Monday, August 23, 2010

Just a Quickie (that's what she said)

(Oh Michael Scott... I miss The Office. Are they really going to try to bring that back without Steve Carrell?)

Just a quick update on this whole running/marathon training thing.

Had 14-15 scheduled for yesterday. I'm only loosely following a Douglas-esque-type plan, and by "following" I'm really just looking at the progression of weekly mileage and trying to stick to that. I like the tempo repeats though and have been doing those. Don't think I'll do the MP repeats, however. My goal MP is 8:20/mile. I can't stand to run that pace on a TM (the only option I have right now for any kind of speed or tempo work since I don't really want to run on the local high school's black track at the end of a sunny, 90+ degree day), so I always wind up doing something quicker.

Anyway, the 14.7-mile run was really great but wound up being broken in two due to lunch plans. I ran 8.3 in the morning and bolted home to shower and get ready to go out only to get there and find out the baby really needed a nap and the husband already told his parents we weren't joining them. Whoops. So I decided I'd head back out in the evening to run a 10K loop to "finish" my run. I ran it in about 50 minutes.

Really?? After running a little over 8 miles in the morning I bust out a sub-8 pace for my second shift? No wonder I'm getting bored doing MP runs.

I'm not going to go messing with my time goal for the marathon just yet, but I'm realizing that with a 16-miler scheduled for next weekend and me still having 2 months until the marathon, a lot of good things might happen to my running. I really, really really can't wait for the temperatures to drop. This heat and humidity has me feeling like a bull in a cage; I just know I have an aggressive pace inside of me, it's just waiting for the right conditions to send me flying out the gates.

But, not yet. There's still ridonculous conditions to content with and I need to err on the safe side because now that I'm serving again (yipee... well, it's work, at least), I don't want to run myself ragged. So the hubby and I stocked up on 5-Hour Energy's, Gatorade, Gu's, and Bodyglide. We look like we're going home to conduct some sort of experiment with all of these miniature bottles, shiny foil packages, and brightly colored fluids. Bottom's up!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Eat, Pray, Love" - A Runner's Version

Food = Energy
Food = Love
Food = Vice

Finding balance between my never-ending desire to consume anything and everything around me that is made up of simple sugars and my more reasonable awareness that I require a healthy diet to fuel my running is tricky.

I used to have issues with running and eating. I ran because I ate, instead of eating because I ran. I couldn't consume a single calorie without worrying about when and how I could burn it off later in the day. A couple marathons and a baby later, I'm obviously much smarter about the whole thing... usually.

My problem now is that I know all too well that every calorie will be burned and then some. So I tend to go a little overboard. Spoons in the Nutella jar, 2-for-1 Pop Tarts, buttermilk pancakes kind of overboard. It just all tastes SO good. I've been feeling a little guilty about it, but I guess I have to figure that I do typically eat some fruits and vegetables during the day, take my multivitamin, and that I feel really well overall.

I think it all comes down to common sense. You can't subsist on Nutella alone (can you?) but you can't get into the habit of depriving yourself while training for any kind of endurance event. Love yourself, but respect yourself, too.

Two of my favorite paragraphs from this book so far:

1) Flexibility is just as essential for divinity as is discipline.
Your job, then, should you choose to accept it, is to keep searching for the metaphors, rituals and teachers that will help you move ever closer to divinity. The Yogic scriptures say that God responds to the sacred prayers and efforts of human beings in any way whatsoever that mortals choose to worship-- just so long as those prayers are sincere.

2) When Gilbert has a conversation with a friend about searching for meaning for life and loss through religion, he tells her, "You don't want to go cherry-picking a religion."
Which is a sentiment I completely respect except for the fact that I totally disagree. I think you have every right to cherry-pick when it comes to moving your spirit and finding peace in God. I think you are free to search for any metaphor whatsoever which will take you across the worldly divide whenever you need to be transported or comforted.

I've been reading this book in awe of Gilbert's drive to travel the world in pursuit of her own happiness and to find balance in all areas of her life. To her credit (and to combat how the movie trailer portrays the story), she is not out there just to eat pasta and find love. She actually makes a promise to herself to remain celibate throughout *most* of her journey, and spends a great deal of time scrubbing floors at an Ashram in India where she has to wake up every day at 3:30 AM.

I do not have the desire to dedicate 18 hours a day to meditation, but this book reminded me of something I have also read somewhere else: Prayer isn't just sitting down and wishing for good things to happen or for bad things not to happen. It isn't just begging and pleading. It's opening a door and allowing your soul to mingle with the world around you, pouring yourself into your surroundings and allowing the beauty of the world to come into your heart. It's an exchange of energy - of love.

While I am not down on my knees in a pew praying every Sunday, I realized I am praying every time I run. Sometimes it is a selfish prayer ("Please let me finish this run in one piece. Please let me not die of dehydration."), other times, there are no words at all. I'm just... aware. Every footfall, heartbeat, rustling of leaves, and sunbeam through the canopy of trees is enhanced. When I find myself focusing on that I'm filled with so much amazement and energy, I sometimes forget that I'm running.

This is the part where I say that I LOVE running, right?

Well, I do, but not like that.

Running makes it so that I can probably eat a bit more junk than a sedative person ought to. Running also gives me the chance to quiet my mind and connect with my surroundings. For those things, I am very grateful to have the ability to run and have a deep appreciation not just for the sport, but for the physical movement, itself. So I love running, just enough to do it as long as time and my body will allow, but not so much that it would take precedence over some major life event.

I think it takes more than a love of running to run. You need to love other things and receive a feeling of love FROM other places as well. When I run, I'm filled with the love I have for my daughter, my husband, our life as a family and our pets. I love the scenery, exchanging waves with others, the relief from finishing and the sense of accomplishment that follows. I love feeling strong, the slightly narcissistic sense that others are looking on in admiration and the way my butt looks in jeans.

Point is, it's not just the physical act of running, by itself, that I love. I don't think I could love running merely for the gross motor repetition any more than I'd love to play the piano with the sound completely muted. I don't just push keys for the sensation it provides my fingers. I need the sound, too. I need a sense of flow and the art of composition. So does my running. That's where I find the love.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

at least my mileage is better than my monthly blog average

I was going to look at the previous blog to see where I left off when I remembered- Oh yeah, total Whinebitchfest. Okay well let's get this one off to a better start, shall we?

I'm running a marathon.

In 12 weeks.

WTF is wrong with me?

I was *supposed* to meet a group of lovely ladies and now very dear friends at the California International Marathon in December and run THAT 26.2 mile course, which would give me 18 weeks to train, taper and all, starting today. Well with me not working (not having found/looked hard enough for employment and not really being a certified trainer yet) the bank account will simply not allow for such an excursion.

So the only reasonably local marathon I can make it to before 2010 comes to a close that might also give me the opportunity to attempt to qualify to run Boston next year is in 12 weeks back up in Greenville. The Pros: pseudo-hometown appeal, Oma and In-laws are there to watch the baby in case I'm limping across the finish line, no hotel costs or boarding fees, and it's the day before Halloween (I'm feeling a costume). The Con: I have 12 weeks to get ready.

Despite all my complaining about how hard it's been to run here, I've still been netting about 20 miles per week on pavement and getting in some cross-training. It hasn't been comfortable, or pretty. Not even the treadmill can offer any kind of respite from the inferno because "fix the fitness room's A/C" is not a priority on the apartment complexes to-do list. Seriously, 4 miles on the machine and I'm as soaked as if I'd jumped in the pool. But instead of smelling like chlorine or bromine or whatever cancer-causing chemicals they use, I reek of kidney byproduct.

Outdoors, there is no breeze except near water, which simply means the hot air is moving, instead of hanging in the air like a moldy bath towel.

Wow I'm really rockin' the imagery today.

My point is that I've been running and I survived July. Now I just have to survive a very ambitious training program and make it to the starting line on 10/30. It all kicks off todat with some tempo work, followed with some easy runs later in the week and 10 miles on Saturday. From there, my long runs go 12, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 18, with a couple cut-back weeks and a 2-week taper.

On a completely different note, Alexis turns 1 this week. She made it through the first year. WE made it through the first year. And most importantly, she survived a crazy mom and all of those bumpy jogger rides. She's the most amazing little person I've ever had the pleasure to know. I often look at her doing something brilliant and clearly advanced for her age (I'm not biased much, am I?) and think that she couldn't have possibly come from me. I feel honored to be this child's mother.