Encountering Farpoint

29 08 2011

“Encounter at Farpoint” was the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Farpoint Station was thought to be an outpost constucted on the planet Deneb IV by a race called the Bandi.  Instead it turned out to be an entity which they had enslaved and disguised as a starbase.  It occurred to me during my 16 MILE LONG RUN yesterday that this marathon quest is similar to the Farpoint Mission.

First the name:  quite obviously the farthest point to which I will ever have raced.  And then the more subtle facet:  this race as not just a destination or an event but an entity, one that has seemingly swallowed my summer.  And the last bit — just like the Star Trek episode was the first for a new generation of characters on the Enterprise — I will also join a new crew:  the 0.15% of Americans who have run a marathon.  But honestly, I will still be so glad when it’s over!

I have never run 16 miles before.  Having walked it a couple of times when training for the Avon 2-day walk back in 2008, I had no doubt I would get it done but I had no idea what it would feel like.  My “running” which is actually run/walk intervals, even as wimpy is it may seem to those who regularly bust out 7:00-8:00 minute miles, is still more strenuous than a walk.  It challenged me and there were times (at 5 miles and at 8 miles) that I thought, “oh screw this…..what the hell am I doing this for?” and wanted to quit.  But I didn’t.  There were moments in that last mile that I was really tired and starting to get achy and counting the steps until I was done.  But I managed to keep going.  Thinking that I still have to find a way to make it 10 EXTRA MILES beyond that 16 is just a bit daunting at the moment, but I know I’ll get there.  So I’m glad the weather and I could finally mesh our schedules to make that run possible.  It was a character-builder and a confidence-booster.  And I’m only a teeny bit sore today.  Nice.

T minus 4 weeks and counting to the Berlin Marathon.   Next goal:  a 20-miler.


Training in the last week:

August 21:  5 miles
August 22:  off
August 23:  8.8 miles (would have been more but interrupted by a thunderstorm)
August 24:  Yoga
August 25:  3 miles
August 26:  personal training session
August 27:  off

On the training table:  less junk than usual but still not stellar

Like a Starfleet Academy cadet, cramming during finals week…..

21 08 2011

… I have jumped back into marathon training with both feet and am scrambling to make up for lost ground (how’s that for a bunch of puns?) because the Berlin marathon will take place 5 weeks from today.

The heat wave which rendered outdoor activity about as much fun as a barefoot tango on a comet’s tail has gone, hopefully for good, and I have been training again for the past week and a half.  I took a full seven days off at the last of July and first week of August,  then did indoor cross-training for a couple more days before venturing back to the pavement on August 10th.

I was supposed to have peaked at 16 miles for my longest run by the end of July but did not do so and therefore have retooled the training program to make up for lost time.  Having crammed for tests all through college and med school, I am no stranger to the concept but physical endurance does not lend itself to the same compressibility as mere data.  Of course, it wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t some crazy challenge, so off I go.

On August 10, I did 4 miles of run/walk intervals and was not impressed with my performance, having walked quite a bit of the distance.

On August 11, instead of cross-training, I decided to run again (a rare event for me and my 55-year old knees) and ended up with a nice 6 mile outing.  It was interesting when at mid-run approximately 3 miles from home I felt the….umm…..call of nature quite insistently and had nowhere to go.  I considered some bushes but it seemed to be landscapers day everywhere I turned.  I found a bank but it wasn’t open yet.  I was about to ring a stranger’s doorbell when I spotted a small building I hadn’t seen before and approached it.  A dialysis center.  Great!  And it had a ladies room.  They saved an extra pair of kidneys that day for sure.

On August 12, I had a session with the personal trainer:  more strength/balance/core and a challenge to run a 1/2 marathon over the weekend.  I had signed up for Rock-n-Roll Chicago on 8/14/2011 but didn’t feel like making the 100-mile round trip drive into the City.  So in order to skip the event with no guilt, I was to run my own 13.1 miler instead.

On Saturday, August 13, I ran and walked 13.2 miles around the neighborhood (and some on my treadmill).  It was a good test of how well I’d built a training base.  It was tough to finish, having not gone that distance since June 25 in Seattle, but I felt great within an hour afterward and that gave me confidence.

Sunday, August 14, I got ambitious and planned a two-hour bicycle ride.  I got a late start and was only able to complete 1:45 before leaving to go to the movies.  I got 18.9 miles done.

Monday, August 15, I ran 5 miles.

Tuesday, August 16, I WAS SO EXHAUSTED I didn’t do anything athletic at all!  Well, there were those 16-ounce curls at the Plainfield Tap House….

Wednesday, August 17, I ran 3 miles.

Thursday, August 18, another session with the trainer.

Friday, August 19, I ran 3 miles again.

Saturday, August 20, a bit of lifestyle exercise was on the agenda:  tilling and weeding in the garden.

Sunday, August 21, 5 miles of run/walking.

The plan for the upcoming week includes the 16 mile long-run which is at least 3 weeks late, a couple of shorter runs, and a bike tour in Chicago with a cycling group.

The plan for the rest of the month:  build miles, stay healthy, avoid burnout and cram, cram, cram.