from mile to marathon

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

Friday, February 29, 2008

a few more details

Very pleased to have purchased some Margarita Cliff Bloks. I discovered them at the expo before the Tucson marathon. Never though I would touch those gelatinous things, but they worked out better than anything else tried before. Okay, so they need a solid shot of tequila to taste anything like margarita, but they are salty, and that's not only practical, but also a welcome alternative to all the nauseating sweet stuff.

We are staying at this cool landmark hotel - El Camino Real - where the ceiling over the lobby bar is a Tiffany glass dome. The expo, the start, and the finish are all across the street.

They have burritos at the finish line. Of course, by the time I get there, none might be left.

For the first time I am worried about the six hour cut-off. In only trained for five weeks. I will give myself permission to walk. This means I will run later during the day, when the sun and heat will slow me down even further. El Paso is the sunniest city in the US. The projected high for race day is 78F. I am not looking forward to that.

Once I run El Paso, I will probably run another marathon. One more within the next two months would bring my marathon maniac level up to silver. Nothing stellar, but it just sounds better than being at the bronze bottom of the ladder.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

el paso in sight

Last week-end my nose ran for 20 miles, and I was right behind it. I signed up for March 2nd in El Paso. The race, in its second year only, is a bistate marathon. It starts and ends downtown, in Texas, but the northern part of the course loops through New Mexico. El Paso is a border town wedged between New Mexico at the north, and the Mexican city of Juarez across the river to the south.

The race also starts in late winter - about 40 degrees as the start line, and ends in early summer, when temperature could reach the seventies.

I put in a taper of 13 miles today. Yesterday we had champagne - not only the two-year anniversay of my very first mile, but also twelve years since I lived with my boyfriend.

Next week it's on to El Paso, for whatever it may bring.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

not different than before

This reversal of mood - I am running again, I will run El Paso, how cool - held on until I did the 16-miler.

I had forgotten about chafing and Glide. I had forgotten how much an ice bath can hurt. I had forgotten how a big run, even one not so big, can knock me out for the rest of the day. Here I was, a helpless puppet, and I had no one but myself to thank. All this, so next time I could run even further and be even more miserable.

All this, so I could run El Paso, while I did not even know I could indeed. The absurdity of what I was doing struck me again. Putting in two big runs did not mean I would finish El Paso. It just enabled me to get to the start line.

But then, it's always like that. Once at the start line, you are certain you will start. Afterward anything can happen. The same as in the other races.

Oh, well, I was going to be there. That is if I could put in a 20-miler next.

Friday, February 15, 2008

who moved my treadmill?

To make things worse, the first morning I went to the exercise room after considering El Paso after all, I found the door locked and a sign announcing the place was being remodeled during "the next couple of months."

I always did the weekday runs during the winter on the treadmill, boring perhaps, but expedient, safe, and free. That morning I turned around, and went home to sulk. No way I would run after work. No way I would invest time and money for gym before work. I would run, but not if it interfered with the rest of my life. Running outside in the dark was too scary.

I seemed the decision was made for me. I had the perfect excuse to skip El Paso. But it is one thing to let go on your own, and another to have some remodeling thwart your plans.

In the end I opted for running outside. The apartment complex is large enough for a one mile perimeter. Darkness and all, a 5K was still double by running around three times within the fence. The only unsolved problem was the duel between the freezing temperatures and my persistent cold. My first 5K this novel way was on crunching ice, but most mornings were easier.

It must not have been obvious to the early risers who saw me during those pre-dawn hours traipsing in the darkness, swaddled in layers like a mummy, but I was running toward to El Paso.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

"spirit of the marathon"

It was not my initiative. A friend invited us to see the movie on January 24. What a shame I had passed the sickness on to my boyfriend, so he could not go, in spite of his faithful presence at so many finish lines. I was not healthy yet, but thought I could handle a night out.

The movie was cool, as expected. Deena Kastor, switching from her shy smile to a grim determination visible on her face all through the race, got to me. I do not like races as big as the one featured (the La Salle marathon in Chicago), but the tens of thousands of participants made for splendid filming at the start line. Truly amazing was the director comprising so much content in a two hour duration. My companions, all non-runners, said they got tired simply by watching.

Next morning I knew I wanted another marathon.

With less than a month and a half to go, it was almost to late for El Paso. I sat down with a sheet of paper and allocated mileage to the available week-ends. I had to do ten miles the coming Sunday, or El Paso would be lost.

Ten miles is not much, but the most I had run since the December 2nd marathon was a six-miler before I got sick. I had not run for ten days, and I was still coughing my lungs out.

The run itself was not that hard. My muscles hurt, predictibly, nothing unmanageable. The body cooperated, at least for the length of ten miles. Once home, already showered and comfortable, I had a bad spell of dizziness and nausea. My sight went black, the ground swayed. I thought I would faint, but I did not panic. It was sheer exhaustion, the organism protesting against exertion, too much of it, too soon. I laid down, waiting for weakness to pass, and I was all right within the hour.

The door to El Paso was open.

Monday, February 04, 2008


I did not mean to end my last entry by saying I am marathon runner. It just came out this way. Sometimes the opposite comes out, and it's meaningful too.

Two weeks ago I got sick and any shred of motivation I still had at the time burnt up in fever. The illness itself (a bronchial inflammation of some kind)was not that bad - I spent three or four days in bed, and read a half dozen books. But I got completely alienated from running, a zombie kind of endeavor, senseless, and going nowhere.

Fever and all, I had to keep an appointment, so my boyfriend gave me a ride. Driving west on Alameda street I thought back at the New Mexico Plus Marathon in September. This was mile 17 or 18 or thereabouts, and at this point I was dragging myself through the heat, half stumbling, half walking, as I would for the next five or six miles, possessed by the inexplicable.

My boyfriend glanced at me. "Does it bring back memories?"

"Yeah, I was just thinking about that," I said. "Was I crazy?"

I doubted I would ever put on running shoes again.