Lesson two: rest matters.

August 10, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A lot of runners fear/hate rest days (though I can’t say that’s ever been a problem for me!), but it turns out they’re really important. Rest days are when your body “works” – that is, prepares for your next run based on what it learned during your last run. Plus, it gives your body an opportunity to replenish the energy it used all week.

Ideally, you will take a rest day either before or after your long run, and, unless you are Kara Goucher, at least one other day during the week. What will happen if you don’t, you ask?

Burn out! Injuries! Exhaustion!

No one, especially a first time marathoner, needs to run every day. In fact, you will probably be a better runner, with all working parts, if you don’t. So, take a rest.

(And P.S. “rest” and “cross train” are not the same thing! Don’t forget that!)

Source.

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A new memory

November 23, 2010 at 4:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Once again, we woke up at the crack of dawn, donned our gear, and headed towards the bus. Off to run our second marathon!

I was feeling excellent. I trained pretty well, I had a game plan, I had a companion. And I thought there was no way the second marathon could be as hard as the first one.

Wrong! It was so hard. But also so wonderful and so worth it.

We arrived at the start village really early – before 7 am – and that resulted in a lot of waiting around. It was freezing, and even though we had lots of layers on, we were ice cold. We killed time walking around and reading magazines, but the clock ticked slowly. It wasn’t until 10 am that we finally had to give up our bags and move to our corral (Chuck was already off with wave 2 at that point).

Laura and I lined up with Pat and Natalie (thanks for the pics!), peeling off layers as we moved closer to the start. The sky was clear and the sun was bright and the views across the Verrazano were extraordinary. I felt amazing. I was ready.

Our plan was to run 10:15-minute miles for as long we could, ideally though mile 20. The first mile over the bridge was crowded, and we were slower than that; the second mile was downhill and speedy, and we made up the time.

Then we were in Brooklyn, and I had to pee. I waited as long as I could stand it, but finally, I had to stop at mile 5. I told Laura and Natalie to go ahead, but they wouldn’t have it. The lines were long and we lost about 7 or 8 minutes waiting. It was a lot to make up, and I felt pretty sure that we were going to have to let go of the 4:45 goal.

We picked up where we left off and powered through the next few miles in good time. Between 7 and 8 we saw my family and friends – those are the happiest times of the race, always. Shortly after that we saw Chuck’s mom and brother, and then Laura’s family, which was also wonderful.

And then there was a long stretch before we saw anyone else. We had a great fun moment in Fort Greene when “Single Ladies” was blasting and all the runners were dancing; when we got to Williamsburg, we heard “YMCA” and everyone did all the moves. But I was starting to feel tired and I was worried, because it was too soon. When we got to the halfway point, and moved into Queens, I was already concerned about finishing.

The Queensboro bridge, at miles 15-16, is famous for being so difficult – it’s the longest, steepest hill in the race and comes at a challenging time, when one’s body is just starting to rebel. The bridge is my wall. I felt pretty miserable running it, and I didn’t recover once we were on the other side.

On First Avenue, Natalie went off to see her family, and Laura and I were alone. We got a boost of energy seeing her parents and husband, but then had to face that long stretch into the Bronx – 60 blocks – on our own. There were a few surprise highlights along the way – seeing my boss, and then Chuck’s mom and brother – but I was already so miserable at that point that it didn’t have much of an effect.

We had slowed to 11:30-minute miles, and we were both suffering. We had long ceased chatting except for the occasional “Water?” or “I’m dying” or “Go ahead without me if you can.” But we stayed together – we were somehow still on the same page, fading at the same rate.

The mental mantra for the last 8 miles was “one foot in front of the other.” There were many, many times when I thought I could not go on. The 4:45 goal was long gone, but I had to finish. We had to finish. We just nudged each other along, without speaking.

At mile 24, we saw my family and friends again, just before heading into the park for the final stretch. I wanted to burst into tears when I saw them. We couldn’t really stop – we were afraid that we wouldn’t be able to start again – so I grabbed some Gu and kept going, knowing that the end was in sight.

Just like last year, I was digging from a place inside me that I didn’t know existed to get through those final miles. When we turned onto Central Park South, we could see Columbus Circle, and it never seemed farther away. But we knew we had just over a half mile to go, and there was no question about finishing.

Finally, finally we turned back into the park. I could have burst into tears at any moment. Seeing the finish line is a feeling like no other I can describe. As we approached, we put our arms around each other and crossed together. Relief! And joy! We did it!

4:58:28.

Not 4:45, but under 5 hours and 27 minutes better than last year.

To be totally honest, I was disappointed. I know a 27 minute improvement is a lot, but I really thought I trained so much harder and better than that this year. I actually thought it would be easy! I was definitely humbled.

But then I remembered that the point of this is not being fast. I became a runner to honor the memory of my grandparents, and to raise money in hopes that there will be an end to Alzheimer’s Disease in my lifetime. I have worked hard towards those goals, and I have results to show for it. So I’ll just be proud of my time and effort, and hope that my grandparents are too.

And anyway, I need something to work towards for next year, right? 🙂

‘Twas the night before the Marathon

November 7, 2010 at 2:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

It’s go time.

We just came back from the team carb dinner at Carmine’s. It was wonderful!

Once again, David Hyde Pierce came to greet and thank the team.

I was shocked and humbled to receive beautiful gifts from the team for my help with the mentor program, including this wonderful sweatshirt:

Now we’re home and waiting! I think I should be nervous – I was in a panic all week – but I feel great. I can’t wait to get moving.

And these two boys are DEFINITELY ready:

 

Team R2R, have an AMAZING time tomorrow! You have all worked so hard and you are going to have a wonderful race. I can’t wait to see you at the finish line.

Give me your lunch

November 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The expo is open! My parents are en route! It’s really, really Marathon weekend!

And I’m a bit short on funds.

As I hope you know, I am running the Marathon to raise money for my very favorite organization, the Alzheimer’s Association. I’ve committed to raising $3,000, and I’m not quite there yet.

I have received a number of generous contributions to date, all of which I am deeply grateful for, but I have to admit that I have a favorite. It was a donation that came from a blog reader who I don’t even know (99.4% of the people who read my blog are related to me, so that’s saying something!), and it was $5. It was the first and only $5 donation that I have received. Do you know how awesome $5 is? It’s the very embodiment of the phrase “every penny counts.” This person didn’t give nothing because she couldn’t give $50. She just gave me what she could. Maybe it was her lunch money. I don’t know. But her generosity has not been overlooked.

So, if you are feeling generous today, perhaps you could give me your lunch too. I promise, it’s going to a wonderful cause.

http://2010teamr2r.kintera.org/meghann 

THREE DAYS!!!!

Few things in life match the thrill of a marathon

November 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Everything is already up in the park!

Last night Team R2R met up for the final official group run before the marathon. Laura and I did the 5 mile loop together. As we approached Tavern on the Green, near the end of the run, we ran around the finish line in reverse. We all took a moment to stare at it and freak out. And then we gave our buddy Fred Lebow some lovin’.

I’ve been having some nightmares! And I’m a little tense. I’ve secretly been worrying that I won’t be able to keep up with Laura, but the thought seems not to have crossed her mind. So I guess I’ll just have to adopt her attitude.

FOUR DAYS!

I love running

November 2, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

I saved this post for near the end, thinking that it would be a good time for me to wax poetic about all that running has done for me. When I made that decision, I didn’t believe I would burn out again this year. But I did. So, needless to say, this post didn’t exactly write itself.

It has been a good exercise for me, though. To force myself to remember why I continue to run. My first priority is and has always been doing anything I can to end Alzheimer’s Disease. But beyond that are all these other wonderful reasons to keep going.

1. I have made the most amazing friends through running. Yes, that’s definitely because I was on a team. (Everyone should join a team!) But training with other people is such an incredible bonding experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

2. You can’t eat like crap when you want to run long distances (or any distances!). My diet has improved so much.

3. That said, you can eat like a total monster AFTER a long run, guilt-free!

4. It’s something wonderful for Chuck and me to do together. We can trade experiences and spend more time together through running.

5. My body has changed – running isn’t a ticket to skinny, but I’m definitely leaner and stronger.

6. If I have a bad day, or I’m annoyed about something, or sad, it all disappears when I go for a run. That can be because I am with friends and can talk it out, or because I’m alone and can think things through. Or perhaps it’s just because running hurts and is a serious distraction from stressing about anything else!

7. The formula is really simple – when you put in the work, you get better. No, I’ll never qualify for Boston. But it feels pretty great to watch my times improve in each race I do.

8. I didn’t think I could do it, but I did. It’s pretty amazing to succeed at something that seemed impossible. Actually running a marathon – or, really, running in general – was, for me, the relative equivalent of playing a sonata or landing on the moon: something I felt I physically wasn’t capable of. But I am! That’s exciting.

FIVE DAYS LEFT! I finally downloaded the pictures from last year onto my computer – here are a few.

That’s my friend Marissa illegally running with us in mile 23!

When Megan and Ronny busted us walking in mile 25.

Crossing the finish line!

I insisted that the person who handed me the medal actually put it around my neck!

Last official team run is tonight. I can’t believe we’re already here!

Bedizzle, bedazzle

November 1, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Last Tuesday we gathered at the Alzheimer’s Association for a run and some silliness.

We did 4 miles? Not sure. Kind of speedy!

And then we came back to get our jerseys all jazzed up for the marathon.

Laura bought a REAL bedazzler! Amazing!

It was fun for everyone to be together casually before race day.

I did end up bringing my running stuff to Buffalo, but I didn’t end up running. It was because I was having too much fun! So tonight I’m going to go straight to the gym to sprint. Then group runs on Tuesday and Thursday, and that’s IT!

The Marathon is 5 days and 20 hours away!

The last 10 miles

October 26, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Oh, those last 10 miles. They act so innocent two weeks before the marathon. But I know how they’ll be on race day!

A pretty grumpy cast of characters gathered bright and early Sunday morning to run through the last 10 miles of the marathon course. It wasn’t a bad run, really – once we were going, I felt just fine. And I got to chat with a lot of different people. The consensus was that we’re all just done! Everyone is excited about the marathon, but also unbelievably ecstatic that training is basically over.

 

I have to admit, when we were running those last 400 meters into the park, I had a tiny tear in my eye, thinking of when I crossed the finish line last year. The thought that I get to cross it again so soon, hopefully achieving a time goal, is overwhelming! It’s a good feeling, though, and one that I need to carry me through these next two weeks.

 

Tonight the team is getting together to decorate our jerseys and make posters for marathon day. All are welcome, so if you’re planning to come out on race day, stop by to make a sign! 7 pm at the chapter – 360 Lex, 4th Floor.

The team is going for a run before hand – these will likely be my only miles this week, as I’m headed to Buffalo for a wedding on Thursday. I guess I could bring my sneakers there. Maybe. Maybe.

I’ll take Manhattan

October 22, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I went missing again.

This time of year is hard. Busy at work, lots of things to do in the evenings, and, of course, hours and hours of running.

Now we’re tapering – a confusing, funny time of short runs and rest before the big day. It’s certainly a relief, but it feels like cheating.

The last big run before the taper was a 20 miler on Sunday morning. This one was organized by the NY Flyers, and they were really generous to invite our whole team to participate. I was anticipating it with a mix of dread and relief – dread because 20 miles is a long way through the streets, and because we were organized into pace groups and I was worried about keeping up and getting lost; relief because the run was supported – even though we were not going to be in the park, there were three water and gu stops along the way.

The weather was perfect on Sunday morning, so we had that in our favor. And once we started running, I felt pretty great. I had joined the 10:30 pace group, and even though we were going a bit faster – closer to 10 – I thought I could keep it up.

And then.

And then the thing that always happens happened. I had to go to the bathroom. I’ve talked a bit about the issue before, but now I have to be really honest. Running makes you poop. Runners fear having to go mid-race. They (and I) work hard to wake up early and clear the pipes before big runs. Coffee, peanut butter, bananas. But it doesn’t always work, and Sunday was one of those days.

Running with a pace group was the least ideal time possible to have to go to the bathroom. If I stopped alone, I would lose the group. During a race, it’s my choice to stop, and I can’t get lost. On a regular run, my buddies would wait with me, or we’d just be in the park where I could catch up with everyone later. But in this situation, I really couldn’t fall behind.

I decided to hang on for dear life, and suffered through 5 truly unpleasant miles until we reached a bathroom. There was a long line – the 10 minute milers had gotten there just ahead of us – and I was last. So, even though I wasn’t the only person who needed to stop, my group started running again without me.

I had an idea of the course in my head and I figured I couldn’t be terribly far back, so I took off in a speedy way to catch up. I had the group in and out of my sights until I was forced to wait at a stop light, when luckily, someone from my group noticed me and pointed out that everyone had turned left. I finally caught up as we were going over the Brooklyn Bridge. I was exhausted from running a superfast catch-up mile, and the bridge is uphill. And, I realized, there was supposed to be a water stop in Manhattan, but there wasn’t. 7 miles in and I hadn’t had water since I left home at 6:15 am.

On the other side of the bridge, there was also supposed to be a water stop. I thought that meant right after the bridge, so when we had gone another couple of miles and saw nothing, I stopped into a convenience store for water. And lost the group again.

I caught up a short while later at the rest stop (of course, I wouldn’t have bothered with getting the water bottle if I had known it was so close). At that point, I was done with this run. I was frustrated with the whole set up. I just wanted to finish and get home and move on. And that’s what happened – we all just trucked through. No one really felt like chatting.

In the end, unfortunately, it was one of my least enjoyable runs all year. Constantly playing catch up really messed with my pace, and in no way did I feel like it was a trial run for the marathon. I didn’t like the pressure – not just to keep up, but to not get lost. So, I think I’ll stick to the lovely parks on the island of Manhattan for now.

In any case, running is on the down swing. I did intervals at the gym on Monday, and last night ran the 5 mile loop at a decent pace in the park. I probably won’t run again until Sunday, when we do the last 10 miles. Even though that run is also a street course with an unknown water/bathroom situation, I do know that I’ll be with my team, and that we’ll stick together.



Oops, I did it again

October 15, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Well, it rained last night. And I wanted to go to the gym, I did. But I haven’t been feeling well this week, and I can never really manage more than 3-4 miles on the treadmill, so I stayed home, made dinner, and had a very early bedtime.

Unfortunately, I have to work late tonight, so no running today either. This morning I had a faint thought of going out, but it was still drizzly, and I was still stuffed up. I was a little bummed, but I did a few sun salutations and downward facing dogs, plus some stretches Ali taught me to strengthen my legs, and I felt better.

So, three consecutive days of no running. Tomorrow we’re doing a 5K, and Sunday is the last 20 miler. This was probably supposed to be our longest training week, mileage-wise, but clearly that didn’t work out for me.

Sometimes life gets in the way, and we just have to do the best we can. Only human.

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