Monthly Archives: May 2005

5/31/05 War Strategies (163)

Tuesday. I’m bummed because I snuck onto the scale this morning and I’m still up. (I thought yesterday’s weigh-in was a fluke, but I guess not…) I have to get really tough this week. I have to wage war on these new pounds.

Last night Steph and Mary called to go out to celebrate Mary’s new apartment (yeah Mary!). Of course I had some champagne and wine and a roll with dinner. (At least I didn’t put butter on it, thank God for some restraint!!!). I ordered two appetizers and I think they were pretty healthy so I’m not kicking myself about anything I ate there. I am kicking myself for all the crap I ate in Memphis and upon my return from Memphis. Stop. You can only focus on what is ahead of you, not behind you. What is done is done and now you need to deal with the enemy at hand.

Okay, my plan of attack.

Gather weapons. I need a few days of strict Core eating. I figured maybe if I went back to some of my tried and true recipes it would help. Yesterday I made my fried brown rice with 15 veggies and shrimp for lunch and it was satisfying and healthy. I also bought a few groceries. Today I’ll go down and buy more.

Assess the enemy. Looking at my calendar for the upcoming week I have 3 scheduled social outings where food/wine may be at issue. I am going to try to plan now for how I will deal with them. First is Thursday night, my season court tennis group is having a party at one of the gals’ apartment. It is pot luck and I already volunteered to bring my wheat berry salad which is yummy and healthy and I can know that at least that will be there. I will also try to bring some kind of “festive” seltzer so I won’t be tempted into the several glasses of wine which turns into sampling the cookies and chips and pasta. I seem to be okay with wine when it is confined to dinner, but when we have an “open” evening, I drink the third glass and then I start nibbling on things like nuts and chips and whatever passes under my hands. So for this week I will keep the wine at bay.

Saturday a bunch of us are picnicking in the park during the day. I don’t think this should be too much of an issue either. I’ll bring a big salad or something to share and I don’t think we will be drinking during the day so should be okay. I think the key here like Thursday night is to bring stuff with me.

Big problem will be book club on Monday night. I think I just have to say no wine period. I tend to drink too much at book club and snack on fattening things like cheese and breads and whatever exotic foods are served. If I don’t have the wine, I will be able to control the portions better with the food. This will be harder for me because I associate book club with good wine, good food, good conversation about books and life in general. The more wine we drink the more “profound” we get, lol.

So the theme seems to be limit the wine and the food issues are not that hard to handle. Alcohol in general makes all lines of restraint a little blurry. I’m the first one to say “hey let’s grab dinner,” but I realize that too many dinners = too many opportunities to slip up. I’m starting this week with 3 scheduled opportunities to go out and slip up. That’s scheduled, there are always two or three more opportunities that pop up last minute.

Last Tuesday night after practice, Mo and I went to Georgio’s for dinner. It was one of the best dinners I have had in a long time. I ordered the seared tuna steak with grilled vegetables and I had two glasses of wine. Totally core dinner (sans wine). It was the way I want to eat. Healthy, fresh food, good conversation. Mo doesn’t eat bread either so she sent that away right away (thanks Mo!) That’s my goal dinner — healthy food with a little wine. I need to stay away from evenings of Thai food, french fries, endless bottles of wine and lots of snicky snacky things around. The endless buffet is one of my worst enemies.

So how am I going to avoid the snicky snacky things on Thursday and Saturday? Pot luck is such an easy way to overeat. I’m already comparing my dinner at Georgio’s where they served me one portion of grilled fish with lots of grilled vegetables to upcoming Thursday night where it will be a smorgasbord of dishes that everyone wants to share so you know there will be a lot of “fancy” food with tons of hidden calories and fat. So here are my ideas of how I will win on Thursday:

1) Defense. I will eat a good snack before I go. If I wait until 7 to start eating I will eat too much. We are supposed to arrive at 6:30 so at 5:30 I’ll do a yogurt and peaches before I leave the house.

2) Reinforcements. I will bring a dish that I know I can eat — my wheat berry salad. I will also bring a fancy seltzer to drink. I may also bring some grapes so in case I feel a need for dessert I will have that there.

3) Survey. I will look over all the food before I put it on my plate and choose one or two items that seem healthy and select small portions so I won’t get zapped with hidden “costs.”

4) Retreat. I will limit myself to one plate. When I finish that plate, I will get up and put it in the kitchen. No lingering around the buffet with an extra plate….

5) Diversion. I will concentrate on conversation, not food. By eating more slowly my food will last longer.

I will use these same strategies on Saturday for our picnic.

The enemy has infiltrated. But this week it’s my battle to win. I’ve been slowly losing ground and I’m not going to let the enemy gain another inch (or pound as the case may be.)

Charge!

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb.”
Sun Tzu

I think I’ll be reading a lot of the “Art of War” this week.

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5/30/05 Week 21 and the Laws of Fitness (163)

Memorial Day. Monday. Mindfulness. I’ve been looking forward to today all week. A full day of rest. Nothing but the dead bug pose (reference to a new exercise I did with Rhonda where I balance on a Bosu ball on my back with arms and legs in the air — except today I will be doing the pose in my bed, like a real dead bug!) I was very excited to get on the scale this morning because I KNEW I would be down a couple of pounds. With all the exercising I did over the last week and through the weekend, I was positive I would be down at least a full 2 pounds. Nope. I was up 4 pounds!!! I have to admit I was shocked. 4 pounds?!?! What the heck happened?

First, I was not going to record it — I knew it was just plain wrong. I bounced the scale off the wall a couple of times calling it all kinds of names. I reset it on the floor and stepped on. Still up 4 pounds. I cursed some more and I moved it to a different part of the floor. Still up 4 pounds. I walked away nonchalantly and then snuck up on it and jumped on it while it wasn’t looking. Still up 4 pounds. I exhaled deeply before stepping on one last time, figuring I must be retaining air or something, only to find I was still up 4 pounds. Out of the corner of my eye, in a brief flash, I swear I saw the scale sneer at me.

Okay, here’s what I think happened. First, I take the .6 increase from Weight Watchers. That seemed legit and appropriate for the amount of slipping around I have been doing around the Core plan. Second, we went for a long bike ride yesterday and I was dehydrated when I got home (I know, I know, not good) and I wanted salt. Since I was having company and I had ridden my bike for almost 4 hours I figured I was fine to partake in some pretzels, a small handful of chips and some Thai Food we had delivered (the gals came over to play Bridge). I also drank a beer and two glasses of wine (okay 3). We played bridge until midnight and I think I stopped shoving food into my mouth around 10 p.m. So I think some of the weight gain is salt. I do feel bloated today, but I also feel like my muscles are rocks — they are very tight.

I have to admit I wanted to lie about the scale. I was just going to take my weight from last week when I got home from Memphis and put that in — that would have shown me down a pound. But the problem is I’ve developed this extremely inconvenient conscience and I want to be honest and real about this whole journey. Someday when I look back on it, I want to see these moments of imperfection. I want to record these moments where I feel like I am doing everything right, but really I’m not. Some day when I want to say “I just don’t understand,” I’ll have this journal to say “here, right here, this is your problem.” I’ve been partying too much the last couple of weeks. I don’t enough groceries in my refrigerator. I’ve been ordering in Greek Salads (they are not as harmless as they appear). Any opportunity to take a slight indulgence — I said what the heck; I’ve been exercising like a demon. I’ve been taking a big ride on the slippery slope.

This morning I was in the kitchen looking at the empty take out boxes and I just couldn’t stop asking myself “When will you EVER LEARN!?!?!?!” There are certain Laws of Fitness and no matter how many times I try to break them, they are still there. Like my sneering scale, there is no way to get around it — you do the crime, you do the time. The first law of Fitness is exercise does not give license to overeat. I wish it was not true. I wish I could do a triathlon on Sunday, Run 3.5 miles on Tuesday, work out with my trainer on Wednesday, do hill repeats on Thursday, work out with my trainer again on Friday, Run 5 miles on Saturday, Ride my bike 55 MILES on Sunday, eat whatever I want and wake up and find that I have lost weight. Nope, as many times as I try to prove it not true, exercising does not override bad food choices. If I want to lose weight I have to watch everything I am eating (and more importantly drinking).

Do I think it is a real 4 pound gain? No. I think I’m retaining something, water, air, bad karma — whatever it is, it will go away, but I can’t ignore it. I’m sure next week I’ll be down some big number and we’ll all be dancing in the streets with joy. That too will be a false number and the truth will be somewhere in between. I guess it is kind of like a pop quiz in school, a bad score does not mean that you will flunk the entire course but it is a good check on where you are right now. I flunked this week’s pop quiz. I have given myself a lot of little permissions that have added up to one big violation. That’s why I am glad today has arrived. It is like a new term — I got a B for the first term. I lost 25 pounds, had some improvement in my races and have seen improvement. I don’t deserve an A, but I’m going to try for one this term. That’s all anyone can do, try harder next time.

One thing we talked about at WW on Friday is the idea that you can only worry about what comes next. Worrying about what I did even 5 minutes ago is a waste of time. I can’t change 5 minutes ago. All I can do is do better next time — next meal. I really want to beat myself up about the last couple of weeks, but what’s the point? Better I should learn from my mistakes than punish myself for them. I used the stress of my family and work as an excuse for not taking care of myself. Classic mistake. The more stress I have, the MORE I need to take care of myself. I have to learn to change my response to something that nurtures me instead of ultimately punishing me. I think indulging in wine and chips after a stressful day makes me feel better. In fact it ultimately makes me feel worse. The next day I can’t run as fast, my blood pressure is higher, my heart has to work harder, my muscles are more tired and my body (that did nothing wrong) gets punished for my metal stress. That doesn’t seem fair.

The weather yesterday was gorgeous. Missy, Melissa, Amy and I rode to Nyack and thoroughly enjoyed being outdoors for the whole day. (I hit a max speed of 36.5 MPH on my bike!!!!) Today’s weather is gorgeous. I am ready to renew and take good care of myself. Today is a full day of rest. I feel my muscles need it. I have a little work I have to get out of the way (so nobody will be screaming at me tomorrow), but then I can sit and read a book and meditate on my blessings and enjoy this perfect, beautiful day. Second Law of Fitness: For every push there must be a rest. For every repentance a forgiveness.

Namaste

“To understand is to forgive, even oneself.” Alexander Chase

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5/29/05 No Entry (164)

Out bike riding all day. Played Bridge all night.

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5/28/2005 Water Balloons (165)

Saturday. Good Lord I can use a rest. My legs are exhausted. I walked up to Central Park (1 mile). Ran from Bethesda Terrace to practice at 90th (1 mile) and then did a 4 mile pace run with the marathon team. I’m pooped. My legs are ready to go on revolt so no more running until Tuesday. I was a little distressed to hear him say that the pace we are running 4 miles today is the pace we’ll be running 18 in a couple of weeks. If that is the case then I’m looking at a 5 hour 14 minute marathon — yuck. An 11 minute mile would bring me in 4:48 — I like the sound of that much better. Well, listen, finishing is the thing, I can’t worry right now about 26 minutes in November. Lot’s of work to do until then.

Tomorrow a bunch of us are going for a bike ride to Nyack (which I will take as an easy ride and not push). Monday I will do an easy swim and take the day off my legs as Tuesdays are going to be our hard run days.

I went to WW meeting yesterday morning. Bad news is I was up .6. Good news that was including the 4.6 loss in Florida! So I am officially down 30.2 pounds according to them. I understood the up .6 (considering how badly I ate in Memphis.)

Sometimes it feels like my quest to balance everything in my journey to fitness is like holding a balloon filled with water and several holes — you cover one hole (say exercise) and another hole pops open (food). You cover that hole and another pops open (Dad gets sick). The cycle goes on and on. There are a lot of holes (family), (work), (exercise), (food), (relationships). I keep trying to stop the water from getting out, but somehow, I am left standing here with a limp and soggy balloon in my hand and my feet are standing in a puddle of water. Nothing to do but fill it up again.

I got some good support from my WW group. I have a good group. Lot’s of hard living in our group. Every week I like our leader Marianne more and more — she is sympathetic without being patronizing or too cheerleaderish. If one person doesn’t have a good idea, another does. We talked a lot about claiming our power over our food. I like the image — I just don’t know how to do it. One woman said she actually has conversations with her food. I don’t know if I want to go to that extreme.

I also worked out with Rhonda yesterday. We had a good workout but I think my energy is still low. I’m still need a little more rest. I think my gym workouts are really helping my overall fitness so I want to keep those going.

Namaste

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5/27/2005 She Who Runs Like Snail (166)

Friday. Feelings. Hmmm, I guess I feel tired and …. duped. Yes I feel duped! I was tricked last night and I’m not very happy about it.

Last night on our marathon training schedule was a 3-5 mile easy run. I was looking forward to it. That sounds so easy. 3 miles? I don’t even start running until I’ve finished the first 3 miles. Although the first 3 miles are always the toughest for me, it would have been fun to just stop after 3. I imagined a nice easy, flat 3 mile jog with the sun setting, everyone smiling, birds chirping and dogs romping. That would have been lovely. I didn’t get to do that.

One of the things they recommended to us for Thursday night practices was to join up with the Nike running club. On Thursday nights at Nike town 57th and 5th at 6:30 p.m. Nike hosts a FREE running club. You go there and they have a bag watch, coaches for the workout and refreshments afterwards. All free. Sounds great right?

Before I even got there, a woman came up to me on the street and introduced herself as a TNT participant doing the marathon. She recognized me from Tuesday practice and said she was going to the Nike running club. Great I thought to myself, this will be just like another team practice. Her name was Jill, quite nice and friendly. I told her I was a little nervous about going all the way into the runners’ world as I am a very slow runner and usually just get through my running as a means to finish my triathlon (which is really just about having a nice swim and a long bike!) She said she was slow too — she wasn’t going to do anything faster than a 9 tonight because she was tired. Oh boy, I sensed trouble coming.

When we got to Nike, everyone was so nice. Cheerleaders all over the place. Several people came up and introduced themselves “you’re new right? I’m so and so.” (I know now they were Nike people). I must have looked like a deer in headlights because I could tell by looking at everyone in that room that they were all runners — real runners, Missy and Melissa kind of runners. No woggers here. I was looking around for anyone I knew. Nobody…..

A woman named Patricia introduced herself. She was not with Nike, but was a regular at the club. I said “Hello, I don’t run, this is my first time, I’m a slow runner” which became my mantra for the evening. I was using it like an Indian name, “I’m Connie, Run-Like-Snail.” We started chatting and I told her that I have been doing triathlons and since running was my weakest link I was doing a marathon to attack it. She said “Ohhhh, you do triathlons. I knew you looked athletic. When you said you didn’t run I thought that sounded weird, you look like someone who runs.” I almost fell over. “You think I look Athletic?” I said in disbelief. “Yeah, you look really Athletic.” I was so happy, that had to be the best compliment I have ever received in my life. (Although I got a nice compliment from Mo the other night — she said I looked younger now than when she first met me. That was nice too). I felt like someone had just handed me a bouquet of roses. Athletic, she thinks I look Athletic. I decided then and there that I LOVED the Nike runnings club. She didn’t say anything about my shape — just something about my overall presence. It was just perfect. It’s even better than being called healthy. (Which is nice too.)

The group runs the two blocks together to the gold statue in front of the Plaza Hotel where we stretch and go over the workout. As we are heading out the door one of the coaches introduces himself — Terrence. Very nice, TONS of energy and runs like the wind. He asked how I was doing. I gave a grimace and said I was nervous being “Connie-runs-like-a-snail” and all. He said “don’t worry we’ll look after you. The most important thing is that you came out.” Uh huh. He took off to greet everyone at the statue.

We get to the statue and we start a little stretching. Not too much, just the basics and then Terrence gets up and announces the workout. “Listen up people, Tonight we are doing hill repeats.” Everyone cheers like this is a good thing. (They plant Nike people in the crowd to cheer for everything.) I started looking around in a panic. “What? Hill Repeats? I don’t do Hill Repeats! I’ve made a career out of avoiding Hill Repeat Workouts with TNT.” OMG, I couldn’t leave now as I had introduced myself to all these people — they knew I was there for the workout. It became apparent that I would have to do hill repeats. I started to hurt and I hadn’t even stepped one foot into the park. My fantasy of the easy 3 mile jog with a bunch of casual runners dissolved. I was in the runners cave. I was in the group receiving the secret handshake. They were welcoming me like, like, like a RUNNER!! Oh my God!! How did I get here?!?!

Then Terrence says “minimum 3 repeats, but I would really like to see 10.” He repeated it about twenty times, “once we get to Cat Hill I’d like to see you get 10 repeats in but the minimum is 3. Make your hill workout somewhere between 20-30 minutes.” 3 repeats of Cat Hill? Okay, that’s the minimum. That’s what I would do. I’ll get out of the park with some dignity and go lick my wounds in private. This was going to be embarrassing and this was going to hurt. I’m still not totally recovered from Sunday’s Triathlon and now I was in the park doing Hhhhhhhill Repeats.

So we start running toward Cat Hill, it’s probably a 1/2 mile to 3/4 of a mile. It didn’t take long for EVERYONE to leave me in the dust and I found myself, once again running by myself. There were no 12 minute milers here. Then I heard someone running right behind me for a couple of minutes. I slowed down so she could catch up; her name was Liz, first time and didn’t know her way around the park so I told her about Cat Hill and the workout. She didn’t know what hill repeats were, and I didn’t tell her. Let her find out on her own….

When we got to the bottom of Cat Hill everyone was waiting for us before they started. I thought that was nice. We waited and waited and then I saw a group coming up from behind with one of the coaches. There were about six people jogging to the group. They were slower than me!! Okay, 50 people faster, six people slower — that’s about right. That’s about how it always is.

Our workout was to run hard up the hill, look at our watch and run 1.5 to 2 times slower down. So if we ran up in 1 minute (hah!) run down in 2 minutes. If you ran up in 2, down in 3, etc…. So we started running up Cat Hill. I was slow, but I was steady. Of course when we got to 3, Terrence comes running up and asks how I’m doing. I had to confess I was okay. He said “what lap are you on?” I should’ve lied but I couldn’t think that fast. I said “3.” He said “okay two more.” Two more? I thought, I’ve already been out here for what, 3 hours? I looked down at my watch that I started at the beginning of the hill workout and it said 12 minutes. I almost died. 12 minutes? I’ve only been out here 12 minutes? Just shoot me; I’m going to have to do more hill repeats. I can’t walk away with my tail between my legs. So I started repeat #4.

Then people started saying things to me. One woman came up and said “Wow, you’re strong. This is your first workout and you are really doing great on the hills.” I thought to myself “I look strong? Everybody is passing me.” “Yeah,” she said “you look real strong, this is a hard workout.” Every time I went up the hill I thought I was going to die, but then every time I went down the hill I said I can do one more. (See yesterday’s blog about childbirth). I finished repeat #4 in 16 minutes. So it was taking me 4 minutes to do the round trip. When I got to the top, Terrence said “how many more can you do?” I looked at him stupidly without thinking and said “I do whatever you tell me do.” “That’s the right attitude, two more.” I thought I might die. On #6 there were 3 of us going up the hill together. Terrence asked us what laps we were on. The two of them said 8 and I said 6 and he told us to make this our last lap. My watch said 27 minutes which was exactly what he told us to do, somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes. I started to run back.

As I was running back I kept thinking where is everybody? A couple of people were walking back to the Nike store but using the Melissa philosophy of “if I run faster this will be over sooner” I hightailed it back to the Nike base. I was nervous I would be the only one. When I got there it was half full. Someone put a bottle of water in my hand and there was a line of people taking the fruit and bagels that Nike put out. How did they all beat me back there?

Then I ran into two young women who were doing the SF Marathon with TNT (I was wearing my TNT shirt so they introduced themselves). I asked them where they were coming from and they said they just ran along the road for 3 miles — Terrence told them they didn’t have to do the hill repeats because they were new to running. I almost screamed. What? He said you didn’t have to do it? They were too skinny little wispy girls. They would have flown up and the hill if they just exhaled. Then I started to realize that all these people who back earlier than me didn’t do the hills, they just did their own workout and used Nike for the bag watch! I was the only idiot who went out with the crazy people. Duped!!!

So then Terrence and the other psychos got back (they probably did another 20 hill repeats for fun.) Terrence comes up to me and asks what my splits were. I said didn’t do that well because all of my splits were the same 2 minutes up and 2:20 back. He said that was very good that all of my splits were the same, but he would have preferred that I make the downhill 2:40 and then I would have been able to do the uphill in 1:50 and that would be my goal for next time. HAH, I laughed to myself, you think I’ll be duped into this again? Next time…. Then I started to think about it. If I went down that hill in 2:40 I would be walking. But I realized that maybe, just maybe, I could have gone up a little faster. Some of those people were just busting a gut getting up that hill. Really running hard, hard, hard. Melissa and Missy hard. I was just trying to get up without dying. But maybe, just maybe next time I could try to bust a little bit more and try to get up there in 1:50 and then my 2:20 coming down would be about right. I’m not making any promises, but maybe I might consider it……

Wakan Tankan Nici Un

(“May the Great Spirit walk with you” in Cherokee)

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5/26/2005 Childbirth (167)

Thursday. Thanksgiving. Happy to be home. Happy to be building some kind of normalcy in my schedule. Had my training session with Rhonda yesterday morning. My armpits hurt today. Not really my armpits, the top corners of my pecs (close to my armpits) are sore. But the good news is I seem to have muscles starting to pop out in my arms. Even though there is still a lot of wave waddle, I think they are starting to look stronger. We have another session booked for Friday so I can start to get caught up. I should be a little more rested by then and ready to work harder.

We had bike pickup last night so after retrieving Sylvia I headed into the park and hooked up with the New York City tri team. I got a chance to chat with coach Kim (who is doing Lake Placid Ironman again this year). She is so pleasant — I have yet to see her without a smile on her face. I discussed my overall strategy for the marathon and triathlon training and she thought it sounded like a good plan. She thought that my triathlon training will actually be a very good base for the marathon training and give me a little “leg up” on the whole experience (as opposed to starting training cold.) She agreed with my idea of concentrating on the marathon training 4 days and use my two cross training days for cycling. Throw in a swim on the slow run days.

So my sched will be:

Monday — XTraining Day — workout with Rhonda and bike (spin class as an option)
Tuesday — Marathon Training — GTS in park
Wednesday — XTraining Day — workout with Rhonda and bike
Thursday — Nike Town running club — or treadmill workout followed by swim
Friday — Day off — stretch, yoga, sleep
Saturday — Marathon Training — LSD, long slow distance with team
Sunday — Return to a.m. swims. Short training run could be done before a.m. swim

I watched the NYC Tri team run last night and boy it looked hard. Three twenty minute out and backs. It looked so hard I said to Kim “I don’t even think I could do that.” (Even though I just did a triathlon). A classic case of sports amnesia.

Stephanie explained sports amnesia best when she described her half ironman was like giving birth. During the experience you are in excruciating pain and yelling at everyone. After the experience you are filled with exhilaration and pride — totally forgetting the painful details. I get that same feeling with running races all the time. When I am doing a triathlon or a 10k or higher the whole time I am thinking — I hate this, this hurts, why am I doing this? As soon as I am finished someone will come up to me and say “hey do you want to do such and such a race next weekend?” Before I know it a resounding “Sure!” comes out of my mouth and I get all excited about the upcoming race.

There are a lot of similarities between endurance events and childbirth. There is a long gestation period, a painful output and a happy result. Endurance athletes think back on their races with fondness just as a couple reminisces about their children’s youths. Remember when little Joey learned to walk? Remember that first 10k? Remember when little Susie spoke her first words? Remember when you completed that first open water swim? Our endurance events are our babies. We nurture them, we are disappointed by some, but we always love them despite the sweat, pain and exhaustion they may cause. I talk a lot about the day when I break a 10 minute mile being the day that I will throw a big party. It will be like celebrating my endurance bat-mitzvah (or confirmation — it’s a non-denominational experience!)

We talk about our results like children. We can recite results from 10 years ago. Ask any runner what their best result was and I bet they can tell you the race, the year and what they were wearing. We love results but we also get mad at them. Did you see my 10k results last week? Weren’t they just perfect? I’m so mad at my results from that half-marathon I could just scream. Like parents, endurance athletes are not always perfect. They can plan and plan for a certain result and like the would-be-doctor-turned-poet, you don’t always get what you planned for. Each race is different but it is still the product of an individual’s effort. They can be a source of frustration and a source of pride.

I’ve had 6 triathlon babies and now it is time for a marathon. (Is that like 6 girls and a boy or 6 boys and a girl?) Of course I want it to be a perfect marathon with a great result — something I can be proud of for a lifetime. But, the reality is, I will love the results of that marathon no matter what because it will be the best of me at this point in my life. Brown-eyed, blue-eyed, curly hair or straight — those results will always have a little bit of me in them and they exist as their own unique experience. As long as I finish with ten fingers and ten toes it will be okay with me.

Namaste

“One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child’s name and how old he or she is.”
Erma Bombeck

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5/25/2005 All Grown Up (168)

Wednesday. Had my first marathon training session last night. Felt strange to be starting up with a whole new team. I did the beginner workout which was two loops around the reservoir. Wasn’t bad, my legs were very tight. Saw the entire Tri-Life (Team training for the Ironman) running the reservoir. I’m so slow, I’ll never catch up to any of them. Well, I have a couple of years to work on it.

I saw coach Scott up there and I wanted to tell him that I finally crossed a triathlon finish line without him, but I figured I would wait until another time when we weren’t running in opposite directions. He has crossed me over 5 triathlon finish lines, Memphis was the first time he wasn’t there jumping up and down and saying something inspiring to me at the end. I can remember each and every one of the things he has said to me:

Disney 2003 — I was second to last for the team to come in, Scott was jumping 3 feet off the ground yelling “Yes! Yes! Yes!” To this day when I think of that it makes me get all teary.

St. Anthony’s 2004 — Scott held my hand and ran with me for a few feet and said “This is it; this is the moment you have been training for, now go for it.” I use that line on a lot of people now.

New York City 2004 — “You’ve come a long way baby!”

Westchester 2004 — Connie: “Scott, that was the 4th finish line you crossed me over” Scott: “Okay, when we get to ten we’ll shoot each other.” Hee, hee, hee — he has no idea that I am planning that finish line to be in 2007 in a former Olympic Village….

St. Anthony’s 2005 — Connie: “Scott, Scott, I’m going to finish in under 4 hours, I can’t believe it!” Scott: “Well of course you are, now fast feet are happy feet, pump those arms and go, go, go!!” I still laugh when I think of how he said “well, of course you are” like it was so silly for me to even think that I wouldn’t. I took 28 minutes off my best time to do that!

And then there was Memphis. First time I crossed a finish line without him. I feel like such a grown up triathlete now….

It’s funny, the smallest words of encouragement mean so much to all of us. Melissa and I will say things like “I got a thumbs up from Earl, isn’t that great?” We get all excited thinking we might actually be on the verge of doing something right.

One little “that’s better,” “looking good” or “that’s the way” can make your whole night. Someone acknowledging you, taking the time to say something encouraging is such a boost that I wish we could bottle it and give it out during those moments of quiet desperation. Imagine how nice it would be when just at the moment when you think you can’t go on anymore you whip out your flask of Atta Girl and take a swig to get you through to the next water station.

Last night during the marathon running I found myself in my familiarly awkward pace of running faster than the slowest runners but not quite fast enough to catch up with the slow runners, so once again I was running by myself. Then a really nice mentor named Laura came running up to me and started chatting away. At first I was very uncomfortable because I thought I would not be able to keep up, but she stayed just one foot ahead of me and on my side so I kept trying.

Soon another runner came up who knew Laura (her name was Robin) and they were chatting. In order to not block the other runners Robin jumped in front of me and kept talking to Laura. So I was flanked by these two runners — Robin in front and Laura on my left one step ahead. It was very strange –it was like they were pulling me along but no one was touching me. I found it amazing that they could both adapt to my pace without turning to look at me (how do they do that?) We ran together for about 1/4 of the Reservoir and I was definitely running faster and I was so pleased that I was actually running with people and keeping up — kinda. Then Robin said “well, I gotta take off now” and zoom off she went.

The fact that they both ran with me for awhile (and Laura continued to run with me) was so encouraging. Someone taking the time to say “hey, you’re not that slow, I can run with you” was really nice. I thought that was amazing to have that much control with your running that you could slow down to a snails pace and then zoom off. My friend Missy does that too. It’s a real talent. I’m always a little in awe that she will slow down to run with me, I think it must actually hurt her to run that slowly. In Memphis at the finish line I told Missy to get in front of me because I like to follow her feet. We had practiced for the More half marathon that she would jump in front of me on the hill and pace me up the hill. I never did the More, but finally we got a chance to use the technique in a race. Right, left, right, left…..

Bottom line, it is not the big promises that get us through the mileage, it is the little gestures. I’ve been blessed to have great friends who always have a smile or a cheer out on the course. Last night I saw Charlee and Earl and Amanda running the reservoir and their friendly faces were such inspiration. Even Mike was up there from my old Westchester team (I guess he is doing Ironman now) he said hello as he zoomed by and it felt like family up there. I felt proud to show off my triathlete family to Laura who has only known the running people. As they sped by I thought to myself, ‘these are my people, my family, my friends. I belong here.’ I am kind of a distant relative in the speed department but we share the same blood. It is kind of cool to be in one of the biggest cities in the world, in the middle of Central Park, running around a lake and feeling like you are home.

I feel like I am going off to college. The triathletes are my school mates I grew up with — I feel like I’ve known them forever. The running team is my new school. They are all very friendly and I’m sure I’ll grow to love them as much as my triathlete friends, but right now I feel like I am leaving home. I’m all grown up now — Scott doesn’t have to cross me over the finish line, I’m running with others, I’m taking on a marathon. Yep, I’ve graduated to college. Not sure I am ready, but willing to give it a try. November 6th is graduation day.

Namaste

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