2013’s last halves: Detroit Free Press (October 19) and Meridian Mississippi Leo Run to Remember (November 16)

26 12 2013

The injury that started with a too-long and too-fast 10-miler in July dragged on for well over two months.  I took it easy the first month and hoped it would get better.  When it did not, I pulled out all the stops and began treatment with first rest, then rehab exercises, night splinting and home ultrasound.  By early October, I was able to walk a mile without pain.  I started from scratch back to running, slowly adding 10% per week of distance and stretching like someone was paying me for it.  I had already registered for three half-marathons in the fall and did not intend to miss them, even if I had to walk instead of run.

By October 19, when it was time to drive north for the Detroit Free Press International Half, I was up to 3 miles of running.  I figured I’d run 3 and walk 10  —  anything, just to be doing the race  —  no matter how many hours it took, as long as I finished.

detroit freep lineup at start It was a surprisingly cold day with a strong wind when I lined up in the dark with approximately 23,000 of my closest friends and running companions.  I didn’t bring enough clothing and my teeth were literally chattering.  Any runner who has ever been injured knows the thrill of finally being “back”.   But even the excitement of the first race after 3 months off couldn’t cut through that weather.  We started out and soon the really quick people were casting off clothing.  I saw a girl in front of me pick up a pair of gloves from the ground and so I did the same thing.  A couple of blocks later, I donned a discarded  windbreaker too.  I needed them.  Honestly, I was so conscious of the cold and of every little twinge possibly coming from my Achilles tendon, I don’t remember much else about the race.

detroit bridgeBy the the time we hit the International Bridge and ran into Canada there was no longer anything blocking the wind, and it was a bitch.   I’d never run from one country to another before so it was pretty exciting and the day was beginning to warm a bit. We spent a few miles on the Canadian side and it was a very pleasant little jaunt.  We came back below ground through the underwater tunnel which marked another “first” for me.  I’d never run underwater before!  In contrast to the chill on the surface, it was really hot  and humid down in the tunnel.

detroit freep half coursemapI ran most of the 3 miles to Canada, did a lot of run/walk intervals the next 3 miles in Canada and then walked pretty much all of the final 7 back on the Detroit side.  Even with the cold weather and my constant vigilance about the injury, I did enjoy the race and would recommend it to anyone seeking a unique experience running to another country and back on a fairly flat, well-appointed course with a lot of amenities.  Yes, it was a “big city race” with crowds and parking issues, congestion and blocked streets, all the typical complaints Chicago people have about races in our hometown, but it was quite a bit of fun and a great way to convince myself I was indeed healed from my latest bout with rotten old Achilles tendonitis.  It is a race I would definitely consider doing again (once all 50 states are off my bucket list).

A month later, I flew down to Meridian, Mississippi, for the second annual Leo Run to Remember Marathon and Half which benefited the Alzheimer’s Association and was sponsored by the Leo branch of the Lions Club.  That race was pretty much the polar opposite of Detroit:  small, poorly-supported and hillier than I’ve ever seen, but the weather was nice and I enjoyed the overcoming the challenge of the course elevation.  In a brief race report I wrote the day afterward on the Facebook page for one of my running groups, I said:

  •  “A nice “little” race, the second annual, put on by an enthusiastic group of people for the Alzheimer’s Association. The 1/2-M course started at a softball field and wound along a state highway and through some neighborhoods. It was a very hilly course and some were unbelievably brutal (a fact I wish I’d known ahead) but otherwise the scenery was gorgeous. The course as well marked and there were adequate water stops about every 2 miles. Porta-potties were only at Miles 2 and 8.5 of the half. I saw runners using local businesses to “do their business” and I went into an urgent care center to do mine when I couldn’t hold it any more by Mile 6 or so. Nice tech shirts and medals were provided but there was no refreshment at the finish line (not even water nevermind the bagels or bananas). The weather down here is nice in mid-November, misty and 70ish, so it is a good choice for a late fall race. It is Meridian’s only marathon and brand new. I think the amenities will be better as they continue doing races and figure out what runners expect/need. For 50-staters or people who like to travel to do tough courses, I’d recommend this one. For people who like a well-appointed race or a flat course, keep looking. If I’d known ahead what it was like, I’d probably have chosen otherwise myself but I’m glad I did it. Being pushed and challenged but finishing with a smile is what makes us all better runners. Choosing the easy course keeps us rooted where we are.”

By that race, I’d gotten my running up to 5 miles straight and so I ran the first 5 and did run/walk intervals (with a lot of walking) for the final eight.  Like I said in my little review above, the course is TOUGH.  Even the races’s own Facebook page states the hills of Meridian are brutal and I couldn’t agree more.  But each one showed me how gutsy and strong I am and I AM glad I did it.

me in a raceA photographer on the course caught me unawares and took a photo that showed up in the proofs package which inspired me to make my very own meme.   LOL

I do believe they will add more amenities as they go along and in future years there will be enough porta potties, free bananas at the finish, and many of the other staples we runners have come to expect as a given.  I like smaller races and earnest people, so I hope they do succeed in Meridian.

And that’s pretty much it for half-marathons in 2013.  I had signed up to run at the St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon Weekend but the entire weekend was cancelled due to an ice storm and I ended up concluding the year’s running with a couple of small local races right around Thanksgiving.

And injury rehab continues.

Catching up: Hatfield-McCoy Half Marathon Race Report

30 11 2013

Summer’s Grand Entrance for 2013, which started with a relaxing Memorial Day weekend followed by a Star Trek convention weekend, ended with the year’s first half-marathon.

The Hatfield-McCoy Marathon is an annual event which takes place on the Kentucky/West Virginia border as part of the annual Reunion Festival for the feuding families.  It is a well-attended and well-appointed race with no time limit that winds through much of the territory made famous by the notorious feud which occurred from 1863-1891.  It was a race for which I have never been less prepared but during which I probably had the most fun ever.

The race began in Kentucky in a supermarket parking lot where a modern-day Devil Anse and Ole Ran’l pair posed for photos with us runners before the start.

hatfield mc

The official website for the race describes the route quite well so I will copy some of  their words here:
 “The course takes the runner south on US 119 to Toler, Kentucky   …   From Toler the course will take the runner through the coal camps of Hardy   ...  Once through the Hardy area the course begins to travel through the heart of Feud Country; taking the runner past Randolph McCoy home place site and the graveyard where Tolber, Bud and Pharmer McCoy are buried along with sister Alifair and brother Calvin. Tolbert, Bud and Pharmer were tied to pawpaw trees and shot by the Hatfield’s for the Election Day stabbing and eventual death of Devil Anse Hatfield’s brother Ellison.  Alifair and Calvin were killed during the New Year’s Eve raid on the McCoy home. After passing these historic sites, the course continues a gradual incline until the foot of Blackberry Mountain. It’s a one mile climb to the top, but it’s downhill from there. At the foot of Blackberry Mountain the course passes Rev. Anderson Hatfield’s home site. It was at his residence the Hog Trial was held in 1878. This site is also very close to where the Election Day stabbing took place. Also at the foot of Blackberry Mountain the course turns left on route 1056, which runs along Blackberry Creek till it meets the Tug River at Buskirk, KY where the three McCoy’s were tied to the pawpaw bushes and shot. Runners will cross the bridge at Buskirk, KY into Historic Matewan, West Virginia site of the 1920 Matewan Massacre. A gunfight between miners and Baldwin-Felts agents brought in by coal companies to prevent union organization. Matewan is the finish line for the Half Marathon.”

The scenery was beautiful and, being so laden with feud history, it was breathtaking on many levels.  It was beyond wonderful to run and walk past all those locations while reflecting upon what took place there.  I had seen the movie on television and read about the families many years prior as well, so it was a very profound experience.

The course elevation was memorable too.  Elevationmap-948x446That enormous ascent up Blackberry Mountain between miles 6 and 7 was a definite character-builder.  Even though I hadn’t really trained well, I took it slow and didn’t suffer much from all the climbing.  I fell in step with another runner who turned out to be the sister of a former coworker and we chatted most of the way and took our time.  I also ran into a Hawaiian guy from the Marathon Maniacs who remembered me from the Pearl Harbor 5k in February.  What a small world!

The families who lived along the route were very welcoming and generous.  There were people who had their own refreshment tables out in addition to those that were official to the race.  We were offered watermelon and orange slices at one spot.  Another had miniature horses that runners could pet and photograph.  It was the most casual, friendly and enjoyable half-marathon I have done.  

By about Mile 10, my lack of training began to assert itself in the form of some fairly achy hips and the walk/run sprints I’d been employing up to that point turned to “mostly walking”.  But soon enough we crossed the border into Matewan, West Virginia and the race was done.  hatfield swagIt was an absolute pleasure, a half (or maybe even the full) I would most certainly do again someday if given the chance, and one I highly recommend to any runner — 50 stater or not.

And they had the BEST swag ever!  A moonshine jar, a towel, a bag, a tech shirt AND a medal?  You can’t ask for better.  The food at the reunion festival was pretty good too.

At the end of the half, buses took us back to the start area where cars were parked, and I headed back to Pikeville, KY where I spent another day.  My hips were fine by the following morning and I headed back home (a 9 hour drive) where life went back to “normal” in very short order.  Other than the Disco Dash on June 27, a 5k I did in Chicago with my cousins, this was pretty much my last outing of the summer.

Knowing I would be working almost every weekend, I had not planned a lot of racing but did intend to capitalize on the 13.1 mile effort as a training milestone.  A couple of weeks later I did a 9 mile run on a very hot day that went way too slow.  So on July 7, I sought to make up for that disappointment on a cooler morning with a 10 miler that I took way too fast.  The following day I could barely walk because of an Achilles tendonitis flare-up that was the worst I’d seen since the original injury eight years prior.

And so I limped until late September.  More later…

Has anyone ever used “I was trapped in an alternate reality” as an excuse?

17 11 2013


No?  They haven’t?

Then I won’t bother weaving this lively tale about how the Romulan mining vessel Narada was transported back in time after the destruction of Romulus and created an alternate reality into which I fell and have thus been absent from my blog for months.

I won’t tell them that at work the next time I don’t feel like coming in either.

The fact is, I’ve been too busy to write about what I’ve been doing (running, then getting injured and not running, then getting better and running again).  I’m about to remedy all that though and catch up on the races I’ve  done, even though there’ve been damned few of them.  Just give me a couple of days to get it all together.

I’ll be back soon.  I swear I will.

14 Days on the Pleasure Planet—Part 1

4 07 2013

My summer started in the most beautiful way this year.    After all the working and non-running I’ve been writing about, I took a two week break from the madness and indulged in my two most favorite things in life:  a Star Trek convention and a half marathon.  It was absolutely blissful and as close to a vacation on Risa as I’m ever gonna get.


The holiday weeks began with Memorial Day and a wonderful two days off just hanging around at home with my husband doing absolutely nothing.  We had gone to see the new movie Star Trek: Into Darkness the day it opened and both enjoyed it immensely.  That really set the mood for a wonderful time at the convention.

The Next Generation Reunion and 20th anniversary of Deep Space Nine were highlighted in Creation Entertainment’s annual event occurring, as always, at the Westin O’Hare near Chicago.  Our last attendance had been in 2006 for the 40th anniversary of the original series, so this was going to be a long-awaited weekend of fun for us.

We checked into the Westin Hotel for three days so that we could spend the maximum amount of time onsite.  And what a great time it was!  The dealers room was not as plentiful as I’d remembered from seven years ago but still held some interesting trinkets.  My husband bought some shot glasses and I got a sticker for car.  Fans in costume were roaming the halls aplenty and a nice showing turned out for the costume contest.


There were quite a number of interesting panel discussions as well.  A local college professor who is an authority on all things Star Trek did a couple of talks on the filming of the Wrath of Khan  movie as well as the original series episode from whence his character came, “The Space Seed.”  It was very thorough and extremely entertaining.  I wish my college professors had been as adept at presenting their subject matter!  The writer of the Next Gen episode “The Inner Light” also gave a presentation about that episode which we enjoyed a lot.  Trekkies love delving into every little bit of minutia about the series so things like this are a big deal for us.

Over the course of the weekend, we were treated to appearances by all of the major actors from The Next Generation separately as well as in a panel together on Saturday evening.  It was nice to see them all again, sort of like seeing an old friend who’d been away for many years.

……….half of the panel…………other half of the panel……….

One personal highlight from Saturday was having a photo taken with Patrick Stewart.  My knees were literally shaking at the time, I was so starstruck.  He said hello (with that deliciously deep voice and accent),  I blathered something senseless and then tried to smile for birdie before I made a complete fool of myself.  It was a moment I will never forget even though I remember very little of it because of being so nervous!

me and picard

avery n me

On Sunday, I also got my picture taken with Avery Brooks.  I had no idea he was so tall.  I was way more relaxed, and he was also very nice.  I’ve been a fan of his acting since his days on “Spencer For Hire” and thought he played the character of Captain Sisko with as much flair as he had done with Hawk.

Much too soon, the weekend was over and we headed back home to our normal lives.  Spending a weekend surrounded by fellow Trekkies while enjoying the reminiscences of former cast members is truly an escape to a pleasure planet.  I carried my smile with me throughout the next week and enjoyed the breath of fresh air that the trip had provided.

The following weekend I headed down to Kentucky for the Hatfield-McCoy Family Reunion half-marathon where I had another splendid experience.  I will write about that in Part 2 of this report, and you can hear all about how I didn’t train but enjoyed it anyway.

More later…..

I am not Tosk

27 05 2013

The Tosk, a species bred to be hunted, took a vow of silence to never reveal details about the sport for which they were born to be pursued, fight and then die in.  They had no identity other than that of hunted creature and they had no individual names.  “I am Tosk,” they would say in greeting when meeting another individual.

Tosk (1)

I am not Tosk.

I have at times felt like prey but that is not truly the case.

And I have most certainly not taken a vow of silence.  I have been absent from my own blog because I haven’t been racing.  I haven’t really been running very much either, except for short distances a few mornings per week.  And there has certainly been little worthy of note for me to report here.   But I am breaking the silence nonetheless.

I have been “training” for a race, although I am woefully behind in the requisite miles, but there is no doubt I will complete it with relative ease and enjoyment.

The Hatfield-McCoy Reunion Marathon and Half will take place on June 8 in Kentucky and West Virginia, and I am registered for the half.  I’m really excited about going because this will give me two more states to tick off my bucket list.  And after having seen the History Channel’s Hatfield-McCoy miniseries, I am more psyched than ever about this locus of American history that has fascinated me since the days of early childhood.

Another 50-state blogger, TRex Runner, wrote about the Hatfield-McCoy race last year and it piqued my interest because it covered two states.  I was Googling for races that run in multiple states when I came across her blog.  After seeing the photos and reading the story, I was determined to run it “someday”.  Upon watching the mini-series, I decided to run it at the next possible opportunity.  So here we are.

As for my non-training:
The furthest distance run in 2013 thus far has been 7.68 miles and that was well over a month ago.  There’s been no cross-training really either.  I haven’t lifted a weight, done a crunch, or active isolated stretched in I-don’t-know-how-long.  My bicycle is parked with flat tires. And yoga might as well have been a bear that hung around with Booboo.  I am a total slacker this year.  I’m just working too damned much.  I haven’t raced since Hawaii either.

The lifesucking obstacles that sprang up over the past year are mostly still in play.  The tax audit is over (and came out in my favor), but the ongoing conversion from paper charts to electronics at work is still killing me.  I’m working two extra weekend jobs—along with my underwhelming private practice—to pay off business loans I took out.  And the damned winter still hasn’t really left yet.  It was 40 degrees one morning last week!  My misery quotient, being already filled with everything else, just hasn’t permitted as much outdoor wretchedness as my long-abandoned training plan called for.

So those are my excuses.

What *am* I going to do in the next eleven days to prepare for this race?  Hopefully run/walk about 9-10 miles tomorrow if it isn’t raining buckets again.   I will likely get in some hillwork on the treadmill at least once or twice (so the notorious one mile ascent and descent of Blackberry Mountain that comprises miles 6-7 won’t kill me).  And whatever else I can muster between now and June 7 when I begin my road trip southward.

Yes, I shall be quite unprepared for this half-marathon but I do intend to make it fun.  Instead of seeing the other runners as predators who will best me with their speed and leave me to shamefully struggle in their dust, I’m going to show up happy and take every mile however it comes.  I am just glad to be racing instead of working no matter how it turns out.

It is not a hunt.  I am not Tosk.

First Race of 2013

19 02 2013

In a year that I know will be too busy working to race as much as I prefer, every event in 2013 needs to be somehow special.  This year’s first race was the “break the winter blues” outing and I flew to sunny Hawaii for it.  Craving someplace warm and colorful at the nadir of my winter disgruntlement, I sought out educational conferences with races coinciding around the same time and place.  Since I must have a certain number of “live” education hours to maintain my board certification, it is a nice way to combine one thing I need with another thing I love.

Arriving in gorgeous 82 degree Honolulu on a bright and vibrant day some 9 and 1/2 hours after departing grey dismal 26 degree Chicago, I felt as if I’d been rescued via last minute transporter beam from a precipice edge just as the rocks began to vanish beneath my feet.  Seriously.


While researching this post, I looked at Wikipedia to make sure I was spelling “grey” the right way (as I’m never 100% certain whether it has an A or an E in it).  This is what I found:  “Grey or gray is an intermediate color between black and white, a neutral or achromatic color, meaning literally a color ‘without color’ [and is] most frequently associated with the elderly, humility, reflection, boredom, dullness, uncertainty, and indifference.”  (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey)

That quite accurately describes my life in the depths of winter: a dull and colorless march of survival infused with boredom, indifference and uncertainty which humbles a woman by making her feel excessively elderly.  So when the notion of going to Hawaii arose, action and not reflection was required.  I signed up for the 2013 Seabees 10k in Honolulu which is held annually at Pearl Harbor with an expectation of the typical mainland multi-distance offering:   thousands of runners and walkers on a well-traveled route supported by all the usual amenities.  Ha!  Was I ever in for a surprise.  It was not a bit unpleasant, but definitely nothing like I envisioned.

The Seabees Run is held on Ford Island at the naval base, and is mainly attended as well as sponsored by Navy personnel.  In keeping with the confidential nature of all things re national security, there were not many details online about the race such as packet pickup or other features beyond its location and starting time.  I emailed a race director to obtain the needed details when I signed in December, and he was very helpful.  He even offered to hold my packet if I couldn’t make it to the running store in time (since I was arriving via air in late afternoon on pickup day).  But I made it in time and the Runner’s HI store was just a few miles from the airport.  Packet in hand, I fairly skipped back to the car as joyous as a first-grader on the last day of school.  Timing chips would be doled out and collected at the start/finish line, but a T-shirt, map and bib were in the envelope.

The morning of the race, I awoke at 4:00.  Hawaii is four hours behind Chicago, and it was 8:00 a.m. in my brain.   I drank coffee, got dressed and waited for the sun to rise.  The stars were beautiful and the air was mild, even with an impressive trade wind.  Finally ambling down to the car at about 6:15 still in complete darkness (I really should have looked at sunrise times before leaving home), I drove through Honolulu toward Ford Island.  Eventually I fell into a line of cars with telltale running bumper stickers on them, and so I followed along.  We made a turn onto the bridge and came to a checkpoint where we each had to identify ourselves and our purpose in order to gain entry.  My name was on a list and so I was allowed through.  I asked “where is the race?” and the sentry pointed into the night and said “back there” before waving me on.  Along the narrow bridge I continued until arriving a roundabout where the cars seemed to be going in two different directions.  After a moment of panic where I envisioned getting lost and ending up in some restricted area bombarded by sirens, bright lights and men with guns, I chose one direction and took it. As it turned out, either fork at the roundabout led to the parking area.Ford_Island_Hawaii_space_photo_2009

I pulled the car into a lot but could see little that foretold where the race might be.  Dozens of extremely fit military-types were traversing back and forth across a street so I peered through the pitch and glimpsed a banner strung between two trucks which I assumed must mark a start/finish line.  Pinning on my race number, I walked over and began to work my way through the crowd in hopes of spotting the usual kiosks.  As I edged between other entrants, I heard a voice nearby proclaim “You! Number 53! Get your timing chip!”  After a second I realized, “hey that’s me,”  and turned to find a young guy in fatigues manning an upright board containing numbered timing chips.  I accepted mine and asked him “where is start line?”  He replied, “this is it.”  I looked around and saw there was not much else.  “Finish line too?” I ventured.  “Yes ma’am,” he said.  OK.  Any runner with even one race under their belt knows my next question:  “where’s the bathroom?”  Like his counterpart before him, he pointed into the darkness and said “over there,” indicating a cluster of buildings back near the parking lot.

I shuffled through the grass feeling the predawn dew soaking my shoes until I found myself at a community building with two restrooms on the outside and a long queue in front.  It looked like a scene from a high school lunch room.  “Are any of these people drinking age yet?” I wondered as I got in line.   I eavesdropped their banter while we waited and quickly discerned that I was in the company of some very fast runners.  The previous year’s 10k winner finished in 30 minutes.  He wasn’t running this year (sigh of relief).  Another guy had done a 5k in 17 minutes.  Someone else took as long as 20:00 and they laughingly called him “slow”.   This is really going to be interesting, I concluded.

Finally making my way over to the start line, I struck up a conversation with a couple of girls who were also running and we chatted about the sport while the sky slowly brightened.  Soon it was time for the announcements and official start of all events.

Seabees run 2013 001 (2)

First was the Diaper Dash for a group of about a dozen toddlers to run a few yards amidst the raucous cheers of all bystanders.  Then a 1-miler set off, after which the 10k runners and finally the 5k crossed the start.  Making a last minute decision to switch from the 10k to the 5k (yes, it was the fast field of runners, and I’ll admit that I was afraid to come in last), off I went.  As the sun climbed in the sky, the temperature followed and presently I was bounding along through the brightest and balmiest day I’d seen in months.

We transited various streets on the base enjoying all the sights I would later return to see with my husband on a Pearl Harbor tour bus.   There was the iconic red and white tower, formerly abandoned but made newly famous in the 2001 Disney movie “Pearl Harbor”.


In the distance,  the Arizona Memorial gleamed white against the blue of the water.  A little further, in contrasting beige and grey were the docks featuring names of  bygone battleships.  Soon we passed rows of  lovely little homes surrounded by abundant gardens, apparently Officers’ Quarters with residents names posted in front saying “Lt. Cmdr. and Mrs. X” and such.  And all the while the breeze caressed us, drying the sweat before it barely had a chance to glisten.  Around another corner were early morning workers already about their business, some waving us on with smiles and others not giving a second glance.  As the miles unfolded and the experience became so intoxicating, I came to regret not going ahead with the entire 6.2.  To have been plucked from the barbed embrace of winter’s cold hands and gently set down in this runner’s paradise on such a beautiful day was an occasion to be savored, and not abbreviated by something as mundane as an insecure dread of looking too slow.

In addition to the scenery and the stunningly brilliant day, the 5k entrants themselves provided entertainment.  There were the usual stroller moms and parents urging on their kids.  But in this canine friendly event, it was the people loping along with happy panting dogs that gave me extra cheer whenever I saw them.  A fit young couple with a pair of bullet shaped jog strollers intently bulldozing forward seemed to have taken the occasion way too seriously, and it made me wonder if there was a special award for stroller-runners.  It turned out there was.  One thing there wasn’t (at least in the 5k anyway) was a porta-potty.  I’d heard it mentioned in the crowd pre-race that the community building bathrooms were the only facilities and I did not see that there were any others.  Of course, when you run sub 6:00/mile, you don’t really need them I suppose.

We were rejoined by the 10k runners a few hundred yards from the finish line and far too quickly, the race was over.  Having switched from the 10k to the 5 without officially changing registration meant I should not cross the finish line with my timing chip because I would not want to record a false result.  So I removed it and went around the line instead of going across and thus there is no official time recorded for me, but I estimate it to be the usual 40ish minute outing.   A table with tangerines, bananas and water bottles was well-stocked and waiting, so I grabbed a handful and headed back to the timing chip station to return my chip.

After enjoying my breakfast at a picnic table near the parking lot, I headed back over the bridge and home to the hotel.   Fifteen states are now marked off the bucket list, with only 35 more to go.  Hawaii’s race is one I will remember fondly.  It resurrected me from the winter doldrums and was a great way to start a week in Paradise.

[Photo credit to Wikipedia for Ford Island and The Tower]

Into Light

8 01 2013

The latest in the Star Trek movie franchise is called “Into Darkness” and features this excellent poster in its publicity campaign:


Have you ever felt like that?  Like you’re the only one standing, surrounded by masses of smoldering rubble, on the precipice of something potentially horrible and wonderful at the same time?  It’s called life.  And all too often we find ourselves at such a crossroad.

Survival is job one at these moments; living, moving forward and making progress trumps all else.  You can’t really make plans because you know neither what lies ahead nor what you are going to do with it.  You just know you will succeed because, like starship captains have been saying back as far as the 20th century, failure is not an option.

That’s 2013.

As we jettison 2012 into a quantum singularity, I stand on the bridge and cheer.

30 12 2012


I am glad to see this year come to an end, and it has little to do with running.  Yes, I fell short once again in my quest to run a first marathon (and ended up doing the half at Kiawah Island) but that’s okay because I’ll do it someday.  I did run three half-marathons in a 6 month span which is something I’d never done before, and I can reliably say I am now very comfortable with long distances.  I’ve gone farther and gotten faster, and the joy of running is more than ever like oxygen in sustaining me.  But the year has sucked and I’m happy to relegate it to the black hole of vanished memories.

Family deaths, big changes at my business, a tax audit, thrilling rides on a financial roller coaster…all these things have combined to make 2012 a growing pain I’d like to believe I have vanquished as we transition into 2013.  Only time will tell of course, but I’m ready to get on with it.

Actually, pretty much the only good thing from 2012 was the running.  I’ll be back later to talk about 2013.

2012 races

Working like a Bajoran in the Hutet Labor Camp: Weeks 6-10

28 10 2012

I have been busy.  Crazy busy.  Relentlessly and most stressfully busy.  Too busy to write and almost too busy to run.  But I’ve been hanging in and getting on with the program.    And I am almost back.

Our weather has taken its annual turn toward winter with grey skies, chilly winds and blustering rain.  The water we needed all summer has finally turned up now, enthusiastically pelting my moribund garden and playing havoc with my outdoor training plans.  I’ve pretty much given up riding the bicycle outdoors which has put a big damper on my cross training efforts.  And the new computer system we’re using at work has increased my daily workload by probably 30%, an expenditure that has eaten up my free time like Gaian yar-bear after hibernation.  The amount of data entry that needs to be done and the length of time I have to do it are so inversely proportional that I find myself working all day seeing patients, then doing electronic charting at home until 10:00 pm and often another hour or so in the morning.

On top of that, I have a new part-time job which is demanding some extra time from me to learn their computer system and I lost 3 of my regular Tuesdays off this month as a result.  (Yeah, doctors aren’t all “rich”.  It costs so much money to run your own business that a lot of us have part-time jobs on the side).

So, the training has taken a bit of a hit this month.  I missed a 10-mile long run due to a rainstorm and, like I said above, the cross-training has disintegrated in a major way.  But I don’t believe I’ve significantly fallen backwards nor forfeited my readiness to do the 26.2 some 6 weeks from today.

Having wrapped my mind around the fact that I need to figure out a way to recapture those training hours between now and the marathon as well as do everything required of me to make a living, I am presently etching out a plan that will accomplish this.  I joined the local gym during their $10/month special recently, and I will just have to get out of bed early a couple days a week to go down there and use the spin bikes.  My final “lost Tuesday” is coming up this week.  I therefore simply must make November a killer month, and be ready to rock come December 8.

It can be done.  It must be done.  There will be life after a month in the labor camp!

Here’s how it all played out since my last post:

Week 6 – Intentionally a “light” week after taking the long run to 14 miles the week prior

Sun 9/23  —  walked with the dogs
Mon and Tues  —  rest days
Wed  —  3 mile easy run
Thurs  —  a few half-hearted abs/lower back sets
Fri  —  2 miles of speedwork; then headed off to the woods for a camping trip
Sat  —  Fun in the woods with a bunch of women; not too much exercise

Week 7 – Meant to be “back to the training plan” but I ended up getting sick and skipped the XT

Sun 9/30  —  Still camping:  did a lot of hiking but not running
Mon and Tues  — off sick with a cold
Wed  —  3 miles slow
Thurs  —  Orientation on the new job; no running
Fri  —  2 miles of speedwork (with a lot of coughing)
Saturday  — a 15 miler at race pace;  it was good even though I wasn’t 100% healthy yet

Week 8 – And the onslaught of work begins.  XT goes totally down the drain.

Sun 10/7  —  Rest day
Mon  —  very short bike ride; way too cold and windy outside!
Tues  —  All day computer training on the new job which, I might add is a 2 hours drive away from home (you heard me right:  that’s 4 hours round trip)
Wed  —  Ran 2 miles
Thurs  —  Worked away my morning workout time
Fri  —  Ran 4 miles
Sat  —  Storms all day; no running

Week 9 – Killed by work every evening and almost every morning.

Sun 10/14  —  Rained out my plans for a 10 miler; got 4 miles done
Mon  —  Worked in the morning instead of run
Tues  —  4 miles, then catching up on chores/errands
Wed  —  Worked my run time away
Thurs —  Speed intervals about 3.5 miles worth
Fri/Sat —  Travel to St. Louis via Springfield where I hung out with an old friend.

Week 10 – XT deficiency reigns supreme and sleep threatens to follow.

Sun 10/21  —  ROCK ‘N’ ROLL ST. LOUIS HALF-MARATHON, 13.1 miles of fun and music
Mon  —  Worked in the early hours of the morning
Tues  —  Another day of computer training on the new job; another lost training day
Wed  —  3 miles
Thurs  —  Another morning of work instead of running.
Fri  —  4 miles
Sat  —  a 12-hour shift on the new job = a 16 hour day including the commute; obviously no running got done

And that brings us up to today.  I ran 10 miles this morning.

Erosene Winds? Close, but not quite. Marathon Training Week 5

23 09 2012

The Erosene Winds, an atmospheric phenomenon on the planet Alastria, were featured in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager.  They are said to begin just before dawn and will evoke a feeling of euphoria in anyone who encounters them.  Now that would have been pretty nice here yesterday instead of the 25 mph gusts of cold Canadian air we got instead, but believe it or not I am NOT complaining.  The time I lost with them blasting me backward was well reimbursed with the tailwind on the second half of the run, and I actually did feel giddy with delight a time or two.

Week 5 of marathon training concluded on a high note with an excellent long run, faster than the schedule required, and a feeling that I have made great progress over the past month.  Run Less, Run Faster is the best training plan I have ever used.  I don’t know what I was doing messing around with all those other ones over the years.  Other than Couch to 5k, which got me started as a runner, RLRF is the only method that produced measurable results in such a brief time span.  And it’s perfect for an old body like mine that simply doesn’t do well if asked to run on consecutive days.  There are times I am skeptical about the short sessions of cross-training required on the in-between days because it seems unlikely that a mere 45 minutes of cardio will advance my fitness, but it is working so there’s the proof.

Here’s the breakdown for the past week:

Week 5 of 16

Sunday 9/16 —  Bike ride: 7.88 miles in 43 minutes on the old slow bike.

Monday 9/17 —  rest day

Tuesday 9/18 —  6 mile Tempo run:  2 miles easy, 3 at tempo, 1 mile cool-down.  It went well despite a slow start and I ended up with negative splits, finishing faster than I started.  All together that brought me in right on target for speed.

Wednesday 9/19 —  Upper body and abs workout.

Thursday 9/20 —  Speedwork:  Supposed to have been 3 x1600 meters with a warm-up and cool-down on each end, but the loop I like to run in the abandoned construction zone nearby is only 1400 so I did that at a slightly faster pace than the training plan called for, with each round faster than the last.  It was great.  I was amazed.  I know the weight loss has helped too, but I felt my old speed returning (still not “fast” by any means but fast for me) and I was very very grateful.

Friday 9/21 —  Bike ride 30 minutes easy followed by a long session of corework.

Saturday 9/22 —  Most excellent 14 mile long run at a full minute per mile faster than my expected marathon pace.  What a confidence builder!  After the past couple of crappy weeks, it was quite welcome to have a run like this.

Hopefully this is a harbinger of a good fall training season to come and I will find myself at the starting line in December confident and uninjured.  In my mind’s eye, I see it happening.  I feel the euphoria of the Erosene winds.