Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Friends Say The Darndest Things

Getting back on a training schedule remains difficult. I am past the point of excitement training for my first marathon and past the need to prove that the brain tumor has not altered my life. What remains is the phantom love of endurance running. The difficult journey is getting back to that and just laying down those first weeks of slow painful miles. My running will not improve if I don’t attack it with the same intense desire as I did when I started long distance running years ago. Soon, I won’t have a choice.

Distractions and excuses for not logging miles abound. My lack of focus on running continued when my mom came out for a recent MRI, and ended shortly after. On the way home from my MRI in San Diego, I took my mom to a friends’ housewarming. Besides showing us their wonderful first home. The husband convinced me it was a good idea to invest in the Tour Pass for the Rock n Roll Race Series for 2013. Yes, for one price, I can run as many marathons, half marathons & 5ks that are associated with the Rock n Roll Race Series.  Quick math tells you this is a good idea because entry fee for each race is nearly $100 and with four races being 300 miles or less from Los Angles, it’s money well spent. Besides the interest of cardiovascular health, nothing is a great motivator like spending money on a race. I’ve already dropped out of one race due to lack of training; I don’t intend to do it again.

Before committing to the Pass, I should have taken stock in who was advising me of the benefits of unlimited races. My friend is not just a hobbiest…. He and his wife are running a half marathon a month for 2012 and they are discussing doing 13 half marathons (13.1 miles) for 2013. I should have realized his sound advice could be problematic. But, taking a step back, it no more insane than just deciding to run a marathon. To many, setting out to run for fun already boarders on crazy, so I guess weather his advice was sound or not is a mute point since I may be a little crazy myself for loving long distance running and harboring the need to get back to running 20+ miles a week. Next stop- Pasadena Half Marathon in February, with a possible January half in Arizona thrown in.

My doctor was so pleased with my December 2011 MRI, he postponed my follow up to June and then he had to move me to September. (All this is quite a delight since in August 2011, my case was brought up for consult to the tumor board for more surgery.) We were cautiously optimistic about the September 2012 MRI, but we were not expecting the results we got. Without the benefit of big Pharma, the residual tumor that was a worry is gone! My MRI looks like God went in with a Dust Buster and cleaned that sucker up.  Now that the tumor is gone, my doctor is more adamant to track my food. I had been keeping a traditional food journal, but that was proving depressing and I felt too much like a lab rat. BUT, I have been keeping a journal on my iPhone through MyFitnessPal, which feels more trendy and less cumbersome. Recently learned to export my food and exercise journal I keep on to a document I can convert to a PDF and give to him every 3 months.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Personal Worst

There is nothing better to kick-start your drive to really buckle down to stick to a training program like going to watch an endurance race.

On the weekend of October 12, 2012, I took a redeye home to Connecticut to see my brother-in-law kick butt running his first marathon at the Hartford ING Marathon. His calmness before a major race was amazing, and I believe it is due in large part from his experience running track for a Division 1 college. Navigating some of the logistics of any big race held us up & my sister and I caught clothes as he stripped while he slowly sprinted to the start. (Mind you he can do a sub 7:00mi and my sister and I feel good if we do an 11:30.) He got to the start & ended up having to jump into the 4hr coral, which was a full hour slower than where he should have been.

My sister & I, along with my niece (in the jogging stroller) sprinted to the 5k start. The gun time was the same time as the marathon gun and despite it being less than a block away, by the time we got there, there was not a runner in sight. We were so late the volunteers were already rolling up the starting mat. They were kind enough to plug it back in so we could have the official chip time. There is nothing more demoralizing than starting a race and having to stop to ask for directions. Well, there’s almost nothing. It become more demoralizing when fast people showed up. Now, we really felt like we had gone off course. We kept going & finally found an officer that told us, “Yes, the half marathon and 5k briefly share the same course.” We continued slowly, with some trepidation until we saw another “runner.” Well, she really wasn’t expending that much energy while going up the hill.  My sister leaned over and said, “let’s pass her.” So, she, I, and baby scurried up the hill. When we continued past the crest, we saw more 5kers. We weren’t going fast, but we pushed forward. My sister and I never wanted to walk a race and we never wanted to finish last; it looked like at least finishing last was a possibility.

We continued to maneuver through walkers. Our guts were a little upset, but we bypassed the porta-potties. (For me, in larger part this could have been a result of my travel problems and the accompanied stress eating and feeding my mostly-vegetarian body turkey sandwiches.) We were slow, but we didn’t want a worse time.  Our end almost came when we saw a Dunkin’ Donuts and actually discussed how great a coffee and donut would be on this 47* day. We concluded that would just be giving up too easily. We finally stopped at some porta-potties that were literally in the path of the race course. We did our slow turtle run to the finish, passing walkers, cell talkers and texters. It wasn’t a great race, in fact, she and I each dubbed it as our Personal Worst. Somehow, despite our bad start, walking a little, and our extra-long stop at a porta-poty (somebody had to wait with the baby) we passed and beat 87 people! 

We had time to get back to the finish to go cheer on her husband who finished his first marathon in just over 3:19, despite cramping up at mile 22. From the leg cramps he got, it’s a miracle he was able to still do so well. It’s still too early to know if he’s going to do another marathon just yet, but from talking with him after I am reminded again why I fell in love with the sport of endurance running. Despite the fatigue and pain (and wall), reconnecting with the race makes me want to stop giving myself outs for running and "Just Do It."