Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Run Like the Tarahumara

I've had some trouble with training this year. My brain is all cloudy, running feels like a chore, and I'm disconnected to the process. Basically, I'm not inspired. Last night, though, Jon Stewart had Christopher McDougall, journalist and now runner, on his show and, wow, I cannot wait to read his book Born To Run. It's all about the Tarahumara Indians who live in Mexico and run a lot for long distances. And they like it! There are some interviews on line with McDougall where he talks more in depth about his involvement with the Tarahumara and what lead him to them in the first place. The book sounds fascinating, and might have a big influence on how we run in the future. If, like me, you're having trouble finding that inner light, get the book and see if it doesn't make you want to run an ultra.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What if...(by Coach Abby) were on a run, headed for the East River Park, traversing through the Lower East Side and *BOOM* you suddenly find yourself tumbling head-over-feet-over-head and landing smack dab in the middle of Chrystie and Houston. Damn potholes! Battered and bruised, you pick yourself up (because no one has seemed to stop and help) and limp to the nearest Duane Reade for Band Aids and alcohol swabs.


You are running the last 3/4 of a mile of a 5 mile run and take a turn to run parallel to the elevated FDR Drive when *TWACK* a rouge pebble smacks you right between the eyes. Luckily, you are not bleeding, you are not dizzy and so you continue on your way home to check for massive bruising and a very ugly battle wound.

Friends, s#@* happens. It just does. Both of these scenarios happened to me in the last three months. I kid you not, that pebble came flying off the FDR and I never saw it, not even after it landed. Seriously. Lucky for me, I was never so seriously hurt that I couldn't attend to my own wounds. My clumsiness and bad luck aside, I am pretty sure that most of us have tripped, fallen, been knocked around by a bicyclist or a car, or had some such near death experience while running. It happens. In light of Runner Girl's post about the tremendous heat this past weekend, I thought it'd be a good time to bring up this topic.

When Trisha Meili, the Central Park Jogger, was found near death in the woods of Central Park they couldn't identify her. Her face was so severely beaten that she couldn't be identified through pictures. She was a single woman and no one knew she had gone out for a midnight run (A MIDNIGHT RUN-I SWEAR, IF I EVER HEAR OF ANY OF YOU LADIES DOING THIS I WILL CHASE YOU DOWN, HOG TIE YOU AND MAKE YOU WATCH PAULY SHORE MOVIES TIL YOU PROMISE TO ONLY RUN IN THE DAYLIGHT OR WITH SEVERAL PEOPLE!!!). For almost two weeks she went unidentified.

You may be thinking, "my husband/wife will know I've gone for a run" and you're probably right. But, where did you go? How long should you have been gone? When do they start to worry that you've been gone too long? And, if you live in a city like New York that has dozens of hospitals on the island of Manhattan alone, where might you be taken if you were hurt, injured or in need of medical attention and unable to speak for yourself? In the heat of the summer your body can turn on you in an instant and, before you know it or can do anything about it, you can develope heat exhaustion or heat stroke and pass out. Oh, wait, I had heat exhaustion, too. Yup--not fun, people, and very dangerous. What if, in the winter months, you go out for a run and find yourself semi-conscious after having fallen on a patch of black ice. I've never experienced frostbite but I hear it's not that enjoyable.

I am not endorsing this company and get no proceeds or anything from them, but I am buying an ID tag for myself and one for my hubby-to-be. It's got my name, my home city, three In Case of Emergency names and phone numbers, my blood type and a note than I am not allergic to any medications. They're $20 and some of the proceeds go to a charity that you choose. That's pretty cool. Here's the link:

You know why? Because it helps my partner to worry less when I'm gone. Because I'm O Negative and can't have any other blood than that. Because New York is a big city and when I decide Manhattan is too small for a long run and head to Brooklyn, I really am far away from home. Because I've fallen more than once while running. Because I've known people who could've used it in an emergency. Because I like to run for a long time and push myself and feel safe doing it. Because I don't love to run with my Drivers License in my pocket on account of I forget to take it back out and then I wash it and then it fades and then I have to buy a new Drivers License and it's a pain in the butt.

I'm not your Mom but let me tell it to you straight, s#@* happens. Get the ID tag or something like it. Seriously.

Run safe--
Coach Abby

Monday, August 17, 2009

NYC Half Marathon -- 13.1 Miles of Hell

It can't get much cooler than running the closed-to-traffic streets of NYC. When I signed up for the New York City Half back in March I was thrilled. I was so disappointed last year when I couldn't do it because of my injury. I'd had so much fun in 2006 and 2007, and I missed the course, which is a loop around Central Park, then out on to 7th Avenue, through Times Square, and down the West Side Highway to Battery Park. It's truly something, seeing NYC that way, runners on the streets instead of cars. Makes you look at the city in a whole different way.

My goal was to run it in under two hours. I'd been preparing both mentally and physically for months. And, I had Mariana, who is faster than me, pushing me along during runs. So, I thought I'd be more than ready on August 16th to cross the finish line between 1:50:00 - 1:55:00.

What I did not plan for was heat. And humidity. At 6:00a.m. when I set out to meet Mariana it was already 78 degrees. The two mile jog I took to get to her left me drenched with sweat. And, at the starting line we found out that there was a heat advisory. The announcer suggested that maybe this not be the race you strive to get a personal record. I heard him, and I was fully prepared to listen, but when the race started I felt my legs go a little faster than they should have been. My strategy is to run slower at the start and get progressively faster, but for some reason -- nerves, trying to keep up with Mariana, not being able to forget the goal -- I was too fast for the weather, so by mile three I was uncomfortable, and by mile four I was ready to go home. Overheated, I overcompensated by drinking too much water and Gatorade, so by mile five I had painful cramps. I begged Mariana to save herself and leave me to my misery, which she finally did at mile six.

On 7th Avenue things got a little better. The cramps went away, but I still felt terrible. My body just did not want to be there at all. At one point, as I was passing 57th Street, I thought to myself "What would happen if I didn't finish? Who would care?" I have never not completed a race, which in the past gave me a sense of pride. But, at this race I thought the sensible thing to do would be to quit. I kept going, though, and looked out for Kirk, Abby, Justin and Andy, whi were at mile eight. Their cheers and smiles disappeared upon catching sight of me, the ashen, beat up runner who was not happy at all.

Down the West Side Highway with less than four miles to go I tried to speed up, but it was no use. I pumped my arms the way Abby tells us to in class, but it didn't work. So, I decided if I can't change my body I can change my mind. My mom always says "Put a smile on your face and a song in your heart", so that's what I did. I sang to myself, told myself jokes, noted the runners around me who slogged through, kinda hating the ones who passed me. At mile 11ish I saw the gang again, but this time I put a big smile on my face. They said I looked better.

Finally, mile 12 and I was already past the two hour mark. At one point, I think mile 10, I had it in my head that maybe I'd still make my record of 2:00, but I got over that when at mile 11 I was at 1:52. Again, I tried to go a little faster, but who was I kidding? The dream was over; it was over at mile three! I crossed the finish in 2:12:something, disappointed, but happy to be done.

What is the lesson here? Well, for one, I've got to be flexible in my thinking. Once I knew the weather was going to be an issue I should have slowed way down. Second, I should not have overdone the water and Gatorade in the beginning of the race. That was a huge mistake. Third, I need to quit my job and hire a team of trainers so I can meet my 1:50 goal. I watched Paula Radcliffe run her 5:24 per mile pace in the same weather and she was fine. Clearly, I need to do what's she's doing!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Seems like they only get longer.

And I am not just talking about the lengths of time between my post. I am talking about Long runs. Tomorrow I will run (I hope) 16 miles. I am on week nine of my training, doing a Cool Running Beginner Marathon program.
And they say if you are running for speed or time on your first marathon then I should be running 18 miles and if I just want to finish I should run 14. So, I feel like I am somewhere in between on this. So, I am going to run 16. Two weeks ago Me and Zen (my girlfriend) ran 14 miles in the NYRR Training run. This was a great way to remind myself that running can cause pain.

Somehow, getting up five days a week, and running varied distances and stretching a lot after (You know what, I don't think I'll ever stretch before) you seem to get used to it, and your body doesn't go into shock every time you set out on an hour or more run. But then you run that first run over the half-marathon mark, and your body says, "hey, I thought we were cool. You don't bother me, I don't bother you. What happened?" And you tell your body, hey I was just pushing it okay, I'll try not to let it happen again. But then you realize you just lied to your body...dang. OK. Listen up body, this is the goal... "What?!!" yea, I know, but we can do it, stay with me okay. I am pretty sure it will feel amazing after. And if it doesn't, I'll give you two weeks off, at least! Well, alright, you can't give the body all the details right off the bat. The bat? hmmm.

Anyway, I've been feeling pretty good, overall. Trying to eat right and stay on track. Been a little more difficult to maintain a regular running schedule since I left Zen in NY and headed out to Minneapolis. I have been doing my runs but the timing has been a little bit off. So tomorrow I strike out on a 16 mile journey, presumably on my own, lest someone show up out of the blue.
Luckily I get to run around three lakes. Check it out.

Oh Technology. Well, wish me luck. Still to be discovered: Where do I hold my gels? Water? How do I get around Lake of the Isles?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Run and Raise Money

You wanted to run the New York City Marathon this year, but, for whatever reason, you didn't qualify. Now you're totally bummed, sitting on your sofa watching reruns of Seinfeld and eating cold pizza. Fret no longer. The Central Park Conservancy wants you! Here's the deal -- you raise money for their charity, they let you run 26.2 miles in the greatest city in the world. Sound like a fair trade? If so, check it all out here.
Worried you don't have enough time to train? You've still got about 12 weeks, and if you're already on a workout program you'll be just fine.

Good luck!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Beg to Defer

As some of you know, I've done two NYC marathons -- '07 and '08 -- and am qualified and signed up for '09. But as some of my very patient running friends also know, I've had zero enthusiasm for '09. No push, no drive, no go-get-em. To top it off, my long runs were kicking my ass, thanks to my extra particular hatred of July and August training.

After what felt like the millionth terrible attempt at building my distance, I finally started asking myself some questions. Why am I doing this again this year? What do I want? And perhaps most importantly, what's it going to feel like if I ... don't run the marathon?

A few half-jokes with running friends ("Will you still talk to me if I don't run this year?") plus a long phone call with my mother led me to spend a weekend as if I'd already deferred. Just to see how it felt.

It felt amazing. I was finally able to answer that first question with certainty: I'd planned to run again this year because I'd felt like a failure when I'd stopped to walk in those other two marathons. And that's crazy. Lots of people walk, and never in a MILLION YEARS would I call any one of them a failure. You cross the finish line, you did it.

And the second question got an answer, too: I want to feel good about running. I want to be strong, and happy, and, let's face it, 10 lbs lighter. I can get all of that at distances that make me happy, that suit my strengths. The marathon was actually never on my bucket list. You meet other runners and they inspire you to try new lengths and challenges, and that's awesome, that's the joy of the sport. But I've done the training -- twice -- and gotten myself from the Verrazano Bridge to Central Park -- twice -- and I need to feel good about that.

I definitely worry that I'm wimping out. But that's the beauty of deferral; if I show up to cheer on my super-speedy husband on November 1st and think, "Damn, I wish I were out there," I can gear up for 2010. For now, if anyone wants to go for a 5-mile loop and a margarita, you know where to find me!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Summer Streets!!!

Hey everyone!

Last year, Mayor Mike and the DOT closed down Park Ave from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd St (and 72nd to the Park) on three Saturdays in August to encourage people to get out and run, bike, walk, blade, whatever. They're doing it again this year and it starts this Saturday. The streets are closed to traffic from 7am til 1pm. It's an awesome route to use for your long run and you can incorporate the Bridge and the Park while taking advantage of the shade Park Avenue offers in the morning.

For more information, including a map, the scheduled events, bike share information and everything else you need to know, visit the website.

See you out there on Saturday morning!

Coach Abby