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February 2007 Archives

February 4, 2007


So what is my deal, you ask.
Well, it's February. It's cold. I don't know, I guess I'm just a little bit in the doldrums lately. I just watched "Master and Commander" last weekend and the main character's ship gets stuck in that so-named part of the ocean where the winds die down and leave sailors adrift and stranded on the airless and muggy sea. I kind of feel that way, the way that they were portrayed in the movie, the difference being that they were warm.

I am running, and even just managed to hit 40 miles for the week, but it's a huge effort and not something that I look forward to at all each day. I imagine that I must be getting fitter, but I still suspect that I've declined a far piece from where I was in the fall. I've just kept keeping at it, assuming that one of these days the spark will come along to ignite my passion for the training again...most likely warmer weather paired with a surprisingly encouraging race result.

Another thing that's got me down about the running is some reorganization of my team. There are some new guidelines, which all seem reasonable, but I'm not really sure yet how they'll pertain to me and my training. One sad consequence has been the resignation of several very talented members of our women's open team and I will really miss their camaraderie and inspiration, though I'm sure I'll see them around now and then.

Other stuff going on these days tends to be depressing to write about, which it probably part of the reason I haven't been writing. I got a terse, two sentence rejection email from the company I've been interviewing for, which I thought had to be a mistake after having taken a two hour writing test and interviewing with five people. It just seemed unlikely that would be the way they'd tell me, but four days later no one has answered my email or voice mail asking about it, so I guess it's back to finding another job to apply for. That happened the same day that started with me tumbling head first down a flight of stairs to the subway in a fall that one witness described as "spectacular". I gave myself a good healthy bump on the head in the process, but it's the colorful bruises that are developing on my legs are a stark reminder that I'm very lucky not to have broken a bone.

The next running related event on the calendar now is a half marathon next Sunday. I didn't end up doing the other one I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. I won't be breaking any records, but I think it will be helpful just to see where I am fitness-wise.

In the end, I'll be fine though. One side-effect of working in the news, for me, has been a heightened sense of perspective. There are normal ups and downs in this world and the occasional drama to muddy the flow of life, but I'm constantly exposed to images of people who really are in life or death situations, who are faced with going on when they've lost everything and don't have a choice but to continue functioning under circumstances that are nothing less than devastating. I feel the weight of my own decisions and obligations, but whenever I find them to be overwhelming, I don't have to look far to be reminded of how fortunate I really am.

February 6, 2007

Got to Believe It's Getting Warmer...

I'm not saying that it wasn't cold outside this morning, but somehow the knowledge that this is probably the coldest morning I'll see and that it's just going to start getting warmer from here on out...that made it all bearable. I bundled up the most I have so far this year, neck gaiter and hat and layers on layers and fleece upon lycra and wind pants over tights. No gloves though, because I'm obstinate and don't like wearing them. Honestly, with all that on it wasn't that bad, though it must have been because I think I could have counted all the runners I saw over six miles and still had a couple of chilly, ungloved fingers left over.

I was glad I did it though. Yesterday I wimped out and stayed indoors, putting on a heart rate monitor and riding the bike trainer for an hour instead. I still feel pretty good about that though since I came home after work and put in another hour, both of them at about 145 bpm. I read both the latest Running Times and Runner's World while I rode, so my brain is back to thinking a little more like a runner. Plus someone recently told me that the odds of me being able to survive the training I'd need to run a 2:47 were slim and nothing bucks me up faster than being told that I can't do something. I don't think my odd of success in that department are stellar by any means, but I'm still not ready to give up on that dream just quite yet.

As for racing, I'm still not really sure that I feel like it. It's funny. I usually so prefer racing to training, but maybe it's because I've set the bar so high for myself after all of last year's PRs, I just don't want to go out before I'm ready to run something really poopy and disappointing. So unless one of my friends wil run it with me, I'll probably pass on this Sunday's half like I did the one a few weeks ago. Plus, my guy's been out of town so much lately that I feel like I've hardly seen him in the last two weeks, so given the choice I'd rather spend Saturday night East Village bar hopping with my man, listening to bluegrass and buying each other cheap tequila shots than carboloading and going to bed early.

February 15, 2007

Icy Blues

I presume that this is what the park looked like this morning. I wouldn't know. I wasn't there. I was such a very good little runner girl for the first part of the week, running Monday morning and evening in preparation for the snow on the way.

And then when the storm held off until Tuesday night, we headed back out into the snowy park, dodging flakes and working up a sweat before the road had a chance to get really icy. So we earned our day off yesterday and didn't feel a bit of guilt sleeping in late and leaving the slushy roads to other, more masochistic fools. THIS morning however was a different story. Roads cleared, sunshine restored, there was no excuse not to be out there, but for various reasons, I just couldn't do it. I've got a lousy case of the stone cold winter blues.

Maybe it's the cold and maybe it's my career ennui and maybe it's just a cyclical thing that hits everyone once in a while, but my psyche seems to have taken a header into a snow bank and for the moment it's just hanging out there, shivering, wet and miserable. I did smile when I read my horoscope today though. Sometimes it really is like they know:

It would be all too easy to dwell on negative news now that Mercury, your ruler, is moving retrograde, but you don't have to take what you hear seriously. Make a conscious effort today and tomorrow to look a the world through rose-tinted spectacles. See only good things - and only good things will happen.

February 19, 2007

Running Socks

I'd really like to think that this morning was the worst of it and soon we'll start seeing real signs of Spring. Below zero after factoring in the windchill, we cloaked our weakness in the guise of common sense and decided it was just too damn cold outside for strain-prone day-after-long-run muscles. And what's the point of having nice bikes and fancy electromagnetic trainer thingies if you're not going to use them? So one nausea inducing hour of riding in place later, we didn't feel nearly so guilty about not venturing outside to run. I still don't understand why I can run for an hour with my heart rate around 170 and still feel pretty good, but an hour on the bike at 150 leaves me queasy and shaking.

Yesterday's long run (17 for me, 19 for J.) marked a ceremonial farewell of sorts. Way back in the Spring of 2000, I ran the Vermont City Marathon up in Burlington and stumbled across a fun little giveaway at their expo. SmartWool must have been a fairly new company at that point, because they were offering a deal where you could exchange whatever socks you were wearing at that moment for a new pair of theirs. As is sadly the usual case for me, I'm sure I was wearing a pathetic holey pair of worn out cotton bobby socks, so once I got over the embarrassment of handing them over, I was feeling pretty damn pleased with the deal.

So, flash forward seven years and there on the right, you will observe my beautiful pair of Burlington, VT SmartWool running socks. I still actually think of them as having extra padding under the heel and ball of the foot which is why I wear them for long runs, but the truth is that the fabric in those areas is literally translucent at this point. The holes in the toes have actually been darned back together on numerous occasions, but at some point it's necessary to face reality and accept the fact that life is transient and one's sock wardrobe is subject to seasons and change and all those other rules that apply to the world we exist in. It was just so hard for me even to make the move from those old familiar "3 pairs/$6" cotton ribbed socks of my childhood to the slinky polyester/olefin polypropylene synthetic masterpieces of foot technology that beckon to me at the checkout counters of running stores with their intimidating $12 a pair price tags. So to actually own a pair of moisture wicking, (formerly) cushioning, friction dissipating marvels and then face the hard truth that it was time to throw them away... I just couldn't do it on my own.

So thank goodness for Valentine's Day. I know I've found a truly stalwart partner in life when the man that I love gives me pink and red SmartWool running socks as a token of his affection. (In addition to other more chocolaty and silk and satiny tokens too.) The only caveat to my accepting the gift was...yes, you guessed it...the beloved old socks with their built-in toe ventilation system had to go. In the end, it really wasn't that traumatic. I still couldn't quite muster the strength to do it myself, but I left them on the floor by the door of the apartment and little elves whisked them away to their well-earned final reward.

February 25, 2007

Soft Surface, Easy Pace

I hemmed and hawed all week about whether or not to try racing this weekend and in the end, my body made the decision for me. It's hard to explain, but I've just been feeling a little...off, I guess, with the running. I'm getting in decent mileage, but it just seems like I get out of breath way too easily and my heart starts racing when I don't even feel like I'm putting out that much of an effort. A couple of times in the last week or so, my training partner has pushed the pace going up a hill or even on a flatter section and he leaves me behind like I'm standing still. And I know it's not me being too competitive or something silly like that, my legs just feel leaden and my lungs can't seem to get enough air into them.

So I was already feeling a little skeevy about trying to run four miles at under seven pace when my left calf started giving me an odd little twinge at the beginning of my run Thursday morning. I stopped and stretched and it felt fine after than, but then when I got to work the pain had become much sharper and I was having trouble walking down stairs without limping badly. I skipped the running on Friday and just spent an hour on the trainer instead, but even so I was still feeling some pain during the day so it just seemed silly to risk causing some real damage in a race that I was afraid was going to be a flop anyhow.

I think it's just as well. I've got a new part-time gig working on a radio show, so since I didn't have to beg out of work after all, I can save that credit for the next race that falls on a Saturday. Luckily the Coogan's 5K falls on a Sunday, so I can enjoy that one guilt free, even if I just hack the actual race. That one is really much more about the free Guinness and Corned Beef afterwards.

Oddly enough, as soon as I got to work this morning (instead of shivering on a cold starting line), my calf started feeling much better. Which makes me wonder how much of it was psychosomatic. I mean, it definitely did hurt and I could feel that the muscle was badly knotted up just below the back of my knee, but then why did it just magically relax once the race was no longer an issue? I'm going to have to get back out there and compete sooner or later, but just the idea of it makes me feel vaguely nauseous right now. Which is odd, since the racing has always really been the main point of the running for me. I've had my confidence shaken a bit by some advice I've gotten recently about having unrealistic goals based on my age and ability and that might be part of it, plus I'm very conscious of the weight I've gained since the marathon. I don't know exactly. I just know there's a good chance that the next time I race, my time is just going to really blow and it's really hard to get excited about putting myself through the pain and effort of competition just to be pissed off by the results.

And finally, lest I sound too hopelessly depressed and pessimistic, I had a really lovely run this evening. The snow has at last melted enough that I could get off that nasty, hard pavement and back onto the forgiving mud of the bridle path. I stretched really well and kept to a nice and easy 9-ish pace and everything seemed to function just as it's supposed to. I even added on a couple of miles at the end because it was so lovely out. The light had faded to the most hypnotic shade of violet and created the illusion that the thin crust of ice on the reservoir was generating its own soft white glow. The air had warmed just so slightly during the day and there was a softness about it that unmistakably hinted of spring and after seven miles, I wasn't quite ready to leave that behind. There's a lot of my life that requires too much in the way of thought and worry these days, but in just an hour there, I felt completely free and the world was mud luscious and puddle wonderful.

About February 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Change of Pace in February 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2007 is the previous archive.

March 2007 is the next archive.

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