from mile to marathon

The journey of a thousand leagues begins from beneath your feet.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

lia ran

Does snow shoveling count as cross-training? The shovel we brought over from the East Coast got to live up to its purpose for the first time since we moved to the desert. Neighbors took gleeful turns at borrowing it. I spent hours yesterday digging up my car from under the snow.

It’s winter in New Mexico again. Albuquerque got a foot and a half, the heaviest snowfall in recorded history.

Was it madness or just the customary commitment to running that made me drive out to the Academy track today? Let’s just call it cluelessness. The snow was knee-high. I could not walk, never mind running. What was I thinking? Back in my car I got a new insight. I had cleaned the parking area at home. I did not clean out the parking lot at Academy. I got stuck there.

Three guys got me out. One pushed the car, one pulled with a rope attached to a snowmobile, one drove it. He was so big not even when he pushed the chair back as far as it would go did he fit in my driver seat. They were grinning their mouth corners up to their ears when they were done. I gave everyone of them a big hug. I am a lucky girl.

Plan B: the treadmill. I ran my 14 miles. It was boring, but it was not wet, and I did not need to worry about the car. When I was finished I could not envision ever running more than that.

So here is the overall perspective.

Today: 14 miles.
This week: over 29 miles.
This month: over 112 miles.
Year-to-date (call it life-to-date, although it started at the end of February):
- 819 + miles
- three races (two 5Ks and one half-marathon)
- one injury incurred while stretching
- two months on the sidelines
- hundreds of dollars spent on running gear
- a half pound lost - I actually lost more, but they came back, and brought friends, and then they all went away, and some came back again – they must like me, he, he...

And… 819 miles. Did I say that already? Okay, so it’s not that much. It’s 800 + more than I thought I would accrue in a lifetime. I grew up with kilometers. That is more than 1,300 kms, enough to run across my homeland in Europe and back.

Life is good. Have a wonderful New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

symbolic progress

Now that I am back at mile 13, I have been wondering what and how and when to run during the next two-three weeks. Where do I go from here? I mean, I go to mile 14, but how?

It's the half-marathon in Arizona that confuses me. I could take take the race seriously and taper, postponing mile 14 for later. Or I could consider the race a training run, a stepping stone, a base builder. That's what I was thinking a few days back, it's just another "big run."

But then...oh, I know, almost for sure, I am not going to be able to control the animal in me, that blindly striving creature that is going to take over and push me forward, as if this were the last race on earth and we had to give it all.

So I decided... hmmm... to do both. I plan to run 14 miles on Sunday. It's snowing again, as I write, and the track will be tricky to navigate. But I want 14 miles, I want progress, even if it's only symbolic. Otherwise there'd be nothing to show for the last five months when I was stuck below mile 13.

And then I have almost two weeks to put myself in race shape, so when the animal takes over it doesn't destroy me, hah.

Monday, December 25, 2006


Yesterday I gave myself a Christams present. I ran 13 miles.

It was not an easy run - the morning was cold and windy, the track still partially covered with icy snow on the shady sides, and slushy mud on the sunny ones. But all in all it was not much different from the average four miles I put out on weekdays. Minute inevitably comes upon minute, and if you keep moving the miles accrue.

For the first time since the injury I ran 13 miles again, the most I ever ran. Thinking back I believe now I did not injure myself during the half-marathon race, but right before it, while warming up. The morning was too cold, I had to much time on my hands, I stretched too vigurously. I think I pulled that tendon that day, but not while running. Funny, sort of. That was almost four months ago.

I have climbed back halfway up the mountain. I am back at mile 13.

I know it is silly to be in a self-congratulatory mood about a victory factually old (I ran 13 miles first time in August), but I am. I am proud of myself, awash in jubilation.

I have recovered all miles lost.

Oh, and I got another present. Eric called me "Marathon Girl". It's not true, of course, not yet, but it made me feel ... valid. Little things count soooooo much.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

winter in New Mexico

Okay, not exactly blizzard, snowstorm, or even steady snow. Just a brief flash of white in December.

I have been thinking about my commitment to three cigarettes a day, I mean at most three, of course, not that I was obliging myself to smoke three against my will, he, he. It's time to go down to two, and I have been reluctant to make the resolution, since I am not sure I am ready yet. Once I commit, I have to stick to it, and I don't feel like tormenting myself. Limiting myself to three is hard as it is.

On the other hand, I cannot postpone it much longer. Sometime before the next race, I thought. Mid-January with its half-marathon is approaching fast, so I decided. Not January 1st, that's too corny. But right after Christmas, December 26th. Two cigarettes a day at most.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

everything still so new

My mileage last week was 28 miles, the most I ever, ever did. I came close only twice, once in May, and once in August. This to dispel any notion that I am overtraining.

During the "big run" on Sunday, for the first time since this marathon idea got into me, I felt a little scared. Scared of the magnitude of what lies before me, the endless distances ahead, mile after mile, week after week.

I live a lot in my writing, and probably even more in emotion. I never lived so much in my body before.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

the end in mind

So I signed up for the rock 'n' roll Arizona half marathon in January. Ouuch! That was expensive. $85. What to they do, carry one across te finish line? Well, I guess with 60 live bands along the course, they kind of do.

I ran 12 miles on the Academy track today. Had 13 in mind, but it was hard. I took frequent and long walking breaks, not as part of a strategy, but because my body decided to. I went along, confused. My overall time score did not vary from that of continouos running - 2 hours 17 minutes.

Walking breaks are a big dilemma. I have nothing against them. But I noticed that I cannot take them during races, so why take them otherwise? I practiced performance target shooting for eight years, and the idea was to keep practice and contest consistent - same protocol, same ammunition, same rhythm. It makes sense to train the way you will race.

But I find myself unable to keep up with the difficult track at Academy. Perhaps it is a sign that I should view the Arizona race as a training run, not an opportunity to kill myself on the course, live music and all. After all, 13 miles is means to an end, not the goal itself.

I want to run a marathon.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

a look at the schizoid side of it

There is someone in me who wants to run a marathon. There is someone in me who acts like a runner. There is someone in me who wants to run.

It feels as if there are a multitude of them, and we cannot stop them.

(Otherwise: I am unable to leave comments on other blogs due to some technical error.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

recovering miles lost

I am trying to increase my daily mileage from a 5K to 4 miles, with a required minimum of 3.5 for the time being, and I haven't wavered from completion. It's not so much an issue of exertion, as one of time. As in: how much longer can I run without being late at the office? My "big run" last Sunday was 11 miles, pitiful in itself, but the longest distance I ran since the injury. I have decided to sign up for the Rock 'n' Roll half-marathon in Phoenix, Arizona, on January 14th.

My boyfriend thinks it's crazy to drive across state lines for me to, literally, get to run around for a couple of hours, and he has a point there. But he acquiesced graciously. We are going to make a big celebration out of the fact that by the end of the year I will be back to mile 13.

I am excited.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Ryan has this awesome list on his blog as to identifying if you are a runner or not. One line I totally buy into: you know you are a runner when you dream about running. I have actually made a note in my calendar, sometime in August: "I have been running for six months now, but I have never dreamt of running."

I did, three days ago. I dreamt I was running downhill. It wasn't real running, since I was on a street, dressed in street clothes, the flat-heeled boots and long-sleeved black dress I had worn the day prior. And I fell.

I fell almost willingly, head on, full face down. But I fell in prolonged, willful slow-motion, so that I could compute an impact without injury. A car was coming. In one piece and in control, I rolled out of its way.

I did not mind the fall. Dreaming, my body knew that during waking I am running.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

do I feel or do I think?

I had a hard time at work yesterday, and every now and then, during the horror of it, I remembered that I'd had a good run in the morning, almost four miles at the upper limit of my current pace, effortless, trauma-free, whitout drama. And I reminded myself I would have another run today, probably good again (and it was). I reminded myself I would run a marathon one day, and even wihtout a direct connection that was enough to gain hold.

I wish I would like running. Then I would enjoy all this - the discipline, the exertion, the accretion of miles. I do anyhow, intellectually. I wish running would be music to my life, the way beansprout felt through November.

Monday, December 04, 2006

all that counts

"Big run" on Sunday: three rounds of the Academy track, uphill and downhill, just shy of 10 miles, under two hours. Mileage for the week: over 24. My progress from week to week is barely perceptible, but in all respects - pace, mileage, terrain - I got back into the range that was customary before the injury. Not quite there, but into the range.

Maybe I had a bad day, or maybe it was the temperature (19 degress when I left home before 8 am, the cold cursing through my veins like alcohol), but I was exhausted before the first round was over. I took walking breaks, my nose was running, my ears were freezing, I was not dressed right again. I never got to buy running gloves - why do we need running gloves when we run with our feet? - so I grabbed a pair of bulky mittens that belonged to my boyfriend. I ended up running like a frustrated boxer, my hands damp and hot, no part of me comfortable. I will definitely buy running gloves. By the third round the sun was stronger, and I was both sweaty and cold.

None of this mattered anymore when I finished, since all that counted was to finish.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

5K variations

A 5K is the very least I do on any day when I run, usually on the treadmill. It is amazing how this repetitive task, even when done almost every day, even when done for months in a row, remains an experience of diversity. It can feel novel, it can be a challenge, sometimes it's comfortable, sometimes it' s easy, sometimes it goes by in a rush, sometimes it takes forver, on occasion it hurts, at other times it's exhilarating. In esence it is the same thing, over and over again, but it never feels the same.