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Posts Tagged ‘why do i do this again?’

You all know how I feel about marathons. (I know, I know – 2 running posts in a week?! Bear with me.)

Basically, I’m hooked. And since I’ve started running them I’ve noted a few special ones that I want to check off my list – Boston, Chicago, Philly, to name a few. But I always figured that after last year, I’d cut back to just one marathon a year instead of two. That would be the sane thing to do, right?

Right. Until MJ suggested to me that we could turn 2011 into the Year of Marathon Maniacs.

I used to think that people who even considered this were crazy. Then I read some of the “how do you know if you’re a Maniac” questions:

  • Do your thoughts switch to the next scheduled race immediately after finishing a marathon?
  • Are you signed up for more than one race right now?
  • Do you know specifics about many of the marathons? Dates, courses, years run, etc.?
  • Do you know the story of how the marathon got started? Also why the course is 26.2 miles?

Guilty as charged.

The highest level of Maniac (titanium) has the following requirements:

  • 52 Marathons or more within 365 days. OR
  • 30 Marathons in 30 US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any combination) within 365 days. OR
  • 20 Countries within 365 days.

We all know that’s just crazy, but take a look at the requirements for a bronze-level Maniac:

  • 2 Marathons within a 16 day time frame.OR
  • 3 Marathons within a 90 day time frame.

So MJ and I have signed up for the Chicago Marathon (October 9th), Marine Corps Marathon (October 30th), and just today the Philadelphia Marathon (November 20th). Count ’em out – that’s 3 within 90 days.

I told another marathoner friend about this Maniac goal and he wrote me back saying, “I went to the web site for maniac marathoner or what ever it was called. 3 in 90 seems “reasonable” those upper levels seem beyond. What does the membership give you other than serious bragging rights? Just curious.

It’s a good question. But really? It’s just the bragging rights. And a t-shirt.

But mostly the bragging rights.

Come July I’ll be starting my training for all three, and probably cursing myself and the DC heat. But I know that on November 20th, when I finish Philly and I have all three of those beautiful medals and know that I’ve pushed my body to the max, it will all be worth it.

And who knows, maybe I’ll even get a new PR in there somewhere. I now have three chances to break 4:56:29!

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I have to admit: in high school, I really loved math class. The trig, the calculus – it made sense to me. There were formulas and steps and definitive right answers. It wasn’t that it was easy, exactly, but it was logical. And I liked that.

However, when I got to college, I avoided math (and science) classes like the plague. I was an International Affairs major, thank you very much. I was leaving the world of black and white, right and wrong answers, and entering an entirely new sphere consisting (seemingly) mostly of that gray in between area.

The beauty of International Affairs is that, often, if you argue well enough you can always be “right.”

Of course, there were some math and science credits that Hopkins required, to ensure that they were producing well-rounded students, but there were ways around the difficult courses. Case in point: I took a class called Chance & Risk, whose description stated, “This is a ‘math’ class for humanities majors. Minimal math background required.” We learned about odds and probabilities in numerous contexts and my final group project consisted of assessing (very non-scientifically) the probability of contracting an STD while at Hopkins.

Quality stuff.

Now, though, I’m back in school and in need of a math-esque class again and I don’t see Chance & Risk on the menu anywhere. So, starting tonight, I’ll be taking Quantitative Analysis. I’d tell you what it’s about, but the syllabus reads like an entirely new language to me. There are terms that I’ve only seen as I’ve skimmed through survey methodologies, and mention of a statistical analysis program that the professor promises proficiency in.

We’ll see, Professor.

For right now I’ll settle for understanding the syllabus.

And here I thought Econ was going to be my hardest class.

 

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Keeping with this running theme I’ve got going on right now, I thought I’d share a little story from a race that took place nearly a year ago. Last April I was running the GW Parkway 10-Miler on what turned out to be one of the first really warm days of the season. As in, the temperature reached about 80 degrees by 11:00am.

I’d eaten a CLIF bar before starting out, deviating from my normal routine, but I figured I could use the energy. Around mile 3 I remembered just why I don’t usually eat before a race.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried running while clenching, but it’s not fun. And it’s not easy. There weren’t very many bathrooms along the way (I remember only one, there may have been another) so, had I stopped, there still would have been a line of people to contend with. And seeing as I was still in my competitive “maybe I can beat my last 10 mile time” mode, I didn’t want to stop.

But, good lord, 7 miles feels like forever when nature’s calling.

Can you tell? I'm concentrating so hard on just making it to the end.

Now, take into account that I was getting dehydrated and the heat was making me loopy, and you’ll understand why I was a mess when I finally crossed the finish line. I was standing in front of the porta-potties, just staring at them, white as a sheet, when one of the friends I’d run with (the now-boyfriend) found me and asked what I was doing.

I whispered, “I have to poop. I’ve had to poop since mile 3!” He looked at me like I was crazy (fair) and gestured to the mostly empty porta-potties, that I’d just been staring at, blankly. “So…go.”

Basically what I looked like when he found me...except I was even more out of it then.

Afterward, and after I restored my energy levels a bit, I admitted to him: “The whole time I was running I kept thinking, if I actually poop my pants, do I have the guts to blog about it?

Yeah. I don’t think so.

So here’s hoping that something similar doesn’t happen on Saturday (2 days!). Because mile 3 out of 26.2 is MUCH worse than 3 out of 10.

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I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been having hip pain while running. I’ve also briefly mentioned the miracle that is physical therapy – something that, in the beginning,  I honestly didn’t think would be worth my time. After a few sessions, I was able to run 4-5 miles on the treadmill, albeit slowly. Then, last week, my therapist gave me the go-ahead to get back into my regular routine.

Best news I’d heard all day.

However, my “regular routine” these past few weeks should have included weekend long runs of anywhere from 13-17 miles, as per my marathon training guide. And even I’m not foolish enough to jump right back into training that quickly.

So I did 10.

It wasn’t easy on the snow, and yes, my hip did act up at times, but I made it. And as I was finishing up with a few laps around the park near my apartment – exhausted, cold, and ready to be done – I saw these works of art:

These two remind me of Gumby for some reason.

Simple? Sure. But there’s something contagious about a smile, whether it’s real or not. And the fact that someone took the time to make a smiling grove of trees? Well, it made my last couple miles that much more enjoyable.

It’s all about the little things.

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For the first snowfall of the year, I love curling up, nice and warm, and watching it come down. I like to see it slowly start to stick to the trees and the cars and the sidewalks (sometimes), in the comfortable knowledge that I don’t have to venture out in it. So where was I for DC’s first snowfall of the season?

Out in it.

You see, a little while ago I had signed up for a half-marathon, scheduled for this past Saturday. I know some people might think that’s the crazy part, but it’s not. Not really. The crazy part is that it was snowing – and we all did it anyway. And the longer we were out in it, the harder it came down and the more it stuck.

As the miles passed, I alternated between cursing Mother Nature, and actually enjoying the scenery along the C&O Canal Towpath. It took a little while, but I eventually started leaning more toward the latter (kind of a “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mentality). There were several points where I actually ran with my tongue out, trying to catch the snowflakes.

When I finally crossed the finish line, I could barely feel my face. Which is probably why my first post-race smile looked like this:

Luckily, I got enough feeling back for a better shot – one that truly captures the winter wonderland in which we were running:

We rewarded ourselves with a delicious brunch in excellent company afterwards, and I came to a conclusion: if I can finish a half-marathon in the snow, running through puddles, and barely feeling my extremities, well, then I can do just about anything.

SunTrust National Marathon, here I come.

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Note: Sadly, this is not a fun “playing doctor” story. I’ll just throw that out there now, so I don’t promote any false expectations. (That’s not to say there won’t ever be a fun story of that ilk, though, if I get my way…)

But this, this is a story about vomiting (so I guess it maybe counts as TMI?), and a request for advice.

You may not remember, but this past summer I had an unfortunate end-of-race incident, where I proceeded to puke just as I crossed the finish line. That was my ninth race, but it was the first time I’d ever been truly nauseous.

Sadly, it was not the last time.

My body seems to have made this a habit. It’s like a sick game of Duck, Duck, Goose: Run, Run, Vomit – but only during races.

About a month ago, I wrote about the Philly half-marathon, and how I had such a great time. And that was true. The part I left out was where, upon crossing the finish line, I promptly made it over to the medical tent and said, “Excuse me, I’m going to throw up – is there a trash can I could use?” But of course, when there was a receptacle at the ready, I managed to reel it in, and not need it.

Oh no, I managed to wait until we pulled into the restaurant where my parents were taking us for brunch.

And then I left my insides on the parking lot pavement, simultaneously holding my hair back and holding my medal away from my face to avoid splatter on the prize. (Priorities, you know.)

Most recently, at the Marine Corps 10k, I made it past the finish line only to book it to the sideline, squeeze myself between two people who were already there, and throw up over the barrier. (Note: to my knowledge, I did not get anything on them. They did, however, quickly leave.)

And that was the last straw. I finally made a doctor’s appointment. Then I had another with specialist. And now I have another lined up for tomorrow. The verdict so far?

Just stop running races.

Well, call it stubborn if you must, but I refuse to stop. There has to be another way.

And that’s where you guys come in: you’re all smart cookies – what in the hell could this possibly be? Anything you can think of: suggestions, questions that could trigger a revelation, personal experiences (though, I hope for your sakes those are few and far between), anything at all.

If you crack the case, I may even find you this hat:

trust_me_im_a_doctor_hatAnd if that’s not incentive, I don’t know what is.

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Last night was the season premiere of The Biggest Loser. The middle of last season was the first that I’d gotten into it, so I was particularly excited to watch from the beginning this time around.

Particularly because the first thing the contestants had to do, before getting to the ranch, was to run a mile. And they were horrified. They were nervous, unsure of their abilities, and just generally not optimistic that they could finish the challenge ahead of them. And the thing is, I felt for them – I’d been there.

I know I’ve written about several races on this site before, so maybe that last sentence doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but hear me out.

Growing up, every year in gym class we had our physical fitness tests. We were evaluated on sit-ups, push-ups, sit-and-reach, and the mile. The first two were fine. (Yes, I took the easy way out with the “girl” push-ups.) The sit-and-reach caused my gym teacher to laugh at me because I was so very not flexible and could barely touch my toes at that point. (I’m significantly more flexible now. Thanks, yoga!) But that mile…god, how I dreaded it.

RPI Track & Field

We were all herded outside to the track and forced to run those dreaded four loooooong laps. And really, I should have been fine. I was young and healthy; I played sports. Four laps should not have been a problem. But they were.

At times, I had to walk. Sometimes I had to stop completely because I thought I was going to be sick. At the end, I would collapse in a heap, even after the teacher told me that it was better to do a cool-down walk. Are you kidding? I thought. I just ran a mile! Why would I want to walk more?

I’m fairly certain that the only reason I was never the last to finish is because there were always kids who walked the whole thing, not just certain stretches.

lastonestanding

Now, I run voluntarily. Not even that, but I actually pay to run races, and have my second half-marathon coming up this weekend! My high school self would have laughed at the very idea of it. I’m at a point now where I love running, and I miss it on the off days (and I even want to keep moving after I finish), but it took me years to get here.

Which is why I’m so impressed with what these contestants can accomplish in the course of a season.

And why I can’t wait to see how it goes.

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