Thursday, March 19, 2009


The ambition of my runs last week have given way to pain and given me a wake up call. Sometimes during training I get an invincible feeling, the more I am able to accomplish the more I want to do -- but there's a fine line between pushing your limits and exceeding them. I managed to exceed them and am now left with a troublesome left calf.

It's hard for me to take rest days. Once I'm in a regular groove I get used to the way running makes me feel, the chemicals, the fresh air, a sense of freedom. It's hard to stay in and just relax even though I know it's a part of the process. Too much time away and I start to spiral and lose perspective. Two days off and I feel like there is no possible way I can successfully run the marathon.

Yet, I know I am human, and there is no way for my training to always be 100% perfect -- I strive to hit my most important runs and stay healthy but things happen. Conventional wisdom dictates that it is better to be under trained than injured before a big race. I know I want to be ready to run another day so I am letting faith and patience take over.

So this evening is dedicated to ice, ibuprofen, and the joy that is 30 Rock.

Monday, March 16, 2009

On the Beaten Path

Sunday morning I awoke to overcast skies and a generalized sense of dread. I knew I had to get out and run nearly three hours solo, my first long run of this particular training alone. After hiding out amongst the pillows and blankets for a while, I dragged myself to the kitchen to make coffee and grab some sustenance.

I headed back to bed to read and gather my strength. I decided it might be a good time to read an entire book -- or in lieu of that phase out for hours on end. I thought about sending out a cry for help, moments later I received a text from my running buddy which jolted me to action.

Preparing for the long run is second nature at this point, the minute I start to get dressed things come together quickly and my mind starts to get on board. Earlier in the week I decided that the Montour trail would be a good choice for this run as it's relatively flat and stretches for miles. I also figured as an out and back scenario I was much less likely to cut things short.

I drove out to the trail with a lazy resolve. I have been feeling so fatigued, I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but I figured I had to make the attempt. I strapped on my ipod, checked to make sure I was loaded down with GU and started out. The first miles were difficult -- I felt every ache and pain vividly, but after about an hour or so I got into the groove.

I managed to do 18.5 miles in just over the goal time of 2:55 -- despite feeling totally wiped out I was happy that I was able to do it on my own. I feel strong. I feel like I am pulling myself out of the hole I fell in over the past weeks. I am realizing that though life might be tedious and boring at times, it's much more rewarding when I stick to the path.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fresh Kicks

After hitting my mid-week run pretty hard core on Wednesday I decided I needed a full rest day. The fact that I was looking forward to it indicates to me that it was vitally necessary. When I got home from work I watched part of the NewsHour, which I rarely get a chance to watch these days. The national news used to make me cringe but now that Obama is President it often has the opposite effect, recession aside.

Following that I hopped in the Fit and headed to the running store. With the week I've been having I decided a little retail therapy was in order, and what better way to indulge then buying my shoes for the marathon. It was nice clear night and I zipped out to the store in record time. I travel to the 'burbs to visit this particular store because I like to support the local guy, and in Pittsburgh there aren't so many local guys.

The store was relatively unbusy and I was helped right away. It also didn't take too long because I knew exactly what I wanted -- the new model of the shoe I run in now, check em out:

Exciting, I know. These shoes have worked well for me, so I'm hoping this model doesn't let me down. After plunking down the cash for them (and a handful of Gu) I headed back home, to a warm bath, a calf massage, and a good nights sleep. Gently pulling myself up out of the hole to run another day.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Down in the Hole

I've been pushing my limits. This part of training is the most physically and mentally taxing. Despite feeling strong and capable, I feel as though my spirit is taxed. I'm just tired. Yet now more than ever I need to keep going and surmount this obstacle which can be just as difficult as a physical one.

So far I've been able to stay engaged by rallying my friends and family to come out for the big event. I reviewed the course. I looked at pictures from my last marathon. I thought about what it would feel like to celebrate afterwards. This has all helped to a point, but it's really just a salve on a bigger wound.

I had been taking great care of myself. Sleeping lots, cooking and eating nutritiously, taking lots of time to relax, but something seemed to snap a week or two ago and I just felt too exhausted to keep it up. So I let things lax. I indulged in a not-caringness about a lot of things that ultimately made me feel worse. Why do we do things like this? I guess it's easy enough to retreat to an easy, comfortable, familiar place when we are under stress. I began to feel bored and resentful towards my own choice to train. Yet, when I gave in to my impulses I was left feeling worse off than when I was taking care. I suppose this is the nature of change, transformation. My decision to train and to live better doesn't remove me from my old ways of being, yet I realize that my old ways of being are no longer enough for me, they don't satisfy me. So I'm here, in between, and though things went awry for a minute I know I'll get back on track. Perhaps after a few days of healthy, care taking relaxation.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Spring Forward

An extra hour of daylight is quite the blessing for someone who does the bulk of her runs in the evening hours. While I have become more accustomed to running in the darkness, I much prefer the light of day, the beauty of the sunset. I also welcome the warmth of Spring which lightens everything -- maintaining just enough chill in the air to keep things comfortable.

I still feel a tug at my motivation but the external atmosphere softens it a bit. I feel calm and resolved even through the fatigue and little aches and pains that have become more prevalent. Mysteriously I have lost my ravenous appetite even though I am still making myself eat quit a bit. I accept this as part of the process, but I'm hoping it will be brief.

This weekend I'm taking Saturday to rest, relax, and recharge before Sunday's long run. Restoring my joie de vivre so that I can remain dedicated to my training.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Motivational Drift

Last Saturday my running buddy and I tackled the Spring Thaw, a 15 mile race circling the lake at North Park. Runner's have their choice of a 10, 15, or 20 mile distance which consists of 5 mile loops. Last year I ran the 20 as I was about a month closer to my marathon. The race went well, we stepped up our effort and finished in a respectable 2:08. I pushed myself the whole way through, which is something I do not usually do in a long race, but something I need to do to achieve my goal of a sub 4-hour marathon. I don't know why the effort and fatigue are surprising to me, but in this case it definitely caught me by surprise. All in all it was an excellent dry run for marathon day.

I recovered fairly quickly from the Spring Thaw, coming away with a bit of fatigue but little other pain. This indicates to me that my conditioning is on target. Mentally, though, I have begun to feel my motivation dissipating. It hasn't left entirely, but seems to be leaking from me at a slow drip. Ebb and flow. It's normal for this to happen after putting out a great effort yet I don't have the luxury of time off, this is the time of the heaviest training. So I push through. Motivation or no motivation I tell myself that I still have to get out there. I find other ways to keep going, pep talks, rewards. I remind myself that this is as vital a part of my training as the miles I put in, the drive to keep going when I feel my energy draining away.

I fantasize about a time after the marathon when I can get away and just relax, free from the demands of training. Thinking about that time helps pull me through, and reminds me that there is an end. Until then I have to give it my all and remain dedicated, using my core strength to pull myself back to the process.