Saturday, November 20, 2004

Marathon Day is tomorrow: looking back and ahead

There's a large space between my last entry and this. That space has been taken up with a lot of running, thinking, running, trying to find jobs while doing those I have (freelance jobs), and finding a great deal that's rewarding in this training program.

I came to it to heal. I won't say I'm all healed. That will take a long time. But the time I spent with my team-mates and alone, the races, the workouts, the getting lost on Belmont Plateau and finding myself and finding a group of people with whom I ran, sometimes competed, and sometimes cried.

I want to post my day by day schedule. I had hoped to do that during the course of this blog, but somehow time got away from me. Still, I have notes in different places, and I will put them together in some form, so you can see the progression.

Here are some memories, meanwhile:

A running clinic on 10/21 featuring Jesse Wright, Kate Fonshell, and Ira Meyers. Jesse Wright is a conditioning coach whose Summit Sports Training Centers sound like sports wonderlands, full of state-of-the-art equipment and training methods. But he also went over some basic exercises people could do without any expensive equipment. His enthusiasm for what he had to offer made me want to visit the training center, and I hope that I do soon. Kate Fonshell is a sport psychologist, who spelled out the ways that people could make the most of their training through mental preparation and positive self-talk. She provided hand-outs and work sheets to help formulate and reach goals. The worksheets are excellent and can be used, I think, not only for running-related goals, but for other life goals as well. Dr. Ira Meyers is a podiatrist specializing in the treatment of runners. He himself is a runner--he won the Philly Marathon in 1986 and is still very competitive as a master. I was fortunate enough to have him as my podiatrist while he had an office in Center City. His talk was informative and very encouraging. Often people feel they have to give up when an injury sets in, but he tends to be solution-oriented and understands that runners don't want to be told, "well, maybe you shouldn't run."

The 8.4 Mile Schuylkill River loop race: Disappointed in my time, because the weather had suddenly turned warm in that Indian Summer way it does. My attempt to run less than 75 minutes dissolved before I reached the Falls Bridge, and I had to settle for 80 minutes. However, I did receive a medal for second place in my age group. Granted, there were three of us, but a medal is a nice keepsake!

Election Day: I was not able to get to the Tuesday workout that day, because I worked at the polls as Minority Inspector. This consisted largely of handing people slips of paper to sign, then handing the signed slips to the Election Clerk. It may seem simple enough, but the real reward here was in seeing the variety of people who came to vote, many new voters, looking a little concerned about whether they'd know how to use the machine correctly. "Is it hard to use?" a woman asked me. I reassured her that it was very easy, and that she'd receive help if she needed it. (The machines at Beverly Hills Middle School are the old-fashioned lever type, and I think the least complicated of voting machines.) The woman emerged smiling from the booth, as many first-timers did. Some were new to America. Others had just turned 18. Still others had never cared to vote before. I wish Kerry had won, but to see the people come to vote, so full of hope, so excited at their newfound power, gave me hope.

November 4: I ran a set of half miles that made me feel better after my disappointing Loop race. These ranged from 3:59 to 4:08, with a lap easy in between. I was dodging high school students, so that did affect the length of my rests and sometimes the half miles. But the second 3:59 came in the middle of the workout.

November 6: The crash and burn long run--remembering unconsciously that this was exactly another month, six months, since she passed. I was exhausted before the run was over, felt myself unraveling. Knew and didn't know why. But when I returned to Lloyd Hall, I was welcomed with donuts and hugs. I was reminded of why the group was so important to me!

November 7: An hour and some strides that went well, reassuring me somewhat. Then to St. Mary Magdalene Church for a memorial mass they held for members of the parish who died during the past year. My brother Pete and sister Liz and I attended. The psalm that says "I will praise the Lord at all times...his praise shall be always on my lips. I called the Lord and he answered me... and from all my troubles he set me free"--that was the one I remember going through my mind after the Boston qualifier. I felt my mother's presence, felt she was there, felt it will be okay.

November 9: A pyramid workout. Not too much rest in between repeats, but my times held their own. (Will fill in later.)

November 11: My birthday! I started the day with mass, a 54 minute run (for my age), and stopped during this run at Mom's grave. From there, I called Liz on my cell phone, and we quietly remembered. Then Liz and I spent the day together, shopping, having lunch, going to see the movie, "Ray." Liz treated me to everything!

November 13: A shorter run around the same root as the loop race. This went fine, 86 minutes. My knee started feeling wobbly during the strides, so I cut them short.

November 16: We gave the group gifts to Mike and Dave. That was a lovely moment! Each of them got a gift basket from both groups. We did a "marathon goal pace" 2-mile run (warm-up/cooldown a mile each for a total of four miles), altho. I'll admit mine went a little faster than goal pace, 18:48. Dave scolded me a bit for that--said each workout had a purpose, and the purpose of that one was to practice pace, not to race. That made sense to me--Dave has a way of criticizing that's constructive and you know you have to listen--he and Mike both.

November 19: Nanu's birthday. I ran my Boston qualifier on her birthday in 1995 and dropped out on her birthday in 2000. This day, I ran about twenty minutes. Later, went to the pasta party that Jen hosted, where we presented Dave with the group gift to him, a stop watch. Someone joked that it was headphones--Dave's pet running peeve.

And today. The expo. Getting my number. It's getting real. Lunch with some folks from Coolrunning. Everyone abuzz. Now time to sleep. Must be up early.

Full report of marathon to follow. Good running to all who are out there. And to Jen, a full recovery from the injury.