Tuesday, April 16, 2013

One Of Those Days

Yesterday was one of those days. 

Much like September 11th, when I first saw the plane crash into that second tower sitting in Mr. Connell's 1st period class my senior year of high school. Or April 27 2011, when I sat in my office and watched a tornado tear through my hometown of Cullman via live weather stream.

April 15, 2013 will be one of those days. 
An emotional whirlwind of helplessness, despair, fear and anger.

My family and friends are all thankful I wasn't there. 
But honestly? 
Of course I wanted to be there.
All marathon runners hope to be there one day.

The Boston Marathon is the holy grail of marathons. For some runners, qualifying for Boston may not ever happen. For others, it's something that they will work hard for their entire running careers and might get lucky enough to barely squeak by with a qualifying time.

It's an incredible longstanding tradition of celebration and victory, and puts the sport on a national pedestal and glorifies it in a giant media spotlight. 

Yesterday, at the 117th Boston Marathon, the celebration and victory at the last .2 miles was instead clouded with fire and blood soaked sidewalks. 

There were beautiful moments of sportsmanship, like one second after Kara Goucher crossed the finish line and called out for her training partner, asking How'd Shalane do?.... these incredible moments are now tainted by shrapnel and smoke. 

The uplifting last mile of the marathon was dedicated to the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims, yet the inspiration that those victim's families felt sitting in a VIP booth at the finish line quickly turned to total chaos.

When tragedies happen, there are so many questions that may never be answered and emotions that can't be fully tapped into.

Running is primal and the purest of sport, and sport cannot be defeated. 
Runners know how to deal with pain. 
We know how to keep going when the going gets tough, and push ourselves forward with enigmatic strength that only each of us individually knows how to reach from within ourselves.

I know for certain that this too will pass, and that this country and the running community will bound together with relentlessness and come back stronger than ever. We always do.

My main struggle with this entire tragedy right now is that we shouldn't have to.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Dating Game

Choosing a marathon is like a metaphor for relationships. 

You find out as much as you can about it, do your research, commit to it, accept it's flaws, and maintain a healthy level of stress and excitement about it.
In the end, you still don't know if you'll succeed or fail. You don't know how amazing or grueling it may become. Sometimes, it all comes down to your weakest moments - will you continue on and push past the fatigue, not knowing what other hills or obstacles may lie ahead? Or will you be overcome with exhaustion, fall to your knees, beg for mercy and withdraw yourself? 

Originally I had pretty much come to the conclusion that Grandma's Marathon was going to be the best option for a late spring race.
This marathon has it's flaws (lodging being the main one) but it had awesome weather and a great looking course, and most importantly it gave me until late June to get my legs ready to dominate. I even created a training schedule based on that date.  

Turns out, now there is a big conflict with that weekend. So, I have to break up with this marathon before I really even got to know it. I'm sure it's a nice race and has a lot to offer some lucky girl out there, but the timing in my life is just wrong right now. 

It's not you, Mr Marathon, it's me.

Thankfully I have backups, like any wise girl should, and immediately delved into research on my next marathon relationship. 

Bachelor #1:
A running friend ran the Lake Placid Marathon last year and sang it's praises. Come to find out, it was ranked the #2 "Best Destination Race in the USA" by Runners World a few years ago. I can totally see why after looking at course photos-  it's a breathtaking double loop course in the Adirondacks.

Bachelor #2:

Newport also has it's advantages. It's known to be an incredible course to PR on (and is on the Runner's World list of best and fastest courses for 2012), and runs out and back along Yaquina Bay on the beautiful Oregon coast. The weather will be incredible and the views spectacular. 
Newport is also the headquarters of Rogue Ales, so I would know exactly where to go for some post race recovery! (Priorities!)

Bachelor #3:

Calgary was the original race I was considering for the late spring. The end of the course runs along the Bow River and promises for nice cool temperatures. It would be amazing mostly because it would mean I get to see my sister! Plus, I would have a place to stay and have someone to chauffeur me around the city like a diva.

The Cons? 

Lake Placid is not easy to get to. At all. And it would be a tough course... there's even a comment on the website that the course finishes with "a significant hill" in the final mile. As a Floridian, the thought of what a significant hill might be to someone who lives in the Adirondacks makes me shiver.

Newport is a little over a 2 hour drive from Portland, so would require some logistical planning (although not nearly as challenging as Lake Placid). It's a smaller race - only 800 runners ran last year - so there's a good chance I'd be running alone for some of the course. Which means no pacers or drafting of big groups. 
It could be liberating, but could also be a disaster.

Calgary is a week earlier than Newport, which means even less time to prepare. It's also a pretty significant trip to take just for a weekend. And the course is tough. Oh, and I will be going BACK to Calgary in July for Stampede as well...so this one might not be the best use of resources. 

Keeping P in mind, (you know, my real life boyfriend!), from a spectator standpoint I think they're all probably about even. Oregon may have a slight advantage only because it's a much smaller race and it will be easier for him to navigate without city traffic and road closures. 
I've come to terms with the fact that I don't have enough time to fully get my legs ready to attempt a major PR in such short notice.The goal for my late spring race at this point, for whichever bachelor I choose, is to push myself hard and see where I stand in the 2013 quest for marathon speed. 

 If I crash and burn, that's OK. I'll have all summer and the beginning of fall to get ready for an attempt at chasing the 3:35 pace group in Twin Cities come October.

The clock is ticking! 

Decisions, decisions..... 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Bare Necessities -AKA The First World Crap I Can't Live Without

Sometimes I think back to around April of 2010 when I first started running -- back when I didn't have a clue about all the fancy stuff like Thorlo socks and Body Glide and Garmin watches. How did I ever survive?! 

Jump ahead three years, and some people (ahem, Prateek) may have the audacity to suggest that I have turned into a running snob. 
That is totally false only partially true.
There are certain things I do that get me in a groove. If I don't experience those things or have those things at my disposal, I get a little thrown off my game.
I am also really superstitious. For example, those PR pants I wore at the Sarasota Half Marathon? They will now only be making appearances when speed is completely necessary - like on the track or a long tempo run with friends where I don't want to be embarrassingly slow. 
Once a garment has proven itself worthy, it goes into a special pile in the closet.
Laugh all you want, it totally works!

Here's a list of things I can't seem to live without lately:
Beware-- this is a glimpse into my inner psyche. 
You've been warned.

  • I never do any sort of workout, whether it be weights at the gym or going to yoga or doing a 20 mile long run, without my Hanuman necklace. He's the Hindu deity of strength and perseverance, and he comes with me everywhere.

  • My hair has to be in a braid. I have resorted to the fact that my hair is way too long to leave in a simple ponytail, because it whips my face in the wind and gets in my mouth and eyes and makes me wish I had no hair at all. You don't want me going Britney circa 2007 on y'all, right?
  • A picture of my dad in my arm band. Everyone has a hero, I just so happen to have a picture of mine and keep it with me on every run. I like thinking of him being with me in a physical sense.

  • A cup of coffee and peanut butter toast before every workout. I'll add nutella if I'm feeling feisty that morning. 
  • A playlist full of fist-pump worthy EDM...well, 99% of the time. I've recently started doing my long runs with friends, but every other time during the week when I'm on a solo training run my earbuds are blasting to the likes of Benny Bennassi, Nero, and Tiesto. If you ever see me randomly flail my fist like I'm punching the air, don't worry. It's not epilepsy. I'm just in the moment. Let me be. 
  • My Forerunner 405.  I can say with almost complete certainty that this watch is why I crossed the threshold of speed this year during my half marathon crazed winter. Every once in a while it's nice to do a run without it, but beyond that, you'll have to pry it out of my cold dead fingers. Plus, it's green and it matches my shoes. Which brings me to my next necessity. And next sore subject.
  • My Saucony Hurricane 13's. I've been in the Hurricane since the 11 came out. It's the first "real" running shoe I ever purchased specifically for my foot/gait type, and we've put many miles on the road together. The 13's are what carried me through this year of speed so far, and as I previously mentioned, I am very superstitious and don't want to switch to the next version because this one is so awesome and want to buy like 3 more pairs. Sadly, I can't find these shoes ANYWHERE online. And I consider myself a fantastic google-r. Even sadder? Saucony changed the style and fit of this shoe pretty drastically beginning with the 14's, and the reviews are not positive.
We've had a wonderful history together, but it might be time to break up with Saucony. I've been having major anxiety over it. I haven't lost sleep yet, but I'm sure that part is coming.
I've almost been talked into the Brooks Trance or Adrenaline. If you have feedback on either of these, I welcome your comments with open arms.

  • Last but certainly not least, I love having a Dri Fit Nike hat. I like the Dri-Fit because I can't even feel it on my head, but sadly can only wear the ones in the men's section because my head is gargantuan compared to most women. Otherwise I stick to Sweaty Bands. (They really don't slip!) I would almost rather not run than run without something holding back the hair and perspiration from my face. Almost. 

Other than that, I am very simple. 
 My list really isn't THAT bad.... right?!

Wow, I look like a total running diva.

Of course, at the end of the day, if I didn't have my music or my watch or my hat or whatever else in the world I feel like I can't life without on a day to day basis...I would still run. 

Because that's what runners do.