Thursday, October 31, 2013

Scary Movie Month - Part 2

And then after the marathon was over we could really settle ourselves down and get in some serious viewing...

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002 with Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis)
This may be one of my favorite movies ever. Elvis in a nursing home, a soul-sucking mummy, and JFK somehow put into the body of a black man, now elderly as well. And yet it is one of the most moving films I've ever seen about aging, regrets, family, and what makes a life well lived. Plus some kick-assery by the elderly Elvis and JFK, working as a team.

Dark Star (John Carpenter & Dan O'Bannon - 1974)
Not scary, but the first effort by two men who went on to make horrifically scary movies, so we watched out of historic interest. I was falling asleep so I missed the last twenty minutes but I wish I'd managed to stay up for it all. Atmospheric and interesting, if perhaps not as funny as they'd hoped.

The Hand (1981 with Michael Caine)
Caine was good in this, but then I felt the ending threw all that good work away. We did get some good conversation throughout about the characters, though, so the experience of watching it was fun, even if in the end it was disappointing.

The Wolf Man (1941 with Claude Rains, Bela Lugosi, and Lon Chaney)
A classic. And it's a sign of how much Scary Movie Month has become part of my life that I actually watched this one on my own. I've seen the beginning of this at least three times (and then fallen asleep), so I was determined to make it through this time. I dozed off a little here and there but made it to the end! And then realized that I hadn't missed all that much of it before - it's just a short movie, and the end, when it comes, happens pretty quickly. So this was more about filling in my monster movie gaps than being particularly engaged with it. A good choice for solo viewing.

The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock - 1963)
Oh, fantastic. A pleasure to watch, to think about, to wonder at, and then to be scared by. No false notes here.

Gojira (1954)
Another one I watched on my own, but this time because I really like it. A movie to be savored, thought about, and listened to (the music and the sound effects are well worth paying close attention to). I had forgotten enough about how it was structured to be surprised, especially once Gojira is on the streets attacking the city. So much to think about with this one. What would it have been like to see this in 1950s Japan? How very different from the bowlderized American version that was made.

In the Mouth of Madness (John Carpenter - 1994)
Oh, I wanted this to be better than it was. It had such promise at the beginning. What I would change? The actress, the ending.

And then heading into the last weekend, and determined to finish out Buffy...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Scary Movie Month - Part 1

You wouldn't know it by my posting, but I have been watching scary movies all month long. This may even be the most movies in a single month that I've ever seen. I suspect if I tried to give a full report on every movie the way I have in some years I would never finish, so here's the short version. This post covers everything we watched up until the marathon (Oct. 13).

ParaNorman (Christ Butler - 2012)
Very sweet. And smart. And spooky. Some big themes and ways of handling them - if this had been live-action it certainly would have been for adults. Chris Butler worked on Coraline (one of our faves) and Corpse Bride so he certainly cut his teeth on some good stuff. A great start to the month.

Dreamscape (1984 with Dennis Quaid, Max van Sydow, and Christopher Plummer)
As my cousin put it (we were debating this one on Facebook): "It hasn't aged very well but chock full of great ideas! A solid B movie, ripe for a remake! I mean, dream therapy, dream assassins, that boy and his monster, so much to love!!!" Exactly.

The Gate (1987)
Some good classic scary bits, lots of silly stuff, lots that doesn't really hold together from a character or a story perspective. Probably ultimately forgettable.

Hotel Transylvania (2012)
Nothing scary here, but very enjoyable and surprisingly sweet. Lots of SNL alums involved: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Robert Smigel, Molly Shannon, etc. My only criticism here is one I have of a number of kids' movies - using "popular" actors and music will date it more than necessary, and there is no need for a big musical production at the end. My oldest wanted to watch it again immediately after finishing it and I suspect we'll end up owning it.

Drag Me to Hell (Sam Raini - 2009)
Oh, what was I thinking? I forgot how scary (and gross) this can be. I think I was only remembering the funny bits. (Time spent under the blanket hiding my eyes - 30%?)

And then lots of single episodes of the last season of Buffy, since we were determined to finish it finally. Started off the month with 12 episodes remaining...

Friday, October 18, 2013

So Now What?

Of course I've given this a lot of thought this week. The Dude's first question to me when I got home was "Do you think you want to do another one?" and my answer is a resounding "Yes!" And I may have sorta promised not to do one until 2015... but I may kinda be doing some retroactive finder-crossing on that... you know, if the right one comes along sooner...

Here's what I do know. I'm going to take a break from active training until March 1. This gives me the winter off (holiday/ice season) and also happens to end with my birthday. I will enjoy my running / swimming / rowing / yoga / hiking without thinking about it being for anything. I'll want to build up my distance and speed again starting in a couple of weeks, but not with a particular race in mind. Then in February I'll start to think about the season and making plans.

As for marathons, I think I need to develop some guidelines for myself. This is what I've come up with so far:
  1. My knee pain at the end (mostly gone now, by the way) was, I think, my usual IT band stuff, aggravated by all the pavement pounding - I had always done some of my long runs off pavement so I hadn't been prepared for that. If I want to do another city marathon I need to a) work on rehabbing that ITB more seriously than I have, and b) get more serious about my walk breaks.
  2. For the same reason I want to look more into trail running, my first love. That will involve needing to get my driver's license back (I rarely drive and forgot to renew it last time so now I have to take the test all over again) and then getting more comfortable driving. But we have an automatic now so I have no excuse not to anyway.
  3. I was so inspired by all the people running as part of a charity team that I'd like to take part in that myself. Maybe that will be how I do the other ones in the World Marathon Master series(Tokyo, London, New York, Berlin, Boston - certainly the only way I could get into that one). I have raised money through both my marathons but with both I trained and ran alone - I think it might be fun to do it as part of a team.
  4. And I think my goals for my next one are a) to have fun and b) to finish strong. No time goal, but to run more consistently throughout, and not needing to walk at the end as I have had to both times now.
I took the week off from running and am now excited to go again! I will be slow and steady in returning though. Seriously. No finger-crossing there.

Yours excitedly -

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Struggle

Those who are regular readers know that I have struggled all summer long between conflicting mindsets when it comes to training (and to the rest of my life, really, but that's a different post). There's the me that wants to be in the moment, appreciate the journey, take everything in, be at one with the universe and at peace with whatever comes my way. You know, the evolved me.

And then there's the competitive weasel me that seizes on any external marker as a way to size myself up and provide affirmation.

This struggle is evident in the story of my marathon.

I'm not disappointed AT ALL in how things ended. I am still really proud of what I did and that I was able to go after my true goal - that of enjoying the day and loving other people. But I'm writing today because I'm a little bit regretful about how things started. Not just in the day but during taper (the three weeks before the marathon when I should be resting and recovering while still keeping just active enough to stay sharp).

I had the feeling throughout those weeks that I was self-sabotaging. Not getting enough sleep. Not eating well. (I'm not going to detail the food stuff except to say that I struggled with an eating disorder for many years and still struggle sometimes with eating and how I think about eating.) Not adjusting my workouts well. And then, in the days right before the marathon, by not eating enough -- not carbo-loading well. Same thing that morning. And in the first part of the race I wasn't careful enough with my walk breaks. My breakdowns in the last five miles were very clearly related to the choices I made in the weeks of taper and in the days and hours immediately before the marathon, and my mindset going into it.

In the end I'm happy with how I handled what came up during the event itself - but things didn't need to have gotten to that place to begin with. I'm sorry I wasn't more self-aware in those last weeks. I think really I was trying to sabotage the competitive me so that I could have the experience I really wanted (and had).

But you know, wouldn't it be nice to have just chosen that course instead of tricking myself into it?

I belong to an online running group, and one of the members of that group (hello, Joel!) wrote this reflection about goals after reading my story:

I trained as best as I could, but came to the line knowing that my original stretch goals for the event were not in reach... The races themselves were more like regular training runs, but with crowds and a tight schedule. I worked my way through, so that I could wear the t-shirt, and set my next goal. I still want to keep doing them, although they have been far less fun [than his first race experience].

All of this is why I am so delighted with [Anne's] Chicago Marathon experience. I was downtown volunteering and hoped to meet her, so I was watching her times. I knew she missed her goal, and was worried when she went Facebook-silent for the rest of the day. Her recap yesterday was pure sunshine. Anne did all of the work to get to the start line, and her physical and mental fitness are not at all diminished by the fact that her pace wasn't what she hoped for. But I've been in this activity long enough to know that to let go of goals and just enjoy the experience of the run can be much harder than actually pushing all the way and meeting your time. Anne deserved her victory lap through the city, and I am inspired that she was able to take it as such, goals notwithstanding...

[Regarding fellow Sub-30 Group runner Lonnie St. John] ... he has shown how to keep the joy while still running with real intelligence and self-awareness... [italics mine]

That is what I want, really. To run with joy and intelligence and self-awareness. I think I am a little bit closer to this after this year's marathon. And I'm looking forward to getting closer still.

Yours truly,

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Story

It was a beautiful day.

Everything to the beginning of the race went smoothly.

Standing in the corral I felt like crying, I was so happy to be there and to be doing it.

I had my goals in mind and a plan for executing them. (I will just point out here that this is a racing mind-set for me. My focus at this point was on time.)

And then we started.

It took a long time to warm up, and there were a lot of bottlenecks. Okay, to be expected, no worries. By the end of mile three I was nearing 11:00 miles, slower than my #3 goal time but still with plenty of time to speed up.

(I also want to mention that while I had slept well the last few days and was feeling good, I did not feel any "zip". No hunger. No nerves. This is not actually how you want to feel if you have ambitious time goals in mind.)

We went through downtown. I found myself bothered by the noise - I didn't remember that from the time before, or being bothered by it. I was fully present to experience it, and I didn't like it. (I also didn't like two slogans that I got to see over and over again - "Worst parade ever" - and - "If this were easy it would be called 'your mom'". Grrr.)

Another drawback to the noise: I couldn't hear the beeps of my watch to alert me to my walk breaks. So I was keeping numbers in my head and checking my watch frequently. First, for the time of my next walk break, and second, to see if I was on pace for that mile. Not much fun, that. It also meant I wasn't really taking my walk breaks as I had planned...

I went through the zoo and up north, then turned into Boystown, renowned for their spectator entertainment. Looking at people, their outfits, the signs on the sidelines, the funny stuff. And so impressed with how many people were running "for" someone or something. I had raised money for Chicago Lights, the nonprofit arm of the church I work for, but I wasn't really running for them. Trying to accelerate to 10:50 miles and not able to do it consistently, mostly because of the crowd. I'd get going faster and then find myself in another bottleneck. Or have to slow down because of all the trash on the street after an aid station. I found myself watching my feet more than the people, or more than I'd wanted to, at least.

After mile 7 I was also watching for toilet facilities without lines. I knew from last time that I wouldn't find that for some time in. I was doing okay - no urgent need to pee - but also knew that I'd be more comfortable if I could use the facilities, and also that I'd then be able to stop thinking about it (since I probably wouldn't need to go again before the end). At mile 8 I thought I saw one and moved over, only to realize that there were lines after all. Well, I was stopped, might as well suck it up and deal with it, right? Then after waiting for a while this guy told us, "The toilets on the other side have no lines." I dashed over, and... bullshit. The lines were worse than before. I was on the street again so decided to just keep going. Mile 9 came and there were toilets again - with lines - and I just decided to hell with it. I stopped, chose a line... and waited. And waited. While the other lines moved. And then I waited some more.

At this point I had my first breakthrough. I was not going to meet my goal #3. There was no way I could make up the time lost over the remaining miles. I had to let go. I didn't want to spend this marathon like my first one, worrying, fretting about how fast I was going and whether I'd meet my goals and completely in my head and in pain and miserable. I decided to stop tracking my pace, to make sure I took every walk break, and to enjoy myself as I went along.

And so I did.

To be honest, I still kept vague track of my pace, along the lines of "what's my 1/2 marathon split?" and "how long did it take me to run miles 15-20?", all in service of the larger questions, "can I finish under 4:50?" (unlikely) and "can I finish under 5 hours?" (hopefully). But I really didn't focus on it the way I had at first. I enjoyed the sunshine. I slapped hands with small children. I smiled. I felt myself slowing down as I entered the last 6 miles and I didn't worry about it.

(Although at this point I did start saying to myself, well, with X miles to go, if I maintain an 11:00 pace, I can finish under 5:00 with time to spare - and also noticed that window of time was shrinking with each mile. At this point I put my music on in the hopes of giving myself a little boost. I didn't mind not hitting my #3 and #2 goals, but I did really want to finish under 5 hours.)

But again, no worries. I enjoyed my music yet turned it off when I passed a cheer zone. The number of spectators was growing again and the energy was high. I looked around at all of us and I was so proud of us all. We had come so far. We were going to finish. We were amazing. The volunteers were amazing. The spectators - and the marching bands and the drill teams and the dancers and the people handing out candy and oranges and pretzels (which I should have taken and didn't) - were all amazing. The city and all that goes into an event like this - was amazing. This wasn't about me, it had nothing to do with me, it was about all of us and what an amazing thing life is and celebrating that life.

Of course I was hurting. That goes without saying. Every time I stopped it was harder to start again and when I did I was slower than before. But then I got moving and it went smoother and I still had moments where I felt good and buoyant, even. And grateful. Oh, so grateful.

And then, at mile 23, I hit The Wall. I started running again after a walk break and found I could not run. And I stopped. And walked.

And had a moment of panic, "I can't run, what do I do?"

And then a good song came on my iPod and I thought, well, now I walk. And walk with pride. And with a smile. And with purpose and energy and love for everyone around me.

And I did. I turned off my watch (wasn't going to make 5 hours now) and waved at the people who were waving and chatted with a pregnant lady I came up to. And then after nearly a mile of this I thought, well, my feet hurt, and this is going to take a really long time if I walk the rest of the way, so I started running again, slowly, stopping when I needed to but always starting up again, watching my shadow to see that my form was still good, if slow, and thinking, maybe I can even run the rest of the way in. Maybe I can even run a little faster that last mile.

And then I entered the last half mile, and the pain struck. Sharp. On the right side of my right knee. Oh! I had to stop. I walked a little, then gingerly started again. Ran another 100 meters and it hit again. Okay. Breathe deep. This is how it's going to be. Go slow. Walk if you have to. And then the hill and the signs: 400 meters... 300 meters... Still running, so slowly, not wanting to stop. 200 meters... 100 meters... and the finish line is right there and I am crossing it running so help me God.

And I did.

And I was never before so grateful for the volunteers at the end. And the sunshine. And the heat blanket and the medal and the volunteer with the tape to hold the heat blanket together. And beer. (Though that didn't sit well so I gave that up.) And then the refreshment box from Mariano's and the ease of gear check and sitting on the ground, on my blanket, in the sun, slowly changing my socks and shoes and getting into warm clothes and eating the food from the box and drinking my very own sports drink I'd brought with me. And reading the text messages The Dude had started sending to me once my pace started slowing. And then walking to the Brown Line and getting a seat and riding home in the sun, talking to my parents who'd been keeping track the whole time via Facebook, which is how The Dude knew I was slowing. And then coming home.

And all so happy and proud of me and of my city and of the day. My epic adventure.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Last Days... Hours... Minutes...


Taper has been hard, after all. I've struggled with my eating this past week, and it took me a while to figure out what was going on. Once I did I was able to make changes and I'm feeling better now, though still a little angry with myself. Not such a good head space right now.


I took the free shuttle to the expo this morning. Super easy, super fast. Once there I had my packet and t-shirt within 10 minutes. Unreal. Of course I then walked around for a while, wanting to find something to buy, some kind of souvenir. Except I don't really have money to spare and I have more than enough running shirts.

Runners' World to the rescue, or rather, Rodale Press, the good publishers of RW. They had a stand full of their books, all on sale, so I picked up their latest, The Runners' World Cookbook (which I'd already been thinking of getting). That, plus a free souvenir magnet, satisfied my expo itch, and I headed to work.

Later in the day...

I'm so excited I can barely stand myself. Ack!


Slept well last night! That never happens. And then I got in a nap too! And then watched Hotel Transylvania with the kids and ate popcorn. And am actually prepared for tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be perfect...

I had a twinge in my left ankle yesterday that is worse today, but I've also spent all day walking around the house barefoot. I suspect that once I'm in running shoes I won't notice it at all. At least, that's what I'm telling myself right now...


Twinge still there, but ignorable.

Slept right to my alarm, so a little later than hoped for. Still on track though.

And I'm off!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Seven Days and Counting...

I've been burning the candle at both ends, this week, between staying up late for Scary Movie Month and then waking up early to paint. (I'd be waking up early, regardless, thanks to Tash, so I'm just taking advantage of her wake-up call with the painting.)

But this is it, now. This is the last week. If I'm going to do anything more than just finish I need to rest, rest, and rest. And eat well - not a lot, just well.

I've been watching the weather and while it looks like it's going to be warmer than I'd hoped for, it should be cooler than I feared. And not humid, praise the marathon gods. My wave doesn't even start until 8:00 and I'll probably be crossing closer to 8:30, so we'll probably be at full heat by the time I'm halfway through - exactly when the route loses most of its shade. So I'll want to keep that in mind too as I plan things out that day.

It's a busy week for me so I'll go ahead and post my goals now, in case I don't manage to write again beforehand...
  1. Enjoy myself and come under 5 hours (I finished at 5:03 last time while making pretty much every first-timer's mistake so this really should be doable).
  2. Finish under 4:50.
  3. And if the weather holds and all things line up right, finish under 4:40.
Wish me luck, but also wish me good sleep this week!