“Remember: you are a strong, powerful black woman.”

This is something I like to say to Jonathan right before races. There are enough gaps between races that it continues to be funny. I like to think it takes him out of his nervousness for just a few nanoseconds and gets the happy chemicals flowing in his brain right before the horn blows.

So here we have a joke with pretty good staying power. I’ve been dragging it out to the start line for a few years now. The joke is like the accordion that travels the U.S. continent, witnessing (or perhaps causing, through some kind of curse) death and mayhem, in E. Annie Proulx’s novel Accordian Crimes. Except instead of passing through the hands of hapless owners, it passes through years of hapless training and racing.

Lest I get too tangled up in this comparison and paint myself into a corner (to mix metaphors… Ack! Escape! Escape!), here’s where I’m going with this: while I may be using the same musty pre-race jokes, the pre-race training is getting some new material. Or at least a new mental approach. I hate to tarnish it with something as touchy-feely as “mindfulness,” but the way I approach workouts today is quite different than it was even a year ago.

In essence, here’s the Great Truth: I am where I am on any given day, and sometimes it’s not where I want to be. But that’s almost always because I’m not fully recovered, which means that I’m tired. Being tired is real. It’s not a weakness, nor is it something to ignore and “push through.” That’s how you get overtrained and, possibly, also injured.

Here’s an illustration: I was scheduled to do a bunch of 1K repeats yesterday on the track. It was pouring buckets of rain all day, so I moved them to the treadmill. My legs were still aching and fatigued from Sunday’s race followed by a windy 8 mile progression run on Tuesday.

So I was tired yesterday. I knew this to be true. But I decided to try the workout. That’s what you do. You try it. You don’t drop it altogether because you’re tired. But you don’t bludgeon your way through it either, for the same reason. You can get some work done, but it needs to be the appropriate amount of work, done at the appropriate effort.

The first couple of repeats went okay, although I was deliberately running them slightly slower than last time. The next two featured a rapid cratering in performance. On both, my legs died at the 800m mark and I knew I was running way too hard for the last 200m. Done! Doing more 1K repeats at too high an effort would be counterproductive: I would be doing the workout at too high an effort to gain the intended benefits, plus I’d feel like a shitty runner for the rest of the day. Who needs that?

Did I have to stop working though? Could I still do something productive? Sure. My legs were dying at 800m. So why not try a couple of 400m repeats and see how they go? I did those and they were fine. But two were obviously enough, if my labored breathing was anything to go by. I was done for the day, having logged 3 miles at high effort. I jogged my recovery miles and came away feeling okay about the workout. And about me, the runner.

To review: Sometimes the best thing to do is just run to your capability on that day and, rather than viewing the experience as a compromised workout, instead declare it a major attitudinal victory, and a minor physical one. You can also just defer the workout to a later day, although for practical reasons I opted not to shuffle workouts this week and next. But a few smart runners I know, especially those with some grey in their pelts, do this on a regular basis.

So there’s your training widsom tidbit.

I am getting a media credential for the NYC Half, although now it’s looking iffy if I’ll have time to use it. Some new freelance work has landed, two projects that start next week. But I am hoping to at least get over to the press conferences on Friday and do a few interviews. As usual, I am most interested in talking to the Media “B list”: Jo Pavey, Serena Burla, Jessica Augusto, Madai Perez (although language might be an issue with those two).

I also learned from my NYRR contact that there are no planned press events for the More Half next month. This is specifically because of Sally Meyerhoff’s death, as she was the headliner. So that’s a disappointment. If I’m free I may go loiter at the expo anyway to see if anyone interesting is there.

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.

Jumping on the ABC meme

But only because I’ve invested 45 minutes in watching The Girl Who Played With Fire and am bored out of my skull, yet not quite ready to go to bed. Hokay.

Age: 45, turning 46 next month. Oh my fucking god. How did I get here already?

Bed size: King, baby. We’re not big people, but we do like our space. Also, I tend to punch, kick and claw in my sleep.

Chore you hate the most: Cleaning the litter box.

Dogs: Grew up with them and loved them. But not ready for the responsibility or the strange, constant “ham smell.” You know what I’m talking about.

Essential start to your day: P.G. Tips tea, Frosted Mini Wheats and WeatherBug.

Favorite color: What are you, five? No. There are too many mindblowingly great colors out there to commit to just one.

Gold or silver: I will accept either one gladly.

Height: 5′ 5.5″

Instruments you play: If we use the term “play” loosely, then I will claim guitar and banjo. I have always wanted to play the drums. I will probably eventually buy an electric bass to supplement my bad electric guitar playing.

Job title: Freelance writer, content strategist, “journalist”

Kids: Let’s just say I’m glad my sister popped out a few so the pressure was off.

Live: I don’t understand this one.

Mom’s name: Sharon.

Nicknames: Real: Jules, Juliekins, Juki, Threlly. Fake: Cupcakes, Wowzy, The Brick

Overnight hospital stays: Adenoid removal at an early age; five years ago when one side of my face mysteriously exploded into full on Ted Kennedyosity.

Pet peeve: Drivers who do not use their turn signals. I experience several episodes of rage per week due to this problem. Also, telemarketers with autodialers who greet you with, “Hello? Hello?” Sometimes I like to fuck with them by saying, “Hello? Dad? Is that you?”

Quote from a movie: “This dress exacerbates the genetic betrayal that is my legacy.”

Righty or lefty: Righty, except when I eat.

Siblings: One. Sister. Older. She used to subject me to ritual humiliation. I used to beat the daylights out of her. I could also give her piggyback rides when I was in kindergarten and she was in the third grade. We get along really well now.

Time you wake up: Whenever the Zolpidem Tartrate wears off.

Underwear: Recommended.

Vegetables you dislike: Okra. An abomination. It’s like snot encased in frog skin.

What makes you run late: I get in the car. I’ve forgotten my glasses. I go inside. I’ve forgotten where I left my glasses. Half the time they’re in the car.

X-Rays: Lots. Mostly for dental work.

Yummy food that you make: Everything I make is yummy.

Zoo animal favorite: The last time I went to a zoo was during a visit to an awful “animal park” called “Paws and Claws” in Florida in 1988. I ran out through the gift shop, with tears streaming down my face, as a result of seeing the sorry state of the animals in that place. I don’t go to zoos anymore.

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