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Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Marathon

Sunday aka Marathon Day
3:30 a.m. The alarm goes off.  I laid out my clothes, shoes, and nutrition the night before so I dressed in a hurry, applied sunscreen, and was out the door.

4:00 a.m.  Met my team in the lobby of a the hotel.

4:45 a.m.  Still trying to figure out why I had to be in the hotel lobby at 4:00 a.m., when we are just now getting on the bus.

5:05 a.m.  Get off the bus.  Realize I left my breakfast (a peanut butter and honey sandwhich on the bus).  Walk to the corrals/start.  Trying to figure out why the bus couldn't drop us a little closer.  Eat a waffle.  Drink some water.  Wait in line for the port-o-potty.

6:00 a.m.  Line up in the corral.  Moooooo.   Realize I need to go to the bathroom again.  Line up for the port-o-potty again.   Note to self:  you are in corral 30, which means you are at the back of the race pack.  Do not use any port-o-potties along the route.    Back to the corral.

7:00 a.m.  Start running.   Feel great.  

8:00 a.m.  Five miles done.  Still feel great.

9:00 a.m.  9+ miles done.   Still feel pretty good. 

9:45 a.m. Still feel pretty good, but decide to slow pace and take some more nutrition.

10:15 a.m.  Feel nausous.  Tear up.  Plan to stop at next medical tent.  Get, there, tell them what's happening.  They ask a bunch of questions about blood sugar and tell me to sit down.  Ask if I want to get on the shuttle they are calling for the girl sitting next to me.  She's shaking. 

10:30 a.m. Throw-up.   Feel better and worse.  I'm somewhere around mile 17.   I am starting to feel cold, so I need to make a decision as to what to do.    Rinse out my mouth and start walking.   Have a sudden flash that I am going to have to do another marathon being I am not going to be able to run the whole thing.  After this point, all times are estimates.  

11:00 a.m.  Finally get around to asking a team in training coach what I should do.   She advised that if I am okay walking, I should take in as much water as I can, and a few sips of gatorade.   But, I don't need to take any more nutrition.  I decide I will definitely walk the rest of the course. 

12:00 p.m.  Still walking.   My pace is good.  If I keep this pace I can still finish in under six hours.

12:30 p.m.  Still walking.   Realize I hate walking.

1:00 p.m.  Still walking. Still hate walking.  Random twenty something starts riding his bicycle next to me telling me I can do it.  I threaten to knock him off his bike and ride the rest of the way to the finish line.  He doesn't believe me.   I would have, but I didn't know if I could pedal.   A woman who is walking the marathon walks with me the next two miles.   She is walking at a 13.75 minute mile pace.   If you have never walked that pace, - it is fast.  I keep up with her for two miles.

1:30 p.m.  Still walking.  Alone now.  This blows.  I am in the final stretch.  At least that's what all the damned coaches, spectators, water stop workers and cheerleaders keep telling me.  Who the hell decided to have cheerleaders come out and cheer marathoners on?   Hated cheerleaders in highschool, still hate them.  Shut the ef up. 

1:45 p.m.  Still walking.  Realize that unless the magic fairies pick me up and carry me to the finish line, I will not make my goal time of finishing in six hours.    The magic fairies, however, appear to be evil.   Oh, wait, that's just more cheerleaders.  I tear up again. 

2:15 p.m.  See Corey and Emily, my Team in Training Coaches.  Do start to cry.  Emily walks me almost to the finish line.   See Justin and Oliver, stop, chat, give kisses, time doesn't matter anymore. 

2:23 p.m.  Finish.  Vow never to do a marathon again.  Ever.  Run or walk this effer is done.  Somehow manage to make it home, it involved a pedi-cab, goldfish crackers and a trolley.  That's all I remember.   Took a bath.  It was hot.  Ef ice baths.  Showered, put on pajamas, slept. 

7:00 p.m.  Wake-up.  Hurt like hell.   Watch Mad Men.   Apparently don't hurt as badly as Lane.  Go to dinner. 

10:00 p.m.  Go to bed. 

Monday aka The Day After
9:00 a.m.  Wake-Up.  Still alarmingly sore.  Still vow never to do another marathon, - ever.   But, ready to reflect on the experience.  

I had an awesome experience.   That's right, despite all of the explitives, my expeirience going from zero to 26.2 was amazing.   What started out as a way to honor my Dad, while doing something I never thought I could do, put my mental and physical strengths to the test.   Along the way, I was thrown constant curve balls, from work, from Oliver, and from my own immune system.   But, I met amazing people, shared stories, learned what the human spirit could accomplish (both my own and others) and raised over $3300 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma foundation (note:  not all donations are yet reflected in my totals on the fundraising page, -- feel free to continue to donate). 

I would be remiss if I didn't give Team in Training an endorsement.   The enthusiasm of the campaign manager, Lauren, the coaches, Emily & Corey, and the mentors, especially Andrea, Kerry, and Christine, provided me with strength to train from week to week.   When I thought that I couldn't do it, there was always someone next to me to tell me that I could.   The other participants were equally inspiring.   Everyone brought their own stories to the training.  Many, like me, had personally been affected by the disease.  Unlike me, many had lost family members, and were running in memory of, instead of in honor of their loved ones.   There were also amazing honored teammates who were running because they themselves were survivors or living with leukemia or lymphoma.  While in San Diego, a marthon sponsored by TNT, people lined the streets to cheer the participants on.   Coaches were everywhere, -- when I needed advice they were there.  When I needed encouragement they were there.  And, when I just needed to make it to the finish line they were there.   The support was amazing.   If you are stupid enough to want to run a marathon, I would without hesitation recommend TNT.   You too now have a personal connection to the foundation.  

On a more personal level, I again, started this to honor my Dad.   As some of you may have noticed, his wasn't the only name on my t-shirt.   I also added my cousin-in-law, Melissa.   She herself survived childhood leukemia and became an inspiration to me along this journey.   I also found out that Justin's great grandmother had died of leukemia and that a close friend of his sister has a Dad that is currently undergoing treatment.  I should also mention my dear friend, Suzanne, who did the same marathon six years ago, in honor of her mother, both of whom continue to inspire me.

I feel very fortunate that my Dad is still hitting the slopes and living life to its fullest and getting to spend time with his grandson (who will also be hitting the slopes next winter).   The type of leukemia he has tends to come back.  It is my sincere hope, that through this fundraising mission, that if it does, there will be new treatments and that one of them will cure it forever. 

Finally, on a purely individual level, I learned what I can do.  I finished an effing marathon.

A Pictoral Account of the Day 

This is what Oliver was doing while I was up at 3:30 a.m.

This is what Luci was doing while I was up at 3:30 a.m.

This is me at 3:30 a.m.   Don't I look excited?

How about now?  A special thanks to Justin for taking these pictures at 3:30 a.m.  He was wise enough not to be photographed at 3:30 a.m.

Note how far I actually am from the starting line.

Running.  This is almost to the end.....

The reward.

I'll take it over a medal any day.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Final Stretch - with a run through Texas

Last week, I didn't post an entry.   The week before last, I only did one midweek run.  Then I left for Texas.   Saturday morning, I did wake up at 6:00 a.m., but instead of heading out for 12 mile run, I headed out for Austin, and my brother-in-law's college graduation.   After three hours in the car, we arrived at the hotel just in time to change and get to the graduation, then there was dinner and drinks, and fireworks.   The next day was breakfast, and family photos, oh, and packing up said brother-in-law.   (I didn't actually help, but Justin did).   Then dinner and back in the car to Dallas.  Monday, I worked from my in-laws house and finally made it out for a run that afternoon around five o'clock.  I ran about 30 minutes, and vowed never to run in the evening while in Texas again.   The next day flew by, and Wednesday morning I woke at the crack of dawn.   It wasn't intentional, - I had been eaten alive by mosquitos the day before and couldn't sleep due to the itching.     So, I ran about four miles.   It was 8:30 am when I got home and I am pretty sure that I sweated enough to fill actual buckets.   Thursday and Friday went by with no running.  I planned to do 10 miles on Saturday.   The training schedule only said 8, but I missed the 12 mile so I thought I would add an extra two to even it out.  Well, apparently failing to sleep due to my itching finally caught up with me and I overslept and didn't get out on my run until about 9:30.   I had to be at my sister-in-law's graduation from high school at noon, so 10 miles was out of the question.   At 2.3 I thought I was going pass out.  Seriously.   I walked into the house and straight to an ice cold shower.   I hate cold as you may have picked up from previous blog entries.  (If you missed it, check out "8 miles in the Rain" and "The Ice Bath").  I have vowed never to run in Texas again.   

We flew back to California the next day, and on Monday morning I set out to do 8 miles.  With only a week left until the marathon, I didn't want to over-do it, but I was feeling pretty good.  For the first time I ever - I maintained a pace under 11 minutes for the first 7 miles.  The last mile, I went up to 11:11.  I never thought I would see that type of improvement.   I have no intention of matching that pace in the marathon.   In fact, I hope to stay between 12 and 12.5 minute miles.   At the beginning of the season, I said that speed was all about perception, and that remains true here at the end.   I am  excited by the improvement that I have seen.  Even the tortoise has someone behind him.

As I go into this next week, I am getting nervous.   The farthest I have run so far is 19 miles and yet I am facing 26.2.   To make matters worse, the hip pain that has plagued me - but not stopped me - all season, flared up yesterday worse than ever before.   As has been the case for the last few weeks, work continues to be stressful and I am may ultimately end up trying a case next Wednesday.   I am concerned about the weather, I am concerned about what to eat and drink this week.  I am especially concerned about whether or not I will get enough sleep in light of my toddler's recent decision not to sleep in his own bed.  I have a lot of doubts about my ability to accomplish this endeavor.   I play games in my head, - just like I have all season.  Sometimes I calculate the the pace I need to keep in order to finish the race in under six hours, 13.74.   Sometimes I promise not to be hard on myself if I have to walk the last six miles.   Sometimes, I think about how after doing this, I will probably keep running (not right after doing this - more like a couple weeks after this).   I even go so far as to think about doing half marathons in the future or celebrating my 40th birthday with a triathlon (40 is two years away -  that should be enough time to recover, right?).   I wonder about what Justin is going to do with Oliver while I am running.  I wonder if I am going to actually physically collapse at the end.   I have a great deal of uncertainty about whether I will have enough nutrition on me, and whether it is suddenly going to upset my stomach.   I am, well, a little bit of a mess.  

This time next week, I will have run a marathon.   I will have raised over $3200 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society.  I will have honored my Dad, my Cousin, the mom of one of my closest friends, Justin's great grandmother, and my sister-in-law's friend's father.  I wish I didn't personally know so many people affected by Leukemia or Lymphoma, and I wish there weren't so many other people, that I don't know, affected by this disease.  But, as this journey from zero to 26.2 comes to a close, I feel thankful.  Thankful to have a body that can make this journey, thankful that so many of those people are still with me and can support me in this endeavor, and thankful to all those who have donated.    So, thank you my dear friends and family, for your generosity of spirit and boundless enthusiasm.   

Sunday, May 13, 2012

20 Miles - I am going to die - just like Phidippides

I thought this would be a good week for us to take a brief look at the history of the marathon.   Phidippides was the Athenian runner who ran from the plains of Marathon to the city of Athens, approximately a 26 mile while run, and died shortly thereafter of exhaustion.    It was his job to inform the City of Athens that the Athenians had defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon and to warn them that the Persians were on their way.     Now, my immediate thought, is that if someone died running 26 miles, then perhaps it is not the wisest thing for me, or anyone else, to do.  And, yet, since the inception of the modern Olympics, people have run the marathon.    A closer look reveals that Phidippides, was actually a "professional" runner, much like Olympic runners.   That's what this guy did, - run.  This seems to support my earlier hypothesis, that I , a non runner, should not be running a marathon.    

This hypothesis is also supported by my experience running Saturday.    Once again I had to be at the practice at 6:30 a.m., this, in and of itself, is actually a valid reason for me to not run a marathon.   Once we got started running, I felt pretty good.   The first 6 miles, - all good.  The next 6 miles -- not dead yet.   About 15.5, I thought about killing myself I was so miserable.   At 18, my back spasmed.  WHAT?    What the hell was that?   Oh, and it kept doing it.  So, I walked the last two miles, trying to stretch out my back periodically.    I stretched a little when I finished, and then got in my car to go home.   I walked into my house and could barely move!   I contemplated an ice bath, but decided, hells no!  (see previous entry on the ice bath), so I took a hot shower and stretched some more.    Then I proceeded to fall asleep on the sofa for 45 minutes.   I seem to vaguely recall Oliver playing legos, but for all I know, he could have stuffed legos up both our noses and I wouldn't have been the wiser.    I finally got up and went to lunch and shopping.   I was so tired.   And, sore.   My feet, knees, hips, back, shoulders, eyes and head all hurt.     Clearly, my body had decided that this much running was unacceptable.    Again, all supporting the aforementioned hypothesis. 

During my run, the mentor I was running with had mentioned the story of Phidippides, -- she said something, like, just think if he would have died after only 21 miles, then that would have been the marathon.   And, I thought, "damn fool, I wish he would have died after 21 miles."   I was trying to remember the whole story, I remembered that he was in fact a messenger, but I seemed to recall that there was more to it than just the 26 miles.   So, I looked it up.  (Thank you wikipedia).   It turns out, prior to that 26 mile run, Mr. Phidippides had run 140 miles each way back and forth to Sparta, and had fought in the battle of Marathon.  So, he didn't actually die from running the 26.2.   He died from running 306 miles.    The idea of someone running that far makes me laugh.   Or cry.   

So, I thought to myself, how many people have died running a marathon?   I googled that too.  I couldn't find an exact number, but the risk appears to be .8 per 100,000 people.    I tried to figure out how many people would be running the San Diego marathon, and the best estimate I could find was 40,000, -not even 100,000 people.   I figure that means  the odds are ok that I won't actually die (to all you math nerds, I know that is not how probability works, but I'm trying to make a point here).   I am just going to feel like I did.  

Running While Sick

For the second time since I started training for this marathon, I got sick.   Really sick.   

During the week, after working 10-12 hours, all while blowing my nose endlessly, it's tough to motivate to go out for a run.   But, with 18 miles looming before me on Saturday, I didn't want to miss the group run.   And, cold medicine got me through the week, -- so surely it could get me through the run, right?   Answer is no.   Advice for this week is do not run while high on cold medicine.  It is probably good advice to not run while high on anything, but it has been quite a few years since any other sensory altering substances have entered my blood stream, so let's just say cold medicine.  

Friday night I knew I needed to sleep, so Nyquil seemed like the obvious choice.   Saturday morning, I needed to get up and run, and Dayquil was sitting right there on my kitchen counter next to the coffee maker.   Seemed reasonable at 6:30 in the morning, after having taken the Nyquil only 7 hours before, to pop a couple.   I should note, I am not quite coherent at 6:30 in the morning, even on my best days, so in a Nyquil fog, my senses were probably already impaired.   Anyway, I showed up to practice (late), and we got started running.   About 9 miles in, I realized I was lightheaded, at about 10 1/2, it dawned on me that I had taken in a lot of cold medicine in the previous 10 hours.   By 12 miles I thought I was going to faint.   I told the mentor I was running with to go on with out me, and that I would just walk it off.  Fortunately, she didn't, because really, that statement is just more evidence that I was a little loopy.   Seriously?  I feel faint, why don't you leave me alone, three miles from my car.  Anyway, she walked with me the last six miles of the course.   

In addition to the big take away of this week (reminder:  don't do drugs and run), I would also like to give a shout out to the people who walk the marathon.   Because I walk all the time, it never occurred to me what a bitch it is to walk that many miles.  Granted by the time I started walking I had already run 12 miles, but the next day, my legs hurt in totally different places than usual.   My hip is always sore the next day (I am old), but my calves had never hurt before, but they did that day!    Walking a marathon, -- or a half marathon is no joke!   So a serious, you rock to all the walkers out there.  

And, just as a side note, if you do do drugs before running, you can probably walk it off.   But, I recommend having someone walk with you, because otherwise, you could very well end up in a ditch.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Running Alone

Last Friday night was rough.   I didn’t sleep at all.   6:30 a.m. rolled around and there was simply no way I could make it to my practice.  I needed sleep desperately.   So, I turned the alarm off, rolled over and slept until 10.  

Later that afternoon I emailed my coach to find out if I could run with the Westside team on Sunday.  I was set and ready to go.   But, once again, someone (or something) reared it’s ugly head and I was deprived of sleep.   I did manage to make it out of bed by around 7:30 a.m., laced up my running shoes and took off on my ten mile run by myself.  

I run by myself in the evenings 2-3 times per week.   But the majority of these runs are between 2 ½ and 3 ½ miles.   I follow some variation of the same route every evening.   But, I knew if I was going to do 10 miles I needed to mix it up a bit, so I started running east away from my house.   About 2 miles east I turned north for about a 1/2 mile (did I mention that east is flat and north is a hill?) then it was time to go east again for another half mile.    Finally, at last, west.   About 2 miles west there is a drop, woah!  Oh, no, it’s time to go north again!   Going north, north, north, and, okay, going South.    Relief.   About that time I realize, thanks to my handy dandy iphone app, that I have gone 7 miles, but I am only about 1 mile from my house.   I have to get in another two miles.  I am going to have to go north again!!!!  I know what you are thinking, why does she keep going North when there is the possibility of going South?   Well, for starters I deeply fear the South.   Nothing good ever happens when you go South.   In the case of whether I live, about a mile a Southeast of where I live, I hit gang territory.  North of where I live, are crazy celebrity mansions.   Hills or no hills, I’m going North.   I finally made it to 9 miles – at the top of a gently sloping hill, which meant the last mile home was going to be super easy.   It may have been the fastest I have ever run.  

Running alone is, not surprisingly, a little bit lonely.   When I run with the group, there is conversation and commiseration to keep me going.   But, out there alone, its all me.  And, well, I am just not that interesting to myself.   I’ve been told to expect to run most of the marathon alone.   Sure, I will start with people I know, and I may even make new friends along the way, but the marathon is an individual sport.   The thing about that sentiment is, while I will be running alone, I will be running with all the camaraderie and support that friends, family and the team have given me a long the way.   With all that, I could never really be alone.    So, I suspect that when I finally run the marathon, that will the be the fastest I will have ever run.   

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Week 12 Murphy's Law or Irony: You be the Judge

Murphy's law:   Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Irony:  an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.

On Saturday, our team met at Griffith Park for our sixteen mile run.   Now, fourteen had gone really well, twelve had sucked, so sixteen was anyone's guess.  But, the last time we ran at Griffith Park, I felt awesome afterwards.    Griffith Park is shady, it is closer to my home than where we usually run, and I know the area really well.   I like running at Griffith Park. 

I arrived on Saturday ready to run, and feeling confident.   Sixteen was totally doable (in my  head).  I set off on my run.  I knew it was going to be warm, so I wore short sleeves.  I never wear short sleeves.  I felt pretty good.  But, it was hot.  Not like, African Safari hot, but definitely hotter than usual - and we were in Griffith Park, not in the valley!   I realized immediately that I needed more water than usual.  I also started drinking a sports drink.   I also didn't hesitate to take some nutrition.   But, by mile twelve, I was definitely dragging.   By fifteen I was walking.  But, I got through sixteen, one way or another.  

The rest of the weekend was awesome.   After coming home and showering, we headed off to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and enjoyed our time at the children's stage.  Then we hit up a party (for a five year old, way  more sophisticated than our usual 2-3 year old parties).   Sunday morning we visited the zoo with some friends and their daughter (much to my son's delight).    By Sunday night I was so tired…..

Then Monday came.   As some of you may have noticed, this blog post did not go up on Tuesday per the usual.   Monday came, and I billed 10 hours, Tuesday came and I billed 10.5 hours, Wednesday came and I billed 11.5 hours.   In two and a half weeks, I go to trial.   That's right, every day for the next three weeks is going to look exactly like the last three days.   Oh, and I still have other clients who will require my attention.

When I began preparing for this journey, work was a little bit light.   Now, I can't see the light of day.   This weekend, I only have to run 10 miles (who knew that sentence would ever leave my mouth!)   But, the following weekend is 18, then 20, and two weeks after that 26.2.  At this particular moment, as I put aside my files to type this blog, I do not know how I am going to find the time to run,  at all.     

Monday, April 16, 2012

Week 11 - The Ice Bath

On Saturday I ran 14 miles.  It was exhausting.   Then, I came home and took an ice bath.   I have been trying to think of something profound to say about my experience this past weekend, - what a huge accomplishment 14 miles was, how I persevered, to come back after a miserable run the week before, -- but instead, I keep coming back to the ice bath.  

For weeks I have heard from my pace group leader about how great ice baths are for recovery.  She assured me that once we reached a certain amount of mileage, I would go home, jump in the ice bath, and feel awesome all afternoon - as if I hadn't run at all.   I talked to a variety of people on this topic most of whom sang the virtues of the ice bath.   Every now and then, there would be a naysayer, someone who admitted that they just couldn't do it.  But, those folks were few and far between.   So, I assumed that at some point I would try the ice bath.  

I knew going into my run on Saturday, that I would be biking on Sunday, it was CicLaVia.   CicLaVia is a yearly event in Los Angeles.  Ten miles of city streets are closed down for the enjoyment of cyclists.   There are a few roller bladers and pedestrians out too, but the bikes get to rule the streets for the day.   When we ride, I pull Oliver along behind me in a bright yellow trailer.  The trailer itself weighs about 20 pounds.  Add on top of that Oliver's 33 pound frame and all of our stuff (snacks, water, sweatshirts, diapers, wipes, three different types of sunscreen) and it's a heavy load to pull.   But, Justin rides a vintage (read:  ancient) Schwinn that he refuses to part with, so my bike is the only one that can pull the trailer.   Anyway, I knew we were going to ride, and I didn't want to take any chances that I would be in pain, - so I decided it was time for the ice bath. 

After I got home from my run, Justin ran down to the 7-11 to buy ice and chocolate milk (it's a great recovery drink!).   When he got home he filled the bath up with cold water.  I pulled on a sweatshirt and Oliver's owl hat and made myself a large cup of steaming hot tea.    I started to get in the water and knew it was going to be trouble from the moment I dipped my big toe.  Justin egged me on.   Finally, as I sat down in the water, Justin dumped a bag of ice over the top of me, -- scratching my leg I might add.   I screamed.   I screamed like baby, - a baby being put in an ice bath.   I found it excruciatingly painful.    Justin, on the other hand, was gleeful.   

Oliver came into check on me.  He understood this bath was different and asked me why I was taking a cold bath.   I explained to him, that the cold bath was like a boo boo buddy.   Mommy, I explained, had an owie and needed the ice.    He seemed to get  it and thoughtfully said "Mommy has a big owie."     

On Sunday I did ride through the streets of LA.    I don't know if the ice bath actually helped or not, or if I would have been able to ride without it.   I do know that after my ride on Sunday, I had an even bigger owie than I did the day before.  This time, however, instead of slipping into an ice cold bath, I decided to slip into a nice glass of wine, - or as I explained to Oliver, a glass of Mommy juice.   He, again, thoughtfully surmised, "Mommy has big juice."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Week 9 - Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Last Sunday, after Saturday's 10 mile run, I noticed that I felt a little achy.  By bedtime, I was running a low grade fever, that kept up throughout Monday and Tuesday.  It was accompanied by a sore throat, head and chest congestion and fatigue.   I felt terrible all week.  Because of this, I did not do any mid-week runs last week.  

By the time Saturday rolled around I was feeling better.   Not great but better, and the last thing I wanted to do was miss my Saturday run too.   I had 12 miles to do.  So, when my alarm went off at 6:15 a.m. I climbed out of bed, into my running shoes and headed out the door.  

I started off the run at my usual 12 mph pace (I know it’s still slow!), but here’s the thing, -- I couldn’t keep up, my chest was throbbing.  I dropped down to a slower pace group (yes, there are slower groups).  That was at about mile 3.5.   The slower pace was better, -- I am not entirely sure how slow I was going, but it was slow, and I made it to about mile 9, and at that point I knew I was in trouble.   I couldn’t catch my breath – and to make matters worse I could feel a blister forming.  So, I told the group I was running with that I didn’t think I would be able to finish 12.   The two girls were supportive, we took a short break at just under 10 miles and decided to just work on short one minute interval runs.   That worked for about another mile, - and then I was just done.   I couldn’t run another mile.   But, I had come eleven miles – it seemed kind of silly to just go home when there was only one more mile to go.   Instead of running it, I walked it.  I got in twelve miles on my legs even if I didn’t run them all. 

That afternoon when I got home, my whole body was sore.   A whole different kind of sore than I had experienced after any of my other runs.  I showered and put on sweat pants (which is what I do after every run; Justin may burn my sweat pants when this is all over) and we decided to walk to lunch about a half mile down hill from where we live.   I was moving super slowly.  We ate, (I was ravenously hungry), and then started back up the hill.    At some point, I actually started limping.   I thought about kicking my two year old out of the stroller and making Justin push me instead.  But, I finally made it home.  Later that afternoon, I made cupcakes and watched a couple of episodes of Dr. Who to help myself recover (that sonic screwdriver fixes everything!)  By evening, I was able to help Oliver color Easter eggs.   By Sunday, I was chasing him around the yard, and by yesterday, I was back to running my usual neighborhood route.  I was a little slower than before I got sick but I got it done.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Week 8 – 10 Miles and a Mathematical equation

It’s only the eighth week and I cracked double digits.   That’s an exciting milestone, - or so they tell me.  I, in response to having completed 10 miles on Saturday morning, nearly had a panic attack when I started to do some calculations.   Granted, this would not be the first time that math has caused anxiety for me, but hear me out. 

In 8 weeks, I have come to run 10 miles.   At first glance it appears I averaged a gain of 1.25 miles a week.  But, that’s not really accurate because we started this whole thing off at 3 miles.   So, I have to subtract 3 from 10, (for those of you who also have difficulty with math, that’s 7), which means my actual rate of mileage accrual was .875 miles per week.  

There are 9 weeks remaining between now and the marathon.   That means adding….16.2 miles!   And, that means adding an average of 1.8 miles every week between now and the marathon.   I hope you are starting to see why panic set in.  Up until now, I was optimistic about this whole experience, after all this is a well–thought out program that I am following that lots of people have followed before me.  But, these are cold hard numbers staring me in the face.   Who can argue with numbers?

Well, later that afternoon as the panic subsided, I was feeling substantially better than I usually do after my morning runs.  I was wide awake, playing with Oliver, grocery shopping and getting things done around the house.   While doing all that I realized that if I had only committed to doing a half marathon, I could probably go out and do it next weekend (don’t get excited my schedule has me doing 12 miles and that’s as far as I am going), but realistically, I probably could do a half.   What would have been the challenge in accomplishing something in 17 weeks, that I now know I could have done in 9? None.   That reconfirmed my belief that choosing to do the full marathon was the right choice.  

A little later still, however, I realized that my higher level energy may not have actually been due to physical gains on my part, but rather, the fact that practice started at 8 on Saturday, not 7.   Damn numbers.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Week 7 - My First 10K

So, I know I did 8 miles last week, and this is only 6.2, but it was still exciting to get out and experience an actual race.  There were no pace groups this week, but a couple of other people from my team were planning a 12 mile an hour (mph) pace with 3 minute intervals.  I was hoping to do 4, but figured I would stick with 3 and socialize a bit.   We started off a little fast, with the first mile at just over 10 mph.   The next two miles were about 11 mph.  At that point, I knew I was going too fast, and would not be able to maintain that speed.  That is significantly faster than what I run when I am left to my own devices (13 mph) and faster than my Saturday morning pace group (12.5).   However, I wasn’t the only one, the small group I was a part of began to slow and at the slower pace 12mph pace, mile 4 went by pretty easily.  One member of the group was not feeling great, so we took a five minute walk break to see if that helped.   The five minute walk break was a bit tough for me to come back from.  Once my body has a chance to cool off that much, it has decided its done.   But, I shocked it back into action with a pretty significant uphill climb.   I was able to run the first two hills, but definitely had to walk the third.   At the end of the hills, I broke away from my group.  I needed to run just a little bit further at a time (and, well, it was downhill and flat from that point on).   So, I ran the last mile or so into the finish line, taking only one twenty second or so break (yep, you guessed it, another hill).  I ultimately finished the race, at a 12.4 mph pace and I could have easily kept going.

As you may remember from my earlier posts, speed has not been a concern of mine during training.  I haven’t worked on increasing my speed, either during the week or on the weekend.  Instead, I have focused solely on adding mileage and endurance.    But, what became clear to me during this run, is that I might actually be underestimating my own ability.  This is not to say that I am going to set a goal time for finishing the marathon.   For the marathon itself, a finish is still a finish.   But, for my practice runs during the week, I think it is time to push myself a little bit harder, and a little bit faster.

At the end of the race, the expo was set up with lots of energy food purveyors and coconut water distributers.  There were also bounce houses shaped like obstacle courses and corporate sponsors of every shape and form.   One of these corporate sponsors brought along the Lorax (this was by the way, the most exciting part of the day for Oliver).   Seeing the Lorax, I myself was reminded of a quote from the Once-ler.  Talking about a seed, he said:  It's not about what it is. It's about what it can become.  

I don't know yet what I will become as a result of this experience, but I think it is worthwhile, for me to push myself, to see what I can become.

The Great Race of Agoura - 10 K photos

This was taken almost immediately after I crossed the finish line at the Agoura 10K.   Maybe not my best look.

But Oliver didn't seem to think I looked so bad!   Or, at least he was willing to be held despite Mommy's appearance.

But I think he was even more excited to get to see the Lorax!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Week 6 - Rain, Rain, Go Away

Saturday morning at 6:15 a.m. I woke up, brushed my teeth, got dressed, ate one piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana, and had one cup of coffee.  Then, I opened the door.   It was raining.   I knew it was raining before I opened the door, but, up until that moment, I had been in deep denial.   As I walked out the door, I said to Justin (who was barely conscious) “I don’t think I can do this today.”  

I got in my car and started driving toward my Saturday meeting spot.  It seemed as if every mile it rained just a little bit harder.  After I arrived I stood huddled with the group under a shelter while announcements were read.   Normally, I enjoy the announcements.  Not Saturday.  The longer I stood, the greater my anxiety about the run grew and the colder I became.  I wasn’t even wet yet.   Twenty minutes later we were running into a monsoon.  

Individuals training for the half marathon would be doing seven miles.   I, and others training for the full marathon, would be doing eight.   The first mile went by with much joking and frivolity.  The second mile, I realized that at some point, I might cry.   By the third mile, I was convinced that there was no way I could make it past five.   The only reason I thought I could even go five is because I was, at that point about two miles away from my car.   Other people in the group tried to remain optimistic.   I left optimism at the start line.  I was cold.   It was only mile three and my shins hurt.   My shins never hurt.  

Mile four and five went by as I ran through puddle after puddle, my shoes filling with water, squishing with every step.   Mile six and seven, I felt even colder as we began our run by the lake.   The rain was no longer falling down, it was going side ways.   It actually stung my face.  By the eighth mile the group had dwindled, the half marathoners were gone.  It was me, my pace group leader, and the team coach.  My hip was starting to hurt, my toes were numb.  But, I kept going.  About half way through the eight, my mentor came running up.  She was just checking to make sure everyone was doing okay.   With the three of them, I made it to the end of the eighth mile.  Without them, I would not have made it.   Without the team, I wouldn’t have even shown up.  

I peeled off my top two layers, and climbed into my car and drove home.  I was soaked straight through and trembling as I reached the door.   Justin and Oliver, were there waiting for me, with a towel (to make sure I didn’t get mud on the floor).  I quickly explained that I had to get in a hot shower, - now.  I gave Oliver a quick kiss and dashed for the bathroom door.   Even after I emerged from the shower I wasn’t warm.   I went though my day as usual, going out for lunch, grocery shopping, and a trip to Toys R Us, but I was still cold.  I was chilled to the core.  

It was only much later that night as Justin, Oliver, Luci (my chi-weenie) and I snuggled up on the sofa, I finally felt warm again. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Week 5 - Recommitment

When I signed up for Team in Training in January, I was told that on March 13, I would have the opportunity to change my mind about the marathon.   I could change my mind if I felt that I just couldn’t handle the training, or if I didn’t think I was going to be able to meet my fund raising minimum.   Or, if I just decided that a half marathon was enough, I could do that instead.  Whatever the reason, I could turn back.    But, I didn’t and I’m not going to.

Yesterday, I completed all of the paperwork and submitted it.  I am in for the long haul.  To date, I have already met my fundraising minimum ($2200, thank you very much, by the way) and run a total (over 5 wks) of twenty four miles during my Saturday morning practices.  And, I am only one quarter of the way to the race date.   I have more fundraising and more running yet to do.    I set a personal fundraising goal of $3000, and a goal of finishing the full marathon.    

I recommitted.   I think that is a funny word for this experience.   To recommit is nothing more than to commit to something a second time.  But, the word itself makes me think of married couples renewing their vows in a recommitment ceremony.  As someone who hasn’t gotten married a first time, (not for lack of commitment), I have never quite understood the need to do it twice.  For me, form doesn’t matter (as anyone who has watched me run can tell you).   From the moment I made the decision to raise money for a cure and to run this marathon, I have never thought “I can’t finish this.”   I know that organizations require paperwork and releases of liability and so on (I’m a lawyer after all), so I filled out the paperwork in the beginning, and I filled out the “recommitment” paperwork.   But, I know that my dedication to this cause and this race didn’t need affirmation.  

Then again, I’ve got to run eight miles (up from six) Saturday morning, so maybe it is a good thing they asked for the recommitment this week!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Week 4 - The one about the traffic jam

I live in Los Angeles.  Traffic and traffic jams are a way of life.  All those who live here understand that painful experience of sitting in traffic.  Rush hour can change a 20 minute travel time into an hour.   An accident on the 405 can derail a day at the beach.  It is something we here in LA live with day in and day out. 
On Saturday morning, I went to my early more training run, - six miles of blood, sweat & tears.  Okay, not true.  It was six miles, it was tough, but I got through it.  No blood.  No tears.  Just sweat.  I cooled down and stretched a little before climbing into my car for what should be a 12-15 minute drive home.   Then, as I pulled on to the 101 freeway, -- there it was, a parking lot of cars.  I sat, and waited, and waited and waited.   I made a few calls and answered some emails on my blackberry (that’s right, it’s illegal, but I did it anyway).  I waited for over 40 minutes to go…1.3 miles.   That is longer than it takes me to run 1.3 miles!  Traffic cleared and shortly thereafter I arrived home to a wonderful afternoon with Justin & Oliver. 
By yesterday my memories of the traffic jam had faded.   After all, this is LA, and these things are a way of life.   Then, I received the weekly email from my coach.  She quoted a sign she had seen recently that said:  “You are not stuck in traffic. You are traffic.”  She used this to illustrate a message about perspective and how we are all a part of something larger.   It was a useful and timely message, but it made me rethink my time in my traffic jam.  I have a slightly different take-away in light of my current endeavor. 
I was feeling a little stuck before I started training for this marathon.  I wasn’t exercising regularly, I wasn’t eating properly, stress from my job was really getting to me.  But just by starting to train I feel like my wheels are turning, and I am moving forward.   We are each responsible, in our own way, every time we get stuck, whether it is because we chose to drive a particular road, or whether it is because we ourselves stopped.   That means that we are also responsible for changing our direction.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Week 3 - Being Present

There are many reasons I have never enjoyed running.   It hurts every single part of my body, albeit not all at the same time.   At the beginning, it is generally my lungs gasping for air followed by my ankles popping; the pain then moves up my shins and eventually settles into my hips.   Oh, and the next day, my lower back likes join my hips on a pain date. 

I ran 5 miles this week.  The longest I had ever run before beginning this journey was about 3 miles, and that was about 5 years ago.

But, this weekend, as I completed my fifth mile, I actually felt great.   Maybe it was the routine of the last three weeks or maybe it was the rush of the accomplishment, either way, at the end, I thought to myself, “I can do this.”  Then I thought to myself, “wait a minute, am I  *&%*ing crazy?  That was only 5 miles!  I have 21.2 more than that to do!”  That thought was incredibly overwhelming.  So, I snapped myself back to the present.  When I am present, I do feel the aches and pains that accompany me on my runs, but I also feel the crisp air, the sensation when my breathing starts to level off, the moment my pace becomes comfortable, and the excitement that comes from knowing what I am accomplishing. 

So, for now, I am not focusing on the marathon, instead, I am focusing on the moment.  

Iron-on Transfers

Finally added my name to my shirt!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Week 2 - Gratitude

Saturday was my second team training.  This week we were placed in our pace groups, - as anticipated, I was at the back of the pack, - but I might add, not in the slowest pace group.   From here on out I will be running four minutes, walking one minute, - unless by some miracle there is a dramatic change in my overall fitness ability.   I do not anticipate there will be.  

This week, participants were encouraged to invite friends and family who might wish to participate in the race, or who were just there to provide moral support.   When I arrived bleary eyed at 7:00 a.m., there was my friend Lorna waiting for me.  Throughout the four mile run, Lorna and I chatted about her recent marathon experience (that’s right, she’s already done a marathon, making her a real inspiration!), our jobs, and our families.   She offered insights to help me conquer hills and when I need a little more than a minute of rest towards the end; she let me have it, but then started running again, and helped me push through to the end.    Having her support throughout the run truly enabled me to make it through this week, so I want to offer her my tremendous thanks. 

Her encouragement also made me think about all of the other encouragement I have received from so many other sources.   At 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, I received a text from my Dad, telling me to rise and shine for my training.   During the week between practices, my amazing Partner Justin, took Oliver to the playground so that I could finish my midweek run, despite the fact that he is with Oliver all day, every day, and I know he would like that extra twenty minutes to himself.    Without his support there is no way I could run this marathon.   And, of course, to everyone who has donated to this extremely worthwhile charity.   To all of you, and for all of you, I am grateful.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 1: Perspective

Saturday, February 11, 2012, I ran three miles.   Well, I ran/walked three miles.  This, for me, is amazing.   Prior to March of 2009, I exercised quite a lot, but then I got pregnant, spent much of my pregnancy on bed rest and/or restricted activity (and drank an excessive number of McDonald's Strawberry Milkshakes).   After Oliver, well let's just say, I haven't exactly made time to exercise, and he's now two.   So, the obvious choice was to do a marathon, right?  I thought so too!   I signed up to do Team in Training (TNT), a program of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.   My Dad was diagnosed with Leukemia two years ago, underwent treatment and is doing great now, --  making TNT the perfect way to give back to an important cause.   So, there you have it.  I can’t even run 26 minutes and now I have four months to learn how to run 26.2 miles.

Last Saturday was my first run.  I was relieved to learn that I would not be expected to actually run 26.2 miles.  Instead, we would be training using a run-walk-run method developed by some guy named Jeff Galloway.  I'd never heard of him before, but I already like him.  We were put into groups:  those who wanted to run four minutes and walk one minute; those who wanted to run two minutes and walk one minute; and those who wanted to walk.   Never one to overachieve, I joined the middle group.  Good thing too - turns out three miles is actually much longer than it sounds!   I finished in 36 minutes.   We haven't been put in our pace groups yet, but judging from where I came in, I'll be towards the back of the pack. 

In situations like this, people typically assume that you are disappointed in your performance.  They try to be reassuring and say things like, "slow and steady wins the race."  Well, that may be true, but I don’t think it’s the whole story.

A few weeks ago, while at the zoo, Oliver and I watched the giant tortoise making its way across the enclosure.  Thinking I would use this as a learning opportunity, I asked Oliver, "is the turtle moving slow or fast?"   His response "fast, mommy."  Thinking he was misunderstanding the concepts of fast and slow, I started to explain that the tortoise was moving slow.   He would have none of it, and continued "fast, mommy, tortie fast, like wace cahr" (that’s race car for those of you who don’t speak toddler).  He clearly understood the concepts of fast and slow, so why did he think that the giant tortoise was moving so fast?   At the time, I wrote it off to the peculiar sensibilities of two year olds, but as I thought about it later, it occurred to me, that to him, a giant tortoise coming straight toward him, no matter what speed it is actually going probably looks pretty darn fast.    Speed, like anything else, is a matter of perspective.    

From my perspective, as a slightly overweight working mother of a two-year old, that 36 minute time was pretty darn fast, -and I intend to just keep getting faster!