Sunday, Monday. It’s been too long, and I’m feeling both our four miles yesterday, and today’s lunch hour yoga. No matter how many times I relearn the lesson – that making time for working out matters for quality of daily life – things still get away from me from time to time.
During my Summer 2012 running hiatus, one thing became very clear: I need a race on the calendar in order to make running a priority. I maintained just enough fitness after the marathon to run Bay to Breakers in May. In June, July and August, I “rested.” By September, with my birthday approaching, I knew I needed to get back into a workout routine. I rejoined a gym, started doing more yoga and HIIT, tried swimming laps and only swallowed half the pool.
I also needed to revamp my eating habits. Jack came to the rescue. (A little in-household support makes all the difference!) As people who are fairly active normally, we had slipped into habits of eating more than we needed to, most of the time; combined with our love of craft beer and cocktails, the end result was both of us steadily gaining just a bit of weight.
And so it was that in September, Jack agreed to run half marathon with me – his first, my second (officially) – and we began training as well as tracking our food intake. Admittedly, calorie counting is a pain, and not for everyone, and is especially difficult when going it alone, but friends: we were eating way. too. much. Even as a couple that cooks a lot, avoids processed food and eats, on the whole, healthily, tracking our calories made it clear very quickly that we had been vastly over-estimating serving sizes. The moral of the story here is that the practice has been a useful one for us.
So. Here we are. We conquered a half in November, jingle-bell-ran in December, both PR’ed in February at the Super Sunday 5-Miler. I finally sold my snowboard and bought skis, and we’ve managed more on-mountain time this season than we have in years. Weights have come down, and we’re spending more time focusing on cooking new, healthier meals. I’ve always been a throw-it-all-in-a-pan-and-add-curry kind of cook – I wing it – and I’ve been making a concerted effort to find and follow recipes instead. There have been some winners, some flops and some I Should Have Followed My Gut, Not The Recipe-s. Hopefully, as the selection of winners continues to grow, I’ll share some here.
And so, KateRuns continues – expect less fundraising, more cooking, more active-living and many more sneaker pictures to come!
The marathon came and went, and with it took my regular posting. I didn’t run much at all last summer – little interest, less time – and as a result I never completed my series of Grattitude posts, even though I fully intended to. Jack and I ramped up training through the fall, but I held off posting here, focusing instead on Hollaback! Boston and Union Jack Creative.
To be honest, part of the trouble also lay in the fact that the gratitude bands didn’t work out quite as I had envisioned. It was hot, very hot, and there was a lot of water and a lot of salt and a lot of sweat to contend with. The bands got soaked, got sticky, bled on my arms (Sharpie, you failed me!) and were nearly impossible to get off as each mile passed. I took a pile off around Mile 10, and left the remainder where they were until the finish.
That’s not to say that the project was a failure. Even after months of alternately putting off and then agonizing over my remaining Grattitude posts, I feel like the exercise was a success: in adverse conditions in a grueling race, I stayed positive, happy to be there and grounded with regard to the necessary precautions to be taken for the heat. At each mile, I tried to check in – though I couldn’t rely on my bands to remind me what to be grateful for in turn, I had a long list from which to choose, and I returned to that mindset every time I felt myself tiring and moving into a negative headspace. Really, a little positivity goes a long way in a marathon.
The forecast called for a high of 88 degrees, but temps on the course on Marathon Monday exceeded that by (depending which report you prefer) one to six degrees. The BAA made the very unexpected decision to allow any runners opting not to start to defer their entry to 2013. Inexperienced marathoners were encouraged, bluntly, not to toe the line.
I should explain – the trouble with such heat during a marathon is not necessarily the heat itself. After all, all across the country and the world, runners conquer marathons and ultramarathons in 90+ degrees regularly. Rather, the alarm raised stemmed from a lack of preparedness – it takes time for a winterized runner’s body to adjust to performing in the heat. For most hot weather marathoners, the majority of training has taken place over the summer; in the case of the unseasonable climes on April 16 very few of us, after training primarily in 25-45 degrees, could be physiologically prepared for the mid-80′s.
Amid the hubbub and horror as the forecast continued to rise, I did briefly consider the BAA’s deferral offer. In my case, not wanting to commit to a third straight winter of running rather than skiing (not that I missed out on much this year, hmph), I decided that I might as well start and see how things progressed. I do, after all, have experience dropping out of marathons; having finished Boston last year, I had less to prove to myself than a first time marathoner. It was with the option of dropping out a distinct possibility in my mind that I geared up and headed to Hopkinton.
The 20-Miler is not only the pinnacle of a marathon training program, but also a dry run for race day. The aim is to work out the kinks – what not to eat, how much coffee you can handle before a bus ride to Hopkinton, what small, neglected patch of skin really, really needs sunscreen (pro tip: your part, if you braid your hair for race days like I do).
If surviving Saturday’s 10-hour, 21-mile debacle is any indication, Marathon Monday is going to go off without a hitch.
Last night after work I headed out to the Greenway for a 5k in the sunshine. My legs still felt heavy from Sunday’s (less than stellar) 14, my calves still knotted and tight. But spring has sprung! It’s official, though the official marker has never before felt particularly well-suited to the typical New England winter timeline.
I’ve already resigned myself to the expectation that this year’s marathon is going to be substantially more difficult. Physically, I’m coming back from an injury, and I’ve been unable to stay healthy for more than a few weeks at a time all season. Mentally, though I’ve covered this distance before, I’m feeling intimidated and less-prepared than last year; I’m nervous about our early spring, and what it means for race day temperatures; I’m nervous about my inconsistent long runs; I’m nervous about the fact that the last time I covered this distance was, after all, last April.
My alarm went off at 5:30 and the house was shaking from the wind outside. I really, really didn’t want to get out of bed to run 18 miles – and yet, I was wide awake, without hitting snooze even once. So, why not?
Last Saturday, I had done everything “right,” but my 18 miles were (I’m willing to say, in light of today’s superior run) fairly miserable. This week should have been worse still, but I felt – and still feel – fantastic.
This has been a week of truly lovely (if confounding) weather. Even this morning’s snow was friendly, large flakes melting on impact.
On Wednesday night, Jack and I headed out for 4.5 mild miles; Thursday over lunch, I snuck in 2.5 just because I couldn’t bear not getting out into that sunshine.
When my phone rang yesterday as Jack and I drove to Connecticut for a visit, it was my mother.
“I was just sending you motherly ESP,” she said. “You haven’t posted on KateRuns all week. I wanted to make sure everything’s okay.”
Truly, everything is okay. This most recent week saw two migraines, a less-than-terrific 18 Miler and some ankle pain, plus a bunch of UJC work, events, event planning and general mayhem. I realize all of this is not terribly interesting, and I also realize that I needed to step away from the blog and focus on a) sleeping and b) getting some things done.
And so, I did. Funds aren’t going to raise themselves, after all.
Lies, I say.
It flurried. It misted. It was generally overcast, unseasonably balmy and oddly muggy – but there was no snow to speak of.