Life is short. Life is precious.

Sally Meyerhoff, one of this country’s fastest female marathoners, died yesterday. I never interviewed or met her, although I was hoping she’d be running the More Half again this year (which she won last year while setting a new course record, in pouring rain no less), so that I might have a chance to.

Meyerhoff was no waif, which is one reason why I found her inspiring. Solid girls like me can run fast too. She proved that. I also liked how she was no shrinking violet, at least not from a sartorial standpoint. Lately she’d taken to wearing fuscia compression socks with banana yellow racing flats. An adventurous racer, she not only raced on the roads, but on trails as well, and was moving into a dominant spot in triathlon.

You can find links to the news reports easily enough. Instead, in a nod to a life well lived, here’s a link to her blog.

Running dreams? I got running dreams.

Early on Monday morning, around 3:30 am, I awoke with my heart thudding out of my chest. I’d been having a nightmare. I have nightmares rarely — maybe two times a year — so I know I’m particularly anxious about something when I do. In this case, I was out on a run, but it was at night. I was running through a nearly-empty parking lot when I spied, emerging from the bushes, a huge bear. It was lumbering right toward me. I hid behind a small car, peeping through the windows, only to see the bear coming closer and closer. As I was debating whether or not to try crawling underneath the car, the bear started coming around to my side of the car. [cue me waking up screaming]

Trust me. You do not want to have this particular dream.

While I’m not totally sure what that was about (I have so many sources of anxiety in my life at the moment!), I suspect it had to do with my long-delayed followup with an endodontist scheduled for later that day to discuss a suspicious issue with one of my lower teeth. I won’t bore you with the details, but it turns out that I have extra roots in my lower teeth, which can look like massive disease on an x-ray. She thinks it’s nothing and sent me on my merry way. I think she knew I was pissed off last time I saw her because she didn’t even charge me.

So, while sometimes the bear eats you, sometimes you eat the bear.

This morning I had another bad dream, but it hardly qualified as a nightmare. Nightmares are not usually funny. In this one I was competing in a huge outdoor track meet. The stadium was full and I was arriving with my team for the opening ceremony. One of my teammates was freaking out because she’d forgotten her inhaler. It was Shannon Rowbury. My first thought wasn’t, “What the fuck am I doing in a meet with Shannon Rowbury?” (which it should have been), but instead, “Shannon didn’t tell me she had asthma. I wonder why.” That was followed by, “I guess if I’m here then I must be pretty fast.”

I was wearing lemon-yellow sweat pants. Not snazzy track pants even. No, they were the awful, thick kind that you’d pick up at Wal-Mart to prepare for an eating binge, an extended bout with the flu, or to be vomited on by a baby. Or all three.

Yanking them down, I discovered that I’d neglected to put on my shorts. [cue crowd going wild]

The long journey of a cyclist with no hands

Why am I writing about a cyclist? Because this post is as much an appeal for help from New York’s athletic community as it is a fascinating human interest story.

Damian Lopez-Alfonso, 34, is a Cuban athlete with considerable athletic achievements — ones that are made all the more impressive by the fact that he has excelled despite competing with major disabilities. Details about him appear in the links below, but here’s his story in a nutshell: At the age of 13, while trying to retrieve a kite stuck to a streetpost, Damian hit a power line and sustained a range of catastrophic injuries as a result of electrocution: facial disfigurement, blindness in one eye, severe burns, and the loss of his arms below the elbow, among others.

Damian is self-sufficient and has adapted to his disabilities, but he nevertheless wants to benefit from whatever reconstructive surgery and prosthetics are available. A group of organizations — including the U.S. Cycling Federation, Achilles International and NYU’s Reconstructive Plastic Surgery unit — are working together to facilitate a better quality of life for Damian.

Here’s what this post is about: Damian needs hosts while he’s in New York for his surgeries at NYU. He will be arriving sometime in mid-March and has his first round of surgeries scheduled for April 3. Then he’ll be recovering at NYU and preparing for the next round on May 5. So hosts are needed from around March 15th through April 2nd or so, then again from the end of April through the end of May.

Achilles is funding his food, transportation and other costs so that he will not be a financial burden to his hosts. Since he doesn’t speak English, Spanish-speaking hosts would be ideal. Someplace within reasonably easy commuting distance to NYU would be desirable, I’d think, but I don’t know that it’s essential.

If you’d like to open your home to this inspiring athlete for a few days or weeks, please contact Tracy Lea for more details: tlea@tracylea.net

If you’re not able to host but you’d still like to contribute financially to this effort, then you can PayPal to: teamdamian2011@gmail.com

This guy’s pretty interesting. Read more about him:

Download a complete bio (PDF)
Cyclists Helping One of Their Own
A Tale of Ultimate Survival and Human Kindness
Cyclists Rally Around a Competitor
Armless Cyclist to Get Reconstructive Surgery in NYC

New Houston Hopeful interview: Lori Kingsley

Lori Kingsley is fast enough to have regularly rubbed shoulders with (and been lent hotel room showers by) marathoning’s professional elites. She wins a lot of races. She likes to play dress up. And she describes herself as “a happy runner.” This one took awhile to post, but I think it was worth the wait. The 90+ minute audio is an added treat.

Houston Hopefuls > Lori Kingsley

Upcoming Podcast: Eating Disorders and Exercise Addiction

Next week on Monday, January 24th at 7PM ET I’ll be hosting an edition of The Runners Round Table on the subject of eating disorders and exercise addiction among runners. My guests include three runners who are distinguished not only by their athletic accomplishments, but also by their having overcome these problems and — beyond that — their efforts to educate others through writing, filmmaking and speaking out.

Here’s a description of the show and bios of my guests > RRT 111: Eating Disorders and Exercise Addiction

Listen in online, join us in the chatroom, or download the show afterwards for later listening.

Back on track

After taking four full days off from running, not because there was anything wrong but because I was so frigging busy with window/masonry guys and then giving or throwing away about 75% of our possessions, I ran today. At the gym. This was a first. Jonathan had his inaugural post-foot procedure elliptical session. He has not done a spot of exercise since right before Christmas. For JS followers, he reports that his foot is stiff and a little painful, but not around the treatment area. I think it’s just not used to doing anything, even walking, let alone running, but I’m not a medical expert, much as I enjoy pretending to be.

He hates going to the gym even more than I do (although that monthly membership fee on our MasterCard is a great motivator), so I will go with him while he’s in his non-running phase of coming back. We’ll also have to go up there at least a few days a week anyway for cross-training even after he’s running again, but never mind about that.

I somehow managed to pick the crappiest treadmill in the place. It was noisy (bang! bang! bang!), something I discovered happens only when that particular machine goes faster than 9:00 pace. By that time I was a mile in, so I jammed the headphones in deeper, cranked up the volume, and vowed to avoid this machine next time. It also resets to 0.0 MPH every time you pause, then takes forever to get back up to speed. After awhile, I didn’t bother stopping for water, preferring dehydration to frustration.

The quote is from past Boston Marathon race director Jock Semple, of Kathrine Switzer shoving fame.

After several days off from running, and only 22 miles last week, you can bet my legs were fresh. I am scheduled for my metabolic testing on Wednesday (although that’s now in extreme doubt given that we’re scheduled to have another blizzard; learning how piss poor I am at burning calories is not worth risking life and limb for), and as such I am not supposed to do any hard exercise the day before in order to have as low a resting heart rate as possible. So today was the day to try something harder if I was going to.

Since I was feeling so perky I decided to do a progression run today. I started out at 9:15 and steadily worked my way down 20 seconds or so per mile to 7:15 for the last one; 7.5 miles total. I was tempted to go to 7:00 pace, but I still have slight adductor pain, and I’ve learned enough horrible lessons about pushing things already. The good news is that there was considerably less pain than a week ago at the same pace in Central Park. Meaning almost none. I call that progress.

I am avoiding the heart rate monitor completely, perhaps permanently save for marathon pace training (and marathon racing). The rest of the time, it’s such a mind fuck. I’m just running at what’s a comfortable (or comfortably hard) pace for the time being. I’ll try to work down to 7:00. Then do some faster intervals when my adductor tells me it’s okay to do so. What I am going to be ready for very soon is some tempo running. I’m looking forward to that.

Tomorrow’s a little recovery run and back to doing some upper body weights. I have a feeling I’ll be running at home on Wednesday afternoon given the Snowpocalypse II forecast. Fortunately, I now have my treadmill room back. The guest bed’s been disassembled and the sound system’s hooked up to the TV so I can hear it over the din. All I need is a Grete Waitz poster.

“I think you need to stop making plans.”

This is what Jonathan said to me about a week ago. I was sick, still feeling like a half-crippled rhino when I did make attempts to run, and reviewing a list of unappealing, far-flung marathons in April.

That fellow gives good advice sometimes. I’m listening to him, for once. I’ve got no marathon plans whatsoever. I need to be able to run “like everybody else” again (in the words of Special K*) before I can think about that.

Who knows what the spring holds? I can’t afford to care too much. As for the fall, I may want to run Chicago. Or I may not. It all depends. But there will be no plans for the time being. It’s just going to be day by day.

*Thanks to all who offered kind words on that article and about both Sandra and Khalid.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 38 other followers