Monday, April 16, 2012

Changes and celebrations

To celebrate my birthday last year, I ran a marathon. I didn't do as much this year but I was still active enough to not regret the cake I ate for breakfast. My day started way too early with a screaming 5:00 am alarm. I dragged my sleepy self to the gym and had a great workout with my trainer. Yes, she made it very special. Ow.

I had to work today (... like most days) but the day went quickly. After work Jeanette and I went for a walk around the Lafayette Reservoir. That sounds so -- so -- gentle, doesn't it? That just means you don't know the LR. There is an asphalt trail that surrounds the reservoir, 2.7 miles of uphills and downhills. It's very pretty. But we didn't just walk the asphalt, oh heck no. We took a little detour up a big freakin' hill, then up another hill, along a trail, and then down a hill. These were probably fire trails, muddy and cracked and lumpy and rutted. Our detour had our lungs puffing and our hearts pounding (thanks, pneumonia reminders!) and it felt like we had gone at least a few miles.

Nuh uh. It was a big old 1.3 mile trail detour, a whole .9 miles more than we would have gone if we had stayed on the asphalt. But what a detour! This is definitely the time of year to struggle up there. Glorious spring all around us. 360 degree views of rolling hills with a little suburbia peeking through. Amazing that this is less than 10 minutes from our office. We saw a hawk circling in the sky, a deer hiding in the brush, a turkey waddling through the grasses.

Our goal is to walk the entire Rim Trail, about 4-5 miles of trail up near the sky. With the days getting longer we'll still be able to do that after work before it gets dark and they have to send the tracking dogs after us. I'd tell you how slowly we were going but I don't want you all laughing so hard that you fall over.

Now THAT'S the way to celebrate a birthday!

As to the changes: good bye Utah Valley Marathon, hello Coeur d'Alene Marathon! After a very tough 15 mile run on Saturday I realized there was no way I'd be able to run a marathon, at altitude, with a 6 hour cut-off. That would give me no lee-way if my lungs gave out, or if I had a bad day. CdA is a much flatter marathon, at only 2500 elevation. Still higher than our sea level, but breathable. They offer an early start for walkers so I'll start then. While I hope to break 6 hours, I won't be frantic if I can't do it.

The biggest difference is I'll miss one of my scheduled/planned 20 mile runs, only getting in one 18 miler and one 20 miler. I don't really need that extra one, it's just something that I'd done for piece of mind, a mental thing. It also means I'll miss the first team training, but I've done that before too. There's an immense sense of relief with this change so I know it's a good decision. And hey, there's always the rest of the summer if I need to run another marathon!

How do you celebrate birthdays? Cake and champagne? An endurance run? Three weeks of party/run/party/run? Call in sick and cover your head with a blanket? Ignore the whole thing and beat up anyone who mentions it?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fuck Cancer!

I haven't been a member of Team in Training since 2009 when I rode the Solvang Century with the cycling team. The year before I raced The Triathlon at Pacific Grove with the tri team. The last marathon team I was part of was in 2007 (the first was in 2001). Since that time I've run numerous full and half marathons on my own, and even became a Marathon Maniac and Half Fanatic. So why did I rejoin the Team now?

We haven't cured cancer. We haven't prevented cancer. Although there are wonderful new treatment tools and many more people live long lives after diagnosis, cancer remains an evil disease that strikes anyone and anywhere, at any time. Rejoining the Team and raising money for research into causes and treatments is my little way of saying "Fuck Cancer!"

On October 14, 2012 I will run the Nike Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco with thousands of other women who are raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through Team in Training. I have pledged to raise at least $2,000 in memory of my dad and all those who didn't live long enough for us to find a cure. I hope you'll help me in this quest and donate generously!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Long run Sunday

We're just going to pretend I didn't disappear from this blog for 3 months, 'k?

I haven't been running too much lately. A combination of leftover trauma to my lungs from February's pneumonia, lack of a running buddy and good old sloth had me going 2 weeks, after the Oakland Half Marathon, without running a step. So of course to make up for it I jumped right in with both feet (because otherwise I'd have fallen over on my face) and decided to run 11 miles this morning.

That was made a little more challenging by my somewhat excessive consumption of alcohol and food yesterday. Not only was it the monthly knitting Saturday at Walnut Creek Yacht Club (including some truly excellent blush wine of which I did not drink an entire bottle, despite having been accused of such), but afterward I met my family for another very merry unbirthday party. A fabulous meal and a couple of dangerous The Fourth Regiment cocktails later and I was feeling just fine.

I didn't sleep well last night, thanks to the celebration, but I knew I was getting up to run. It was a beautiful morning; crisp and clear. I met Anita for the anticipated 11 mile trek to Moraga Commons and back and something happened. I felt, dare I say it, great. I was running very slowly but steadily, breathing well, feeling loose. Everything around us was spring; the trees were blooming or leafing out, the grasses and weeds were that delightful shade of green, poppies were waving their bright orange heads in the sun.

So I decided that I wanted to run to the top of the hill, just to see the area while it was still the gorgeous green. Of course, that meant adding a few miles. We decided we'd walk up the biggest hills and run the rest and we headed onward.

The waterfall was still pouring down and we paused to admire the water-bred rainbow. We ran to the Commons and continued past. As we started going up the big hill we saw it: the Easter Bunny! Well, maybe he wasn't the official EB, he was very small and fluffy looking, and didn't seem to have a basket filled with eggs. But he was our first bunny sighting of spring. Right afterward we saw our first butterfly of spring too.

The view from the top of the hill was as spectacular as we thought it would be. Everywhere were shades of spring green, one of the loveliest spectrum of colors around. Since we were there already, we ran to the end of the trail. At that point we knew we had 7 miles left to go.

We ran along, yelling at the cows grazing on the hills, pointing out the red tail hawks circling in the sky (be careful, little bunny!) guessing names of the flowers and trees. Yeah, we got tired. But we kept running, keeping mostly to our original 9:1 run:walk. Maybe by mile 12 it was getting to more like 8:2. But we kept running. And continued running past our cars because I like round numbers. Sure, we could have rounded up from 14.68 miles. But we'd feel much better to have that true 15 miles under our belts.

Oddly enough, nothing hurt afterward except for some chafing from my capri seams (and as for that, owie owie). Lungs ok, legs ok, feet ok, back ok, sinuses ok. I was hot and tired, sweaty and stinky, but I felt good. Amazingly good.

So it looks like I have to keep running, and running long runs, whether or not Anita is available. I need to run by myself during the week, whether or not I have company. It just feels too good not to.