Happy Birthday, Title Nine

Almost forgot to mention — yesterday was the 35th anniversary of the Title IX act, mandating equal federal funding for educational activities (not just athletics) for men and women.

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Say what you will about Nixon — at least he signed this bill.

You go, girls. And boys.

Reading: "Duel in the Sun"

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but all is well. Just not all that interesting.

I’m finishing up week three of my 24 week base building program. I’ll run 40 miles this week and eventually work my way up to 65-70 miles per week by mid-November. I’m adding in the miles very gradually, with a “rest week,” in which I pull back the mileage by about 30%, every 3-4 weeks. I want to avoid injury at all costs so I can really train when the time comes. Training for five months with shin splints is not something I want to go through again.

I’m also doing time on the stationary bike — typically around 50 miles a week — primarily for the extra calorie burn, although the cardiovascular benefits are a nice bonus. I’ve managed to drop 15 pounds since mid-February, but it’s been very difficult. Amazing how much that weight wants to stay on. But I keep plugging away at it and am confident that I can get down to a good racing weight by the start of training.

I’ve yet to decide on a training program for the marathon, although I do know that it needs to be an 18 week program. I’m leaning toward one of the 18 week plans in Pete Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning, but I’m not totally sold on it yet.

Nor do I know yet what finishing time I’ll be training for. My goal is to place in the top 10 of the More Marathon in 2008, which means running it in 3:45 or under (assuming the competition is similar to what it’s been in years past). But my dream is to run it under 3:30. That may take me more than a year to get to, if it’s even possible.

I’ll probably do a shorter race toward the end of my base building period to gauge my fitness and go from there. But I’ve got 21 weeks to figure all of this out.

This morning I finished John Brant’s book Duel in the Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America’s Greatest Marathon. It’s an account of the 1982 Boston Marathon, in which Salazar and Beardsley dominated the race, running as a twosome from mile 9 on and finishing two seconds apart. Yet it’s much more than a 250 page race piece. Structured in alternating chapters describing each man’s life leading up to and beyond that race, Brant weaves in biographies of two men with diametrically opposed personalities and motivations.

Every few chapters you’re returned to the race for a vivid blow-by-blow of the two men battling it out to the finish line. Even if you know the race’s outcome ahead of time it makes for suspenseful, compelling reading. And even if you have little interest in competitive running, the book is interesting in its portrait of two figures who were irrevocably damaged by this one event lasting just over two hours, yet who later found redemption, peace and a tentative friendship. Along the way there are recoveries from catastrophic accidents, seemingly intractable addiction and depression, and heartbreakingly naive attempts at finding miracles. Eventually, some real miracles are found in the form of modern psychiatric medicine and twelve step recovery, not to mention the wisdom of experience and the gift of perspective.

All in all a great story, well told.

Also on this summer’s reading list are…

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Dog of the South by Charles Portis
This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes
In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders

…but I’m saving those for an upcoming extended vacation, so I need to be very disciplined and not crack those spines.

Women’s 2008 Olympic Trials Web site

I discovered a very nice Web site for the Boston 2008 trials. Chock full of interviews, photos etc. with those fast, skinny ladies. I only have to knock 1:09:03 off my best marathon time to join them!

Recovery week brings chubby feet

I haven’t run a step this week. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck until sometime on Wednesday, in fact. And I’ve got some minor problem with my left achilles tendon. After the first marathon, it was a problem with my left foot.

I’m waiting for that pain to go away completely, since you don’t want to screw around with your achilles tendon, oh no. I will probably do some time on the stationary bike this weekend, and look into some short, easy treadmill runs next week, depending on the tendon situation.

The odd thing about this post-marathon period is how swollen my legs and feet have been. I’ve been carrying around about four extra pounds of water, and it’s all in my legs. My ankle bones disappeared and I’ve had chubby little feet. Don’t know what that’s about. But the extra weight’s almost all gone. And I’m back on the rabbit food diet, so still pursuing a weight loss of an additional 10-12 pounds.

I ran the race with a new gadget: the Garmin 305 wrist computer. It has a GPS (and is about the size of a toaster oven). The data is so accurate that I can see in humiliating detail exactly how badly I ran on Sunday. But it’s a great little tool, and I’m hoping it will bear better news in the training months to come.

Summer has arrived in NY and it’s (say it together) “hazy, hot and humid”. I have freelance work again this weekend, but it’s what pays for the running shoes and expensive toaster oven watches, so I don’t mind.

I will take some time to do some planning for the base building period that starts sometime this month, once I’m fully recovered. It should be pretty easy to plan: “Run a lot. Then run some more.” My goal is to get up to 55-60 miles per week, injury free, by mid-October, at which point I’ll go into a five month marathon training cycle. The best laid plans…

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