Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oh Dear

So, the Chicago Lakefront 50/50 (50k or 50M) is this coming Saturday, and I want to do the 50k sooooo much.

I know I'm not ready for it this year (plus we've got a really heavy schedule this weekend), but I'm seriously thinking about it for next year.

The Dude asked me in my post-marathon moping week why I wanted to run marathons, and why I wanted to run particular ones (Flying Pig, San Francisco, New York, London, Berlin... Boston), and I really couldn't give him a good answer. I just... want to. And certain ones more than others. And while I'd certainly like to improve on my marathon time I feel content right now to leave my racing efforts to shorter distances --- I just want to run these.

But before any of these I want to run that 50k...

(And then someday my S.B.A.*...)

Oh, time to pull out my planner and training books.

*Secret Burning Ambition. Still not ready to talk about this. Thought it had gone away but I guess it hasn't.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Notes from a Fruitful Week

Monday: Swam 24 laps, yoga.

Tuesday: Ran three miles, of sorts. Buddy had been sent home from daycare the day before (he had bad hives) with the instruction not to return until we had a doctor's note. The Dude valiantly managed to pick up B and get him to the doctor in time, but then I forgot to bring the note with me. No admission. So my three miles were broken up by running home with Buddy to get the note, then running back, then running the remaining 1 1/2 miles around the nearby park and home. Anger made the first half go quickly --- leftover adrenaline made the second half go even faster. So in the end a satisfying run, though not my usual way of doing speedwork! Finished up with calming yoga.

Wednesday: Rest day (yoga/strength). After months of trying to fit six workouts into my week, not counting my yoga and strength training, and almost always failing to do so, I have decided that for proper balance in my life I am only scheduling 5 workouts a week. Thereby leaving myself one morning each week for visiting with friends, or heading into work early, or getting some extra time for art-making. So far so good!

Thursday: And then after that resolution I woke up tired and wanting to finish up some writing/sketching I didn't get to the night before, so took another rest day as well.

Friday: Ran seven miles along the lake, lovely and fast. Plus yoga.

Saturday: Meant to do my long run since Sunday's schedule wasn't going to permit it, but I woke up tired and grumpy, and was sent to bed after lunch to try to get some niceness back. That sort of worked... I was nicer the rest of the day... but then I had a hard time sleeping that night, so my aversion to naps remains confirmed. But I would not have been able to do a long run anyway.

Sunday: Woke up shaky, so no run even if there'd been time. But a long nap on Buddy's part, accompanied by The Dude taking his long run, left me with quiet alone time that was apparently what I had been needing all along.

So, this was a "fruitful" week, even though punctuated by more rest days than I would have cared for, because amongst all that agitation I came to some important decisions (and more importantly, started acting on them), and determined that my legs are up to seriously running the Hot Chocolate 15K in two weeks time. If I take my sleep seriously as well. Which will be a challenge since it's still Scary Movie Month (I so owe a post or two on this), but I am nothing if not one determined mama.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Whoa, Buddy!


Beautiful fall day, wind in the hair, all of Chicago before him --- 
a boy's gotta ride!

(Mama, meanwhile, was taking a much needed nap inside.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Whoa, Annie!

So I guess I'm serious about this art stuff...

I've been making cards to sell and working up sketches for paintings...

I need to find myself a new table easel (had a beautiful one but sold it a post-breakup purge some years back, WTF?!).

I now have an Etsy account but no store there yet...

Need to rearrange my work space this weekend so it's easier to paint there (while still keeping things safe from the Budster).

I'm remembering some of why I have let myself not make art in the past... once I get started and the ideas start flowing it's a little overwhelming, almost scary at times. I could, truly, spend all day working on projects, and then all night, and then again all day... and I've done that, when I was single and had no social life. But now I'm married and have a small child and my life looks very different, it's very structured.

But I'm also very different now, and a lot less fearful about losing ideas or momentum if I put work down for a while, and a lot better about finding ways to make myself "pick up the pace" when I have the opportunity and "reining it back in" when I need to. So I will find a way to make my life work around this renewed need.

Oh, and I had an awesome run this morning! Seven miles by the lake, didn't have a watch but definitely faster than I've done it in the past, judging by when I got home. Feeling like I'll be good and ready for the Hot Chocolate in two weeks time if I can keep from pushing myself too much. (Plus got some ideas for paintings...)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Oh, And Another One

Last July I wrote about committing to lose 25 lbs. I'm happy to say that sometime this summer I achieved that goal. In the course of doing so, however, I've realized that I could safely lose still more weight --- in fact, probably close to another 25 lbs.

Why? Well, for health reasons, in part. I'm still overweight by health charts and with the history of heart issues in my family I'm certainly motivated to do all I can to reduce my likelihood of heart problems. But mostly? I want to race better. A lighter body means faster times, and a lighter body also means fewer problems with overheating, something I am always struggling with in hot weather (though it has gotten a lot better for me as I have lost weight). I really don't see Chicago getting any cooler as time goes on.

I have lost a lot of weight over the years (down 85 lbs. from my heaviest, after college), and I'm pleased with that. But I also feel ready to get to the next level. I'm more committed to staying healthy and strong than I am to a particular number, so I don't intend to do anything that feels unsafe or unsustainable, and I'm open to changing my goals if that feels necessary. I also expect that this next level of weight loss will take more time, and I don't intend to post about my progress or lack thereof. But I do believe in the power of stating one's goals publicly, so that is why I have written today.

Wish me luck!

New Challenges

Many people this summer, when they found out I was either training for or had run the marathon, had this reaction: "I could never do that."


I have never doubted that I could run a marathon, even back when I first started running. The question for me was always, "Do I want to run a marathon?" and, more importantly, "Do I want to enough?" Twice now I've started training to do so and realized that no, I didn't want to badly enough. I don't think there's any shame in changing your mind about a goal if in the course of striving for it you learn new things --- about what's needed, about what you're capable of, about what you're willing to do --- that make you reevaluate the worthiness of attempting it at that time.

(Of course there are limits on what any individual body can do, but I think that they are often less than we are willing to believe.)

There are other limits that we place on ourselves though, I believe mostly out of fear. One limit I have put on myself consistently is to say, "Oh, I could never make a business for myself with my art."

And why is that?

My answers are not all that good.

So, I'm going ahead and putting it out there and saying, I want to develop my artistic voice, and I want to put my work out there, and I want to make a business for myself with my art.

I don't know what that will look like right now. I do believe that it will take time to grow, and that my vision will evolve as I get back in the practice of making art and as I learn more about the business of art and as I get a better sense of where my work fits into that world.

But I do know that I am tired of coming up with reasons "this is why not", and am ready to live into "Why, yes!"

Do I want this enough?

I think I finally do.

To My Readers

Thank you for all the wonderful comments these last weeks! I've been trying to figure out a way to reply directly, but Blogger doesn't have this as an option, and so far I haven't been able to figure out the workarounds (I'm not tech-minded, that's why I chose Blogger in the first place). So for now just know that I am very appreciative of all your encouraging/kind/inspiring words.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Notes on a Recovery Week

I suppose since I didn't go running this was technically a recovery week. Didn't feel that way at the time, what with not sleeping well myself and then a sick Buddy. But since I am now mostly pain-free, and eating better again, and feeling more like myself in my body in general, I will declare myself on the road to recovery.

Which is good, because in three weeks is the Hot Chocolate 15K, and I'd really like to rip it up!

Oh, and can anyone explain why my butt has suddenly gotten bigger? I know I gained a couple of pounds during taper and then my post-marathon indulgences, but seriously, all in my butt? My underwear, it does not fit right (sad face).

Monday: Walking around the neighborhood, yoga.

Tuesday: Swam 21 laps.

Wednesday: Rest day, yoga.

Thursday: At home with a sick Buddy. Yoga during his nap.

Friday: The Dude stayed at home with Buddy today, so I went swimming before work, 24 laps.

Saturday: No planned exercise, except for yoga, and not exactly a rest day, since Buddy was still under the weather and woke up early to boot. But we did get to run around at the park with his aunt and his cousin The Lion Child(he has the most astonishing roar, especially for such a mellow child). So cute!

Sunday: First run since the marathon! 5 miles, with yoga afterwards. I don't quite know how to describe how it felt since it was difficult in a way I haven't experienced before. But it was a beautiful day and I was so happy to be outside, and so grateful that everything seems to be working okay. Then home to make corn muffins for The Dude's chili, then fall asleep in front of Sunday Night Football.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Marathon Report (And Then I'm Done)

So, you've seen from the short report that I was frustrated and disappointed. I've had a few days now to reflect and to talk it over with friends, and I'm grateful to say that my perspective has changed.

(Feel free to skip the processing part and go straight to the highlights.)

All through the summer and my training, I've been treating the marathon as if it were another race, and setting my expectations --- of how I go about it, of my goal time --- accordingly. From that perspective I didn't run it "well": not only was I way off my goal time, but I also didn't run it "smartly," which for me means adjusting my goals to the weather, making sure to keep the entire first half conservative, and then checking in at every point from there on to see how I can push myself faster.

But this was my first time at that distance! I should not have been thinking of it as a race! For no other distance have I taken that approach for my first time out. It wasn't until my third 10k, for example, that I started to think about "racing" that distance, and I would say that I'm still only getting the hang of it. Why was I even thinking about trying to "race" the marathon?

(Because I'm a competitive little freak, that's why.)

So with that in mind...

YAY! I finished my first marathon! And I finished with an average pace that was faster than any of my races before last year, and faster than most of my long runs this summer.

YAY! I didn't overheat! I paid attention to my warning signs and took care of myself: walking at each aid station for water and Gatorade even when I didn't want to, taking my gels even when I didn't want to, and holding myself back once I knew I was at my safety threshold, even though I didn't want to.

YAY! I got to turn it on at the very end, for the kind of finish I like: strong and giving it all out there. With George Michael's "Freedom," my personal running anthem, in my ears, just like I'd envisioned.

So, some highlights of my 2010 Chicago Marathon experience:
  • Meeting up with some chatty marathoners on the train on my way down --- our chat kept me from getting too nervous.
  • Finding a quiet corner outside of Grant Park to sit down and attach my bib and timing chip, and to take in the beauty of the morning.
  • Crossing the bridge in Grant Park and looking at the Chicago skyline, I don't think I'd even seen it from that viewpoint before. Breathtaking.
  • Waiting to start and suddenly realizing what an amazing thing it was that I was there at all. I've wanted to run a marathon since I started running, sixteen years ago. I've even started training for one a couple of times before, but it was only at the end of last year that I felt like I could seriously take it on, that I had gotten fit enough and fast enough (and lean and mean enough) to run it with some pleasure, and not just as a one-time bucket-list crazy endurance challenge.
  • Being at the start line and praying to myself the e.e. cummings poem "i thank you god" (we pray the first stanza as part of Buddy's goodnight prayers) as a way to center myself, getting to the line "for the leaping greenly spirits of trees / and a blue true dream of sky" and realizing that I was looking up at an amazing blue true dream of sky right then. And feeling connected through that poem to all the parts of my life and to my loved ones.
  • Running through Lincoln Park Zoo, and the first twelve miles for that matter. Feeling like I could go on forever, that I was flying, but I wasn't worried because it felt effortless. And of course the gay rifle corps in Boystown.
  • People watching. I love watching people and listening to their conversations during races.
  • Seeing people I knew and having them call out to me. Thanks, Tara! Thanks, Barbara!
  • Favorite signs: "Your feet hurt because you're kicking ass," "Beer at end," "Pain is temporary, accomplishment is forever," and my absolute favorite, seen a few times on the course, "Run happy."
  • Then, once the heat hit me and we left the shade (for good, grrr), knowing that I was taking care of myself, as frustrating as that was.
  • And realizing that I could just make myself keep going, and make myself start again every time I stopped for water/Gatorade/gel/potty/just-because-I-had-to.
  • Knowing that I was keeping good form, even though I was tired and upset. And then later seeing the photos to prove it.
  • Running through Pilsen! Best crowd of the whole city.
  • Passing people. I love passing people.
  • Being able to push myself faster again in the last 10k, and then again in the last 2 miles, even though I was taking walk breaks and it wasn't as pretty as I'd been hoping for or as fast as earlier in the course.
  • Then making that last turn, pushing up that hill (I love hills) and knowing that the end was so so close and I was going to be able to push myself faster that last 100 meters even if I had nothing left afterwards at all.

And the best thing about the 2010 Chicago Marathon? Knowing that I have now run that far, and can do it again, and that my dreams of running x, y, and z marathons are possible and not me deluding myself.

Oh, and my final time was 5:03:09.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

Full report tomorrow. Right now I'm just glad to be clean, about to be well fed, with "North By Northwest" in the DVD player and a little boy asleep early (though that's due to overexcitement these last two days and a slight fever, so we'll see if he stays that way).

Short report --- frustrated by the weather, disappointed by some foolish mistakes, but ultimately I ran a sensible race (as in, I finished and did not overheat) and am making big plans for the future.

Thanks for all your good wishes!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

And Here We Go...

I've been hoping for this day for so long (in the abstract for 15 years, concretely for six months), that at this point I don't even know what to say.

I'm looking forward to just running --- the logistics and crowds are what have me most nervous right now.

I'm incredibly grateful for all the support I've been given.

I'm as ready as I can be.

Let's go!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Last Days

Struggling a bit right now, my cold has a firm cold on me. No hugely obnoxious symptoms today, just this fog and ache that has settled over me. I'm actually kind of grateful in a weird way, it's making me slow down and get inwardly focused in just the way I was hoping to do before Sunday, but is so hard to carve out the time for.

So I'm finishing up a few more things at work and then heading home early, I won't be in again until after it's all over. I feel as if I'm about to embark on a very long journey and I don't quite know who I'll be on the other side. I suspect that's about right.

Bon voyage!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Taper Taper Taper Get Some Madness Here

I have not been enjoying taper. Doesn't sound like anyone else I know is either.

Food has gone all to hell. My schedule has gone all to hell. Yoga has gone all to hell. And everything hurts when I run slow. What happened to all that energy I was supposed to be feeling right now?

Thank God I figured out my "I wake up at 3:00am and can't get any more good sleep" problem. Since April I've been waking up hungry, but not quite hungry enough to realize it. A rabbit's bite of trail mix has solved this.

I can't figure out a pair of shorts I like. My usual ones aren't good for racing (takes too long to adjust them around the waist --- too big). But it's going to be warm on Sunday. I have a pair of capris that fit great around the waist and butt but not the knees, so I've cut them down and will hem them tonight, and try them on my run tomorrow to see if I can make them work for me.

My favorite shoes have died and I can't get replacements for them --- I bought this last pair off of E-bay as it is. I've gotten the model that is supposed to replace my faves, and they feel pretty good to run in, but they don't have the same cushioning, not really my choice for a long run. But there isn't time to experiment with other models at this point. So I'm looking at some serious aggravation of my Morton's Neuroma on Sunday and will just have to run through it. Better than trying to run on dead shoes, which for me always results in shin splints and tendinitis.

It's hard to run slow! I don't like it.

And carbo-loading makes me very nervous (have a history with overeating). I can handle it for the day before a long run, but for several days beforehand? Or when people are telling me in these last weeks, "Oh, you can have whatever you want"? No.

And the last "poor me" you'll hear before Sunday? I HAVE A FREAKIN' COLD. Thank you, Dude.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Notes on an Inward Week

Travel always makes me introspective, and I spent much of the week thinking about where I am in my life, where I want to be, and how I might get from here to there. I'm feeling good about where I've come to after that thinking, and ready to start putting some new things into motion, but between my busy head, the travel, and work, I wouldn't say this was a restful week. I think maybe the whole notion of taper weeks doesn't really apply to working moms. Some good runs, though.

Sunday: Ran 8 miles in Englewood Reserve. I love running here. I love the trees and the wildflowers and the lake, and how the path opens up as you go along the base of the dam and again at the top. I love that the hills make me work.

I did not love that my favorite shoes are now officially dead, and I had to get new ones, a new style even, since my favorites (Brooks Axiom 3) are no longer around. The new ones are not quite right, but at this point I don't have much choice. I'll save my experimenting for the winter.

Monday: Rest / travel day.

Tuesday: Ran 5 miles (yoga).

Wednesday: Swam 21 laps.

Thursday: Ran 6 miles @ 10:10 (yoga). Wasn't planning to run at this speed, it's just where my body felt I needed to be. Pretty awesome.

Friday: Feeling out-of-sorts when I woke up, needing some extra time with Buddy and some extra time to myself. Rest day!

Saturday: Rest / work day (yoga).