Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's not you, it's me

Garmin, I know it could be awesome between us. I know it's my fault. I haven't tried hard enough. Even worse, I keep forgetting you exist but then expect to be ready to go out on a run with me the minute I grab my shoes.

You've tried. You've valiantly stood outside my apartment building scanning for satellites with your best "beam me up, Scotty" smile only to then realize you were out of batteries and not up for a run. Sure, I'd had my energy all sorted with shot blocks but I'd forgotten to charge you. Other times I'd be a few miles into a run when I realized I'd left part of you - the heart monitor! - at home.

I've heard great things about you. I know you could help me get faster. I know your beepy company could help me stay on pace for long runs and I'd love to get to know you better.

Sometimes I can be stubborn and set in my ways. I've loved and lost before only to find again and I'm having trouble adjusting to new buttons, but please give me a chance.

Would charging you nightly help? How about going on double dates with other runners and their Garmins? Would you like that?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Will run for cupcakes

You'll have to take my word - it was delicious.

While volunteering at the PPTC Cherry Tree Run I found myself jealous of runners. Though I was having fun cheering, I wanted to run. Later, while discussing race plans over brunch I realized it was time to get back in a training plan. NYRR's Coogan's is around the corner and Ragnar is just a little over 10 weeks away.

The hills of Fort Tryon Park would laugh their inclines off if I showed up for Coogan's without training. Besides, a neighbor had promised me a key lime cupcake.

So I hit the hills yesterday afternoon. It was a moderate workout to ease back into it, making sure I left enough in the tank for another run today, but it was still a five miler worthy of a cupcake.

It was a great cupcake.

Disclaimer: Not in any way affiliated with @run4cupcakes though I probably would enjoy running (for cupcakes) with her.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Can you hear me now?

It's not that I've fantasized about having my voice heard booming everywhere but I enjoyed being in charge of the bad boy pictured above.

As a member of the Prospect Park Track Club - the best and smiliest running team in New York- I was asked to volunteer for today's race. It was the Cherry Tree 10M race or 3 person relay. Since I'd decided not to run, at about the third email I caved in and agreed to do my part for club.

A group of us was assigned to the relay exchange area. We needed to keep the runners doing 10M out the area, the relay runners organized. Part of keeping the relay teams organized was to be further ahead on the course calling out runners' numbers as they approached so their team members would be ready to start running.

Enter the bullhorn.

The other volunteers seemed shy to be in charge of it, so I did my part for the team and grabbed the bullhorn by the handle. I welcomed runners, pointed them towards baggage, told them to hurry to the bottom of the hill for the race start, gave instructions to the relay teams, and got ready to cheer runners and call out team numbers as the front runners finished their first lap of the park.

This happy state of affairs lasted as long as the battery which unfortunately was only a little over an hour. After that I was told transmission got increasingly warbly until it was lost and the number calling continued by radio. After that it was just me and my voice.

Volunteering for the race was a lot of fun and I got to see plenty of friendly faces but after standing around in the cold for a few hours I was jealous of the runners. They looked toasty. And I might need to be on cough drops for the rest of the day.

I'll start after my run.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Halving Marathons

Time moves more slowly for some. For me, it's time to go public on my New Year's resolutions. I have noticed it's February, but I figured it was time set my running goals on blog.

I'm not running any marathons this year.

I loved training and running the NYC marathon last year. I loved the excitement of having such a big project ahead of me and I loved giving Hal Higdon a run of my schedule. I basked in the sweet tyranny of early mornings and enforced soberness combined with the weekend night camaraderie of twit-runners preparing for long runs.

And the long runs! On Friday nights I had a standing date with myself at my favorite restaurant to carb up. It freed me from social commitments and it gave me an excuse a reason for a quiet evening with great food and a good book. The long runs gave me views of New York and of myself I'd never seen and it was intoxicating. Running from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back to Brooklyn I felt strong. I felt I could do anything.

Which is why I'm taking that I-can-do-anything feeling and applying it elsewhere.

I'm still going to run, but I want to apply elsewhere the focus and determination required for training for a marathon. I want to put that focus back into my writing.

So this year instead of running marathons, I'll run half-marathons. Five of them. One in each borough. Plus Ragnar, of course. The gang is getting back together and going Woodstalking.

One half-marathon down: Manhattan. It was fourteen degrees. The windchill was four degrees and it was sunny with a chance of awesomeness. With spotty winter training slowed down by a lung that's giving me trouble, I had no idea what to expect of this half. My longest run in a while had been my easy five-ish miler on my birthday and though I'd been running five miles regularly, I'd gone on no long runs for this.

It was fine. It was better than fine. It was so much fun I might even write a race report.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Gridiron report: Why I race

The blog police is very active around the track at the Park Slope Armory and I got a citation from them last week. Even though the strongest complaint was about the missing post: NYCM Report Part 4 and I'm missing five more reports from races I've done since, I'll risk a more serious summons and skip ahead to the Superbowl, or rather the NYRR Gridiron Classic 4M.

I run so I can race. The solitary and meditative qualities of long distance running regularly provide me with a quiet mind that makes me happy. My long runs and their encounters with butterflies, ducks, swans, unexpected trails and views of bridges keep me sane and I'm looking forward to going back to running on more varied routes once the ice is gone. But right now I run so I can race.

In most races there is a moment - often on a hill or a curve - when the view of the course opens up and I get to see hundreds of the thousands running with me. The power of the crowd sweeps over me and I feel myself part of a human stampede. I see the beautiful variety of runners, running for different reasons, but all of us running for the same finish line.

We've all felt lost and alone at some point in our lives. We've all ached for love. We've all mourned loss. We all want to be loved. We all dream of a better tomorrow, through a better now. We're all putting one foot in front of the other hoping to gain something from it. Maybe it's the strength of knowing the courage and stubbornness required to finish a race will help us accomplish our goals.

Everyone is different, and yet, deep down, stripped of the superficial, we're all the same and we can all relate to great joy and great pain and it is in the joy and pain of races that I'm humbled and reminded that I'm just like everyone else. The camaraderie of the pre-race corral, being cheered by strangers, the struggle through the rough spots and the thrill of the post-finish bagel line - all in the anonymity of spandex - put me in touch with some of the most basic pleasures of being human.

Yesterday's 4Mile race gave me that. The feeling was so intense I ended up pushing myself harder than intended, harder than my training allowed. For the last quarter mile I pushed myself so hard that for the first time ever I crossed the finish line looking for a bucket. Dry-heaving by the side of the road from great exertion was one of those pleasures and a privilege.