from mile to marathon

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

Friday, June 29, 2007

to win or not to win

A week ago The Wall Street Journal ran an article about How to Win a Marathon. It wasn't about running. It went on at length about amateur athletes using the internet to scope out competition at various races, by studying past attendance and results. When they find one where the field is small, with next to none participants in their age group, they can sign up and, if not win, at least place.

Train less. Instead peruse for a few hours Take a triathlon in the Bahamas, attended by six other people. Win. Do not divulge the details to your admiring fans.

Hmmm. I spent some time trying to fathom if in their innermost heart they really believe they won this race or another.

Could not figure this one out, so instead I signed up for a little July 4th 8K. An odd number, I guess they made it into a race since it approximates five miles. I do not know how many people are going to be there, and I don’t care. It’s not in the Bahamas, just further up north on my street and around the corner. I will not place, but I will run. Good enough for me, at least as far as next week goes.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


The other night I dreamt I was doing a biathlon (it was called “doathlon” in dream lingo). For the interval of a blink I thought that if I take my bike out as well, I could make it a tri. But then it occurred to me the second event in my doathlon wasn’t swimming, but shooting. Pistol target shooting, the sport I practiced years ago. It is almost two decades now since I lay my hand on a pistol.

In the dream, it wasn’t that far behind. It was shooting, my passion and redemption for so many years. Now I could combine it with running.

The dream never reached the actual competition. For all its duration and action, as vague as it was, I was concerned with one single consideration: how would I steady myself after the hype of running to reach in a minimal amount of time the composure required for shooting – that calm, still focus of utmost concentration that suspends breathing, thought, and any kind of interference, while I pull the trigger.

I am totally out of it after a running race. I breath like a locomotive, I am restless, my mind is blank. If I wait until I am self-possessed again, my transition time in the doathlon throws me out of the competitive range. If I start shooting too soon, the shots will not go off smoothly.

I fought with this conundrum for the duration of half a night, envisioning a tremendous effort of collecting myself in seconds after the run – no panting, no pacing, no relief, just the unmoving gun as an extension of my arm and intent. That’s where the dream ended.

There is actually a biathlon event, a combination of cross-country skiing and shooting, although it’s rifle shooting, prone position, offering more stability that pistol.

I wonder why I dreamt this.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

back to sanity

This did not qualify as work, but it did not feel like a vacation either. It was an exploration.

We had dinner with friends.

We played with their kids.

We drove everywhere.

New Jersey lived up to its name of Garden State. Between one six-lane highway and the next we found a stripe of green.

New York was cool, crowded, vibrant, frenetic, glamorous, and overrated.

I photographed the Puerto Rican Day Parade,

the rain in Bryant Park,

the building where I used to work,

and Manhattan hanging on to its cell phone.

The best part about New York is the food.

In spite or because of exuberant dinners and such luscious desserts as banana fried cheese cake with caramel sauce, I dragged myself twice to the pool, a brief and steamy affair that can hardly qualify as cross-training. But I put in a 16-miler before we left, and now that we are back to normalcy it's time for running again.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

a look at the past

Flying out to the East Coast again. This time it's for closure, and presumably it will be less stressful than in April. My boyfriend made sure to get reservations at a hotel with a pool. For cross-training, he said.

I am not taking my running gear, since we already have too much luggage. I will not miss the small runs, and I won't have time for a big run. We are staying an extra couple of days, to meet with our friends and take a look at our former life, since we will have no reason to go there again.

Not unless I find a New York agent for my book(s) and have to go there on business - for book signings and publicity, he, he.

A girl can dream.

Monday, June 04, 2007

I'd rather be sleeping

People ask me: "So are you still running, now that you did your marathon?" It's amazing how many found almost exactly the same wording.

Yes, I am. It feels strange to have settled into this mood, where running is mine for a while. I cannot see beyond the end of the year, but until then it's a season of running.

Running feels different now. It is less encumbered, less anxious, less confined to a specific goal. I still do not enjoy it. What I hate most is getting up early, when the night is still dark and sleep is lovely.

Even on week-ends, the dread of waking is unvoidable. Otherwise long runs would have me running until noon. It gets too hot too fast, and I'd faint.

Ideally I would run minimally during the week, simple reminders to the body, and otherwise keep in shape by running races on week-ends. Perhaps this is the single most important way in which running has changed. Before I dreaded races.