Monday, August 14, 2017

A trying week

It's been a trying week. Not personally. (Personally? It's great. Baystate training is chugging along - I love summer training and fall racing. Training logs are always available over at Salty Running.) I mean, if you are in America and you are a woman or a person of colour, I am very very sorry and I feel your emotional exhaustion and disgruntlement and terror and distrust of the environment you live in, as though what you thought was stable (we've advanced rational thinking about gender since the 1950s, the civil rights movement won in the 1960s) was shifting like quicksand beneath your feet.

Anyway, it's Sunday night and time to reset, and here I am drinking coffee and eating ginger molasses cookies from Flour bakery and peaches and cucumbers and that Trader Joe's cheddar cheese with little dark flecks that are supposedly fragments of truffle and thinking about eating and why the h-e-double-hockey-sticks it has to be so complicated.

Go read this fantastic Guardian piece
'How we fell for clean eating'. If you haven't read it yet, go and read it! in its entirety!
The whole tragic piece has so much truth in it, from how people lost their trust in the food system:
"In prosperous countries, large numbers of people – whether they wanted to lose weight or not – became understandably scared of the modern food supply and what it was doing to our bodies: type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, not to mention a host of other complaints that are influenced by diet, ranging from Alzheimer’s to gout. When mainstream diets start to sicken people, it is unsurprising that many of us should seek other ways of eating to keep ourselves safe from harm. Our collective anxiety around diet was exacerbated by a general impression that mainstream scientific advice on diet – inflated by newspaper headlines – could not be trusted. First these so-called experts tell us to avoid fat, then sugar, and all the while people get less and less healthy. What will these “experts” say next, and why should we believe them? "
To the losing battle of trying to separate the truth from the snake oil:
"The true calamity of clean eating is not that it is entirely false. It is that it contains “a kernel of truth”, as Giles Yeo puts it. “When you strip down all the pseudo babble, they are absolutely right to say that we should eat more vegetables, less refined sugar and less meat,” Yeo said, sipping a black coffee in his office at the Institute of Metabolic Science in Cambridge, where he spends his days researching the causes of obesity. Yeo agrees with the clean eaters that our environment of cheap, plentiful, sugary, fatty food is a recipe for widespread obesity and ill health. The problem is it’s near impossible to pick out the sensible bits of “clean eating” and ignore the rest. #Eatclean made healthy eating seem like something “expensive, exclusive and difficult to achieve”, as Anthony Warner writes. Whether the term “clean” is used or not, there is a new puritanism about food that has taken root very widely. ..
The real question is how to fight this kind of diet absolutism without bouncing back to a mindless celebration of the modern food environment that is demonstrably making so many people sick..."
And to the systemic inequalities that enable the affluent to indulge in the luxury of 'clean eating' and other nonsense, while leaving everyone else with no other choice:
"Our food system is in desperate need of reform. There’s a danger that, in fighting the nonsense of clean eating, we end up looking like apologists for a commercial food supply that is failing in its basic task of nourishing us. Former orthorexia sufferer Edward L Yuen has argued – in his 2014 book, Beating Orthorexia – that the old advice of “everything in moderation” no longer works in a food environment where eating in the “middle ground” may still leave you with chronic diseases. When portions are supersized and Snickers bars are sold by the metre (something I saw in my local Tesco recently), eating “normally” is not necessarily a balanced option. The answer isn’t yet another perfect diet, but a shift in our idea of what constitutes normal food...
Among the affluent classes who already ate a healthier-than-average diet, the Instagram goddesses created a new model of dietary perfection to aim for. For the rest of the population, however, it simply placed the ideal of healthy food ever further out of reach. Behind the shiny covers of the clean-eating books, there is a harsh form of economic exclusion that says that someone who can’t afford wheatgrass or spirulina can never be truly “well”. "
I'd add one more caveat: even balanced, 'normal' healthy eating is a luxury. It's easier to be balanced about food, with no hang-ups, when society deems your body to be a desirable shape and size, *and* when you have full access to a wide variety of foods. And when you have the ability and time and freedom to move and exercise. Now 'eat food, not too much, mostly plants' begins to look a whole lot more complicated, doesn't it?

Ugh, so what's a sensible individual to do? Is there no way to push back against the tide of fad diets (which by the way, have probably existed as long as there is food, and have always been a luxury for the affluent) and absurd eating 'rules' and a broken food system? Is there no way to fix it?


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Baystate week 4 on the books

Week 4 of 18. Motto for this week: just keep showing up.

The first month of marathon training is always exciting. It’s a thrill, like starting the first page in a new notebook, or perhaps getting your calendar organised for a new year. (Fine, I was a huuuuge nerd.) But then five different teachers announce their first quizzes of the school year, give you 250 pages of reading, and assign two papers all at once, and the semester begins to lose its shine. Well, I can tell you that the end of week 4 in an 18-week training cycle is when you realise, oh, I have to settle in for the long haul. Sort of like mile 6-7 of a marathon. Man, it’s a good thing I actually like to run...

Monday – speedwork on treadmill. Warmup, cooldown, 8x 5min @ 8:00 mile pace with 2min walking/ jogging recovery; total 6.5 miles. This was a pretty satisfying speed workout: a little more mental toughness in the bank.

+ lots of sitting on the porcupine ball

Tuesday – 5 miles easy

Wednesday – 4.5 miles easy with stroller. I was supposed to do 6 tempo today but I got to Wednesday and decided my legs needed an extra day to recover, so what do I do on Thursday but…

Thursday – 10min cycling warmup + lifting. A sure sign that I haven’t been keeping up with my #extrasalt – I was sore for two days after repeatedly lifting weights only a bit heavier than my son. (How does that even work? I lift him all the time.) Gym session was followed by 40 minutes of tempo-effort pool running. I figured I’d try this since I was going to the gym anyway and didn’t really want to do my tempo in a thunderstorm…

…and then my Timex expired. Pool running was the last straw. RIP; those were some good times!

Friday – AM 2.5 easy with stroller, PM 2.5 back and forth to lunch. I felt like I was waddling; my legs were still sore.

Saturday – 13 miles with miles 10-12 speeded up (9:20, 9:40, 9:58) and then back to ambling mile 13.
Marathon training before kids: do long run, shower, have a lazy brunch, take a nap, read/ engage in hobbies all afternoon
Marathon training after kids: do long run, shower, hastily tidy the house before husband and son get back from the supermarket + playground run, read to kid, finally acquiesce to request for [screen time/ slightly junky snack/ extraordinarily messy art project], put him down for a nap, go to lake with friends after he wakes up, splash around trying to stop small children from hurling selves bodily into water, etc.

Sunday – rest (zoo with friends, epic nap, pool time, go out for sushi and fried rice dinner - basically a perfect Sunday)

Currently reading: The World According to Star Wars, by Cass Sunstein.

Currently eating: Chocolate ice cream with a…ahem, generous sprinkling of chocolate chips.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Baystate Marathon training, week 3

Week 3 of 18 for Baystate.

Motto for this week: consistency, consistency, consistency.

I went back and looked at my old training logs for the last two marathons I did (Perth, in August 2013, and Gold Coast, in July 2014). I was nominally using the Hansons beginner plan, but not really adhering properly to it, and my peak mileage was maybe 45 miles due to work and...seriously, a 2.5-week trip to Italy in the middle of one cycle. Seriously. What was I thinking?

But now I've been running consistently (like 20-30 miles a week), trained for three half marathons in the last year (May 2016, October 2016, May 2017), and actually run 5 half marathons (May 16, Oct 16, Nov 16, March 17, May 17, some as training runs for the others)...so maybe this round I'll be somewhat more prepared for a full marathon? Something like that?

Monday - AM: 4 miles easy with stroller. PM: track with the group. 2 mi warmup, 3(1200,400). Total for the day: 9 miles

Tuesday - 3.2 miles easy with stroller. We went to a northern Massachusetts farm in the morning for some end-of-season strawberries, and had to drive 45 minutes back. Uh-oh! Any time the kiddo has a car ride after 10am, he takes a mini nap that ruins his real one. Inevitably, he took a 30-minute car nap. 1pm rolled around, and still no real nap. 2pm...no nap. So in the heat of the day, I loaded up the stroller, slathered us with sunscreen, and took the kiddo for a run...all the way to the ice cream shop. Happy Fourth of July!
one for the bucket..one for the mouth. one for the bucket...

Wednesday - Warmup, cooldown, 5 miles tempo: 8:58, 9:12, 8:48, 9:22, 9:14. Tempo runs are HARD, y'all. Total 6 miles

Thursday - Ran with a friend who was visiting from out of town! (Thank goodness for flexible hours so I can do things like this; I tend to make it all up at night, which suits me fine.)
Original plan: run downtown to meet her, run 3 miles, run home. Got stuck doing work. Made up new plan: take the T downtown to meet her, run a bit, run home. Then I was stuck on the world's slowest bus and there were delays on the T (oh, Boston). Ran downtown to meet her, ran 3 more miles, took the T back and ran to daycare pickup for a total of 6 miles.

Friday - rest

Saturday - long run, 12 miles.

sunrise over the reservoir 

Sunday - unplanned rest day, because I honestly needed that extra hour of sleep more than I needed a few easy miles today; we went to the beach in the morning and then to a toddler birthday party in the afternoon.

Total: 36.2 miles, which is a nice gentle ramp-up for me instead of trying to jump straight into 40+ miles a week.
Yes, the 0.2 mile does not drive me crazy. I'm a Type A in life and a Type B in running.

Currently reading: Commencement, about the friendship between four young women during and after college. The characters sometimes tell, not show, rather clumsily, but it's not terrible. Unfortunately I saw the 'reveal' coming from a mile away, but it was a sufficiently entertaining summer read; I especially enjoyed how spot-on the portraits were, and how exactly the book captured the sense of dislocation that college freshmen experience.

Currently listening to: Cape Francis, 'Iditarod'

Currently eating: Homemade strawberry shortcake, using that Fourth of July haul

Friday, July 7, 2017

Marathon Training for the Completely Average Runner: Weeks 1-2 of 18

Believe it or not, I am still chugging along running. I read this Quartz article recently about the importance of having 'serious' or otherwise meaningful leisure pursuits - ones where you have to practice and regularly refine your skills.
"...the weekend goal should be “eudaimonic” happiness, which is a sense of well-being that arises from meaningful, challenging activities that cause you to grow as a person. This means spending the weekend on serious leisure activities that require the regular refinement of skills: your barbershop-quartet singing, your stamp collecting, or slightly less dorky, but still equally in-depth, projects. You pursue serious leisure with the earnest tenor of a professional, even if the pursuit is amateur..."
Sounds a lot like hobby jogging to me!

Other components of a Really Good Weekend might include socialising (which may or may not revolve around said hobby - see 'church of the Sunday long run'), altruism (like volunteer work), and play. Especially play. Sometimes the early evening seems to drag as we kill time while waiting for D-money to go to bed, but sometimes there are moments of magic as we entertain him and lose ourselves in singing silly songs, having dinosaur-train face-offs, or making him laugh by sketching badly drawn animals on the Magna Doodle.

Toddler icecreamface. He wouldn't take a nap, so we went for a run so he could get a little rest...all the way to the ice cream shop.  

What all this leads up to is that I'm currently training for the Baystate Marathon on October 22. I ran the half last year and liked it; it's a two-loop course that I know; it usually has good (cold!) weather; and it's part of the USATF New England Grand Prix series so I'll have plenty of company, even if pretty much everyone else running with a club team is miles ahead of me.

Process goals for this round: 

- Commit to doing something, anything, every day, that isn't running, to support my running. Sometimes that's a bunch of squats and MYRTLs. Sometimes (often) it's stretching and rolling. Sometimes it's getting a massage...

- Stick to my training plan. I’ve been, in the past, resistant to either a structured training plan or to working with a coach beyond a running-group situation. What, little old me? I’m not remotely fast enough to deserve personal coaching. There’s so much low-hanging fruit – if I ran more, slept more, or ate better, I’d be faster.

Truth is, as a working parent, I need a PLAN to run more, or to really capture any of that low-hanging fruit at all. I don’t want to have to think about how far or how fast I have to run on any given day. I want to look at the plan and just go. I have enough to think about already: from weekend social plans and longer-term work travel/ vacation planning, to whether daycare needs an extra shirt or sun hat, to meals and grocery shopping for the week, to the status of client projects at any given time. (Who says parents make bad employees? We’re masters of logistics and problem-solving. And we get sh*t done.) I don’t want to be out there second-guessing myself or thinking ‘Maybe I don’t have time for 7 miles today, how about 5?’ and then short-changing myself and stressing out about making it up on the weekend.

So, I’m outsourcing my marathon thinking to one of my running-group coaches; she’s given me a fairly detailed and sensible-looking plan, with instructions to switch things around as needed (but not run hard two days in a row, duh), and some apparently very ambitious paces. (Yes, I already told her I have no marathon time goals!) What’s the worst that could come of it? If I manage to stick to the plan and go into the race feeling more prepared, so much the better.

Training logs, week 1 and 2 

Week ending June 25 - week 1 of 18 and probably the toughest week of the 18! Motto this week: survival mode. 

This was just hard all round. I was solo parenting this week, and had to squeeze in all my workouts (speed, tempo, long run) during daycare hours. Easy runs could be done with or without the stroller, whichever. I had calls for work most mornings so running right after daycare drop-off was out of the question; I wound up doing a few mid-afternoon runs and a few hiding in the gym on the treadmill, which is a last resort for me but at least it's convenient and efficient.

so tired. moar coffee pls

Monday - warmup, cooldown, 8x800 at 7:55-8:20/mi pace. Coach didn't specify a rest or recovery interval, so I improvised: 2 minutes of walking in between reps. (She later suggested equal rest or recovery. I do not plan that well and therefore never have time for that.) Done at 2pm on treadmill. Total 6 miles.

Tuesday - easy 5 miles

Wednesday - warmup, cooldown, 3 tempo miles at 8:30-8:50 (ran by effort - it was hot at 3.30pm). Total 4 miles.

Thursday - rest!!!!

Friday - Long run. Had to split this: 4 in the AM, 6 in PM. Again, hot (30C/ 86F) and humid - I went by pure effort. By Thursday morning I'd run 15 miles and slept roughly the same number of hours, so on Friday morning I woke up almost too exhausted to move. I did a quick stock-take: Tired? Yes. Injured or about to be? No. After daycare drop-off I hauled myself out for 4 miles and actually felt much better by the end. The afternoon 6 miles that had to be accomplished before pickup at 4, though...

Saturday - strength workout and impromptu easy 4.5 miles to and from the splash pad.

summertime view

Sunday - easy 4, in small pieces, with friends. My Strava is veritably littered with weird short runs. 1.8 miles to the subway station. 2.5 miles back and forth on a bike trail with a friend. And so on, and so forth. Also, stroller runners have the weirdest-looking Strava accounts: a mile here, two miles there, 1.5 miles in 30 minutes because you stopped to chase some ducks in the park and left your watch running...

Week ending July 2 - week 2 of 18

Monday - off

Tuesday - Track. Warmup, 2x400, 2x800, 2x1600, 2x800, 2x400. Let's be honest, I only did this because it was on my training plan. This is not the sort of workout one prescribes oneself. At least if one is not a masochist. 1:56, 1:53, 3:49, 3:48, 8:11, 8:24 (here you begin to see me getting grumpy and giving up), 4:07, 4:10 (pause here, as the sky became very dark and lightning crackled suddenly in a way that suggested I should not be out on a great big open space...like a track), 1:56 (mad dash home), 2:06 (final 400 completed on treadmill next to a very surprised woman on the elliptical).

and legs up! 

Wednesday - 5.5 miles easy

Thursday - warmup, cooldown, 5 miles tempo running by effort and really struggling with paces. 9:03, 9:28, 9:06, 9:55 (traffic light), 9:21.

Friday - 5 miles easy

Saturday - 11 miles that went by faster because I went haring off exploring a new route. Up hills, down hills, into a new and much greener (with much larger backyards!) part of the city that I hadn't known existed, along a river, a slightly hairy highway crossing, around America's first 'rural' cemetery (Mt Auburn), and home. This run featured Singapore levels of humidity, where you break a sweat before leaving the house. I still can't fathom people who run, voluntarily, at midday or late afternoon in the summer.
 
Sunday - 2.8 miles total, stroller, in 3 parts, kind of like a symphony (you know, four movements) that was missing a fast bit, because my legs were once again dead.


Currently reading: Robert MacFarlane, Landmarks. MacFarlane is hailed as an up-and-coming member of the new generation of nature writers (and what have I done with my life?), and this book rambles gloriously across the UK collecting stories and words like ammil (the icy casings of leaves and grass in the morning glowing in a mist of sun) and rafty (of weather: misty, damply cold). This book makes me want to start my own word-hoard.

Currently listening to: the podcast 99% Invisible. On the Modern Necropolis episode I learned why people began to move cemeteries out of the city (churchyards, hillsides, etc) into their own separate spaces. In Boston, a city so old it predates the original Brexit by nearly a century and a half, you can still see historic burial grounds right downtown, next to the local churches and chapels. Later, epidemics of disease and a general sense that being so close to the dead was unsanitary forced burial grounds out of the city and into more rural areas.

Currently eating: Vegetables. All summer I crave vegetables. I don't usually like raw vegetables. And I don't often like raw vegetables anyway, so sometimes I stir-fry baby greens with some garlic (and a dash of oyster sauce, or sprinkled with feta and balsamic, or whatever - it's versatile). But right now? Mini Persian cucumbers with a little ranch dressing on the side. Radishes with mascarpone and honey. Mmm. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Running, lately

Oh holy moly, where did May go? Why is it June? Why is it 15 degrees C and rainy? Where is summer?

I can't answer any of these questions, but here are some recent running and life updates:

A weekend in Providence 

On May 7 I did the Providence half marathon. The week of the race, as Murphy's law would have it, I contracted the daycare grot from the D-monster. I considered the weather, the head cold, and the elevation profile, and downgraded my expectations.

My usual half marathon strategy is: 5 miles easy to moderate effort, 5 miles moderate to hard, 3.1 miles 'run like you're being chased by a velociraptor' - I made it the first 10 and then would have been eaten. Nutrition and water were ok. Just a cold that lasted too long, plus one too many hills.

In the end, I finished in 1:56:22, although I'd trained for a more aggressive stretch target. That is the second fastest half marathon I've ever run in my life - the fastest was one second faster. Gah!


There were no velociraptors. (This is a plus. We will not be doing the Jurassic World Half Marathon anytime soon, thank you.) There were donut holes at the finish, and frozen yogurt bars, and pizza, and bananas, and clementines — the usual array of delectables. The (by then no longer snotty, as life is not fair!) toddler ran the quarter-mile kids race with his dad, and then ran it again because the big kids were doing it. A grand time was had by all, especially the kiddo, who stole all my donuts and clementines.

Other stuff to do in Providence: eat at a restaurant featuring a ceiling-mounted working toy train, which for a quarter a pop will mesmerise your toddler long enough for you to scarf your spaghetti. Go to the Providence Children's Museum. Have your zoo plans derailed by an epic family nap.


basically any time you let a small child ride or drive a large vehicle it is the BEST DAY OF THEIR LIFE


I Ran A 5K On No Training* And The Results Were Surprising! 

On June 4 I ran the Cambridge Freedom Run 5K. We did it as a family outing, strollers and all, with some of the kiddo's little swim class buddies. (OK, when the class first started in winter, the munchkins were all running around together and I pounced on...I mean, started chatting with potential new mom friends, because I am completely shameless like that.) Dads pushed strollers and we moms lined up ahead. Zero stakes, zero expectations, zero strategy or plan, surprise PR (24:23)! How did that happen? I tried to keep up / chat with one of the girls for the first mile. And then she TOOK OFF. I was like, please go ahead, I haven't done any real speed workouts in months. Ouch.


* Yes, I have been running. Like 25 miles/ week. I just haven't trained specifically for a short fast race. Just trolling!

Also, yes, I am clutching my phone in the photo above, because I didn't want to short it out by sticking it down my shirt.

Maybe the theme for this year is low-stakes, low-expectations? I've already tossed out my marathon time goals. I have none. I have other goals for the marathon, like being good about the 'extra salt' and doing my strength work and stretching and getting to the start line injury-free - all with an eye to not cramping. I think my big fat hairy audacious goal here, the true emotional core of all this, is to run for joy

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Well that snuck right up!

The Providence half marathon is this weekend! Eeek. 

I'd rate this training cycle about a 7 out of 10:

  • Nailed my long run most weeks. 
  • Made it to track most weeks. 
  • Hit 30 mpw most weeks (I realise this is Not A Lot and Who Do I Think I Am expecting to do well on This Little Running, but...meh. It is what I can, when I can.) 
  • Had a fling with a foam roller and the elliptical due to ITB issues, the very week I was supposed to do a 15-mile long run. 
  • Currently fighting off a slight above-the-neck cold. Children are tiny disease vectors. These viruses must surely evolve as they leap from host to host, because D-money is still peppy and *I* get the great clots of green snot. Gross.

I don't want to make pre-emptive excuses though. New Bedford indicated that I was in pretty good shape, so I'm just going to get out there on Sunday and see what I can do. I'll be happy to run a good hard effort and keep to my usual race plan (5 miles easy to medium, 5 medium to hard at or around goal pace, 3.1 RUN LIKE A VELOCIRAPTOR IS CHASING YOU). Bonus points for negative splits.

(Wouldn't it be fun to get points for hitting process goals - stick to race plan, negative split, walk through the water stops, doing your MYRTLs - that one can then turn into shoe discounts, extra coaching months and Strava premium subscriptions? How is this not a thing?)

Also coming up in a couple of weeks: two years of being a mom. Happy almost-birthday to you, kiddo. Two years on, I am still doing all the heavy lifting - funny how that works!

Someone has inherited my penchant for rewriting lyrics. I almost inhaled my coffee this morning on hearing this recited:

"Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man
Bake me a cake...fast as you can.
Roll it and prick it...and put it in the oven...
...Take it out...and eat it!...Yum yum yum."


In which tiny science dude figures out which objects float and which ones sink.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Race report: New Bedford Half Marathon 2017


New Bedford Half Marathon
Details: 
Race website 
Signup: $60 early bird, $70 through January, $75 late without USATF discount code 
Finishers: about 2,300
Start time: 11am (!)
Day-of bib pickup: yes 
Food: clam chowder and fish sandwiches (hello, New England seaside town!) 
Parking: street, ample 
Swag: bling, long-sleeved tech shirt (as usual I fell victim to the 'size S' trap: is it unisex? is it women's? I took a gamble. It was unisex. Now it's a nightshirt.) 
                                                                                                                                                                  Short version:
It was windy, I mean WINDY. I came in eight seconds behind my PR in some pretty ugly conditions. 

Net Time: 1:56:29    
Pace: 8:54   

Long version: 

When we left off, I was trying to decide whether to run New Bedford with my running group. This race was part of the USATF NE Grand Prix series, and apparently is part of the Grand Prix almost every year? A week and a half before the race, there were two other women running, so I figured I'd do it to make up the numbers for a women's team. Fortunately we ended up with five women running (four of whom are faster than I am!) and came in 17th out of 34 teams! 

I carpooled with teammates to the race, leaving Mr GCA and D-money at home on their usual Sunday swim lesson-playtime-lunch-and-nap schedule. The weather was close to freezing, overcast and windy. I decided on full tights and a long-sleeved shirt under my t-shirt and was pretty glad of it, despite being a card-carrying member of Overheaters Anonymous. 

Bib pickup and bag drop were at the local YMCA, and we even got to use the locker rooms - a big plus! We huddled in there till ten minutes before race start, then I inserted myself at the front of the 9:00-mile-pace corral. (Do you seed yourself by starting pace, or by the overall pace you're aiming for? I know mine aren't really too different, so I don't care and it all evens out eventually. Plus if I get a little stuck behind other runners, hey, it keeps me from going out too fast.) 

Miles 1-9 were a normal sort of blustery, and I managed to hold the paces I’d hit in training. Hills for the first three miles, nothing massive. I spotted a great ('great'?) sign at mile 6: "YOU'RE ALMOST THERE #altfacts"... to which I shouted, "Worst protest sign ever!" 
 
Definitely pre-gale, probably around mile 7, still going strong. 

Then we hit the Mile 9 marker and rounded a corner onto the oceanfront…where gale-force winds awaited.

For the next two miles I felt like I was running in place. Or perhaps backwards. Then backwards, while trying to scale a hill. You get the…er…drift.  I glanced at my watch. 10:00 miles. At mile 12 I thought to myself, “YOU’VE COME TOO FAR TO WALK NOW”. 

My teammate E was doing this half as part of a training run for a spring marathon. I thought I'd passed her and lost her at mile 6. At mile 12, as I was slogging up the last hill, I heard her voice over my right shoulder, chipper as ever. "Hey, how's it going?" And she zipped past me and trotted off! The last quarter mile, mercifully, was all downhill. I finished eight seconds away from my half PR, totally spent, and straggled off to the pub where my teammates were waiting with food and beer.

I honestly had no expectations for this half except ‘do my best’, and that’s what it turned out to be. My gut feeling was right about being able to match my previous PR, and in fact until mile 9 I was on track to finish in the low 1:50s, so things are looking pretty good for the Providence Half in May. In a sense it was totally refreshing to have signed up so late – I basically had no time to be anxious about racing, and it was really just a fun Sunday out with the CR team. I'm so impressed with all the spectators and volunteers who turned out in that weather to make their lovely hometown half what it is! 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

fitting what in?

Hello both readers of this blog,

This is some kind of a record. Two months without a single post?

My regular training log is over at Salty Running, but I'm thinking about racing the New Bedford half on March 19 (yes, kind of an impulse half) as part of the Community Running team for the USATF-NE club competition. We're struggling to field a women's open team - I said I'd race iff (if and only if) we could field one, otherwise it's 5 hours of travel + race time for...for what?

So I'm one of the only women with children under school age who makes it to track group regularly, and I'm beginning to understand why. (The men with children under school age don't seem to have this problem...hmm.) The question is what's worth it? What is it worth to me?

Hauling myself an hour or two out to a race, waiting around at the start line, noodling around the finish - it all takes up so much time. I'm just an ordinary woman with an ordinary life. If I were a professional athlete, sure. That'd be my job. If I were gunning to qualify for the Olympic Trials. Or run a sub-3 marathon. Or qualify for Boston, or whatever. If some external prize like that were motivating me, maybe it'd provide the little extra impetus to keep going, to keep training and racing. But no - all my motivation has to come from within right now, and I'm just an ordinary runner struggling to fit it all in to an ordinary life, and my well of motivation is just sapped.

If you have family or other commitments and continue to race - or if you stopped - talk to me. Why? 

Update: we scraped together a women's team (...3 people...) and I'm in for New Bedford!