Monday, November 1, 2010

Training Season Begins! Or Does It?

With its hint of bonfires and falling leaves, and just enough of a bite in the air to leave you pink-cheeked and runny-nosed, there's no hiding that fall is here, and winter just around the corner. And with it comes a plethora of bright-eyed and weary-tailed runners, recovering from a fall marathon, or just starting to increase mileage in expectation of a spring marathon.

Those of you who know me well already know that I've decided to yet again opt out of a spring marathon. That's not to say I'm not running, though, or that my reason isn't a good beloved and I are continuing to log many a [few] mile locally in our favorite Fells haunt. The difference is that now it's Jared, Abby, Copley, and one extra teeny tiny future runner. That's right, there's a runner in the tank, a baby on board, a bun in the [Dutch] oven, if you will. (I really am Dutch, so this is technically an accurate description.)

Our latest addition, a girl to go with our first "baby" and Danish lady, is due March 12, only a little over a month before Boston's latest and greatest running event. The downside to this is, of course, that the marathon simply isn't an option. The upside is that not only do I have an excuse to gain those out-of-season lbs, but I'll be on maternity leave for marathon Monday, and won't have to take it off as a vacation day;)

So instead of logging mile after mile, I'm logging...walks here and there, sporadic (and I really mean sporadic, I've done it twice now) yoga, (really) short runs, and the occasional stint on an elliptical or other instrument of gym torture. A few people have asked about, or made suggestions for, my running during pregnancy. The upshot is this--I can run as long as it's comfortable for me, up to my due date, barring complications. The caveat is that it's harder, slower, and, well, harder. Some days a mile and a half at an 11:00+/mile pace is nearly impossible, and other days, 3 or 4 zips by at a decent (though certainly still not anything approaching fast) clip, as easy as pie.

My goal now is to run 3 miles 3 times a week throughout the next 19 weeks, or to at least make a legitimate attempt to do so. (I'm 21 weeks now; see Halloween fun run pot belly for reference.) Jared has been as fabulous as ever, logging slow miles with me, and taking a break anytime I need one, with nary a complaint. (I will say that, recently, while panting my way up a short hill, I turned to find him casually strolling next to me a the same pace--but he insisted that he wasn't mocking me in the slightest, and I believe him.) He's a good egg, that man, and has been incredible about my sleepiness, crankiness, weight gain, emotional tumult, slower pace, and taking on pretty much the full thrust of RunBoston work and tours.

I'm hoping to be better about blogging, but hopefully this happy news will at least partly explain my lengthy silence and the reasons my running plans have changed so dramatically. Happy news, and more miles to come, but fewer in duration and longer in pace, while my beloved and I get ready to welcome our new addition!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer Miles

Six weeks covers a lot of miles, and a lot of interesting events. First, the miles...Jared and I ran our first race as the Mr. and Mrs. P on Sunday. Though our chip time was (or should have been, but strangely wasn't) embarrassingly slow at a whopping 2:14(ish), we worked our overheated cans off for it. Boston's Run to Remember was easily the BEST organized race I've ever run, and one I'd happily do again. It was a hot day, something the race organizers can hardly help. What they could and did do, though, was provided plenty of water stops (one every two miles), enough volunteers to man them, a convenient day of the week to run on (Sunday, when the scenic Memorial Drive is closed to road traffic), and gorgeous, varied, and familiar course to run on--through Boston's financial district, along the Charles River, through Chinatown and Downtown Crossing, and back to the docks near the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Convention Center. And lastly, I'm happy to see that I didn't kill myself on the (hot) hills, and nary a step was walked.

Leading up to this, my beloved and I had fantasticly huge amounts of family in town for our lovely wedding, signed an assortment of paperwork on our new house, and ran any number of fabulous miles, with each other, with friends, and with strangers visiting and traveling with RunBoston.

In two weeks, we move into our house in Medford, and from there we'll be plotting new courses, both in terms of our personal lives and our training--Jared will begin ramping up for an August triathlon, and me....well, there isn't a trail I've met yet I haven't liked.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Running for a Cause

Though I haven't been running any marathon distances with teammates of old, this year I am particularly thankful for their efforts, and I am lucky, and happy, to know that of the miles I've run this spring, the majority of them have been joyful ones--ones that I've been lucky enough to count my blessings as opposed to chasing any demons. Its been a hectic spring, but a wonderful run, as RunBoston has picked up for Jared and I, the wedding is next week, and we've put an offer in on a house.

But with the Boston Marathon tomorrow, runners have been pouring into town by the thousands, reminding me of the many miles I've been privileged to spend with the Dana Farber team. And while I won't be physically there with those runners tomorrow, I'll be there in spirit. Running with them has been a gift in my life, and has changed me for the better--immeasurably so. It is astonishing what people can achieve when united around a common goal--and nowhere has that been more apparent to me than when being around the people of Dana Farber.

I've been involved with the marathon challenge crew through three seasons now, and my respect and affection for that group has grown exponentially. They are a group filled with novices, with experts, with slow and the fast runners, and young and old. But they are, all of them, philanthropists, filled with a hope that is overflowing in its scope.

It is impossible to be around this organization without feeling impassioned by their cause--a cure for cancer--and want to join it. There's is a common cause, one that would touch us all in the best of ways.

Right now, the runners of the Dana Farber marathon challenge will have finished their pasta, will have watched a slideshow of the children lost to cancer in the past year, will have gazed longingly at the cookies they know they probably shouldn't have the night before a marathon, and will likely be on the way home, for a good night's rest and to gear up for their race tomorrow. Together, they will have already raised more than $3 million for cancer research and care, and will be on the way to $4 million.

They are remarkable, and they, the organizers, the trainers, the volunteers, and the runners I know and have yet to meet, will achieve something remarkable tomorrow--they will instill hope in the hearts of thousands through their sacrifice and their efforts.

So to all of you running on Monday, for whatever cause you've chosen, whether it's for cancer research and care, or another worthy cause--remember that you are doing a good thing, a strong and good thing, and that every step you take is one of hope, and one of caring, of doing something greater than yourself.

So enjoy the miles!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

RunBoston: 2010 Boston Marathon Charity Runners

Thanks to all you DFMC runners, and to all other runners out there raising money for a cause, be it for cancer research and care, the research and care for another illness, sports equipment for underprivileged youth, boys & girls clubs, shelters, hospitals...whatever your cause, you are doing something important.

Jared and I aren't able to run the marathon this year, but if you are running on behalf of one of the many worthy groups that are out there, let us know at RunBoston, and we'll set you up with a half-price tour.

In the meantime, keep chasing that unicorn.

10.2 Miles of Dialogue

At long last, I've signed up for a race. This means I've got something to train for, and something to make me get those dull weekday miles in. The long runs on yawning Saturdays and Sundays have never been an issue...take last week's 8 miles with Al and Jared (half on trails, half on streets) as a perfect example. During those miles, Al managed to talk me into running the half-marathon option at the Eastern States 20 on March 28. By "talked me into it," Al reminded me this morning of how the conversation, which happened earlier this week, actually went:

Al: Hey, you want to run the Easter States half marathon?
Abby: Sure.

She twisted my arm, in other words. I'm happy, though, to have something to train for. I feel as though my body and soul have been yearning for the extra miles these past few days. I don't know if it's seeing all the hopeful marathoners out there, my upcoming nuptials and a need to ensure the dress fits the same as when I bought it, or the warming spring weather--but whatever it is, I'm loving getting out there a bit more.

Today, I talked Al and her boyfriend, my friend Aaron, into hopping the T out to the Woodland stop, so that we could run the last 9 miles of the marathon course, then finish up another mile or so through the heart of Boston.

My beloved dropped me off before heading off to a wilderness first aid training course, and I waited at the T with jittery anticipation. When Al and Aaron arrived, we were off, and I was happily babbling away along the miles. Luckily both are fairly patient sorts, or at least tactful enough not to tell me to shut my trap as I'm cheerfully rambling while pushing the pace up Heartbreak Hill.

Abby: So the crowds are SO thick here--Aaron, you are going to have so much fun at the marathon! See, guys, this hill isn't so bad! Right, Al?
Al: Ugh.
Abby: Do you want me to just be quiet?
Al: Noooo.....
Aaron: [panting]

All in all, the miles were fantastic--today's spring weather has Beantowners near 50 degrees, and it was a beautiful set of miles (see my happy runner's soul at right). I fought to keep from pushing the pace a little harder, and Aaron was a good sport, despite what I think might have been a challenging speed for him at times (but then again, he did have to run another two miles after Al and I). The end result was a gorgeous, gorgeous run, and that dizzying and delightful runner's high that comes from having achieved a nice long distance (about 10.2 miles), and knowing you still have some left in the tank.

To top it off, Al and I swung by a Starbucks for a hot cup 'o' joe, then grabbed a tasty breakfast of bagel and over easy eggs at a local diner en route to the T. I was able to enjoy my delicious hot beverage (Black Gold! Texas T!) on the subway ride home--a ride punctuated by an odd conversation with an elderly stranger...

Man: Did you just go for a run?
Abby: Yes, I did!
Man: Did you run across the bridge? [the train was going over the Longfellow]
Abby: Oh, no. I met some friends at the Woodland T stop, so we actually ran from over there [pointing]. We ended at her house, and now I'm taking the train home; I live that way [pointing again].
Man: I used to run. I need to exercise more, start again.
Abby: It's good. Keeps me from getting stressed, makes me feel alive and alert.
Man: I walk across this bridge. I usually start smoking pot on this end, then when I get over to the other side, I smoke pot on the other end, before I come back.
Abby: [Beginning to think the conversation has taken a turn for the odd] Oh....well, that's not very good for you! [Nervous laugh.]
Man: No, pot's good. I don't smoke, you know. Pot's not so bad.
Abby: Well, to each their own!
Man: I'm going to Central with my art. [Gestures at his satchel, then at his bag] And some laundry.
Abby: Oh, that's really neat that you're an artist. May I see them?
Man: [Takes out art work with a flourish] I do abstracts.
Abby: Oh! Those are very nice. How did you do them?
Man: I did this one with marker. This one I did with pens. [Gestures at the first one, which I suspect had coffee spilled on it at one point] I did this one with markers too.
Abby: Well, they're very nice. Good luck with your art.

The conversation ended when the man, Michael, as he introduced himself, got off the train with his laundry and art satchel, and wished me a wonderful day. I can say that I've certainly had some odd conversations with people before, during, and after running, but this one might be right up there in the top ten. [Remind me sometime to tell you about the man who walked up to me at the end of a run to tell me he was wearing ladies' underwear...]

In any event, I had a fantastic run today, and was able to enjoy some good, albeit odd, conversation, and the company of friends in the sunshine of spring.

Monday, February 1, 2010

10 Miles and A Dog's Life

Today is Monday. After a long day of work and commuting, I arrived home to find my gorgeous man, my gorgeous dog, and...another gorgeous dog, the lovely Frankie (her owner was there, too). A few hours later, full of a delicious spinach and sausage soup, and sitting next to my beloved (and one rather obnoxiously but adorably snoring Dane), yesterday's 10 miles around Boston seems an eternity ago.

Some runs seem so easy to blog about, while others sort of drift away in the ether of the hours between unlacing the shoes and settling in to type. I can't say that yesterday was necessarily either of those, though. I guess this will be a bit of a play-by-play for starters.

Jared and I slept in for a bit, which is always a nice way to start a Sunday. We were bundled up and out the door before we knew it, though, and running casually down Mass Ave toward Harvard Square. In that first mile, we both lamented that we'd opted for fleeces on top of wicking undershirts, though Jared (rightly, as it turned out) pointed out that we'd likely be cold when we crossed over the river into Boston.

Our route was a new one, a sort of modified version of the 12-mile route we plan to do a running tour on later this week. That course is 12 miles, beginning in Brookline. Our modified version had us heading out from our digs in Cambridge, running down Mass Ave across the Charles. From there we'd hop on Comm Ave, before taking a marathon right onto Hereford, then a left, and the last corner of the marathon, onto Boylston. After crossing the finish line by the BPL, we headed left on Dartmouth, but made a quick right to jog a few blocks of Newbury Street to the Public Garden and Common.

From the Garden, we planned to head by the State House...and we did, but only after stopping to meet a SOLID blue mass of Danish love named Maximus. The Golden he was with was in for it, I'm sure...

After the State House, we hit a few main and side roads through Boston and into the North End, where, though my teeth were chatting, and fingers numb, I couldn't help but think of canolis and cappuccinos. Jared and I traded comments on this and that Italian joint, and tried to think of points of interest along the narrow streets. Before long, we found ourselves back by the Garden, then the Museum of Science (I marvel anew that I still haven't managed to get there for the Harry Potter exhibit).

As we headed back home along Cambridge street, we both began to realize just how tired--and cold (thank you, fleece)--we both were. With a few miles to go, we (or at least I) had begun fantasizing about the coffee at the end of the (frigid wind) tunnel.

In the end, of course, we made it, as we always do. It's funny how much you see of the city when you think to look deeper at it. While Jared and I logged our miles, we both took another look at what's become our city.

It's hard not to take for granted the marvels that we see everyday--the ancient brick, the crumbling graveyards of America's founders, the 16th-century pasture. So, too, do we sometimes take for granted our lives and our loved ones, how great we have it.

If I learned anything from yesterday's run, and I think that I did, it's to take a second look at those wonderful, wonderful things, places, and people around you. Be thankful for your job, even when you have a bad day. Be happy for your car, when you get stuck in traffic. Be grateful for a home and someone (not just someone, but the right someone) to love you while eating soup and waiting for your sweatpants to get out of the dryer. Take a look at the things that are always around you, and just plain marvel.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

River Travels with B

Last night I was happy to log a few miles along the Charles with this year's favorite marathoner, the always charming and lovely B.

I've been trying to keep myself in the running habit, despite passing on this year's Boston Marathon with the DFMC crew. Though I'm not running with Dana-Farber this year, it's important to me (and to my beloved) to remain involved with this wonderful charity. It was to that end that we found ourselves standing outside for a few hours last weekend, bundled to the nines, pouring water and gatorade and trying to keep it from freezing before the runners got there. Let me tell you, though, that standing outside for a few measly hours in freezing temperatures is nothing compared to what the runners themselves are doing--both running a marathon, and raising necessary funds for cancer research and care. It's not easy, but they are doing it. And trust me--I know!

The course was an out-and-back, as usual, so Jared and I were lucky enough to see familiar and friendly faces twice. On the way back, B mentioned she was looking for some company for a 4-5 mile recovery run on Friday night--and I was only to happy to oblige.

Since I was hoping to log some longer miles this weekend, I decided to just tweak my running plan a bit--so I ran a mile and a half to meet B at the Mass Ave bridge first. Then the two of us enjoyed 5 chatty miles along the river and its bridges, filled with talk of running, training, weddings, dogs, and crockpot cookin'. It was lovely:)

After, I headed back toward the gym near the Longfellow, looping past it to the Museum of Science and back, logging a relatively comfortable 8.34 miles. I admit my course was a it was a well-enjoyed one, filled with good thoughts, good company, and later, followed by good Mexican food with my better half.

Next up--a review of what might have been the greatest trail "race" I've ever been to...the Fast Ass 50(k).