stuff i’ve said before
my brother got me starting running.
my mother made sure i got to soccer practice and soccer games.
my dad instilled in me an insatiable love of nature and the outdoors. dad, thanks for introducing me to the outdoors at a young age. i can’t wait to put piper in my backpack and hit the trail.
one of my favorite movies is york high school cross country documentary called ‘long green line.’ the movie follows legendary coach joe newton through a season of coaching his boys high school xc team.
coach newton’s coaching philosophy focuses on the entire life of the young men, not just their running lives. he believes in building better men, not just better runners. and every practice he has a team meeting in which he shares a ‘thought of the day.’ his thoughts are sometimes deep, such as ‘The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.’ (vince lombardi) or as simple as, ‘however fast you’re running — run faster!’
as i jump into this training cycle in preparation for my fall marathon, i often have a thought of the day. be forewarned. i may be sharing some deep, or maybe even comically shallow, thoughts with you in the near future.
two sundays ago, i took off for a 15 mile run. run took me through approximately 48 different moods and perspectives on life.
i left my house motivated by my goals and my plan to accomplish my goals. i was ready to run 15 miles and hold a respectable pace throughout the run. however, after two miles into my run i was way off pace. i gave myself another two miles to warm up before i checked my pace again. if i’m not on target at the end of 4 miles, i’m turning around and going home. after 4 i was still not on target. i stopped at the mile marker and threw my water bottle on the ground and started yelling at myself, ‘i hate my body, i suck, i hate being slow, i’m never going to be fast again.’
i wouldn’t let anyone talk to my daughter or friend the way I talk to myself. often we treat ourselves worse than we would ever treat another. i would fight anyone that insulted my daughter the way i insult myself, but i don’t stick up for myself in the same manner.
this attitude can make or break a race. it can also make or break our lives. when i stopped at mile 4, i hit a decision point. i could give up and slowly jog home, having given up on my training run. or i could get fired up and push myself to hit my pace the rest of the way.
on that day, i chose the latter. i don’t always, but on that day i did. i got back on my horse and said i was going to finish riding. if i’m going to achieve my set goals, i need to take advantage of every training opportunity i have. even if it means salvaging a workout that wasn’t going as planned.
i finished my run satisfied. i didn’t hit my target pace for the entire run, but i fought and beat the demon of self-doubt. the mental struggle is often way more difficult than the physical struggle. the more i can train my brain to have the courage to face down and overcome the mental struggle, the faster runner i will be. more importantly, the better person i will be.
i woke up sunday morning exhausted and unmotivated. yet, i shook off the tiredness and met my running club at 7am for a run. on tap: 14 miles of hills. actually, just one hill.
we took off from cushman and headed toward shutesbury road. just over 2 miles into the run, we started the 4.27 mile climb up the infamous s curves to pelham hill road. this climb is absolutely relentless and i struggled to carry my 10 extra pounds of baby weight against gravity. halfway up the hill, tim asked, “what road on we on?” to which i responded, ‘the road to hell.’
i lagged behind the group during the ascent, but they were kind enough to pause for a minute to let me catch up at before the turn onto the pelham hill rd. the route ascended a few more hills before we started the descent back into amherst. at mile 7 i started to do the math: we were half way through the mileage, but we were still climbing. either we descend just as quickly as we ascended. OR. maybe this route is like one of those sadisitic MC Escher prints where the water is always flowing uphill. that’s it. i’m stuck running in an Escher drawing like a hamster stuck on a wheel.
thankfully, the summit came at the midpoint of the run and we began our descent over some beautiful dirt roads on our way back to cushman market where we sipped strong coffee and discussed the ethical dilemmas in the sunday ny times.
the pace for this workout was slow, for certain, but the long steady climb was a positive experience. in addition to adding miles to my overall training week, it gave me another bonus hill workout that will better prepare me for the mt washington road race next month.
about a week ago, my big bro and i decided to run late summer marathon in order to qualify for next year’s boston. usually i can re-qualify at boston, but since i’ve spent the last year barefoot and pregnant, i haven’t yet ran a qualifying time for next year. thus the need for a fall marathon. knowing that boston 2014 will surely be overcrowded, we need to aim to complete the marathon at least 10 minutes faster than our qualifying time to give us an earlier registration period.
normally, a 3:20 marathon would not require too much work for me. however, just three months ago, i was averaging 12 min miles and 20 miles a week. i need to run a 7:38 mile for 26.2 miles. my road to a BQ (boston qualifiying) time is a long one, but i’m up for the challenge.
to add to the challenge, my husband often travels for his job. this week he is gone for three days and next week he will travel for another three days, leaving me to care for piper. i’m certainly not complaining since i love spend time with my daughter, but chuck’s travel schedule creates a slightly more complicated training schedule for me. on days that i know he travels i must either run on the treadmill with piper watching or run with her in a stroller.
yesterday i had a speed workout scheduled, so i opted for a treadmill run since it is more conducive to pace work than pushing a stroller. thankfully, piper was very content to watch her mom bounce up and down on the treadmill and i was able to squeeze in my workout.
1 mi WU/1 mi CD
8 x 400m with ~0.1m of recovery between each rep
2 x 800m with ~0.1m of recovery
and 2 x 400m at 15% grade (i’m running the mt washington road race so i try to add a little hills to every workout, in addition to my weekly mt sugarloaf repeats)
i should have ran these at or near 6:40/mi pace, i’m still building speed and didn’t want to push too hard. instead, i ran them all at 7:30/mi.
it’s a long road back to my former fitness level, but i’m committed to getting back to that spot.
i usually don’t run many 5k races, but i have special ties to the JEHH Kringle Candle Chase therefore, i have chosen to run this race since it began in 2011.
although the race is only 3 years old, it has grown to attract over 600 runners to the sleepy little town of bernardston. due to its growth in popularity, the race director added a few new features this year, including chip timing certifying the course with the USATF.
i’m far from racing shape right now but still wanting to participate, i decided to run with my daughter in the jogger stroller. i registered under my daughter’s name, hoping se might win her age group or at least get a tshirt. at registration they gave me a kid’s small cotton tee which was way too big for a 3 month old. thus, my daughter joined the ranks of many veteran runners and started her own personal collection of cotton white tshirts that are too big for her.
today marked the fourth time running with her in the stroller, so i was not sure what to expect. on those previous runs, i would average about 9:00 – 9:20 per mile and my pace would slow considerably if i encountered a hill. therefore, i told myself that i would be happy with a sub 27:00 5k.
i tried to run a mile for a warm up, but the start of the race was delayed and my warm up was about 20 minutes premature. the delay gave me a chance to chat with several running buddies that i haven’t seen in awhile. i lined up toward the back of the pack so that i didn’t hit anyone with the stroller as we took off.
the gun went off and the road was crowded with people. i did my best to steer clear of runners however i clipped the shoes of one runner before i decided to take to the sidewalk to avoid running over anyone else.
the first mile featured a steady, long climb which was a challenge with the stroller. thankfully, it came early in the race and i pushed a little harder. i hit the first mile at 8:27 . since the first mile was mostly uphill and slower, i figured that i might be able to run faster than i expected. the runners thinned out at this point and i had to swerve around people as they slowed and i sped up. i would call out ‘on your left’ as i passed but often runners would have earbuds in their ears and not hear my approach. it was annoying and dangerous. after experiencing this first hand, i resolved that race directors should really consider banning earbuds and strollers from races.
the second mile lost the elevation that i gained in mile 1 so it was faster around 8:00. the last mile was totally flat and i think i covered it in 7:47 or so. the last 0.1 was on a short stretch of gravel road which bounced the stroller around little. i cringed at the thought of piper’s brain rattling around in her skull. thankfully, it was only 0.1 miles and i don’t think we put her chances of getting into an ivy in jeopardy (at least not on this day).
we crossed the finish line and grabbed a bottle of water. piper slept the entire way. watch time: 25:13. overall, a very successful first race.
every thursday night, the sugarloaf mountain athletic club (SMAC), hosts a track workout at eaglebrook. SMAC member (and co-president for 2013), barry auskern, graciously devotes his personal time to creating, organizing, and coaching these workouts.
these workouts run from april through october. i am committed to getting back into racing shape this summer, so i stopped by for my first track workout of the season. not only do these workouts help me build back the speed that i have lost over the last year, i also get to see many of my friends and fellow runners. last night, i met peter gregarian, a local runner and fellow sunderland resident. since i moved to town, people have asked me if i have met peter. he started the mt toby trail run over 20 years ago (that i have now taken over as race director). he is a well-known trail runner and all-around great citizen. i was happy to finally have the opportunity to meeting peter and run a mile cool down together as we chatted.
we had only just met, but we quickly talked about running, family, volunteerism in our community, and the importance of sharing our challenges and struggles with friends such as when he battled prostate cancer a few years ago.
just four laps around the track, but in that short time we connected in a way that runners often can but the general community may not have the privilege of experiencing.
i really like pro runner lauren fleshman. she is a fantastic runner, but she is also a wise and funny contributor to the overall sport of running. through her blog, twitter feeds, interviews, and most recently, articles in runner’s world, lauren has made her wit and insight available to the general public.
i read her latest article today at runnersworld.com and i encourage you to as well. lauren is writing about doping and the issue of ‘fair sport’ but i think her words can apply more broadly than just fair play. in her article she proposed three rules to keep sports clean which i think can be applied to life in general. i have always felt that sports, especially running, hold valuable lessons for participants to use throughout their lives. sports teaches us teamwork, discipline, perseverance, and integrity.
fleshman’s article proposes three simple ‘tests’ that we can use in our everyday actions to see if our actions are ethical, wholesome, and worthwhile.
Test 1: The Transparency Test – if you knew your action would be broadcasted on CNN, would you still do it?
Test 2: The “Stupid Rule” - would adults think your action is stupid? not, if your friends would think it’s stupid or your think it’s stupid, but would a reasonable adult think it’s stupid?
Test 3: Take a Peek at the Future – what would this action do to your ‘legacy’?
I love the simplicity of these tests. I also love how a professional runner can take a step back from her major focus on competition and performance to see the big picture of life.
after i run a race, it is customary for me to write a race report. this year, my boston marathon race report takes on a new meaning. 2013 will always be known as the ‘year of the bombings.’
boston marathon race report.
i really shouldn’t have even ran this race. i only had 9 weeks to go from a 3 mile ‘long’ run to 26.2 miles so I feel like I kind of ‘cheated’ my way in. i like to approach marathons with seriousness and the intention of PRing but i certainly didn’t approach this year’s Boston with that mindset. i questioned the purpose of even running, knowing that i would run somewhere between 50 min and 80 min slower than my PR and not even coming close to qualifying for next year. and it would be a hassle to drive into Boston, ask Chuck to care for our daughter while in the city, and then meet up with them after the race.
but, i love Boston. i love the history, the Wellesley scream tunnel, the bikers cheering at TJ’s parking lot, Heartbreak Hill, the smell of beer on the BC students, the signs that say silly things like ‘if marathons were easy they’d be called your mom’. so i decided to run simply because i like it.
boston is my hometown race. i can visualize nearly every mile of the course and i can recall the sights and smells of each town. i love this race. marathon monday is my christmas day. it makes me happy, it makes me feel part of the bigger running community. i feel closely connected to joanie benoit when i run down boylston and i share k.v. switzer’s battle when i cover the course.
therefore, when i heard the blasts just two blocks away from the finish line i felt personally attacked. i had just met up with my husband and daughter and we looked at each other in disbelief that the blast could be the result of a bomb. we saw cops and EMTs running toward the sound of the blasts and we immediately moved away from the blasts. we were carrying a small child and our first instinct was to protect her from the crowd.
i’ve gone back and forth on what this year’s marathon means. i often think that people who try to wiggle their way into tragedies are disrespectful to the individuals that were personally affected by the tragedy. therefore, i’ve been cautious not to overstate my proximity to the event. on one hand, i went back to work on tuesday without shrapnel in my legs so i wasn’t *really* affected by the bombing. on the other hand, my shoes crossed the finish line that exploded a mere twenty minutes after i touched it. i spent hours worrying about numerous friends that were still on the course until we heard they were ok.
it has been hard for me to process this event. i’ve blamed myself for putting my 10 wk old daughter so close to a bomb because i selfishly wanted to run a stupid race. i’ve also been filled with pride that i was part of the historic race and that i belong to a tight-knit community of determined runners.
the bombings have also robbed many runners from their accomplishment. many marathoners finished their first boston or set a new PR. both of these accomplishments were hard-fought and won, but are overshadowed by the news headlines of the attack. we feel guilty for thinking about the actual ‘running’ of the event because it takes the emphasis away from the victims that lost lives and limb that day.
regardless, i am still proud to have ran boston 2013 for many reasons. i am proud that i was able to complete a marathon just 10 weeks after giving birth. i am proud to say that i have kept my identity as a runner and individual in addition to becoming a devoted mother. above all, i am proud to be a boston marathoner.
i learned early in my college career that cramming doesn’t really work. thanks to prof kline, i realized that you cannot learn a semester’s worth of IRS code in one night before a final, even if that night includes liters of mtn dew and 10 hrs at the library.
yet, in the last few weeks, i’ve decided to ‘cram’ for the boston marathon.
my daughter was born a mere 10 weeks ago. i spent a week in the hospital recovering from that event before i could resume running again. i hadn’t run more than 10 miles since august. knowing that this is a crazy task to undertake, i still thought i could stretch out my long run to 20 miles in just 9 weeks in order to run my 4th boston marathon in a row.
i told myself if i could run 20 miles a week before the marathon, i would allow myself to run the race. i was able to run 20 miles last saturday.
even though i’m more than 10 years away from the college scene, this week i’m mimicking the bad habits of a college freshman by cramming for the boston marathon. i don’t expect to get an ‘A’ and i don’t deserve one because i haven’t put in the work. however, i’ll be happy to just to participate on race day.
let’s just pretend i’m ‘auditing’ this class for the experience and not getting a grade.