Category Archives: Boston Bound

Boston Will Be

The 118th Boston Marathon is in 10 days. Everyone is waiting. We know nothing is going to happen. That is, collectively, the running community, the Boston community, and the country know that another bomb will not go off in Boston on Patriot’s Day. Any yet, there was just another shooting at Fort Hood. So let’s be honest. Anything could happen. That is why we run the marathon.

Left on Boylston

Left on Boylston

I don’t mean the Boston Marathon 2014 specifically. I mean, that is why we, repeat marathoners, run the marathon. Whether you have run the distance once or a hundred times, each and every time, anything can happen. You could run like you’ve taken flight and not feel any pain, or you can start falling apart only a quarter of the way in. Both scenarios can be equally unpredictable.

We were reminded at 2:49pm on April 15, 2013 that anything can happen, at any time, and in any context. I’ve had a few minor instances of panic since then while running, when in a crowded space, or when something, usually something arbitrary (read: unpredictable) reminds me of how vulnerable we are, how exposed. This has been my response, and I was not in the blast zone. In fact, I am quite certain I was in a bathroom at the Marriot Copley hotel being post-PR-marathon-effort sick when the first bomb went off. Yet it stays with me, that now prescient feeling, that someone can hurt you, or someone you love, at any time and in any place.

For those running, with 10 days to go, we wait with everyone else, we’re all waiting for the evidence that nothing will happen, it’s evidence that will only come with the absence of tragedy on April 21st. While we wait, we also obsess the way we do before any marathon. We check the weather forecast every few hours. We calculate different versions of our race, we go to great and socially ostracizing lengths to avoid getting sick. We wish we for a protective bubble of protection against clumsiness, like twisted ankles while taking the laundry downstairs. We fight the temptation to cram in last minute hard workouts, which will only wear the body down at this point. All of this is comforting because it’s what we do. It’s not special things that we do before the first anniversary event of a terrorist act, it’s just what we do.

What we do.

What we do.

I (and I believe the vast majority of those running in 10 days) didn’t train hard for Boston 2014 because we want to prove anything about terrorism. Yes, a great many runners are running for people injured from the blasts, and many of us have been compulsively donating to the various funds, and/or fundraising, but that’s not WHY we trained hard, it’s only a part of it, a recent addition.

I would train hard and run this race anyway. Even so, I’ve found myself incapable of visualizing my race. I always visualize my races, especially when I am hoping for a personal best. I heard someone on the radio recently describe something (I’ve forgotten what) as like trying to see a black hole. That when you look for a black hole you cannot see the thing itself, only the edges of it. That’s what the actual running of the Boston Marathon this year is to me: a black hole. The harder I try to visualize, to see, my race, the more blank my mind goes. I feel only grief in my chest, tears in my eyes, and I can see the edges. That is, I can visualize everything that happens before the race, and everything that happens after, but the race itself? Trying to see myself, and everyone else running the actual Boston Marathon is a complete void. I can remember every mile of last year, and most of the year before, but I can’t pretend to see this impending one. What no one will say, is that acts of terror are aptly labeled. They work. They change us, they change our behavior, and how we perceive things. They create terror.

I wish we could quietly continue with our training and racing, continue to revel in the allure of the Boston Marathon in its entirety, of all road races, and the pleasure of gathering in the streets with coolers full of snacks and drinks, without suspicion or anxiety. I want us all to be gracefully unaffected by what happened last year. However, I recognize it’s the American way to be over the top in our effort to show that “you can’t stop us” and “you can’t scare us”. We have to, rather than carry-on as we were before, persevere with extra celebration, and more gusto, more everything. We like to say that the best revenge is a life well lived. My problem is that I don’t want revenge. In fact, the feelings after last year’s events that I’ve had the most difficulty with, are feelings of empathy, not anger, not even fear or sadness, but empathy. Insufferable empathy for those killed, those hurt, and for those who did the killing and the hurting. I don’t think I have to spell out here how very complicated that is, and how very uncomfortable.

Our love for the Boston Marathon is not new, and we'll never take it for granted.

Our love for the Boston Marathon is not new, and we’ll never take it for granted.

I think the way to really show that an effort was futile is to actually behave in a way that is unaffected. Unchanged. I want the other Boston marathon back, the one I dreamed about for almost two decades, and then got to be a part of twice. Or more accurately, one and a half times (because, really, the post race celebrating is half the experience). The old Boston Marathon experience was an emotional, exhilarating, and life affirming one. I’m worried not that those elements will still be there, but that now those elements will be so exaggerated as to be intolerable.

I could go on, I could talk about how unsettling the constant talk of heightened security measures is, and about how much I wish people would stop calling it “the marathon bombing”, but really, the important thing is that in 10 days the Boston Marathon will be. No matter what happened, and no matter what happens. It will be, and I will be there with over 100,000 other runners and spectators, racers and partiers. With laughter and with tears: We will be.

*AB

0b847a1362038963bb3db9b2f05a41c0

 

 

 

Boston, my heart.

I’m waiting for a flight back to Chicago now and just want to take a moment say thank you to everyone for your check-ins yesterday. I was and still am deeply moved by how actively, and how many concerned people there were.

I’ve had many conflicting, confusing, intense, and unpredictable, even irrational emotions and strands of thought over the past 24 hrs. Which actually fairly accurately follows the typical emotional trend I’ve experienced while running each and every marathon so far.

Normally by now I’d have my splits for every mile memorized and compared them with where I was on the course, what was going on around me, and how I was feeling. At this point I have seen my 5k splits from the web, but haven’t looked at my garmin data. I just feel sad, defenseless, and have no idea how I’ll feel in another five minutes.

I tend to operate in defense mode when it comes to running. A great many of the positive aspects of my life either have come directly from running or have been made better because of its wide reaching effects.

So whenever people criticize, trivialize, minimize, or underestimate what this sport is, I get hot-headed.

In this situation I feel only disbelief. And heartache.

I just can’t wait to be home.

I walked around the back bay for about and hour this morning. It was a military zone, and until about 9:30am, a ghost-town. I had my Marathon jacket on and three different local residents approached me and asked if I was ok and had everything I needed. I walked and chatted with one women, about the same age as my own parents for a few blocks. We were both teary eyed.

As I made my way through an ID checkpoint to go back to my hotel, it really looked like a movie scene, all the uniforms and guns. People were taking pictures everywhere. That felt wrong to me. But yet I can’t tear myself away from the news casts and articles.

I bought a copy of the Boston Globe, but didn’t read it. I’ll put it in my training log with my bib. A motivator for tough days during training next winter.

In the moments between the sadness and frustration I’m feeling overwhelmed with love for this sport, the people it inspires, and the community it engenders.

My body is going back to Chicago, but my heart will remain in Boston.

*AB

Packing a suitcase is harder than running a marathon.

In 16 hours or so I’ll be in Boston, and I am finally feeling simply excited. Not nervous, not scared or worried, not doubtful, just excited.

I had to make some accommodation changes yesterday, my hotel roommate injured her hip and can’t run. My heart breaks for her, I was devastated when I had to bail on Boston in 2011, and that was still many weeks out, to have to back off in the final week…I can’t even…I know she’ll recover and nail it next year!

Anyway, we worked this all out, but I panicked. The thought of staying alone seemed just unbearable (I know, tiny violin). So I called my sister-in-running Lee Ann, who has, graciously as always, solved all my problems.

It’s not the first time she’s come to my rescue. She’s also saved me from myself at Karaoke:

Karaoke fail

I’ve mostly finished packing but have gone through the same debate as last year: travel very light with only running gear and lounge clothes, or attempt to dress like a free-range human for at least part of the trip. I’ve unpacked and repacked several times, and now have no idea what is in that suitcase.

The little girls helped:

packing

Early this morning Penelope and I went over my race-strategy…well, not really, mostly we just looked at the course pictures and day-dreamed about a perfect run. That’s sufficient at this point I think.

assist coach

I have also spent the required time playing with and photographing my race-day get up.

boston kit

Fits well, doesn’t it?

There are several higher quality things I could use your time (and mine) posting about, but right now I just want to be self-interested and happily and on my way to Bean Town.

I’m not bringing a computer with me, just my phone. I’m sure I’ll post something, but I have no plans for what or when. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram (all are @fluencysfolly) or Facebook.

If you’re racing anywhere this weekend (or in Boston), may the course be with you, and the wind ever at your back!

*AB

 

Take your head out of your arse and put it back in the clouds.

I sincerely apologize for my radio silence. But now that we’re officially a week out (less, if you want to be precise) from the start of the Boston Marathon. I promise you I will be present and transparent, as I usually (compulsively) am.

Thank you so much to those who have reached out via email, comments, and social media to check in on the status of my (runner’s) body, and offered words of wisdom and encouragement. You make me feel like this:

If you would like to track my race next Monday you can set it up via text (as indicated below) or click on the image below to sign up via email.  I won’t know you’re tracking me unless you tell me, so let me know! Last year at Boston as well as Chicago, knowing that people were following along with my progress was a tremendous help in keeping a positive and focused mindset when things got rough.

tracking

Speaking of a positive and focused mindset, I’ve not had one since the week after the Cary March Madness Half (read about it here). Very quickly post-race I went from a confirmed knowledge that my training plan was showing some seriously desirable results, to panicking and obsessing that my fitness had peaked too early and now the marathon would be a total slog.

Yes, I’m a brat. Go ahead and take a second to mutter comments in that direction.

My foot isn’t any better other than the swelling having gone down. My plan called for around 55 miles last week and I clocked 25 plus a lot of sulking. I ran 6 miles tonight, and they were slow and uncomfortable, my foot/ankle/soul wasn’t painful at all until after I stopped but I just have no rhythm and I feel like this is a new body, not the one I was training with all winter.

Again: wah-wah-wah!

I’m having a complete shoe crisis, because I bought a pair of excellent new kicks (Brooks Pure Flow 2), but now I’m worried that the former model (Brooks Flow: a fine shoe, but maybe I put too many miles on them real fast) is actually what might have caused this issue, and so now wonder if I should pick up a new pair of  Mizuno Wave Riders (which is what the bulk of my mileage was done with), and race in those next Monday. I love the Brooks Pure Flows, but I haven’t been running in the low drop shoe’s as much this year as I did last, and though I can certainly endure the marathon in them, I fear I’ll develop an injury that will then need 6 weeks to recover…or the injury is from overused Wave Riders…

The outside tongue is attached...why are all shoes not built this way?

The outside tongue is attached…why are all shoes not built this way?

Ach! The conflict!

Advice is very welcomed, If I’m going to go buy shoes (again) it has to be tomorrow after work (Tuesday).

But, back to what I really want to say. There are plenty of possible disasters regarding next Monday that I can mull over, but it’s time to work on my dreaming again.

I’d always rather set a potentially too high goal and joyously strive for it, than to be so caught up in limitations that I end up swirling around, miserable, and stagnant, which is where I’ve been for the last 10 days. And it stinks.

(Except at work: I’ve been extremely productive there…coping mechanisms are amazing.)

So back in the clouds I go! And I am going to keep running over my perfect race in my mind, and picture running a 3:15 at Boston.

Also, not sure if anyone else noticed but Shalane and Kara clearly want me to join their ranks, because their uniforms for Boston look very much like something I would race in:

Exhibit A:

kick ass uniform

Exhibit B:

costume

Yesterday my friend Erin (who KILLED the Shamrock Shuffle in 31:10!!!) reminded me that right after the race pictured above, a woman said to me “I love your costume”.

Yup.

Not a costume.

Other than day-dreaming about keeping up with the pro-elites, I started plugging away at the list of items I need to pack for Boston tonight. Which rendered my first sincere swell of genuine excitement for the trip, and race day. I was even tempted to get my suitcase out.

My last pair of cheap glasses broke a few weeks ago after 6 years of sweat!

My last pair of cheap glasses broke a few weeks ago after 6 years of sweat!

Did I share yet my gel epiphany from a few weeks ago? It’s hilarious and self-effacing (humiliating), you all will love it.

And with that, before I make this lumbering post more awkward than it is, have a great day and dream-on friends!

*AB

March Madness Half Marathon: new prep strategy, new PR, same love of Hills.

Last weekend was a great one. Nearly everything I did was related to running. Saturday morning I ran to Soldier Field (which is just shy of  8mi from my apartment). 8 of my running buddies ran the Get Lucky Half Marathon and 1 ran the 7k version.

I have to say I was totally grateful I wasn’t running, the conditions were definitely less than ideal, with  steady and strong headwind for the entire second half (it was an out and back course). But neither wind nor hail can stop a Bootleg Runner on a mission and we posted several PR’s!

Get Lucky Runners

And Shelly can cross half-marathon number 2 of 13 off her list for the year! (and now so can I!)

2 down 11 to go

I said I was swearing off alcohol until after I cross the finish line in Boston next month. As it happens, I lied. Because I now am on a mission to replicate the happy results of drinking whiskey the night before a race. Which surely means I must now drink it the night before long runs, and maybe even before a morning strength run.

Anyone want to meet me up for a nightcap the night before Boston?

Jameson

I was at the bar post-race on Saturday for about 9 hours. Yes, nine. I had two square meals and didn’t have a drink until about hour 4.5. I attempted a Whiskey-sour, and hated it, it just made me pine for beer even more. So I ordered a whiskey-on-the-rocks, which I love. We had two rounds of shots, and I ordered a second drink.

Then on Sunday, I took 4 minutes off my half-marathon PR.

So, I have been wondering all week. Would Jameson be interested in sponsoring this runner? Nuun, Oiselle, and many others have already turned me away. And anyway, let’s be real, my temperament is far better suited for a liquor company.

I’m totally serious. Anyone have a marketing in?

On to the March Madness Half Marathon:

This event is wildly popular and this year sold out in 18 minute! As near as I can figure from the results there were just under 1,100 runners. I felt extremely lucky to get in. I was boarding a flight home from San Antonio when registration opened. My father volunteered to get out of bed before dawn on New Years Eve to register me. He’s my biggest fan (I assume so anyway).

The course has 6 “significant” hills and a bunch of rolling ones throughout. I love it. I love hills. They have a start and a finish and you can focus on them and really feel like your making progress, flat courses are far more daunting to me. All of my PR’s, except for the marathon (which I hope will change in a few weeks!), were achieved on courses with significant hills. I also usually rank overall better on hilly courses, because most people don’t share my affection for them.

The steady distribution of the 6 big hills makes this race especially popular with runners who are Boston bound. Another thing that makes me a fan of this course is the distribution of the turns. They all seem to land right about where you need them, which is right about when you’re getting bored, or overwhelmed with how far is left to go. Usually there are some spectators gathered at turns too, which always gives you a boost in spirits for at least a quarter-mile.

Hillstriders course

It felt unreasonably cold when we arrived at the race location, and it was hilarious how weather-and-clothing-centric most conversations were. It took me until my final trip to the bathroom to finally pull the trigger on what layers to wear. You’d think after running in cold weather nearly everyday for the past 4 months we’d all have a handle on this. But you’d be wrong.

I did only a 1 mile warm up (had planned to do 2, but spent too long in the potty lines), and from that point on didn’t feel cold at all. Win.

I went into this event having no idea how I was going to feel, but ready to consider running anything slower than a 7:15 average pace, unacceptable. This would translate to a PR, but also I haven’t been feeling super confident or comfortable at my marathon goal pace lately so I felt like a strong run was absolutely crucial in terms of what it added to my Boston training.

None of that is in any way scientific. totally all emotional.

The first mile was like the first mile of every race, jockeying stupidly for a position to settle into, accelerating and hitting the brakes every couple hundred meters….and so on.

By mile 5 I felt sure I could get close to a 1:30 finish. And I really wanted to speed up and see if I could BREAK 1:30. But it was so early, I was afraid that if I got greedy, instead of a happy PR, I end up with a miserable shuffle for the last couple of miles and perhaps end up with a new worst time.

Wait Up

Ayuh, yet another fairly ridiculous race outfit…I need help.

So I told myself, “Self, stay as relaxed as you can, enjoy the scenery, hug some hills, hold 7’s, and if you are in a happy place at mile 10, then you can kick it up.”

Here I am, probably discussing the options with myself. That expression is referred to as "The Shirley Lip Press" in my family. We all do it.

Here I am, probably discussing the options with myself. That expression is referred to as “The Shirley Lip Press” in my family. We all do it.

So that’s what I did. The last 5k was actually a pretty joyous experience, which sounds annoying, I’m sure.

Here I am so relaxed I decided to do the Macarena...or something.

Here I am so relaxed I decided to do the Macarena…or something.

Well, not the entire last 5k. The last 800 meters hurt. But it hurt in a totally worth it even in real-time sort of way.

I am extremely satisfied with the entire experience.

I ran a negative split, only by almost exactly one minute, but even that is a margin I’ve never achieved. Not ever. I’m not sure negative splits are as indicative of a strong performance in a half marathon as in a marathon, but I’m choosing to feel awesome about it. (seriously though, if you know something about this topic please share!)

As I shared before, my run buddy/carpool to the race buddy and I both finished in the top ten.

Hello snuggly green hoodie...I love when races venture away from the t-shirt model.

Hello snuggly green hoodie…I love when races venture away from the t-shirt model.

I love adding new items to my running memorabilia collection that Jorge won’t allow in operation-redesign-the-bedroom:

plaques

And with that, I must get to bed, I’m running the last 20-miler before Boston tomorrow morning!

*AB

Breakfast and Speedwork

If you’re not (hello email subscribers!) following the Fluency’s Folly Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook feeds (yes, I totally agree, it’s overwhelming…I need to take a class on how to manage all this. I mean that, actually), then maybe you missed the second and third installment of my 30 Days To Boston photos.

Day 2’s theme was “Breakfast” for which I posted:

#Breakfast

I’ve always loved hot cereal, and not only for breakfast. I buy it in bulk (obviously). I also eat it as a snack and every so often as dinner.

In fact, if I’m going to maintain my record of being honest here on the internet (yah, I never got the marketing memo…) yesterday, when I posted this picture of my bulk oats with the hashtag BREAKFAST, I, in reality, had eggs for breakfast.

Then had oatmeal and bacon for dinner.

Day 3’s theme (that’d be today) was “Speedwork”. I cheated a little and posted two images.

First I recycled one from a couple of weeks ago because it’s just a nice little lesson in perseverance. I get really nervous and experience a lot of self-doubt before nearly every speed, strength, or tempo run. Almost without fail, even if I don’t hit all the targets, I feel much better when it’s done. Not because it’s over, but because I know I’ve made another step toward fulfilled my potential as a runner.

BEty-qACQAAAz-b

I also posted a picture of the “Grant Statue” near the Lincoln Park Zoo. During the Boston Bound training cycle we do our 800 repeats (“Yasso’s” … but not technically, that’s a pet peeve for another day) in the Zoo parking lot.

 

Yes, you read that right. We run 800 meters, back and forth, down the length of a parking lot. The statue more or less marks the south end of the half-mile stretch. It’s exactly as tedious as it sounds, especially since there is virtually always a strong wind in one direction so half your splits are aided, and half are infuriating.

This year I’ve been missing out on a lot of these workouts because my plan doesn’t call for many 800-repeat workouts. And it’s very odd to admit but I really am missing these sessions. They are the ones were friendships began last year, and where I found some new running buddies early in this training cycle. They are also the workouts that you learn you can run hard, and well, through anything. even a ridiculous headwind laces with hail.

I really like that these two themes have ended up in the same post tonight, because they are two things I have really been working on. Eating high quality breakfasts, and getting in high quality speedwork.

Does anyone else think that the rules of what we designate as “breakfast foods” are totally arbitrary?

*AB

 

4 Minutes, and Shoe Porn (sort of)

Today begins Ty’s 30 Days To Boston photo challenge!

30 day photo challenge

I am joining four other bloggers in posting a photo a day reflecting each theme indicated above from today until race day in Boston.

Here’s my photo (collage) for SHOES:

#Shoes

Also, this morning I ran the March Madness Half Marathon.

I’ll do a slightly more detailed race report hopefully tomorrow night, but in the meantime, FYI, I am extremely pleased with my race this morning! I learned a few things, and got a great confidence boost by running a new half marathon PR on a hilly course: It’s maybe a little hard to decifer below, but yes, that is a nearly 4 minute personal record.

Female 30-34
Place #       Name                  Sex Age City  State Hr:Min :Sec Overall    SexPlace
1   1225     *AB                         F 31   CHI     IL       1 : 30 : 51.46    112             8

Until exactly a year ago any time I ever ran a race I travelled to and from alone, raced alone, more or less talked to no one, didn’t share my results with anyone other than my folks (because I’d look like a total tool…I didn’t really know many runners). Now, I tag along for rides, and have a blast seeing runners I know either through the Boston training group or from meeting through running buddy friends, and I can’t wait to blow up social media sharing everyone’s results. I’m sure there are certain sects that find this all terribly annoying but it’s just made the whole experience of running races so much more fun!

Anyway, sorry for the tangent, that’ll be a stand-alone post at some point I’m sure. But it makes a nice and awkward segue to this picture of two women who have really beautifully quaffed post-run hair:

Yes, that is indeed a most-excellently un-impressed photo-bomber right there. Also, I'll get a camera someday and stop making you all suffer the burry shots. Someday.

Yes, that is indeed a most-excellently un-impressed photo-bomber right there. Also, I’ll get a camera someday and stop making you all suffer the blurry shots. Someday.

Thanks to my dear Lindsey for being such a good-sport! (she’s speedy, adorable, funny, AND let’s me post pictures of her a willy-nilly as I please)

A few days ago I asked Jorge what he thought about my idea’s to re-decorate (ahem: decorate) the bedroom. Without missing a beat he asked “Sure, that’s all fine, but how about…no running stuff, ok?”

So I guess this little top-10 plaque will reside in our hodgepodge (hobo-chic?) living room.

I took a hit in mileage again this week logging only 55 of my planned 70. I still did all the scheduled key workouts, however, and having a quality race today sort of erased any stress I was feeling over my decision to step back a little.

*AB

Things are piling up.

I meant to post this the other day, and forgot because I put it on Facebook.

2013 bib

At Boston your BIB number and Wave/Corral assignments are based on your entry time. So it translates basically into a seeded position, with the faster runners up front. A part of my mostly arbitrary definition of mastery when it comes to running, and marathons specifically, is to be placed in the first corral at Boston. So I guess 2013 won’t be my last year to line up in Hopkinton. But hopefully it will be my last year without a red bib.

This year I'll try not to look like such a nerd. And I won't wear my "nun uniform" as my run-buddies call it.

This year I’ll try not to look like such a nerd. And I won’t wear my “nun uniform” as my run-buddies call it.

What I consider “mastery” of the sport of running (age-grouper style of course), seems to be picking up new criteria every few months. So the thought  I had in 2010 that “I’ll just qualify for Boston, run Boston, then be ‘over’ marathons” has now become a novel of if-then scenarios.

Until last night I hadn’t  been for a run since Monday night, when I did my tempo run on a treadmill next to my running buddy Erin. If it hadn’t been for her I would have skipped that run too because my insides are in revolt (again) and it was windy, wet, and miserable on the lakefront.

If you sit and think about it for a moment, you’ll realize that means I only went 2 days without running. Which is probably, for most people (specifically those not training for a marathon, or a goal race of any distance for that matter), nothing more than evidence that I am neurotic and maybe even just looking for things to sit and fret over.

I assure you that isn’t the case. But as a goal race gets closer, every run altered, targeted missed or  even achieved, each dietary misstep, or those mundane chores of life that become harder to fit it when you’re spending so much time and energy training, all start to pick up extra meaning.

I missed two days of running because firstly, I’ve been using those free hours when I’d usually jump to get my workout in to sleep. Secondly, my unique concoction of inflammatory bowel diseases decided to throw some new symptoms at me, which made me A) freak the hell out, and B) made running very painful.

I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, but the gluten-free diet isn’t yet shaping up to be the magic-bullet for my Colitis and Celiac symptoms that everyone seems to tout. But I was prepared for it to perhaps take 6 months. Some symptoms really have cleared up to near zero levels, but others haven’t.

I honestly don't know the source for this. A coworker  posted it on Facebook weeks ago and I thought it was hysterical.

I honestly don’t know the source for this. A coworker posted it on Facebook weeks ago and I thought it was hysterical.

In one of those acts of mystical timing that friends sometimes have, I got an email from a friend who trained with the Boston Bound group last year but has since moved to the left coast (Hi Andy!), that totally gave me an attitude adjustment. Andy (whom I still hold responsible for my 10k PR and first ever win) sent me a message on Monday asking how training was going and his responses to my response motivated me to step back from the edge when I got home from work yesterday. I was very seriously considering taking the whole week off of running, eating a few bags of Cadbury Mini-eggs and dealing with the consequences by cracking open a Wine Cube and a sixer of Whiskider. 

Anyway, never fear, I’ll stick to my training plan, the Gluten-Free diet, and the weight loss effort. Just because something doesn’t get you to the goal immediately, doesn’t mean it isn’t working.

Now if only I could get a grip on the other stressors that seem to be piling up:

runner laundry

*AB

Progress isn’t always measured in obvious ways.

SHOES

I currently don’t have a strategic shoe rotation in place. But I do have a healthy collection of running shoes due to my never-ending hunt for the perfect (moderately comfortable being the main qualification) shoe. With the soggy and varied weather we’ve had lately, my shoes tend to accumulate outside my apartment door during the week.

I’m sure my neighbors are thrilled.

I still want those dang-expensive Nike’s….

Looking at all those shoes piled up outside the door, and how they represented a very diverse range of shoe type, I thought: hmm, that’s sort of a nice metaphor for how my approach to running has evolved.

Deep, I know, I apologize if you’ve not yet had your Monday morning coffee.

What I mean is, that I used to pick out shoes based on color and the clearance rack. Now I realize that a few more variables should be considered in the process, and I spend far more time, and money, on them. And even though I know, more or less, which shoes work best for me, it’s nice to have a collection to fall back on (or just plain admire from time to time).

As for running, I used to run only as cross training, or in desperation to try to shave off a few LB’s. And races were always entered on sheer impulse. And I always ran alone. Now I run to run. It’s preparation for more (better) running, and each run effort has a purpose. I read every training book or article that I come across, and even as I figure out what works best for me, it’s nice to know there is so much out there. And I absolutely prefer to run with others!

Alex, Susana, Violeta, AB, Marty, and Nico (taking the photo)

Alex, Susana, Violeta, AB, Marty, and Nico (taking the photo)

Yesterday, and last Sunday, I ran solid 10-milers with this crew (plus the camera-man). Susana, Violeta, and Nico are all training for a spring 50k, and are some of the best and most inspiringly positive people I’ve met, ever. I’m so glad they’ve welcomed me to their Sunday mornings (because they are also really good at running!).

In lieu of a training re-cap (soooo boring!) I’ll just say that I ran 20 miles on hilly roads Saturday with my friend Erin (3:04 marathoner), who pushed me to run it progressively…which translated to the last 3 miles being faster than I’ve ever run with that many miles on my legs, it was terribly uncomfortable. But like Erin reminded me when I was seconds away from asking if I could give up: that was the time to put in the work.

During yesterday’s 10 miles my legs felt no more tight or tired than they have most days lately, maybe even less so.

So I feel very encouraged going into this next week: 7 weeks until Boston 2013!

Erin and I at the Fleet Feet Boston Bound dinner on Boston 2012-Eve.

Erin and I at the Fleet Feet Boston Bound dinner on Boston 2012-Eve

Throwing energy and love into trying to become a better runner is only one of the ways I feel like my life has been improving over the past few years (thanks, Nico, for the perspective taking exercise this morning) I also, even when extremely frustrated, have a job that is probably ideal for me.

Exhibit A: after brief text exchange with my boss, wherein I exclaimed that I’d found gluten-free beer (I promise there was also a kernel of work related banter as well), this happened:

boss text

to explain, the “department” = me and one (awesome) intern.

Don’t get me wrong, my life’s not all roses and butterflies these days. But it is mostly unicorns and cupcakes, and the rest is bound to improve slowly and steadily.

Just like my running.

What_Do_Unicorns_Poop

*AB

Registration Jockeys

Being director of a major international marathon is like being the U.S. President or owning a Zoo … It’s a job that sounds really cool but most people would never really want it.

The marathon has been making an effort to separate themselves from the registration melt down on Tuesday. Pointing out via several types of media  that it wasn’t the administrators of the marathon that were unprepared for what every runner knew would be a record breaking registration sell-out (duh, that’s why the whole debacle happened, everyone was hustling to beat the sell-out) , but rather, that they too are disappointed in the performance of the company with whom they contracted the registration process.

registration blame

Probably the right move but it’s not sticking. Listening to WBEZ (NPR) on Wednesday morning they referenced the marathon’s website as crashing, with no mention at all of ACTIVE.com.

From a business perspective, I suppose ACTIVE messed up. But without knowing the details of their contract with the Chicago Marathon, I really can’t present too strong of an opinion.

Really, the booming popularity of running a marathon for a mind-boggling variety of motivations, and the reaction to that from the community of runners at large, is to blame. It’s been really interesting over the past week talking to runners of all abilities and levels of obsession. But nearly everyone agrees, a sport-wide change in how we select and sign up for races is likely coming.

I wonder where the sport of amateur road-racing will be in 5 years?

I’ve been waffling about running the 2013 Chicago Marathon since finishing the last one in October. As it happens, I’m all in, and as of now I’m planning to train my tuckus off this summer and go for a PR effort on October 13th.

Last week I was offered a spot at the Nike and BOA Chicago Marathon registration kick-off event at the House of Blues in Chicago. Which included the opportunity to register early. I am extremely grateful to Fleet Feet Chicago for giving my one of their coveted “tickets” to the event! (More directly to Dan, our fearless and unflappable Boston Bound leader, for thinking of me as he considered the list of suspects)

So, of course, on Monday night, I went, I ran, I schmoozed (I use the term extremely liberally here…mostly I just followed two very patient Boston Bound runners around and made lots of what were probably inappropriate jokes), and, I registered.

BOA-CM 2013

Dathan Ritzenhein was there to receive what I assume was a ceremonial only, first bib distributed for the 2013 event.

Dathan, Zac, Ed, and AB

He was a great sport about signing autographs and taking pictures. I’ve been following his training and racing for the past couple of years and he seems poised to have a phenomenal year!

So…enough about the professional…back to me: my “race schedule” is really filling up already for the year, which is frustrating, because I want to train hard and race with quality this year. But I want to do all the races! And there are so many!

As a final thought, I wear-tested a pair of the Nike Flyknit Lunar+1’s at the kick-off event on Monday evening. I have been “off” Nike’s outside of casual use since high school, but really loved these shoes!

They cost $160.

So I don’t think they are in my immediate future. Which is very unfortunate because they truly felt better than any of my current shoes.

What do you think about the streaking-fast speed of races selling out lately?

*AB