Marathon

The Lottery is Open

For the first time since 2004, the Marine Corps Marathon is using a lottery system for registration. As of today, the lottery is open, and will remain so until March 15 in order to give runners plenty of time to decide whether or not they want to throw their hats into the ring. It makes me sort of sad to see the MCM going the way of the lottery, since for a long time it was one of the few big marathons left that you could register for without having to qualify or get lucky. But given how hard it’s gotten to register in the past couple years, the move makes sense.

Photo on 2010-11-23 at 18.58

Post-race spoils in 2010.

I ran my last marathon in 2010, and it was a rough one. Since then, I’ve registered for them, but backed out of every single one. I can’t even remember anymore what I planned to do or when it was. I think the last time I signed up for a marathon was in 2012, when I planned to run the MCM. I grew up outside of Washington, so it’s a race I’ve always wanted to do. I got several weeks into my training and struggled through many a long run before I just sort of fell apart and realized that the race just wasn’t going to happen. With summer temperatures and the humidity, my running was just miserable. Mentally, I just wasn’t that into it. Ultimately, I decided not to do the race. I also decided I didn’t want to run marathons anymore. 

Fast forward a couple years, and I’ve once again experienced that desire to just hit the road and run until complete collapse (which, admittedly, would happen to me after roughly 8 miles at this point. But hey, that’s what training is for!). I’ve found myself missing the long runs, hour upon hour of putting one foot in front of the other. There’s something so pure and simple about training for and running a marathon, and the whole process leaves you with a feeling that you’ve been cleaned from the inside out. It scares me to say it, but I think I want to run another 26.2-mile race.

So when I heard that the MCM lottery was open, I went immediately to the website to find out more about the process. Here are some important facts: you’ve got 21 days to enter; you don’t pay any sort of fee until you register; race registration is $110, which is really reasonable given the cost of a lot of marathons. I almost entered immediately, but I stopped myself. I called it quits with marathons because they stopped being enjoyable. Instead of 16 weeks of highs and lows, the training period was just one long low. Runs would be preceded by tears and mental anguish. I never felt confident enough in myself to have any certainty that I would make it through my next long run. I got so wrapped up in the fear of failing that I put myself in a position where I couldn’t even try. I don’t want to go through all of that torture again.

What’s funny about all this is that if I enter the MCM lottery, there’s no guarantee that I’ll get in. I mean, that’s what makes it a lottery. But that hasn’t stopped me from getting nervous about it! If I enter and I do get in, there’s nothing keeping me from deciding not to register after all. And that hasn’t stopped me from getting nervous about it, either! Basically, I’m worrying about whether I should commit to the possibility of committing to running a race. I don’t think deciding whether or not to enter the lottery is supposed to be the hard part!

Fortunately, I have 21 days to think about this–three whole weeks to analyze the minute details of the pros and cons that accompany entering a race lottery to determine if you might get to register!

Hmm…Is it possible that I’m being a little silly about this?

The Wrong Foot

English: Two New Year's Resolutions postcards

English: Two New Year’s Resolutions postcards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometime in mid-December, when everyone started talking about the end of the year, and New Year’s resolutions, and all that stuff, I got a bit caught up in thinking about how 2012 had gone for me. A lot happened. Some of it was good, and some of it was bad. When I look back at the blogging I did, I sort of want to erase every post because there’s something so crappy and half-assed about it. A big part of me dreamt (and still dreams) about making sweeping, miraculous changes to the way I do things, essentially creating a new life for myself in the process. And another part of me repeatedly countered those dreams with reminders that the world (not to mention human psychology) doesn’t work that way, and that resolutions aren’t really the way to tackle things that need to be addressed, anyway.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, I remembered that I’d started the year off by scoffing at the mileage goal of another runner. She planned to run 600 miles in 2012. The main reason I scoffed was that another part of her goal was to run a marathon every month, and it bothered me that she would commit to that but only hold herself accountable for a total of 600 measly miles–not even twice what she’d run if she doubled the number of marathons she did. When I think now about how contemptuous I was then, I can’t help but feel like a total jerk. I mean, for one thing, that’s just a shitty attitude. What difference does it make how much she runs? What effect does it have on me? Why should I even care? And for another, guess how many miles ran in 2012? 651. My average was 12 miles per week. I didn’t log more than 100 miles in a single month. I’m not saying that if I’d run 1200 miles in the past year that I’d be justified in picking on this other runner, but there’s something especially lousy about questioning someone’s commitment to an activity when you yourself can’t even claim to be committed (at least not according to your own definition of the term).

Since I’ve got some sort of pathological attachment to challenges, plans, and self-improvement techniques, my first response to this memory was to tell myself that in 2013, I’d run 1,000 miles; that I’d be a more dedicated runner; that all I really needed was to be more committed and everything would be totally different. But then I managed to take a step back and realize that I don’t need any of that. What I need is to stop planning and coming up with ridiculous challenges that are designed to make me a Better Person and actually do things. Things like running, blogging about things I find interesting, no longer being such a jerk…you know, stop talking about what my life should be like and actually go out and have a life: be a runner, be a blogger, and enjoy things.

I’m not making any resolutions this year, but I do want to move forward on the right foot this time around.

 

 

 

Fruits of my Labor: Half-Marathon Training Bonanza

This weekend has been pretty busy. It snowed most of the day yesterday, and it’s been freezing. Definitely a departure from the mild winter we’d previously been having. Because of the temperatures, I ended up spending a lot of time inside working on putting together training plans for Team Challenge Brooklyn since I recently found out that I’ll be working as the Run Coach! Getting the plans coordinated has been a lot of work, but I’ve loved every minute of it. It feels so good to be doing something I enjoy so much, and to be doing it as a job is an added bonus. I am really excited about this opportunity, and I can’t wait for us to get the season started on February 18.

Team Challenge Brooklyn participants will have a choice of three different half-marathons: Virginia Wine Country, Kona, and Napa to Sonoma, all of which are going to be amazing races! We’ll have about 16 weeks from the beginning of the season until the Viginia Wine Country half–plenty of time to get ready to run. I made sure to put in options for runners of all levels, including those who might want to opt for a run/walk program instead of a training program consisting solely of running.

I also figured I’d make a variation of the Virginia Wine Country training plan available to anyone who wants it. It’s designed to be pretty flexible, and you can run 4 or 5 days a week depending on what’s best for you–if you prefer a 4-day-a-week schedule, I recommend using Sunday as either an additional rest day, or an opportunity for some cross-training.

Half-marathon Training Program

You can download the training plan here: Half Marathon Training (at least I think you can, if I’ve made the right assumptions about how technology works…which is not something I’d suggest taking for granted). If you do decide to try it out and you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Hopefully, this will be the first of many plans I post here.

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Sometimes You Feel Like a Loser

San Francisco Marathon

Image by luxomedia via Flickr

In late October, I applied to the San Francisco Marathon ambassador program. At the time I applied, I was excited about the possibility of getting accepted–I mean, how cool would it be to spread the word about a great race, encourage the people who were registering for it, and work as an advocate for running and health on a larger platform than this one?

I guess I didn’t realize just how much I had invested in the idea of becoming an ambassador, because when I found out today that I hadn’t been accepted for the program, I was devastated and completely broke down. I couldn’t stop crying for an hour, and although I’m not the type who cries rarely, crying uncontrollably for an hour (straight) is unusual for me. At this point–one episode of ‘Community’; some ice cream; and lots of comforting from family members, friends, and a fiancé later–I’ve regained control of my tear ducts, but I don’t feel much better about the situation. Or myself.

I haven’t felt like much of a runner lately, and I know there was a big part of me that was looking to the ambassador program as a form of validation, some kind of reassurance that I am still a runner, even though I might not always feel like it. But more than that, I was also looking to the program as validation of the fact that I can be an ambassador for this sport, and for health in general. If I could, I would work professionally in the field of health (or specifically running) blogging or writing, or coaching–something that would put me in a position to reach a large number and wide variety of people, and help them to develop a healthy lifestyle that works for them. This is something I’ve always been passionate about doing, but as time has gone on and my career path has moved in a different direction, I’ve started to realize that I might not necessarily ever get a chance to do something like that as a job. That realization has left me feeling like this blog, and the opportunities I can gain access to as a result of having it, may be the closest I’ll come to professional involvement in the field of health. Lately, I’ve worried that this might mean that I’ve failed in some way.

Not having been accepted, and the associated feelings of failure it evokes are, needless to say, difficult to deal with. And the worst part is that the feelings of failure are just the beginning of it–beyond those there are so many things that I start to question, and to feel bad about. It’s far too easy for me (and what’s probably my ED voice) to come up with reason upon reason to explain why I didn’t get accepted:

“You’re not as good a runner as the people who were accepted.”

“You’re not as thin.”

“You’re not as pretty as the other women.”

“Your blog isn’t as popular.”

You aren’t as popular.”

“They’re faster than you are.”

“They’ve run more marathons.”

“They’ll make the marathon look better.”

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

It never really ends once it gets going. And the hardest part is that I know some of it to be true. I know who some of the other ambassadors are, I know they’re prettier, thinner, faster, more accomplished as runners, and more popular as bloggers. They are better at being advocates and ambassadors than I am–they’ve already proven that to be true through the popularity of their blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and all those other things. And it’s not that I feel like I want to quit because I’m not as popular, it’s just that it’s hard to repeatedly miss out on opportunities and–because I don’t know the exact reasons why–repeatedly tell myself the same story: “It’s because you’re not good enough.”

Before I even knew about the San Francisco Marathon ambassador program, I applied to be an Athleta featured athlete (another program that I think would be amazing in terms of its reach and potential to communicate a positive message). Based on the way this program turned out though, and given my performance in a handful of other things I’ve tried to get involved in over the past year alone (the Run for the Rabbit campaign, being involved with the BeFitNYC campaign, applications to write for countless other healthy living blogs, for example), I can’t help but feel a bit embarrassed for having applied at all. Why did I create for myself another opportunity to face rejection?

Generally, I try to end posts on a positive note, and offer a hopeful message. Right now, though, I just don’t have it in me. I feel like a loser. I’ll keep running, because it’s something I love doing. I’ll keep running marathons, because I love doing that too. But as far as trying to create opportunities to reach a wider audience and share a positive, healthy message, maybe it’s time to accept that for whatever reason, and in spite of my best efforts, that’s just not where my path is leading me.

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Sunday Run-down: September 26- October 2

This horse is fitted with a horse collar to be...

October. Image via Wikipedia.

Okay, seriously, how is it possible that it’s October already?  Where did September go?!  I guess it doesn’t really matter–it’s gone, and it’s not coming back.

This past week I spent a lot of time thinking about the Marine Corps Marathon (I know, still!).  Everyone’s comments on my post about it seemed to make so much sense, and with every one I read, I’d think, “Yeah, she’s right, I should/shouldn’t do it!”  Either fortunately or unfortunately, though, today I was struck down by a case of emilie-stomach and I ended up having to forego any running as a result.  I wish I had some idea about where this nausea comes from, since I feel like that might help me to figure out what to do about it.  Needless to say, I was unable to run 18 miles.  I didn’t even feel up to the 10 miles I had on my calendar as an alternative to the 18-miler (and also as training for the Philadelphia half-marathon if I decided to drop the MCM).  So I guess the decision is made: I will not be running the Marine Corps Marathon this year, and that’s that.  At this point I just think it would be unreasonable and irresponsible of me to continue acting as though it were a possibility.  And I feel fine about this decision.  My only regret is that I didn’t make my mind up soon enough to transfer my bib to someone who really wants to do the race.

At any rate, before I ended up feeling miserable today, I had a pretty good week of running and thought I’d be on target to hit my mileage goal, in spite of having stomach problems on Friday afternoon.  Let’s have a look.

Monday: rest

Tuesday: 3 miles

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: 3 miles, 60 minutes yoga

Friday: sick

Saturday: 7.5 miles

Sunday: sick

For a while there, I wasn’t having too much gastrointestinal trouble, but it looks as though those issues are back.  Hopefully this week they’ll go on hiatus or something, and leave me alone so that I can get in some quality running time.  I can now pretty much commit myself to half-marathon training, which I’m excited about because I’ve designed my own training plan (which I’ll share some time this week).  Also, now that it’s October I’ve started my next 30-day challenge, and I’ll be telling you more about that soon as well.  With luck, this month will be a good one–cooler temperatures and less humidity always seem to make for better running, right?

Do you have any plans or goals for the week and/or month ahead?

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Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?

Marine Corps Marathon

Image via Wikipedia

This past Sunday I got all my long run gear together and headed out to Central Park in an attempt to conquer 18 miles.  I got through one, and then I gave up.  I was already drenched, nothing felt right, and mentally I think I’d given up before I even got to the top of my first hill.  The humidity was between 75 and 80%, and the temperature, while not super high, was probably in the low to mid 80s, maybe the high 70s.  It was miserable, and so was I.

By the time I got back home, I’d made up my mind: I would not be running the Marine Corps Marathon.  A week ago, I’d decided that I could actually do it, that I wouldn’t have to drop out of the race after all, and that even though I would do it slowly, I would still run those 26.2 miles.  At this point, I have no idea where I stand.

I originally registered for the MCM in 2010, but decided to defer my entry when I realized that running both the Marine Corps and the Philadelphia marathons was a bit ambitious.  I’ve wanted to run this course for a long time: I grew up right outside of Washington, D.C., and running through that area means a lot to me.  The idea of it makes me feel connected to my family, including my maternal grandparents, both of whom passed away in recent years.  At this point, I’d say the race is more sentimentally significant to me than it is an athletic goal or achievement.

Between now and the marathon, I could potentially do long runs of 18, 20, and 18 again before beginning my taper.  But none of that changes the fact that I’m probably pretty severely undertrained at this point.  I know people who’ve gone into marathons without doing more than a 13-mile long run, but do I want to be one of those people?  Could I be one of those people?  Just because they exist doesn’t mean that my body can do the same thing.

I keep wondering what it is that made my training go south (and why it’s gone south more than once in the past few years), and I think that while part of it has to do with approaching the whole thing in the wrong way, a big part of it has to do with how much I am still struggling to fuel myself well and treat my body with the respect it deserves.  Recognizing the role my eating disorder has played in the process of preparing for this and previous races makes me want to show it up by doing the marathon.  Deep down, though, I know that that’s not really the way the problem needs to be addressed, let alone solved.  At least I can take comfort in the fact that I have finally managed to identify how much of a negative effect my ED has on my running.

I guess what it boils down to is the fact that I have no idea what to do.  Do I let myself off the hook, lay the idea of running the marathon to rest, and start focusing on training for the Philadelphia half-marathon in November?  Or do I do what I can in the next few weeks, and show up at the starting line of the MCM fully understanding that I can always DNF if I have to, and that anything could happen?  I don’t expect to PR, and I don’t even know that I’d expect not to take walking breaks.  But I’d be putting myself at risk for injury, and possibly stressing myself out more than necessary.  Honestly, I’m stumped.

Have you ever faced a situation like this?  If you haven’t, what do you think you would do in this case?

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Let’s Pretend it’s Sunday

A calendar showing the leap year day.

Image via Wikipedia

Lately I’ve been feeling like time has been flying by, leaving me with little idea of where it went, and whether I was even involved in its passing. The weekend before last, I spent both Saturday and Sunday in a coaching certification run by the Road Runners Club of America, and this past weekend I was in a CPR/first aid training session for most of Saturday.  Things can get difficult when you don’t have much of a weekend twice in a row, let me tell you!  All this activity has been combined with a healthy dose of riding the old emotional roller coaster as I’ve been trying to determine whether or not I should still run the Marine Corps Marathon this year.  The week before last I had no idea; last week I had abandoned the idea entirely; and this week I’m feeling like it might be possible for me to just run it, and not race it.  It would be nice to have the experience, but it would also be pretty rough on my body.  My recent change of heart comes from the fact that I’ve been focusing on applying what I learned in the RRCA coaching class to my own running, the result of which has been one of the best weeks of running I’ve had in a while.

Shall we run it down?

Monday: rest

Tuesday: rest

Wednesday: 3 miles on my way to LUNA Chix bag watch

Thursday: 60 minutes yoga, 4 miles

Friday: rest

Saturday: 6 miles

Sunday: 16 miles

I don’t think anyone could be more surprised about that long run number than I am, especially since I’d basically given up on myself.  But those 16 miles yesterday felt really good.  I was running strong the entire time, today my body doesn’t feel nearly as beat up as it has after other long runs I’ve done, and I’m pretty sure I had a few more miles in me.  Maybe being my own little human guinea pig with my coaching is working.

How was your week in workouts?  Any major accomplishments? frustrations?  You know what to do.

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