Well, one thing is getting engaged this holiday season:
Monday, December 27, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Running is a bit on the back burner these days. Boston is still over 4 months away, and I won’t commence my training for that until 2011. Sarah (my coach and a fellow medievalist) told me to just do what I can in the next few weeks and not worry too much about running. I have a good base at this point, and I can also take the time over break to work on the ancillary things like strength training, core work, swimming, etc. School needs to be the first priority right now, and she certainly understands that. I just finished my teaching portfolio – which is ultimately forever a work in progress, but at least now my pedagogy teacher has an initial idea of my teaching philosophy and aims as a professor. Yesterday, I handed in my big seminar paper “Prepared with Banners Waving and Bells Ringing: Increasing Ornamentation in Thirteenth-Century English Processions” for my later medieval England class. That was a big triumph – probably the most fun/fascinating/worthwhile paper I’ve written in graduate school. It’s a project that my professor said could be a dissertation – just not the one I’ll write (I’m doing mine on medieval witchcraft). But perhaps this will spark some thinking for book 2 – the second project that is always lurking in the back of your mind. I have one more paper to hand in (due Friday) on Carolingian literacy, and then the semester will be over. Needless to say – writing is the main priority this week.
But I was so overjoyed on Sunday with the 10k. It just went so incredibly well, and the more I think about it, the more I am sure that my success had to do with the fact that I relaxed! I had fun before and during, and did not get too stressed about it. What a tactic! It just goes to show that playing really does do wonders in all facets of life.
This morning I went out for an easy 3 miler. I just felt very relieved – the end of the semester is in sight. It was cold out, but not so windy that it hurt my face. The sun was out, and the traffic was light. Knee only bothered me a little, and going slow felt just fine. I was just grateful to be out – out and away from the computer, away from grading, away from the world. I think it is easy to take those easy short runs for granted sometimes. But really, they can do a lot for the spirit. Just get the clothes on and go out the door and do it. I came back feeling refreshed and recharged. Even managed to do 20 lunges and some planks after. And then I was ready for the day – to edit and to write. There was nothing complicated, no mile splits to hit, no pre long-run breakfast to prepare, no complicated route to measure. Just the easy 3 miler, no thoughts, no worries, just a sense of gratitude for being on the open road.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
No, I did not have puppies waiting for me when I came home yesterday. But there definitely were at the door:
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Here is lesson 2:
Choose your attitude. Your attitude is your reaction to what life hands you, and only you can choose that reaction.
I had the great tempo on Saturday. But Sunday morning, I had to stop my long run at mile 6.5. The outside of my left knee had started to hurt, but by the time I got to 6.5, I knew I could not run any further. This is why I always carry my metro card! I took the train back. I was pretty upset about the whole thing - rarely do I ever have to cut a run short like that. The train ride felt really long, as did the walk home. I moped around the house for a few hours. What is this? What does it mean - what do I need to do now?
And then I found a little perspective. I don't have a marathon coming up - not for 5 months. I am probably due for some rest anyways, not just from running, but at this point in the semester, I am burning the candle at both ends.
So, after I sulked around, I realized I needed to choose a new attitude. I chose to be healthy and positive. Whatever this is, at least is an indication to take it easy. So, if this is the card I've been handed, what can I do?
- I am taking a few days off from running. It is the downhill movement that really hurts, so I am just going to not run for a few days.
- I am going to get on the ellipitical. Less impact, but I will still get the cardio benefits.
- I will continue to lift weights - might shift the focus to upper body and abs and not put a ton of pressure on the knee.
- I will ice.
- I will be flexible about my 10k expectations for Thanksgiving. I am assuming a few days off will do the trick, but if not, I will be realistic!
- I am going to get in the pool and swim.
The pool is definitely the best thing coming out of whatever this is. Until yesterday, I hadn't been in the pool since September 3rd. Thanks to my dad, Mark (triathlete bud), and Jenny (MCM partner and dear friend), I have fallen in love with swimming. I think it's great, and I have enjoyed all of the benefits of it. This semester, however, I just haven't been good about working swimming into my schedule. But now, I'm changing the game and making time for it! I was so happy to get in yesterday. I was able to stretch out my whole body, give my arms a great workout, and take pressure off of the knee. Plus, in following lesson 1 of the Fish Philosophy (play), 1000 yards was followed by handstands and flips. Fantastic and fun - the way exercise should be. I had a similar experience in the pool this morning, flips and all. Doing that alone isn't quite as fun (Jenny and I used to cannonballs and whatnot after our workouts in the summer), but was still a treat.
So, we will see what the next few days will bring. I will continue to follow the Fish Philosophy. And there will be more underwater fun for sure!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Jenny said that the whole thing was a surreal experience. And in a lot of ways, it makes sense. Running a marathon can be transformative in so many ways, and can mark a definitive shift in a person's life. So naturally, participating in the whole experience, the preparation, the travel, the pre-race rituals, and finally completing the 26.2 mile journey, can seem surreal, like a dream. But there is no waking up - this is reality, and the dream actually came true. So what now? That's a question we face post marathon. What now? How do I recover? How do I move on and what is next? Another marathon, a new time goal? But now that the dream has come true, it can transform us and lead us into a new direction. We’re both very excited to see what lies ahead.
Now that MCM is over, my eyes are turned to the 10ks coming up. I ran 191.9 miles in October - proof that double days really can bump up the mileage. I'll be doing a track workout tomorrow - my first in two weeks. Already, I'm excited - looking forward to cranking out a few fast miles.
I really enjoyed my long run yesterday: 10.5 miles. Recovery has been going well. Marine Corps didn't do the damage that the marathon normally does, so while I am still
taking it easy, I haven't felt as exhausted/broken down as I normally do. So, to run 10.5 a week after 26.2 didn't seem like a big stretch. My long runs won't exceed 12 miles for another 6 weeks, so I am just going to enjoy that these are "shorter" runs! This upcoming season is exciting - I love training in the fall, and I have high expectations that the next few weeks will help to continue to build a strong base.
Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” came on during my run, and I thought of the marathon, which was ongoing during my long run. It is one of my long-term goals to get into the New York Marathon via their qualifying system (3:22 is an automatic in). I was grateful that NBC did a 2-hour highlights special of the NYC marathon. What an exciting race. So sad to hear Haile Gebresaille drop out and then announce his retirement from running. But what joy on the women’s side. I was so excited to watch Shalane Flannagan make her debut. Her across-the-board talent (from 1500m to the half) set her up for a fantastic entry into the marathon. So exciting to watch her stay with the pack, and when it was cut down to three, hang on. 2nd place in NYC in her marathon debut – phenomenal. I was moved to tears – so proud to have her represent American women (she also won the USA Marathon Championship today) – stunning performance. In her post-interview, she said that the beauty of the marathon is "That you always want more," and I couldn't agree more.
Dreams to come true, and when they do, you don’t just wake up. You start dreaming all over again.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Jenny arrived late into DC Wednesday and even though it was the wee hours of the morning, there was nothing but pure joy to see my dear friend. It was the thought of the happy reunion that often pushed me through the past few weeks, and in some ways, I had hung onto that. Hugs were there, and even though we were exhausted, talked until almost sunrise. Tried to spend the next morning lounging – even if we couldn’t sleep in, we could at least rest. Thursday we ran part of the course (around the National Mall), and she was able to meet some of my DC friends and gain insight to my life as a medievalist.
Even though the schedule was busy, we were all about having fun as we palled around the city. On Friday we had lunch with a few of our friends from the summer job – it was good to catch up after 3 months. Then headed to the expo to pick up our numbers. We were interviewed for CSN Washington’s website, so there are now short videos of us talking about the marathon. We also went to the First Timers’ Dinner – a chance for new marathoners to meet one another, hear tips from experts, and learn more about the marathon.Met some great people, and the excitement continued to build as the big day drew closer. That evening, her family (parents, husband, and 3 kids) came in, and to say we were giddy at that point was an understatement. There we were, carefree, skipping across Crystal City (where we stayed) to meet up with them. Now that the family was there, the reality set in. And the excitement just grew and grew.
Saturday morning we did a small “shake out” run in Crystal City. I think this is a great way to get ready and loosen up. It was hard to stay slow when we were so excited. We then went to the Museum of Natural History (3 kids, including 5 year old dinosaur fanatic Henry), which was awesome. The kids really loved it, and while it was crowded due to the rallies, totally worth it. However, by the early afternoon, fatigue had set in – as if our bodies wererealizing what was in store for the next day. Naps were in order, and we were very grateful to be able to sleep. We then had our pre-race dinner with her entire family: kids, husband, parents, and aunt. Jenny’s family is absolutely wonderful, and it was a treat to be included in the family dinner. After that, we headed back to our hotel room (all of the kids went with Sam, and we had a room to ourselves). This was fabulous – I never get to relax beforehand with someone else running the marathon. We talked about all of the training and all of the positive outcomes that have emerged from deciding to go through with this pact. Beyond health, it has brought us a lot closer, and we were closeto begin with. It was a great way to wrap-up our pre-marathon routine, and reflect on our friendship. So, we got ready for bed and just talked until it was time to go to sleep.
I beat the alarm by a couple of minutes, and set my iPod to play the “Chariots of Fire” theme to wake her up. All pumped up, we headed to a 7-11 for breakfast, and then took a shuttle to the start.
The line was long, but it was great having a bus drive us there: we were very excited to be on our way.
Took care of all of the logistics, and got ready to head to the start. Jenny was excited to see all of these people come together, and I was thrilled to have someone next to me, and at that point, the butterflies did set in for me. We hugged, and then the cannon went off!
What a rush to go under the arch and begin the 26.2 mile journey. The first few miles we just tried to find our pace amongst the mass of humanity. We settled in a rhythm quickly, and found our stride. Weather was perfect – sunny and high 40s (maybe a little cold for my Florida friend), and we were able to just watch the leaves change – the MCM course is gorgeous. We stayed right on 8:46 pace for the next few miles as we headed toward Georgetown. Still smiles abound, and we even exchanged a few stories. There is a point where you turn and suddenly bagpipes are playing – so beautiful, and definitely helped to push us forward. The hill in Georgetown was hard, but Jenny had some practice with hills in NY this summer, and took to it very well - I was very impressed. At this point, my Sherpa duties kicked in – I held her fuel and started to pass her stuff along the way. The hardest hill was over, I told her, as we descended downhill and out of Georgetown.
Running alongside Jenny meant checking in, making her smile, and doing everything I could to make her first marathon enjoyable. We then hit the middle miles, ran by the Lincoln Monument and then departed for Haines Point. This was a quiet part of the race, but hit the half in 1:54:23. At this point, I read Jenny a letter from her sister Mary-Beth, who had sent it to me a few days prior. I figured Jenny had worked hard enough at this point that she deserved some words of encouragement. Needless to say, it was a bit emotional, but gave strength to keep pushing. Wrapped around the Lincoln Memorial, and then headed through the Mall. Tons of people at this point, which was good as some fatigue set in. Turning around the Capitol was cold – the wind started to blow across. But at the Smithsonian Castle we saw Jenny’s parents, which not only was a lift, but meant I could drop off her jacket and my arm warmers with them. We continued on – single digits to go. The next big challenge was to“Beat the Bridge” at mile 20 – passing it means you are on track to finishing (if you don’t cross it in 5 hours, you get rerouted). Heading towards the bridge means we bade farewell to DC for the last time and headed back to Virginia. The crowds were growing louder as we approached the bridge – big cheers at this point. Then Jenny said, “Now this is the furthest I’ve ever run,” and that continued to be the thought – each new step was a distance PR. My friend Bettina saw us (she was running too) on the bridge and gave us a cheer –we needed a lift at this point. She was looking strong, and then was off again like a flash. All of a sudden, some cramps set in for Jenny, and so we walked about 100 feet, just in order to get things moving. But she was determined and unstoppable and suddenly we were running again. Whoever decides to yell “Only a 10k left!” is crazy – that is still a long way to go. But we broke it down, mile by mile, we would get to the finish. I bumped into one of my old RAs, Kyle, who was running (and it was his birthday) – yelled happy birthday, and then continued onward. We arrived at Crystal City, which was absolutely crazy (it was interesting to see that where we were staying all weekend suddenly became so crowded). And then just a 5k to go.
By this time, I was doing my damndest to do whatever I could to keep Jenny going and put one foot in front of the other: singing, cheering, yelling words of encouragement. I had been carrying my cell phone on me, and suddenly, I realized it was ringing. What? Her family called to see where we were, and I gave them the update, and said that we would see them soon.
Didn’t expect to take a phone call at mile 24, but that’s what the Sherpa did. Jenny and I even started to sing “Relax, go to it” as we were preparing to leave Crystal City – a good sign that she had regained her stride. We saw her family at mile 25, and pushed on. Her time goal was well within reach, and we just started yelling “Come on, come on!” as we plowed onward. Finally, mile 26 came up. There is a hill at mile 26 (which I couldn’t remember from my first MCM experience), but I’ll certainly remember it after this year. We pushed upward, closer and closer to the finish, less than 385 yards away. Finally, the finish arch was in sight.
We grabbed hands, ran and ran, and then finally, victory! 3:57:38
A sub four marathon on her first try, just over a year after starting to run. Absolutely amazing. We just hugged and hugged at this point – it was a very emotional finish.
I was so proud of her and so honored to be a part of this experience (still welling up as I think about it). How many friends can say they’ve run a marathon together? To be side by side the whole time, to share in the experience, the challenges, the victories, and the ultimate triumph, is a rare and treasured experience.Legs were so stiff at this point – we sat on the ground waiting in line, and only scooted up the curb, rather than standing up.
Eventually, we met up with her family – a joyous occasion. It took a while, but eventually got a massage.
I was fortunate to bump into one of my MCM friends, Freddy, and his son, both who did a tremendous job. A one in a million chance that I saw him, and glad that I did.
After a lot of navigating, finally got back to the hotel and got cleaned up. Sleep did not happen, but at least we could rest our tired bodies. Lots of phone calls came in, wishing Jenny congratulations. Went out for a celebratory dinner at Ted’s Montana in Crystal City – burgers always taste so good after a victory like that. Jenny and I were so wiped, but we could smile and enjoy the moment.
Then it was back to the hotel, and I think we were asleep by 9 – the whole day caught up with us.
Monday morning was quiet – no one wanted to get out of bed. We checked out of the hotel and took the kids to the Air and Space museum for a last fun DC excursion.
The Mall was the quietest it had been all weekend – the city was finally deserted. We hobbled around as the kids looked at the shuttles and planes, and enjoyed our final hours together. With a lump in our throats, we hugged goodbye at the airport. It was the perfect weekend – wouldn’t have changed a thing.
There are photographs that show us running toward the finish line, hand in hand, shots of us after the finish, but none of it will ever truly describe the beautiful moments between two friends. It was an emotional, powerful, beautiful marathon – we were moved and humbled by the whole thing. A promise was made and fulfilled. In the end, it culminated in triumph over adversity, joy over fear, a journey and celebration of friendship at its finest.