Monday, November 30, 2009

4,500 Days of Running and Counting

Ah, yes, just as this somewhat-addicted runner was feeling at peace with four days of no exercise (my longest time off since the twins' birth in summer 2005), a friend sends me this article about a woman who is training for her 102nd marathon who has run since January 1, 1997, even through her treatment for breast cancer. I tip my (running) hat to her.


Pajamas in the Daytime

While most folks are groaning about pumpkin-pie overload and tryptophan hangovers, I'm just thankful to be upright with a temperature of 98.6. I got knocked sideways last week by a fever and hacking cough. It crept up on me on Tuesday, but by Wednesday morning I sensed working out was not a wise idea. By Thursday, I was huddled under the covers in my feverish-sweat-soaked p.j.s. Yup, on Thanksgiving, I never even got dressed, a true rarity in my get-up, get-ready world.

Getting sick makes everyone miserable, and I'm no exception, but for me so much of my pity-party is caused by lack of workout. Thanksgiving was the only day I felt too crummy to exercise--a run didn't even cross my fever-addled brain. But on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, I most certainly entertained the idea of a workout, just a little sweat-session. On Day 1 of my illness, the mind-monkeys were particurlarly loud. The fact it was sunny only made matters worse. Finally, mid-afternoon, I put on my Nikes and went for a 20-minute walk. No perspiration, but at least I got a small dose of sunshine.

On Friday and Saturday, I knew hubby-Jack was watching me for signs of idiocy, uh, I mean activity. Coincidentally, I had been sick on Thanksgiving 2008 so he sensed I was pulling a fast one. (If so, I should audition for the role of a TB sufferer, as my coughing acting-chops are well honed...) While I probably could have limped out a short run or a session on a stationary bike, the truth was I didn't have the energy. I hadn't eaten much for days as my appetite was nil.

When I finally went for a trial run yesterday morning, I felt like I was running on fumes. Literally. My legs were running, but my head was swimming. I only went for 30 minutes, an unheard-of short run for me, but it felt plenty long. Today's 48-minute one felt much closer to normal, until I checked the pace on my Nikeplus--about 25 seconds per mile slower than usual.

But I'm confident I'll be right as rain before too long. How do I know? On this morning's run, instead of feverish delusions, my mind swirled with visions of an hour forty-something PR at my mid-January half-marathon. Along with my temperature, my attitude is back to normal, too.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What Are Friends For?

On the heels of my running buddy post, I had to share this email I just got from a friend (who shall remain nameless to save her dignity). I will say that she and I occasionally take a yoga class together, and we worked out at the gym together this week.

"Just did about 40 min on eliptical (flanked by 2 mirrors) and found a 3 ft long piece of toilet paper hanging out of the back of my pants 35 min into my workout. I need a workout buddy.

Yes, I'm assuming you would have told me."

Let's all be thankful for the friends in our lives who would tell us that toilet paper was sticking out of our capris!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Muddy Buddies

I have many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and on Saturday I added "new running buddies" to my list. This weekend, I got to run one of my favorite Portland runs--the length of Leif Erikson Drive, an 11.2-mile long fire road--with a new-to-me group of gals. The run was spearheaded by a woman named Tahni. I've known her casually for a few years but from the moment I met her, I thought we could be friends. Yet, is it just me, or is it tough to make friends with someone when you don't have kids at the same school, on the same soccer team, or in the same dance class?

Lucky for me, Tahni is a social coordinator par excellence who corrals groups of like-minded women together. She lassoed me for her running group. It's tough to join them midweek as they run earlier than I do. (I love running buddies, but I also treasure every minute of sleep!) Running the length of Leif is an undertaking that involves caravanning a car to the far end of the trail. I only get the luxury about once or, at most, twice a year. So I was delighted to join them for reasons both social and logistical.

I really like all of Tahni's gal-pals, all sporty, exuberant, engaging, and thoughtful. Only bummer: Almost all of them run a minute or two per mile slower than I do. Out of five women, only one ran close to my pace (which I'm not saying is speedy, only relatively so on that run). Even so, I returned home hopped on the excitement of having found a new posse to hang with. Now if only I'd be thining, I would have snapped a photo with my phone to show you my new muddy buddies. Next time.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hills Don't Have to be Hell

As planned, I hit the hills this past week. But my as-of-late laid-back approach still affected how I did them. Usually I run for about 20 minutes on the flats, then attack a set of hills repeatedly with a singular focus. For example, there's a cluster of three hills that lead up a nearby ridge. One hill is longer and less steep than the other two. If I'm doing 10 hill repeats, I typically start with three trips up and down the longer hill, then have the meat of my workout be three repeats up and down each of the other two hills, and finish with one more trek up the longer one. Then I run about 15 minutes to cool down.

Instead, on Friday, I decided to embark on a random-for-me route that included a variety of hills. The run started out fairly normally--through my neighborhood and into a bordering park. Then I headed up a fairly gradual hill onto the same ridge. From thereI ran parallel to the ridge, dropping down pretty much any hill I came across, then hustling back up it to the ridge again. I felt like a seamstress stitching the most random pattern across a swatch of fabric.

The end result was the same: 10 hill repeats. But having the hills be spread out over the bulk of my run instead of clustered together in the middle made for a livelier, more free-spirited run. Who knows if the session was any less effective for my body, but my mind sure enjoyed the ride.


Friday, November 6, 2009

End of the Racing Season Part I

Oddly enough, for a competitive person, I've never really had an annual racing calendar. But, looking back, this year I guess I did. Eugene Marathon in May, rowing regionals in June, Red Dress 5K in July, a 10K and Hood to Coast in August, the Merrell Oyster adventure race in September, and the banner month of October with two rowing races (both golds!) and the Nike Women's half marathon.

And now it's come to an end.

Usually, having no foreseeable race would put me into a tailspin of dejection and depression. (I'm talking relative terms here, as I'm a sunny person by nature.) Instead, I can't remember the last time I felt so happy and alive during my morning runs and bike rides. I literally sometimes burst into song on my outtings. I know part of it has to do with the time change--now the sky is pinking up as I head out the door. And part of it may be the tunes I'm playing: On my hour-long run on Wednesday, I listened exclusively to songs from my new favorite show, Glee. (Yes, that's me as Coach Sue Sylvester on Halloween with my burgeoning Cheerios!)

I feel liberated. Not in a racing-was-wearing-me-down way because it wasn't--I approached each race with excitement and exuberance. (Like I said: I'm an upbeat person.) But I do feel footloose and fancy free running without any agenda. I've extended most of my weekday runs, going for an hour instead of 45-50 minutes, yet I'm not watching the time. I'm running for a feeling. I decide on a route I maybe haven't done in a while, then do it. On my recent Glee-fueled run, I paused to watch the sun rise next to majestic Mount Hood.

My plan is to start adding in hill repeats next week, then head back to the track the following week as I'm racing the Cascade Half Marathon in mid-January. But, who knows, maybe I'll just cue up "Can't Fight This Feeling" for the hundredth time and go for a just-for-the-hell-of-it run along the river.