November 2009


I just talked to my brother this morning and found out he’s taking a later train so I’ve got a few minutes to write up a quick post.  Just to let you all  know, I’m not dead. 🙂 This is the second weekend in a row that I’m not home. Well, 3 actually.

After my last post, Bill and I went to Cape Cod for a few days. It was to celebrate my birthday, take a few days for ourselves, and to allow him to recharge before he started a new job the week of Veteran’s Day.  So far, so good on that front.

Last weekend, I went to NY for a meeting at  Columbia University. I went a few days early and stayed with my brother in Brooklyn.  We ran together from his neighborhood for about 5 miles on Sunday and then he did another 15 on his own. He used my Garmin for the part he ran alone and now he wants one for himself. I lent it to him for this past week so he could get used to it, and I think he’s planning on using it in the race tomorrow, where I think he’ll find his mile splits will be more consistent, since he won’t have to wait at traffic lights all along the way.   Originally, he was planning on running the Philadelphia Marathon to try qualifying for Boston (it’d be his third Boston if he does) but because of all the crap he’s been dealing with in life lately, he’s not been able to run as much as he’d like (which explains why last Sunday’s run for him was 20 miles.)  He said he really didn’t have much to taper from, so he wasn’t going to.  Now, his goals are to qualify (first goal) with something like 3:20 and 3:30 being his 2nd and third goals.  Regardless of his end time, I’m just proud of him for gutting through everything and doing this tomorrow.   I have told him, if running makes him happy, then that’s what he needs to and has to do.  He has to worry about himself first in this life.

So, yesterday I drove down to Allentown, PA.  My grandmother is buried about 15-20 minutes from here, and as soon as this post is written, I’m going to check out of the hotel and go see her and pay my respects.  Last time I was down here, I asked her for a little help for my brother and she came through with flying colors, as he ran a 2:55.  It’s no surprise to me that she’s still helping us out and providing such positive energy even though she’s no longer of this earth.  I’ve been running these last few weeks I’ve not posted.  On one morning in particular, I was feeling quite tired, and felt I needed a little extra help.  I said a mental prayer asking for her to give me a hand, and I am not exaggerating to say that I did feel a slight pressure against the middle of my lower back. It was just enough to keep propelling me forward.  I’m one of those people who believes that souls sometimes travel together from one life to the next, and that my grandmother’s is still around, even if it’s only in my mind.

I’ve also been trying to find more balance in my life.  I’ve done a lot of reading, and recently, have been writing more.  For the last few recent months, work seemed to consume me. If it wasn’t the day job, it was the freelance work, and I was beginning to become resentful. I was also trying to find time to run.  Not doing well with all of them.  I recently read a book called 29 Gifts, and realized I was doing everything from a place of scarcity.  I’ve since written down my fears, about writing, about my life in general. And what a relief it was.  They always say that things appear to have less power when you write them down, and I’ve always said “oh yeah, I mean to do that,” but then never followed through.  Well, now, I’m running (somewhat, just not sticking to a rigid schedule), writing, at lunch or in the evening if I can, and reading a lot. It’s the stuff I enjoy.  

My only problem is that when my creativity seems to be flowing, mental-wise, where writing is concerned, it’s usually in the evening when I need to get to bed if I’m going to get up early in the morning and run.  Anybody got any suggestions as to how I can survive on a regular 6 hours of sleep? Because that’s what it’d mean – going to bed around 10ish and getting up around 4ish.

So anyway, if you find yourself up around 7 a.m. EST or even PST, please send some positive vibes toward the Philly way. My brother and all the other runners could certainly use them.

Thanks for listening.

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I feel like lately I’ve only got time to jump on here when I have a race report to post. Well, better than never, huh?  (BTW, I may not have race reports for the next few weeks, as I’ve got plans for many weekends, until the Philly Marathon, which my brother is running!!)

My running partner from last year and friend, Lis, volunteers at an animal shelter in Hopkinton, MA. (Yes, Hopkinton, as in the same town with the Boston Marathon’s famous start line.) It’s called Baypath Humane  Society. They aren’t affiliated with a national humane or state humane society, and they don’t receive any state or federal funding. So, you can imagine Lis’ happiness at their having over 400 people sign up for the race today and their having raised over $5000. Pretty amazing.

They had a 5K course all set up, through the state park. Absolutely beautiful.  I wish I lived closer (it was about a 45 minute to an hour drive there.)  And of course, there was even a dog division in the race.  Bill told me that it was guy running with a Siberian Husky and some kind of Spaniel that came in first place in the dog division.

It was a bit chaotic at the registration table, which is to be expected for an inaugural race. Plus, there were dogs galore, from the smallest pug to the two Irish Wolfhounds that no one could take their eyes from.   Bill and I decided to bring  Ruthie, so he spent most of his time making sure she wasn’t getting out of her harness. (She gets excited and before you know it, out slips a paw or two.)  Some of Bill’s friends live in a neighboring town, and they came out to watch, so Bill was excited that he had more people than usual to hang out with while I was out there running.

I decided to not race this race today, and instead ran it with a friend, Amy. Amy has never run outside before – all of her runs are on a treadmill.  I’d let her know a few weeks ago that she should set the treadmill to 1.0 to simulate running outside, and the other day, she even ran 3 miles the whole time with it set to 2.0. So I knew she’d do fine today. She said she runs around a 10 minute mile (or 6.0 on her treadmill) so I made sure to wear my Garmin so I could keep our speed in check.

The race started up a hill and then leveled out for most of mile 1 and 2.  There was a killer hill (well, I could definitely see how some people would consider it to be a killer hill anyway) toward mile 2.5.  I told Amy to just let everyone run by us at the start, as most people tend to go out too fast and then are dying toward the end.   I told her it’s better to get stronger toward the end instead. 

As we ran up the first hill, I told her how Bill had been telling me to “not worry any pressure, it wasn’t like Amy’s first running outside AND race experience was in my hands.” He told me that if she didn’t want to run outside after today it would be my fault, and that I had to think of myself as a Jedi knight and that she was Luke Skywalker. She just laughed (she knows  Bill, so it made total sense to her.) Her boyfriend Shawn even asked her on Friday night if she needed to go out for a big pasta dinner on Saturday night to prepare.  Ah, yes, these are the men in our lives!

Because the race started up a hill, pretty soon there was a nice downhill, when I introduced her to the concept of “Free speed.”  I told her to keep her arms down, and thereby save energy and that she could just let gravity help her pick up speed without having to work for it. 

A bit after the first mile, they had a water stop set up on an out-and-back part of the course. I told Amy we could get some water, slow down our hearts a bit, and then pick it back up.  She seemed to handle that pretty well.  (She got the water in her, rather than on her!) I told her that my brother’s philosophy is that the short stop helps you to lower your heart rate and then keep on going later on when you’d otherwise be tired. Seeing as he’s done several marathons, she took that advice. 

We saw Lis just after the 2 mile point and she was out there with a camera taking lots and lots of pictures.  I made sure to wave wildly and give her a big smile, and she told us we were doing really well. I knew we definitely were, because the time on my watch was in between 18 and 19 minutes, so Amy was doing AMAZING for her first race.  Amy had asked how we were doing, and I told her I’d tell her later on what our pace had been (I didn’t want to freak her out, and honestly, I could tell she was still comfortable with our pace at this point.) 

About the 2.5 mile point, as I said, there’s a steep hill.  This is where my babbling took over, as I didn’t want Amy to think too much about it, and just keep on going.  She said she heard what I was saying about visualizing balloons tied to both of your wrists, and that you can keep repeating a phrase like ‘floating, floating” but she wasn’t feeling any of it! And she was definitely quiet at this point.

After the steep hill, you ran down a portion that was covered with leaves, so we definitely took it easy as we’ve had a fair amount of rain this week and thought that they might still be wet.  Then we ran out over a damn, and it was just really beautiful. Water on both sides of us.  At the end of the damn, there’s a small bridge to climb up and over, and then before you know it, you’re running across  sand.  At this point, there were lots of people cheering, and I asked Amy if she wanted to catch up to this lady in a pink t-shirt running in front of us.  She said “you just go ahead if you want to” and of course, I was not going to leave her.  I had told her earlier that if Lis and I ever run a race separately, at the end, I usually try to find her, and then make her sprint against me to the finish line.  So I explained it’s just good to give yourself goals sometimes at the end of a race. 

But, honestly, Amy did so awesome. For a first-time run outside,and a first-time race, I’m so impressed with her time and effort. Nowhere did she complain or whine, as I would likely have been doing!

On my watch, I had our overall time as 30:26, with our paces being as follows:

  • Mile 1: 9:56 (big hill)
  • Mile 2: 9:42 (mainly flat)
  • Mile 3: 10:09 (killer hill of sorts)
  • Last portion of the race: 9:32!

Oh, and there was a good spread of food at the end.  Bagels, O Water, regular water, mini hamburgers (!), granola bars, yogurt, yummy!

I just looked up our results on Cool Running. We came in 123 and 124 out of 282 runners that finished the race. Pretty cool! And in the top third of our division of women, 30-39! Not too bad for a first-time runner, Amy!  (It sounded really cool afterward to hear her saying how much she liked running outside with the scenery changing and everything.)

Below, I’ve posted another pic of Bill with Ruthie, and a picture of my neighbor’s tree which is just a beautiful shade of red. I took the pics with my phone, so the colors just aren’t as vivid as they are in real life, sorry! Enjoy!

Oh, and a huge shout-out to Lindsay over at Chasing the Kenyans for setting a new PR today at the NYC Marathon – she totally kicked ass!