Archive for December, 2010
I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that if you’re reading this site, your New Year’s Resolutions have something to do with running or fitness, or maybe travel. In my writing, I tend to focus on the spiritual, psychological and even cultural insights I get from running, but that isn’t because I don’t get amazing physical benefits. I mean, I’m stronger and more fit than I’ve ever been in my life because of these last few years of marathoning around the globe. Still, I feel like there’s a lot I could do to move in a healthier direction. I’m sort of notorious for eating comfort food (think a big plate of steak fries with mayo and ketchup) for dinner, and cheese (of all kinds – even processed) is like a staple in my diet instead of a condiment as it is for most people. And while I know I’ll never eat perfectly or exercise perfectly (or sleep, or drink or communicate perfectly), there’s always room for improvement, right? But how?
My friend and fellow runner has some help for me and for families who want to make a commitment to improve their fitness and nutrition this year. Author, teacher and health professional Carol Frazey has a one-year plan for us. In her e-new book, The Fit School Plan – 1 Year to a Nutritionally and Physically Fit Life, she’ll guide you and me and our families toward better health. With one achievableand reasonable goal for each of 52 weeks, she helps us change and improve our habits. Some of these benchmarks may already be habits for you and your family. Pat yourself on the back and keep up the good work. If they aren’t regular aspects of your life, give them a shot. You’ve got nothing to lose but shame, low energy and high cholesterol.
What do you say? Will you join me in making improvements to our health this year? You don’t have to run a MARATHON to get healthier, for goodness sake (though, I certainly wouldn’t discourage you if want to train for one this year!!!). You just have to find a reasonable plan that works for you and give it a go.
So check out Carol’s book – a terrific, affordable and reliable resource! And let me know what your resolutions are this year. I’d like to follow along and be your cheer leader!
We’ve done this race three years in a row, but usually I do the 30K race (which Bill is running at this very moment). Today as I stood at the starting line with all the other runners hopping and stretching in anticipation of the horn, I felt sorry for myself. Only two weeks off of my last marathon (which, as noted in an earlier entry, was VERY tough for me) , and having made the decision that I need to lay off the long races for a while to let my foot heal, I felt left out of the “real” runners’ club this morning. Boo hoo for me.
Then the horn sounded. I picked up what I thought would be a good pace for myself and heard my right foot scream at me. I told her not to worry, that this would only take a half hour. She quieted down a little after the first mile and we managed the rest of the race in relative peace.
About two and a half miles in, I ran past a young girl of around eleven. I’d seen her start the race with her dad, but he’d run ahead by this point and she was alone on the course, crying. My heart jumped into my throat when I saw her tears. How many times have I cried in the last miles of a race? Even as recently as two weeks ago I did so.
“Honey, it’s gonna be okay,” I said. “Just keep putting one foot in front of another and keep your eye on the person in front of you. You won’t get lost and you’ll make it over the finish line. I promise!”
She nodded at me but didn’t say anything (she’s probably been taught not to talk to strangers).
As I ran on, I found myself feeling mad at her dad for leaving her back there alone, and I resolved that if he didn’t turn around at the finish line and go back to her, I would go back. But when I crossed the finish line (at thirty-three minutes, according to the time clock), she was there right behind me. And her dad was waiting for her with his arms open.
Yes. Yes, I know that every runner’s race is her own and that “dad” probably did the right thing by letting her figure out her pace and work it out. She was safe, she was close to the end when he ran ahead, and he was there for her when it was over. I know all of this; I just keep forgetting. I keep forgetting that the struggle is INSIDE – that being “real” is about listening to your body and not about putting in as many miles as the other guy. It’s about being authentic and not about being tougher than your (husband, friend, rival, dad, etc.).
So, I’m back at my water running tomorrow. And I’m sending good thoughts to the little girl whose first 5K ended with a few tears and a big hug from her dad.
OK, I just saw this article, and even though it includes loss of blood and a probable concussion, it’s funny.
Well, the long awaited for and worried about (by me, at least) Las Vegas Rock n Roll Marathon has been completed. Julie and I arrived at our corral at about 6:30am and waited around for the gun. I think we finally started at 7:20-ish. And, naturally, we had two completely different experiences of the same day.
I asked Julie to write a blurb about her experience. Here’s what she said: ” I did it! My third marathon was accomplished with a few verbal whimpers and many whimpering thoughts. I finished in good time for me, but it was tough. This running thing gives you time to ponder many a thing. Today I was feeling surprised by the shapes, sizes and ages of the runners. I was passed by many people older and larger – people I thought I should beat. I’m also amazed at the different styles of running. It is amazing to me that we, as a people, are made up of the same number of chromosomes, and that they go together in such different ways.
“One of my running slogans is, ‘Pain is temporary; pride is forever!’ That thought is a valid one, but sometimes I still doubt my ability to do a marathon. Crazy, huh? Three done (I am proud of this), but it is sort of hard even now to believe I really do run marathons.”I know two things: If I can run a marathon, anyone can (if they choose to), and I really am proud of my physical, mental and emotional toughness. I did it!”
It might be helpful to know that Julie used to carry a lot of extra weight and running has helped her lose it. She’s still in awe of her ability to pull off the marathon distance. She’s also a labor and delivery nurse, so she holds little bundles of chromosomes in her arms every day, wondering who they will turn out to be – and what their running stride will look like someday.
Today, for me, was not so full of wonderment about the uniqueness of every human being – not so philosophical, you might say. Here’s how it went down for me: The first six miles were strong, but stressful. Julie and I ran hard because we had deadlines to meet in order to be allowed to continue in the race. Since I’ve been primarily water running and riding the stationary bike at Gold’s Gym (instead of training on the cold, hard ground), my (very insufficient) “training,” didn’t really prepare me for today. By mile nine, my quads hurt like heck, my foot was aching and I was CRABBY.
Poor Julie, who is extremely cheerful and positive, as a rule, got the brunt of my poor attitude. At about mile 15, I had to asked her to stop saying, “We can do it. Only (fill in the blank) miles to go!” She swears I didn’t hurt her feelings with my request, but we did mutually decide to finish separately within another mile.
I ran alone with my bad self for four more miles – fighting for every single step and feeling guilty for being bad company, not even enjoying the running Elvises and frowning at the sweet Jr. High Cheerleaders who yelled, “Keep on truckin’ all the way,” at me every few miles. All this distance, I vacillated between crying and silently reciting the Buddhist Lovingkindness Meditation to calm myself down (panicked as I was that I would have to hitch a ride to the finish line).
At mile 20, a fellow who had been tracking right beside me, dared to speak to me. George turned out to be exactly what I needed. Just my age, George is a high school English teacher in Las Vegas whose main goal was to beat his last marathon time (6:20). He asked me how I was doing and I confessed I wasn’t doing well. George very authoritatively said, “Well, let’s not talk about that. Let’s just talk.” And so I set my Gym Boss to one minute of walking and two minutes of running and we talked: about my running on the continents, about the kids in his classes, about my experience as an English teacher years ago, about his two children. And the time passed – not quickly, not easily and not without pain. But it passed.
And I finished. I think my time was 5:39 – the longest it has ever taken me to run a marathon.
I think the moral of the story is that I need to take some time to heal my foot and then to get (gently) back onto the trails and remember my love of breathing without a finish line to reach for.
But until then: Thanks to Julie for being so gracious with my crabby mood and to George for being the right companion at the right time. And thanks, once again, to the marathon for teaching me what I need to know about myself – even if it’s that we need to take a break from one another for a little while.
Oh, and thanks to Bill and all of my friends for your encouragement and continued interest in my running pursuits.
The starting gun is eleven hours from now. This afternoon Julie and I walked from the Luxor (where we’re staying) to the parking lot at Mandalay Bay (where the race starts) to get a sense of how much time we’ll need in the morning to get to corral 19. It takes fifteen minutes. That’s it. So we’ll get up, drink our coffee, get dressed and station ourselves at the starting line – all before our friends and families are out of bed.
We’ve had a lot of fun since we arrived on Wednesday evening. Thursday we walked the strip, stopping in to look at some of the more interesting casinos whenever we felt inclined. Friday, we spent a couple of hours at the race expo where, at 3:00, I finally got to meet Marie Bean. Readers might remember my e-pen friend, Marie. We “met” after the Rio de Janeiro race when she found my blog and reached out to me asking how I planned to get to Antarctica. She had planned on coming with Bill, Marina and me to Antarctica earlier this year, but had to change her plans in the end. What fun to finally meet her (and for more fun, check out her running business in Australia: Lazyrunner.com).
Today I crashed. For some reason I didn’t sleep more than a couple of hours on both Wednesday and Thursday nights. Last night (Friday), I took some sleeping aid and then felt like I wandered through today in a haze. So I spent most of today in the hotel room reading, catching up on Glee episodes and worrying about my foot (which I just wrapped according to Jason Gully’s specifications, hoping to give it some extra support tomorrow).
As I understand it, while the race starts at 7:00 am, each corral waits for a minute or two until it gets the go-ahead. Julie and I should actually start running anytime between 7:19 and 7:38. We’ve been told we have to make it to the 12.6-mile point by 10:15 in order to get the go-ahead to complete the full marathon (rather than be re-directed to do only the half). Even if we start at the latest possible time for our corral (7:38), this gives us 2 hours and 37 minutes to get to 12.6 (are you following?). We should be fine. The pain in my foot and the perpetual pain in Julie’s knee shouldn’t become acute until the second half of the race. The Las Vegas Marathon shuts down The Strip, so the race is only allowing 5.5 hours for participants to complete the full marathon, and I have to admit to a little concern about this. My last two races (Anchorage and Portland) have brought me in around 5:35. But Julie and I feel optimistic that we can pull it off with the help of the energy of the other twenty thousand runners and the bands stationed all along the route.
Watch our progress through the Rock n Roll website. I’m number 22435 and Julie is number 21240