from mile to marathon

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

Saturday, August 29, 2009

what i did this summer

17 miles last Sunday, 13 tomorrow, and then comes the race.

I started running again at the end of May, with 0.7 cumbersome miles. Now it's the end of August and in a week I will run a marathon. I do not know where the summer went, but it was marked by this steady expansion of mileage and willpower.

At the beginning I still had moments when I wondered who this girl was, moving ahead, pounding the ground, running. Now I do not ask anymore. Somehow during this time I made running my own. It's not that I really enjoy it - it's still best when it's over. It's not that I ever come close to looking forward to it, except for that occasional small shift in perception just before taking off that signals I am ready. But running has become part of who I am, something that defines me.

And probably always will, no matter what I do after this race. In the meantime, I am running this marathon for my new love. Not sure what this means aside from the fact that, running or crawling, broken or whole, dead or alive, I will finish it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

the biggest big run

I used to run the longest pre-race run two weeks before the marathon. This time I decided on three weeks, not sure why, perhaps to make it easier for myself toward the end. To make up for the indulgence last Sunday I ran 23 instead of the 20 miles I initially had in mind.

The heat got too be too much like always, the trail mix that had worked fine the week before was a nuisance now, and I did not have enough water with me, so I got totally dehydrated. But it was smooth and steady again, and reasonably fast.

I would have called it uneventful, except I had cramps during the last three miles or so. That never happened to me before, and all I knew to do was to take a walking break until it subsided. Then I learned to stop running as soon as I felt them coming on, and one way or another I finished the planned 23. I was so out of it that I did not remember until later, with some help for a friend, that a common cause for cramps is loss of salt. I had big white rings on my running top when I got home.

Still - it was one of the best long runs I ever had.

Monday, August 17, 2009

the perfect run

I ran another little 5K race on a Sunday, interrupting the string of long runs. A week later I decided on 16 miles, thinking it was necessary to do more than a half marathon but wiser not to attempt too much after the gap.

It turned out to be the perfect run, or at least as close to that as I ever get. Smooth, steady and fast, it took a half hour less than my average time on that distance. I ended up doing 16.5, out of sheer momentum. I "fueled" and did not get sick from it, as it usually happens. It got hot, but the heat didn't affect me. Much more important, I ran in the present, never ahead of myself, never wanting it to be over. I stayed with it, step by step, each and every moment.

It was over in no time.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

two in a row

At the 5K I ran the other week-end my lover played with my camera and enjoyed himself, so I decided to give him another go. Not wanting to interrupt the string of big runs again, I picked a little race on Saturday night - the inaugural Nob Hill run on former Route 66. It did not seem wise to do a race (even if only a 5K) less than twelve hours before a long run, but if it made the long run more difficult that would be good training.

It looked like a "let's have fun in Nob Hill" kind of race. The street was closed off, the music was playing, the mood was high. I wore the dark pink technical shirt I had won in a drawing at the last race. Even though I hate pink with a vengeance, I thought it would be good to try something new. I have not run before at night, or seen so many restaurants in a race before. It smelled of steak up and down the course. I did not have a good race. I walked a few times. I never walked in a 5K before. Felt lousy about it too.

In the end, I shook the feeling off. The race did not matter. What counted was the big run next day. We had ice cream and peaches that night. Next morning I ran eighteen miles, heat and tense muscles and all, and was content.