Posts Tagged ‘Steve Runner’

My long runs give rise to some of the strangest, most trite and–if I’m lucky–profound thoughts of the week. On this morning’s 12-miler, thoughts of every variety, for better and for worse, rose up to greet me from the depths (and the shallows) of my subconscious.

It was a beautiful run, a winner, despite my initial misgivings. It’s very hot and humid on the East Coast this weekend, so I set my alarm for 5:30 AM, in order to hit the road around 6:30 AM. I don’t mind doing this (in fact, I prefer it), except I slept terribly, laying awake for what felt like half the night, and when I finally did sleep, my dreams were of some wild party vacation on at a tropical island resort with people I didn’t know.  So: interesting, but not restful. Nevertheless, I woke up excited for my workout, even though I was afraid I’d poop out somewhere in the middle of it, from lack of sleep.

We’re in the Poconos this weekend (full disclosure: I was sorely tempted to cancel and stay in the city to work; to watch Deena, Magda and Blake run the Mini; to meet Kathy Switzer; and catch the prefontain classic on NBC), so today’s workout was an out-and-back along Route 940. The first four miles weren’t my favorite, as I got my engine running, and adjusted to the heat (at 7 AM it was already 80 degrees). But, I ran right on pace the whole way, clicking off steady 10-minute miles, right where I want to be for my long runs these days. Along the way, I waved at a packs of motorcyclists, a few police (they’re out because it’s the NASCAR Pocono 500 this weekend), whistled to a bounding deer, and passed a squashed frog (which made me think of my husband, because he would have been sad to see the amphibian roadkill).

For company on the run, I brought along Steve Runner, whose last two Phedippidations added up perfectly to two hours.  Listening to him talk about Dr. George Sheehan, and read the race reports of runners from across the country (including Sarah’s fantastic half-marathon PR–yay Sarah!), pulled me outside of myself just enough to not fret the hills too much.

When I finished my run, two hours and fourteen seconds later, I was proud. It didn’t have anything to do with the distance, since by now, for me, 12 miles isn’t a big deal. And I wasn’t proud in that egotistical way. Simply put, I was happy with who I was. It was one of those pure moments of being completely at ease with myself. This is starting to sound very Self-Help 101; and maybe this post is a little bit of that. But let’s be honest: who among us hasn’t lived through awkwardness, hesitancy, lack of confidence, or embarassment?  Sometimes I feel like I spend most of my day second-guessing my decisions and behavior, trying to communicate expectations, needs and dreams. But when I’m out on the road, getting in my miles, or even post-run, stretching & hydrating for recovery, I know exactly what I should be doing. I know who I am, and who I hope to be. I know what to expect, and even when things don’t go as planned I know how to adapt. Me, sweaty & stinky, panting, hair all matted, face flushed: I feel so cool, so right in my skin.

Chances are good this is old news to those of you who have been athletes all your life. Me, I’m an adult-onset athlete, who never expected to find peace with myself through physical activity. I give a lot of thought and effort towards being a loving wife, a kind daughter, a supportive sister, and loyal friend. My boss consistently gets my best work. And yet, nine times out of ten, it’s TK the Runner (not TK the marketing director, nor TK the wife, daughter, sister, friend) of whom I’m most proud to introduce to the rest of the world.

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Since I was laid low by this pernicious chest cold on Thursday, I’ve had to move down to Plan B in my training schedule for the week. Needless to say, it’s a bummer to have to cut out two work outs and shorten another. If I wasn’t so wiped out from this cold, I’d be emphatically pouting.

So: no run Thursday. No run Friday. Saturday I’d already scheduled as a rest day, but I cut today’s long run back to a five-miler, which doesn’t really count as a long run.  But it’s smart I cut it to five miles, since after the third block I had to reel in my pace and take it easy — as in, 10:34’s easy. It took me 52:47 to run the five-mile out and back route over the 59th Street Bridge. Nothing really notable about this run except that I was conjested, the hills didn’t bother me at that pace, and I was mostly just grateful to be out there even if it wasn’t the 10-miler I’d hoped for.

I listened to The Extra Mile podcast during this run, and I really enjoyed some of the entries people submitted.  One guy, from Flagstaff, AZ, told about why he started running, and his first race. I wish I could remember his name — he also podcasts in Japanese! — because I really liked his attitude. Laid back (he referred to himself as “dude”) and enthusiastic about running (“I had fun”). One day I will submit an audio file to the podcast, I promise. I want to record while I’m running, so I have to get my hands on a digital recorder from work to borrow either on a run home or over the weekend. But, I already have rudimentary editing skills, so the hardest part will be running with the darn thing in my hands.

I was reminded about the Worldwide Half, promoted by Steve Runner of Phedippidations. I really want to register for this, but it’s going to have to be last minute.  So far, the NYRR’s don’t have a half-marathon scheduled near that weekend, and I’m not tye type to just run my own route.

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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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Almost Famous

Thank you, Steve Runner, for featuring my Pigtails Flying blog in your most recent Phedippidations podcast (#134).

For those of you who read my blog and listen to Phedippidations, know that his mention was unsolicited and a pleasant surprise.

For those of you who read my blog, are runners, and don’t listen to Phedippidations, well, you’re just dumb.  Subscribe to his podcast now, as it is some of the best verbal accompaniament to a run I’ve ever heard.  (Apart from, you know, your own chatty company!)

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I left for work this morning planning on getting in a treadmill workout at the gym, because of the afternoon torrential downpours my weather guy assured me would come.   So, I packed shorts and my favorite race tee, the one from last year’s Healthy Kidney 10K (Dathan Ritzenheim won that race, setting a race record, too).  However (and this is a good however), when I pressed my nose against the glass of my office window, there was no rain.  Promising, but.. Never one to believe the weather I can see from the 9th floor, I logged on to weather.com — Cloudy, 63 degrees (feels like: 63 degrees)!  My heart gave a little leap of joy as I thought, I will run home tonight.

And so I did.  3.5 miles, 38 minutes (approximately; I hadn’t brought my watch since I was anticipating the treadmill).   I had cement-block feet the first mile, I think my body is still in that post-marathon, clunky-monkey stage. I got out some of my stress by shouting a pizza delivery cyclist off the sidewalk, and then by shouting at a motorist making a left-hand turn who almost took out a whole swath of pedestrians.   As soon as my feet hit the base of the 59th Street Bridge, it started to rain, and I tucked my ipod into the torso strap of my sports bra, under my arm, having already lost one ipod to water damage from a rainy run.  By the time I trotted off the bridge and my foot touched the sidewalk in Queens Plaza, the rain had stopped, making it seem like I’d passed through some sort of cleansing passage as I moved from one borough to another, from one island to another.

The whole way, I was accompanied by Steve Runner, and his Phedippidations podcast #131.  He spoke about the running boom, and about the coaches, runners, books and track events that came together to push running and jogging into the mainstream.  I always want to learn more about the history of my sport, the elites, and the innovators of distance running, and inthat regard this episode definitely decreased my ignorance.  (For example, I thought Bowerman was just the guy who invented the running shoe, not the famous college coach who brought jogging to America from New Zealand; now I know better.) Steve Runner also touched on the second running boom, the one that started in 1997, and still continues today.  This is my boom, the second wave boom. 

But, as far as I can tell, he credits the second running boom almost entirely to the growing numbers of office workers (who want to be more active when not in front of their computers), and an increased awareness on healthy living.  I was waiting for him to mention the huge surge in charity runners as a main contributor to the running boom, but (unless he mentioned it when I was shouting at the pizza delivery guy) he didn’t. 

My personal experience has convinced me that runners for charity have a lot to do with the growth of our sport.  I ran my first and second marathons as a member of Team in Training, one of the fundraising arms of the Leukemia and Lymphona Society.  Every comparable training season (e.g. Winter 2008 to Winter 2007), TNT’s NYC Chapter recruits more and more runners, and raises more and more money.  And this is not a trend for just one chapter of one organization.  TNT nationwide pulls in more and more runners each year.  This year’s New York City marathon saw more participants running on behalf of a charity than ever before. In the NYRR’s Offical Results Magazine for the 2007 ING NYC Marathon, they write, “running in support of chaitable causes is mushrooming.”  Part of this is because it’s harder and harder to get a bib for the NYC Marathon, but it doesn’t change the fact that most of those Fred’s team or Team for Kids runners are first-time marathoners.  And, certainly, just anecdotally I can say that more and more of my friends and family are inviting me to contribute to their own fundraising goals, which they are setting in conjunction with road races. 

Steve Runner, maybe there is a show in your archives solely about folks who run for charity, and in almost every episode I’ve ever heard you share the story of someone who is running for charity.  But, if you haven’t done an episode on runners who pick up the cause and run for others, I’d like to suggest that you should. 

Episode #131 wrapped up with a guest call-in podcast from “JD from Toronto,” who spoke about why he trains so hard.  His answer to that question made me cry, because he expressed the very reason why I run, and transported me back to the finish lines of more than one race.  JD spoke about the physical joy of running the race you’d planned, of feeling the air in your lungs, the blood in your heart, your legs moving beneath you.  He spoke about the wonder and satisfaction in having nothing left when you cross the finish line.  I am paraphrasing, but I highly recommend you go download Phedippidations #131 yourself, so you can listen to how eloquently JD from Toronto explains why he trains so hard.

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