from mile to marathon

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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

the training

The first thing I did was to get sick. The way it happens sometime after a transoceanic flight, with some jet-lag thrown in. Only the fever dissipated after a day or two. The running nose, the congestion, and all that stuff lasted for a while.

The second thing I did - not that I was crazy, but I had committed in advance - was to volunteer at the balloon fiesta. I do that every year. It means waking up at 3 AM a few days in a row and standing around in the cold a few hours each day.

Then, of course, I went to work. In between, here and there, I ran.

It was brutal, of course, but that someone inside who had decided to do a 50-miler in Nashville, come what may, was a stubborn creature that pushed me and drove me and didn't relent. Blindly, somewhat haphazardly, I put in as much mileage as I could, when I could, and a few times when I couldn't. That weekend I did a back-to-back, a jittery half on Saturday and a wobbly half on Sunday, running early in the afternoon, when the weather warmed up a bit, a combined 26 miles of pretty gruesome effort.

Next week I started feeling better, so the short runs during the week were not that bad. That second weekend I did ten miles on Saturday and Duke City Marathon on Sunday.

The third week I tapered, more or less - I was confused here as to how to balance this out, the mileage requirements and the recovery needs, but I stumbled ahead, one way or the other.

The fourth week, after a couple of morning runs, we took a plane to Nashville.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

someone inside

The week after Berlin I didn't run at all; we were still on the road. We flew back in on Sunday night. Monday morning I got up and went to work. Tuesday morning I got up and put on my running shoes.

I had not made up my mind I wanted to run a 50-miler. I mean, it sounded cool enough, but I didn't feel like taking on all the hardship.

It occurred to me, during the first half a mile of that morning, that the body was already on its way to Nashville. Someone inside had decided we would go. I had, literally, four weeks to get ready.

Friday, March 29, 2013

to add some intensity

...I thought I would run a 50-miler. After Berlin and before I quit running, since it was so hard and time-consuming to keep doing everything. Squeeze it in, so to speak. I would look at Berlin as a starting point, a base line, train very hard for a month or so, put in 50 miles, undertrained or not, and only then stop running.

It was more an idle thought than a plan. A 50-miler would take hours and hours of training which I didn't have. Besides, I could barely finish 26 miles - what made me think I could possibly double that?

I looked a bit at 50-milers though, came upon a few that looked doable, no hard terrain, no ups-and-downs. I even found one in the right time frame, about a month after Berlin. November 3rd, Nashville. Hmmm... we could have barbecue after the race.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

making the most out of it

The only reason I started running again last year was Berlin. Otherwise I was reluctant (more so than I normally am anyhow), since I had also started shooting competitively in 2011. Shooting and running is not a bad combination, provided you get plenty of rest in between. Yet about the only thing that enabled this kind of schedule was cutting down on sleep. I could not reasonably cut down on full-time work, cause that pays for both, yeah.

Since I was getting ready for Berlin anyhow, I thought a couple of other marathons wouldn't hurt. I picked races in Utah and California since each time I could do a pistol match the day before - shoot in Salt Lake City before running in Provo, and in Redwood City before running San Francisco.

I though that would be cool. My own little private set-up for a biathlon, although of course it isn't the real thing. First, because it's on two different days, then because the order is reversed - it's much more interesting to run first and then shoot. There are actually competitions like that - a race shorter than a marathon and a rifle match. Since I shoot pistol, that wouldn't work for me. But I thought, especially before Provo, that would be one neat fervent week-end, a work-out for mind and body, with a good Italian dinner in between.

So I shot my match and I ran my marathon, and the weekend was full. At the end of it I said, So? It hadn't been that intense. It had been exactly what it was, a match and a marathon, a sequence of events, but not a whole greater than the sum of its parts - not synergy or quickening.

Marathons, I thought, are not enough.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


A few months after Berlin I got mail from Germany - a booklet with photos, stories, statistics, and results, and also two or three different-format diplomas with my own splits and times, which was puzzling, since one should have sufficed.

It was a good thing they sent that though, since my placement was spelled out. Apparently I was among the first 7,000 women, and somewhere in the first hundred after the first 31,000 participants, which makes much more sense than what I had figured out myself.

My chip time was 5:03:13. This is not among my worst marathons, but for some reason I wanted to finish this sub-five, and it rankled that I hadn't succeeded. Not that it makes any difference whatsoever. I usually don't care too much what my time is. I just run. I am slow, I know it, and it's not that big a deal. Only once, only once I strived for a personal best - that was Spearfish, SD. I did it, and that was fine.

In Berlin, the fastest course in the world, I didn't aim for a personal best. Five hours was good enough for me. That might be slow for anyone else, but it's fast for me, and what I wanted.

After it was over and done I couldn't understand how in Berlin, with all the effort and anticipation I put in, I was only seconds faster than in Provo, where I limped half the course.

Sometimes it's like that, I know.

Not that is really matters. It's just numbers.