Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Marathon Training - How Important is it?

Hanging out with friends...

It has been a crazy couple months. I wish I could say that I was logging miles judiciously and that I was maintaining the same active lifestyle that carried me through 7 hours of surgery and allowed me to run a half marathon 6 months post craniotomy. Despite running two half-marathons, in a month (between October 26 and November 25), I have not been good about training. I would like to make the excuse of new job and then lots of freelance hours, but truthfully, there is no excuse. I trained for my marathon working 40+ hours a week while communing 15 and still managed to get a run in. What has changed?

At a recent gathering among running friends, they were curious to see when my next marathon would be. Early in the year, I was planning to do the LA Marathon in March 2014.  Now, there is no time to get my body conditioned to run that distance by March and I have no idea when my next race can be. I told them that I was busy with work and freelance writing and producing, but to satisfy my own soul I needed to do a marathon soon. I don’t want to be a “one and done racer” This caught them extremely off-guard because it seemed given my drive, I’ve done ore than one marathon.

I love running, but I’m discovering and admitting the simple truth about marathon training— it’s a lot of work. I get the one and done mentality. It’s tough when your friends have a get-together and you have to leave early so you can be well-rested before your long run. In general, you become vigilant with making sure you’re  getting enough sleep and the proper nutrition. I simply don’t know if I can become that singularly focused again after spending so much of my extra mental capacity and stamina on burning the candle at both ends to work on my career.

It’s never a wrong time to have a paradigm shift. You don’t need to wait until January 1. (Which seems to be a theme that resonates through my posts this time of year.) You can always say, “today’s the day, I’m going to start training for a marathon”

Do I know what my next race will be? No. It might not be a marathon, but I know running more than 10 miles a week is in my future, along with setting a PR with my next race.  The goal is also to set a PR in my career as well. Perhaps, this is enough? Perhaps not? I’m making a goal to make room for unexpected happiness. I will still plan and plot. Ultimately, I will get back into marathon shape, but for right now, there is more to life than running.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Looking for Love

I know it’s been quite some time since I’ve written. With heat, travel, and work training has lagged. I am back on track with my training schedule; the time off has helped.  One thing I did during this break was see some movies. Without further adieu, I bring you a one-off MOVIE REVIEW….

SAG-AFTRA recently had their evening of short films.  One hundred sixty (160) films were submitted for consideration to participate in this prestigious night, but only 6 were selected. The story-telling style and genres varied, and while each film was meritorious, Texas spoke the most to me.

It is a hybrid genre (rom-com, family drama, coming-of-age) with a show-down scene as good as “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” Writer-Director, Matt Johnson’s logline reads, "A cowboy meets his estranged wife on the Texas/Oklahoma border and tries to win her back. One problem...neither will cross state lines!" From experience crafting and writing films, Texas crosses and blends story-telling styles… Can people come-of-age in their 50s?  After watching Texas , your answer will be YES! In his short film, Matt explores what makes relationships tick and why they may go awry and if is it possible to get that love back. He does this all in 20 minutes! You don’t feel a need to ask more questions about what happens to the couple— Matt lays all the answers out for you. Like many good love stories, there is a happy ending, but the path to get there is exciting to watch.

Aside from a flash back, the film takes place in one location: at the Texas/Oklahoma border. Some filmmakers may shy away from making a bold choice like this, but you never find yourself saying, “I wish there would be a new location.” You keep asking yourself, “Who will cross the border first- Denny or Doris Ray?” The cheeky humor moved the story along and while a less-skilled director would have made the dialogue heavy film a series of talking-heads Matt and his team use space and distance to help tell the story, highlighting the emotional distance between this estranged couple.

It’s a no wonder why the team is traveling to so many film festivals.
The Vancouver International Film Festival and the Louisville International Film Festival are two upcoming festivals that invited them to participate. I’m sure more good things are headed to the team. I’m hoping the film screens locally again so I can be part of this love story. If it’s in one of your local festivals, you should see it too. It’s not simply about the Texas/Oklahoma rivalry, it’s about something we can all relate to: The search for love.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Exercise Excuses

Running is one of those things that got into my blood. I craved it. Four years ago, I went from having a desk job & not running to thinking of 10 miles as a short run.

Then, life got crazy, and we’re not talking brain surgery. In the same month, my office closed, I bought a house and moved.  Running got put on the back burner. Now, I’m scratching to get back to the fitness level I now expect from myself.

Psychologically, I’m in a different place. I don’t have to prove a brain tumor is going to control me— The responsibility of running and staying fit takes a different psychological stamina. The paradigm of 5 years ago is a big shift – Running is a major part of my life. It’s one of the criteria I used when looking at houses.  If I didn’t feel safe running in the neighborhood, then I knew the house was not for me. I purchased a house in a neighborhood that for the most part is not part of the grid system – there is a network of cal du sacs and seemingly dead-end streets that restart a couple hundred yards away from the alleged dead end.

It’s a great place to run. But, with the lack of consistent work looming over my head,  running seems to be a luxury. My friend Jeanette Soloma at #SolomaFitness pointed out that I should run even if it’s only a mile. This was a dose of my own medicine as I know I’ve blogged about that in the past. Some running is better than nothing. My muscles aren’t as strong as they used to be, but I can still do 3 miles. Muscle memory kicks in and I go. I also recognize that the excitement of rebuilding muscles and neuro-pathways to run every day could be a slippery slope… I know I can do 5 so I push for 5. That is not wise for the first long run. I don’t want to over-do it and then not want to run the next day, or worse, injure myself. I’m focusing on alternating hard/soft work out days. One day 3 miles the next day 2 or 2 and the next day one. Slowly rebuilding what I had. A mid-distance 5 miler is not far off then I can get back to the short 10 mile runs on the weekend. Even in my current state, 10 miles is my favorite distance. As I work to get back to the distance I love, I will continue to build in speed work. I have two half marathons this fall with the goal to PR on at least one of them. The future continues to look bright.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mayhem on Marathon Monday

The events at the 117th Boston Marathon will never be forgotten. It didn’t just affect the running community – it affected the world.  A marathon doesn’t only test the spirit of the runner, it tests the spirit and tenacity of their loved ones enduring the months of training to qualify for the Marathon and then training to stay pace and/or set a PR. Marathon Monday was supposed to celebrate all the months of training and support. What happened instead was of unspeakable horror.

Marathon Monday is on Patriot’s Day, which commemorates the battle of Lexington and Concord, (the start of the Revolutionary War). The area around the finish became a war zone and two bombs were detonated shortly before 3PM (EST) and 4 hours after the starting gun went off for the 2013 Boston Marathon. Cheering spectators gathered to cheer on runners.  Many spectators don’t even know a participant – they are there to support. Reports of the number of victims vary, but agree that the numbers are 150+ victims and 3 deaths.

The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) made headlines in the running world last year when they told runners due to extreme heat on Marathon Monday, runners would be able to take a bye and they would be able to run in 2013.  In 2011, the BAA tightened qualifying times and also struck out the 59 second grace period. On Monday evening, rather than celebrating the achievements of the runners, the BAA had to release this statement on their website, “Today is a sad day for the City of Boston, for the running community, and for all those who were here to enjoy the 117th running of the Boston Marathon. What was intended to be a day of joy and celebration quickly became a day in which running a marathon was of little importance.”

And as I cheered on friends from 3,000 while tracking them on my cell, a friend called to tell me about the blast. We had several friends running, and we knew one of our dear girlfriends was projecting to finish around 4 hours. Our hearts were in our throats. We knew she would be close to the finish & we knew her husband would be waiting for.  We quickly scrambled to find information. All of their friends were panicked, and with cell phone service around Boston suspended, we relied on social media. And while we prayed fervently for their safety and the safety of others, reports of critical injuries and death swept across the news outlets.  Soon, we had news: Hubby and runner wife had been reunited. They were at the ER— Hubby was in the blast. He has a shrapnel wound and received several stitches. I could not imagine the extreme panic running towards danger and then not knowing where your loved one is. I know the two of the will continue their endurance running. Other running friends have said they will not let this change their love of the sport. Still others I’ve spoken with want to take up racing to prove that this act of terror will not get the American people down and that something as pure as the marathon will endure.  The Boston Marathon is still on my life’s to do list and while it can’t be my first marathon back from surgery- the need to run from Hopkinton to Copley Square in Boston has been reignited. I stand with other runners and the world to pray for peace and pray for the families of the victims. Many are not as lucky as my friend with the shrapnel wound.

Monday, April 1, 2013

LA Marathon 2013

The Marathon-

It’s 26.2 miles of unknown. No matter how many marathons you’ve done, there is no way of knowing what will happen during your race miles. A pebble inside your shoe at mile 5 or another runner cuts you off, tripping you… and then, there’s the WALL. It’s out there looming for most runners. People run the marathon for all kinds of reasons— for charity, because it has been burning in their soul, to beat their last race time.  I want to do another race, and just need to set aside the time to train, but I feel like my brain surgery and recovery took up so much time, now that I’m not putting all my energy into healing, I’m doing all those other things I couldn’t do while healing.

I still enjoy those long runs, even if I’m not logging 20 miles on Saturday. The long runs vary and for the most part have been done with my running buddy.  For all the years I’ve known him he has vehemently opposed the test of 26.2 miles.  Yet, on March 17, I found myself cheering him on for his first marathon.
A friend at work strong armed him into signing up and since we’ve logged so many miles together had so much smack talk and has been like a brother, I decided to organize a relay team to pass him of like a baton between the miles. I knew ego would forbid him from dropping out, but a relay team that essentially has him on a leash would be an even bigger barrier and keep him company through the solitude of the miles and help push him through the wall when his body gets cold and achy.

We started the relay around mile 9 and it continued until our last relay team sent him through the shoots and to his finish. It’s too soon to goad him into another race, and it’s too soon for me to contemplate a race, but the race is out there on the horizon… My next race just might be side by side with a friend rather than in the solitude.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A quick (and very rough) post…

Because I’m tired, but I need to write. February 17, 2011 I returned to work after I took a leave of absence for my emergency brain surgery. I wasn’t quite doing a full 8-hour day and the driving in LA traffic was precarious since my neck still didn’t have a full range of motion. Dad stayed behind and acted as chauffer for a couple more weeks and slowly, I was able to have full driving and work independence. Even today, on days where I’m working 11 hours, I’m thankful that I can since I remember those early rough days.

February 17, 2013 I had another runners’ high while I ran the Pasadena Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon (my 8th half). Despite being under-trained (although I think those hill repeats in the foothills of Mt. Lee did me some good psychologically), I was only 3 minutes off my PR. This race felt less achy than last year’s Pasadena half marathon and certainly less achy than the half I did 6 months post surgery.

And after these runners’ highs, I am shaken to the core with my own humanity and reminder that healing is a non-linear process. I had a follow-up MRI in San Diego. I was so exhausted I fell asleep in the machine and didn’t even feel the poisonous contrast enter my body. By eight o’clock that night I had all I could do to sit up through dinner, and my 8:30 I was in bed.  I felt ill. A night of cold-sweats and discomfort.  My parents didn’t disturb me for breakfast the next morning.  They kindly brought back some toast & got me some orange juice. One sip of the juice and my body rejected it. I felt like I was a dishrag being run out for every inch of its worth.  I slept until we could check out, followed by more sleep during the 3 hour drive from San Diego to Los Angeles and still more sleep when we got back home. It took almost a day and a half for the radiation poisoning to work its way through my system. My previous MRI (in September) also didn’t leave my stomach in a very happy state, but this one just wiped me out. Plausible theories surrounding this are the accumulation of the contrast that has been pumped into me since December 2010, or the fact I’m nearly 10 pounds skinnier than I was then… which makes it great for running and clothes looking better, but not so great when it comes to enduring MRI contrast. My doctor didn’t make a mention of my next
MRI, so I have some time to recover. I’m not ready to run 3 miles, but I’ll be back on the running path soon. The only thing my doctor said of note was having the two of us work together to raise money for brain tumor research. It looks like I have my work cut out for me- I have my next race to train for & a small (multi-million dollar) fundraising goal. Should be an interesting year.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ups & Downs of Endurance Running

Foothills of Mt. Lee.

The last couple weeks has been filled with ups and downs, but that is t normal with endurance running.  There are ups where you have a great run and you feel like you can go for miles and miles at a pace you had no idea you could run. And, when you’re down, they feel really down. You feel like you can barely complete this run and the pace is much slower than you’d like.  It’s after one of these down days that it’s difficult to get out for a run the following day. You’re convinced the run is going to be as terrible as your last run.

With the new flu strain being as aggressive as ever and working in the standard office Petri dish, I’ve been more anxious than normal about germs. (The anxiety is actually a result of my time spent in the ICU in 2010.) In the early parts of the month, I was stocking up on sleep. My need not to get the flu was an excuse to stay in bed. Last week, I looked at my kitchen calendar and I realized that my next half marathon was less than a month away. I wasn’t running consistently so I wasn’t accustomed to running on tired legs and I have little base. What I do have is the knowledge that I can run a half marathon and now that I have the taste of quitting in my mouth from my crash and burn from Long Beach half marathon in 2011, signing up and not completing a half is something I don’t want to repeat. I was a little concerned because my longest run in months is 6 miles. That’s less than half the distance and that 6 is no match for the hills of Pasadena!

I was running pretty consistently for the week of January 20th. I was feeling the high, especially after bonding with a friend over their sudden interest in running. A down came when I had to get to the office early and I slept in too much to get the run in I wanted. I nearly bagged it, but I threw on my running apparel & set out the door. I got in just over a mile, which included 3 hill repeats on a gentle hill. (And, doing just a little over a mile turned out to be an up.)  Looking at my kitchen calendar, I realized that I was not only going to have to be creative with the training, I was going to have to be aggressive.  With all my other halves, I had time to taper. With this one, I was going to have to train through, meaning each weekend long run would increase from 7 (this past weekend), to 8 following, 9 the week after that and then I have my half (13.1 miles)! Most training plans suggest that you increase your weekly mileage at 10%. It has been pointed out to me at some point if you don’t run and then start running, you are increasing your weekly mileage by more than 10%, so using that theory, while it may not be sound, I’m going for broke and going from 10 miles a week to 15 or more. 

Topographical Map of Pasadena-
The closer the lines get the more hilly
it becomes.
Watching the Rose Parade, one might think that Pasadena is flat. It’s not.  It’s chock full of hills, which is one reason why I’ve been doing hill repeats even if they are on gentle hills. My big training run was filled with ups and downs. This weekend, I hit the Burbank Reservoir, in the foothills of Mt. Lee for my aggressive training.  I parked my car. Hopped out and after a half mile of virtually flat packed dirt, the hills descended in front of me like a giant monolith. If I were driving, I wouldn’t take a standard shift car, but this is why I chose this area. I ran one hill and then some neighborhoods. Then, it was off to do hill repeats. My GPS watch tells me that the hill I picked was half-mile long. On my second ascent, I already made friends. On my third trip, I had a cheering section and my hip flexors were very sore. By the time I was on my fourth my water was nearly empty and my new friends were gone. I still had more miles to cover but knew I wouldn’t be able to keep going if I ran out of water. I descended the hill and found some flatter h area. I pushed to make sure I could get my 7, with only a mouthful of water when I got back. I promptly downed the extra water I had in my truck, vowing I would plan better for next weekend’s run. This week was nearly a 20% increase from the first week in January, but with 3 weeks remaining before my race, I need more hills and more miles if my ego is going to be able to tackle what lies ahead of me on February 17. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year - 2013 Will Be Better Yet!

The close of a year and the birth of another always gives one time for reflection. We say goodbye to bad habits and with resolve say hello to new ones that will carry us to a better life. We must remember that the root of resolution is RESOLVE. Too often people view resolutions as more of a “I’m going to try to do (a particular task), if it gets too hard, it’s okay if I stop.”  About 7 years ago, I joined a goal group based off of a Flash Forward seminar I took. We encouraged each other to speak in concrete terms. We traded resolution, and replaced it with goal. 

These last two years have been more difficult than I anticipated. I look back to the person I was in early 2010. I was filled with goals and ambition. The brain tumor made it easy to work hard at work and work hard on projects when I got home and only sleep 6.5 hours a night. After surgery, life stopped being so efficient.  I needed lots of sleep to heal. Now, my sleep rhythm has returned to a typical 8-hour night of sleep. I’m losing 1.5 hours of efficiency daily by having a normal sleep pattern. I’m frustrated. Despite this frustration, I’m filled with excitement for the future and my productivity. Goal no longer feels like an appropriate term for the way I have defined 2013.

On my cabinet above my coffee maker, I have my 2013 Assertions. It is a list of daily non-negotiables and below that, long-term objectives. A business wouldn’t enter a new fiscal year without clearly defining how they will meet their goals, and neither should I. By seeing the assertions daily, I am constantly reminded what my objectives are.

The past two years while difficult have been good. I had the misdiagnosis of brain cancer and have over come the anxiety of that and the other misdiagnosis for the need for a second surgery. With those, I went back to my day job and got promoted; ran two half marathons; wrote a commercial for a dating site; wrote an 8-minute short film (still to be shot); & spent lots of time with friends. While I still struggle with PTSD, and need to concentrate on over-all health (who doesn’t), healing is no longer my primary objective.  I can now focus the way I have in years past on setting and achieving my assertions. I accept I am not the same person I was. I cannot weep for the person I lost and I cannot berate myself for not being the person I expected myself to be. We learn from each struggle we face.  I have learned sleep is important and I have learned to I need shake out the chaff of daily life to get to my objective. I have 
written my map and I am excited for what 2013 holds.