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Archive for the ‘Elites’ Category

Day 8 of the 30-day running streak went by without a hitch. Had one of those magical runs home where I could feel my pigtails flying behind me, where I felt like I owned the streets, where I felt like the most beautiful creature on two legs even though surely I must have looked bouncy and ungainly… This woman ran 27 consecutive marathons (mostly by herself, as necessitated by her endeavor). I just don’t understand what the deal is with that massive cart… What would bum you out more if you were running a marathon: a bomb scare or rain that made your shoes & socks sodden?… This hottie French chef trained for the LA Marathon in just 8 days. Why he and everyone else is acting like it’s such a great and amazing thing is beyond me. What a terrible example he’s setting for people; folks who don’t know any better could get seriously injured! And, notice the braces he’s wearing on his knees, and his finishing time. Pbblt… My Green Mountain Relay teammate TW emailed me about this woman, Lisa Smith-Batchen, a few weeks ago. Her goal is to run 50 miles in each of the 50 states. I appreciated his affirming comments, “She is very friendly, like any other extraordinary runners.” Since I think pretty much all runners are extraordinary people, that must mean we all are very friendly… If you are looking for inspiration, or for just a little bit more of my blogging self, head on over to MsV’s blog, Gymnotes, and check out her “Women on the Rise” post and our comments in response to the questions she challenged us to. I for one am touched and honored to be among such fine company… I love these 9 Great Sounds of New York City, courtesy of MUG. My favorites? Morning, Whispering, and Bob. What are yours? What would you add to this list if you could make it 10 Great Sounds? I’d add the rattle of the N train as it heads into Queensboro Plaza (as I’m running on my bridge, of course)… I already told you about Sunday’s trail run, but I didn’t tell you what happened to BG afterwards… My relay team has finally been wrapped up, with all 12 runners committed (there’s a blood oath involved), happy  hours scheduled, and race legs assigned. We’ve got a handful of bloggers, tweeters and one podcaster. But we still can’t compete in the All-Blogger category. Damn? Nah… Some of my long-term readers may recall my post about the various levels of Skinny Jeans. Well, Claire takes it one step further with motivation being “J+B.” Funny (& true) stuff!.. I was going to head to the Poconos the weekend of June 11th, but now I think I need to stay in town and spectate at the New York Mini–and take some pictures of two of my favorite marathoners, Kara & Paula! Wow!

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I will say this: I hope the only reason I wouldn’t be at the finish line of the Boston Marathon waiting to cheer the racers across is because I am running it myself. There’s nothing like spectating at this race, I never want to miss it. The field (both elite and amateur) is deep with talent, and it is inspiring and humbling to watch them at their art. Overheard at the curb: “There are so many runners faster than I am.” Indeed, we all get so wrapped up in besting ourselves that it’s easy to forget where we land exactly in the continuum of speed.

All my favorite elite athletes flopped to varying degrees. In the women’s race, Dire Tune was a DNF and Salina Kosgei, last year’s champion, came in third this year behind Teyba Erkesso and Tatyana Pushkareva (who reeled Erkesso in from a huge lead to finish just 3 seconds behind her. It was pretty exciting to watch, I ws rooting for Tatyana.). Again, in the men’s race last year’s winner Deriba Merga came in third, bested by Robert Kipromo Cheruiyot (the Younger) and Tekeste Kebede. Ryan Hall (looking haggard) came in fourth, two seconds (2!!) behind Merga (like last year, Hall regained on the leaders after falling off the pack in the middle miles), and followed by Meb in 5th.

Meb Keflezighi

Roberty Kiprono Cheruiyot

But, other elites delivered an historic, memorable race, as we witnessed two records. Ernst Van Dyk (men’s wheelchair division) is the first athlete to win this race 9 times; and Robert the Younger smashed the course record (2:07:14) and completed the second-fastest marathon ever run in the United States (2:05:52). Thomas S. Grilk, the man who has been calling the race and greeting finishers from atop the finish line for nearly 30 years, said something along the lines of “it is rare that we get to stand in the presence of history like this” when announcing the awards ceremony for Van Dyk (who, naturally, was seated in his wheelchair). Whoops!

Then the crowds started to come, a sweating, grimacing tide of quick humanity. I think I caught these friends as they ran past: Robert, Allen, and Megan. But then I soon had to leave my spot at the sidelines to collect my luggage and get my train home, so I missed friends like SarahSarah (who ran a double), Elyssa and Barb. (Folks, I hope you know that you were in my thoughts even though I abandoned my post.)

There are the runners I simply must cheer for, no questions asked. They are: folks wearing a Team Fox or Team in Training singlet; people with their names on their shirts; and the fast, teeny women who finish with the earliest men (Way to run it, lady!). Oh, and I also like the fit old guys, the ones in their 50’s hanging tough with the pups, silver-haired and flashing by with a wink (they know they’ve still got it). My favorite racers, though, are the ones who revel in their finish. Like the guy who spread his arms and airplaned it in. Or Cheruiyot himself, who blew a big kiss to the crowd as he was less than 100 yards out.  Or the men and women who pump their arms, or look to the sky, or who put their chins down and battle it out with the one next to them to eek out a few extra seconds. And, I am slightly embarrassed to admit, whenever I see a couple cross the line holding hands, I get a lump in my throat.

Mark my words: I will race the Boston Marathon as a qualifying athlete. And when I do, I will blow kisses, I will propeller, I will smile, weep, glance at the heavens and think, If I can do this, then what else am I capable of?

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My marathon, my 26.2, my London is in 8 days.  But first, I am going to Boston to spectate. I will stand at the finish line and cheer for the elite men, then the elite women, and then finally for the speedsters, my friends, the riff-raff and the charity runners. This is one of the touchpoints of my annual cycle as a runner. One year, I will be there as a qualified racer, but for now, I must go, cheer and draw inspiration and motivation from the fastest among us. Normally I like to arrive Saturday night so I can poke around the Expo on Sunday–lots of companies use it as their launch for new products (it’s where I first set my sights on the Garmin Forerunner 405 in 2007)–but this year life’s twisted around to prevent me from leaving before Sunday afternoon.

This morning I ran 8.14 miles (let’s not forget the 0.14 miles, kids!!) and nearly the entire time I thought of my friends who will be racing the epic, historic course. Elyssa. Sarah (also a GMR teammate). Barb, a long-time blog reader who I hope to one day meet. Jeff. And Michael, who owns the PT clinic I use when I must. Robert and Antonia (also GMR teammates). Goodness gracious I am positive I’ve left folks off. Perhaps now is the time for me to say I love my network of NYC runners, it makes me so happy every year when I pull a few more quality people who run into my orbit. One day I want to have a massive party with everyone, where we celebrate our accomplishments and talk about running all night long. I digress.

The elites. Predictions. Yah, me & strict predictions is always a mess.  So I will tell you who I am rooting for, which is tricky. I am rooting for Meb and Ryan equally, since I love them equally. This is the thing about marathon runners: the closest thing we’ll ever get to a grandstanding athlete like baseball’s Manny Ramirez, football’s* Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson or Terrell Owens (ugh, end-zone dancing), or basketball’s Dennis Rodman is Sammy Wanjiru, who has publicly said he wants to break Gebreselassssie’s records. Which goes to show: Meb and Ryan play nice. they train together, they race together, they each hope to win but manage their victories or disappointments solo.  I guess deep down I want Ryan to win, the golden child, but I would still jump for joy if Meb did, too. I would like to see last year’s winner, Deriba Merga, run a strong race as well. Even though he won Boston last year, I still consider him an underdog, given his past racing results. As far as the women’s race goes, I am not so invested without Kara in the field–in fact, the only American LetsRun.com mentions in the bios is Michelle Frey, and I’ve never heard of her. (Perhaps that is my bad.) Nevertheless, I will root for Tune and Kosgei.

I ran this morning, my last chunky mileage run before race day (anything less than 15 really doesn’t count as a long run, does it?). It was nice, easy and humid. It’s the humidity that gets you, that’s what we said in Baltimore but it’s true for wherever there is moist air. It really does make the effort harder. Nevertheless, I managed to pull out a decent showing as I ran from Sunnyside to Astoria Park, around the park with a loop of the track, and then back home again. This is my “Hell Gate” route, since it takes me alongside of and next to the Hell Gate Bridge (and the Triboro). I like to run familiar routes the closer I get to my big race, because their familiarity makes me feel like the mistress of my universe, and therefore boosts my confidence.  8.14 miles in 1:16:40. Average pace 9:25; fastest mile 9:05; slowest mile 9:48

*I must admit I got these football names from Husband. But the baseball & basketball references are my own.

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Ellipses…

I am grateful for YOU my dear readers, commenters and lurkers alike… How cool is it that Meb Keflezighi will be starring in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tomorrow? Super fucking cool! (Suck it, Football!)… Followers of pro racing will love this fan’s condensation of the New York City Marathon elite field over the past few years. My friend TS is the same kind of emotional fan I am, do check it out… I added a few links to my blogroll this week. The first is a fledgling social networking site dedicated to NY Metro Area runners. If you’re in this area, do click over and register (and invite me to be a friend)… The second is RJR’s (aka Cowboy Hazel) new blog To Badwater. That’s right, my Green Mountain Relay teammate and newly-minted member of the sub-3-hour-marathon club (Philly), has his sights set on the Badwater Ultramarathon, and he’s agreed to let me crew! Suh-weet, we better start hydrating now… As for the third, I’ve only met her once in person, but she already has my admiration. ES is a super-talented endurance athlete, a generous coach and fundraiser for Team in Training, and now, once again, a blogger… A very strange thread on Twitter got my boasting up and somehow I am now running the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run on December 31 in Central Park in this costume… JG from Run Westchester sent me this link a few days ago. Ah, Kara. Everything she says makes perfect sense to me (except for the part about running 115 miles a week. That I know I can’t do.), but what’s most appealing to me is the flexibility she gives herself on her workouts. If she has a certain mileage or speed session scheduled for that day but her body’s not feeling it, she will shift things around in her week so she can tackle the harder stuff when she’s feeling fresher. I’ll call that “Intelligent Obstinance.”

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I’ve been looking forward to this event for weeks–the TimesTalk with Grete Waitz, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Deena Kastor. I bought my ticket nearly a month ago, always with the intent of this being my date night with myself. (Am I the only social misfit who loves the solo date? I even got spiffed up and put on extra make-up! I wore my red high heels!) I didn’t want anyone interfering with my unabashed adoration of and riveted attention for these world-class marathoners.

They took the stage about 15 minutes late, which I blamed on Lance. Surely he was being a prince and arrived in his own sweet time. Regular readers will know I’m no fan–I get indignant about all the special treatment and media he got the few times he ran marathons; and at how lightly he took his preparation the first time out (so disrespectful and arrogant); and how the organizers of the Boston Marathon let him break a tape when he crossed the finish line.  That he shoehorned his way on to the panel, tainting which was otherwise a celebration of female marathon greats, totally annoyed me!  He got the most enthusiastic applause when the panelists were introduced–boy did that really piss me off. Runners are always competing for a bigger piece of the sports media pie, so to have their panel usurped by Schmance Warmstrong, on the eve of one of our sport’s greatest events (our one big chance to have full attention on running), was nearly enough for me to show up with a bag of rotten tomatoes. (If only I didn’t throw like a girl…)

I’d decided to ignore everything he had to say. Fingers on ears. Low humming. Noo Schmance, I can’t hear yoooouuu!

When Grete, Joanie, and Deena took the stage, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck and tears welled up in my eyes. These women–they have done so much for the sport, and for women in the sport! Their stories, efforts and accomplishments have kept me running and pushing through long runs, speed workouts, and injury recovery. And there they were, on the stage, ready to dispense wisdom and humor, for me! Oh, this was going to be a very, very good date night.

Tara Parker-Pope (she blogs at NYTimes.com and has been training for NYC, her first marathon) did an excellent job as moderator. She really knew the stories of each athlete and of other professional runners–her expertise came through in her questions, responses, and commentary. So, um, I took notes. Perhaps one would even call them copious. I’m just going to type them up here for you. (Yes, I am blushing at my display of massive geekiness. I can only hope you find them charming, both the blushing and the geekiness.)

Grete: [she looks so young! wearing warm-up pants & jacket] Her hardest marathon was the one she ran with Fred Lebow.
Joanie: [also wearing warm-up pants & jacket] Finished every race she’s ever started.
Deena: [wearing a pretty black dress and jumper with floral embroidery across the right shoulder] Finished 6th in Chicago this year because she had to use the toilets.
Grete: she took a potty pause twice (once crouched between 2 cars; the other time she just peed on herself while running) but managed to win the NYC marathon each time
Lance: [wearing jeans and a cool gray windbreaker. suspiciously tan] Admitted he “weaseled” his way in when he saw the TimesTalk advertised in the paper a week or so ago.
Grete: Ran a negative split her first marathon (her longest training run had been 12 miles!) by 4 minutes. She was a miler (best Mile = 4:25; best 1500 meters = 4 flat) in her home country of Norway.
Joanie: The first time she ran Boston, she asked a guy on the course when they were going to pass the Heartbreak Hills only to be told she had already run over them.
Lance: When queried if he was looking at triathlons again, he replied, “I look at them… on TV.” But then said that in 2011 he may do “a couple of Ironmans.” Just a couple? Pussy!

Grete: After her cancer treatments, she became a couch potato. Lance sent her an email (they had never met before) which motivated herto begin training again.
Lance: “It was a simple note. I had to really think about what I was going to say. I mean, it was Grete Waitz!”

Grete: In your training, it’s okay to “hurry slowly” towards improvement.

On this buzzable New York Times piece about marathon plodders:

Grete: Running with fast-walk breaks is fine.
Joanie: As the marathon is getting slower, it is also getting faster. It’s about achieving the goals you set for yourself. [She didn’t sound entirely convinced that she was OK with the plodders. Just my impression.]
Deena: Marathoners get to the starting line with mutual respect because everyone there has put in the work for the event.
Lance: The majority of the sport’s participants are slow. “Majority rules!” When Tara countered that the article posited that the plodders were removing the mystique of the sport, Lance replied “Well the marathon was very mystical for me.”

Deena: Mantra from her first Chicago Marathon, “Define Yourself.”
Joanie: Mantra from 1984 Olympics, “The Last Shall Come First, and the First Shall Come Last.”

When asked about how to overcome injuries and massive physical setbacks:

Grete: Move through recovery with a supportive circle of friends, family and coaches/teammates
Lance: Some people pump you up; other people drain you. Dump the drains and collect the pumps.
Deena: No matter your level of fitness or capability, it’s important for all runners to set goals for themselves, even if they seem like impossible goals, and to work towards them. Then look at how your life has changed and improved in pursuit of your goals, even if you fall short of them. [I nearly rushed the stage to fall at her feet in gratitude when she said this.]

Lance: On how he deals with the inevitable emotional vacuum after a race, “Drink!… Heavily.” [This may have been the point where I agreed to cut him a little bit of slack.]
Lance: Sports live and die (as far as spectator popularity and TV coverage) by the stories the athletes have to tell.
Grete: In a marathon, the first 20 miles is transportation.  Then start running.

Needless to say, I was entranced the entire panel, completely delighted by the women and ultimately willing to listen to Lance. He did beat the “humbled by the marathon” drum pretty loudly throughout the event. Grete was the biggest populist of them all, just very good-natured. Joanie had a bit of that New England no-nonsene sternness to her; she conserved her words. Deena seemed like a reflective, eloquent and positive California girl. Even though each of the four panelists told stories I’d read before, I will never forget what it was like to listen to my heros in person.

notes

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Ellipses…

A former colleague of mine and friend, NT, just got a fabulous job. It is such a big deal that the New York Observer reported on it! Way to go Nicky!… LA is many things to me: friend, family member, and author )whose books I have sold and marketed). But now, she is also a fellow active blogger. Check out My Big Walk…  One of Husband’s friends has designed a line of politically incorrect, offensive and vulgar tee-shirts. If that’s your kind of thing, you’ll want to shop at EatMyNuggets.com… I signed up for this strength & flexibility class as part of my keep-my-chin-up approach to my chronic hamstring issues… Tonight I am going to see this band at the Bowery Ballroom not because I think I will like their music but because a boy from my past (he must be a man by now) manages them and it’s a chance to catch up with an old “friend”…  Speaking of music I do like: I’ve recently purchased Anjulie’s eponymous album. She’s a bit like Lily Allen crossed with Amy Winehouse… Totally, utterly, completely ready for the New York City Marathon! All I have to do is cheer and clap and make a poster or two. My hunkyLittle Bro is coming to town to run the race, so I’ll be leading Mom & Dad around to try and catch him two or three times along the course… I bought myself a ticket to go see Joanie, Deena and Grete give a NYTimes Talk on the 29th, which is why I can’t make this panel (pictured here) with Steve Jones. But maybe some of you want to go?…

marathon prep clinic

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This year has been the year I learned how to withdraw. My nature is: when I want something, I hammer away until I get it. But this year, for reasons of health, happiness and situation, I have had to step away from projects, from people, and from races. (Put the hammer down, TK. Now step away from the hammer. Perhaps it’s best if you even avert your eyes from the hammer. Here, have some red wine.) Saturday’s Fifth Avenue Mile is the fifth race this year I’ve signed up for and then had to scratch from my calendar due to my not-quite-right body. Not-Quite-Right; or maybe, Just-Wrong-Enough. In any event, my right hamstring was so tight and achy after Thursday’s strength exercises at PT that I didn’t dare run the Fifth Avenue Mile. All that race asks of us is to run as fast as our heart, lungs and legs will allow; I knew I would be asking for [hamstring] trouble merely by toeing the line, since I’d never be able to resist running at max effort. 

I went anyway, though, to cheer a few friends and then gape at the elites. EN ran a PR, blazingly breaking 6 minutes (5:44–see what track workouts can do for you?), and MDC (my relay teammate) streaked towards the finish, also under 6 minutes (5:37). MDC, more than anyone else I know, runs with visible joy. I recognized the glint in his eye, and was glad for him (though also suddenly impatient for the moment I could ecstatically dash towards a finish line—any finish line– myself). 

I now had a two hour wait for the first elite race, so I stowed my bag and headed out for my long run–10.5 miles through Central Park.  The morning was crisp and cool, the sky an improbable blue. Everyone was out; I was grateful to slip anonymously among them. With my iPod dialed to the M’s, I headed off. I ran one upper loop and one lower loop; tacking on the spit tail that leads to the fountain at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street. All told, I ran 10.69 miles. At a certain point the overture from “The Marriage of Figaro” hit my ears, and I was immediately elated. There’s something about this song that makes me feel strong, graceful, and fast. I picked up speed, yet I breathed easier. I had the chills, I felt like running in es-curves, to glide and swoop. I was overcome with an urge to shut my eyes, to block out every perception apart from the music and the pulse of my body; I turned up the volume instead, now completely shot through with Mozart’s piece. All too soon the instrumental was over, and it was as if I’d been shook awake from a glorious dream. 

Immediately following “The Marriage of Figaro” was “Mastermind” by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. A different kind of tune to be sure, but the uptempo kept me running hard and fast for another 3 minutes or so, as did the next song, “Maybe It’s Just Me.” (I love Butch’s first two lines of lyrics, “Maybe it’s just me/But you seem finally happy.”) Ah, there is always such brilliant serendipity in the alphabetization of the My Top Rated playlist. 

The last couple of miles hurt a bit, my right leg’s muscles were tight all the way from my hamstring up to my lower back. But, it wasn’t an injury sort of pain, it was just a tight, sore ache that I knew would be relieved with stretching and a good rubdown at PT on Monday. I was happy with being able to run the distance without backing down. My slowest mile was the first, in 9:20, and my fastest was the seventh, in 8:47. I ran the entire distance in 1:36:33, for an average pace of 9:02’s. I swear I wasn’t trying—I would have been happy with 9:30’s! 

Afterwards, I stretched to little effect; my right leg still felt like poured concrete. Then it was time for nine (combined) minutes of glory—the women’s and men’s professional races. I stood at the finish line this year, so I didn’t get any of the cool pre-race photos of the elites warming up like I did last year. I was so excited as the announcer introduced the women. Shannon, Lisa, Sara H, Erin, Christen! Ooh, it was a grudgefest between Rowbury and Dobriskey; was Shannon going to vanquish Lisa this year? And oh yes, yes she would—with 0.6 seconds to spare. Times overall were much faster last year (because it was an Olympic year?), although I am happy to see third-place finisher Sara Hall improved her time (4:23.9 against 4:32.6). 

The men’s race had me jazzed with its stacked field. I was rooting for Lagat of course, but you know I am a big fan of Nate Brannen, and think Tegenkamp, Manzano and Solinsky always keep things interesting. I really believed Lagat could win it, now that he had the experience road running, and knew the course. But no, he finished fourth, with a Brit taking first place (compensating for Dobriskey’s loss?), a Kenyan in second, and Leo Manzano taking third. I was psyched for Leo. Nate, who was third last year, came in 14th (still breaking 4 minutes, but just barely). 

Run Blog Run covers the professional race, and Cowboy Hazel reports from the pack (funny I didn’t see him in the park).

Songs I ran to: “Made Me Hard” by The Whitlams, “The Maestro” by The Beastie Boys, “Magic Carpet Ride” by Bedlam, “Magic Number” by De La Soul, “Make Believe” by Matthew Sweet, “Make Me Smile” by Chicago, “Make Out Alright” by Divinyls, “Make the World Safe” by The Whitlams, “Making Out” by No Doubt, “Mama’s Got a Girlfriend Now (live)” by Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, “Mama’s Got a Girlfriend Now” by Ben Harper, “Mama’s Trippin'” by Ben Harper, “Mama Help Me” by Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians, “Man” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Man’s Final Frontier” by Arrested Development, “Maneater” by Hall & Oates, “Manic Monday” by The Bangles, “Mannequin Shop” by Paul Westerberg, “The Marriage of Figaro Overture” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Mastermind” by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, “Maybe It’s Just Me” by Butch Walker, “Me Myself and I” by De La Soul, “The Me that Was Your Son” by Poi Dog Pondering, “Me Van a Matar” by Julieta Venegas, “The Meaning of Soul” by Oasis, “Medley” by Gipsy Kings, “Merry Go Round” by The Replacements, “Message in a Bottle” by The Police, “Michael” by Franz Ferdinand, “Mighty Mighty” by Charlie Hunter, “Minneapolis” by that dog, “Miss Thang” by Monica and “Misty Mountain Top” by Led Zeppelin

Shannon Rowbury winning the 2009 Fifth Avenue Mile

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Some Choice Words

Intentions. I intended to watch the streaming video of Kara’s half-marathon in Chicago in July. I meant to hop online to watch the World Championship events, including the women’s marathon, this August. But I didn’t, and I never got around to blogging about the coverage; and the weekends the elites came to town (for the Healthy Kidney 5k and the Nike NYC Half-Marathon) I of course had immutable plans to be away. Not only was I disappointed at missing out on motivational spectating, but I was disappointed in myself–what kind of fan was I? Add to that the strange mix of feeling snookered and crushed when I learned that Twitter’s @KaraGoucher was an imposter, and it’s been a pretty dry season for me as far as keeping up with the elites. 

Remedy. Thanks to EN and LW I am feeling a little bit more plugged into the elite loop again–they both forwarded the Facebook notification that Kara would be giving a Q+A then going for a run with everyone at tonight’s Niketown workout. For various reasons I couldn’t stay for the run part, but there was no way I was missing the Q+A. I needed to hear what she had to say–lately I have been sliding down that slippery slope of discouragement and I knew Kara would help me stop that nonsense. In fact, I was prepared to ask her just that–“how do you train through and past discouraging setbacks”–if given the chance. 

Connection. Ultimately it didn’t matter that I was unable to ask her, since her responses to Kara Goucher at Niketown 9-10-09some of the other questions were so thoughtful and heartfelt that I heard what I’d come to hear. When asked to describe the 24 hours before and the 24 hours after a marathon, she literally got choked up and shed a tear recalling the emotions. The night before, she writes a letter to her family talking about the journey of her training; the day after she says she is very emotional as she absorbs and processes what she’s just accomplished, and that when she’s done with a marathon, she has new respect for her body and her self. I was right there with her, choked up and recalling every race I finished in tears, or gulping down the lump in my throat (and not because of a poor time). I remembered that overwhelming feeling and knew with a shiver I wanted to feel that again–that is why I race, because it’s an opportunity to bathe myself in that rare pool of emotional intensity. 

Kara Goucher at Niketown 9-10-09Baptism. Kara Goucher, I am renaming you Kara Guru because what you said about how you push through the wall was so true. You said, “It’s just running, you can do it. Your training has proven that your body can do it even though you may not PR but you can finish.” I struggle with that. The idea of training for months, putting myself at risk for injury, only to go out there on race day and flop out, run a third-rate time (for me) is completely off-putting. But Kara, you didn’t concede that you would ever settle for third-rate, rather you demonstrated an attitude to get through a less-than-optimal performance. That was helpful, truly. 

Repetitions. It’s exactly 30 days until my goal race, the Baltimore Half-Marathon, which I am hoping to run in Dan’s honor, wearing my Team Fox singlet. I am bagging the Queens Half (on September 20th, which I was going to run as a litmus test for Baltimore), because I haven’t been able to do any long runs as part of my recovery from my re-injury. I’m allowed to run the Fifth Avenue Mile, but not race it. (Really now, what’s the FUCKING point then??) I can’t believe I’m in this place again, where I’m a month from my race and I’m injured and unable to complete training and thinking about dropping it. I can’t fucking believe it–and I feel like a complete jackass, a weakling, and the kind of fool who pays the price not once but twice. Oh, self- recriminating is a pretty constant activity for me these days (wish it burned more calories). TK, you simply can’t run anymore without also conditioning your core, and strengthening the rest of your body. Accept it, integrate it, and lay off the goddamn red wine. 

Perseverance. In the meantime, I am keeping Kara’ words in mind, and having faith that when I finally do cross a finish line after 13.1 or 26.2 miles, the emotional wallop will be amplified by the discouragement through which I’ve trained. Right?

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I caught this bead on Twitter (thanks @slilley  @FloTrack  @runblogrun @universalsports) a couple of days ago, that Kara Goucher is putting her baby-making plans on hold to run the IAAF World Championships Marathon in Berlin this August, but I’ve been too busy working, socializing and sleeping to really say anything about it. Then, leftcoaster put up a “whoo-hoo KG’s back!’ comment on my last Kara post, and I knew what I wanted to say. Any runner who races, no matter their level of talent, can understand KG’s need for a “Boston do-over.” Hindsight is 20/20, but it can also be a bugaboo until we’ve had the chance to correct. In this interview with Universal Sports, she presents her plans for the rest of the year. A few notable things: Kara’s coming to New York to compete in the Reebok Grand Prix on May 30th (I already have my tickets; JPM and I are going together, for a reprise of our peanut gallery act from the Garden); and once again Kara reveals what an amazing husband she’s got. I’m not opposed to a little love story in the middle of my sports page.

Bridge runners take note: Supermarket billionaire John Catsimatidis has agreed to pony up whatever funds are necessary to give my Queensboro Bridge a proper fireworks display for  its 100th Anniversary later this month. Festivities kick off the week of May 31st. Thank you JC! (And thanks Husband for clipping the article from the New York Daily News for me.)

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I woke up at 4 AM to watch the Flora London Marathon yesterday over UniversalSports.com’s live video stream. While my laptop booted, I brewed coffee and toasted bread. And then, there they were, the elite women, already charging through the suburbs of London, hell-bent and determined to get to Buckingham Palace in two hours and twenty minutes. Irina looked strong, and led with Mara Yamauchi (I somehow missed her sixth-place finish at the 2008 Olympics, and expected her to be Japanese rather than an English Rose) and Olympic bronze medalist Zhou Chunxiu from very early on, with all the lettered vets in a second pack behind them. I was psyched to see Zhou up there for so long–don’t you think she’s kind of like the Terminator?–but this time her cold got the better of her and she finished 12th. Mara’s stunning performance on her home turf was a thrill; she set a huge “pee bee” (as the Brits call our PRs) by 1 minute and 51 seconds. My predictions were crap; I only called the winner (a no-brainer). Kate O’Neill, the top American seed, came in 14th, in 2:34:48. 

Women’s Race (Prediction / Actual)

  1. Irina Mikitenko / Irinia Mikitenko
  2. Gete Wami / Mara Yamauchi
  3. Svetlana Zakharova  / Liliya Shobukhova

The men’s race was exciting, primarily because of the speed. The lead pack went out very fast, at sub-world record pace. I am not quite sure why they asked the rabbits for that, did Sammy really think he was going to set the world record? Maybe this is where my staunch belief in the negative split falls away–at this level of racing, they don’t use such strategies because they are just that good? Or maybe the pacers just screwed up. When the pack of three leaders broke off–Wanjiru, Kebede, and Gharib–I must admit I was disappointed Goumri wasn’t with them. He ultimately finished 6th. Wanjiru broke the course record, and 4 men finished under 2:07. Again, my predictions were el stinko, since I called the winner (again, a no-brainer) but bombed the 2-3.  I do think that Tadese will podium in a major marathon soon–even though he wasa DNF yesterday.

Men’s Race (Prediction / Actual)

  1. Sammy Wanjiru / Sammy Wanjiru
  2. Abderrahim Goumri / Tsegay Kebede
  3. Zersenay Tadese / Jaouad Gharib

I had one misty moment when the cameras panned the starting line for the men’s race. They showed the hordes of runners all packed in for hundreds of yards back, and the announcers went on about “36,000 runners today…” One tear snuck out before I chided myself, Do you think Paula’s sitting at home with her broken foot sniffling into her tea? No! I mean, really, TK: move on! 

One thing that made this spectating experience fun was that I was also logged in to Twitter the whole time. After a while, the chorus of tweets from @PatriceMalloy, @joegarland, @flotrack and others began to feel like we were all sitting around on the ass-magnet couch in my loft, drinking beers, just a bunch of friends watching a big “game” together and talking distance running. Normally, I’d have been emailing frantically back and forth with my girl TS, but she was out on the course with her camera getting some fabulous action shots. Recommended reading: her from-the-curb spectating report , replete with amazing photography.

So let’s talk about pacers. Really, why must the WMM races keep the pacers? These athletes are professionals, they spend every waking hour preparing to race the marathon. Don’t you think they should manage their own pace from the start? New York City has no pacers–and we have had remarkable races here. Not to mention that the rabbits block the view of the runners for those of us watching at home. It just seems like a little too much pampering, too much of an assist tot he elites, especially now when finishing times are faster than ever. The IAAF condones the use of pacers; others do not; and here is some history on how pacemakers came to be common practice.

At 7 AM I shuffled back to bed, satisfied with the knowledge of Sammy’s win and Meb Keflezighi’s 9th place finish (Dathan cramped up, and came in 11th. Poor kid). One of my predictions, though, was spot-on: as I snuggled in for an early-morning nap, Husband grumbled, “What was all that shouting?”

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