Sunday, November 20, 2011

Change of Pace

I have always been in awe of my best friend, Melinda Whittin Group, because from 10th grade, she knew what career path she wanted to pursue--pharmacy. And more than 30 years later, she still works as a pharmacist. It's just something I was never able to figure out in high school, or for the first two years of college.
I remember my father saying once that a lot of people don't know what they want to do until they're 39. And the piece of advice I give my children (and step-children) regarding their careers is to be sure you choose what you love, because you have to get up and go to work every day.
Now, don't get me wrong. I LOVE my job. I have always had a knack for reading, writing, grammar and spelling. I'm a good problem-solver; I like to plan issues 6-10 weeks out at a time.
At the same time, I have always been athletic, always been active, always wondered if I should have chosen to be a gym teacher. Well, that's not going to happen at my age (and with children in college and yet to go to college), so I'm considering the next best thing: getting certified to be a personal trainer.
It would be especially satisfying working with women older than 40, since that is really when my athletic "career" began. In my 20s I ran races, and in my 20s I started lifting weights, but the two were more recreational. I also taught some aerobics classes. After continuing to work out at home in my 30s when my children were young, I began really running again at age 42, when the kids were old enough to be on their own while I left the house for an hour, then two, and then three (during marathon training). And that's when I discovered that not only do I love to run, I more enjoy competing (especially because I'm pretty good at it).
So, with the realization that it's never too late to chase a dream, and to mine an aspect of your life that you currently do only for yourself, I'm seriously thinking about signing up for this certification.
And once I establish myself as a personal trainer, or fitness instructor, or lifestyle coach, it doesn't have to supplant my other career choice: editor of the most awesome weekly newspaper I know. And I could be making a visible difference in someone's life--helping her meet her potential, whether it's through weight loss, running a 5K or improving overall health. And that would be cool indeed!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Four-Hour Energy

After a substantial hiatus from long-distance racing, I registered for the Empire State Marathon, scheduled for Oct. 21, 2012. This will be my third marathon, but the first with wisdom and the experience gained from two previous attempts.
Many of us, I'm sure, decide to race those 26.2 miles with the goal of qualifying for the storied Boston Marathon. That's a laudable goal for sure, and many of my friend have succeeded at it, multiple times. Alas, I am not one of the lucky ones.
My first marathon experience, Mohawk-Hudson, in 2006, was an exercise in reality (I won't say futility because I did finish, albeit a good 26 minutes off my goal). First marathons teach us a lot about ourselves, our preparation (or lack thereof), our nutrition (or lack thereof), and what we can do better the next time. Turns out, quite a bit.
During the grinding 16-week training regimen I topped out at a long run of 20 miles. I made reservations at the official race hotel, and the literature had said it would be open before the race for breakfast. NOT!
A table with bananas was all I saw, and I nearly stole one I was so desperate for some sort of fuel, but I relented and paid the usurious price of $1.50 for one stinking banana. Thus "fueled," I boarded the bus to the starting line in Schenectady, and prayed for the best.
All went well until mile 17, when the meager nutrients from the banana (and whatever I had eaten the day before) had been depleted and my 8:30 pace fell off a cliff.
So, armed with what I had learned from Marathon No. 1, I began the training cycle in 2007 for the Indianapolis Marathon. My long run that time topped out at 23, and I ordered a pace tattoo, which helps you track where you need to be timewise at each mile. A bonus was that my sister lives in Indy, so it was a built-in vacation. Will and I drove out, I slept like a rock the night before, got up and ate and ate and ate (advantages of staying with a family member). It was an absolutely gorgeous day and I felt great, too great, it turns out. My pace was way too fast for the first half (8-minute miles). My sister Jodie warned me I was ahead of pace, so I tried to slow down, really, I did. Well, at mile 18 I had no choice. I thought I had left that wall in suburban Albany!
Still, I was running so strong up until that point that with a mile to go, I had 7 minutes in which to qualify for Boston. Yeah, right. I finished well, but at 4:03:24, thereby missing Boston by. . . oh, I'd rather not think about it.
Then a series of injuries convinced me to back off the marathons, until this year, that is. With two foot surgeries behind me, an answer for and way to manage a nagging hamstring, and the realization that I likely won't qualify for Boston--and who cares if I don't?--I find myself facing another 26.2 miles.
I have nearly 11 months to train for it, tons of support all around (from family, to running buddies, to co-workers), and the beauty of having to drive 10 minutes (instead of 10 hours) to the starting line on race day.
I'll report on my progress, which will be gradual, as the calendar unfolds. And I can't wait to get going!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Progress Edition

After my right foot surgery of last December, I wrote down nothing, which means I remember very little. Not to detail every gory moment here, but I want to let folks who may be contemplating the same surgery--bunionectomy--to stop thinking about it, stop being scared about it, and get it done! A few months of no activity traded for years of no pain while running--it's a bargain I have been willing to make, twice.
It's been exactly two weeks. By day 10 I was off the Percocet. I was a bit shocked that the doctor prescribed 50--in fact, that scared me a little because last year I think (remember, I didn't write it down), he gave me a mere 30, and I used them all. Anyway, the intense pain subsided after 30 hours, just like last time, but occasional twinges made it difficult to sleep.
I returned to work Monday, Oct. 31, and came home exhausted but it was so much better than sitting around the house.
Everyone knows I'm an active person, at least when I'm not on crutches. It's been tough, though I will admit to doing upper body work every other day the last few weeks. I don't want that core going soft!
On Tuesday, day 12, the doc removed the stitches, and I was able to wash my foot--such a mundane pleasure! It's tough bathing and not getting an entire limb wet. He put me in a Herman Munster boot--heavy metal base, six strips of Velcro--and though he called it walking boot he doesn't want me walking for two more weeks. At least it comes off so I can sleep relatively comfortably. And he wants me wiggling my toes--especially the big toe which bore the brunt of the surgery. It's quite stiff and looks to me like an overcooked knockwurst.
I see him again in three weeks for X-rays and an assessment of how well the bones have healed. Maybe I can swim the Friday after Thanksgiving??? We'll see.
I have already signed up for a 70.3 half ironman in August and am hopeful I can race the Bluegrass Ramble, a half marathon in Madrid, NY, in late June.