Tuesday, July 30, 2013

2nd day of Marathon VIII Training

1st day was a rest day, LOL.

Today we did 8x400s.  A 1 mile warm-up, and the rest went like this:


I just did a quick search and that's about 50 seconds off my "peak" 800 time.  Sadly, I think that's okay.  I really thought I'd be closer to 5:00 at this point, so I was kinda happy to see the teens and twenties on my Garmin.

And that's all I have to say about that :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Little Engine That Could

The Little Engine That Could was one of my favorite books as a kid; perhaps one of the first I was able to read myself.  It helps when there are a lot of repetitive words.

I feel like that little blue engine - heading up the mountain pulling a heavy load.  This isn't metaphoric: That heavy load is my behind.  Yuck.

My scale has been fickle, finally petering out some time last week.  I finally remembered to bring 4 AA batteries upstairs and ugh, the weigh-in wasn't pretty, but it was super motivational.  Like, I want to get my jaw wired shut motivational.

I am about as fat as I was in 2002.  Chuck said I am not but he is a lying liar who lies.  Blue LED lights do not lie.  Too-tight running shorts do not lie.  People asking you when you are due do not lie.  Just kidding, that hasn't happened to me yet, but I feel it coming.

There is a story I tell about the first time I lost a lot of weight.  Life kinda sucked big time at the time.  We were poor, poor, poor.  Our children were young and rambunctious and tiring.  Chuck worked a LOT of hours.  Our house was on the market but not selling.  And I was fat.

I never complained about being poor or spending a lot of hours with 4 kids 5 and under, or about the fact that I was doing the parenting thing on my own mostly while Chuck built a new career.  I didn't complain (much) about our money pit of a house and the gazillion showings of it while chasing  toddlers only to get feedback that felt like stabbing criticism of my housekeeping skills (and no offers).  I didn't complain about the fact that our sieve of a house couldn't contain A/C and was always always hot. I didn't complain about sharing a car and feeling stranded at home just about every day. I understood that's just where I was in life and that we were a team working toward a better tomorrow and that I just needed to suck it up.  But what I did complain about, incessantly and obsessively, was that I was fat.

One day I snapped.  Chuck came home to find me on the floor sprawled out under our ceiling fan, crying.  I was hot, tired, discouraged, bored, frustrated, alone, friendless, unmotivated, unhappy and FAT.

He literally sat me down like I was 5 years old and said something to the effect of: "Listen, I am working on making a better life for us [which he was - and did - and I never implied otherwise, but this is part of the story...].  I want to sell the house as badly as you do but I cannot make that happen.  We have a lot of little kids and we can't do anything about that.  But being fat?  That you CAN do something about.  So fix it and stop complaining."

And then he took money we did not have and signed us up at the Y.  And that was that.  A lot of problems solved: Kids in kid care, my fat ass on the treadmill, and free A/C!  I lost 60 pounds, gained a hobby, made lots of great friends, and lived happily ever after.

Life really is cyclical.  Fast forward a decade or so, and financially we are fine.  The kids are teens (and no, I do not long for their toddler years but let's face it - this isn't easy either!).  We have two cars and soon will have three.  A nice, insulated house which we do not intend to sell any time soon and I have acquired a better set of housekeeping skills (plus a house keeper) so I'd be all set for showings even if it were.  And I am fat.

So Chuck sat me down and said, "You are beautiful and healthy looking, and yes overweight.  Stop complaining and do something about it.  Every day, I want you to take an hour out of your day and run to the guard shack and back.  And I want you to be proud of yourself that you can do that, that you can run 4 miles like that *snap*.  And then the weight will go away.  But you need to do that, and stop complaining [except he said the other word for complaining]."

Once again, he was just what I needed.  So last night, I puttered and putzed and frittered away time until I gathered up my 10 million little comfort items I needed to run and ... I ran.

I came home to his cheerful smiling face and he said, "SEE!  4 miles is nothing to you, and you did it.  Just keep doing that, and you'll be back to your old self before you know it!"

(I love that man.)

My response?  "I forgot fat girls chafe."

As I climbed the stairs to my shower, sweaty, stinging (from the chafing), and red faced I realized I really was starting over and it was okay.  And I will be back to my old self before I know it.  I just needed him to remind me, encourage me, and push me up that mountain.

4 miles last night, 3 miles this morning... I am getting there.  Pulling the load up the mountain.

Tonight I am joining a new swim class/team - I am pretty excited about that.  I told Jenny I'd join her for a tri in September so I should probably be sure I still remember how to swim.  I know I remember how to float with a beer in my hand as I have practiced that already this summer, but swimming face down, beerless, while moving forward might need some reviewing.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Building Back Base

Chuck and I spent a few weeks mulling over marathons I could run.  I desperately need a marathon.  I need the focus.  I need to lose weight.  I need to get up early in the morning and be super, achingly, blessedly tired at night and do it all over again.

I need to be Running Kathryn again.

I have been blogging for - what? - 9 years?  I started blogging when I decided to run the WDW Marathon in 2005.  That is also when I started feeling like a "real runner", having only run a handful of 5ks before (maybe a few 10ks, I don't remember...)

I had a 3 year old
I had a 6 year old
I had two 8 year olds

Now it's 9 years later, and I have run

31 5ks
6 10ks
6 15ks
2 8ks
27 half marathons
and 7 marathons

I have a 12 year old
a 15 year old
and two high school seniors...

They have grown, I grew, and then.... in 2012, I stopped growing.

I just stopped.

2012 kicked my ass.  It was a painful year personally and it was harder still for people I love dearly.  It turned me inside out in ways I can't explain and don't understand.  The calendar flipped and "unlucky" '13 appeared and I hoped with it, better luck.  Not right away................

but then as happens, it wasn't a switch, but an easing.  Not a blinding sudden swath of light but a gradual reveal of the sun, and I felt my life re-illuminated and joyful again.  They say you have an internal "setting" of happiness and mine is usually pretty darn happy, and I welcome that pendulum swing back to happiness again.

Meanwhile, my habits had been replaced.  I had found joy and comfort in food and late nights, in late mornings and skipped workouts.  And though I was (am) happy, I am missing that important part of me that made me who I was and gave me depth and strength and fortitude.  Chuck sensed it, too, and at least one part of every recent day had been spent determining from where that next inspiration would come.  We looked at them all: The Flying Pig, P.F. Chang's, NYC, New Orleans, Atlanta, God-forsaken Miami (I strongly dislike Miami), Jacksonville, San Diego ... you name it, we researched it, read about it, checked our schedules against it.  We tossed out this one for one reason, that one for another  - until he came into the kitchen a couple of nights ago and said, "There's only one - go ahead and sign up for it."


9 years later I am back where I started, almost from the beginning.  I cannot run 3 miles consecutively at this point - a depressing fact when I have spent the past 7 or 8 years being "half marathon trained" at nearly every moment.  I am myself impressed at my PRs and even race-pace averages of recent years.  I have a long way to go to build back to where I have been, but I am excited to do it.  The night I signed up I dreamed about training plans and training calendars and running again.  I am not exaggerating - my subconscious immediately grasped the magnitude of this decision and started processing it in a happy, positive way.

This morning I got up at 5:19am and then kissed my best friend goodbye, who woke up enough to encourage me to "Go build that base".  He who has only run 2 half marathons in his life (and hated every minute), still is my very best cheerleader who understands completely that training won't start until August, yet until then my job is to "build that base".  I think this is what makes this hobby of mine so rewarding: Though he does not run by my side, he is with me for every mile, and a part of every run.  It has become OUR hobby - he as a spectator not just to me, but to my friends and the runners of our community.  It has become a part of our tapestry, not because it is about me, but it is about us being a team together.  Sacrifice and pride and teamwork from both directions, which rounds out who we are not just as individuals but as a couple.  And as that team, we are a better set of parents.  Which in turn makes us a better family.  Today, when I went the extra mile (literally), I realized - this is part of my "work" to our family - we all take joy in the sport that is running and we all benefit in our own ways, but it is my job  to work hard so it is a joyful family activity.  The last mile, which was an extra mile, was about me doing my husband's bidding to "build that base".  When we picked this 8th but oh-so-important marathon I realized how important it was because my children exclaimed, "Oh good!  So we can go!" ....This sport and hobby has become an important part of US.  And though I most definitely benefit on the front lines, my family benefits as well, which will bring me inspiration when the excitement fades and the prescribed mileage seems daunting.

So here we are, full circle.

Let the fun begin.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On Boston

As runners we are taught - or we learn - to be mindful of our surroundings.  As I was running today I heard the jingle of dog tags and I was on alert as I always am: Is the dog on a leash?  Running toward or away from me?  What is my escape plan?

Not only do we learn to be alert for loose dogs, but a myriad of possible dangers.  Strangers on our paths, stray pinecones, or even lack of fuel or water all have the potential to do us harm.  In an abundance of caution, we learn to be prepared for any hazard, and we try our best to avoid them.  We carry water, wear headlamps, consider mace or pepper spray, and keep one headphone tucked in our tops, so we have an "ear out" to hear.

The exception is the race, where we are at our most vulnerable only because we feel most protected.  At a race, our needs are cheerfully met: Waterstops fend off dehydration, medical tents hold volunteers with Tylenol and bandaids, well-heeled dogs sit at their masters' feet, leashed and calm.  Streets are mostly swept and runners look out for each other, kicking debris out of the way of those behind them, encouraging those who aren't doing well, alert to help if a fellow runner needs it.  The race is where we as a running community come together, to test our training, to celebrate the hours spent in the dark dodging shadows and pinecones, and to receive the reward of our hard work.

Then there is This Race, where we send our very best.  Like children at the master's knee, we who have never been hear from those who have about the Wellesley girls, Heartbreak Hill, the Boylston Street finish.  The elite of the world toe this line, followed by the elite of our small worlds - our very best who train for the elusive BQ, who have the fortitude to run - hard - for three and a half hours, to earn that coveted spot.  Patriot's Day Monday, even if we don't officially celebrate, is a secret little holiday in the heart of every runner.

I waited in line at the porta-potty at one of my first half marathons.  When it was my turn, the runner who was exiting held the door for me.  I remember this because it was so different than the world of disrespect and disregard I think I'd become accustomed to.  That small but significant gesture helped me realize that the running community was a gentleman's community - that to be a part of it I needed to be kind, considerate, caring and helpful. Since that odd moment when a stranger held a plastic, stinky door for me, I have realized that first impression has not been wrong.  The running community includes some of the very best people I have ever had the luck to know and run alongside.

So like many runners, I wake up this morning still stunned by this attack on not just Bostonians, not just Americans, not just international citizens, but us.  Our people.  The fastest of us, or if not, the most charitable of us, who run 26.2 miles to raise money for a cause that means something to them.  The community that includes not just runners but those who support runners, the Chucks of the world who chase down spectator spots and carry our bags with our Cliff bars and spare pairs of shorts and a jacket so we are comfortable on our many miles.  I know these people - maybe not personally - but I know what they are made of and how they felt and how this moment, circled on the calendar and anticipated for months - has now been marred with horror and fear.

And I understand that unspoken sadness, that this moment, that they fought so hard for and earned, has been snatched away and replaced with sadness for those who have lost so much.  I can imagine the inside out fatigue - the exhausted body and the exhausted heart and soul.  I can imagine the mix of grief and relief for those who escaped, those who finished before the 4 hour mark and those who hadn't yet finished.

You would think by now we would have lost our innocence.  You would think by now we would be numb to these events, as frequently as they seem to happen these days. I think it is to our credit that we are not jaded by evil and that evil surprises and shocks and hurts us every time.  What does not surprise us is the number of people who ran toward the danger. Those who have been to races, especially major ones, will know that many trained medical personnel, including nurses and doctors, volunteer their time and expertise to runners.  When they signed up to volunteer, none could know what would be asked of them beyond the usual runner ailments and conditions.  As we watch the video over and over again it is unmistakable - once again, the heroes run toward the danger, not away.  Remarkable - and yet, not really.  It is what we have the great fortune to expect from America's finest - our public servants who run to protect and to serve and to heal and to comfort.

There will be so much to process is the next days, weeks, months and years.  There will be an impact throughout the running community, but not the way you think.  The running community will be who they are - defiant, resilient, quietly kind and strong in the face of those who try to harm us.  We will rally behind our injured and stricken, and be even more enthusiastic with our appreciation for the men and women who protect us while we run.  We will continue to kick pinecones out of each other's path and hold portalet doors and offer words of encouragement to our fellow competitors.  We will raise money and raise spirits and close out even more races at capacity to prove we won't be deterred.

There has been talk about how to secure 26 miles of future events.  I feel comfortable speaking for most marathoners when I say: We don't want that.  That's not who we are.  We run for freedom and from restrictions.  We run knowing there are dangers, and it is worth it.  We don't want to run within the confines of pat downs and metal detectors.  Individually, we've been warned that running causes harm, hurts you, breaks you down... yet we run anyway, understanding that it does just the opposite. Now, together, we can say the same - running will never harm us, hurt us, or break us down.  And in our collectively defiant voice, once again, we defeat the enemy.

Friday, March 01, 2013

March Forth

There are some rumblings on Facebook about running every day in March.  I haven't officially joined a challenge, but I like the idea.  Like tonight, when I realized I was going to ruin the whole idea in the first day.  I realized at 6:45 that though I had done a lower body workout earlier at the Y, I hadn't actually RUN.

So, I strapped on my Garmin and off I went!  I originally was just going to do our neighborhood loop of 1.8 miles and call it good.  Then I decided if I was going to strap on the Garmin, put on the shoes, get sweaty, etc. I might as well go ahead and do something of substance, so I went out 2 miles so I was forced to do four.  That's probably the idea behind the "run once a day" concept;  more often than not you are going to run a little further than a block once you get going.  It's just a matter of getting motivated to get started 90% of the time!

I am still slower than I like to be, but I know I have to put in the mileage to get better.  I wish I'd brought music tonight; I got a little bored.

Today I read something along the lines of whining about running is like whining about too much money.  I need to remember that I am blessed to have the choice and I need to remember to honor that blessing by making that choice more often than not.  Preferably with music along for the ride.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tap! Tap! Is this thing on...?

I have spent considerable time reading through this old blog of mine in the past few days.

The sub headline I wrote for this blog so many years ago says this:

My hope is that it will inspire me to perservere now, and be a reference for me to know what to tweak for future running endeavors.

Well, it's done its job.

I don't even know what to say, how to summarize my feelings, except to say this:  I miss her.  Her - the writer of this blog from two and a half years ago.  I miss her enthusiasm, her spirit, her commitment, her dedication, her unwavering enthusiasm for her new-found sport.

Blogging, blogging about running, blogging about myself running - on balance, this seems like a somewhat egotistical endeavor.  Who cares?  Perhaps that's why I stopped.  That, and life got in the way.  And things changed.  I changed.  So I no longer visited this little cozy overstuffed chair my little corner of the internet.

But now I find that this blog about me running has served a purpose, to me anyway. As I read back through the pages of this online journal I realize I have captured the very essence of my life within the framework of my hobby.  The platform is the sport, but it showcases so much more.  It's a blog about friendships, and spirituality, and soul-searching.  It is about family, and marriage, and sacrifice and substance.  It is an observation of the world and relationships through the unlikely porthole of distance running.  In between posts about repeats and long runs - even within posts about repeats and long runs - are posts about friendship, nature, family, pain, fear, illness, stress, love, kindness, inspiration, parenting ... you name it.

So where am I now?  I am a little adrift.  It's been a hard year which I have made even more difficult for myself by stuffing down and cutting off the things that made me healthy and happy.  I have sacrificed health - mental and physical - prioritizing often the wrong things over the right ones, all in an attempt to survive or move on past some setbacks.  I have used a sense of false martyrdom to excuse my lack of dedication to things I know to be right and good.  When you are healthy - physically and mentally - you can contribute so much more to the world than when you allow yourself to be robbed of the things that make you whole and wholesome.

Last weekend I ran in the Gasparilla Distance Classic.  In the last two years, I have run the Mich Ultra challenge, which consists of 4 races: 15k and 5k on Saturday, and the half-marathon and 8k on Sunday.  I mainly did this to get the Mich Ultra swag, being the Mich Ultra poster child that I am.  This year I was smart enough to acknowledge that 18 miles on a single day was not within my capabilities, but arrogant enough to think that 25.5 miles in 2 days was.  Thus, I ran the Beck Light Challenge, which is three of the four races (the 8k is not included).  On Saturday, I ran the 12.4 miles of races beautifully - not too fast, but not too slow, and feeling like a champ afterward.

On Sunday - notsomuch.  Lack of preparation and training showed up and kicked me swiftly and soundly in the butt at mile 4.  I did what I haven't in years mid-race, and texted Chuck.  "Not going well.  Only at 4" I wrote at 6:58, about 45 minutes or more into the race. Exactly one hour later: "Barely at 9.  Yikes".

At mile 9, I looked at the clock:  1:59:45.  And I burst into tears.  At just under the two hour mark I should be finishing, or at least a hell of a lot closer to the 12 mile mark than the 9!  The most upsetting realization?  I had done this to myself!  There were no excuses.  I am not, nor was I, injured or ill.  I was not sidelined by anything more than my own laziness and lack of dedication.  I wanted to race, but I didn't want to do the work to lead to a good, solid race and feeling good about my performance.  I wanted the glory, but didn't put in any of the guts.

So, that moment sucked, but it was a pivotal moment, and pivotal moments change lives.  Pivotal moments are called that because it causes you to make a sharp turn and change direction.  Pivotal moments are often painful or difficult because pain motivates like no other.  Pain has a positive purpose if you let it.

Somewhere in that painful haze of defeat plus the actual physical pain from running 13.1 miles seriously undertrained, I found myself navigating here, to my little corner of the world, where I had happily chattered about running and deer potties, and girlfriends and races. I was shocked to see my last entry was November 2010.  It was a little like returning to a house or a store that you had once loved, only to find it quiet and abandoned, unloved and forgotten.  Then I debated:  Do I continue to let it sit, untouched?  Torch it?  Or bring it back to life and start making new memories and new friends and new goals and new experiences?

Obviously I chose the latter.

It's not often you get to resurrect something you loved.  Life doesn't hand you too many second chances.  I am two and half years older now - officially in my 40s.  Not even just 40, but 41.  My race roll call on the side of this blog doesn't even list my 7th marathon.  My children are teens or nearly teens.  My marriage is practically old enough to enlist.  I own a company now.  I have directed four 5ks.  I have accomplished much while I have been away, but I have also lost a part of myself, a part I really enjoyed and was proud of. Journaling in this way was an essential part of staying healthy and focused and keep my love of running - and writing - alive.  The new year was supposed to begin on January 1, 2013.  For me, the new year started at 7:59 am on February 24, 2013 at mile marker 9.

And like I used to say when I was ready for something I had trained hard for and couldn't wait to tackle:


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Chilly Tuesday Night Speedwork

Tonight was group speedwork. We were supposed to do 6x800s but only two of us were doing the extra 800s (the rest only had to do 4) so they compromised and did 2 400s with us. So they did more, and we did less.

I am going to have to look to see how these numbers compare but here they are for the blog's sake:

1 mi w/up
800s: 3:48, 3:42, 3:36, 3:37
400s: 1:35, 1:42