Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Running to Read Redux

The forecasted 4-8 inches of snow did not materialize this weekend, so I was able to make the drive to Fairmont with minimal stress. I arrived fairly early this year, so I was able to select from the full range of knit cap colors. I went with a nice, bright, lime green with black lettering, though it was hard to pass up the preppier blue and white striped versions. There's always next year!

Snow may have missed Fairmont but in it's place was a steady cold rain, not the kind that drenches you instantly, but rather the kind that falls almost imperceptibly until you realize you are soaked to the core. Not ideal for a 2 hour race, but at least it was warm enough to bear and there was very little ice to speak of. Due to to the conditions outside the majority of the runners stayed in the cozy warmth of the park visitor's center, creating a convivial atmosphere and an adrenaline charged humidity.

The race began at noon after a few words from the organizer. The size of the field was small enough that I was able to reach my ideal pace with a minimum of weaving, and I settled in quickly. In a half marathon I like to start slowly, taking my time and saving my energy for the second half of the race. It's nice to have gas in the tank for a strong finish.

Around mile 2 I developed a cramp, which was worrisome, but I managed to hang on and it dissipated by the 4th mile. I felt good for the rest of the race, especially around the 9th mile when my runner's high kicked into full gear. I finished with a respectable time of 1:50:49, improving on last year's time of 1:52:18 and coming in 4th in my age / gender category.

After grabbing a banana and what may be the best tasting pumpkin roll I've ever had, I headed back to my car to change into warm, dry clothes. I decided to get back on the road and back to the burgh while I was still feeling energetic (and I was craving a Dormont Dog, something not available in the hills of West Virginia).

It was a satisfying race, and a satisfying kick-off to my marathon training. There's a lot of work and a lot of miles ahead of me, but I feel ready and up for the challenge.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Run to Read - Take 2

This weekend (weather permitting), I am venturing down to West Virginia for a half marathon. The half marathon is my favorite distance, enough to get into a groove but not enough to sideline training for a month.

I ran this race last year and discovered the true pleasures of a rural race. I am not one for crowds and loathe the stampede at the beginning of a well attended urban event. I prefer to run where I can keep a few people in my sights for an encouraging smile or nod but can easily set and settle into my own pace.

I remember feeling not quite prepared last year and I feel similarly this year. I think this happens as a result of not focusing on a particular race, not feeling mentally prepared. Physically I am not concerned about completing the distance though race anxiety always seeps into the mix. I will go and do my best, enjoy the long run and the time inside my head. Approach it in the spirit of preparation and cultivation, a soft jump into the full swing of marathon training.

Friday, January 2, 2009


I am not much for New Year's resolutions, though I do believe January is a good month for self cultivation and renewing one's focus. 2008 was a year of deep internal change for me. I started the year with a completely different perspective than I ended it with. I struggled this past year and while that's never something I strive for, I believe through the struggle I have learned some valuable lessons, I've become more intimate and real with myself. For this I am thankful.

Expansion. Making bigger. Growing my universe. That's what I've decided to focus on this year, a dedication to a concept that's larger than any one particular goal. I visualize a path starting from a firm grounded centered and spiraling outwards, tightly connected to my core but allowing for a wider reach, a wider scope.

Ethereal, yes, in the sense that guiding principles often are, but focused nonetheless. I have cultivated a base, of miles, of support, of knowledge and I want to go further with it, run further open myself and my heart further. Unfurl myself without becoming untethered.

The practical will come. For now I'm keeping my head in the clouds and my feet firmly on the ground.