Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy Holidays

My only excuse for not writing so long has been the craziness of the holidays: shopping, end of semester madness, partner in town, and - oh yes - training for a marathon.

Never fear, the training does indeed go on and I'm on track. On the day after Christmas, I ran 15.25 miles (let me pause for a "!" here)...

The training has improved since last time and I've been enjoying it again; I mostly needed to try something different because it was really feeling like a bunch of the same old same old, what can I say? So now I've been using the iPod Nano a bit (listening to inspiring music and a little Jane Austen) and working out at the gym at school on the treadmill. Another thing I've started to do is use the warm-up - that is: I've been warming up before running (as opposed to just starting out running). I suspect some of my problem was rooted in starting out too strong and burning out too fast. I'm also working on balancing out my hamstrings and quads, doing more on the exercise bike to address that. Overall, then, I would say that things have gone quite well.

What else? Well, I still need about $400 to make my fund-raising minimum, which is a major drag. But there it is. If anyone knows someone who hasn't gone broke here during the holiday season and looking for a good cause in which to invest, I'm available. Ugh...not much to say. Heading to Minneapolis next week, which is so cooooooold that it should be a major challenge to get proper training time in. Maybe I can go beg Lifetime fitness to give me a deal for a good cause. Otherwise, I think they charge $30 for a guest pass (which I may need to pay off my fund-raising goal). Argh!

So, to sum up. Running = good; fund-raising = bad. No surprises there. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Back in the saddle again.

So, I guess you could say that I'm back in the saddle again, running regularly and long (when I have to). Nevertheless, this last week has been hard. I don't know if my problem is coming back from illness, or just the unseasonably warm weather (sorry Minnesotans - but 73 degrees is not ideal running weather), but things are pretty tough these days.

Last Saturday I drove out to Longview to run the nice trail there. It was under construction and pretty torn up, but I could see why it's a trail that appeals to my coach. For one thing, it is asphalt rather than concrete as is the case with the Rose Rudman trail in Tyler - inexplicable! Anyway, I went 10 miles. The beginning was wicked, each passing moment/mile going by in slow motion as I wheezed along. Then, after some 3 miles or so, I chilled out to about mile 5 (things went by kind of smoothly and I must have hit some kind of groove or something). As I approached the water stop (at approximately mile 5-3/4), I started to feel things again and it all became work. Why is it always so hard? I feel like I must be doing something wrong, bad form, too fat, something. Thank goodness I have Sean and McKenna looking down on me and Ann to think of here. Otherwise, I would be seriously in the mood to quit...

Perhaps I am entering that time in marathon training where quitting becomes really enchanting, but I still have money to raise and a race to run. Might I add for any aspiring marathoners that fundraising provides tremendous incentive to get your training runs in - you simply do not want to be shamed out of the end product. So I have to run, but I'm not really liking it right now. This kind of stinks because I really, really want to be a runner. I long to glide along, fleet-footed and graceful, like a powerful gazelle in a Nike commercial. Instead, I feel like a lumbering cow, heavy footed, pounding, pounding, pounding along in the most ungainly, unnatural lope. I may try to start working in some speed training here and there, because I am seriously sick of this.

Oh, here's something mildly interesting. I've changed my Monday run to a Sunday run/cross-train. I'm going to try to work in more cross-training (low impact) because I am just convinced that I'm not strong enough. I really feel like I should be much stronger than I am, so that's my solution. One thing I've started is rowing. I've read that rowing is one of the best cardio workouts that you can do (I believe it - my old roommate was a rower and was she ever fit!) Only problem is, I'm not strong enough to get any serious workout. My arms and back seem to give out long before I've become anything close to winded. Perhaps this will help me burn some of my fat off, though. Then I could be lighter, leaner, and (see above).

Wow, this is a snarky post as they go. I guess I'm cranky today, not in the mood for much. Anyway, I'll let you all know if things seem to improve with my new plan. Until then...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

It's been too long...

Yes, yes...I know. I've neglected posts very badly now for nearly 2 weeks! So, I decided to get back in the saddle and renew my efforts here until the end. Truth is, I've been fighting a terrible cold for the last 10 days or so, so I've not run much either. I guess that made me feel like there wasn't much to say, but there are a few things to note, some news to share.

First, the saddest thing. McKenna Johnson - sweet McKenna - passed away a week ago tonight. Not only was she a personal inspiration for me, as I've been training for this race, but she was also the Team Hero for the Minnesota marathoners in Team-in-Training. I'll always remember how brave she was, standing there with her parents the night after Sean died and facing the return of her own cancer. I cannot say enough about Krista and Scott (her mom and dad) who were just so wonderful to us when we lost Sean - I HATE that they had to go through what we did, bringing it all right back again. And amazing Krista... here's what she posted on Sean's CaringBridge site the very night (actually those sleepless, numbing wee hours of the next day) that she lost her own little girl:


Have fun playing with McKenna in Heaven. You're her "big" brother now...taking over where Kalen was forced to leave off. Kale will take care of your friends here on earth, and you need to take care of his little sister in Heaven. Pretty fair tradeoff, don't ya' think?

Until we meet again...we love you....

The Johnson's

Of course this made me cry and cry. Kalen was in Sean's fifth grade classroom last year, and many of Sean's friends posted on McKenna's site after they learned of her passing. [side note: I remember kids that age sometimes being unconsciously and unconscionably cruel, but these children - friends of Sean and Kalen - continue to astound me with their grace and kindess -- amazing!] Anyway, Krista painted hot pink toe nail polish on McKenna's toes (as well as her own and those of her other daughter). I went out and bought some for myself and will be pink-toeing it all the way to the finish line in Austin.

Okay. So anyway, back to running (is that possible?) Today was recommitment to the Austin Marathon. I - in my own imitable way - forgot the paperwork at home and will fax it in tomorrow. Good thing, otherwise the training run (first run after illness) would have had to wait another day and I was starting to get antsy. So, thanks for understanding Karmen! Just a slow 4 mile run today and I felt it in my sinuses the whole way. Can't wait for the dregs of this horrible cold to leave me at last. Before tonight, the last time I had run was the Saturday after T-Giving (a 12-1/2 miler around the lakes in Minneapolis).

That was not the greatest run and I don't know if it was the excessive mileage, insufficient stretching/warm-up, or the early onset of the cold. Probably a combination of the three. My legs turned to lead about 1/3 of the way in in and I was never able to run it out. At the end, it was just fatigue, fatigue, fatigue. And then, the cold came (a doozy, I might add), thanks to the man from New York who brought me those special East Coast germs that I hadn't yet experienced. Hopefully, there will be no sinus infection as a result.

Finally, the exciting news of the two week layoff. I ran my first 5k! Me and 10,000 Minnesotans early on Thanksgiving morning, just an early strike against the many thousands of calories to be consumed later in the day! Thanks to Kirsten and Jake for facilitating this (5ks are apparently a regular thing for them), it was really pretty exciting. And it snowed! That was a LOT of fun.

I think that is about all. I'll try to write again and let you all know how post-cold recovery is going. I'm hoping that I'll be able to shake it off and slide back into the program. In the meantime - THINK PINK!