distance running

Terrible Ideas & Other Things I Tried This Week

I just wrote a race review for RunOregon and thought it was time to start thinking about the rest of my plans for racing, and running, and all sorts of other things. All at once. This is what happens when I try to not think about things so much, the rubber band always snaps back and I end up like this:

running meme

Brought to you by the awesome Allie Brosh and her brilliant blog: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/

Things are stirring.  Fall must bring out a sort of claustrophobia, because I’m weirdly, acutely aware of a slow suffocation from the struggle to be something better. Between the daylight slipping away so suddenly, and the closeness of rounding out another year, things are stirring. Moving deep beneath the surface.  You can almost feel it in the air and the strands of bottled up rain wrung clean from clouds.

Plans are in motion.  Big, intimidating, amazing plans.  Portland marathon plans, NaNoWriMo book writing plans, and triathlon plans.  Blame it on re-reading What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, or the renewed sense of purpose that comes from setting goals and signing up for things i’m not sure yet whether I can do, but its what November seems to need from me so far- creating an plan of attack for making 2014 a year of writing and running, and swimming and biking, and then more running. And maybe some more, lots more, writing.

Best Laid Plans

So, there will be a handful of half-marathons in the spring, overlapped by a summer of pool (and hopefully lake) laps and bike training, leading up to a Tri (sprint, of course) toward the end of August, and then – deep breath- stacking up the miles and miles of training runs leading to the Oct. 5th Portland Marathon.

Part of me feels pretty nuts just to be thinking about it.  The other part can’t wait to get started training. RUN SWIM EVERYTHING FOREVER!! Then I remember I couldn’t make it through 12 weeks of marathon training without injury the last time, and land right back at being sure I’m crazy to be considering both my first triathalon and a marathon in the same year.

I can’t help it. Things are moving.

Should I maybe, possibly, to quote Ron Swanson, be whole-assing just one thing?


Caution: gratuitous meme-ing.

Am I actually crazy?

5 ways Distance Running feels like Tabata

The fartlekking post may have been your first clue, and its true; I’ve been branching out my non-running workouts.  In an effort to one day manage a sub 5-hour marathon, I’m trying to fill gaps my previous training left, trying to tie up those tendonitisy loose ends and fractured tarsals. So, there’s a lot more cross training and weight work to be done, and here I am in a boot camp class, erging away and facing one of the most vomit-inducing physical challenges EVER (yes, I say that having run a marathon). Tabata you beautiful twisted thing, you, you might almost be as gnarly as 26.2 miles.  In a moment of clarity during one of said torturous routines, I discovered that my brain follows a pretty familiar pattern to the one it adopts on long runs:


It’s not that bad! I can totally handle this. These sets will be over before I know it.

Spoiler– WRONG! wrong, wrong! It is that bad, it hurts a lot, and it seems like an eternity- a lot like running a marathon.


STUPID TABATA, who comes up with this stuff anyways?! I demand answers! erg erg erg

Mile 14 of a marathon- Screw you Pheidippides, why didn’t you just send a carrier pigeon or, I DUNNO, ANYTHING besides run all that way.  Serves you right. grrr!


I swear, if I can just make it through this next set, I won’t come to class, ever again!

Mile 20 of a marathon- All right, feet, if you help me get through this, I promise we’ll get a massage, and stop running, and drink milkshakes ’til we’re in a coma.


If only I were in better shape, this wouldn’t hurt so badly.  I feel sad about my poor broken body.

Mile 21 of a marathon- my life is crap. there is no hope. not now. not ever. pain is my life.


Tabata- It might end, but who cares. my muscles are permanently messed up. whatever.

Marathon- It’s never going to end. My muscles are mush, my feet are in pieces, and I’ll be crippled.  sigh. might as well keep going. the hurt feeds my sad little soul.

So I haven’t abandoned tabata workouts just yet, maybe, maybe its because there’s something to them, just like there’s something to running for 5 hours solid.

Lesson Learned… I SWEAR

I committed one of the most mortal sins in running.  It’s why I’ve been away from my writing, and my running.

I can’t believe I did it.  I know better.  I especially, with a laundry list of running-related injuries and PT sessions in my past, should know better.

I…wait for it…doubled my mileage in one run.

If I could undo it, I would, in a heartbeat. Everything felt great the entire run. It was just too easy to do.  A  gorgeous spring day, I met up with an old friend and we were off.  And before I knew it, I had more than doubled my average run mileage. I didn’t think much of it, I felt fine.  Until the next morning, when my left foot let me know what I had done was most definitely not.ok.

This is one of the things I love about running even still- despite the drag of being grounded for recovery – it teaches  (and re-teaches) me about intention.  In everything I do.  Shocking, but normally you can’t just go run 13 miles without preparation.  The work to get there is as crucial as getting there.  It’s an important, and painful, takeaway: pay attention! Be mindful, be present (even if the present is too beautiful to pay much attention to things like your legs and feet).

So, distance runners, promise me this one thing: run with intention.  Do it. Right now. Promise me in your head. So you spare yourselves the momentum-killing, soul-sucking, start over… again.   Running modestly ALWAYS trumps not running at all.

The plan had been to redeem my running self (after a dismal half marathon performance in my last attempt) in mid-May.  So I benched myself for 2 weeks, loaded up on arnica and Advil, wrapped my foot periodically, and waited.  I kept feeling better, day by day. Maybe I hadn’t done anything major!? I waited a few more days.  By the time the 3rd run-free weekend came around, I was out of the ace bandage, walking normally and weight bearing with no pain.

You know what comes next.  I put my shoes on last night, and headed out.  To my credit, I knew I wasn’t going long, or far.  I made it about a quarter mile when I realized I had no business attempting a run, no matter how small.

I’m not sure where I go from here.  With race day is in 5 weeks, I’ve got a  pretty short window to go from nada to 13.1. More like less than nada since walking this morning is a challenge. If the pain gets any worse, I’ll be off to an actual doctor to tell me the sad truth I already know: no running for a while.

Meantime, more arnica and Advil, and desperate pleas to all runners to be smarter than  yours truly.

Now go run.  Run smart and make it count, because you can. And because there are people like me who’d give a whole lot to be in your shoes, especially when they see you tearing up the sidewalks.


Marathon Mantra

At the Half Marathon finish line

Here’s me after a half marathon, the full should be fun!

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.”

~Rabindranath Tagore

Awash in emotions, I’m basking in the warm glow of happiness at the prospect of having a marathon behind me. The check mark on the bucket list.

There is a strange melancholy that descends, knowing the process will as soon be over.  The journey, fraught as it has been with its challenges and quirks, has been an incredible passage, and it is with a heart conflicted by elation and mournful reminiscence that I devote these last few days to training.

Final Marathon Training Days

Preparation is in full effect with only a few more days left.  I’ve been testing solutions to my to blistering issue, and experimenting with various powders, gels and performance snacks like a mad scientist in a lab.  Carbo-loading has commenced and high-energy fuels are the order of my days.  My footwear choice remains my biggest decision, as I’ve yet to settle on which of my lucky pairs will be anointed in the trenches of the marathon.  Should I run in my old, reliable pair?  They’ve seen me through a lot of miles, those shoes, too many, my physical therapist would say.  The newer pair that may or may not have been the source of the blisters? How can I trust them not to blister me again? I know I don’t dare try my 5 fingers, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about how awesome that would be.

I’ve tapered down to a modest mileage plan this week, which leaves me unjustifiably tired and bewilderingly jittery.  The work is done, the training runs are almost finished, and all that remains is the ultimate test to determine the worth of 3 months of dedication.

Letting Go

Its odd to me how this, endings, have yet to get easier. My logic holds that things done repeatedly inevitably become more manageable. With practice comes proficiency, yes? Not so, I’m finding.  I hold on so hard to the places I am, that letting go, even of something that has proven so devastating at times, remains perhaps the most difficult part. Change will always be the ultimate hurdle I guess. This change carries particular resonance with me, as concurrences of the universe would have it, the strange parallels and coincidences that life arrange, I face another set of changes.  As I say goodbye to training for my first marathon, I’ll also be welcoming a very new chapter in my life.  But the fact remains that the goodbye must be said, and this parting honored.

On Saturday I’ll raise my paper cup of Gatorade repeatedly:

  • To anticipating the future with enthusiasm.
  • To paying proper respect to the past.
  • To trusting in this moment, and knowing its precious impermanence.
  • To running a freaking MARATHON. 

**Special note of thanks to everyone reading, you’ve been instrumental in me getting this far.  I’ll see you on the other side of 26.2.