Midi-Chlorians like Skywalker or the Mitochondria of a Kenyan…

15 08 2009

…that’s what I need.  I went on my first “long” training run in about 3 weeks today—-only 4 and 1/2 miles, a distance not considered long at all by many runners—-but it kicked my ass.   I had stayed up late last night so I didn’t even get out of bed until about 8:30 am, and it was after 10:00 by the time I’d gotten coffee and pulled myself together.  That strategy worked last fall and this past spring when I was training, but in mid-August it’s a little misguided.  It was already 73 degrees, sunny and humid when I started out and only got more so as time went on.

I ran through the local forest preserve which has more shade than my subdivision with its baby trees and bright glaring concrete.  I made it through the first 3 miles or so in decent order but really struggled the last bit, doing more walking than running, especially up the hills.  I don’t think I’ve ever sweat so much either!  My stamina really does suck right now.

The good news about stamina though is that it can be rebuilt.  As your body endures each new assault upon its energy stores, it responds by making more mitochondria—-the “workbench of the cell”, according to my freshman college biology professor.  And I do love my mitochondria!  When I found out they were endosymbionts believed to be a bacteria-like species that became a part of our cellular structure about a gajillion years ago, this tickled the heck out of the Trekkie in me.  I sometimes smile during a run as I mentally compare myself to a Trill carrying around all of my little symbionts and encouraging them to replicate more and more with every step.  It really doesn’t take much amuse me.

The Star Wars Midi-Chlorians are supposed to be loosely based on mitochondria and Anakin Skywalker had the highest of anyone ever.  We all know what happened to him, the fallen angel of the Star Wars bible, but I’ll bet he could have run a kick-ass marathon!  As I was urging myself forward through the heat today, I wondered if Skywalker would outrun a Kenyan.  I know I can’t, but I sure wish some generous Kenyan mitochondrion would come along and share a few speed, distance and endurance plasmids with mine.

More tomorrow…

My 12 year mission: to explore strange new sports; to seek out new quotes and new inspiration….

15 08 2009

I’ve recently been looking for a mantra that I can recite to myself to keep me moving forward.  When I was in medical school, I used to repeat “failure is not an option” over and over because it really wasn’t.  By the time I’d taken out all those loans, I had no choice but to succeed.  I couldn’t have paid them off on a secretary’s wages and I would have been so embarassed by failure, I would have had to leave town.

My quest to be an athlete is dissimilar in that I will never fail as long as I never quit.  The physical activity is its own reward as both the means and the end.  What I need is something that will make me push myself to go longer, farther and harder when I think I can’t do it.  It needs to be inspirational but not schmaltzy and matter-of-fact but not macho—–somewhere mid-spectrum in between Louise Hay and Jillian Michaels, I guess.

I have a couple of cool quotes stuck to the side of my fridge alongside my recent racing bibs:

“When you have the enthusiasm and the passion, you end up figuring out how to excel.”
– Deena Kastor


“If you’re starting out or trying to get to the next level, surround yourself with people who keep you motivated and energized–people who inspire you to achieve your best every day.  When you do this, you can’t lose”
– Anthony Famiglietti

Now these are both just great and they give me a rush every time I see them, but they’re not exactly chantworthy.   A mantra needs to be something that can gush forth through clenched teeth in lieu of vomit when I feel like I can’t go another step; something I can repeat with every determined footfall as I stride to victory; something that can fit on a T-shirt if I ever became famous.  And I’m still searching for it.

Today’s training session was a brief but enjoyable trio of short workouts with Fred.  We rode the bikes for about 30 minutes, then walked the dogs a couple of miles, then went downstairs and did a quick upper body weights workout followed by a bit of half-hearted corework.

We rewarded ourselves by going to see “District 9”, the new sci-fi movie that came out today, at the new theater complex they built at the local mall.  It was a good movie and the seats were so comfortable.  Then we came home and ate pizza.  I didn’t put mayo on it like Bill Rodgers but did have creamy garlic dressing on my side salad.  Gonna have to run an extra mile tomorrow for sure.

More to come…

Encounter at Midpoint — Lianne, the Next Generation

13 08 2009

I seem to have a peculiar worldview.  I feel like “I still have my whole life in front of me” even though I’m already 53 years old.  I’m ready to try new things and keep moving forward even as those around me “settle into AARPness”, as a good friend stated recently.  Maybe I’m nuts but I don’t see that I really have any limitations–which is exactly how I felt when I was a 37 year old college  freshman aspiring to eventually go on to medical school (which I successfully completed)–despite the much-cliched “odds stacked against” me and to the possible chagrin of my local doomsayers.

My latest adventure involves nurturing my long-dormant  inner athlete, just like I resurrected the “good student” that had been set aside for two decades back in 1993 when I started school.  I privately call this latest phase of life “the era of the athlete” because I intend to spend the next decade or so pursuing goals that will cultivate myself physically as much as college and med school did for me mentally.  Hopefully it will be much more fun and nowhere near as grueling!

So lately I’ve taken up running and I do enjoy it, even though I’m told I’m more of a jogger than a runner because it takes me greater than 10 minutes to run a mile.  Yeah right, whatever, who cares?  In the words of John “the Penguin” Bingham, “I’m slow.  I know.  Get over it.” 

What inspired me to start this blog was a desire to chronicle my life and training as I attempt to move up from 5-K and 10-K races to a half-marathon.  I registered for the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon in Orlando on January 10,  2010, which is roughly 22 weeks from now.  I ran in the Cleveland Marathon’s 10-K back in May and liked it so much that I wanted to push myself a little farther by moving up to the next distance.   Since we take an annual winter vacation in Florida anyway, the Disney half was a perfect fit.

Now it wouldn’t be very Lianne-like if there wasn’t some crazy obstacle to overcome, so I naturally managed to get injured, slack off, lose some stamina and gain some weight.  So here I am.

 I’m going to be following the FIRST regimen which I learned about in Runner’s World.  It involves 3 running days and 2 cross-training days each week along with flexibility and strength sessions.  I followed it loosely for the 10-K and liked it quite a bit.  Given my unpredictable work schedule at the urgent care centers, I wanted something with variety as well as a bit of flexibility.  The program is 18 weeks long and I will be officially starting in early September, but this is my “getting ready to get ready” phase.

I’ve been doing a bit of running, a bit of biking and not nearly enough strength and flexibility training over the summer, so I plan to ramp it up over the rest of this month in order to be able to follow the program as religiously as I ever follow anything.

More tomorrow….