from mile to marathon

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

Sunday, April 29, 2007

giant run upcoming

I finally got things on track again. I switched my big runs back to Saturdays, to be in tune with the race. Not that the body really cares whether it's any day of the week or another, just that I believe it gets inured to the rhythm: each seventh day, a big run. I did 13 miles. While I question how come I did not manage as much the week before, I also cannot grasp how I will double the output a week from now.

It is too late now to second-guess myself. We are in countdown mode. My boyfriend emailed me the other day at work: "giant run upcoming." Right.

I looked upon my 13 miles yesterday as a rehearsal run. I considered it a test of sorts. And I ran. I did not think so much about my own running, as of the runners out there whom I know without knowing, who are running this week-end. And I followed them in my mind, step after step, mile after mile: traveler022 braced against the cut-off time at Big Sur; Steve racewalking Eugene; the whole happy gang up north - Michelle, Eric, Rob doing their usual manic shenanigans, ultras and marathons back to back or not, with bleeding feet or not.

My 13 miles were over before I finished thinking.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

just a thought

My boyfriend claims I run because I cannot fly.

Monday, April 23, 2007

in a funk

I meant to run 13 miles this Sunday, but I only managed ten. I guess I could have gone one more time around the Academy course, if it were a matter of life and death. But it was just the usual weekend trek, and my legs hurt even before I started. Sluggish, listless, and demotivated, I dragged myself through the hazy morning.

I have not figured out yet how I will fuel during the race. I feel pathetically unprepared. And I have lost the excitement, the frisson from a few days ago. When I think of the marathon, it's like "who signed me up for this?"

Paradoxically, my mileage this last week exceeded 40, while I never before went above 30. Just a quirk, since I ran the big run of the week before on Monday. A day here or there is a technicality that should not influence how I feel, but maybe I have not yet fully recovered. I'll try to squeeze in a massage in the days to come.

One way or another, I have to get my mojo back. Less than two weeks to go.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

low points and high points

You make plans and then life interferes. I meant to commit myself to the race for the remaining weeks, to work on core strength, to schedule my time around big runs. Instead the focus was broken by a flight to the East Coast and back and the emergency situation in between.

I could not imagine missing another long run, so I scouted out good places. More than once. Incessant rain had liquefied the ground, the roads stretched into unfamiliar woods, the weather was foreboding. One alternative that seemed safe was a 0.8 mile loop on solid pavement. But 0.8 miles? I would have to go around dozens of times for the run to make a difference.

I did not have a chance until the third day, Monday, one of the rainiest days of the rainiest April in the recorded history of the region. The rain thinned from the storm of the day before to a persistent drizzle, but the wind stayed gusty and the temperature in the low forties. The only thing that seemed appealing about this run was the altitude. At sea level, the oxygen would make breathing easy, it would increase my speed, it would jolt me forward.

My pace improved from roughly 12.5 at home to just under 11. Subjectively though I did not feel any easiness, any relief. It was the most brutal run I ever did, 28 times around the miserly loop, 22.4 miles. Perhaps it was the stress. Perhaps it was the exhaustion – I had an average of five hours night's sleep over the last 72. Perhaps it was the weather. For hours I pushed myself on and on, chilly to the bone, soaked in icy sweat, the running shoes heavy with water.

Two more loops would have brought the mileage to a perfect 24, and I meant to do them, even if I had to crawl. I did not because of time constraints. Instead I raced through a cold bath, a hot shower, and dressing up, and 40 minutes later I was ready for business again. I shivered for the rest of the day.

This is going to be the most I could do before the marathon. It has to be enough.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

verging on being there

I started living from week-end to week-end. I started to measure time by big runs and the mileage they can hold. I conceive of this spring as space beyond mile 20.

I will go on other journeys. Life will hold more adventures. There are still surprises ahead and acts of creation. But nothing, I already know, will be again like this. Like this spring, with the expanse of miles conquered and the elation of will.

This closing in on marathon day.

Even on the treadmill, now, I run with a destination.

Monday, April 09, 2007

smile at mile 20

It’s winter in New Mexico… just kidding. It snowed during my big run on Saturday. For real. It snowed. For the duration of six miles, mile 14 through 20.

Mile 20. A bit too much, too soon again, but I figured I cannot go into a marathon four weeks from now with a base of 19 miles completed four weeks ago. My weekly mileage over the last months has been fitful and erratic, not at all the steady accretion I wanted. I did 13 miles the week-end before, and I was sore for days to come, and my morning runs were hard. Once again, I was scared of the big run.

All week long, when I thought about it, I told myself I can do it. I had done four loops last Sunday, I could do two more now. Two more loops. “I can do it.” I did six loops around the Academy track, roughly 19 miles, and an extra leg and back to complete 20 miles.

4 h 13 min. It wasn’t fun. I was still congested, and had to blow my nose every two miles or so. I have a hard time breathing when I run as it is, and obstructed airways didn’t help. I took a GU at mile 13. Oh, I hate energy gels. They give me a tummy ache. And I cannot sense any improvement afterwards anyhow. Why can’t we have a quesadilla instead?

The fog over the mountains never lifted, it was bitterly cold, all the runners disappeared from the track, it felt as if I was the last person on the planet still running. But the snowfall stopped, as if on cue, when I reached mile 20. I could not envision a single step beyond it, but loyal to the web address of my blog, I smiled.

Two more loops will bring me close to 26. Two more loops. Only six more miles. I can do it.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

the drawing

Here is the day. We drew lots for the Aveda lotion. I put all the names on pretty colored paper, and persuaded my boyfriend to act as the hand of fate. Which he did, with patience and some skepticism, as is his way. I did all the talking, he, he.

And the winner is the lovely Bre of Win or lose, we go shopping!. How aptly put. It's win, not lose. Aveda foot relief and a small surprise will be on their way to Bre next week.

This was fun. We have to do it again sometime. I will not find a more appropriate prize. Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

senseless numbers

When, over a year ago, almost overnight, for reasons I could not fathom, I started to obsess about running a marathon, I looked for significance in the number 26. I know it's silly and backward. But I thought that if could find something, a myth I could relate to, a link to something meaningful, then I'd be more comfortable with the idea, I could appropriate the notion, I could make the marathon mine.

I found out that the distance between Marathon and Athens, run by that faceless warrior of two milleniums ago, was actually close to 25 miles, and the extra length came about in the context of a race ending precisely in front of the seats of the British royal family. Oh well.

Since I grew up in Europe, for most of my life I thought about marathons, if I thought at all, in terms of 42 kilometers. Needless to say, I did not fare better with 42 than with 26.

A few weeks ago - I had already discovered Shiprock - I realized that if I run my first marathon before summer I will run it while I am still 42.

I know it's silly. But it made me feel good.

Okay, last chance between now and Saturday to sign up for the drawing - see the entry titled "Aveda foot relief."

Monday, April 02, 2007

one step at a time

I started running with strictly one goal in mind: to run a marathon. It did not matter which, since any marathon was for me The Marathon. I did not know what I would do afterwards: whether I would put the gear away and stop running, whether I would continue training and racing, or whether I would carry on in maintenance mode, once or twice a week, two or three miles, to keep the muscles toned.

Once, when reading how Lora planned to graduate to ultras, I wondered whether at any point in time I would get contaminated and go the farther distance. And sometime this last Ianuary, when I still thought that I would run my first marathon in autumn, I said to my boyfriend, jokingly, reassuringly, that he does not need to worry, I won't do any ultras or triathlons this year. He looked up at me and I saw his eyes widen in horror at the prospect of a 2008 high-jacked by athletics.

I still don't know what I will do, except for the fact that I won't stop right after Shiprock. One marathon, I think, will not be enough to know what a marathon is.

I will run at least two or three.