Friday, June 21, 2013

Another birthday, another bridge, another run

June 19, 2003

I turned 17 and my mom made a delicious pork tenderloin dinner - my favorite. I decided soon after dinner that I wanted to go for a birthday run. I was in my little hometown of Spencerport, NY. Now, I was a weekend warrior at bet - I would go out and run 2 miles at a time, maybe a couple of times a week very sporadically. But I decided to run. I remember wearing this thin purple top that wasn't really a running short and big gym shorts. It was about 7:30 or so, and I remember running over the bridge near the Erie Canal. As I climbed over the bridge, at a pace much slower than I run now, I began to cramp up and it was very painful. Clearly, my dinner was too heavy. I know I got through that run, but I still to this day remember the deep stitch in my side, and I've never felt that bad.

I have since conquered that bridge and also figured out the timing between eating and running. That bridge nearly always figures into my runs at home. And I have to laugh now when I think of that run. I was just so inexperienced but obviously still felt some reason to go and and run.

Flash forward to June 19, 2013

I turned 27 in Washington, DC and also wanted to get in a run. I did it this time before dinner. It was just 3 miles, over 300 miles away from that other birthday run. But I also went over another bridge (going over I-495), so instead of crossing the historic Erie Canal, I crossed over highway traffic. It was just for fun, my little me time. No cramps, no worries. Just fun and enjoying the beauty of the run.

 No particular milestones associated with turning 27, nor the end of 26. It was a great year but it also presented challenges and tough moments as well. Getting through those hard parts were also rewarding too.
My time is running out on the East Coast. I fly out to Santa Cruz on Sunday for seven weeks of rip roaring fun with gifted children and faculty in an intense academic exploration program. And I am excited - I love this program very much and it is incredibly stimulating and rewarding. And fun too! But I am sad too, and feeling the crunch now of fitting in time with everyone: family, friends, Pat before I go.

I am very much enjoying the fun runs right now. I've been picking the mileage and pace as I go. Some days the watch stays behind, other days I try and press the pace. I won't do another race until the Wharf to Wharf 6 mile at the end of July. It won't be a goal race for sure, as I won't follow a schedule again until early July. But it will be after a month of Santa Cruz running. This is where I do my best running all year, mainly because it is all hills all the time and perfect weather (50-75 degrees each day). But I am getting ahead of myself. Still here and hot in DC! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

One more shot at the mile: McMullen Mile

Admittedly, my track prep for the mile has been probably one of the worst build-ups ever. I think I missed at least one workout a week. To be honest, I didn't care. My big road races (10 mile and 10k) of the spring went so well, that the mile seemed more like an afterthought. Maybe I was letting go of some of my type A personality: I didn't have to be rigid.
I did have some good track workouts. I've been able to consistently run 200s in 40 seconds, and 400s in  84, with a lot more ease than last year. That was a big improvement. But I also have done a lot of traveling. We went to NYC for Memorial weekend to visit family. Last weekend I was in Baltimore for a work conference. All of this meant that not all runs fit into the schedule. Letting go? Loosening up? Prioritizing? You be the judge.
In non running related news, my dissertation proposal passed last month! If you don't remember, last year, I hit some stumbling blocks trying to come up with a dissertation topic. I held onto the mantra "not in vain" - that all of the work would eventually pay off. After a year of hitting the books really hard and working with my committee, the proposal passed. It was a big milestone - it makes me now ABD (All But Dissertation). There are no other official benchmarks in the doctoral program until the dissertation passed and ABD turns into Ph.D. Needless to say, I had worked my butt off to get that, and that victory mattered more than any running one.
The weather in Rochester (yes, I'm home in Rochester visiting my parents - more traveling!) has been rather iffy. Granted, the much cooler temperatures have been a warm welcome after last week's 90 degree days, but the rain I could do without. Now, I have been fairly blessed in terms of race weather conditions. Sometimes it has been cold or windy or even a little rain, but I've never really raced in pouring weather. It was time for me to get what was coming to me. You pay your dues, right? I've had beautiful marathon weather - time to get drenched.
In a nutshell, it was a steeplechase. Huge puddles were all around the track. I lined up in the elite heat (sub 6) for women, threw my goals for the PR our the window, and was ready to go. And we were off in the rain. Lap 1: 1:28 - most of the girls were way ahead of me, and I was just trying to hang on. Feet were already drenched, and I was debated getting closer to lane 2 where it was less puddly. Lap 2: 2:56 or 8 - I'll really have to dig in, but can I? 4:28 for Lap 3 and I am feeling so over this. I finished in 5:59, just under the 6:00 heat, and happy to be done. With the warm up and cool down for the race, I totalled 8.5 miles for the day. Bring on the (gluten-free) beer!
So what I can I take away from all of this? Lessons learned (from the professor):

  • I am not a miler and I knew that going into this. But it is still a good experiment to try that shorter distance stuff.
  • These track races were not goal races. My big races of the 10k and 10 mile of the spring were the big ones. This was just - gravy? Another opportunity to get some racing?
  • Consistent training leads to better racing. I admittedly slacked off in the past month. It had been a challenging semester and I needed something to give. Normally, I am consistent as anything and it pays off.
  • But is it really slacking off? I'm starting to think it was a lesson in letting go. Not all races are perfect, and nor should they be. I had a banner season - I had ran 39:28 for the 10k and 1:05:52 for 10 miles. Those are great. We don't get it all, and I will take what I worked for.
And now it's time for just fun runs. No schedule - just enjoying the game for what it is.
And that's why we all got into it, right?