Sunday, August 29, 2010


Today I hit a big goal - 4 miles in under an hour.

I have spent the summer chasing goals: running more than I walk when I go out; running more routinely and running 4 miles in under an hour. Today I hit all 3 milestones in a single run and it feels fabulous.

It comes on the heels of being asked "What's your goal this fall?" Fall? Already? I hadn't hit my summer goals fully. But with one week left until labor day, I guess it's a good question to ask. It was probably what pushed me along this morning as well as I thought about strategies and goals for the fall.

What I came up with was: continue to run more routinely; begin pushing my pace; running the Tufts 10k in under 1:10 and be able to do a Thanksgiving 5k in about 30 minutes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Taking the scenic route home

I stepped outside today and a line popped into my head: "Every time I back out of my driveway, I'm just taking the scenic route home..."

Today's run was a scenic route home. The sun was starting to shine through the clouds as the skies cleared after days and days of rain. The sunrise was beautiful as it broke, the sky was a light, bright blue touched by hints of rose and yellow and orange as the sun broke over the horizon. The temps were cool, the air was fresh and it was just a scenic route even if it was the same roads I run over time and again.

Every run brings it's Deep Thoughts with Jack Handy moments - here was mine today: the difference between a mocking bird and a regular bird is that a mocking bird watches you run towards it, lazily hops off to the side and tweets as if saying, "Is that the best you can do? You're pathetic." Regular birds don't even bother to acknowledge you.

I hate them both.

My other Jack Handy moment: if coyotes are killing local pets, why don't they ever feast on the damn chipmunks eating my strawberries and tomatoes?

In the end it was a good run and I feel stronger for it as it was a reminder that fall is almost here and I couldn't be happier for it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dreams of what could be...

This morning was a morning I had to beat back the bed magnet and push myself out the door. We are entering the time of year when 5:30 am is dark and today it was raining. But I made it downstairs, grabbed my obnoxious yellow BAA jacket and opened the door.

Sometimes running in the rain can be a beautiful thing, sometimes it's just wet. Today was somewhere in between. I felt pretty bad ass out there holding myself to what I now call my "fives" (five minutes walking at a 15 min pace/five minutes running around an 11 min pace) since I took last week off from life, the universe and everything.

I could have run longer and farther, but I need to be aware of my ankles. Cursing myself for the stupidity that lead to past injuries and fearing future injuries.

At one point I was lamenting my speed, or lack thereof, while I watched the real bad ass athletes going past in the other direction. That was when it hit me, I will never be fast enough.

When I was "running" a 15 min mile, I dreamed of running a 10 min mile consistently. Now I walk a 15 min mile and run around a 10-11 min mile and I long to be able to run faster. I want to run an 8 minute mile. What happens when I get there? I won't be content until I hit 6 minutes? What's the cut off: a marathon, an ultramarathon, the ironman?

Like my weight, I don't know if I'll ever be satisfied. I lament I have only shed 15 pounds after a year of Weight Watchers and still have at least 35 more to go. But when I get to goal, what will my attitude be then? When I was 125 lbs of solid muscle in college, I wasn't happy with my size. I kept thinking, "If I only could lose 10 more pounds...." I would love to be that size again when I thought I was fat.

Like the rhino on the treadmill longing to be a unicorn, at some point I will need to accept this is who I am and my boundaries. It's not to say I can't improve, only that sometimes we all need to take a step back and look at what is and celebrate.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Nu Shooz

I feel this should start with, "Bless me Father for I have sinned. It's been 11 days since my last run...." That's what today felt like, the release of a clean soul after doing penance.

When you struggle with the sort of funks I fall into at times, there is this odd tug between I know running will make me feel better but I don't feel good enough to run. It's a horrible spiral until you can finally break out of it some how, some way. For me, it was a new pair of shoes to break me out of the spiral:

I have been tempted to try the Newton's since I first laid eyes on them last spring. A lot of runners I know and respect have been wearing them and really like them. But they are pricey. The fates aligned and conspired and with great thanks to Paulie, yesterday I walked out of Marathon Sports fitted and ready to go.

Like all new design of shoes, these force your body to align anew and force your foot to strike differently. The advice to get used to them is go out for some short runs - a mile or so - a few times. Try some speed work and then, once you're used to them, go for it. So this morning I went out for a short run - my 2.25 loop.

Walking in them is nice - they match my walking stride nicely. Running, well let's just say I understand the advice. The entire time I was making notes: tighten the right laces, more weight on my left and so on. The best feel I got was when the song "Devil's Dance Floor" by Flogging Molly began to play. Between the steady rhythm of the music and the way it drives me to run through whatever I may be feeling, it is the perfect song to cover a fair distance at speed and get a good feel.

I am interested to see how I run in my Saucony's for my next run... since I need to go some distance again and I'm quite comfortable with these for distance yet.

I'm excited again and this should be the bit I need to propel me back into the "Running makes me feel good, so let's go for a run" cycle again.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Knuckles Up

This has been one of those weeks where I really understand and can empathize with Stephen Slater, the Jet Blue attendant who snapped on Monday. Like him, I deal with an angry, indifferent general public. I just got worn down listening to everyone tell me how much they hate Steve Jobs, hate Apple and, by extension, hate me.

So this morning I got up and I ran. I ran to angry celtic punk. Each foot fall making satisfying contact with the pavement as I ran in the early morning light. The sweat washing away my anger and frustration while stinging my eyes as it rolled down past my eyebrows. This was the run I needed. This was the run that reminded me why I run.

Through the angry pounding there were moments that made me smile. The bird hopping down the sidewalk ahead of me playing catch. The squirrel that darted back and forth and around me. The smiles and waves of other runners out there today - all of it conspired to channel the anger away from my soul and let it drive me along the road so I could see the joyful things.

It would be a lie to say all is forgiven and I will be open for another day of customer anger, but I am better equipped to handle it today because I ran hard this morning.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

I like running

I do. I like running a lot. Days like today remind me of that reality.

It was the same 4 mile run I do on a regular basis. Today was about pushing some limits in myself and I'm proud to say I rose to my own challenge. Granted there were some uncomfortable moments that made me wish my route had a bathroom on the way - so having to walk large segments until things adjusted properly is not fun, but it's not the worst that could happen either.

The running was longer and stronger than I have done in a long, long time. My goal of a consistent 10 min mile is within reach. I see, I feel it and I'm so close I can feel myself breathing down it's hot neck. It was the type of run you come in from, go about your day and see people running and think, "I'd like to go out for another run and join them...."

So the goals for this week: mileage will creep a little this week - 4 miles today and 3 miles on both Tuesday and Thursday. The 3 miles will be limit pushers of longer/stronger run segments.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

There's a word for that..

humid.... crazy.... fabulous....

Those were words on the edge of my consciousness this morning as I went out for 2.5 in heavy, heavy humidity.

Humid has been the word of the summer. It's been a tough summer for asthmatics like me. If it weren't for two puffs of the steroid inhaler before going to sleep each night I would be in horrible shape. No steroid inhaler means lots and lots of rescue inhaler, which means the shakes and upset stomachs galore. Steroid inhaler means I pretty much leave the albuterol in my bag and maybe I might need it in a really touch situation.

Crazy is another word that struck me. Here I am sweating like Richard Simmons in a bedazzled nylon outfit under TV lights. It's not hot out - 75* maybe - but the humidity makes it feel like you're running in a cloud. I'm sweating buckets as I slowly jog along. I purposely slowed myself down today once I opened the front door and realized just how bad it was out there. Most folks were snuggled in air conditioned bedrooms while I'm out huffing and puffing.

Fabulous was another word that came to mind. To finally beat the humidity instead of it beating me was nothing short of feeling fabulous. I ran slowly and steadily in one of the loneliest runs I've had in a good long time. Practically no one was out (see above about air conditioned bedrooms) so it was me out there pushing myself.

There's another word I should add here: accomplishment. I was wearing a shirt I earned in the Apple Nike+ challenge this year. I had a comfortable gait while running. I managed to start shaking the inner loser off my back.

In the end, it all adds up to one thing as best expressed by Tony the Tiger: it was


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

two steps forward...

Going out for 2.5 miles felt like a step back instead of a step forward. Really, going out for a half hour was like going out for a quickie. And yet, this is how I'm adding a run and mileage. As I said, the increase plan this week was to go from 2 four mile runs to 1 long run on Sunday and two shorter runs on Tues/Thurs. It's more mileage, more time running but sensible.

This morning I got to the turn around point. Normally I cross the street and run up the hill, not circle back. It was a hair frustrating and yet I felt I could (and did) run for longer stretches. My stride felt relaxed and it was a good run.

It also allowed me to beat my inner loser back down. The inner loser used to run with me a lot a few years back. He usually resurfaces after an injury and I have to beat him back down again. This morning, after I turned around, he stuck his head out of that dark place and began whining: he was tired, he couldn't breathe, this is hard, isn't that why you're not running as far today? wah wah wah wah wah.

For a second I slowed my stride and thought about walking when that strong core in me said, "What the hell are you doing girl?" I grabbed onto the reality that I was reducing to increase... a bit of a paradox I guess. Was I straining a little? Well yeah, the humidity was creeping up a bit this morning ... but no biggie. I pushed forward and left the inner loser crying on the curb.

Like the garden gnomes in Harry Potter, he'll climb back in over the garden wall when he gets a chance and thinks no one's looking but for now I'm good and strong and on my way to being a strong runner again.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Can I get a Woot!

This week's challenge: add a run and miles without overdoing. So I decided to add a third run but make my Tues/Thurs run a 2.5-3 mile run.

So today I set out for a 4 miler and along the pedestrian mall piece on the way back I did my Achilles grapevine while listening to some Flatfoot 56 doing some amazing pipe playing. I flew through and at the end of the block I let out a "WOOT! YEAH!"

One of the Sunday gazelle runners going by smiled and gave me a high five.

Funny how runners do things like that. I have seen folks congratulate other runners when they let out little "woo hoo" stuff. I've seen runners help complete strangers get through a difficult stretch - running or walking along with them and encouraging them.

It's a good feeling that even in a sport where it's you vs yourself, you're still not alone.