was hot, as I think I might have alluded to in my previous post. So our runs were adjusted down by two minutes, one minute? I forget which. Plus our ratio was adjusted as well. Very very fine decision-making by some mighty fine coaches. So instead of run 3/walk 1, we did run 2/walk 1 (I'm talking minutes here people, not miles). Which literally made the whole thing like a walk in the park (ha ha it actually was in a park for most of the way.)

I swear I barely notice I'm running while I'm running. Or, maybe this is more like childbirth than I thought: Maybe I bitched and moaned the whole way, and then promptly forgot about it once it ended. Dunno. You'd have to ask Miz M, my running companion.

I suppose it is possible that my feeling ok was in fact due to being mightily prepared to take on whatever d.c. had to throw at me. After all, when last I left you all, I was in fine fettle, freaking out. So, 1) I brought lots of gu, and other yummy gels, and a gatorade-like concoction (which I carried handily in an empty AleveTM bottle, thereby giving one water guy near apoplexy as he saw me empty a white, powdered substance into my water. And b) (apologies to Tom Magliozzi) I had in fact run the famous four miles without walking not once but twice earlier in the week. While iii) I had also doused myself with a gazillion gallons of water last week, plus slept and ate reasonably well.

So maybe, just maybe, I felt ok because I was prepared?? I don't know. I know I hurt now (not a lot, just enough to remind me that I actually did it), but FOR GOD'S SAKE, how many miles is it going to take for me to believe that I am really running this???

The six miles out was ok, although I peed my pants again after the first two minutes out, so ducked into a McDonalds to, um, tidy up. (Don't worry, I was already wearing something to um, make sure that I'd be as dry as dust—isn't it fun when I speak in cryptic allusions?) Anywho, The Divine Miz M was with me again, and we just did our thing. Run two minutes, walk one. For six miles. This took us, for those keeping track, TWO MILES PAST LAST WEEK!! Which was cool. We finally made it to the Capital Crescent Trail, which runs from Georgetown through suburban Maryland, for many, many miles, through East Bumfudge to West Virginia. It's a beautiful trail, lush and green in the summer, paved, very very busy. We ran one mile up the trail, then it was time to turn and run the six miles back.

We took a few breaks, but why not? And why do I feel compelled to tell you that? Time does so not matter. One longish water break on the way back, while water guy and I joked about the "steroids" I was dumping into my water; another longish eat gu break, a longish bathroom break, but I just turned the watch off each time. I am so over worrying about time (2:48 was what I came up with, exactly 14 min miles—not that it matters). DMM had a bit longer on her watch, 3 something, but I prefer my time, so am sticking to it.

And, for those of you keeping track, M. Paris was spotted on the trail running toward us! So he is flesh and blood after all. And yes, he did recognize me. Another moment in sports history.

Six miles back flew by (well, in my head they flew). There were a lot of tourists afoot by the time we were one mile out from home base. They were just a wee bit annoying, but they are D.C.'s bread and butter, after all. Even if I did want to hurt them.

So I don't know what's wrong with me. I can't possibly run 12 miles and just carry on like the earth didn't just change its axis.

Just wait til it's 14 miles (two weeks). Now that's gonna be impossible.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Big, Hot, Humid Tomorrow

I can't possibly run 12 miles. No, I can't do it, plus, I don't feel like it. I'm going to DIE tomorrow, running through the water-clogged air of a sunny d.c. summer day.

Of course I can! Just follow the directions on the box!

Oh, and for the FIRST time since I started training, I missed a day of xtraining. Just one day, yesterday, Thursday. But still. If I miss a day, I may as well call it a day. If I miss a day, all my fitness gains just fly right out the window, right?

So, those have pretty much been my thoughts this week. Tonight, I went out and bought 27 different kinds of gel and gu, and gatorade-like stuff in a little pouch, and some roll-on glide stuff to make you friction-less. New, with SPF!! With the promise to "not run off your face as you run through the mugginess of a smoldering d.c. day." Something like that. Plus, I bought a sleeveless cool-max top. (On sale, of course.)

Number one daughter came with me, and she kept telling the salespeople "She's running a marathon..." while I shuddered because, as everyone knows, saying it aloud is a guaranteed jinx, Plus, I soooo don't LOOK like a runner, I know exactly what those salespeople were thinking. Because I'm a mind-reader.

What is wrong with me?

(Rhetorical question; don't answer.)

And if I'm this rattled over 12 miles, what am i going to be like when tomorrow means 26.2??

(Don't answer that either.)

Oh woe, woe, woe is me.

Nite. I have to go read some more first-timer stories, and scare myself some more.


ok, I'm back, and p.s., just read this on Through the Wall:

"The fear of suffering is often worse than the suffering itself."
~ Paolo Coelho, The Alchemist

Thank you Wil, from the MidWest!!! And Paolo, too.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Once Is a Fluke. Twice...?

...obviously means I'm a runner. I think.

The twice I'm referring to is today I AGAIN ran four miles with no walk breaks—and after specifically promising in my previous post not to tempt fate by so doing.

But I did. And it was ok. Again.

But how can this be? I am so not a runner. I even shaved two minutes off of Monday's run. This is just bad bad bad. It's probably due to the weather, which has been gloriously fall-like. No humidity. Not what the Big Guy/Gal has planned for Saturday, I hear. A mighty D.C. summer day awaits.

But bad as it may be, it's also slightly thrilling. I'm feeling like an athlete—this from the girl who managed to get through four years of mandatory high school phys ed classes without ever showing up (it's a skill, kids). Of course I am still terrified by the thought of Saturday's upcoming 12 miles (am I starting to repeat myself? guess you'll have to get used to it), and convinced I will bomb.

In other news, I am so excited about all the comments other runners are leaving me! I can't tell you what a high that is. Like Stephanie from Kansas City, who is blogging her first marathon, and left me warm (ha ha) wishes. Right back atcha, Steph!

If only we could run the marathon via blog...

So, once more, I promise no more running without walk breaks. I've read enough horror stories about cocky first-time marathoners who are feeling just great, thanks! Right up until they crash and burn. And the common culprit? The hubris (which I am already showing) that says "Oh, I can go fast, cuz I'm feeling so darn good."

So I vow to stop the insanity, now, before it really takes hold.

And memorize some positive self-talk by Saturday morning.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Four Miles High...

Ok, the famous Byrds' song was that much times two (for our younger readers—that would be anyone under 40—please look up this reference). However, and nevertheless, I actually RAN my first full-blown no walk-break run yesterday morning for four full-fledged miles...and didn't feel bad afterward! I know I am just tempting fate by continually saying how not bad I felt...just wait til Saturday, fate will laugh in my face.

But this was another milestone. Because even though I am following a "runner-approved" (=Galloway) training program, it includes walk breaks. It's actually run 3, walk 1 minute, so I always have this nagging sense of guilt when I say I "ran" ten miles—on the other hand, what am I going to say, "I ran 10 miles only I did it in three minute intervals with one minute walk breaks in between?" I think not. I ran the damn mileage, thanks very much. The rest is semantics.

Except yesterday morning: I actually DID run my first four with no walk breaks. Very exciting, but I don't plan to make a habit out of it. Too wild, zany, and danger-prone.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Pass the salt, and oh yeah, I ran 10 miles yesterday...

Well, that's how it felt. La-de-da. No big deal.

I was S-C-A-R-E-D that morning, due to last week's embroglio, plus I've developed this weird bump on the side of my left foot, like I've grown a new bone there, and then someone came along in the middle of the night and hit it with a hammer. I was limping along, barely walking, for god's sake.

Lucky for me, veteran marathoner-and-person-responsible for my doing any of this, Rosy, was at the site yesterday (Saturday) morning, at 6:45 a.m., for no other reason than to volunteer to be one of the cheering-on people who are stationed at various spots, also earning me $20 toward my goal (now down to $430, thank you very much). I showed her my new foot problem immediately, ("Hi Rosythanksforcoming
goodtoseeyoulookatthisonmyfoot") and she suggested I tell the coaches, and I said if I do, they'll suggest I don't run, to which she replied, probably. After all the angst of last week, there was no way I was not going to even try. So that was the end of that discussion. And thank you, Dr. Rosy!

And then, my new-found friend, let's call her The Divine Miss M, showed up and decided to run with me. I was thrilled, because of my inane fear of running alone in a crowd of 400...

I re-read Galloway on Friday night and once more read that SPEED DOES NOT matter on long runs and if you need to walk, walk. Divine, who is a nurse-cum lawyer-cum novelist-cum teacher of English-cum supermother of three-and probably has several other lives I've yet to hear about, has the exact same running philosophy, which she tried to tell me our first day out, but I obviously did not hear.

So my strategy, barring any fantasy angelic men showing up, was to start with my group, and then do whatever I needed to do to finish. So, DMM and I ran together from Arena Stage to Potomac Boat Club and back. (BTW, did I mention that's TEN miles?)

The group quickly took off ahead of us, at a blazing 13:30 min/mile pace, and Ms. M and I ran the whole the thing together, and she pretty much solved all of my problems by the end. Add psychiatrist to your list, girl. We finished the run in (insert imaginary time here, not that it matters), maybe five minutes after our group. I think we only walked thru two run cycles.

Rosy was at the five mile mark, and I almost cried when I saw her. So WONDERFUL to have someone cheer for you.

And the run was fantastic. Beautiful, low-humidity, fall-like day. The week prior I had eaten well, rested well, practically drowned myself drinking water; and Saturday I ate gu on the run, (new name for band?), and Ms. M shared her gatorade powder along the way. SO I felt fantastic. Weird foot bump did not bother me a bit. We finished with a kick (a major kick; I hadn't realized what those were like before l'il Miz Divine showed me), and I could have easily done another mile.

So, new things I have to worry about THIS WEEK (because let's not spend any time revelling in yesterday's accomplishment, shall we?), include:
1) DMM might quit, and I have not bonded with the group. Or with ANY group.
2) Now I can't run alone; I've become dependent.
3) Weird bone growth/pain on foot. Please please see a DOCTOR!
4) Next week we jump to 12 miles, which is patently an impossible amount to run, obvious to anyone.
5) I need to stop worrying.
6) Major work worries.

But I am able to slip into the conversation, any conversation, oh yeah, I ran ten miles last week...

You go grrl...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Speaking of dinner...

How sad is it that I am actually PAYING my daughter $30/week to make my dinner four nights per week? Actually, it's a win-win: she learns how to cook, I don't end up eating cookies for dinner.

I have had angel hair pasta with pesto; lovely salads; smoothies (that word again!); quesadillas with salad and pesto pasta. Heavenly. (Well, it IS angel hair...)

And after last Saturday's near-catastrophic run, I have been a very good girl, eaten lots of protein, sometimes even eaten lunch, and have downed tankards of water all day long, with the expected results. Also have managed a solid eight hours of sleep every night, Gilmore Girls and West Wing be damned.

Now I just have to finish grading oh 8,000 papers, and I am done with school next Wednesday night. Which leaves me more time

I am already freaked out about Saturday's 10 miles and having no one to run with to distract me. Maybe that's good training. Maybe I should not rely on being distracted, for the same reason I don't listen to music while I run--cuz without it I'm a goner.

Goin' to bed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Lunge Butt

I've been reading (shocker) 10,000 blogs and Web sites about marathons. One of them suggested making sure you do lunges to strenghen your thighs. So, yesterday, which was my walk/xtrain day, I walked 30 minutes, and did the 10 lunges (of death).

Today, I ran 4 miles, accidentally erasing my split times (marathon training, as one of my running buddies so trenchantly said, is a misnomer: it's actually watch training, as in how to CORRECTLY use the various features on my IRONMAN watch). Anyway, I thought I was doing a decent pace, a little lunge butt twitch here and there, but nothing bad, until I stopped, stretched, and hobbled into work, where I am now sitting on a hot towel.

Warning: Lunge Butt is nothing to laugh at.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Paris, D.C.

Today, Saturday, June 11, I ran nine miles. Arena stage to Thompson's boat house and back.

I started strong, ran the whole way with the group, but didn't really have anyone to talk nonstop with...the thing I need most on these runs. It wasn't too bad getting there...down the mall, past the washington monument--which "they" are busily tearing up the grass around--to thwart the terrorists? dunno--up to memorial bridge, past the kennedy center, along the potomac, turn around at the boathouse.

But the thing was: All week long, I could not shake the thought that I cannot do this. Running is 80 percent mental, they say; ha, actually it's 100 percent mental, bcs only mental people do it (no offense). I could not self-talk myself (sorry self-help books!) into thinking that I could do it.

Made the turnaround, past Kennedy Center, past monument, but then I REALLY had no one to run with...until.....wait...until like magic... a lovely gentleman named PARIS just showed up, asked if I was OK (NOT). By this time I was waaaay behind my group, I was stooped over, bobbing and weaving and dragging my sorry ass ...Mr. (Monsieur?) Paris just SHOWED UP exactly when I needed him (how miraculous is that?), and talked me in the rest of the way, about 3 miles or so.

He told me to stand up straight, to slow down (like I could go any slower, but it turns out I could), he showed me how to do this shuffle-run; little steps. He talked to me about protein, what to eat, how to train during the week...and about this great smoothie place in arlington, which sounded like a long way to go for a smoothie, except within about five seconds of hearing the word "smoothie," Jeanne could think of nothing else. Mr. Smoothie (I mean M. Paris, our hero) said, oh I'll drive you there after this, giving me hope that there would BE an after.

So I finished in about 2:04, which is how long SOME people take to run entire marathons, but,: I don't care.

After we finished, Mr. Paris got in his SILVER MERCEDES and I followed him to smoothie heaven, where, when the smoothie guy asked me my favorite fruit, (I am not making this up) I could not think of the name of a single fruit. I said I'll have what he (Paris, my fiance) is having. Some protein-whey-soy-energy-chocolate-make-you-very-very-strong smoothie.

As I was standing at the counter, I put my head down between my legs (so charming!), sweat pouring off me, and Mr. Paris brought me to a chair, brought me water and paid for my smoothie PLUS bought me a special vitamin concoction.

Well, if that wasn't a date, I don't know what is.

But this blog is about running, not pseudo-dating. So here's what I learned today: Nine miles is about 20 times farther than eight miles, and there are some really amazingly good, kind people in this harsh, cold, big, bad uncaring world. Angels, even.


(p.s. you no longer have to be registered to leave a comment! I, um, found and then changed the setting. It was exhausting.)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Running on Empty

I wonder how many more running metaphors I can come up with before i DO come up empty? and yes, apologies to jackson browne...

Yesterday (Wednesday, for those of you keeping track) I ran a measly 3+ miles (self-help book to Jeanne: NO BAD SELF-TALK!!) I meant to say, I KILLED 3+ miles out behind work, on the beautiful crescent trail. IT is getting hot. Funny, that.

Blisters have remarkably gone away, but the real nine mile course awaits us on saturday. I'm psyched, scared, all the usual. Well, the thing I'm REALLY scared about is going swing dancing saturday night. I'm hoping I'll be in shape to dance my little head off.

So today I did the icky icky elliptical machine which is mainly icky because it is indoors, and i FINALLY managed, in 30 minutes to go farther than my usual pitiful (Self-help book is watching!) 2.14 miles, all the way to my own PR of 2.26. The moment was not savored as I had to go to a crew board meeting, and that's quite enough said about that subject--that's a whole 'nother blog.

So it's thursday night, I should be drinking water and sleeping according to my training guide, but I just knew, dear diary, you'd be needing an entry about now.

Next: The 9-Mile Dash. Stay tuned.

(p.s. I hear you have to register to post comments. Sucks, but that would give me a clue that someone was reading this. Not that I care. I talk to myself continuously already, so it's not like i'm not used to it!!)

Monday, June 06, 2005

Running Away

I knew first thing this morning that I was too tired to go to work, let alone run. But I had my spiffy new shoes and socks! so I was determined to try 'em out.

So I ran four miles this morning, in about 150 degree heat...

It IS funny how you don't totally hate it while you're doing's after. Yikes, my right leg hurt, for no good reason, either.

It did not energize me. I am STILL waiting for the runner's high. I've felt the runner's low enough, thank you. In fact, I think this morning's run sapped every ounce of mental acuity I had left. Ok, so that's not saying much, but still.

Today was just crappy all around. Guest speaker for my class tonight bailed at the last minute. I am SO SICK of grading papers I could scream.

Moral: I cannot run on no sleep.

Moral #2: Sleep more. Much much more.

And #3? Never teach summer class again.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Buying New Socks Rocks

There is something wrong with a person when buying new socks is the highlight of said person's day.

But it was.

But not just any socks. These are made by small elves in a faraway place. They were $8 a pair. They are "blister-free." Which really makes no sense, because most socks don't come with blisters.

While I was busy buying new socks, I went crazy and bought new running shoes too. I'm so excited. Because today I was told I have "rigid feet." Which apparently is a euphemism for "perfect feet." The shoe salesman told me I could run barefoot because my feet (arches in particular) were so perfect. He had me run, and said I ran completely straight. I think he said perfect again.

So I'm thinking of adding this fact to my resume. Since little else about me has ever been described as perfect. If ONLY we lived in a world where the design of one's foot determined who was a high-fashion model and who wasn't. I knew I was born in the wrong century. If I lived when showing a bit of ankle was considered sexy...well, things would be VERY different, now wouldn' they?

Maybe I'll run faster now, with my non-blistered socks and perfect arches. But I do think I will wear shoes.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

8.33 miles!!!?!?

So I have been wanting to chronicle this marathon training thing for a while now. I end up chronicling it by sending 20,000 e-mails to everyone i've ever known--why not just write it once, and post it?

So I decided to run a marathon, back in February. I'm training with the National Aids Marathon group, and raising money for Whitman Walker clinic (see left margin if you'd like do donate).

I guess it was five weeks ago that it started? I could look it up in my training manual, which is in my backpack next to the chair i am sitting in, but that would require moving. My body. Which is trying to recover from this morning's pounding.

Ok, got off duff, and looked it up.

April 30, the madness begins: Run 3 miles to figure your pace. I'd been run/walking for three weeks. I came in at at 38 minutes solid, and they put me in the 13min group. Which I didn't realize was really slow. Until I started reading the thousand running blogs out there.

Week two: Four miles. Group dissolves into lots of complaining people. Can't remember who I ran with that day. I think this cool dudette, let's call her HASH, but she had to bail before the end.

Week three: We run five miles, I run with a woman who is on her sixth marathon, and probably in her late 50s. After 2 blocks I peed my pants (note to self: listen when they tell you not to drink a gallon of water right before the run..) luckily i had, um, some emergency equipment with me, and there was a McDonald's right there. Then I ran with a cool gal, Jane, who works on the hill and we talk politics the whole way, past the Capitol, past the Smithsonian, along the Mall to the Washington monument and back to Arena Stage. I think I should get a medal.

Week four: Six miles. I can't remember who I ran with.

Week five: Seven miles. This was the week I ran with someone named oh, something like Marabella, who is into hashing (see dc hashing) and she distracted me the whole way too. Very funny stories. Daughter D volunteered to be water girl, earning me $20 toward my $1,700 goal.

Week six: Today. Was supposed to be eight miles. The mile marks were off though. Mile 1 I ran at about 11:something. Mile two at 16:???? I kept saying, no freakin' way! The race course was altered bcs today was Race for the Cure in downtown D.C., so we had to loop-de-loop around the Capitol, up to Capitol Hill (there's a reason they call it that), past the Supreme Court, through the gorgeous neighborhood of Capitol Hill, past the Library of Congress, then DOWN a big hill, then 2 more loops. I ran the whole way with Monsieur M. and kept up an endless patter of hilarious jokes to keep him and me motivated.

I made him laugh, telling him all my slang about hooptie and kill it and mad cheddar. (I'm trying to learn slang. I have actual slang flash cards. Of course the minute I learn it, it's obsolete.) And I kept yelling at him to drink water, take off his long-sleeve sweatshirt, i sang him the rocky theme, I made him sing the rocky theme.. I didn't know i had so much b.s. in me, bcs I basically talked for two hours straight, just trying to keep us both going! I don't know if I helped him, or if he was ready to punch me..but i made him laugh...the best part was when he guessed my weight--120!!! To which I said, yes, of course, exactly, on the MOON.

We started at 7 a.m. My little group finished in 2:02 hours... We asked the coordinators, "Was that really 8 miles?" and they said, well, it might have been a bit longer. I'm saying nine. Nine miles.

What's really amazing is that for those two hours, I am an entirely different person. I don't think about work at all. Which if you know me, you'll know just how monumental a statement that is. I don't worry, I'm not nervous. All I think about is the people I'm running with and how to get through it, and I try not to even think about that. Just jabber jabber, and distract oneself.

I really love this. It's awesome. Every week I say I fully expect my exploits to be in the paper the next day.

Next week: Nine miles. For real. Note to self: Buy anti-blister socks. Who knew??