Friday, September 23, 2011

Consolidating

I am going to suspend this blog until next summer when I start training for my 2nd marathon. Until then, I hope that those of you who have taken the time to read and comment here will follow my fitness posts on my main blog.

Update:  Life got a bit too busy for blogging this year. Never too busy for running. Priorities...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Did it. Do it better.

I am surprised. I thought that once the marathon was over, I would tick it off my list and find something new to obsess over. Instead my legs are itching because my sore ankle is keeping me from running this week.

My oldest son is proud as Punch (I am assuming this phrase is related to Punch of Punch & Judy fame?): "Now I have to do it next year, too." But one colleague has pointed out three times to other people that it looks like I am walking in the photos she saw. I have been  ruminating - a rather unpleasant pasttime - on and off the past days regarding her motives for pointing this out to anyone who mentions the run. Feeling a litte more "proud as Punch" myself each day, unfortunately. I keep looking around for a soft bat to beat her over the head with.

Funny how easily someone can burst your bubble with a smile and clever comment - how long it takes to reinflate an ego. I keep telling myself it is the itchiness from not running this week, a build-up of toxins, that is making me sensitive.

I have been thinking about how great it felt to cross the finish  line. How it wasn't like an exasperated, "Finally!", but just the end of an enjoyable run. My mantra for the day wasn't "Think of the finish line," but "Stay in the moment".

There has been talk at school of some people getting a team together to go to the NY marathon in 2013. But I will pass. As much as I love NY, the thought of running among a horde of people over asphalt and concrete sounds unpleasant. Not the kind of moments I would way to stay in.

Next year I will head back to Dorking. Maybe Lydia and Bjørn will go again, too. Maybe my oldest son will run. Maybe I can cut a half-hour off my time.

Who'd have thought I would have ever cared about that?

If anyone has any suggestions for beautiful marathons worth every moment of being mindful of, I'd love to hear them!

Fitness Friday Blog Hop

Monday, September 12, 2011

42K Full Marathon: Check!

Race Report
Bacchus Marathon
Dorking, England
September 11, 2010

It couldn't have been a more perfect choice had I put more thought into it. I impulsively signed up for the Bacchus Marathon because I figured a Dionysian- themed run was appropriate considering the amount of drama (and wine) in my life. It was also fancy dress, which I hoped would take some of the pressure off. How can you be cut-throat competitive when dressed like a fairy?

This was my first marathon - second race ever - so I have no idea if it is normal for people to exhale, "Well done" as they pass you. I admit at one point I wondered if it weren't a general comment regarding my marathon effort, but rather a genuine appreciation for the deftness with which I veered into holly bushes (careful not to snag my crinoline) to let them pass by. Either way, it made for pleasant exchanges - without exception, me being the one on the "Thank you" end of things. "Well done" exhaled the water strider whose feet didn't even appear to touch the mud-slathered stones I was so gingerly negotiating. He disappeared among the trees like a daddy long-leg. On the flat switch back that marked the final 1.5 mile stretch of the half marathon a woman with cerebral palsy, who'd started an hour behind me and now crossing paths with only 3 miles between us, exhaled, "Well done".

According to heart, not logic, her breath filled me with energy.

Between miles 5 and 10 I'd experienced debilitating gas pains, and fell behind a woman who'd been unwittingly pacing me. It was no doubt due to the English breakfast. Yogis know better than to eat mushrooms. My body felt heavy and the sun was shining much brighter than I am accustomed to. "There is no shame in doing the half and stopping at that. After all, half is an accomplishment. Maybe accomplishment enough". I'd been talking myself down. But seeing the flags at the half-marathon finish line, the start of the second lap for the few who take the whole trip, I felt strong - not exactly invincible, but optimistic. I cut 13 minutes off my personal best for the half distance and imagined that, even with a quick 2-minute trip to the port-o-potty, I could do the whole in well under 6 hours (a half hour shy of the time limit).

So, off again over the soft grass of the vineyards, among the rows of bowed vines, through the village with its leaning timber and brick cottages and uphill on the root-tangled paths and slick mud-churned pastures.

For most of the second lap I was on my own. I was aware that I was last, but at least inconspicuous in the landscape. And, honestly, it was a surprising chance to enjoy running, the kind of mindful running I do 5 days a week. I experienced several hours of unexpected beauty.

At mile 18 I caught up with a man who was struggling, tripping over the tufts of grass. I offered him the extra gel I had in the pocket of my camelbak, but he didn't like gels. He said they made his hands sticky. He got a bottle of water from a volunteer and offered me some. I'd mentioned that the nuun were great, but too sweet for my taste. I felt like I'd spent a good deal of my precious body fluids spitting sugar. At the bottom of the hill the man stopped to talk to a volunteer. I hoped he found a carbohydrate solution of some sort - one that wouldn't make his hands sticky.

I pushed on. Uphill. Sections of the climb were too slick for me to run and I walked - counting my strides as a way to remember this was a run, though not one worth breaking bones for. 48, 49 ... run. Stretches of the trail were like my morning route. I could hear the wind rushing to catch-up with me, then passing, "Well done". And the mourning doves almost comical with their continual melancholy song. I even saw a slow worm making her way over the path. Safely now, since the crowd had passed by long ago.

I figured I was the last person running by then. I thought about all the volunteers at the water/wine stations - how, but for me, they could have packed up and gone home to dinner. I was grateful for every one of their sincere shouts of "You´re doing great!" and I jogged by. Several women who asked me where my partners were (the two wearing similar costumes). "They ran the half and are waiting for me."

Mile 24.5 I heard a pop from my right ankle as my foot slipped over a smooth, wet stone. Mile 26.0 I felt the wind from a car passing by on the narrow slope toward the finish line. I laughed out loud at the thought of getting killed by a car less than 2 tenths of a mile from the finish line.

The finish line. The arranger of the event was there in his Superman costume. And my friends Bjørn and Lydia and half a dozen strangers hooting. I thought I would cry and thought about how weird that was, then about how weird it was that I was thinking about how weird it was instead of just crying.

Lydia hugged me tightly and without reservation. Hugged my sweaty, sticky marathon-run body, and she asked, "How does it feel? Do you feel like crying?"

Yes.

It took me just over six hours, but I did it. I followed through and that is what matters.

... and the man with the sticky hands? He made it over the finish line in time, too.

*

Home now after two long taxi drives and a two-hour flight. The ankle that said pop is propped up on a bag of frozen stew vegetables. And I am enjoying a glass of wine.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

And... yep.

Priorities have a way of rearranging themselves under pressure.

Being back at work has been stressful and I think that it taxed my immune system. My achilles and then my shins caused problems. After last Saturday's 20K run, my feet swelled like the last month of pregnancy.

With stress levels high, I am not sure I can say that not running is resting. I fell off my consumerist fast and did a fair share of meaningless retail therapy.

Today the legs feel fine, but I feel that I have slipped into a kind of inertia. Husband can't make the England marathon trip with me - will be going alone.

Will be going!

Right now - for a run.