from mile to marathon

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

Thursday, March 29, 2007

five weeks to go

The fact is old, but the confirmation is recent. A man ran around the world. The article doesn't say what he did in between continents - tread water? But I will not get hung up on technicalities. Here's someone who took running very far.

I did not run for six days. Sick within the triangle defined by flue, tonsilitis, and sinus infection, I could not breathe, I could not sleep, never mind running. My mileage last week was a meager six miles. This week - today, still congested and miserable - I attempted a 5k and finished it, slow and steady.

I started the taper for my marathon awfully early, isn't it?

Just kidding. I have five weeks to fully recover, and get back to mile 19, and then beyond it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

aveda foot relief

It's a cool lotion. It's rich, and nourishing, and refreshing in a peppery way. Of course it's not going to take care of plantar fasciitis or anything of that sort. At best, we can lull our feet into a sense of false security.

I saw this kind of thing for the first time on Paris Parfait's
blog. Paris Parfait lives in Paris and loves antiques and she put up a French vintage clock for a chance drawing. Whoever would leave a comment on that post would have their name included, and she would ship it to the winner wherever he were.

I thought it was cool, but I did not leave a comment, since I don't like clocks. Time goes by without our monitoring it, and I do not believe too much in the essence of time anyhow.

A few weeks later, one night when plotting out my "big runs" over the oncoming week-ends interfered with my falling asleep, I dreamt or just envisioned putting an Aveda foot relief tube up for a drawing. In that half-conscious state between sleeping and waking, it seemed a great idea.

Fully awake, I am not so sure anymore. I mean to a certain extent it must be a gimmick of some kind. But my impulse that night was genuine, and I work for a salon & spa that uses Aveda products, and our poor mangled runners' feet could use some relief from time to time. A little massage, a gentle pampering, a skin-deep soothing at the very least.

So here I am. Whoever posts a comment on this entry between now and April 7th will be entered into a lot drawing. I'll have my boyfriend pick up the slip of paper from a bowl, if I manage to convince him to engage in such endeavor. Somewhere around 3 pm. And then I'll ship it to the winner, continental North America only please, otherwise postage is going to exceed the price of content, he, he.

Here's to our heroic feet!

Friday, March 23, 2007

must be insane

It's spring in New Mexico and I must be out of my mind.

I can run about ten miles without drama... not without effort, not without strain, but without feeling overwhelmed. Ten. Not 13, not 16, not 19, and certainly not 26.

I ran 19 once and it took me half a day. I have had a backache for a quarter year now. I have a cold, again, which I ascribe to sheer exhaustion.

And I just signed up for a marathon.

Monday, March 19, 2007

my first marathon

I signed up. I will run on May 5th.

Run, walk, whatever it takes.

The course starts near the border with Arizona, stretches east along the wind-swept plateau of northern New Mexico, declines from roughly 6,000 to 4,800 feet, and ends in Shiprock - a town so tiny we stay overnight in Farmington, another 30 miles to the east. The Shiprock Marathon.

It is a small race, without fuss and fanfare. It takes place entirely within the bounds of the Navajo Indian reservation.

It is in the middle of nowhere, it is at the heart of the desert, it is the center of the world.

Friday, March 16, 2007

my first marathon - considerations

I don't want a huge, crowded race with thousands of people. That makes for an exuberant atmosphere, but somehow the running diminishes in importance. We end up stumbling over each other.

I don't want sea level. This will ensure a lovely running experience, but I will never be able to improve on it.

I doesn't have to be Albuquerque, although one day I plan to run a marathon here - uphill next to the ridge of the mountains, across the southern edge of the Sandia reservation, along the valley of the Rio Grande, outlining the city in the thin desert air.

It can't be too far, since my boyfriend only flies when it's a matter of life and death. We have to be able to drive there. I ran this last year alone, but when I run my first marathon I need someone at the finish line, and they can't be grouchy.

It doesn't need to be fast. I will probably walk stretches of it. My back still feels funny sometimes, but I am working on core strength. I will be ready.

Monday, March 12, 2007

someone told me it counts as exercise

I planted trees on Saturday.

Planting trees along a stream in the desert, I thought that would be an infinite thrill. I mean, how many times in life do you really get to do this? It was what I expected. And more.

The actual superseded the imagined in some ways. I thought we would dig a little hole, place a seedling or two, pour some water, move on.

It was hard physical labor. For hours I shoveled loose soil, and shlepped full buckets to and fro over rough terrain. Or bent over the insignificant stream filling buckets with water, and shlepped them to and fro, over rocks and holes and mounds. The cottonwoods I hauled were twice my height.

Next day I was sore all over, like a single throbbing wound. My legs are covered in scratches and bruises.

I could have taken it easier, I suppose, but with my customary lack of moderation, I worked hard and partied hard aftwerwards, and I woke up with a headache on top of everything else.

I skipped my big run. Does tree planting count as cross training?

Sometimes I wish I'd possess an ounce of temperance. But then, that might render me lukewarm and uneventful.

Anyhow, I took pictures before. In six or seven years, if excess doesn't kill me, I go back and take pictures after.

Friday, March 09, 2007


A couple of weeks after the Arizona half-marathon, I got an email from Action Sports International, the official photographers of the event. They offered pictures from the finish line, using the bib number for identification, and of course they charged a small fortune. With shipping and such, one set of two 4x6 prints cost almost $25.

Outrageous, of course. I decided, vanity and all, that I did not need to stare at myself at this price. But I found myself opening the email more than once, always checking the same image.

It was a close-up, with my face in clear focus, and I found it unconceivable that I looked so together, so collected, so composed. I must have strained, after the last of those 13 miles, but my features bore no trace of effort or exertion. My face had a dreamy, reflective quality, as if absorbed inward, as if this encounter between myself and the finish line was more an imaginary attainment than an actual event.

I ended up buying that set anyhow. I wanted to remember that I could look like this, I wanted to believe that this was me, this dreamer carried forward by sheer inner thrust.

Monday, March 05, 2007

mile 19

Okay, I know, so I went a bit too fast too far.

I had not planned for 19. I had no plans for Sunday’s big run. I was too scared to plan. I did not know whether I’d be able to do 10, or 13, or 16 miles, or more. I doubted I had enough core strength. I dreaded the big run for the length of the week, and that morning I definitely, definitely did not want to get out of the house. Especially at 26 degrees, with the windshield “feels like 15.” Especially after having one cocktail too many the night before. I wanted to go back to bed.

But after getting out of the house and doing five loops around the Academy track – my perfect 16 miles from the week before – I was so numb that another loop looked like a doable business. Just another loop. Only one more loop, I said. 3.2 miles. By now I can do 3.2 miles on any day. This was just another day. So I did – one more loop.

Hello, mile 19. Four hours less a minute.

I stretched conscientiously afterwards. I sat down in the bathtub filled with cold water. No ice, which in a way is worse than icing, because the ice numbs you faster. But the muscles, I hoped, appreciated the intent nonetheless.

My mind was blank for the rest of the day. Running wipes my mind clean. You’d think after all that time spent on my own, unwired for sound, I could come up with one novel intelligible thought. I did not. I lost myself in the hours of running.

Actually I walked a lot. Perhaps four miles altogether. Don’t know. It doesn’t matter, since I probably owe it to the walking that I am still in one piece.

It’s surprising, but I feel better after 19 miles than I felt a week ago after 16. I guess I’ll stay here for a little while, build a home base, explore the neighborhood.

I am three quarters there. Only seven more miles to go.

Friday, March 02, 2007

wake-up call

My boyfriend frowns on my running ("it's not good for you"), but he gets up every morning before I do, no matter how early, so a coffee cup is ready for me by the time I stumble to the kitchen table before the morning run.

The other day he woke me up by pulling at my feet. "Trotting time," he announced, "she's gonna step on you, oh, sooooo much."

Was this supposed to be a persuasive argument for the feet to get out of bed?