Monday, November 7, 2011

Stay Thirsty, My Friends

Have you been waiting for this? The anticipated entry...

Well, it came and went. The Day of Days. Dia de los Dias. Marathon Sunday.

I keep getting asked how I am doing. Concerned (amazing) people in my life have texted and emailed and called to make sure I'm not halfway through a bottle of aspirin or enjoying a little trip down the Verrazano vertically. And it is appreciated. But actually, surprisingly, I had a pretty stellar day.

I'm not going to lie to you right now. Saturday was touch and go. In that I was cranky. I don't even think it went beyond that. But I did get a little moody. Oscar the Grouch-esque, if you will. But after a night of partying with friends and an extra hour of magic sleep, I woke up feeling rather refreshed and -- yes -- excited for the day that I had been somewhat dreading for weeks.

Kelly and her friend Mike came over early to watch Marathon coverage chow down on some bagels, and then we headed outside to watch the elite runners come through. As you may know, I live right on 1st Avenue at about Mile 16.5, which is an absolutely amazing location from which to cheer. People have entered the city, they're feeling renewed and rejuvenated, and it's really inspiring to see them doing so well. I've heard mile 23 ain't so pretty, but from my vantage point it was all butterflies and unicorns and happiness. So I'm going to pretend that's what a Marathon looks like.

Plus since my apartment is right there I have great access to a bathroom. Unicorns. Butterflies. Bathroom.

So we're watching the professional runners go by, and it's great. And then the rest of the crowd started coming, and that was freaking amazing too. I hadn't watch the marathon for a couple of years on account of living in Arkansas, so I had forgotten how inspiring it can be. People are blind, handicapped, survivors of diseases, fought in wars, overcome hardships...and they are running 26.2 miles. The emotional and physical toll of training can be intense without any obstacles and barriers in one's life, so it's really humbling to see those who run despite the craziness that life has thrown at them.

But aside from the inspiration...there is also the laughter. Because people wear some freaking amazing outfits. I mean, c'mon. There's running a marathon. And then there's running a marathon...as a PIMP.


The pimp (who, by the way, I did see with my own eyes) was glorious. But even more glorious were my fabulous friends who almost literally flew by me looking like they were out for a little jaunt. All of them. I was blown away by how strong they looked, how happy they seemed, and how proud of them I was in that moment! Shout outs are well-deserved to my peeps Sam, Nathalie, Frank, Mel, Jen, Alison, Amy and other Amy [Sidebar: my friends thought I was just really excited for Amys in general because you guys passed pretty close timewise to eachother...I had to explain that I just am so popular that I know copious amounts of marathoning Asian Amys. True story.)

When you're cheering for NY, it's great to call out people's names that they often have displayed on their shirts. It's fun, and it helps them. It was also fun because sometimes a friend would be calling out a name and then that person would run over and give them a big hug and a kiss. And then you'd be like, "Oh...that wasn't just any Andrew. That was the Andrew. Or so I hope...."

I personally saw a man displaying a shirt with Barney Stinson's face on it. As you may recall from the title of my blog and from half of the things I post on facebook, I am a slight fan of Barney Stinson. Slight. So when I saw this glorious sight go by I had to take a second glance. His shirt noted that he was a member of the "Awesome Club" and when I shouted out "Yeah, Awesome Club!" the gentleman looked to me and motioned that I should call him.

And that -- my friends -- is how you run a god damn marathon.

So, to sum up my story, on what could have been Doomsday I was positive and happy and cheering and genuinely really excited about my friends, the glorious weather, the amazing energy and the completely unique atmosphere of Marathon Sunday.

I was also really drunk.

So it just goes to show you that the old saying is truer now more than ever. When life gives you lemons...you should mull them with some cider and brandy and get yourself a To-Go cup.

Just sayin'.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hips, Thighs, and Coolio

I started Physical Therapy yesterday upon the recommendation of my Sports Doctor. And I have some good news...and some bad news.

The good news: I am not lying. There are definitely issues which contributed to my injury.

The bad news: There are definite issues which contributed to my injury.

The very lovely woman who did my PT explained how I have weak hips and weak quadriceps (which cause my knees to not properly support my feet and ankles optimally), pronation (which causes my feet to turn in when I run), weak arches (which makes me prone to plantar flacitis issues), and incredibly tight muscles (which cause me to be...tight).

Oh, just that?

PT will consist of a few things: stretching, massage, and strengthening. The stretching and massage was kind of amazing. Strengthening kicked my ass. And thighs. And hips.

You'd think it would be awkward to exercise your hips. Well, you would be absolutely correct. One of the activities I was asked to do was affectionately nicknamed the "flirt." While standing on a step with one foot you have to pop the opposite hip up without bending either knee. So I stand there hip popping like an awkward street-hooker (or Broadway parody of a street-hooker). Three sets of 10. On each side. By my calculations, that's about two solid minutes of pure hilariousness. You're definitely missing out.

Also, at Physical Therapy, they had me stand on something that I can only describe as a bounce-less Pogo Ball from the 80s. Remember those?

So you stand on it and try to not fall over and that improves your strength and balance. But all I could remember is how I was never really able to bounce on them effectively as a child. I tore up the Skip-It, but the Pogo Ball was always elusive. PT Pogo Ball eluded me still. Damn you, balance toys! I can never win!

While this was all happening, we were listening to the most amazing radio station on the planet which played nothin' but the nineties. I don't think you've ever properly physical therapized without doing it to Gangsta's Paradise. Icing is never the same until you've jammed it out to I Want It That Way. And Mambo Number 5 will always inspire a good vibe for deep tissue massage.




What's goin' ON in the kitchen? But I don't know what's cookin.'




I'm going back next week and am looking forward to doing more things to simultaneously make me feel better whilest also causing a chuckle.

In other news, check this space for some potential news this week. I was "selected" to be an ING Marathon Social Media reporter because people somehow find this blog somewhat amusing. I'm not sure what it means to be a Social Media reporter, but I'm hoping free food is involved.

Friday, October 14, 2011

No Jinx!

Big news.

I ran this week. Three times. And I feel good. Great, actually. In fact, I feel a-freaking-mazing.

I write this post with bit of trepidation, as I am worried of jinxing my good fortune to be healing well. Like, you don't put the Red Sox on the cover of Sports Illustrated...you likewise do not blog about running. Or something like that. But I'm too excited not to share with you, my loyal blog followers (which, I believe, is directly correlated to "friends of mine that are particularly bored at work." I'm good with it.).

So I went for the first run in the hotel gym of the glorious Homewood Suites in Ashburn, VA where I found myself last Sunday for the bris of my new cousin Sydney. While my mom looked on from her elliptical with mixed emotions (a cross between glee and horror), I ran an easy 3 miles on the treadmill. It was a start.

The next day back in New York, I worked from home while I waited for my new kitten [DAMNIT I couldn't even go three full paragraphs without mentioning Archie. Crap. Ah, well, so be it.] During my lunch break, on a sunny day in unseasonably warm high 70s, I went for a five-mile run. Don't tell my Sports Doctor, I told her it was three. Shhh.

It was seriously a phenomenal feeling. Not just because I was running in the mid-day on the Upper East Side (ohhhh so this is what it's like to be married into money...wow...totally underrated). Mostly I was happy to just be outside with my own thoughts, doing what I wanted to be doing. I wasn't training for anything. I wasn't recovering from anything. I was just working out. Just running. It was the stuff Nike commercials are made of.

And then my cat came. And he is the coolest.







Hi. I am awesome despite making my owner into an unbearable cat lady.










After another easy treadmill run (because it's so dark now in the mornings before work! Boo! Hiss!) I visited the sports medicine doctor yesterday for my follow-up, and waited for her to tell me that I needed to get back into the boot or use a cane or get braces again or some other form of torture. But instead she said that despite some continued aching and pain, I am healing nicely.

She says I could use more Vitamin D (who knew?) and that I could also benefit from physical therapy on my outer thighs and hips. My hips! Like an old fragile lady! It's weird, but I guess it makes sense as they're all connected. Who knows. This doctor could totally be messing with me and I would blindly accept anything she said as reality. I guess that's one of the benefits to being called "Doctor." You could totally screw with people if you really wanted to. I guess what I'm saying is that due to the way my mind works, it's probably best that MBAs are not able to give medical advice.

Anyways.

I also need to get my gait re-analyzed by a physcical therapist to evaluate if Jack Rabbit actually diagnosed me with the correct running shoes. I mean, I didn't think it was unreasonable until just now that I had let a random woman at a retail outlet determine the equipment for a major sports activity that very few people in the world do that would in turn potentially cause major medical issues. But I guess in retrospect professional analysis on this isn't so unfounded. Hmm.

So that's the game plan. You are now up-to-date.

Weirdly, the doctor also asked me if I was still planning on running the marathon. When I seemed shocked, she told me that a lot of people (lunatics) still run after these things. As tempted as I was, my deferral for 2012 is final. And also I'm not completely out of my mind. I haven't run in 7 weeks! How could I do a Marathon in 3?

I also feel like I'd have missed out on so much of the "process." Aside from being completely irresponsible regarding the proper training and nutrition needed to run a marathon, I like the idea of training with my group and dealing with the daily aches and pains and trials and tribulations that training brings. You have to sacrifice when you train. It's not easy, and it takes a full life shift. Not only would I probably die if I tried to do it now, but I'd also feel like I had cheated myself out of part of that experience. But mostly I would die. I definitely wouldn't finish. And -- as you know -- I'm in it to win it.

So that's where we stand, folks. I'm going to start slow and hopefully do some halves in the spring. Training for the marathon will officially start for me after Memorial Day 2012. Go team.

In the meantime, I'll be at the bar.

Or playing with my cat.

Or...running. :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nude Ankles > Boot Ankles > Canckles

Last Saturday I went to Central Park to cheer on friends that were racing in a half marathon I was supposed to have used as one of my final training runs before the "Big Day". It was a relatively therapeutic experience, actually, and not nearly as traumatic as I had initially feared it might be. It was kind of like when Charlotte threw a baby shower for Miranda. Except without the unwanted pregnancy.

I attribute my relative calm of late to several things. First and foremost, I have been bootless for two full weeks now. Taking that bad boy off was such a relief because as much as I enjoyed the attention of people staring at my on the subway or having people ask me every five feet, "what did you do to your leg!?" it actually started hurting my back from walking around with it. Because you're not supposed to walk around with it. Kind of the point. Oh, well. C'est la vie.

So now, my ankle is NUDE for the world to see. It's a little achy still some days and I still haven't really been able to comfortably wear heels, but I seem to be progressing nicely. According to my doctor I can try to jog this week. Look for more on that in the next post (fingers crossed that it goes well!)

Which brings me to point number two on why I'm staying relatively calm: Alternatives. As you remember, I am still running in the water. And you are probably still laughing at me. Well, laugh away, good sir, because it's the best freaking workout ever. No impact, but very impactFUL (see how I did that?) It absolutely gives you cardio and muscle toning in a way I really haven't found before with other workouts. [I sound like a damn info-mercial, but it's true!] I've also added in one day a week lap swimming and have started more regularly going to my Total Body Conditioning classes.

The one class in particular that I love is at 6:30 in the morning. It's popular, so you really need to arrive by 6:15. Meaning I need to leave by 6:05ish. Meaning I have to get up at 5:45. Vom. It.

But once you're in...my goodness, is it awesome. This bi-yatch is good. She's having us jump jacks (or side-step as the ankle may have it), plank, lift weights, do crunches, and over-all just get our tushies absolutely KICKED for a straight hour. And she means business. She knows me now because I've been going for several months and stand near the front. And she kind of murders me every class. I actually thought today that I might throw up in front of everyone, and the scary thing is that I bet she'd freaking love that.

All in all, though, it's worth it. Because I am calm. And on my way to this:

That's right. Bonafide Stud-Muffin.

The third point, though, is all-encompassing and perhaps the most important and it is regarding routine. I think it's always hard in any aspect of one's life to majorly shift normalcy and change up an established routine, and that's exactly what I had to do with this whole ankle bone nonsense.

A marathoner gets into a crazy routine that involves not only the actual mileage, but also eating, sleeping, and pretty much every other bodily function (use your imagination). An injured marathoner goes on an alcohol and ice cream binge. I'm not sure if it's universal, but 100% of the person in my sample size acted in this manner. Then I calmed down a little bit and got into my new exercise regimen. Went grocery shopping. Laid off the sauce (the chocolate sauce that is...I'm still drinking pretty heavily). I'm enjoying having my Friday nights and my Saturday mornings, and mostly I'm trying to stay focused on what I have to do to DESTROY the 2012 Marathon. Absolutely embarass it with my awesomeness.

But I'm about to shake things up. Might as well announce my big news here in my world-famous blog. Still no unwanted pregnancies since the beginning of this entry (so don't get all excited), but I will have a new addition to my life next week.

Let me introduce you to....









It's gonna be legend....









Wait for it...
















CAT!



Name still TBD (suggestions welcome...) but isn't he the CUTEST?! Seriously. Look into his eyes and tell me you don't see unicorns and apple pie and happiness. TELL ME YOU DON'T! Exactly. You do.

I promise not to become a Crazy Cat Lady. Or at least I'll strive for that. We'll make it a long term goal, how about that? I do swear that this formerlly upstanding blog isn't going to be come "Cat, MeriG, Cat." I'm just super excited to get him.

Although he'll be mixing up my new, normal, calm routine...I think we all need a little change up once in a while. Add a new piece of furniture. An endtable or new bookshelf. Or a litter box, perhaps. Whatever floats your boat.

If I had been marathoning, I never would have jumped at the chance to adopt this lil' fella from a friend who is fostering him. So maybe everything happens for a reason, right? Or maybe I'm just about to get the absolute sh*t scratched out of all my stuff. Either way, it will definitely be another (needed?) change from routine. Until next time... I leave you with a scene from HIMYM:

Little girl: Do you have a fiancée?
Lily: Marshall was here yesterday, they just learned the word fiancée.
Robin: Oh no, I don’t have a fiancée.
Little girl: Then who do you live with?
Robin: Well, actually, I’ve got five dogs.
Little girl: Don’t you get lonely?
Robin: No, I’ve got five dogs.
Little girl: My grandma has five cats and she gets lonely.
Robin: Well, yeah, that’s cats, I’m not some pathetic cat lady, not that your grandmother is some pathetic cat lady – does anybody else have questions?
Little boy: Are you a lesbian?
Robin: NO, ARE YOU? Jeez. [mumbles] Every woman that lives alone is not a lesbian.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Chronicles of The Boot.

Well, hello there! It's been a little while, but absense makes the heart grow fonder, no?

About a week after my last entry about my busted ankle, I had to return to the Sports Doctor because the pain hadn't lessed. We had no choice but to Boot Up.
I will spare you a "these boots were made for walking" joke, because, c'mon. Grow up.

I will, however, mention that the Boot is -- by far -- the most flattering piece of clothing I have ever worn. It complements any outfit to a T.

The Boot and I have been together for about 10 days now, and I think we are learning to accept one another's faults. Although The Boot may not necessarily make me the trendiest person at "the club," it does -- on occasion -- get me a subway seat offered. The Boot may not provide the necessary mobility to bound up four flights of stairs to my apartment, but it does allow me the pleasure of annoying people when I walk down subway stairs. And take pleasure in it, I do. Because The Boot not only controls the movement of my ankle, but also -- to some extent -- the level of kindness in my heart.

Aside from the happy marriage of The Boot and me, I also have added another fun little activity to my schedule since we last spoke (er...you last read). I have signed up for 'Deep Water Running' class in order to keep my muscles conditioned and my cardio level up for when I start running again.

Deep Water Running class looks awkward. I'm not going to lie to you.

As a point of comparison, please see the woman in this photo next to me. This is kind of what we look like. Except we do not wear water shoes. Or carry water weights. And our belts are actually -- believe it or not -- NOT as cool as what she's wearing.

What I'm saying is, we put a belt of glorified styrofoam blocks around our waist, hop into the water, and listen to a guy tell us to kick our legs and pump our arms in various fashions for 45 minutes. But before you judge, let me just say that it is one of the most phenomenal workouts I've had in a while. And impact free.

The class is full of formerly fat-men, old men, injured women, and formerly-injured women who got addicted to the class (i.e. me in two months). There are no young, in shape men in the class because I evidently repel them.

Although we look incredibly awkward just with our heads bobbing around kicking our feet for 45 minutes, I'm really happy I took the plunge (haha, joke) and signed up for the six week class. The people in the class are really friendly and nice, and incredibly supportive of me in this time of Bootness. Many of them have been there before.

I'm adjusting to the idea of not running. I'm trying out new things. I'm being positive!

Meh. Too much joy.

Really, I'm still sad a lot of days that I wasn't able to fulfill my goal this year. It's also frustrating that it takes so long to heal this thing. Some days the pain isn't bad and I want to be liberated of The Boot, but I know that if I do that I could be set back weeks. The problem is that because of the nature of New York and my apartment located many floors up into the sky, I can't "rest" in the way a Doctor means to rest. When she says "rest" she doesn't mean, watch an hour of TV a night. She means, STAY OFF YOUR DAMN FOOT. I try. I usually fail.

So I sit and ice as much as possible. Pop some aspirin. "Rest" when I can. Minimize stairs. Man up and Boot up. Most days, it's all good. The others? I can drown my sorrows in beer and unhealthy food, because I don't need to run the next day. Either way, it works.

This whole 'thing' has been an interesting process in patience, adjustment, and calorie-control (oh, did I mention that my body is still marathon hungry even though I'm not burning marathon calories? Awesome....) Everything happens for a reason, they say, so this whole saga has got to be -- on some level -- meant to be. Perhaps I am destined to be a water runner, forever awkwardly bobbing in the Pool at the basement of the Church across the street from my office. Who knows, but it's a glorious image.

To close, here is an inferior -- yet also awesome -- Boot. Enjoy with my compliments.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The plot thickens.

Before I begin, let's recap where we are. I think the best way to do this is to share with you a letter I sent out many friends and family this week. If you have already read it, please feel free to scroll down. I won't tell.


Hello to my wonderful friends and family,

Just wanted to send a note to let you know what's been going on in my world the past week or so.

After running 16 miles a week ago Saturday, I had foot and ankle pain. It was slight, so I iced and rested, and it seemed to be fine. I ran an easy 7 mile run on Sunday after Irene came through, and was in pain again afterwards. Although it wasn't excruciating, I decided it would be best to see a Sports Doctor yesterday. She seemed troubled, and sent me to Beth Israel for an MRI and XRay.

The results came back today, and I have a pretty significant stress fracture in my ankle. I can not run -- and am really not supposed to even walk around that much -- for 6-8 weeks.

So, I won't be running the marathon in 2011.

And I will need someone to carry me up my four-floor walk-up every day. Volunteers? (Kidding...kind of....)

As you can imagine, I am devastated. But I am looking for the silver lining. I have contacted Team for Kids, and I am able to defer my spot for one year and run the 2012 race. All the money you have so generously donated to get me to 95% of my goal to date will count next year. (If you were planning on donating, I still have $124.20 to go. Next year I will not be soliciting any additional funds.)

I can't thank you all enough for your support both financially and emotionally through this. It's been a rough couple of days, but I will be fine. I have a plan. The next week I eat and drink whatever the heck I want. Then I'll start swimming, spinning, and strengthening my body in low impact ways. Starting in October I will run again, and I plan on easing my way back into things so that I am well enough for halves next Spring and -- if my body allows -- the NYC Marathon in 2012.

Despite my disappointment at this turn of events, I really can't help but feel incredibly lucky today. It took me a lot of time to capture all the names of the many amazing people I have in my life. I'm a lucky lady (a limping lucky lady, but a lucky lady nonetheless) and I won't forget it.

Thanks again for everything,
Meredith


P.S. I know a few of you must be wondering...what happens now to www.runmerigrun.blogspot.com? I will still [periodically] be blogging, so don't fret. I actually think that this whole experience may really be of use to other amateur marathon runners. So, as I learn to adjust my habits once again and strengthen my body for next year, I'll chronicle the experience there.




So now you're up to speed.

I know. TWIST!

Like I said, I am going to keep blogging. Frankly, blogging was half the fun, and no one has stress fractured MY MIND so I am still going to do this. I think the publishers of my future book will enjoy this turn of events. In theatrical terms, I have added conflict to the story, which now requires resolution. And a love interest. And some sort of martial arts fight scene.

But let's get back to the matter at hand. How have I been holding up? Well, that's a complicated question. My Dad said something very profound to me the other day [also, there's your blog mention, Pops!]. He said that it was almost like I was grieving. And he was -- and still is -- oddly correct! Let's run through the classic "five stages of grief" model, shall we?

1) DENIAL
After my 7 mile run last Sunday (see previous entry re: running whilest injured...foreshadowing!) I awoke in the midst of the night and was hardly able to support my own weight. Not because of my monsterous size, but because of ankle pain.

"Oh, no!" I said to myself. And decided to call a Sports Dr. the next day. Due to Post-Irene cancellations, she was able to see me on the same-day. During the exam, she told me I definitely had tendonitis and she was almost positive I had a stress fracture as well. I was very upset, but in my mind I had decided it could simply not be a stress fracture. Because I was walking around. And, look, if you poke at the bone it doesn't even... "OW!!!!!" Yes. Yes it did hurt if you poked around at the bone.

[Pre-emptive that's what she said.]

I cried. But mostly I decided it still was only major tendonitis. Because I found a site off of The Google that said so.

2) ANGER
The rest of the day and night leading up to the MRI the next morning I was pissed. Really pissed. I had done everything right with this damn marathon. RICE! I RICED! All the TIME! I ate better. I hardly drank. I went to bed at 9 pm. I bought a ton of expensive stuff. I have the most successful damn blog this side of the Mississippi!

How could this be happening to me when I know other people do what I can only imagine to be a drug binge and wake up and run 18 miles barefoot through glass and are fine!? Noooooooo.

3) BARGAINING
While laying on the awkward MRI bed (the technology of which, while we're on the subject, it appears no one has updated since 1950...someone want to get on that?), I was thinking to myself thoughts such as:

If this MRI comes back as just tendonitis...I will stretch double the time I have been.

If this MRI comes back as just tendonities...I will start doing more ankle strengthening exercises and go to physical therapy.

If this MRI comes back as just tendonitis...I will sacrifice my first-born child to some sort of nunnery or to be a monk, just like in old times..


4) DEPRESSION
My life is over. This was my social life. I am done for. Finished. Next year something will happen and I will never do this and then my bucket list shall not have had this crossed off when it is time to kick said bucket. Oh no! Oh me! Oh my! (Dramatic hand to forehead; Exit stage left.)


5) ACCEPTANCE
This brings us to current date. I have signed up for a swimming class and purchased a lovely one-piece garment for this purpose. And bright blue goggles. (Because what's the point of a hobby without expensive gear, right?!) I have sent out an email to which I have received the most wonderful, amazing responses anyone could ask for. I have confirmation that I will run next year and -- more importantly -- the confidence that not only will I be rich and famous from my blog by then, but also I will be stronger and will literally win in 2012. Actually, not literally. But I will definitely kick butt [Author's note: the use of the word "ass" was removed here because my Mom told me it makes my blog sound crude].


So here we are. I will blog when things come up to fill you in on my ankle rehabilitation as well as the new sports and activites I find along the way. Hopefully some will not involve drinking and eating. Perhaps. The "deep water running" class alone promises to provide some great material.

My ankle -- nay, my soul -- might be fractured, but RunMeriGRun lives on.

Did that sound overly dramatic? Good.

And scene.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"I am a marathon runner. I can not stop running."

Funds collected to date: $2465.80 (94%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $154.20
Long run: None due to injury :(
Weeks to Go: 10


This past week was, I am sad to report, not good on the running front. Things started last Sunday with foot pain (remnants, I believe, from last week's 16-miler). The pain wasn't horrible, so I went running on Tuesday after taking two full days to rest. That run turned out to be a bad idea, as it basically made me a cripple, out of commission for the remainder of the week.

Being injured while training for the marathon is whack. It's whack because basically I have become this crazy brainwashed running zombie crack-head who needs to run. I did an hour on the elliptical machine and literally was like "meh." Messed up.

The treatment for most running injuries -- from what I have been told and what I have researched -- is RICE. This does not mean eat copious amounts of basmati, but rather it stands for Rest Ice Compression Elevation.


I'm doing my best to comply, but it is very difficult / awkward to do this during the day at work.

I have also eliminated flip flops from my footwear (as they are basically the worst thing you can walk around in, turns out).
So I have purchased not one, but two pairs of the coolest freaking shoes you have ever seen from the fashion-forward retailer Easy Spirit. The other clientele in the store were minimum four decades older than me and they approved of my sensible footwear. I think even the woman ringing up my order was embarrassed for me.

I did a little bit of research on "The Google" regarding running injuries, and the first result that came up -- an archived NYTimes article from 2007 -- did little to assuage my fears. The article begins as such: "Worried about dropping dead if you run a marathon? Researchers in Canada say you can put your mind at ease." Well, I wasn't before, but now that you mention it, New York Times...damn!

So let's delve further, shall we? I'm evidently not supposed to be too worried about the actual dying itself, but what about this ankle? And other potential issues? A site called TheMarathonRunner.com has compiled some injury rates and statistics. Let's take a look at the first gem:

Epidemiological studies estimate between 19.4% and 79.3% of runners sustain an overuse injury in a one year period.

Wow. Thanks for narrowing that band of likelihood for me. 19.4 to 79.3. You're really willing to take a stand here on the statistics, huh?

As you know, I enjoy charts and visual aids. Here is one:
So allegedly I fall into the 17% for Foot/Ankle. Fine. Useless information, but fine.

....and that pretty much exhausts the internet other than medical websites staying "STOP RUNNING" and message boards on running websites with everyone giving their useless opinions. It's a no man's land out there. A mele of words and uselessness.

So, my week has been kind of a downer. Luckily a "hurricane" (putting it in quotes since it was the lamest hurricane ever) came through making it basically mandatory that I sit on my ass and do nothing.

This afternoon I was able to get out there and do a slow run in Central Park.
A view of the lovely and almost over-flowing Central Park reservoir.

I think the run went okay, but I'm going to rice the crap out of my legs the rest of the day. Because Team For Kids has a pretty aggressive schedule, I have done a 16-miler before others that are training for the marathon and I am in decent shape. But I'm surprised at how "out of shape" from a running perspective I feel after a week on the couch. And in the bar. And eating nachos. I have, however, caught up on my Keeping Up With The Kardashians viewing, so I guess there's always a silver lining in everything.

Also, Sam shared this video with me which is a must-view for any distance runner or anyone who has had to deal with a distance runner. It is completely accurate and amazing. An excerpt:

Runner: "It is an over-use injury."
Non-Runner: "What does that mean?"
Runner: "It is caused by running too much."
Non-Runner: "But it is 5 am. And you are going for a run."
R: "I am a marathon runner. I must run."
N: "But you are injured."
R: "I must run."
N: "You are an idiot."
R: "If I do not run I will get fat. And lazy. I will lose all my fitness."
N: "You will get better."
R: "I am a marathon runner. I must run."
N: "Will your injury get better if you continue to run?"
R: "It is unlikely. It may get worse."

Good lord, this is totally what we sound like. And -- yes -- I am aware that I am an idiot.

But you love me anyways. I am a marathon runner. I must run.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It's Mailbag Time!

Funds collected to date: $2343.40 (89%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $276.60
Long run: 16 (!!!) for a total weekly mileage of 35! Yaozers!
Weeks to Go: 11


This morning I awoke before the sun at 5 in the am so that I could complete a 16-mile Long Training Run in Central Park. The run was set up by the New York Road Runners (the same organization that puts on all NY's major roadraces, including the ING Marathon on November 6th. Save the date.) and basically simulates a race in all ways except the fact that it's not timed. So there was water and gatorade and porto-poties and all other amenities that you would expect. It was lovely, except for the whole running 16 miles bit which was a bit....trying.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that this morning, s**t got real.

They say that there are good run days and bad run days. I don't know. I don't think this was "bad" in the sense that I didn't get injured, didn't feel sick regardless of the fact that I consumed three Gu packets (that's like...three too many Gus), and I didn't die. But it sure wasn't "good" either.

Although I'm pretty sure I'm never leaving this couch again (just try to make me move right now and I will end you...from a seated position), I do feel decent because of the training I've done to-date. So while I lay here attempting to hydrate, take in calories, and become a normal functioning human again, I thought I would answer some questions from my loyal readers.
"How did u start running?" - Kelly
Great question, Kelly. Glad you asked, and thanks for keep things casual with the use of the texting "u."

As my high school friends will tell you, I was not exactly the "athletic" type. For perspective, during gym class we were allowed to select activities every two weeks with a selection -- generally -- that went like so: Football, Volleyball, Soccer, Walking.

I walked, quite literally, for all of high school. Once in a while I would rotate in "yoga" which at Plymouth North High School amounted to laying on the ground and sleeping. I was decidedly not a runner.

In college, I can name two concrete things which triggered me wanting to start working out. The first was being inspired by my Sporty Spice roomie, Jen. Living with this smart, healthy, wonderful student athlete made me want to start using the gym and studying. One stuck. The other...eh. The second reason I started working out is that -- it turns out -- alcohol has a hell of a lot of calories in it. Who knew!?

And why running? Well, we had a crappy gym and often the ellipticals were full. And that is the honest to god truth. I started with a couple of miles run/walked and then gradually moved to a point where a three-mile half-hour work-out was normal. Over the years things got out of hand, and that brings us to present day.


"What will be your longest run before the big day?" - Rob
20! I can't imagine running 20 after my 16 today but -- to be honest -- I wouldn't have been able to picture 16 after a month ago's 12. So, there you have it.


"Can I have your stuff when u die from running 26.2 miles?" - Allison
Thanks for the question, Sis! The answer is, yes, absolutely you may.

I will warn you, however, than upon taking inventory of my worldy possessions, it turns out that you will be left with the following: worn out clothing, old rickety IKEA furniture, and out-of-date electronics. Enjoy.


Well I think that just about wraps up my first mailbag. Feel free to send me questions. Or to donate money to my charity. As always, thanks for reading and keep on keepin' on.

Monday, August 15, 2011

On Saris, Violence to the Facial Area, and Sad Cookies

Funds collected to date: $1736.40 (66%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $883.60
Long run: n/a (total weekly mileage = a measly 21)
Weeks to Go: 12

This week I did not complete a long run, as I was honored to be a bridesmaid in the beautiful, breath-taking, and fun as hell wedding of my friend Shimul.
The wedding weekend -- lasting from Wednesday evening through Sunday morning -- was many wonderful things. It was emotional, colorful, delicious, personal, bright, extraordinary....

...but what it was not was conducive to running.

Thursday morning, one of the other bridesmaids and I were able to squeak in a quick 4 by running around...and around...and around the Paramus Mall. A stunning view, I can assure you. Saturday I was able to also squeeze in a quickie (so to speak) in the hotel gym before getting dressed for the afternoon's events.

This week I was supposed to have done 12-13 on Saturday alone with weekly mileage increasing to around 33. Without that long run, I ran "only" at 21. While many weeks I fall short of the goal that Team for Kids set in its schedule for me, I have never been more than a couple miles off.

And this brings me to the subject of this blog post: The Guilt.

I know a few key things. I KNOW them. These are:

1) Fabulous wedding of one of my close friends > Running and I do not regret for a moment having this experience over that of killing myself and then putting my naked bum into an ice bath.

2) I have been so diligent every other week that one "off" one does not matter.

3) 21 miles in a week is still pretty freaking amazing and to be able to call a 4-miler a "short and easy run" is pretty freaking ridiculous.

I know these things to be true.

But still, the guilt. It comes.

I feel guilty because I want this whole marathon thing to go well, without a hitch, without injury if at all possible. A lot of the point of training is to mold your body into something that is capable of bearing the intense burden of running 26.2 miles consecutively. To-date, I have been pretty lucky (knock on wood!) and have only been experiencing relatively minor foot pain, which I have been treating via an extensive therapy program called "rolling a golf ball underneath your foot." It's very complex.

I feel guilty because I ate enough Indian food this weekend to feed an army, without any of the normal cardio burn that would allow my body to handle such calorie intake.

But mostly, I feel guilty because I am an addict. After 12 weeks of training for this thing, I need the stuff. I just need it! After I run, I feel oddly elated, happy, and clear. Also I want to kill someone, but I have that feeling while I am elated and happy and clear.

When you take away my running-enduced endorphins, I turn into an ogre-like creature that needs a pretty consistent stream of caffeine and alcohol to survive. If I could injest the two substances simultaneously and intravenously, I surely would.



This is a photo of a "sad monster" to represent me. True story: If you Google image results for "sad monster" you will see this image, as well as an image for Tiger Woods looking sad. Let that be a reminder to you at how quickly one can fall from glory....and moving on.


Running -- for better or for worse -- has become a part of my lifestyle lately. I don't mean to insinuate that I've gone off the deep-end and become one of those crazy runner hippies who is going to go off into the desert to be one with nature and run 100+ mile ultra-marathons or anything. But I've definitely turned into one of those people I used to want to punch in the face that would have interactions with people that go something like this:

Person #1: "What did you do this weekend?"
Me: "I ran 14 miles."
Person #1: "Oh my god! How was it?"
Me: "It was great! I couldn't feel better!"

Face punch.

I've also become more cynical than I mean to be. Case in point:
Person #2 [generally this part is played by a man on a first date with me]: "So what do you do other than work?"
Me: "I run. And I attend weddings."
Person #2: [awkward silence]

Face punch.

Finally, I've become a person that basically plans my life around this stuff. I believe I mentioned in a previous post my tracker. This thing is unbelievable. I update it every single morning with all physical activity I have done the day before and ensure it is updated with every day of activity I plan to do in weeks ahead. Don't believe me? Let's try a test. Tonight I have a 6 highlighted in sea green. This means I'll run 6 miles with Team for Kids (connoted by peaceful, happy colors). Tomorrow is deep blue because that is when I do my morning Total Body Conditioning classes for cross-training and the blue feels intense. How about...October 16th? That's a 6 without highlighting, meaning I will run 6 miles all by my lonesome.

Face punch.

To end this entry, when I was searching for images to use in this oh-so-amazing blog post, I came across this picture below of a sad cookie monster being looked at wistfully by a sad cookie. Whenever I skip a run, this is what I am going to envision from now on. I think I might just blow up a poster-sized photograph of this image and tape it above my running shoes in my bedroom.
Is that not the most upsetting slash hilarious thing you have ever seen? I thought so.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

An Unnecessary Picture Speaks a Thousand Words

Funds collected to date: $1661.40 (63%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $958.60
Long run: 14 miles (total weekly mileage = 30)
Weeks to Go: 13


This week I ventured where I have not ventured before: Running greater distances than a half marathon.

I was home in Plymouth to volunteer with my Dad for the Pan-Mass Challenge on Friday. Volunteering was amazing but -- unfortunately -- it consisted of me being on my feet for quite literally 12 hours straight. Without a break. Not exactly a "rest" day, so to speak. That night after plenty of stretching, moaning, and groaning, I passed out in my childhood twin bed. To be clear, I did not regret volunteering because I felt so privileged and rewarded to put in time for such an amazing cause. But at the same time I felt like I might never walk again. In other words, confidence was low.

The next morning at an ungodly hour, I was up and ready to rock n' roll. I actually felt pretty strong except for some aching feet. Helping me out was the fact that the weather was border-line glorious at 7 am: minimal humidity and only 70 degrees.

Following I have decided to create a pictorial view of my 14-mile run through Plymouth so that you might experience what I experienced that day. My amazing mom decided to join me at the beginning of the run and would be waiting for me at the end.

Here I am, ready with my cool fuel belt to start the run at Nelson Beach:



Caption: Hey! I'm wearing a fanny pack!




I started my run doing a couple back and forth passes on this cute mile-long dirt path from the beach to 3A near Cordage Park (for those of you brushing up on your Plymouth geography). Yonder in the photo you can see Myra doing her own laps on the path. Adorable!


Is that the Mayflower? And Plymouth Rock? THE Plymouth Rock???



Why yes. Yes, it is.






After a jaunt in ye olde historic Plimouth, I ran down a hilly Warren Ave to the beach and reached mile 7 right here:
It took absolutely all my willpower at this stage not to pack it in, call it a day, and pass out face first into some questionable Plymouth Public Beach sand. So, I had myself a Gu, turned around, and started heading back towards the downtown again.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of Gu. If you ever told me even one year ago that I would be "that" runner who eats multiple of these "foods" (I can't in good conscious call them food with out a solid set of quotation marks), I would tell you that you, sir, were mistaken. Gu? Like...Goo? Really?
Really.

I ran by my old high school next to which the town is finally building the new high school. Let me preface by saying that this old high school had problems. You think your school was crappy? Well, we had our English classes in things called the "Portables." In essence, we learned the fine nuances of literature and linguistics in old, dirty trailers. Need more examples? Our music room was so small the woodwinds and brass couldn't actually practice together at the same time. Swear to god. One more? One time I was walking down the hall with a friend, and a huge chunk of ceiling fell out merely inches in front of us causing not only a near death experience for her and I, but also some significant ceiling and floor damage. The response? There would be a waste barrel in that spot for the remainder of our tenure at PNHS.

Why don't I just let you be the judge. Old high school:
New high school:
"Wow. Missed out on that one," I thought as I hit the 10 mile mark.

From here I ran back to Nelson Beach, consuming my second Gu on the way, to see what Myra had been up to in the 2 hours and 20 minutes it took me to run in this adventure.




She had clearly been suffering.




I actually had felt pretty good for the majority of the run, but the last mile was -- frankly - absurd. I feel like this is where the mental aspect comes into play, because as soon as I hit 13.1 I could almost literally feel my organs, bones and muscles start to freak out. Things got incredibly difficult, and I actually questioned if I could run that last 0.9.

But then, I was rescued -- as so many runners are -- by the one and only Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory" blasting through my headphones. Yes! I too am on the edge of glory, Gaga! And I can do this!

What, I ask you, did runners do before iPods and Lady Gaga? I don't even understand.

Once I completed the run, what I wanted to do was die. What I did instead was some quality stretching like a champion. I wasn't going to post these photos Myra snapped away while using an iPhone for the first time ever. But, after deleting the 1,000 mistake photographs she took, I actually thought I looked pretty athletic in these and wanted you to see living proof of this as well:

Seriously! I look like I just came from the pages of an awkward Women's Health magazine or something, right!?













My tale is almost complete, but not before I tell you about the absurdity of what happened next. I went home and took an ice bath. A bath. In ice. You think running 14 miles hurts? Oh, no no no no no no. Getting your naked tushie into a tub of freezing ice water and sitting in that water for 10 minutes: that is pain. You are supposed to do it because of lactic acid build up, and it's evidently quite important for recovery.

To quote Jack Dawson of Titanic fame: "...water that cold, like right down there, it hits you like a thousand knives stabbing you all over your body. You can't breathe. You can't think. At least, not about anything but the pain. Which is why I'm not looking forward to jumping in there after you."
But go after me Leonardo DiCaprio did not.

While in that water, I cursed every running blog, magazine and website that had ever told me to do this. I swore to kill my coaches that had recommended this torture. I questioned if this was actually perhaps a cruel joke and how much of an ass I would have been for believing that this was appropriate.

And then I got out. And proceeded with my day.

But I will tell you: it actually worked. 24 hours later, I really felt quite good! The downside is now I know I have to do this every week. Lugging bags of ice home after long runs. Alone. Up three flights of stairs. To a bathtub I'll evidently have to start cleaning on Friday nights. Harumph.

To conclude this story of photographs and words, I am really excited I successfully and safely broke the 14-mile barrier. Special thanks to Mom and Dad for listening to me whine, fueling me up with yummy food, and being incredibly supportive this weekend as I continue the madness.

Oh and of course, an extra special thanks to my sister Allison for being super-sketchy slash absolutely hilarious:

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tale as Old as Time

Funds collected to date: $1631.40 (62%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $988.60
Long run: 12 miles (total weekly mileage = 29)
Weeks to Go: 14

On Saturday, the often-mentioned Sam from Denver was visiting town, so I could do my longest training run to-date with her! Despite her late-night arrival from Mountain Time, we were up bright and early for what turned out to be a really fun (and shady!) 12-mile route. Starting in Brooklyn we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, ran to the West Side of Manhattan, up the West Side Highway to Riverside Park, and ended with a short jaunt on one of Central Park's bridle paths. Splendid.

After destroying an H&H bagel, we decided to relax a while and ultimately take naps.

Sam: "I'm going to need to sleep a few hours as I only got 5 minutes of sleep before your crazy ass woke me up to run in multiple boroughs. I hate you." [Potential hyperbole alert.]
Me: "Well I actually got 8 hours of sleep last night because it's totally normal to go to bed at 9:30pm on a Friday when you're single and 28. So, I'm just going to continue to spend an unreasonable amount of time on my iPhone or maybe read the -- SNORE."

At this point I passed out for almost three hours. Sam -- appropriately -- awakened me when she required frozen yogurt.

After more relaxing, but outside this time, we came back inside to relax. More. And this is when I discovered the glory that is ABC Family.

Have you watched ABC Family lately? Likely not. And to that, I say this. Wrong. WRONG.

The line-up was astounding. The glorious "Hook" followed by one of the classic films of our time, "Parent Trap" (Lohan version).






Oh, Lindsay. What happened to you?



Following Parent Trap, I went out to be social. But not without setting my DVR for the next movie in the schedule: Disney's Oscar-nominated Beauty and the Beast. I would continue to view this film at 3 am over a slice of pepperoni pizza. And again this very evening as I compose this (rather random?) blog post. Because drunken Beauty and the Beast -- while phenomenal in theory -- lost a wee bit of the magic in translation.

How is any of this relevant (you may be asking yourself?) Not. But I felt it worth a mention that not only did I run 12 miles, but then subsequently watched roughly 8 hours of kids' TV programming. My marathon training -- while it promotes a healthy lifestyle, encourages weight-loss, and impresses faithful blog-readers across a nation -- has also caused me to transition to the lifestyle of a television network's audience target of elementary school children and their parents.

....Perhaps minus the inebriated viewing of animated classics in the middle of the night. I don't know. I don't have kids, so I'll have to figure out if that's normal or not at a later time.

Before signing off, let me just note that we gone viral, baby! Sam shared my popular Devil in Lululemon post that has taken the world [read: at minimum a dozen people] by storm with...wait for it....the Devil herself! She in turn posted a link to my blog on the Bar Method website of Denver, CO and the rest is history! I am famous! Someday when I (undoubtedly) get a coffee-table book deal off of this thing, I promise not to let the mass quantities of cash go too much to my head....



In the meantime, let me just say that I appreciate -- once again -- everyone's support and kind words through this thing. It's encouraging to see improvements in my strength and stamina, and I'm feeling really healthy and good so far [she said as she ices her throbbing knee]. Next week I go into uncharted territory by breaking the half marathon distance barrier and going for the big 14!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

All the cool kids are doing it

Funds collected to date: $1545.40 (58%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $1,074.60
Long run: 10 miles (total weekly mileage = 26)
Weeks to Go: 15

And then...NY became an inferno.

The tail end of last week did two very important things for me. The first is that it showed me that if I can run 10 miles on the surface of the sun, then I can run 26 miles in November. Or something like that.

Second, it demonstrated that I am TOTALLY BALLER. Seriously, while I was pounding out mileage at 7:30 am on a Saturday with the heat index already nearly 100, I thought to myself "Good lord! Who ARE you!?"

Now that my running has reached the double-digits for my long-runs, I am in a whole different arena. 10 milers were my longest "long-runs" in preparation for the Half-Marathons I've completed the last couple of years. I've done this type of things before...but from here on out, I'm in new territory. I'm running a 12 next weekend, but there will be cheering crowds or yellow tape or tables full of stale bagels waiting for me at the end.

I'm considering making a series of silver medals for myself to collect at the end of my training runs just to provide some sort of closure or climax to the running experience. Why silver instead of gold? Because I have humility and class.

This new phase of training does bring with it some downsides that while had been expected, I had not fully grasped until now. First, the time factor. If I want to run long distances in the summer, this must happen as early as possible to avoid discomfort, hospitalization, and second-degree burning of my freakishly white skin. My Team For Kids training group meets at 7am on Saturdays...meaning I am up at 5:45ish...meaning I have to go to bed by 10pm. Woo. Party animal. You know you're a cool kid when you're not only alone in your apartment on a Friday, but you're also not even up late enough to catch Letterman before you pass out.

The run itself on Saturdays from here on out will take me 2+ hours if you consider that I'm about a 10 minute mile pace for these long, long runs. Include transportation time, warm-up, and stretching, and now you're really nearer to 3-4 hours.

I made the dangerous misstep this weekend of not resting afterwards. Big mistake, because out at dinner at 8 pm that night -- as my friend Jackie can attest -- I looked like this:
Lesson learned. I will now enhance my cool factor by scheduling naptime pre-school style in subsequent weeks. I will miss looking like a kick-ass Japanese baby, but it's a risk I'll have to take.


P.S. Thanks to Sam for sending me this affirmatory link on Facebook today. Hooray beer!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lay Off Me, I'm Starving!

I had to share with you a little store about what happened at lunch in the company cafeteria today. My co-workers -- I am sure -- are scarred and will never quite be the same.

To preface, I ran 5 miles last night and then an additional 5 miles this morning. It is 1,000 degrees out and the humidity is akin to running through a swamp. The sweating has been monumental.

In the effort to be healthy and fiscally responsible (i.e. afford beer), I packed a moderately-sized healthy lunch and snack for the day. After eating not one, but two full breakfasts plus a snack before noon today, I finally arrived at lunchtime. My sandwich...and what was intended to be my afternoon snack...didn't stand a chance. I ate -- nay -- destroyed them. Record time.

My poor, innocent friend Kelly was sitting to my left enjoying her Meditteranean salad. I'm not going to lie to you right now: It looked good. Real good. Mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, little bit of couscous in there, some hummus, pita, olives...good stuff all around.

She appropriately finished her meal, but had neglected a stray pita bread in her salad container. I noticed. As my colleague went to close the plastic lid in order to throw away yet another to-go container whilest Dining In (no judgement, Kelly!) I reacted in a mildly...uncomfortable manner. This manner would be me throwing myself across the table and putting my hand in between the top and bottom of the salad container while yelling "NOOOO!"

"Wow. You could have just asked for some pita," remarked Kelly as the rest of the table stood by stunned.

By this point my mouth was full of delicious pita and there was nothing I could do but sit and think about what I had done...

And about how many more hours there are until dinner.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Heart Beer...er....Running.

Funds collected to date: $1455.40 (55%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $1,164.60
Miles Ran This Week: 27 (longest single run = 8 miles)
Weeks to Go: 16





Big things happening this week in the world of MeriG running.

First, I passed the halfway fundraising mark..and then some! Thank you, thank you, thank you to my generous friends and family!

Second, I ran 27 miles last week. That means I ran more than a marathon's distance! Granted, it took seven days, but let's ignore this fact for a moment because I feel good! Had some knee pain: iced it. Was really hungry: Ate a lot. Needed a new sports bra: Purchased. Things are being handled right and left like the pro I am!

Third -- and perhaps most importantly -- I finalized the details for my Marathon Fundraising Extravaganza! Save the date for Wednesday, August 17th at the Overlook Bar (midtown east, NY). $20 buys you entry to the party of the century (go with it) and two drinks of your choice. We're talking beer (any beer, not just cheap, light stuff), wine, or premium liquor. Let's get drinkin' people! 40% of the funds will go directly to Team for Kids towards meeting my fundraising goal!
While we're on the subject of beer, I feel I should mention a fascinating side-effect of my entrance into long-distance running. Whilest I am on the trail, out in the world, doing my thing, I am often overwhelming consumed with one thought:

"My god. I could really use a beer."

I can make myself feel better that perhaps this is a side-ways, somewhat convoluted way my body is letting me know it would like carbs. That's the healthy explanation. Agreed...but let's also agree that there are many, many foods which fall under the definition of "carbs." There are none I crave so deeply as a delicious brew.

All this is fine, except that sometimes I forget my surroundings. For instance, I was running with a nice young lady last week during what turned out to be a "Hill Workout." This hill workout was exactly what it sounded like: Poop. And it would have been awful enough, had it not been humid. And it would have been enough still, but then it opened up and started pouring rain on us. And it would have been enough, but we were a mile away from running back to our bags which were now soaking wet back at our meeting spot. Dayenu.

Back to the story. So during this workout we would sprint uphill and then jooooog slowly downhill. During one of these jogs I turned to the girl next to me and said "My god, I could really use a beer right now."

She looked at me like this:

Beer is deydrating and slows you down in the long-term. She doesn't drink at all during her training period (20+ weeks!)

Sad. No beer for her. Moment of silence for her loss.

The good news is that it turns out 99% of the runners I say this to agree wholeheartedly. Beer is good. And carby. And delicious. And if you're running a marathon it counter-acts beer-belly action. Very little downside happening right now, is what I'm saying.

Cheers!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Devil Wears Lululemon Yoga Pants

Funds collected to date: $1044.40 (39%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $1,575.60
Miles Ran This Week: 23 (longest single run = 6 miles a mile up in the sky)
Weeks to Go: 17

This past weekend I attended the wedding of my friends Russ and Sam. The significance to this running blog is that Sam is the lovely lady I have mentioned in previous posts who has had a large part in both inspiring me to run a Marathon as well as directing me as to the appropriate items I need to spend copious amounts of money on to make the running happen.

Sam and Russ live -- and were wed -- in Denver, CO. As you are likely well-aware, Denver is located a mile up in the sky where the air is brighter, cleaner, happier...and much thinner. Because Sam is awesome (read: slightly crazy and masochistic), she had scheduled a jam-packed weekend full of physical activities and a little thing I like to call a "wedding."

Friday, S and I went on a six-mile treadmill run in the lovely hotel gym. Here is my written impression on what it is like to run in altitude:

WHEEEEEEEZZZZEEE

It hurt. I was supposed to run 10 miles this weekend, but I am confident that running 6 in Denver was more than enough.

Saturday, S planned for a private group Bar Method class. I was excited, because this was a great time for me to get in my cross-training for the week. During Marathon training (or really anytime, for that matter), it is important to get cross-training into your schedule. This can be accomplished through swimming, eliptical, yoga, weights, etc. The purpose -- from what I understand -- is to continue strengthening your body's muscles while also allowing for your running muscles to not get burnt out from running continuous days. Also, it's good to increase flexibility, decrease boredom, and increase the likelihood that you sound knowledgable during long blog entries.

Ok, so back to Bar Method. This class is a combination of stretching flexibility exercises, ballet dance techniques (hense the 'bar'), conditioning, and little pieces of hell. The class is led by a chipper woman who I will now refer to as "The Devil."

The Devil knows your name. She has somehow learnt it in the 5 minutes between when you approached the counter to fill out the documentation stating that you will not sue the Bar Method if you die and entering the studio. The Devil will call you out -- by name -- when you are not doing exercises perfectly. The Devil knows all.

The Devil will direct you to hold poses that are named things such as "The Pretzel" as if they are no big deal. In fact, they are a very big deal. An example of something the Devil might cavalierly say:

"Once you are in the seated position, simply move your left leg behind your right ear. Gently extend your right arm and pull back on your left leg until it snaps off. Place your left leg in front of you on the floor and somersault over it. Come on, Meredith, I see you over there! Smile while you rip your leg off of your body!"

The Devil will have you hold poses for hours at a time. She will never let up. If you break a pose, she will sweetly smile at you and tell you that you can do better. The Devil believes in you.

The Devil will play Justin Bieber and other heartwarming music to give you the illusion that everything is okay. And sometimes it does feel okay. It feels good even. This is all part of the Devil's ploy. Those muscles which do feel good in the moment will make you regret having legs at all the next day. And arms. And hips. And other muscle groups you may have been unaware existed at all.

But The Devil's greatest trick of all is that you realize after some time of reflection, pain and copious cursing...that if you were to go back again and again...you would be hot. Like, really hot. The Devil would give you Jennifer Aniston's arms, J-Lo's butt and the ab muscles of...someone other hot female celebrity. That's how The Devil sucks you in and has you begging for more.

So, congratulations to my friend Sam on her marriage and her ability to rope me into training in altitude and conditioning my muscles all before throwing on heels and a bridesmaid dress and boogy-ing down all night. I guess it all paid off when I was able to use my athletic prowess to catch (snatch? steal?) the bouquet. The Devil would have been proud.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Well, hello there, Pilgrim!

Funds collected to date: $1044.40 (39%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $1,575.60
Miles Ran This Week: 21 (longest single run = 8 miles)
Weeks to Go: 18

Greetings and Happy 4th of July from America's Hometown: Plymouth, Massachusetts!

I have been spending the long holiday weekend here with family and friends, but that does not excuse the need for an 8 mile run this past Saturday.
The great news is that you really can't beat the scenery. It's also difficult to beat having your mother hold all your stuff and stand there with a water bottle waiting for you to run by and demand it. I'm wondering if she'll come to NY every weekend for my long runs...hmmmm....

Running in Plymouth vs. New York City has many differences aside from the scenery and the servant mothers. In New York there is a certain etiquette -- a code, if you will -- that dictates how to run amongst millions of others without strife, chaos and infliction of bodily harm. The basic principles for NY Runners to live by are in essence to keep to yourself, keep out of others' ways as much as possible, and try to avoid crazy people.

Fine. So after running on a lovely new path (Nelson's Playground to Cordage Park for those Plymouthians in the audience that are interested) for miles 1-4, I used my "water station" (Mom) and then head off for miles 4-8 through the historic waterfront. It was during this back-half of the run that I encountered the issue I have coined "Societal Re-acclimation Through Pleasantry." SRTP happens when you are jolted back to normalcy when leaving New York for a bit and actually interact -- positively -- with strangers.

Whilest running in Plymouth, people were just so damn pleasant. They said "hello!," "a good morning to ya!," or "great job!" At first, I was taken aback, because in New York when a stranger calls out to you, this is a sign that you should use your marathon training skills to run FASTER and AWAY from the issue. You avoid eye contact and move along. Nothing to see here. Don't instigate the crazy. Here in normal society, it turns out, people are actually just saying hello! It takes a few minutes to adjust to this. Don't be frightened if you should ever encounter it and do please note that it is customary to actually make eye contact and reply back. I know. Weird.

At one point during the run a man just started running with me. We chatted for a while about him running the Boston Marathon and how my progress has been so far. He recommended I get a tattoo to commemorate this when I finish (I think a blog will suffice). Most importantly, though, he did not try to kill me. This is a clear example of "Societal Re-acclimation Through Pleasantry" in that back in the city...a random man with a backpack that runs along side you is a precursor NOT to lovely conversation, but to potential maiming.

After my run, my mom had to return books at the library, so I did my stretching there. It turns out you draw a lot of attention (by Plymouth standards) for stretching in a Library parking lot. In NY, you see people doing the most absurd, ridiculous things everyday and you don't even bat an eyelash. There is a dude who walks around Central Park with a full out boa constrictor around his neck. Another lady who might -- as an example -- just start singing Opera in the middle of a crowded intersection. No big deal. Me stretching in a library parking lot in Plymouth, Mass.? ABSURDITY. In the 5 minutes it took my mom to go inside and return her book and get the woman behind her in line to pay her $0.30 late fee (way to go, Myra!), three different people came up to me, inquired on the activity I was in progress doing, and wished me luck with my upcoming Marathon. Because, in Plymouth, you end up somehow telling random strangers about your goals and dreams.

All in all, a very positive running experience. I just have to make sure now that when I go back to NY I don't let this go to my head. It is NOT appropriate to have an exchange with crazy boa constrictor man in the middle of central park. It is appropriate to put on your headphones, zone out, and run like hell.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mud.

Funds collected to date: $944.40 (36%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $1,675.60
Miles Ran This Week: 18 (longest single run = 6.5 miles)
Weeks to Go: 19

On Wednesday night I met up with my running group for a timed run. This basically consists of running at a solid pace for a certain distance (in this case it was 3.44 miles even though they said it was 3.2 but who's counting...?), recording that time, and seeing if you beat it next month and the month after that, etc.

In the distance, thunder rumbled, but I figured that a little rain never hurt anyone. Except the Wicked Witch of the West, I suppose.

Ready, set, go, and we were off. It turns out in my running group I'm an "Intermediate." This means basically I've run before regularly so I'm not just starting to run AND doing a marathon (and yes, there are people doing this!) but it also means I'm not fast like the so-called "Experts" (jerks). Generally there's a few girls at my pace, but not on this evening. So despite starting out with a few dozen others, I found myself somehow running on my own sans iPod.

"Oh, well," I thought to myself as I ran along the dirt path of one of Central Park's bridal paths. "This will be a lovely time for relaxation and personal reflection. I will try to be one with nature and push out negative thoughts and be zen.



















But then. The skies opened up and it started raining.

Actually, let me rephrase. It started downpouring. In a big way.

"Ok, Meredith, you are soaking wet. But...actually it feels kind of nice to be wet from nature rather than from your own nastiness, actually. Let's carry on."



(The above photograph is not actually me. It is a representation of what I believe my spirit to have looked like at the time the rain began.)


As you may remember, the path we were running on was dirt. DIRT. After about a mile of running in the deluge the Artist Formerly Known As Dirt because a flooded mud-bath. At this point, things got dicey, but as I had to get back to the beginning anyways (where my bag was being guarded under a bridge by the local trolls), I had no choice but to carry on.

And carry on I did.





At the end this is an almost exact replication of what I looked like:

Now, despite this little snafu in my quest to achieve inner peace through running, I actually feel very good about completing that timed run. Since I was wading through the Nile for half my run I am BOUND to beat myself next month. As I've mentioned before, I like to win very much so I am looking forward to my victory. Also, I truly have come to realize that the miserable running days do make the lovely ones just that much better. I know, my optimism is grossing me out as well.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the other runners,coaches and staff that were there for the run that day now think that I am totally baller. Please do not correct them.