My Last Free Week

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This week is my last free week.  Marathoners will get this.  You know, that time when you can freely do whatever you want with your running, eating and sleeping.

Next Monday starts Los Angeles Marathon training.  16 weeks of running four (4) days a week.  My good friend Ron sent me a plan, and when I saw it, it looked very doable.  Until I started looking at the long runs.  The bread and butter of marathon training.  Like, in two weeks, all long runs will be over 10 miles.  In two weeks.

So, this week all the days are my own.  Run on Monday?  If I want.  If not, it’s okay.  I can do that on Tuesday.

Typically this week is all about me informing the boys…talking about how we are going to eat, etc.  Making sure I have new shoes (yes, new shoes), because I’ve been treating my Brooks like hell.  Running through airports with them, etc. Fixing my iPod with all new music for the next training cycle.  This is the week that won’t be a make or break week.  My base is good.  I ran 5 good miles in Nebraska this weekend, at 1 minute per mile faster than normal.

Because, here’s the thing.  The marathon has changed me.  Every weekend, I read race reports, look at courses, make my plan.  About when I am going to do this thing again.  And, it’s all the same.  I know how I train.  I know that weeks 1, 2 and 3 are fun.  I know that there is a special hell around week 9 when you cannot stand pancakes for Saturday night dinner one more time, and when ClifShots aren’t so exciting anymore.

But.  It’s the marathon.  And, with the training comes immeasurable joy and life.  I just realized that I am turning 55 years old in February, and will be in a new Age Group.  I can’t wait.

26.2…I haven’t run one since SLO in April 2012.  I have to be back, just to erase some unpleasant memories of angst and hurt.   It will have been 2 years by the time LA comes around.

This weekend, I was at Santa Monica High School for a party.  I looked up as I was turning on Olympic Boulevard, and saw this corner of the Santa Monica Pier, the end of the LA Marathon.

I felt that thing in my heart.  It welcomed me.  Invited me to come back.

My last free week.  Of late night TV and sleeping in on weekends.  Until again I attempt this feat.

March 9, 2014.  I will see you again, old friend.

santa monica

 

On Base Building & The LA Marathon

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The concept of base building…is that you spend several weeks leading up to marathon training week 1, and you build a steady base of miles under your belt.

I get it.  I do.

However.  After 5 marathons, I know that the most grueling weeks are not week 14, 15 or 16.  You’re too fried by then to turn back.  It’s not weeks 1, 2 or 3…when you’re fresh, but you have to get yourself back into THAT mode.  It’s anywhere from week 9 to 12, or so.  These are the weeks when it all is just.  Running.   Where, you have a plan and your house has settled back into “My Mom is training and we have no hot food” mode.  When you get home, and lace up, and turn on the Garmin and just.  GO.  Without thinking.  These are the weeks that kill.  But they are also the ones that teach perseverance.

So.  Base Building adds another, I don’t know…4-6 weeks?

No.  Simply, no.  I cannot bear it.  As much as I love the marathon…and I LOVE the marathon…I don’t always love the training, and how my food and my clock and my work day are all around when I’m getting the miles under my belt.

For now…here is my plan:  I run every other day 3 or 4 or 5 miles.  Slowly getting up to 6 by November 16th, the day my training officially starts.  On opposite days, I lift.  And.  Dieting.

When I last ran a marathon in San Luis Obispo in April 2012, I was 7 pounds thinner than I am now.  And that’s where I’d like to be come November 16.  There’s a reclaiming for me here, and those who know the back story know that SLO was my last marathon…and I have had a difficult time coming back on many levels.  But I will tell you this.  I simply must run another one.

And. I have a bib.  On March 9, 2014, I will be running the Los Angeles Marathon.  For the third time.  It’s my all time favorite course.  I love San Luis and MCM and NIKE.  I do.  But LA holds such a place in my heart.  Where I was broken at Mile 18, and ran through a monsoon the next year.  And THIS year, I will be at that great place…the young end of a new age group!

I might even be over last Friday’s LA Dodgers loss by then.  But.  I can’t guarantee it.

In summary.  I’m base building.  Sort of.  I’m supposed to run tonight, but I’m so tired from 4 hours of sleep the last two nights.  So I’m running.  Or…I’m skipping it because I can.  I haven’t decided yet.  But after November 16…it’s on.  Time for another cycle of Swedish Fish for dinner and weekends full of pancakes and long runs.  For another stab at toeing the line.

Only 3 more weeks of casual base building and freedom.  Can’t wait.

In Which I Give Up Twitter…

Twitter.  I loved you. 

You introduced me to TNT, and training for my first marathon.  I shifted from blogging and commenting to interacting in more efficient ways.  Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office responded to my tweet about losing my job in 2009, and they helped me navigate the system.  When Michael Jackson died, it was Twitter who gave me the news first. 

I had long, lonely days and nights where I could non-stop tweet about anything I want.  And, you loved me.  You embraced my non-sensical noise and let me ramble on about running, about parenting, about ex husbands and such.  During Dodger games, I tweeted from the MLB app, exhibiting getting deeper and deeper into the social Twitter web. 

You weren’t like chat rooms, or blogging, or message boards.  Oh, I had done them all.  Quantum Link, Weight Watchers message boards, Smart People (or something like that…).  I had long, lengthy opinions about everything, until you came along.

You, with your 140 character limit.  Until I found the Holy Grail of Bit.ly, Tinyurl, etc.  Until I found a way around your silly limit.  Like most things in my life, I found and broke the rule, and lived outside of even your box. 

I entered contests.  I retweeted with a vengeance.  I met runners galore.  I even met my coach on Twitter.  Some of my best friends are there…Yet, I abused you Twitter.  I had too much fun.  It was like going into a pub after a long, hot, hard day, and pounding the bar at 2am wondering how I had stayed so long. 

I likened Twitter to a coffee shop.  A big hall of table after table, where I could stop and enter a conversation with ease.  I often had direct messages with people I should not have been talking to.  If Twitter was a coffee shop, we were in our own room, and if you are somebody else’s mate, then I am out of bounds.  Toward the end of my Twitter run, I started noticing that I was adding more and more people, but interacting less and less. 

Twitter, you were the good friend who introduced me to other good friends.  I bashed Facebook in favor of you, and I defended you to the end.  I reluctantly joined Facebook because I started dating my out of town Harley Guy.  He was a Facebooker, and we stayed connected through that medium.  He also joined Twitter, and we professed our love for each other on both sites.  I started adding Twitteratti to my Facebook page.  Yet, I could not have both worlds.  I had to choose.

Most readers of this site know that I can be addicted to anything that God made more than one of.  You’ve seen me in my sobriety,  to giving up Diet Coke, trying to give up things that I abuse.  And, because I’m in a relationship with a sober man, my Twitter behavior simply had to change.  But not just for him.  For me.  For my sobriety.  I gave up Twitter to get closer to my God.  To who I really am.

No longer was it appropriate for me to DM (direct message) a man.  Men friends who had previously talked privately with me, were getting that message loud and clear:  I don’t DM with married men any longer.  No longer was it appropriate to flirt in the public timeline, or much worse, be suggestive.  One day a wife came on to the public timeline, and answered a tweet I sent to her husband, as if to say, “Okay.  That’s enough now.”  I heard it loud and clear, and started paying attention to my so-called persona. 

Don’t get me wrong Twitter.  I’m not judging your format, or other people who Tweet.  Everyone has their own set of rules.  But, because I’m looking for sobriety throughout my life, I simply had to let go.  I called a friend from New York as soon as I saw the addiction.  I went through my 900+ followers, and lo and behold, the 40 or so that I knew personally were on Facebook.  My New York gal pal stayed with me on the phone while I deactiveated my account.  Forever. 

It’s been 10 days.  It didn’t hurt in the beginning.  It doesn’t hurt now.  If you are looking for me, I’m on Facebook, posting 4x a day at most.  I’m liking and poking to death, so yeah…I’ll have to eventually look at that too, but I have a new set of standards as a woman in a relationship, in love with a man who I want to honor.

John Mayer did it.  Even Miley Cyrus gave up Twitter.  I guess it was also time for @MsV1959 to hang up her hat.

The Rain Is Both A Fading Memory & A Distant Promise

If the rain spoils our picnic,
but saves a farmer’s crop,
who are we to say it shouldn’t rain?
~Tom Barrett
I have always enjoyed running in the rain.  Mostly because it’s refreshing and I love the cool drops on my hot skin.  I love the puddles and the feeling that I’ve done more than most by just being outside.  The first time we ran in the rain, we ran 6 miles.  And, I spent the day in my bathrobe because I was exhausted.  But, I was hooked.
And so it came to pass that I ventured to Southern California in hopes of redeeming myself at the LA Marathon.  We traveled Friday.  We carb loaded.  We spent the night at my parents’ house, and took a quick 20 minute jog the next morning.  We drove to the Expo, and seasoned shopper that I am had to be dragged out and into my car by my two pals.  I dropped Jami & Kim off at their hotel, while I met up with Harley Guy in Marina del Rey.
Carb load dinner:  Hard Rock Cafe.  I’m looking around the front door, and all I’m thinking is we run right by here.  I don’t care much about the dinner or the noise or the music.  All I’m thinking is.  Tomorrow.  I run by here.  The menu choice was dim, as the only pasta selection had white wine sauce.  Couldn’t risk it.  A Caesar salad?  Too much fat.  So I was served a chicken sandwich and french fries.  This meal would prove to be too light for me.  I usually have pancakes the night before a long run.  Not french fries.  Harley Guy was amazing as he drove us all over the place.  Up and down and on lost freeways.  All the while four girls chattered in the background.
Marathon morning:  3:00 am.  Pre race prep.  Harley guy gets me moving and out the door and to Blue Heaven at 4am…  and it was cold, really cold.  It would prove to be the best weather of the day.  Sat in my parents’ seats above first base.  Bathroomed.  Again.  and Again.  I ate and did all the stuff I normally do.  I was not nervous, not even a little bit about the marathon.  I was, however, terrified about one part of the course:

The place of my demise at the LAMarathon in 2010.  Where I was on the ground for 45 minutes.   I didn’t care about finishing the marathon.  I cared about gracing my way from mile 18 to mile 19.  It was there last year that my heart broke.  In the City of Angels, I was looking for mercy.

Marathon: Horn sounds.  Runners start.  And.  Downpour.  Just at that moment, you heard a collective 20,000 person groan.  I had checked my pants and hat and sweatshirt, leaving only my white long sleeved tank, visor, gloves and trash bag.  Ditched the trash bag about 5 minutes before the rain.

Mile 1-5:  I wanted a 12:00 pace.  I was right on track.  Miles 1-3 were different, and I loved Chinatown and Little Tokyo and it was eerily absent of spectators.  I noticed a slight breeze coupled with spritzy rain.  Lovely.  I also noticed that I was starving.  I had to eat.  And, now.  When we got to the Disney Concert Hall, the course started halfway up from where it was last year, so that hill was only about 3 blocks long.  Harley Guy was somewhere around there yelling my name, but I was focused.  He raced off to see me at other spots.  He truly was my guardian angel that day.  When I got to mile 5, I was thrilled.  On pace for a 5:18 marathon.  Only one problem.

Into each life some rain must fall. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Miles 6-10:  Echo Park.  The rain is loud.  It’s noisier because we are beside the fountain, but I’m starting to challenge my body a bit with trying for more 11 minute miles.  I’m chasing 11 back and forth and this part of the course reminds me of a part of the Marine Corps Marathon.  The water, the memory.  And, I’m just reminding myself to get to the Pantages Theater.  Don’t think.  Don’t think about your job and your house and your kids.  I invited God into the run.

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. ~Langston Hughes

Mile 11-15: All the way.  Past mile 12 and 13 and I am halfway home.  And on mile 14 I was starving.  I had a 15 minute mile as I walked past that part of the course.  Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  It was there that I started to notice that LA was here.  ON the course.  AGAIN with my hometown!  I couldn’t believe it.  I started to think about the previous miles and how people were still handing out water and Gu and it was pouring.  I was soaked in my pink top.  And the locals were all there.
Loud roared the dreadful thunder, The rain a deluge showers.
~Andrew Cherry

Mile 16-17: I am dreary.  I am wearing frozen bricks as shoes, my quads are on fire, my stomach is growling.  I know that Glenn will soon be there.  My long time bloggy pal who promised to get me through Mile 18 to Mile 19.
And.
Mile 18 comes.
And I can’t do it.  I have to go to the bathroom.  I’m hungry.   Glenn keeps talking.  He says “Look at those big red vultures! They’re waiting to take runners away!”  And I look at the ambulances and I am horrified.
One can find so many pains when the rain is falling. ~John Steinbeck

I only can describe Mile 18 like this.  That was no one mile.  It took forever.  Three miles worth.  By this time, the mile markers were down.  I kept thinking, it was here were I lay.  No here.  No here.  And I started to get disoriented as to where I was.  I had vivid memories of looking up at a cop last year, and I just kept shaking it off.  It was a 14 minute mile, but I didn’t want to walk.  I just couldn’t.  And Glenn kept trying to cheer me up…and got me up to Mile 21…
Mile 21-26  Finally, finally…we get to the Veteran’s Administration grounds where I will see my sister Laura, Harley Guy and Shiloh who is taking me to the end of the course.  We are running through parts of the course washed away.  It’s hailing.  It’s raining and I can’t take it any more and I walk and she talks and I want her to shut the hell up and she keeps talking.
Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth;
without rain, there would be no life. ~John Updike


and.

i start to count.
t0 100.
and inside i’m glad.
and i’m weeping.
and i don’t care that i’m cold
and i want out.
just out.
i see the finish, and i am living.
i am 52
and i don’t care that
i got no PR.
for it isn’t the time.
it was the race i had to run.
and it’s a monsoon.
and i don’t care.
the volunteers are cheering.
or their teeth are chattering.
and then i see
a big blue and white umbrella.
and he is under it.
holding me and walking me back.
and i am protected.
and i have finished.

 

@lamarathon redemption

and so i face my biggest fear.

it’s not the marathon.  not even a little bit.

because i’ve done 3. 

nike, los angeles, marine corps

and i know it will be hard.

they’re supposed to be hard.

they’re marathons

and i was gonna be done.

save for a man named peter. who said no…come back.

and now. after months of tired legs

and hanson training,

i look forward to my favorite course.

dodger stadium

taiko drummers

transvestite cheerleaders

oranges and jewelry in beverly hills

and even though the hill at disney concert hall

is maybe the hardest hill i’ve ever faced,

it does not compare to that long stretch

and mile 18 or is it 19?

where last year i was running with a group

and trying to keep this girl’s braids in sight

she was wearing purple

and i saw dark.

and my stomach could take it no more

off into the bushes i went

heaving.

and my legs were on the course and i couldn’t even move them

out of the way

and this lady says “oh look! she hit the wall”

and i didn’t even the energy to scowl.

the cop just stared at me

the salon pas group was across the way

spraying, spraying, spraying

the ambulance

them saying you must. get. in.

i say

is my blood pressure okay? my heartbeat?

they say, yeah.

but you have to go with us.  or get on the bus. and go back to the start.

and i say i can’t. my dad is there. i have to get up.

45 minutes later.

i was crushed…but i had to get to the end.

and i did.

at 6:57.

and so. back i go on sunday.

to the city of angels.  to the city of my birth.

and i wonder if i can run past that spot

and keep running.

without crying.  without shaking.

and i take that little lost los angeles girl

and i pick her up and dust her off

and i bring her to the finish line…

and i.  i will be cheering the loudest.

so much to say. so little desire to say it.

first: the good news

  • will the la marathon just 17 days away, i’ve been running 8 miles so regularly, i can almost run our route in my sleep.  i run, eat, sleep, eat, eat and sleep and run.  that’s about it.
  • stats read: Feb-126.74 Jan-144.46 2011: so far: 271.20
  • i’m in love.  in love with harley guy.  one of the most surprising things to me here, is that i had my life all planned out.  i was going to retire, then move back to woodland hills and take care of my mom and dad when they were 90.  i was not going to fall in love.  he appeared so suddenly in my life and has swept me clearly off my feet.  it’s good.  it’s sustaining me.

now.  the bad news.

  • i found out last week that i will not be hired back.  i was a probationary teacher.  i stood up against a bully.  i took my administrator to the union, because the dye was already cast…but it didn’t help.   i’m not a great team player.  i admit this.  but i hate lying.  HATE it…and my profession has put the good of the students on the back burner in the hopes of using edu-mumbly-jumbly speak to fix the problems.  what about just teaching?
  • full reconveyence of my house.  the next business day after i lost my job, i got this letter.  i think it means i no longer own my house.  whatever the case, it’s not good, and i know it.  i’ve lived in this house for 3 years fighting the lender.  it looks like it soon is coming to a close.
  • the ex husband is full of threats and verbal assaulting and trying to make me out to be a bad mother.  he is especially on fire because of harley guy in my life.  he has been throwing fast pitches at me for years, and i would hit one every now and then…and now i’m swinging at every dig.  every inappropriate comment.  but i’m tired.  he’s a bully.  and i’m tired of it.
  • i woke up one morning with dread in my heart.  i’m almost 32 years sober, and the thought of drinking clearly crossed my mind.  not because i want to drink.  i just don’t want to deal with all these things at once. i won’t drink because i’m a recovered alcoholic.  god has removed my drink problem.  for a long time.  but clearly.  i’m exhausted.

so. so that brings me to the same conclusion.  i must simply keep running.  period.  both metaphorically and physically running both grounds me and helps me soar.  it is in the quiet, dark streets that i lay all this out on the road.   that i take all the bad news and channel it into the pavement.  and i know.  i know that running has saved me, and i will survive this.

“Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must move faster than the lion or it will not survive. Every morning a lion wakes up and it knows it must move faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn’t matter if you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be moving.”   – Maurice Greene (attributed to Roger Bannister shortly after running the first sub-4 mile)