Monday, May 28, 2007

a difficult decision

so the week after the bad-15, i was in a bad way.

the strange thing was, that i knew that even though i had been having bad runs, and even with the shin splints, i could get myself through the marathon one way or another.

but i didn't *want* to struggle through my second marathon. i didn't struggle through the first one, and i sure as hell didn't want to do worse at the 2nd one than the first. i wanted to improve, to be a better, stronger runner; i wanted to finish san diego in 4 hours and 30 minutes. i wanted to feel great at the end. for me, since i had finished the first feeling fantastic, there would be no glory, no sense of elation in "just finishing" because i knew that i could do that.

and for a few days after that run, i was miserable thinking about how it was going be, and so disappointed in the way the season turned out. and then i had a thought. and when it popped into my head, my shoulders on down to my toes heaved a sigh of relief.

i could drop down to the 1/2 marathon in san diego.

along with the sigh of relief came the countering thoughts of "you're gonna let everyone down", "remember why you are doing this!", "don't be a wuss - you know you can do it" and "stop being a baby and just run." and so for a few days i hemmed and hawed over what to do. i was a ball of stress, between this decision looming over my head, insanely busy at work (ex: working until 3am one night getting some brochures out) and fundraising-captain responsibilities for the fall season kicking in. i talked to sk8 about it - we're very alike in the "i-hate-to-be-wussy" sort of way - and so i knew that she'd be a good judge of my decision. the conversation was a while ago, but her general response to me worrying about being a wimp was "shut up."

i felt better. and i mulled some more.

finally, on friday of that week, i decided (in my head - i didn't make it official until monday), that i was only going to run the 1/2. i still have mixed emotions about it, but i know from the stress that has evaporated that it is the right decision, and for the most part i feel good about it. i'm sad a bit that i will not have pushed myself to run the full now, but hopefully i made a smart decision in letting my shins heal a bit more so that i can keep running through the summer. and on the positive side, i am really excited to be able to cheer in the rookie and the other first timers i've been mentoring at the finish line.

mostly though, while i'm not one who "cares what people think" in the traditional sense of the phrase, i hope that i haven't let you down too much.

Friday, May 25, 2007

i'm okay (really)

i'm sorry, i realize that i've left a lot of you hanging, possibly worried about me and my shins.

after the walk of shame incident on the west side highway, i was pretty beat down, primarily confidence wise. i had been dealing with the fact that i pretty much wasn't running at all during the weeks, to save myself for saturdays...and when i couldn't run that saturday i felt, frankly, like crap.

that week i stretched and moped and stretched and moped. i saw the best concert i'd seen in years (arcade fire way up in sk8's neighborhood), and we had the fall season kick off. work was gearing up for a huge deadline on the 24th and i was more or less feeling more and more overwhelmed and nervous. you'd think at some point i'd get used to being so busy, but every now and again the stress induces things like...crazy dreams of escape and conflict that leave me sitting up in bed at 3 am with my heart racing.

as i type this, i'm conscious that i sound like a big baby, but i've always been honest with you all about whats going on so i've gotta continue right?

anyway, when saturday rolled around it was time to try to run again. this was may 12th if anyone is counting. we were in the park, and i was going to try to do 18 - 20. i was petrified and not feeling optimistic but i tried to "think positive". bah. we got to practice a little bit late, so i was one of the last to head out into the park.

it was a gorgeous day, the one of the first truly warm ones, i started off with a few girls, but decided to hold back and let them go on ahead so that i wasn't pushing too hard. i was pleasantly surprised that the shins didn't hurt too bad off the bat, and that improved my mood considerably. the one thing that was strange was i was feeling particularly winded. i wasn't sure if it was because i hadn't been running as much or maybe the humidity, but breathing was, for the first time in months, a bit laborious. i ignored it and pressed on.

the first loop was not bad, not great, but not bad. i felt a big sluggish but was happy i wasn't in pain. i stopped to stretch every time i got water, and that was doing nothing for my time, but i tried not to think about any time pressures. the second loop, as usual, was much better as my legs got more loose and i fell into a rhythm to arcade fire's funeral. 12 miles...done. one more loop.

we had started at 90th street this week so i headed north, past 102nd transverse, and around the backside of the park. this is where it started unraveling. somewhere in the middle of harlem hill, i think i hit a mini-wall. now, lucky as i am, i don't think that i ever "hit the wall" in my first marathon. there was no point where my body was screaming at me to stop. i mean, it would have been happy to, but i blessedly got a 2nd wind around mile 18 that took me through to 22/23 and from there on i was on an elated auto-pilot. there was no *way* i would have stopped.

so it was much to my surprise when, in the middle of this hill that i've run a million times, i totally ran out of energy and had to walk. it was as if someone unplugged me and even my very stubborn brain couldn't make my legs motor up that hill. i swore at myself in an effort to get myself going, but for once my body was stronger than my mind and i resigned myself to walking the last bit of the hill. i so didn't feel like a superhero that day.

i started running again after the hill, but it was hard legs started tightening up, and my shins started wincing a bit and i felt atrocious. when i saw the west side of the 102nd street transverse, i grudgingly decided to listen to the yelling of my body and cut the run 1t about 15 miles.

it was a good decision. i had to stop and walk again about 5 minutes later for no apparent reason and i was feeling appropriately embarrassed and cranky about it. i saw two gals from the season who asked if i was okay, i muttered "yeah, shin-splints." and kept walking. grrrr. after a few minutes i started running again and made it back to bag watch finally. i was moderately relieved to find that i was by no means the only person that was having a terrible run that day. someone mentioned that the pollen count was ridiculously high and it was more humid than any otehr runs we've had, and given the problems breathing i had been having, i was content to let those be factors that had impeded my run.

the next day i woke up extra sore and tender - my back hurt, my shins, despite icing, were very unhappy with me, and i felt sniffly, likely because of all the pollen. given the appearance of the mini-wall, i was also not feeling great about running a marathon in three

Sunday, May 06, 2007

a bit broken

yes, i am referring to myself. not out-of-the-game-broken, but broken enough to think doubtfully.

saturday we were supposed to do a 18 - 20 mile run. because the revlon breast cancer walk was in the park, we were running down the westside from 72nd street, around the point of manhattan, up to e.10th street and back. it should have been a great run - it was sunny and the perfect temp., and a nice, flat, out-and-back run.

but it was not to be. as the rookie and i took off, those steps induced shooting pains up the front of my leg, so much so that i stopped and walked for a moment directly. rook asked if i was okay, and i said, um, no, maybe...and we started running again and it hurt so that i was running very slowly and tenderly. while my shin-splints had been "uncomfortable" (as ramon would say) in the past weeks, they hurt. i told the rookie to go on, because i was going to have to go pretty slowly for the first bit until they loosened up.

i coulndn't imagine running 5 miles, never mind 18, feeling the way i was. i loped along, waiting for the pain to ease up. usually with in a few minutes, the pain/discomfort eases up, and then after a few miles slowly starts going away. this time, not so much. a mile down, and still no relief. in fact, my whole left leg started to tighten up, kind of compensating for the lack of help coming from my shin. ug. i stopped to stretch my calves and saw some tnters who asked if i wanted them to wait. i said no, not knowing how it was going to go.

i started up again, and then stopped and walked. i went about three feet in the other direction and then turned around and started "running" again. i growled at myself to keep going, it would get better. i stopped a little farther down again at a boat dock that had a bathroom, grabbed water and stretched my calves again. i started out again...running for another five minutes before i swore at myself and stopped to walk. i repeated the start back and then try again routine. but i could feel a limp and turned around for a very cranky cranky walk back to 72nd street. if we had been in the park i might have kept at it despite the pain, but since we were doing an out and back, i didn't want to end up stranded at battery park not being able to walk/run back.

i was talking about it with a running friend today and when i told her that, she said, "oh yeah, its like the walk of shame." and that's exactly what it was, but there was almost more shame. walking, not running, not biking, in the wrong direction, with a sullen and disappointed face. not a pretty picture at all.

i saw rand & his brother with spencer and they asked what was wrong. i grumpily told them the dumb shin-splints and kept walking. i was a jumble of negative emotions. feeling like i should have kept going, wondering if i should have tried to ignore it longer, feeling worried about not getting the run in, that the shin-splints weren't going to go away, and what if they don't go away for the marathon? i don't know if i could do it. feeling angry because i hadn't been as good about yoga and stretching this past week, and being ferociously mad at myself.

today's mileage: 1.5*
total mileage to date: 150.3

*does not count the 1.5 miles walked back, only the first actual running leg of the trip.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

the weekend comes

so saturday morning i had to watch the bags at practice and thought this would be a good excuse to go out friday night.

i had too much party and not enough dinner...leaving me in rough shape saturday morning to watch the bags. uuuuuuug. i got up too late to meet cap and randy, stopped at the deli, got an egg sandwich & some water to choke down, and hopped in a cab.

after we checked everyone in, all i had to do was sit and try not to be sick while everyone ran. it was rough, but it wasn't raining, and i felt better as time went on. finally, after 2 hours or so people started trickling in. it was high mileage - anywhere from 12 - 20 depending on level. i thought i was going to be alright...until there was just 5 people or so left and suddenly i was acutely aware that i had drank too much gatorade, gave cap the attendance list and excused myself to get a bit sick in the bethesda fountain bathroom. yes, i am mentor of the year. ~sigh~

in anycase, i was going to have to find time to run 16 miles or so, and saturday wasn't going to be it. also the park was ridiculously crowded - it seemed everyone had decided to visit that weekend. so my plan was to run late in the afternoon on sunday.

it was a good plan - while the daytime was questionable, around 4pm mthe skies began to clear and the afternoon was positively lovely. i headed up to the park around 5:15, headed to the gym, dropped my stuff and headed out for a 16 mile run, all on my own.

it was intimidating. my plan was to do 2 full loops (6 miles each) and one middle loop (4 miles). that's a lot of running. most of my first loop was an exercise in patience. my shins were hurting, i felt a little tired and the miles seemed to loom in the distance. after 4 miles i felt a bit better, and a mile or two into the second loop i started considering adding a mile or two to my goal. i laughed at myself, because i was only 7 miles or so in, and still had more than double that distance to cover. but just the fact that i was considering more miles put a smile on my face and a little extra spring in my step.

loop numero two was certainly better. i cranked the tunes and it was lovely to see the park go from fully sunlit to the warm sunset glow and then to the black-and-white tinged beauty of dusk. the park thinned out, and i was on a roll, shin-splints having eased up and the tempurature perfect for long running. i focused on the tunes, talked a little bit to bouv, and generally ignored my legs. before i knew it the second loop was done - only 4 miles left to go.

as i headed towards 90th street, i knew i was going to run another mile. while just adding another mile may not seem like much, it is a matter of mental strenght. when i got to the 102nd street transverse i would have to make an active decision to not take the "easy" way out and turn left, but to keep going straight, choosing the path that would not only add a mile, but add a mile that includes the most challenging hill in the park. it becomes an entirely mental game: you know that your body can handle it, primarily because you've done it before, but is your mind strong enough to *force* your body to do it?

mine was. at 102nd street, i continued straight, going for the 17.

of course, at the bottom of the hill i encountered another challenge. i realized that i had no freaking idea what time the gym was going to close. everything of consequense (except for my keys, which luckily my sister was borrowing to hang at my apartment) was in my locker. money. phone. metro card. it was sunday, and it was highly likely that the gym was closing at 9...but i wasn't sure. i had started at 6, and was using my watch purely to tell running time, the actually clock was not set correctly, and i was in a state of panic.

what would i do if i got back to the gym and it was closed? i knew no one that lives on the upper west (at least reasonably within walking distance from the gym). i didn't know anyone's phone number, not even my sister's. i was going to have to a) beg some stranger for two bucks to ride the subway home or b) call my parents collect from a cell phone and have them call my sister to make her come get me in a taxi. oh god. what a mess.

and thus, when i got to 91st st, i ended up "sprinting" the last 1.5 miles of my run (after having run 15.5 remember). i put sprinting in quotes, because i'm not sure how fast i actually was going, but i hauled ass best i could. at 91st st, i ducked out of the park, thinking the straight shot would be a little faster, and ran straight down central park west. i prayed the cleaning people would at least be there...and as i ran up to the door on 73rd, saw someone exiting. thank christ.

i ran in and the attendent looked at me like i had two heads.

"can i help you?"
[breathless]"i was out for a run," [deep breath] "and all my stuff is in here" [another deep breath]
"girl," she said, shaking her head, "you are *so* lucky. we're waiting for one person."
"thank you!" i gasped and hurried upstairs to get my stuff.

i am so happy that was an "almost story" vs. a "i can't believe that happened" story.

today's mileage: 17.0
mileage to date: 148.8