Monday, December 20, 2010

26.2 what????

I have been thinking. . .OK, dangerous at times, I know.
But, I have run two marathons, the second one 24 minutes faster than the first (that's nearly a minute a mile faster, for those keeping track). The goal both times was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Each five-year age group (both men and women) has a specific time in which to run a marathon in order to qualify to the uber-prestigious Boston race. The second marathon, Indianapolis, I missed Boston by 1:30 minutes. I was pretty bummed about that until I broke my left foot two months later. If I had qualified, I wouldn't have been able to run it in 2008 anyway. And I was able to visit my sister, who lives in Indy. It was a good weekend regardless.
As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that things tend to happen for a reason. So, there's the reason I didn't qualify for Boston in 2007.
So, as I had moderate success at the half-Ironman I did last September, I am thinking I could put in the time to train for another marathon.
I signed up for the Bay State Marathon last year, thinking I would shoot for Boston (too bad in 2011 it's the same day as the inaugural Empire State Marathon right here in good ol' Syracuse). The race director was kind enough to let me defer my race entry until 2011, after I explained my impending foot surgery.
This is what I'm thinking: train for the Bay State Marathon while at the same time competing in triathlons. Since I'm losing four months of training while my foot heals, I won't be doing a half-Ironman in 2011 anyway. If I qualify for Boston--the time for my age group is 4:05:59--great! If I don't, great! Who cares? I will have just completed a marathon.
Sure, Boston is great, but it's also very expensive and has gotten incredibly difficult to register for--registration closed for the 2011 version hours after it opened. I don't need that kind of stress! I just want to run a marathon.
So, that's what I'm thinking.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Deliberate Acts of Kindness

In the delightful movie Harvey, Jimmy Stewart tells of how his mother advised him that in this life, you can be either smart or pleasant. "Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant." Now, I would never expect anything but scholastic achievement from my children, but there's no reason they can't be smart and pleasant. Especially when one member of the family is off her feet.
Herewith, are some non-random acts of kindness that the five children have bestowed upon me since I came home from surgery Thursday night:
1. My daughter, 21, is continually checking on me via text message. She is embroiled in finals at Oswego, so this is the best she can do.
2. My son, almost 19, who thankfully finished up at Onondaga Community College on Thursday, stuck around all day yesterday (until his stepfather came home) to make sure I was all right. When I told him he should go Christmas shopping at the mall, he said, "I'm not going to leave you." Later, bored out of my skull, I asked if he wanted to watch "The Price is Right" with me. "Sure," he said.
3. I was attempting to hobble down the stairs by myself (independent Annie and all), and the 17-year-old immediately jumped up and said, "Do you need help?" I didn't have to ask.
4. One especially kind move by the 13-year-old was to bring me some red licorice. Apparently, the bus driver hands out candy on Fridays, and she made sure to tell the driver her stepmom had had surgery, and then made sure to bring me one of my favorite candies!
5. The 6-year-old: she has painted me 11 pictures since I got home. In fact, last night we had to shoo her to bed, she was still painting!
Now if that isn't kindness, I don't know what is. Thanks, kids, for showing me that I am important to you.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

RIP, Mrs. Russell

One of my favorite teachers died yesterday. Mrs. Nancy Russell taught social studies in sixth grade, ninth grade and 10th grade. To my knowledge, no other teacher had that much access to students in the VVS school district. I could be wrong, but it hardly matters. She taught me to love social studies, so much that when it was suggested I major in history in college, I jumped at it.
I remember several things about Mrs. Russell, especially once I hit high school. She was a teeny-tiny woman, a size 0 at most. Though small, she could command a room, but not in an overbearing way. She was good at getting, and keeping, your attention.
Her engagement ring was the most unusual I have ever seen--a huge black pearl, which looked ginormous on her tiny finger. I remember her telling us about how she preferred black pearls to diamonds--the things you remember, eh?
And I remember when I came back from the eye doctor, having gotten glasses, and she coaxed me into putting them on for the first time. Age 14 is a tough time for everyone--add eyeglasses into the mix, and it's really embarrassing. But she was wonderfully supportive, and generous in her praise for how "good" they looked on me.
Thank you, Mrs. Russell, for being a super teacher, a good friend and one of the consistent adults in my adolescence.
I hope my school-days friends will comment on this blog, if only as a way to pay tribute to a super lady.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Resolved: No Resolutions

I am not a big believer in New Year's resolutions. I mean, why wait until the first of the year to think about and implement changes. If you're thinking a mere once a year about improving yourself, it seems to me you're doomed to fail; shouldn't you be thinking about getting better every single day?
That said, I rather prefer to refer to them as goals. It turns what are negatives into positives.
So, instead of "I will lose 10 pounds" (oh, the work those five words dredge up!), how about "I will run 35 miles a week" or "I will strength-train three days a week." Already we feel better because the goal is action-oriented. And those five pounds will pretty much take care of themselves.
"I will quit drinking" sounds like you're beating yourself up. Try instead, "I will replace the alcohol I drink with water or herbal tea." Ahhhh, so much more soothing.
And of course there's no reason to wait until the turn of a new year to get to work! You can start running tomorrow, and take a glass to work that you will keep full of water (after you've already emptied it, of course).
So, here are a few of my Fitness Goals for 2011. Some I can implement while I'm recuperating from foot surgery. Some will have to wait until the doctor sends me on my way (April 11, I'm hoping--my 50th birthday).
Run another marathon; if I qualify for Boston, so be it. I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't.
Mix up my race selections. I did this last year and we enjoyed going to new places to compete, Shoreline Triathlon, Loop Around the Lake. We look at these as mini-vacations, day trips to new places. It's even more of an adventure that way. And our tradition is to get breakfast afterwards; upstate New York truly has an eclectic collection of diners, with interesting characters sitting at every table.
Practice yoga once a week, and joyfully. Some days I just don't want to, but here's what I've discovered about yoga--you always, always, always feel better after challenging your hamstrings in downward-facing dog.
I'll leave you here with a biggie, one that is very difficult for me, though it's more and more essential as I face my 50s--rest; every 10 days, take a day off.
In a few months, we'll check back and see how I'm doing. As it is, I have printed off a list of 10 goals and will tape them to my dresser mirror.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Waiting. . .

I am looking at eight days until my foot surgery, and while I'm not relishing the thought of being unable to use my foot for five weeks I also realize the problem has to get fixed. Since I scheduled the surgery for Dec. 10 I've been running some (not at all fast), racing when I could (just because I can), swimming often and biking when the weather cooperates. I'm still lifting weights and practicing yoga, but at this point it's all to keep some amount of fitness. It's hard for me to believe that two months ago I finished, in a respectable time, a half-ironman triathlon.
Still, I anticipate the surgery to fix a bunion and dislocated second toe because I know I'll come through it a better, stronger athlete. I'll be entering a new age group in 2011 (50-54), competing against some of the strongest women athletes I know. I've had it easy these last few years because they have bumped up in age. Now I'll have to work hard just to be able to chase them.
Competing against the sisterhood is one reason I enjoy competing at all. We are all so supportive of each other, even though we all want to win!
So, my plan is to rest up as long as the doctor says I have to (which will be verrrrry difficult for me), and start upper body and ab work as soon as he gives his approval. Then after five weeks he should be able to take the pin out of my toe and I can get back into the pool. With luck, I can walk/run starting in March. I have already signed up for an Olympic-distance triathlon, July 31. That should give me plenty of time to train enough to at least finish the distance. That'll be a good race to gauge my progress and proceed from there.
I am in no way whining about this surgery; I know this is a blip, especially when I look at folks suffering from a chronic disease, or dealing with cancer. But it's my reality and I'm trying to make the best of it.
See you on the roads in April!