Thursday, October 25, 2012

In Search of. . .10Ks

Race season is, sadly, winding down for me. It's not that there aren't still races to select every weekend, almost through Christmas, it's just that other things get in the way this time of year, and racing a 51-year-old body every weekend just isn't wise.

Still, I have registered for some perennial favorites, including the Baldwinsville Kiwanis Turkey Day Races. Back in the day, this race featured three distances--5K, 10K and 10 Mile. Oh, how I loved that 10 miler, with the pre-dinner calorie burn. I suspect the difficulty in getting enough volunteers for all three races put an end to the longer distance. They kept the 10K, thankfully, and that's still a pretty substantial distance.

Then there's the Burn Run, which benefits the Clark Burn Unit at Upstate Hospital. The flattest 5K around. I was planning on signing up for the 3.1-miler, but once they announced the addition of a 10K this year, well that sealed the deal for me.

Do you sense a pattern here?

As much as would like to run another marathon, 26.2 miles remains a daunting prospect. The half marathon distance remains my favorite, but it's a lot of work getting ready for one. And as much as I enjoy the speed of a 5K, I find them anticlimactic. If I'm going to put in the training, and drive the distance to the race site, a 5K seems hardly worth my time. (Those of you 5K lovers out there, I'm merely speaking for myself; no offense is intended.) In fact, I have a loose rule about 5Ks--if it takes longer for us to drive to the race site than it will for me to run the race, then I'm not inclined to pay the entry fee, or the gas.

So next year, I plan on focusing on racing as many 10Ks as I can find locally. Don't get excited--they're not at all easy to find. I can think of a handful in the spring--Fort to Fort in Rome, Skunk Cabbage in Ithaca--wait, is two a handful? See what I mean? What is it about the 10K race distance that has rendered it so elusive? I think that's a topic for a more substantial item than a blog post, and perhaps I'll tackle it in a different forum.

Still, racing 10Ks in 2013 is my plan, as far as road races go.

I have some holes to fill in the triathlon schedule, even while I have plotted what distances to race when.

First off, my "A" race will be Big George, a half-ironman distance race that takes place in and around lovely Lake George on Sept. 1, Labor Day Sunday. After that, the plan is to run some half marathons (maybe even a full) and keep seeking out 10Ks. Before that, I'm looking at a sprint distance tri (or two) in June, an Olympic in July, and a sprint or Olympic in August.

Ever open to suggestion, if you know of any 10Ks within upstate New York--Ithaca and north, Albany to Buffalo, please leave a comment.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rain, Rain Go Away

The guy passing me at mile 8.5 while running in flip-flops (!) aside, here some observations from the Oct. 14, Carol M. Baldwin A Run for Their Life 15K.

* Running in the rain stinks. I really really really don't like it. Wet, squishy running shoes are just no fun, and if my podiatrist knew I was getting my $300 custom-made inserts wet, he'd be more than just a bit annoyed.

* There are parts of the city that don't get as much respect and tender loving care as they should. I'm talking about the near South Side. I was pleased that several miles of this 9.3-mile trek included some of the more neglected neighborhoods of Syracuse. Running here is a white-dominated sport, and by running through the predominantly African-American side of town perhaps a few residents got inspired to try out the sport.

* Pit bulls are scary, especially unaccompanied pit bulls. At Midland and Bellevue a seemingly innocent black pit bull kept sniffing around the side of the building. Once the nearby police officer saw the dog, he tried to shoo it away. The dog provided enough incentive to run faster for a bit and he remained harmless, but I just don't trust the breed.

* Syracuse hills are among the toughest I have ever run up, and then down. It's the long, low-grade gentle ones that really get to me, and this course had plenty of them. By mile 6 my quads were feeling some pain; the good news: the distraction kept me from even thinking about my foot.

* I would say that this course is more challenging than the legendary Mountain Goat. The local running gods may strike me dead, but several of my friends agreed that it is so. All the same, I still beat my goal by nearly 2 minutes. 

Jess Novak, Carol Baldwin, Molly English-Bowers
Don't let the prospect of steep hills and gradual hills scare you away from this race, however. There aren't many local 15Ks on the calendar, and this one benefits a worthy cause, the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. In fact, it was a hoot getting a photo taken with the famous Mrs. Baldwin after the race (see us at left)--what a trooper she was, sitting in damp, dank, chilly conditions while runners posed for photos with her.

All in all, this is a quality event--next year I hope for better weather conditions and an even better finishing time. Oh, and race organizers: maybe it was the weather's fault, but next year you should party up the chute and finish line--pink balloons, more fanfare. Just sayin'.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Let's Make This Happen!

“To all the girls that think you’re ugly because you’re not a size zero, you’re the beautiful one. It’s society who’s ugly.”
Thank you, Lady Gaga, for channeling the words of Marilyn Monroe through your BODY REVOLUTION campaign and reminding us that our flaws can be fabulous.
Your recent photos make me smile. I don’t see a pop star who has gained twenty-five pounds, I see a woman who is pouring her passion into her craft and doing what she loves on her own terms.
Here in Syracuse, there’s a team of girls who has not only accepted our bodies despite our excess weight, scars and other imperfections, we’ve shown society what we can do with them.
And we want you to come and do a REVOLUTION RIDE with us to help support the BODY REVOLUTION and get the next generation of girls feeling as good as we do.
Over the years this group has collectively completed 4 Ironmans, 14 Half Ironmans, 12 marathons, and 187 miscellaneous swimming, biking or running races, covering a total of 4235.6 miles.
Based on that, you might imagine us to look a certain way. Society says that athletes should be skinny. We should be lean and muscular with near-perfect bodies. Sound like any other industries you’re familiar with?
But we’re not—and like you—we couldn’t care less that we don’t fit the mold. We’re in this because we love what we do. We are fueled by our passion to reach new limits, not our desire to uphold society’s expectations of what an athlete should look like.
And we don’t hide our bodies because they aren’t “athletic” enough. We’re sporting the same tight shorts and teeny tops that the world champions do.  Society be damned!
For three years now, I’ve been volunteering as a coach and mentor with the local chapter of Girls Inc, a national non-profit organization that inspires girls to be strong, smart and bold through life-changing programs and experiences that help them navigate gender, economic and social barriers.
I lead them through a series of workshops rooted in fitness—not because I want to give them the tools to LOOK a certain way, but because I want to give them the opportunity to FEEL a certain way.
To me, fitness isn’t about exercising your body—it’s about exercising your mind in a way that makes you feel something so strongly you have to move. That’s the way I’ve taught my spin class for the past seven years, and it’s the way I’ve executed every race I’ve ever done.
The way you tackle a piano with emotion, technique, and hunger is the same way we tackle each workout. The way you own the stage for hours on end is the same way we’ve taken to the roads for hours on end (Ironman can last for 17 hours…ride, ride pony!).
Girls need to know that this kind of strength and fire doesn’t come from conforming to society’s idea of what they should be doing. It doesn’t come from throwing up, cutting, abusive relationships, or drugs. It doesn’t come from those short-term vices we find and rely on in our darkest moments.
It comes from accepting yourself and your flaws and being brave enough to feed your passions despite the obstacles that are in your path. It comes from feeling good enough about yourself that you can rise above the pressures from society to look and be a certain way—as a superstar, as an athlete…
As a woman.
In that spirit, I would like to invite you to lead a #RevolutionRide spin class with me to support the next generation of girls who are fighting against society every day—from the people in their day-to-day lives who judge and bully them, to the strangers at large who stereotype the way women should look and behave.
I promise you an hour of sweat, fun, progress, and acceptance with hundreds of women who will proudly flaunt their flaws together on the fly wheel to raise money for Girls Inc.
Let’s get on the bike with our huge asses and give society a big middle finger as we pedal to a better place and empower girls everywhere. Are you with me, Gaga?
little monster, fat triathlete and passion junkie
Follow this cause on Twitter at #revolutionride with @spinningleese, or on