Sunday, March 30, 2008

The man in the yellow tights beat me.

Showing up was the hardest part. I like getting up early, but only when I don't have to DO anything. Not that any of it was easy. But I did it. I paid attention; when my body said speed up, I did; when it said slow down (it said that a lot more), I did. Didn't wear a watch again...I like the freedom of not knowing my pace, just running what feels right. Uncomfortable, but maintainable. The fact that that is now around a 9 minute pace makes me happy. Did I tell the truth? Well, I will now: the entire race I was about 20 seconds behind an older guy in the ugliest yellow and black checked tights. I told myself I would catch him by the end, that I couldn't be beat by someone with such bad fashion sense. But, I did not beat him. In fact, he had more of a kick than I and probably beat me by a minute or so. The outcome? Not bad. 2:48:35, or a 9:03 pace (at 4 miles someone told me the time and I figured I had an 8:40 pace at that point, so I slowed down but not too much), official results up later. Granted the only hills on the course were 2 speed bumps. But actually the flat might hurt more. With hills, your legs get a break, a different motion, but your lungs get more of a challenge. So, Nashville will be close. Cautiously optimistic about breaking 4 hours, but there are just so many variables in a race. I will try, but I will be kind to myself if it's not going to happen...this time.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

First, Show Up

30k race tomorrow. Kathy says I have to push the pace (I think that only means around 9 minute miles, and supposedly on a flat course). Can't think too much about it, the cold, the distance. Kind of overwhelming. Yet I've been doing this religiously for a few months, no questioning, don't think, just do.

Show up fully. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Let go of the outcome.
Not much these days feels better than a run. I mean, it's not exactly fun. But it's one of the only places and times I can think. It's just me, my music, and, if I'm on the treadmill, the blank TV screen in which I watch myself and sing along to the songs. It's a security blanket. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't do that anymore. I can count on it. Not sure I totally identify with this but it makes sense. It's not a way to cure a bad mood, but it sure helps more than sitting around stewing. And the sense of discipline, well, that helps too.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Happy Birthday

So today's my birthday and I'm in a foul mood. Not because of the birthday...I don't mind getting older. Just...because. And I have to go run 8 miles now, on the treadmill because it's cold and about to rain. I did it last week and it wasn't so bad. I've been thinking about this training. I'm proud of myself. Overall, I've done what I've been told to do and not whined, complained, dreaded it, cheated (much). I didn't let my ankle stop me, but I wasn't stupid about it either, and it responded well. I pushed myself when I was supposed to, went easy when I was supposed to, and except for the fact that I've been eating like crap, I feel strong and good and prepared for the marathon. I just have to get through 2 more super long runs, 2 more weekends.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

No Chocolate Bunny For Me...

Jen and I ran the Bunny Boogie this morning, 3 miles around Pear Tree Point (a place I run often). I actually thought I might place in my age group and win a chocolate bunny, but alas no. Results aren't up yet but I must have been close, I think I ran a 7:32 pace, faster than my hoped-for 7:40. I HATE short races. I mean, I love them too, I feel great that I ran that fast, but I felt miserable for all but the first minute. My first mile was 7:10...crazy fast for me.

Jen (who also ran fast, an 8:02 pace we think) was talking to this 12-year-old kid from Bridgeport, who was there with his dad, in shorts and a short sleeve top (we were much more bundled up for the 38 degree weather!). This kid was fast, and how cool to be so focused and having fun with something like running from such a young age. This was a cool race because the women start 2:30 ahead of the men (the fastest woman did hold off the fastest man and was the first across the line), so after the first mile and a half all the fast guys started passing me (but not as many as I'd thought would). I was looking for the kid, knowing he'd pass me but trying to get as far as I could before it happened. He was a good inspiration, and only passed me with about 1/3 of a mile to go (not counting my 2:30 head start of course!). I wonder what kids like that think while they're racing...was he in a bit of agony like me, wondering if he'd make it, hold his pace, or was he just having fun and looking forward to a well-deserved bunny?

I am grateful I was able to run, and run fast. I hate that every day, every race, has that element of uncertainty with the RA now, will my ankle be ok, if it's not should I run anyway, will I run anyway even if I shouldn't...but I do love the new brace, which seems to squeeze all the swelling out and give me the psychological boost I need. I guess there could (will?) come a time when I won't be able to run. When it will hurt or do more damage than good. My uncle (who has RA real bad, to the point where every small joint has been fused or replaced) wrote this to me when I had my first ankle issues and wanted to know what I was in for: "About 99% of dealing effectively with a chronic disease involves: (a) developing the right attitude; (b) not being stupid by trying to pretend that you don't have to make some changes; and (c) getting and following good medical advice." He pretty much thinks I'm being a little stupid with all my running, but he gets it too. Use it or lose it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I love my job

Tell me another job where you get to meet and KNOW 80 or so new people every year? And most of them are so interesting. Today in my honors class a girl asked if we could watch a youtube video of Dick and Rick Hoyt, the father/son Ironman team. (I also had them watch this one, which is super funny and scary at the same time. I should also have them see this, but I guess my job is to teach science, not Ironman.) Alex and I had been talking Monday, she was in the car with her mom on Saturday and saw me running in New Canaan with Sam's mom. As she explained to the class, "Ms. McLellan and I were talking Monday, and she does marathons and my mom does triathlons, and we both love this video." Yeah, I do marathons. How cool is that? And then this other kid asked me if I'm going to do an Ironman. Yep, that's the plan. Someday.

Turns out Alex said her mom had never been athletic before in her life and just started triathlons a couple years ago. I love that. I love the idea that you can always reinvent yourself. Or maybe reinvent isn't the right word. Discover? Unearth? At any rate, as I contemplate having kids, it's encouraging and inspiring to hear how other women have become stronger, better, faster, real-er as they've gotten older. And they are everywhere. I just never knew.

The thing I love about RA (it's a love/hate thing) is that sometimes I totally forget I have it. Ever since my long run Saturday (with my new ankle brace), my ankle has been "healed." Perfect. (Except for the big welt on it from the brace, gotta figure that one out.) Wrists too. Strong. (I lifted at the gym yesterday, I use 35 lbs to do one arm rows for my back, and this guy was there watching me, I'm pretty sure he was jealous that he couldn't do that.) If my 7-month flare-cycle prediction is right, I'm due in June for a rough patch, but since I'm too scared to give up the prednisone, maybe not.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Not Quite 20

So a weird thing happened. I got myself ready to go run my 20, procrastinating a little, whining a little. I drove up to school where I was going to do a 20 mile route I've ridden before. There are 2 ways I can go to school...the scenic way or the less scenic way. I decided scenic, probably just because it's a little bit longer. Well, I'm almost there and I see Kathy out running! I turned around, debated whether I should stop her and see how far she'd gone already or just go do my 20 alone...and of course I turned around. She'd only done 2.5, so we ended up running 3 hours together. It wasn't quite 20 for me...17 near as I can figure, but I had some...stomach issues, to put it delicately...and I didn't feel up to doing more. Here's what sucks...the rest of me felt great. My ankle, in its new bioskin brace, felt brand new. My legs were strong, not tired. We were going at a slowish but very steady pace. I felt like I could go forever, if only...So in the end, it's not my RA that got me, but rather those nutrition and fueling things that get every runner at some point.

I have to go run 5 today, to round out my week (which will fall 4 miles short of the goal anyway), and maybe running the day after a long run (which I normally don't do) will be close enough to having done the full 20 all at once. (Listen to me justify...I feel guilty.)

Anyway, I have 2 more 20s I can do for the mental prep (including a 30k race, which will be the best test). But I think physically I will be ready. I will just be popping a little extra prednisone (umm, and maybe some Immodium) for ankle insurance.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Came home after school to find Fred had worked from home today, and when I walked in I announced he was coming on my ride with me. It took a little convincing, but we did 17 miles in just over an hour, beating the rain and having fun.

I have to run 20 tomorrow afternoon...alone. Going with Kathy at 6am that just doesn't seem possible, especially as the forecast says rain for the morning. So...I am praying my ankle and calves (still strangely sore) are ok by afternoon (another reason not to run so early), and I will figure out where to stash water (or actually, Accelerade, need to try it since that's what will be on the course in Nashville), load up with Gu, and just set out on a little adventure. Somewhere.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Did 7 miles today, my favorite loop, and it finally felt good to run. Not tired. Maybe, just maybe, taking yesterday off was smart. 20 this weekend. It will either be at 6am Saturday with Kathy (she apologized in advance for being slow, like I would consider that a bad thing), or on my own whenever the weather cooperates. 6am sounds awful, but so does 20 miles alone.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More is Less

STILL not recovered. There's a lesson here, if I choose to pay attention.

Last week I felt so good that I lifted more than usual. Haven't been doing legs much, since obviously running's been the focus, but last week I worked them Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, hard. Plus the usual runs Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and the long run ("only" 13 which didn't feel so "only" after all) Sunday. So, it's been about 14 days since my last day off. I'm fighting with myself right now, I really want to go to the gym and do upper body, but I am not. Clearly my body is telling my OCD mind to back off (Melissa, that's for you!). Because I have to do my first 20 this Sunday, I am listening. I am still fighting the panic of losing everything I've worked for if I slack off, but also understanding that well-timed rest will do more for my goals than senseless pushing.

I finally talked to Amy about the CCC. We will sign up for this September, and can push it off until 2009 if the timing doesn't work out this year (i.e. if I am too pregnant, too morning-sick, too tired...that's going to be a treat, working through those issues!). At any rate, it sounded FUN, and I already warned my principal that I would be doing it one of the next 2 years (the timing stinks, having to take more than a week off during the first month of school, but it will work out).

Monday, March 10, 2008

Jinxed myself. Exhausted today. Had a leg massage, which helped tremendously, and took Bea's spin class...normally I love her classes because she pushes me so hard, but today I consciously kept my heart rate below 75%. It was fine, though weird. I haven't been spinning at all since training for the marathon. I guess, as always, I am still figuring things out.

Did 12 miles yesterday, was supposed to do 13 but the route was a bit short and I didn't feel like doing the extra by the end. It was a super windy day, cold. Slow. Ankle was weird, fine on the very smooth pavement but not on the rougher, potholed stuff, or where there was a lot of debris on the road. Mentally I found that tough, always watching where I put my feet for 2 straight hours. A wrong step, on a stick or a bump, and there's this brief but intense pain. Sucks. Though it didn't hurt really, except for those missteps, I favored it, which probably contributed to my leg fatigue today. At any rate...ordered a new ankle brace today, maybe more for psychological support than anything.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Depends Whom You Ask...

It's good to have different types of friends. I have friends who are impressed by my being able to run distances, who don't understand why I think it's fun (and necessary). I have others who are not impressed, who do what I do or more, and faster. Some put me up on a pedestal, others knock me right off. It's healthy.

Had a very good week of training. Recovered well from the 25k, pushed the speedwork Tuesday, ran 7 outside Thursday, and felt good in all of the workouts. Tomorrow is only 13 (I love when I can preface a number like 13 with "only." The half marathon is such a good distance.), then only 4 more long runs before I taper. I am so curious to see how I do in Nashville. When I ran my 4 hour marathon in October '06, it was not something I had trained for specifically. I was training for New York with my dad, but he was going to be setting the pace and I had an age advantage so I didn't worry about my pace. A lot of my fitness at that time had come from cycling, and I was only maybe running 3 days a week, with no real plan. And no thought of being fast (which, depending on whom you ask...). So, we will see. More than time, my goal is to stay healthy, stay positive if then ankle acts up (so far, so good), and be grateful that I committed to and completed one more marathon

Monday, March 03, 2008

I Hate the Ends of Things...

...Always have. Tonight was our end of season basketball banquet, and this was my last year coaching. I'm done. It was wonderful, fun, I did a good job...then it became a chore. And I feel awful for not giving the girls more of myself this year, and that culminated tonight into not even attempting to give any sort of inspirational speech. (I usually at least attempt.) I think I do stuff like that to sabotage I don't miss the old things too much. At any rate, I feel crappy right now, even though I know I don't want to coach any more, I guess I just wish I did want to. I wish I was the kind of person who could inspire in the girls what others have inspired in me. But I am not a talker...never have been. And the fact that I couldn't really play with them this year meant I couldn't inspire by doing either. I just felt kind of useless. Maybe I'm making too much out of it. But I wasn't the kind of coach I wanted to be. So I am done. I am selfish. And I guess that's ok. Sort of.

Oh yeah...and I rode outside today, 12 miles only but on the "new" bike and it was awesome.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

25 K

Finished the Boston Buildup 25k. I deliberately did not wear my watch during the race, for two reasons: one, I was worried my glute pain wouldn't allow me to go as fast (or, maybe I should say, as slow) as usual, and I just didn't want to stress out about that; and two, I was scared of the course profile (which was basically 8 miles uphill, 8 miles downhill) and figured I needed to listen to my body to survive it. Turns out the glute was ok, it hurt but I don't think I can blame it for my lack of speed (I did about a 9:09 pace, which would actually be acceptable, though barely, for my sub-4-hour marathon, so it was good to FEEL that felt slow, though difficult). And not knowing that I was going too slow, not being able to check my watch and do the mental calculations, did make the run more pleasant. I enjoyed looking for the mile markers on the road (though I missed 14, which incited mild panic), I enjoyed chatting a little with a couple other runners, I enjoyed feeling like my body and I were in it together, instead of my fighting it. Not that some of it didn't suck. But the end makes it all worth it...oh yeah, THAT's why I chose to run for 2 and a half hours outside on a windy, cold day. Because I can, and it feels good to know that. Right. Plus I got lucky and had the best post-race massage ever from Jen from the CT School of Massage Therapy. She kept me there over twice as long as the other therapists were keeping their "patients." God bless them for doing that.