QUOTE OF THE DAY (OR MORE): "No, no. You don't understand. This is an '89 Calico. I'm pretty sure that exceeds the Kelly Blue Book value. The cat's totaled." --A comedian whose name I forget talking about a vet who presents a $3,000 bill for a 12-year-old cat

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The agony of defeat OR huh... You really ARE what you eat...

With about 8 weeks go go until my 10th marathon, the Bay State marathon in Massachusetts (did I spell MA right?), I am in full training mode. I need a 3:45:59 to qualify for the revered Boston marathon, and my best time (set in May this year at the New Jersey marathon) is 3:50:14. Chah. I can do it! The Bay State has the highest percentage of Boston qualifiers every year, being a double 13.1-mile loop on pretty flat ground, thus my choice of that particular marathon. When I tell fellow runners what my next marathon is, I get a chortle and a: "ah. Going for speed, huh?" Yuppers, I AM. It seemed like the perfect choice until I realized that I return from a business trip to Germany the Friday before the Sunday on which the marathon is held. 1 1/2 days to recover from jet lag to go for my Personal Record and a BQ. oops. I'm just trying to ignore that little fact... details, details.

In the meantime, I've been training, and training during the summer sucks. It is (insert lots of whining) so hot. My long runs have been slower than usual, the combination of vacation-style eating habits and the heat have made me struggle with speedwork somewhat, and I have been skipping my resistance training.

THIS week, though, has given me reason to smile. I have kicked ass (and I do say so myself) during my two speedwork sessions this week (albeit they are shorter because it's a recovery week, but I'm patting myself on the back, anyway).

Both speedwork days I ate no junk food and lots of fruits and veggies, and lo and behold... my evening runs were awesome. Huh. Hot dang. Do you think there might be something to this "you are what you eat" thing? I wonder if all those nutritionists are right?

My first speedwork session was only 5 x 1K (.62 miles) repeats (after a 1.5-mile warm up and before a 1.5-mile cool down). My time on the track happened to coincide with the high school cross-country team out there on the track doing their speedwork. They were doing repeats of 800s (.5 miles). So: an old lady juxtaposed with skinny-minny high school kids.... oh... and Sophie, running around the track with me intermittently. It's hot for Soph with 2 fur coats (God knows how she has any hair left with all of the hair she sheds inside the house), so she takes breaks every so often, sitting on the side for a lap or two, then joining in. Problem is... after her break sometimes, she will sprint across the field to catch up to me (it's beautiful to watch), and she kept cutting off the high school runners. oops. my bad. well, Soph's bad.

Anyway... I digress. So here I am running speed laps with the skinny-minny high schoolers. Doing repeats of a slightly longer distance than the teeny-boppes. Well, here's the point of my story. During one lap I was behind a skinny-minny teenage girl in the middle of her speed interval... and I was approaching. Huh. I thought to myself. I'm going faster than she is. I wasn't the only one to notice this. Her fellow adolescents, doing a recovery lap, were tuned in to the situation. They were watching. I kept running. And I kept catching up. I got nervous. Should I pass her? It's going to humiliate her. Well, I didn't have much choice. I passed her at about a 7:10-minute-mile clip. I think she was stunned, and her cohorts were rolling. The poor girl would never hear the end of this. She stepped it up a bit, but so did I... it felt so good... and as she neared the end of her shorter distance, I kept going. Ahhh. The thrill of victory; the agony of defeat. Someone should use that as a tag line or something....

Yesterday, for my week's 2nd speed session, I was supposed to do a 3.5-mile tempo run at my 10K speed, supposedly 7:35-minute miles. When I tried to do this last week (a 5.5-mile tempo run at 7:35 minute miles), the best I could do was 7:44-minute miles resting for a couple of minutes after 2 miles and 4 miles. Yesterday, though, I was pumped from having passed the skinny-minny teeny bopper... AND I went out in the light rain just after a nice downpour had brought the temperature down 20 degrees. I was in a good place mentally.

And... I DID it! I ran my 3.5 mile tempo run in 7:18s - kicking in a 7:05 pace for my last 1/2 mile. This time, at the same track, a couple of teenage boys happened along just as I was starting. They ran a quick mile at about the same speed as I was going and then stopped, scratching their heads and watching me. Darnit if I was going to let up. I was less motivated when they left, but kept it up.

Not much humor in this post, sorry, but I am smiling. It's so easy to convince yourself you've lost what you need to do well - especially in the summer's heat and humidity- but now I feel like I can do it.

By the way... for my runner readers (and non runner readers if you're feeling cheerleader-like. I follow a blog called 26.2 Quest, a guy training for his very first marathon. Yesterday's post described the longest run of his life so far (14 miles) and asked for his followers to spread the word because he needs as much support as possible. If you're feeling kindly inclined, feel free to stop by and encourage him; that's what runners' comraderie is all about. While you're at it, I could use some support for my October 18th marathon BQ attempt. I've been hesitant to blog about it because I'm afraid of failure...but ya know what? I'll just keep trying! ;)


  1. Very nice. Keep up the great work. What your mind can see, your body can achieve.

  2. Yea! Yea! I'm so proud of you. Keep up your training. Do what you can within your own situation and what happens happens. But you're right. You don't give up.

    I love it when I pass up younger people. ;-)

    I will stop by 26.2 Quest. Thanks.

  3. Also, you are so right about eating right. Too much processed food/junk food kills endurance!

  4. You're right on about the food, I think. I've learned the hard way. I always had a fairly healthy diet, but lately I've been told by my gastro that I need to avoid certain foods altogether because they really make my body bonkers. And I'm not even a bullet like you. Good luck on your quest. I know you'll do it!

  5. Yea! New reader, each of us!

    Meanwhile, I hate to correct you, no matter how self-important we are, but it is all about Nat. We are just the medium...


  6. You're doing awesome. How you run in this heat is beyond me. My hat's (if I wore one) off to you! :)

  7. Eating junk food, particularly greasy fast food like McDonalds, definitely slows you down. I remember that clearly back when I was training for races. The other thing that used to make for difficult runs (at least for me) was suntan lotion. I don't know if there is any truth/fact to that, but I never wear lotion when I run. This is probably why I always go out for my runs so early in the morning :-) Good luck with your training for your Oct 18th marathon! You'll do great!

  8. Oh that's great! Congratulations on your running!

  9. Those nutritionists make stuff up. It's a bunch of new age hoodoo voodoo, like saying that the earth is round, or that you don't need leeches to cure sickness....
    Good job on your times. I have an award for you. (But it's for your blog, not your running.)

  10. How inspiring! I'm not a runner, but I'm impressed by those who are. And I used to be a dedicated walker...but after a summer of this and that keeping me from the track, I've once again become an overweight, out-of-shape couch potato. You've inspired me to GET BACK OUT THERE! :) Thanks! And good luck on your marathon. I have no doubt that you will qualify...and let us know all about it! :) I love your blog, by the way. And I LOVE Sophie!!! :)Keep up the good work!

  11. Yay for you! Your commitment is so impressive.

    The closest I've come to healthy eating lately is chocolate-covered strawberries.

  12. 10th marathon? WOW.

    I am giving you a standing ovation.

  13. Good luck. I admire anyone who can push themselves physically like this. To me, a Boston Marathon is watching four straight Yankee-Red Sox games.

  14. Way to go! How fun for you you (and a boost to your ego too) to pass the high schooler.

    I love the new header photo of you and Sophie, perfect!

  15. I will be your biggest cheerleader. Not size wise, um, you know what I mean. I am in awe of you in so many ways. Your artistic skills alone...

    I will fly back east to cheer you on; could we go sightseeing afterwards? Revisit my past?

    I might be the person you pass up; so don't laugh at me. You wouldn't because I am old; you do give old people a break, right? The High School P.E. classes are sometimes out when I am out and I can pass them. Cuz they are walking!!

    Love ya! Good luck! RAH RAH!! Good cheerleading? :)

  16. The eating right really hits home..... too much :)

    Thanks for the kind words :)

  17. You can do it; you can qualify for Boston. Stay after it.


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