Monday, February 22, 2010

Please Follow Me to

Today's a big step in a long journey that Dimity and I have been on together: The website for our book went live today. With only a month until our book hits stores nationwide (you can already pre-order it on Amazon), we are eager to build a community of strong, spirited runners. Dimity and I will be blogging more frequently. I have so appreciated your support on this blog, and I look forward to even more of a dialog on the new site. Please join the conversation!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Newest Secret Weapons

We all need new tools in our arsenal every so often. Like yesterday I got the twins each a coloring/activity book at the Dollar Tree (or, as the kids call it, "The One-Dollar Store"). When they get loopy, I can distract and entice with the books and some fresh crayons. Or the easy chicken enchiladas recipe my pal Dana sent me.

As for me, I debuted a new pair of speedwork shoes this week--Asics GEL-DS Trainer 15s. They provide the moderate stability I need, but are lighter and faster than my current everyday shoes. I felt like I needed a little get-up-and-go for my first marathon track workout--6 x 800. I was supposed to do them in 3:45, with 1:35 rest in between. I can't run fast and handle too much technology (e.g. pushing buttons several times per lap on my Timex) so instead I recovered with a 200 (half a lap) between each repeat. In the past, my M.O. was to do a full lap (400) after each 800, so I was a bit worried about hitting my target of 3:45.

Silly me: The shoes--plus one other new tool--propelled me to even better times. My times ranged from the overachieving first 800 (3:33) to the slowest (3:43) with most in the 3:39 range. You might say I was a trifle stoked.

And my other secret weapon? I am not going to spill too much, but it is a mouthpiece I'm testing for an article in Runner's World. I was skeptical at first, but after going through some moves with a physical therapist from the company that developed it, I'm rapidly becoming a believer.


Monday, February 8, 2010

What a Difference a Week Makes!

Before I had kids, whenever I was going through a rocky patch--say, a long stretch of no dates--I'd feel like things were entrenched and they'd never change. But since becoming a mother, I realize life changes daily. Take, for example, bedtime battles. Ten days ago, the kids were driving me so insane at bedtime, I was ready to sell them on eBay. I'm ashamed to admit I might even have uttered that (empty) threat when I felt pushed to my limits by the kids arguing, getting out of bed, crying, whining, coming into our room, you know the scene. I felt I was at my wit's end--and I had no clue how to rectify the situation.

Oh, that was so January! Bedtimes are still less-than-calm, but the last few nights, the kids (the twins, in particular) have fallen asleep with a minimum of blood-pressure-raising shenanigans. (See the sleeping kiddos, above.)

Same thing has happened has happened with my marathon training. Honestly, last Monday I was worried I was late to the game and I'd never catch up. Forty-two miles, many, many hills, and just seven days later, and I'm feeling well positioned and primed. Example A: The weekend's long run. I was supposed to do 12 hilly miles at a pace of 9:15-9:45. I was so intent on tackling the climbs (I headed up Rocky Butte, one of Portland's biggest hills) that I lost track of distance. I unintentionally ran a half-marathon exactly...and averaged 8:59-minute miles. Better yet? I felt great at the end. One week down, and looking forward to the next 11. Who knows how things might change, but right now I'm confident and upbeat.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Training for Big Sur Has Officially Begun

As I've said here before, sometimes it works better for me to walk up to something backwards rather than facing it straight on. That's what I'm telling myself I've been doing the last month or two for the Big Sur Marathon, which I'm running on April 25. You see, if I don't convince myself that my weekly hill workouts and long runs for my recent half marathon can also count toward Big Sur training, then I'm already behind the 8-ball!

I have good friends training for Boston (a mere 6 days before my marathon) and they ran 21 miles over the weekend. I ran 12, paltry in comparison. As a mom, I know I'm not supposed to compare myself to others--at least that's what I tell my kids--but it's tough not to check out other runners' plans and mileage totals.

For now I'm sticking to my plan, telling myself I'll just get hurt if I try to make a big jump to keep up with my Boston buddies. I just need to remind myself that the end of April is still a long time from now. (Right????)


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Talk About Dull!

Another just-had-to-share story. Steve and his daughter's tale was inspiring. This one from the Metropolitan Diary in Monday's NYT is stultifying. I applaud the commitment to running, but venture forth! (I have italicized the part I can't fathom.)

"For 20 years, I ran 10 laps around my West Village block every day. I usually ran in the morning before work, but occasionally had to wait until evening.

"On one of those runs after a stressful day af the office, I was feeling really tired as I began my ninth lap. I'd decided to cut my run short until a woman sitting on a stoop called out, 'Is this your last lap?'

"Before I could say a word, her companion answered, 'No, she has one more to go.'

"Needless to say, I went on to complete the full 10 laps."


Monday, January 25, 2010

A Proud Marathon Dad

I had to share this sweet tale from a dad here in Portland named Steve. He and his older daughter, Jennifer, age 26, are training to run Boston together. (That's them up there.) They've run the Portland Marathon together, and both set PRs last May at the Eugene Marathon (Jennifer ran 3:39 and he ran 2:59!). Here's the part of the tale (an email written by Steve) I had to share, as it made this mother tear up:

"For Christmas, I had technical running shirts done up with 'Running Boston with My Dad' on her shirt and 'Running Boston with My Daughter' on my shirt. She always insists on running on my left so her shirt has an arrow pointing right and my shirt has an arrow pointing left. She is super-excited about wearing them and doing that race. I thought she'd think the shirts were corny, but instead she cried and told me it was the best gift she'd ever received. I'm going to run every step of the Boston Marathon with her so watch for us on video at the finish line in our funny shirts!"

I know I daydream about sharing something so special with one (or all!) of my children.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NYT Gear Test: iPhone Holders

I'm proud of my first New York Times story in 2010 so had to share. If you're old school, look for it in paper tomorrow.

Off for trade show and cold-weather, altitude running in Salt Lake City. Here's hoping for no lung-wrecking inversion!


Monday, January 18, 2010

New Half Marathon PR

1:46:14 by my watch. That's what I ran yesterday at Cascade Half Marathon. More than 3.5 minutes faster than I ran it last year, and more than 6 minutes better than 2008. I'd told myself I wanted to run 1:47 this year, but my unspoken goal was 1:45. Maybe if there hadn't been headwinds on parts of the flat course, I could have shaved off 15 seconds or more.

I felt strong and capable the entire way and had a good finishing kick, yet why was I not jumping for joy at the end? Once again a classic case of not meeting my "true" goal. Like last year at Eugene Marathon: All along I'd been aiming to break 4 hours, yet about halfway through training, I got it in my head that I could qualify for Boston. When I shattered 4:00, but missed BQing by 1:38 minutes, I was left with stinging disappointment.

I wasn't that bummed yesterday, but I was let down to have come so close yet miss 1:45. As I have mulled over my reaction, I've decided it must be genetic. When I was in school, my mom specialized in focusing on the negative instead of the positives on my report card. I'd bring home a card littered with As, except for a B in Algebra and Woodshop. Instead of praising the top grades, my mom would harp on the less-than-perfect ones.

Don't get me wrong: I love my mom with my whole heart and think she's the greatest mom ever. But as much as I wish I could cook as well as she does or be as warm-hearted as she is, I need to appreciate my effort even if my result isn't always A+.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Faster But Not Wiser

This morning, as I set out on an easy 30-minute run--my last jaunt before the Cascade Half this weekend--I got to thinking about speed. On the darkened street, I vividly recalled doing a tempo run in preparation for my 2007 marathon (Nike Women's). That training plan was the first time I was trying to hone my speed, rather than wishing I could magically go faster. I remembered how tough it was to push myself to maintain sub-9:00 miles on that same flat neighborhood street I was on.

Yet there I was, less than two years later, going on a lark of a run--and effortlessly loping along at that same rate. It made me realize speed is something that requires work, yet the payback is sweet. It just takes time. One track workout didn't make me a sub-4:00 marathoner overnight. It took months of track sessions and tempo runs, and now it's ingrained in me. I marveled at this (obvious) epiphany for a few blocks before getting distracted by REM's "Supernatural Superserious."

Not 20 minutes later, though, toward the end of my run, all my revelations about speed had flown out of my brain. Proof? As my Nikeplus sensor (a new one plugged into my new nano) counted down the last five minutes of my run, I noticed I covered way more distance than I normally do, say, when it tells me, "Four minutes left," and "Three minutes to go." A total moron, I decided there was something wrong with my new sensor or iPod. Honestly, it took until the voice congratulated me for completing my workout for me to realize, uh, no, technology was working fine--I'd just gotten faster.

An excellent affirmation to have before Sunday's race!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Talk, Not Tunes

Like a lot of moms, I find it tough to schedule a workout with someone because I need to get up and get my run done. But twice in the last few days I've trotted alongside someone, at least for part of my run, and I'd forgotten how human companionship makes miles melt.

On Saturday, I did 10 miles--my final long run before Sunday's half-marathon--on a fairly popular route (Terwilliger) here in Portland. About 6 miles into it, I noticed a guy on the opposite of the street going the same pace. As we both climbed a long hill, he was exactly what I needed to not slow my pace. We continued on opposite sides of the street for about another mile . Then, through the luck of some lights and maybe just a smidgen of competitive juice, I caught up with him. I tossed out a, "good work on the hill back there" call, and was about to continue on solo, but when he asked me how far I was running, we fell into conversation. (And when I unplugged my headphones from my new nano, I discovered it plays music or talks--Nikeplus--outloud. Who knew?!) Despite him being cocky about his athletic accomplishments (I refrained from blurting out, "dude, you've done numerous Ironman triathlons, yet you still have a gut?" but I held my tongue), the end of my run flew by.

Then this morning, I did an easy, breezy run with my new neighborhood running pal Dana. I swear, at one point, we exited a park and in the blink of an eye, we had covered three blocks. It was like I went into a fugue state or something!

As much as I love my new nano and iTunes downloads, conversation trumps tunes some days. (That said, I'm all ears for new songs to add to my half-marathon playlist I'll be making later in the week.)


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Should I Start 2010 with a Clean Fridge?

When my husband, Jack, and I started dating, he lived in Chicago and I was residing in San Francisco. On his first visit, he brought me a few sentimental trinkets, such as a Chicago coffee mug, a shark Beanie Baby (long story), and a can of Orange Crush soda. I still treasure the coffee mug (I'm sipping tea from it right now) and the kids enjoy playing with the shark. Alas, the Crush is long gone.
But not for lack of love: I kept it stashed in my refrigerator for months. I stared at the unopened can whenever I spied it hidden behind the vanilla yogurt, mustard, pickles, and leftover Indian take-out. It reminded me of the full flush of our early courtship, our blossoming "crush." When I went on an extended stay with Jack in Chicago, my friend Elizabeth apartment-sat for me. It never crossed my mind to ask her to not drink the Orange Crush...which, of course, is exactly what she did. Ack: I was heartbroken! I don't even have the can as a memento as Elizabeth had dutifully recycled it.
Why am I telling you this story more than a decade later? Because I have had a similiar sentimental favorite in our fridge for more than eight months--a plastic bottle of Nestle Chocolate Nesquik. It was handed to me by a bouncy volunteer in the finish area of the Eugene Marathon as I hobbled around on my thrashed legs. The gal handed me two of them--I must have looked in need of something, anything--and I cracked open one on the spot. But I brought the other one home and, as you can see, stashed it in our SubZero. It expired July 23 last year, and I just noticed the sides of the bottle are kindof sucked in, as if the contents have seriously spoiled.
For all these months I haven't been able to bring myself to dump the drink and put the bottle at the curb. Whenever I spy it, it reminds me of my strong effort at the marathon. Yet now as I am about to embark on my training for my next 26.2-miler, I'm thinking it might be time.
What do you think?


Monday, January 4, 2010

Survey about Activity and Psychological Transformation

I got this link to an anonymous survey from a dedicated runner I know here in Portland. I found it interesting to take (it only took about 5 minutes), allowing me to reflect on what running does for me. If you feel so inclined, take the survey or pass it along to your active friends.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Stronger New Year

Not to get all woo-woo, patchouli-and-chimes on you, but I believe that my iPod sends me a message via the first song it serves up on a run. Sometimes the message is easy to decipher, such as when Lenny Kravitz growls out "Dig In" or Fergie tells me to "Pump It," but it makes me ponder when Elton John croons "Crocodile Rock."

Being New Year's Day, the first song on my first 2010 run held special import. I've had a tough few weeks, work-wise, so I'm especially eager for a new year, a new decade, a new start. Standing at the edge of my driveway, with my finger over the play button, I paused, almost paralyzed with concern about what song would play. My new nano (thanks, in-laws, I love it!) holds 959 songs. Enough to last 2.7 days, according to iTunes. Yet which song would get served up to set the tone for the coming days and months.

I took a deep breath and pressed play. As I dashed down the street, the strains of Britney Spears filled my ears as she sang "Stronger." My former power song. The one that has propelled me up countless hills, urged me through many a track repeat. I couldn't have wished for a more perfect note to start this new adventure on.