Monday, December 28, 2009

One for the Books

I expect we all have memorable runs - "one for the books," I call them - whether it's on account of the sights we witness, the camaraderie we experience over the miles, or simply the outstanding weather conditions on that day. Well, yesterday I had such an outing.

Yesterday marked the end of week-two of my 18-week Boston Marathon training program, and simultaneous with getting my plan underway, I've organized Sunday morning group runs. The past two Saturday nights have been tough sleeping nights for me due to anxiety about 1) getting up on time to meet the group, and 2) the weather for Sunday morning!

Two weeks ago I tossed around in bed listening to the wind blow with such force I just wanted to pull the covers over my head. The temperature had dropped that weekend as well, and I suspected there would be no way I'd be able to go out with a probable wind chill of well below zero. I finally crawled out of bed at around 5:00 to check the weather and planned to get an e-mail out to the group that I was canceling. Surprise - 18 degrees and reports of gusting wind but not sustained. I didn't cancel.

Nine runners showed up and while the wind was quite cold at times, we all did what we set out to do. Some ran seven miles, I ran my prescribed eight, and others did the ten-mile course loop. Great job by all. Yesterday, was a different story.

I woke up very early to pouring rain. Did I mention, it was pouring rain? Exasperated, I said out loud to my poor, now awake husband, "Do you think it could rain any harder?!" But I knew we were in for rain and I also knew the temperature was milder, well, at least it was over freezing. I got up and got ready to run, but I was not very excited about it.

I headed out under dark skies and rain and put out the two usual and customary water stops before arriving at the Cape Elizabeth high school parking lot. There were four vehicles already there, though I did not recognize any of them. I figured it was an earlier group of runners like Joel Croteau and his crew that come up from Kennebunk and other southerly places. I waited until 8:00 and then headed out for my solo ten-miler in the pouring rain. Dang, I thought, I sure could use some company today.

Instead, I called on the gifts I have received from my years of running. These are the gifts I try to share with others in the hope that they can know the same benefits from this sport that I have come to know.

The first and simplest lesson I have learned is to just do it. Period. End of statement. No questions asked. This simple Nike slogan has become much more than a tag-line for me. It is under my skin, it keeps things simple, it's a command, not something negotiable, and it works.

The next realization I embraced while I might have still had some dry skin some where, was my Commitment. It didn't hurt that I had told 84 people I'd be there and set out water stops, but beyond that, I felt my commitment to myself. I realized it is a character-trait that I possess and that it's something I can be proud about. My word is good, and if something about it has to change, I'll try to be clear and honest about it. I'll try.

I then called on my ability to find something positive in this memorable run. And I did. First, I had two gallons of water all to myself. Second, when I needed to make a pit stop I didn't hold anyone up. And third, I got to solve all the problems of my world inside my little brain without having to utter a word. Check. Done.

Some time during mile seven, I made a decision.

No matter how well prepared I am for the Boston Marathon on April 19, 2010, if the weather conditions for that day are comparable to what we had yesterday, I am not doing it. Nope, not going to play. I know, one could ask "Well what about perseverance and commitment and mental toughness?" Yes, I know, and I have those traits.

Here's the reason I would sit out: It's the marathon. It's not a 5K, or a 10K, or even a ten-miler like yesterday. It's a marathon and I respect it. I also respect myself enough to know that I will hurt myself if I tried to do it under such assaulting conditions. During this seventh mile I felt discomfort in ways and places I don't usually feel anything, like in my calves and my Achilles. I could tell toes were unhappy and fingers started getting numb. I'm not willing to hurt (damage) myself for a race, even Boston.

Heck the way my mind was working yesterday....since I was so fit and passed on Boston, perhaps I would run the Sugarloaf Marathon...there I am breaking the tape at the finish line, donning the crown of laurels, winning in a personal best time....

See the benefits of running? You can just do anything.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I eat that I am?

This evening I was reminded, and remembered what I know to be true, albeit hesitatingly, that one is what one eats.

I am a pizza pie.

Enjoying our third homemade pizza of the week (dreadful, right?) my husband says assuredly, "We've got it all covered here: carbs, protein and veggies." Of course this is true, but I counter that the Portland Pie "original" dough, as good as it is, "really should be whole wheat."

Minor details aside, this particular 'za is loaded with grill-roasted red peppers, garlic roasted chicken, fresh green peppers, mushrooms, scallion, (more) garlic and tomato. A bit of mozzarella and tomato sauce, herbs, and love, make our Sunday dinner pizza complete. We also enjoy a mixed green salad, and start with a small bowl of fresh homemade ginger butternut squash soup, all accompanied with wine.

We eat really well here, and sometimes really well means more than enough. But, I think it's mostly good nutrition for us as athletes.

Anne-Marie Davee is a local registered dietitian and nutritionist, and an exemplary endurance athlete. I have heard her speak many times about proper nutrition for peak performance, and her talks have helped me to make adjustments to my daily nutrition. One thing I particularly like about Anne-Marie's philosophy is that the key to healthy eating is to rely on real, whole foods versus supplements or quick fixes.

Simply changing to whole grain breads and whole wheat pastas, for example, can make a significant difference. Maintaining a low-fat (easy on the mozzarella!), complex-carbohydrate-rich diet with loads of rich colored vegetables, grazing throughout the day with balanced, smaller portions, all serve to keep the energy stores high and the body ready for action. Drinking plenty of water every day is extremely important to overall health and performance. Simply, the Basics.

We all know these basic facts about proper nutrition, right? And we all remember the adage, you are what you eat, right? So think about it. What are you made of, and is it good, good enough, optimal, or just plain bad?

Do you want to be something, anything, different?

January 1, eleven days from now, is an awesome time to commit to healthy changes. It's also a full moon on New Year's eve, a spiritually powerful time if you're into that sort of belief system. In any event, healthy nutrition is easy, accessible, affordable ($2 for the aforementioned large size dough) and fun!

There's nothing better than being able to get up and go for a run, KNOWING your temple is being taken care of and is there to serve your performance desires. Trust this, then focus on training that beautiful body with hard, sensible workouts and proper rest. You will reach those performance goals in 2010. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tally Ho for 2009

The 2009 racing season is over for this runner, and preparation for the 2010 Boston Marathon is officially underway.

My last race was on Sunday December 6, when I ran the first leg of the five-leg, 28-mile Mill Cities Relay. The race begins in Nashua, NH and ends in Lawrence, MA, after running through Lowell, MA...mill cities, you know. It was good to experience it, though a little odd in that I didn't know my teammates. The Winner's Circle Running Club was vying for the 'Most Teams Entered' award, and recruited heavily. It would have been a lot more fun for me to participate with buds....

My objective in 2009 was to race less than in 2008, and when I did race, to run competitively. I think I achieved both goals, though I haven't really done a race tally like I do at the end of each year. I figured I could do it here:

No races but lots of silly runs in bad weather

Mid-Winter Classic 10-Miler, 1:10:58, 2nd in age
Martha's Vineyard 20-Miler, 2:35:09, 1st in age

Kerrymen Pub 5K, 19:25, 1st in age

Fiddlehead Run for the Arts 5K, 18:40:34, 1st overall

Sea Dogs Mother's Day 5K, 19:28, 3rd overall
14th Annual Memorial Mile, 5:41, 1st overall

18th Covered Bridges Half-Marathon, 1:30:13, 2nd overall
1st Annual Sea Dogs Father's Day 5K, 19:23, 3rd overall

Bridgton Four on the Fourth, 25:43, 5th overall
Ocean Park 5K, 19:06, 1st in age

12th TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K, 39:38.9, 1st in age

PunkinFiddle 5K, 19:40, 1st overall

Tufts 10K for Women, 39:53, 3rd in age
Great Pumpkin 10K, 40:00, 1st in age

MRC Turkey Trot, 19:28, 1st overall
Burn off the Turkey, 19:14, 1st in age

Mill Cities Relay, 2:58:21, 1st Place Coed Seniors Team

As I said, I achieved my goals, but like most runners I am questioning whether I could have done better. Should I have raced more? Should I have trained more? Is more better? Blah blah blah blyeck. It's over.

Yesterday was day one of an 18-week marathon training program. I am following Coach Hal Higdon's Intermediate I schedule, and I'm looking forward to it. I have never done pace running the day before a long run so it should be interesting. My marathon goal is 3:15, which will be a personal record, and by all accounts, I should be able to do this.

Here's the Plan: Put the blinders on, train smart, and enjoy the ride.