Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bernard Lagat's magical mile, and my own relief with a mile to go

Last night, I did something I rarely do: put on ESPN.
It was the 103rd Milrose Track and Field Games. I enjoyed just watching all of the different events - and they all ended so quickly! 60M hurdles took less than 10 seconds, 800 meters less than 2 minutes, etc. These athletes are just amazing: they have beautiful, smooth form. Their running and jumping just look effortless. One of the interesting things was that they set up padding on the wall for the hurdlers to run into afterward - since they can't just keep going or stop. It was a little startling at first, watching them crash into the wall, but now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense. Anyways, it was inspiring to watch them run.
I was really rooting for Sarah Hall to win the woman's mile - she lost by less than a tenth of a second. She really pushed the pace in the final lap - it was an amazing performance. She was smiling as she was pushing and made up so much time. Wow. I think that both she and her husband Ryan are just good people - their charity work is quite impressive and they have integrated their faith and running into something quite moving.
They showed a few highlights from the pole vault competition, and watching that was an experience. Here's something you probably don't know about me: I tried pole vaulting. Yes, my freshman year of high school I ran indoor track (1500 m) and wanted to also try something else, so I tried pole vaulting. I thought that because I was small I would be able to do it easily. I never cleared the 5 feet bar (I was barely 5 feet myself). My first meet was embarrassing: my parents and grandparents came, and I did not clear the bar (I think I cried, if I remember correctly) and when I ran the 1500, I got lapped. I kept trying and trying with pole vaulting all season and just couldn't do it. I didn't really enjoy running the 1500 either - even though I had enjoyed my middle school XC experiences. Looking back, if I had done the strength training then that I do now, I would at least stand a chance at clearing the bar. I would love to actually have an afternoon where I could try it again. Obviously, I am ridiculously happy with running and my ability to do that, so I'll just let the experts tackle pole vaulting.

I think the most exciting part of the night was watching Bernard Lagat win his 8th Wanamaker Mile - breaking the record of 7, held by Eamonn Coghlan of Ireland. He was tucked behind the leader for the majority of the mile, and with a little over a lap to go, he surged. And not just a small surge, there was so much space between him and the next guy, Asbel Kiprop, who just could not react fast enough to that burst of speed. It was incredible - what an exciting moment for Lagat and his family (he held his 2 little kids after) and for everyone who wanted to witness this big event.
I had a run of my own this morning: 18 miles. I did the first 8 by myself, lots of hills (overall, going from 200 feet to 300 to 6 and leveling out at 200 again). By mile 3, a few flakes started to appear. But I thought they wouldn't stick. By mile 8, it was really coming down. At mile 8, I picked up my friend Sean. That was a big mental boost to have him join me; it didn't feel like an 18 mile run. It was an 8 mile run and then a 10 mile run. While so much snow was coming down, there were still runners out and about on the National Mall - it was so good to see the hardy runners out. With the snow building up, I had to work harder to keep going, and found myself growing tired around mile 14. But, I couldn't wimp out at that point. Then we got to mile 16 (mile 8 for Sean). I told him that I was feeling tired, but that we had to keep going. He commented that a metro stop was close by. But no way. One of my landmarks was in sight - Full Yum (Chinese restaurant), and that meant I was almost done. Then we passed another street that indicated a mile to go. Then the excitement kicked in with just a mile to go. Whenever there's just a mile, there's always hope. 1600 meters - maybe 1000 steps, the end is near, in a good way, and you can sigh in relief.
With that, we crossed back onto campus and conquered our run.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

We run together for companionship

In addition to the safety factor, we run together for companionship, and to remind each other how important a part of our lives this activity is.
Gordon Bloch, author

On Sunday, I went out for a run with my law school friend, Sean. Now, Sean is almost a foot taller than me, so I take a few steps for every one of his strides. We went out for an 8 miler - the longest run he had been on for a while. Because I do most of my runs alone, I appreciated having his company - to have someone to talk to and share the experience with. It was a lot of fun - we ran around the National Mall and caught up (we hadn't seen each other since December). It's also a good workout for me to run with him because I have to run fast to keep up with his long legs. There were was definitely a shared joy when we finished - that he got through it, that we had nice weather, and that we did it together. He might join me for part of my 18 miler on Saturday, which would be a bonus. After a few hours, the company is a very good thing.

Now, I don't have a steady running partner. When I go home, I have Mark and Adam (triathlete buds), when I ran at CTY, I had my student Annie, but never the steady partner. Which is fine, and I enjoy mixing it up with different people on my runs. I have picked up somewhat of a running coach in my friend Sarah. As a refresher, Sarah a fellow medievalist who I met in grad school. She paced me through my final 10 miles of MCM (in pink), and is now designing my Boston plan. She is an excellent runner, ranked in DC, and I know she's going to continue to excell in the sport. I always e-mail her my times of my track workouts, so that she knows how I'm doing with the work she's assigned. And with today being a track workout, I e-mailed her my times:2000 meter cutaway: 2:05, 4:08, 6:08, 8:05, 10:006 x 800 3:53, 3:50, 3:45, 3:42, 3:39, 3:36
I started to feel tired about the 4th 800, but not too bad. Recovered during the cooldown. All in all, a good workout! She wrote back, That's great! You did a great job cutting the whole workout down, which is what the real point of it is. Getting tired around the fourth 800 is not too bad, especially since you were still able to cut-down after that. I hope you are starting to feel strong--even if a bit tired! You'll probably feel pretty dead tomorrow, so again, just shuffle through the run. It doesn't matter how slow you go, just get it in. I wrote back telling her that yes, I am feeling much stronger, and already more prepared for Boston than I did for MCM. Her response, I'm glad to hear that you feel that way. I don't have you doing anything that I wouldn't do for my training, and you are actually doing a lot of similiar workouts to the ones I do with the team.
I'm not going to lie, it gives me a bit of a thrill to know that we're doing similar workouts, and running similar mileage. She is fast, and it gives me hope that I can continue to improve. Also, it is just nice to be able to write back and forth about running and get feedback from someone who knows me and and how I operate. So, even though we don't run together much, the companionship is great.
This week is another mileage increase - and hopefully I'll get comfortable soon running 55 mpw.
Monday, January 25: OFF
Tuesday, January 26: 2.5 mile warm-up; 5 lap cut-down run (2000 meters), start at 8:25 pace and cut down 2-3 seconds per lap; jog 2 laps; 6x800 meters, 1 lap jog between each rep, start first 800 at 3:53 and aim to cut down about 3-5 seconds per rep. 4 mile cool-down. Total mileage—12.75 miles
Wednesday, January 27: 6 miles easy
Thursday, January 28: 9 miles easy
Friday, January 29: OFF
Saturday, January 30: 18 miles easy, run easy the first 5 miles, average marathon goal pace for 8 miles, finish last 5 miles as easy run.
Sunday, January 31: 8 miles easy
Weekly Mileage Total: 53.75 miles

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Still baffled about the surge

Across America, there has been a wonderful surge in distance running. First, there is the great Renaissance of running at the elite level. The American are finally giving the Kenyans a run for their money! An American (Meb Keflezighi) has finally won the NYC Marathon, and Americans were on the platform for the 2009 Boston Marathon. I understand that surge. Then there was the Surge Beneath the Surface, written by running historian (I wish I had that job) Roger Robinson. Now, I feel a little obligated to plug that second article as I'm quoted in it. Irregardless, running is sweeping the nation. More people are signing up for races than ever, and even though there is an obesity epidemic in this nation, more people are running these days, which is excellent. That surge makes sense, too.
Since I've started running, I've noticed a third surge as well, and that's what has baffled me. There has been an increase of runners in my life. No, it's not that I've just met more people who run (although that has happened as well). It's that people whom I've known for years have also decided to make the transformation into running.
  • My mom ran her first 5k in December.
  • My dad is training vigorously with my triathlete buds, and contemplating a triathlon in June.
  • I have given a couple of talks at my school about how to train for a marathon while in school. What?
  • Students have asked me to meet with them for advice on training. I'm still baffled - when did I suddenly know what I was doing?
  • In the summer, at Beloved Summer Job (Center for Talented Youth), my friend Jenny and I made a pact. If I qualified for Boston, she would run a marathon in 2010. I did, and so the plan is that we will run the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon together, and I will pace her through it. I'm very excited about being a part of her first marathon experience. Months ago, I received the following e-mail from her,
Your running inspired me.
My running inspired my son
My son's running inspired my daughter
My family has inspired my nephew
My nephew has inspired his mother, my sister.
  • My triathlete buds call me their running coach (and they call my dad their swimming coach). What the what?
This whole experience has been very gratifying, in so many ways. I didn't realize that I could cause others to get excited about running and exercising. I just knew why I was doing it, for those moments of pure delight in a run. Yesterday, on my 16 mile run, the sun was out, so people were out running around the National Mall, and everything sort of fell into place. Endorphins are an amazing thing. I think Kathrine Switzer said it best in Marathon Woman,
"The best part was at the end of every day, when I had a sharp sense of having accomplished something definable. I won a little victory every day that no one could take away from me."
Each day I run, it is a small victory. It's not life changing or mind-altering, but it is a small joy. And if that small victory is why there has been a surge, then it makes perfect sense.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stepping it up

Time for a color change...

This week marks the beginning of Cycle 2 of Boston training. This was a big increase, on a number of ways. Tuesday I had my track workout, with 5 mile repeats, starting at 8:00 minute pace and knocking off 5-7 seconds per mile. Mile times were 8:00, 7:54, 7:47, 7:40, and 7:33. It felt good, and not too hard to go faster and faster with each mile. Of course, I'm sure the next time mile repeats come up, I'll have to start at a faster pace, so we'll see.
In total this week, I'm running 52 miles. I have never run that much in a week; I peaked at 50 when I trained for the Marine Corps Marathon. While it's a new experience, it's a good one, for it means I'll get used to just running more each week. From here on out, with the exception of recovery weeks (which are once per four week cycle) and the taper at the end, I'll run at least 50 miles a week. I think this very good for me, for those long track workouts (Tuesday's totaled 13 miles) and long runs (I'll start doing 20 mile runs in a couple of weeks) will get me prepared for Boston.

In other news, I found out last night that I am now going to be a Pacers Ambassador. This is a program by Pacers Running Stores, a running store with several locations in the greater DC region. It means that I'll wear their clothes in races, and participate in their racing series, while promoting their store and running program (they also offer training seminars, clinics, and other great opportunities) throughout the year. I'll get to try out some new products, volunteer at some races, and meet a lot of great other runners. I'm excited to start the program (our kick off meeting is in a few weeks). This is certainly another positive step in my running career, because now I'll be getting some support from a company (after I volunteer at a few races, I can get complimentary entry into Pacers Races), and the opportunity to regularly meet with a group of runners in the DC area. I'll write here on a regular update with information about how the Ambassador program is going, so stay tuned.
Time to close; listed below is my training plan for the week.

Monday, January 18: OFF

Tuesday, January 19: 2.5 mile warm-up; 5x1mile, start at about 8:00 minute pace and cut down 5-7 seconds per mile, 500 meter jog between each rep; 4 mile cool-down. Total mileage—13 miles

Wednesday, January 20: 6 miles easy

Thursday, January 21: 9 miles easy

Friday, January 22: OFF

Saturday, January 23: 16 miles; run easy the first 5 miles, tempo at average marathon goal pace for 6 miles (start slower than marathon race pace, about 8:30 and then try to cut down to 8:15 pace for the last few miles), finish last 5 miles as easy run.

Sunday, January 24: 8 miles easy

Weekly Mileage Total: 52 miles

Sunday, January 17, 2010

10 Things that make me happy (with pics)

My friend Mark ( who is training for his first full Ironman, wrote a blog entitled "Happiness" and listed 10 things that make him happy, and then tagged me to write one as well. Here's my version (in no particular order), with pictures included.
1. Phone calls from my 5 year old boyfriend Henry. This is Henry. I worked with his mom, my good friend Jenny, and Henry took a liking to me and started calling me his girlfriend. He is very sweet, and when he calls, he always asks me about my day. He is so cute, and is always a day brightener.
2. Dancing to CTY canon. Every summer, I work for the Center for Talented Youth, which gives smart middle school and high school students an opportunity to take classes and live in a residential community. Every Friday night, we put on an awesome dance for the kids and they dance to the CTY canon (including eternal hits like Blister in the Sun, Cotton Eye Joe, and American Pie). The staff dances too, and some of the best memories I have are dancing in that sweaty gym.
3. Spending time with my history buddies in DC. These are my 3 dear history friends from grad school: Wes, Mary, and Seth last Christmas.
4. Good meals with my family. This was dinner with my family after I graduated from Holy Cross.
5. Wonderful runs. I'm sure that wasn't surprising to anyone.
6. Working on medieval history stuff. This was me presenting my senior thesis at Holy Cross - one of the happiest days of my academic career. The woman next to me, Professor Lorraine Attreed was my adviser, and now is my mentor. We still write to each other often, and she is still an important person in my life.
7. Anything to do with Holy Cross (my alma mater). I loved this school so much and have many fond memories of it.
8. Maintaining old friendships. These were my good friends in high school: Jen, Sara, and Laura. I was in Laura's wedding last year, and still see Jen and Sara when I come home on break, and it feels good to still keep up with them, even though we graduated almost six years ago.
9. Coffee. I didn't start drinking coffee until a few years ago, but man, nowadays I can't really start a day (or run) without it. That's a picture of me running a staff meeting at CTY, with coffee right on hand, of course.
10. Quality time with the family. I went home for the weekend, and while we haven't done much, it has just been excellent spending time with them. Definitely worth the trip.
So, that's my top 10. Time to make yours!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gratitude to those who paved the path

I sat in my medieval latin class yesterday, and our professor was talking about the various dictionaries available to use when translating medieval Latin. There are eight enormous dictionaries, of different merits and sizes, and each provide medievalists with different interpretations of words. There are some dictionaries that scholars have been working on for over a century, and they are still not finished! They've been releasing them letter by letter every few years. The reason why this has been such a long process is because medieval Latin spanned over a millennium, and changed along the way, so the dictionaries need to highlight those changes.
I was talking to my friends in the class afterward about this. I said that you can't help but feel a sense of gratitude to all of the scholars who devoted their entire lives to a massive project that wouldn't even be completed in their own lifetimes. Those dictionaries are certainly a testament to how much those scholars loved Latin; they worked so that later generations could make the most of them.
I often feel that same sense of gratitude to those who ran before me. As a woman, I wouldn't even be able to enter marathons had it not been the work of women like Kathrine Switzer, who ran Boston in 1967 and proved that women could handle running the marathon distance. She then went on to advocate for adding the women's marathon in the Olympic Games. I wouldn't be able to run marathons if it weren't for women like Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won the first Olympic Marathon in 1984. And there were so many others who ran when it was considered unladylike, dangerous, and unacceptable. They pushed and pushed, and now no one questions when women participate in distance running.
I've gotten to the point where I can't imagine my life now without running, which is still a fairly new mindset for me. It has just opened up so many doors and opportunities for me and enabled me to have so many positive experiences. So, to those who ran before me, thanks. I hope I can return the favor in some way.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fartlek into the wind

I left my training schedule on the fridge at home, so my parents could follow along with my training. Today called for 10 x 90 second farleks during a 9 mile run. My mom called me, laughing the other day, asking what a fartlek was. It means speed play in Swedish, and so it meant that today I would run hard for 90 seconds at a time. I did my run around the National Mall this morning. Although, I realized during one of my fartleks (which I was doing on the back of the Capitol) that I might look a little shady sprinting across the Capitol. There were many guards there, and I'm sure it looked like I had just mugged someone and was sprinting away. I guess they didn't see any problem. It is a hard workout, to all of a sudden push very hard for 90 seconds again and again. The challenge for me today was that it was windy (again) and so I was fartleking into the wind. But, hey, I'm not opposed to working hard, anything to get me prepared for Boston (97 days away).
I'm in week 4 of my training for Boston. This week is a recovery week, which I'm grateful for. This means either shorter runs, or just cross training, which I like. And as Sarah (who designed the plan) said, "it definitely makes you feel like you can get a lot of non-running things done!" The timing of it - given that it is the first week of school, is excellent.
Monday, January 15: OFF
Tuesday, January 16: 2 miles warm-up; Fartlek on roads, 10 fartleks at 90 seconds with 2 minutes easy run rest between each hard effort. 2 miles cool-down. Total mileage: about 9 miles
Wednesday, January 16: cross-train
Thursday January 17: 4 miles easy
Friday, January 18: OFF
Saturday, January 19: 14 miles easy
Sunday, January 20: 3 miles easy or cross-train
Total Mileage: About 30 miles
Classes started yesterday, and I'm grateful to the support I've gotten about Latin. We had our first class yesterday, and yes, it is going to be very hard. But, I am going to fight fight fight, and do the best I can. Things will be calm for another week or so, and they will pick up considerably. My other classes look fine, definitely doable and certainly enjoyable. I've decided to go home for the long weekend (MLK day) so I can see my parents a little more. The Christmas break was wonderful, but it wasn't quite enough, so I'll spend the long weekend in Rochester with them. Very much looking forward to it - only 3 days until I'm back in chilly/snowy Rochester! I'm sure not many people look forward to even colder weather, but it will be great to be home again. So, bring on the big chill!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A personal peak is a triumph over fear

That is from Peaks and Valleys: Making Good and Bad Times Work for You by Spencer Johnson, a book which was recommended to me during a tumultuous time this summer. It's a short, but powerful book on how to make the most of both positive and challenging experiences in work and in one's personal life. Dr. Johnson has written a number of books of similar tone and message, including Who Moved My Cheese?, The Present, and The One Minute Manager . He uses short anecdotes with a powerful message, and the advice that he gives is clear and applicable to a number of situations that we deal with in every day life. I'd recommend all of his books - none are more than 90 pages and are easy to read. More importantly, they challenged me to rethink my attitude when dealing with tough situations, both in work and life. But I digress...
In the fall, I posted that quote, "A personal peak is a triumph over fear" on the wall in front of my desk as a constant reminder that without challenges, it would be impossible for us to triumph and experience peaks. While I initially turned to that quote while dealing with other issues, I think it can also be applied to challenges in running as well. I believe there is a certain amount of fear when taking on a long-distance event. The distance looms in front of us during the months of preparation and when we toe the starting line. There's the fear of not completing the distance or reaching the goal. I think that the quote means that crossing both the start and finish lines means we're triumphing over that fear. While there was excitement, I was also filled with fear standing at the start of the Marine Corps Marathon. What if I didn't BQ? What if I hadn't prepared well? But then crossing the finish line, I was filled with a feeling of triumph in so many ways. While I've come off of that high a bit, I still savor that feeling and will hold onto that memory for years to come.
I am standing at a new starting line, so to speak. My spring semester of grad school starts tomorrow, beginning with a class in medieval latin. Latin and I have not really had the best relationship - it is very very hard. Going to class last year used to give me butterflies, and tests were no picnic either. Needless to say, I'm a bit nervous about the class, even though it is my final semester of latin (I just need to keep reminding myself of that). I'm fortunate enough to have good friends in the course with me, as well as friends who have taken the class in the past and can offer good advice/help. Plus, as my friends have said, I can qualify for Boston, I can surely do Latin. So, there is fear here as I look ahead to this semester, but I'm going to dig deep and push hard. It's not going to be easy, but I'm going to triumph over this class and semester. I may need help along the way, but victory will be mine come May!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Not sitting around eating bon-bons: How marathon training gets done

I've had a number of people say to me that they wish they had the time to workout or run. Or that they envy the fact that I have the time to train for the marathon. As my friend Jenny says, it's not as if we're sitting around eating bon-bons all day. I don't just have an inordinate amount of free time (although the winter vacation was wonderful): I am a full time grad student and I work part time as well. The other people I know who are training for marathons or triathlons are busy people too: parents of many kids, administrators, etc. But we've all found a way to make it work.
Given that it's the new year and people are hoping to achieve those resolutions (and make them last beyond Valentine's Day - as one friend put it), I've decided to reveal a couple of my methods for squeezing in marathon training with my medieval life. They are not highly advanced or brand-spanking new, but they've worked for me and others too.
Workout in the morning: Get up and get going. Okay, I only get up at 4 on marathon morning, butI do get up early to run. Waiting until after school or work often results in "I'm too tired now and just want to relax." Have a quick cup of coffee or juice, and get out the door. If you get up to do it, it's done before work. And, bonus, you are going to feel great the rest of the day. Endorphins are kicking in, and you can already feel accomplished by the time you head off to work. Accomplishing one thing leads to another success, right? Looks like a great day already.
Lay out your clothes the night before: Mom was always right. Putting out your workout clothes and the work clothes the night before shaves off so many minutes in the morning as you try to grab things to wear, bleary-eyed and dazed. Have open on your computer to check out the forecast the night before. I even prepare my coffee pot so I just have to turn it on in the morning as I get ready. Time is a gift, and all of that gives me extra time in the day.
Plan plan plan: Once you schedule something, like a meeting, you stick to it. Plan running/working out like a business meeting: no excuses. Once you give it priority, like the other things in life, it magically becomes easier to stick to. Make it as important as a meal, meeting, or what have you, and somehow, it fits in. My dad and I were talking this morning (we went to the gym together to workout at 6AM) about this. He said he was having his trouble getting up this morning, but he knew that we were meeting peoples, so he didn't want to back out. Works every time! When Jenny and I worked together over the summer, we used to meet up in the morning in order to hold each other accountable. Now we sometimes e-mail each other in the morning to let the other know that we made it out of bed and about to head out the door. You never want to lose face, right? So plan ahead and tell someone else. Or better yet, workout with someone, which is very fun.
Don't beat yourself up when you can't do it: Things happen - kids get sick, we get sick, pager beeps at 2AM, term paper is due the next day. I do not run every day (generally 5 days a week). I am not superhuman and I know that missing a run will not kill me. It's just not realistic to expect every run to go well or to even happen. So don't be too harsh on yourself when something goes awry. Readjust and move on.
Recognize your victories: Whether it be a race PR, bumping up mileage, increasing the number of days you exercise, there is reason for celebration. What you're doing is an achievement - you're pushing your body and staying healthy. Not everyone has figured out how to do that, so pat yourself on the back. It's not easy, but it's worth it.
I'm not saying you have to go out and do a marathon right now. But you really can find the time in your busy life to run or swim or exercise. Somehow I managed to - and without the bon-bons!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The need for speed

For starters, the title is not a rejection or rebuttal of John Bingham's No Need for Speed (which I've heard is excellent).
It has not even been a year since I started to include speed in my training. That happened in February, and my friend Mary handed me the gauntlet workout (2 mile warm up, then 1600, 800, 400, 200, 100). For the 1600, it had to be run in less than 7:10. I told her I wasn't even sure if I could run under 8:00 and she though I would break 7:00. I ended up running it in 6:49 and was quite surprised. Since then, I've incorporated speed training and found that not only has it helped drop my times, but I also like speed work.
I used to hate running fast. I ran the 1500 in 9th grade (then PR of 7:14) and got lapped. I just couldn't go fast.
I still cannot sprint - I just cannot get my legs moving immediately, but I can pick things up and pass people in a race, even at the end (thanks to the training). And I've found I like running on the track. It is the only part of my training (other than races themselves) that I get butterflies before. I know there are expected times to hit, and standing at the starting line, I always wonder if I'm going to hit them. But once I start my watch and take off, the butterflies fly away and I just get in a groove. Yasso 800s, mile repeats, cutdowns (where you start at a certain pace and get faster and faster each interval), they are all exciting. I find good music to crank me through the intervals and I just go. I suppose it's also an opportunity for me to get a little aggression out because I can just dig deep and run hard.
Today was a big workout. 2.5 mile warm-up; 2 mile cut-down on track, start at 2 minutes for first lap and try to cut-down each lap by 3 seconds or so; 3 mile run; 3 lap (1200), 2 lap (800), 1 lap (400). Jog 1 lap between each rep and lap results 5:45, 3:42, and 1:45. 2.5 mile cool-down. Total mileage: 12.25 miles
While I had to do it on the treadmill with the snow, I did have lots of company. My dad, who is quickly becoming a gym addict (in a good way), was on the treadmill next to me. Then later, my grandfather (his dad) was on the treadmill. And then my two tri-buds Adam and Mark stood on a treadmill talking to me while I was doing my recovery laps. Those 2 guys crack me up. The first time we ran a half-marathon course together, they finished the course pushing and shoving each other like two kids. How funny. I was fortunate enough to train with them a bit this break, but we didn't get in as many runs together as hoped (but I did get a lot of pool time, which was excellent). But there will be other opportunities to run with them.
Here's my schedule for the week:
Tuesday, January 5: 2.5 mile warm-up; 2 mile cut-down on track, start at 2 minutes for first lap and try to cut-down each lap by 3 seconds or so; 3 mile run (can be done off the track—probably better to do so!); 3 lap (1200), 2 lap (800), 1 lap (400). Jog 1 lap between each rep and aim for 5:45, 3:42, and 1:45. 2.5 mile cool-down. Total mileage: 12.25 miles

Wednesday, January 6: 6 miles easy

Thursday, January 7: 8 miles easy

Friday, January 8: OFF

Saturday, January 9: 14 miles easy

Sunday, January 14: 7 miles easy

Total Mileage: 47.5 miles
It's a little crazy to already be running so much. When I was training for MCM, I didn't run that much until week 12 (for those keeping track, this is week 3). But, I'm actually not feeling tired. I'm sure it helps that I've been off from school, but I think it also has to do with the fact that I'm just getting used to running a lot. My friend Sarah, who is the one designing my Boston plan, currently runs 70mpw. I hope to get up to that point someday. Speed will get me there! The action not the drug, in case you hadn't figured that out. ;-)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Why I wish I was 50 years old: Duel in the Sun

What defines a spectacular race? Is it the course? The events leading up to it? The competition? The outcome? Or is it the perfect mixture of all of this that makes you wish you were standing at the heart of it?
Duel in the Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America's Greatest Marathon by John Brant is a vivid, compelling book about the events and people surrounding the 1982 Boston Marathon. Brant artfully tells the tales of the lives of these two great men and how this was the the race that changed them both, for better and for worse.
Beardsley, a midwest dairy farmer, had worked assiduously for this race, vowing, "My whole life boiled down to this. One way or another, this race would change everything." Running in the snowy winter before milking the cows, Dick Beardsley had ran over 15 marathons in his preparation for this race.
Salazar, born in Cuba but raised in Boston, was a machine. He continuously set records in the distance events, and trained so hard for 1982 that he even ran an aggressive 10k race one week before Boston. Most people would call that foolish, but Salazar wanted a challenge. Relentless and thirsty for any victory, he took on the 10k before he took to the streets of Hopkinton. Salazar did not view Beardsley as a threat.
Both had prepared and toed the line in Hopkinton that April morning as equals. The gun went off, and they were part of the lead pack, as expected. One by one, the others dropped off, unable to keep up with this blistering pace as the sun continued to rise high in the sky. The spectators, who were not confined by barricades, crowded their path in eagerness to watch this "duel in the sun." The police motorcade proved to be troublesome, pedestrians were in the way, but neither runner would be stopped. Boston loomed ahead and was Dick and Alberto's reach. But only one could reap the laurel wreath and the glory associated winning this nearly-sacred race. Alberto pushed in the final moments and won by 2 seconds. But victory came at a price. His temperature soared to 107 degrees and he was administered last rites.
It was the race that changed both Salazar and Beardsley. After this race, which was followed with such anticipation across the country, neither man was ever the same again. Neither man ever ran the same again. Each went into a downward spiral, both in their professional and personal lives. They fought for years to find answers to their unending questions, unceasing in their search.
Brant does an excellent job with this book. The title seduces the reader into the story, eager to hear the minute details of this famous race. But Brant does much more. He provides incredible background on both men, teaching the reader what motivated each runner to run in 1982. His description of the race was fantastic, and I felt like I was in the pace car in front of them, watching their every move. Moreover, Brant describes the aftermath, and what each man experienced in the years following the marathon. If the title is the hook, it is the aftermath that keeps you turning the pages. There is just a sheer fascination with trying to understand how one race so dramatically changed their lives that you can't put the book down. Brant uses flashbacks and foreshadowing, so this is not just a continual linear story. That is great writing, for it keeps you on edge.
This book made me wish I was around to see that race. That's how I feel about a lot of big races: Kathrine Switzer's 1967 debut in Boston, Joan Samuelson winning the first Women's Olympics in 1984, and many others. They just all seem so incredible, and descriptions of them (or videos, which I'm including) are so inspiring. I'm sure part of that has to do with the fact that I'm a historian and I work very hard to understand events that happened before I was around. But another part has to do with the fact that, having run myself, I understand their experiences (to a degree) and just long to be a part of those momentous occasions. It would be amazing to actually see those events transpire, but I know I have many years of running and racing to come, and I am sure I will witness some historical moments myself.