Monday, May 30, 2011

...or is it just me?

Pledge Committment: $2,620
Funds collected to date: $603.40 (23%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $2,016.60
Miles Ran Last Week: 18.5 (longest single run = 6 miles)

It got hot. Not that I'm complaining, because it beats the alternative (that being: blizzards and sadness). But for a runner, above 60 becomes a sudden heat-wave and we -- my friends -- have surprised 60 by a long-shot.

What does this mean for me? It means that to responsibly go out for a long run I should be up early in the morning on the weekends (i.e. before 8 ideally) so that I can be up and out before the heat. Suffice it to say that I did not quite make this timeframe.

On Sunday -- temperature and humidity rising by the minute -- I decided a 10 am wake-up call seemed about right, followed by 3 hours of leisurely eating and drinking. At about 1 pm, in the absolute height of the sun and heat, I said to myself "Meredith, you know what would be a STELLAR plan with your glowing white skin and slight dehydration from last night's shenanigans? Let's go for a run!"

If you live outside of New York, you may not know that Central Park is a runner's paradise due to the network of loops you can utilize for a run. The full park is 6 miles and has cut-offs throughout which makes it perfect for training because you can pretty much design your own course. For my training schedule, I wanted/needed to do a full 6-miler, and so I sunscreened up (yes, Mom, I did actually try not to get burned!) and set off with keys in hand and a few dollar bills in my pocket (for a Gatorade or a sudden necessary strip-club visit...whichever comes first).

It. Was. Hot. You're just going to have to trust me on this. It was legit no-joke summertime hot out. And almost immediately there were triggers that told me this run was going to be difficult. Namely, that I was melting away. Sunscreen carefully applied? On no longer. [See: My red shoulders and empty aloe bottle.]

In order to pass the miles and ignore the fact that I was being roasted alive like a tandori chicken, I started enjoying a little game I like to play called "let's judge other people." This age old pastime is not as complicated as the name may suggest. I'll break it down for you: you look at other people. And judge them.

As I pondered the various questionable outfits, oddly matched couples and interesting modes of transportation (i.e. skateboard aided ski pole, bicycle built for two holding three, etc.), it suddenly occurred to me that something very odd was afoot. Many girls - and I mean many - were not sweating. What?! I am literally melting into a pool of myself, and you aren't even glistening?! How?! Is that even physically possible when you are running in this heat?

If there are any doctors in the audience, I actually would love an answer to the above. Is that, medically, even possible? Because I saw it multiple times.

There can only be three possible explanations:
1) It was just me.
2) These girls were running short 5 second bursts only during the moment they knew I would run by and then were stopping and dabbing with a moist towelette as to not disturb their make-up and cute outfit (see image below).
3) The rapture is upon us.

I'm going with 3.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My New Kicks

It became abundantly clear to me some time ago that I needed new running sneakers. How do you know you need new shoes? Responsible runners will tell you every 300-500 miles. This translates to 6-9 months depending on the amount you have been training. Admittedly, I was way beyond that. Way.

More importantly though, they weren't looking pretty. These were some pretty ugly pieces of sportswear I was rocking every day, and I was frankly embarassed by them and by myself.

I wandered into Jack Rabbit because I figured I would ask for some advice on appropriate marathon-training footwear from the experts. Jack Rabbit is basically the messiah of running-wear. When the rapture comes again -- someday -- all runners will probably end up in a Jack Rabbit outlet somewhere. The store is staffed by in-shape, beautiful people that get to wear running clothes all day. They all run to work everyday and are just happy to be young and running and alive. I hate them.

After mentioning my quest for appropriate shoes, I was whisked away to a private area to have a discussion about my shoes. It went something like this:

Skinny Sales Woman: So what are your running needs?
Me: I am training for my first marathon, and I think I need new shoes.
SSW: [looking at my sneakers] Wow. Yeah. These are really bad.
Me: Oh. Yeah. I guess I will get new ones.
SSW: Any issues with pronating?
Me: Say what now?
SSW: Pronation? Have you ever been analyzed before?
Me: Uhhhh...
SSW: [glares very judgementally at my nasty sneakers and then looks at me with an (evil?) glimmer in her eye. She is near salivating at the prospect of a near certain commission]. Okay then, let's get you running!

And she wasn't kidding about the literal running. She put me on the treadmill to videotape my natural gait. I don't know if you've ever "gaited" while being videotaped, but it felt as though someone was videotaping me taking a shower. How are you supposed to be natural in this situation!? I was instructed to run for a minute or so seconds at a "comfortable" pace.

Here is where things got tricky due to the fact that I am an idiot. I wanted to impress the crazy runner chick, who likely runs more in her morning jog than I do in a week. I went up to 6.5 (about a 9 minute mile) to "jog". This would come back to bite me square in the ass.

The next half hour was a series of incremental bursts of alleged "light jogging" followed by the replay of the video, analysis of everything I'm doing wrong in life, and presentation of a shoe which would fix me. Wow. WOW. I mean, the way she presented the situation, it is a miracle I don't have to crawl to work from the damage I am doing to myself day-to-day. But here was the fundamental problem: I was running my fake inflated jogging pace a lot. A real lot. Why did I feel the need to lie to her!? She doesn't know me!? She wasn't judging me (or was she....)

So, winded and sweating, I finally got to my last sneakers to try. A lovely pair of Brooks runners. And they were glorious. This woman was the grand master of sales. She had me defeated, tired, insecure and completely reliant on her expertise. She had me try on a half dozen pairs of the weirdest sized and shaped shoes. And she knews that this last pair she would have me try, after running miles on a treadmill in front of a store full of people and a videographer, would be magical.

I bought them without even looking at the price tag.

...I also bought a hat. She said it would keep me cool in the summer.

...and some new type of gels. She said it would help keep my energy level up during long runs.

...If she had been selling yard rakes, I guarantee you that I would have bought one of those as well and stored it in my lawn-less 4th floor one-bedroom apartment.

Well played, Jack Rabbit retail stores. Well played, indeed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Challenge Accepted

Pledge Committment: $2,620
Funds collected to date: $528.40 (20%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $2,091.60

Running a half marathon is impressive. It just is. For four years running, I have made the yearly promise to myself to pay my $75 and run 13.1 miles. I've done this in 85 degree humid heat and in 40 degrees pouring rain. Both sucked. I was miserable. But I'm a glutton for punishment, so I would sign up the next year to do it again.

For this year's half in Central Park in early April 2011, something changed. I trained appropriately. I ate appropritaely (for approximately 72 hours before the race. Let's not get crazy!) The weather was stunning. I SMILED at the finish line. And then, it was over...and I felt somewhat let down. That was it? Where was the agony and anguish? Shouldn't I be writhing on the ground rather than chowing down on a delicious omelette over brunch?

For those of you who know me well, you may know I can be a bit "competitive" and "crazy" and "out of my freaking mind." I also bore easily. For those of you who don't know me well and who have just wandered in from the InterWeb, welcome to my blog and now you've learned a little bit about me!

With these personality aspects in mind, you will not be surprised that after getting into business school, graduating from business school with a great job, and traveling the world, I am feeling a bit...meh. I'm feeling a bit of the "okay, what's next!" bug. So you will also not be surprised to know that after finishing successfully, in record-time (for me, not for the world), my fourth half-marathon I said to myself: "Self, I think we need a new challenge! Let's do that...twice!" Running a marathon -- specifically the ING NYC Marathon -- was suddenly a must-do for me. I wanted this, and I wanted it bad.

There are four ways to get into the NYC Marathon:

1) Be very fast (we crossed this option off of the list verrrrrry quickly).
2) Run 9 races and volunteer for an additional one -- passing out water or something -- in a calendar year to run the following calendar year. (Nope).
3) Enter in the lottery three years in a row and be turned down. You get in the fourth. (Got rejected for my third year this year).
4) Raise money for charity.

We had a winner.

From there, things moved quickly. I found a great charity called Team for Kids that provides free or low-cost school and community-based health and fitness programs to children who would otherwise have no access to regular physical activity. I will be raising $2,620 -- $100 for every mile I run -- for this deserving organization.

This blog will chronicle my tales in training, and will also serve as an update to my friends and family who have already been so incredibly generous after just one blast email.

So what am I doing now? I am running consistently 10-15 miles a week from now through early July with a couple of cross-training sessions in between to strengthen my muscles. And to fit into bridesmaid dresses. Some killer summer abs wouldn't hurt either...but I'm not holding my breath for that.

I am researching how I'm going to have to change my eating stretching drinking habits (oy) starting soon. Yikes. Eek. Yowzers.

I'm collecting gear (new water bottle and realizing that running a marathon ain't cheap if you want to do it safely and correctly. It's an investment towards my dream, though. And towards being totally baller on November 6th.

So that's all for now. I hope this allows you to live this experience with me and to feel updated on my progress. Or just to allow you something to do at work. Either is fine.