Posts Tagged ‘kathrine switzer’

I was disappointed, but the NYRR Mini 10k did not disappoint me. Even though I felt crushed over my performance, how delighted was I with every other aspect of this race? VERY.

The NYRR Mini 10k is a historic race. Spearheaded 40 years ago by one of my personal heroes, Kathy Switzer, the first running of this race had only 75 participants. This year, it had more than 7,000. Today, no one questions a woman’s right and ability to run for pleasure, exercise, and competition, but 40 years ago it was still considered a radical, unfeminine, outlandish activity. I can blog (and pout, crow, muse, and navel-gaze) about my running with such abandon today because of to work done by female runners such as Switzer, Benoit, and Waitz decades ago. Speaking of Waitz–this year’s Mini was run in her honor, and I was proud to be participating in the memorial, and in the larger tradition of the race. Apart from everything that Grete did for women’s running worldwide, and her importance to the New York City Marathon, she raced in pigtails–what’s not to love about that?

After spectating last year, I decided I would not let another year go by without racing this one. As I’ve said before, I generally pass on most New York Road Runner races because I am not interested in paying to run around Central Park. But the Mini, with its start at Columbus Circle and course that takes us up Central Park West and clockwise around the big loop in the park, is an exception. BUT if they’re closing a major thoroughfare, giving me the chance to run down Harlem and Cat Hills, and setting up the finish in front of Tavern on the Green?–then hell yeah, I’m in!

As I walked to bag watch, I imagined that I knew all of the women headed that way, too. I strolled and reflected (since I was in no hurry for the race to start) that at one point or another, I was or will be one of these women. I have or will race: skinny, fat, hungover, well-rested, slow, fast, for fun, a PB, to test my fitness, to be among friends, injured, peaking, PMSing, to heal a broken heart, to burn off lust, to actualize myself, to get guaranteed NYCM entry, to prove something, to set an example, to support another woman, to burn 700 calories, to believe in myself, to remember who I am.

When I got to bag watch, I realized that I actually did know dozens of the women on the course that day. I had met then through my blogging, tweeting, racing; through my family, work, racing, Team in Training and Team Fox. Women runners pervade every segment of my life–and there are few comments on who I am and who I hope to be that are more beautiful than that. How lucky am I? VERY.

Among the runners I know, I was able to see these women before or after the race: @raceslikeagirl, @mdwstrnNYer, @sugarpop, @ericasara, @nycbklyngirl, @BklynRunner, @susanruns, @Running_Fox, @EvaTEsq, @kbruning and others I am sure I’m forgetting. When I pushed into my corral (the second corral! A red bib!), I ended up right behind a woman I know from work. I saw my old TNT Coach Nancy by the raffle table. I know there were many other women racing who I knew were there but didn’t catch up with–plus the other women I know but didn’t realize were racing. How cool is that? VERY.

I was agog with the calibre of professional competition in the race, as well. As we raced, I would follow behind athletes such as Deena Kastor, Magdalena Lewy Boulet, last year’s victor Linet Masai, Kim Smith, and many others. How many amateur runners in this country get to tread directly behind such talent? A small percentage, yet there I was! How rare is that opportunity? VERY.

Now for the race itself. It wasn’t until the Chacha man shot off the Go gun that the competitor within me woke up and said a quick prayer, Please let me have a good race. I enjoyed the course immensely, even though I had my eyes cast down nearly the entire time. My mood was subdued, to say the least. I erroneously thought the conditions hospitable–skies were overcast and there was a light breeze, but I learned afterwards that humidity was 96%. My legs, my legs, people! They haven’t felt kicky in nearly a month. During the race, I kept expecting some sort of grit to push its way to the surface through the pudding. Usually that race mentality picks up on the cues: What are these hoardes of people, timing chips, bibs, racing flats doing here? Oh, okay! Nope, pudding all the way. I felt like a pile of damp leaves and kindling. No spark was going to set me on fire. This was my thought pattern the entire race: Q: Can I sustain this speed? [look at Little G] A: It reads slow but it feels dangerous.

At Mile 3, I broke out in a huge grin despite myself. The Front Runners were cheering as if their lives depended on it. NYRR had set up cheering stations, assigned to various clubs (whose male members were wearing shirts emblazoned with “This one’s for Grete.”). Their shouts were amazing, and gave me a boost like I’ve never experienced in any race previously. They made me feel special, like I was doing something remarkable, and for that I was grateful (because I didn’t believe I was remarkable at the time).

Ultimately, I finished more than a minute thirty off my PR, which left me feeling pretty crushed and wondering if I am a fool to think I can run a sub-3:45 in my marathon this October. Friends reminded me I raced on only five weeks of consistent training, the humidity was killer, and I have been exhausting myself through BEA, moving house, and unpacking. All of that is physical, and can leave a body in need of recovery the same way a long run or speed workout does (so they told me). I am grudgingly meeting them half way. I am also considering this: I ran a 35-second negative split, my fastest mile was my last, and I lost one pound this week (I am attempting to get back to race weight by August). While those facts aren’t VERY encouraging, for right now, they are encouraging enough.

6.2 miles raced in 52:07. Fastest mile 8:09 (Mile 6); slowest mile 8:33 (Mile 1); average pace 8:24.

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During my long run today, I ran with Matt and Steve.  I look forward to listening to their podcasts almost as much as I anticipate my runs, and am very strict about only listening to running podcasts when I’m running.  It’s an organizational tic, I think.  Anyway, they were (as usual) excellent episodes.

Matt, on Dump Runners Club Episode 96, once again spoke eloquently about how inspiring it is to watch elite athletes do their thing, mentioning how memories of video he’d seen of the Cross Country Championships powered him through his last tempo run before the Boston Marathon.  I’m so far from Paula Radcliffe it’s laughable, but I do pull up images of her striding by me at Mile 13 of last year’s New York Marathon when I’m doing my own racing to snap me back into form or keep my arms pumping one hundred yards from the finish line. I don’t think I’d be nearly as dedicated and passionate a runner if I wasn’t also a fan.

Steve has been issuing episodes dedicated to the history & course of the Boston Marathon on Phedippidations.  I mentioned in an earlier post how much I was looking forward to his ‘cast on Kathrine Switzer, who is one of my running heroes.  The episode (# 136) did not let me down, and Steve must have gotten her on the phone for an interview because he had a ton of voice-over from her, talking about her experience in the 1967 Boston Marathon.  Steve gave great background on women in distance running.  I am such a romantic about this sport that I get chills every time I think about the strides (literally and figuratively) that my female predecessors had to take so that now, the only thing limiting me as a woman who runs is myself. Switzer said two things in the podcast which I remember resonated with me when I read her autobiography, Marathon Woman.  First, she spoke about how as a 12-year old girl, she’d run a mile every day before school, and how much it meant to carry around that small triumph with her the rest of the day. I still feel that way, even as a 30-something woman.  Each run I complete is permanently part of my collection of “Things I’m Proud Of,” and no matter what can never be taken away from me.  The other, more expected thing, Switzer talked about was how her negative experience with Doc Semple (when he tried to take back her bib numbers) galvanized her to finish the marathon for herself, and for all women, to prove it could and should be done.  This makes me think: thank God it was Kathy and not some other (less determined, less visionary) type  of woman who was challenged by the rules.

Both Matt and Steve are running the Boston Marathon a week from Monday.  I am excited for both of them, and wish them the best possible race.  I’ll be there cheering on Boylston Street this year, since I am making the pilgrimage to spectate at the Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials, too.

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Part of my reunion weekend with the Sacto 7 this weekend (more on that later) was a Secret-Santa-esque gift exchange, which we did to celebrate everyone’s birthday in one fell swoop on Saturday evening.  My gift was a very cute black V-neck technical tee with the word “Run” plain & simple (& small) on the chest.  I was gratified that these friends (who knew me before I started running) now consider me worthy and desiring of such a gift, and couldn’t wait to wear it on a run. Even though it’s only been three days since I unwrapped it, I have been single-mindedly watching the weather reports for temperatures warm enough.

Today was the day (60 degrees).  Normally, I put together my running outfits with one thought in mind: appropriate to the weather.  But this morning when I packed my gear, I wanted to coordinate, so as to show off my new tee to its best advantage.  So: black shorts.  Black watch.  Black gloves (unnecessary) and black ipod.  As I headed out into the 6:30 PM hubbub of my city’s streets, I felt like The Shadow, slipping in between pedestrians, bikers and automobiles.

The run wasn’t extraordinary (3.5 m; 33:37), but my new tee is unimpeachable.  Probably in the summer the black will make it too hot, but for now, it’s light as a feather, wicks brilliantly and doesn’t tug or pull anywhere. Thank you, TD!

I listened to two podcasts on my way home.  The first was the tail end of a great Running Times Radio interview with Nate Jenkins, who finished 7th in the Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials last year, is self-coached, and up until early 2007 shoehorned his training in around a job in a running shoe store and as a coach at U Mass-Lowell.  I find the RT Radio podcasts a bit pretentious at times, and Scott Douglas’ questions somewhat overweening, but Nate handily fielded Douglas’ questions with frank and interesting answers.  I was riveted.  He analyzed his own training, admitted he turned down the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, spoke about Italian coaching methods, and explained why he thought his acceptable half-marathon times makes the marathon his best event.  Download the podcast or read his training blog.  I’ll be cheering for him at Boston; this boy’s all right.

Then, I turned on Phedippidations Intervals #135B, in which Steve Runner answers the question that’s been kicking around the back of my head: how the heck did he get into Boston with his middle-of-the-pack times? (No offense, Steve.)  Turns out he received an invitational entry passed to him through the Massachussets Civil Air Patrol, one of the many municipal organizations along the race course that assists with security and logistics.  That’s cool–I think it’s important for marathons to have a contingent of runners of all levels from the local community. 

But the kicker, the part that had me laughing out loud (I don’t belive Steve was trying to be funny, though) was when he revealed his strategy on how he will one day race Boston with a qualifying entry.  He plans to hold his 4-hour marathon pace for the next 14 years, so that when he turns 60, his race pace and the qualifying time requirements for entry will intersect.  It’s true, then: I have been blogging about a hot idea (see Pigtails post “A Pint and a Fag” for starters).  This takes the mantra “train today for the runner you want to be tomorrow” about a thousand steps further.  Train yourself to the fitness you want to have when you’re 60, 65 or 70, and then simply mantain it so you can a) qualify for Boston and b) start winning your age group.

Personally, I think it’s got to be easier to win your age group by signing up for races in Bumblefuck, Idaho (no offense, Idaho) than to maintain the same level of fitness for over two decades (or for over four decades, if you’re my buddy EN). 

Steve Runner also casually mentioned that he will dedicate an entire episode to Kathrine Switzer!  This is awesome.  Ever since I read her book Marathon Woman last year, I have been telling others about her running career (she won NY!) and her contributions to the sport (instrumental in getting the women’s marathon as an Olympic event). I admire her, am thankful to her, and can’t wait to hear more about her.  I hope he scores an interview!

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