A cheery hello from the bowels of failure and disappointment

Since it’s been about six months since my last post, I’m checking in. I know you’re still reading — or at least some of you are! I got 92 hits last week alone on my wildly popular post “How to lose weight when you’re 46 years old and genetically disadvantaged.”

I’m still chronically injured. I run 2-3 times a week, 6 miles tops, for a few weeks and then I get injured for a few weeks. Rinse, repeat. I have faked myself out several times and planned out elaborate training schedules after the period of “basebuilding.” As if this was what facing reality looks like. No, there will be no training. There will be no basebuilding, even. There’s just week to week, seeing what my body will do next.

There’s some kind of weird imbalance issue on my left side. Everything that’s wrong is on the left side: left foot tendon issue, left Achilles, left sciatic nerve pain. So I don’t really know what to do except wait and see and make it a goal to try to run when possible.

It sucks. But I have other things going on in my life and new ways of defining myself, so it’s not the disaster it was a few years ago. But it still sucks. Silver lining: I’ve discovered how pleasurable it is to walk. And I’ve only gained 10 pounds.

See you next year.

One day at a time

Last week I ran 4.5 miles. GO ME.

Right. So running is vying with Learning Swedish on my list of priorities. And I don’t even want to learn Swedish.

Last weekend was the Scotland Run 10K, a race in which I got a PR last year, mostly owing to having maintained the 5K fitness I’d killed myself to obtain all fall and winter. I think if I’d raced that this year I would have been lucky to break 50:00, such is my state of current neglect.

I had plans to train for races this year. 5Ks in the late spring! A summer relay in Vermont! Track racing! The mile!

Honestly, I have no idea what I’m going to do. Right now I’m looking at running from an AA perspective: One day at a time. The first thing I have to work on is running more than once a week. I can already tell how out of shape I’ve gotten. Running now feels awful. So I don’t run, and I get more out of shape, and it feels awfuler.

So here goes: I’m going to try to commit to doing a 3 mile run, every day, for the next week, starting tomorrow. Today I will go for a walk.

Next week I’ll make it 4 miles.

If I can hack that for 2 weeks, then I’ll start throwing in longer runs. No “training runs” until sometime in the summer, after I have rebuilt a decent aerobic base and gotten rid of my various lingering injuries.

I have no other running commitments. I can’t take the pressure. I need to like running again before I can think about training for anything.

Google Search Oddities

“eulogy for a father that owned a car lot”

I liked this one. A lot.

Google Search Oddities

Okay. This is the best keyword search I’ve ever received.

“just walked out of the dentist and going home to die”

It’s also worth doing a search on this phrase. You will get back easily an entire evening’s worth of reading.

Google Search Oddities

“after the realisation…another girl enters…cycle repeats..all over again”

A heartbroken Brit, Australian, New Zealander or Canadian (probably). Poor thing.

Race Report: Flushing Meadows 5K

Today I raced the inaugural Flushing Meadows 5K race in Corona Park, Queens. The park was the site of two world’s fairs (1939 and 1964), and it contains very large, and very visually striking, vestiges of at least one of them. I’m too lazy to research more than that. This is a blog, people.

The race was hosted by the Sri Chinmoy organization which is, as far as I can tell, a benign religious cult. Whatever they are, they put on a well-organized race. The race started on time, it was well-marked, well-staffed (there was a volunteer at every turn — and there were lots of turns), and they gave out huge honking trophies to winners, plus age group winners’ medals. The awards were so…well, big…that I couldn’t bring myself to skip the awards ceremony.

This trophy is really no big deal.

As for the course, this is not a race in which to attempt a PR. The course starts south of the Long Island Expressway and, unfortunately, in order to cross the LIE one needs to run up and over a short but very steep hill, both at the start and finish. Strike one against speed. Strike two against speed is the fact that the route winds all around Corona Park and there is a 90 degree (or worse) turn about every 200m or so. As usual, I did not look at my watch while racing but I did set it up to autolap on the kilometers. The only fast kilometer I ran was the second one (4:03) and that was only because it was almost all straightaway save for one 45 degree turn to the left.

We started at 10:00 am sharp and I was immediately the first woman. I doubted this would last, and I was right. A young woman with a lovely blonde ponytail passed me at about the half mile mark and within another few hundred meters I knew I’d never catch her. She would finish around 50 seconds ahead of me. After that, no women passed me and only one man did. I passed two teenage boys who went out too fast and died in the second kilometer. And that was the end of any passing action.

It was a tough race. For one thing, all of us in front were running alone. There were no packs. There was just a string of runners separated by around 15-20 feet each. The turns were frustrating and mentally draining. At some point in the middle of the race I settled for second place women’s and then things kind of went south from there from a mental standpoint. I knew the nature of the course was going to prevent me from running as well as I could have normally, so I found myself taking an, “Eh, why bother?” attitude. I was totally drifting off in the fourth kilometer (my slowest at 4:25) and then rallied for the last one and got back down to 4:12 territory despite the sharp turns and insane hill. But it was kind of depressing to see 21:15 on the clock when I came through. My PR is 21:12. I couldn’t find four seconds in there? I could have if I’d tried harder. I also wonder if I ran too far and too fast on Thursday (7 miles at 8:26 avg). In the past I’ve taken the day off two days before the race. I will do that before the 5 miler I have scheduled for a week from tomorrow.

This is one of three 5K races I have scheduled leading up to Houston. The primary purpose of these races is just to get some practice racing the 5K. I am very shaky in terms of knowing how it’s supposed to feel. But these races are also good gauges of where I am fitness-wise. Despite a disappointing clock time, I’m happy with the effort today and I do think I’ve gained some speed endurance in the past six or so weeks of training. I have seven more weeks to work at it.

Splits: 4:16, 4:03, 4:16, 4:25, 4:14

My watch read 3.12 miles, so I did a stellar job of hitting the tangents today. Either that or the course was short!

Sri Chinmoy may be familiar to some of you runners out there, but more as a creator of ultra running events than as a religious leader. (That Wikipedia page is worth a look; you will learn, among other “facts,” that he painted 200,000 paintings and lifted celebrities like Susan Sarandon and Sting over his head.) His organization is best known for their “self-transcendence” series of races in Queens. These races are, frankly, insane. They hold races that go on for 6 and 10 days, respectively — in Corona Park — running as much as possible, on as little sleep as possible, to accumulate as many miles as possible. But the crowning achievement in insanity is their 3,100 mile race, which takes place over many weeks in summer and is run around a single block in Queens. The block is circled 5,649 times, to be exact.

Yes. Runners are crazy.

Training: Nov 6 – 12

Last week was on the lighter side due to two very late nights and a violent 24 hours or so of back spasm. I returned to the Rockies on Sunday for another tempo session around Swan Lake. But I was not feeling the love this week. It was windy and I just seemed slow. I was slow. Times were about 15-20 seconds off the last session. It’s fine, though. Sometimes you just have a sub-par run. Afterwards we headed straight to the gym where we had lunch and avoided the blaring NYC Marathon coverage on the café’s television. That would have to wait until later. There were heavy objects to be lifted and boxes to be jumped up and down on and off of first.

The next day my legs were peppy as hell. I zipped along at sub 8:30 with nary a pant. Tuesday evening was the final evening of my storytelling class. That involved a performance. I went for a run early in the day, did a little work and then spent the rest of the day relaxing, meditating and even napping. This is a luxury I rarely allow myself. It was fun to do on a Tuesday.

The performance went well (or, at least, people told me it did), then we had dinner with some friends and then the evening’s second act began, as we discovered that our car had been towed. Everything turns into a pumpkin at 11pm, according to the NYPD. Since I’m rarely out that late (and we arrived at an empty parking space at 11:20), I forgot. So we walked about a mile and a half to the tow pound, calling on the way as they searched for our car. Eventually they found it and, after taking a sum of money from us that I’d rather not disclose, we had our car back. I will read street signs (and my watch) more carefully from now on.

We got to bed at about 2:00am. I was exhausted the next day. So I didn’t run.

Thursday was another speed session. This time around I departed from Jack Daniels’ assigned work(b)out and decided to do what Jonathan called a “classic 5K workout”: 1K repeats at goal 5K pace. Goal for the near future is 6:25. That would get me under 20:00. I went to the track and attempted these but found myself struggling. But I wasn’t struggling with running so much as I was struggling with math. I got home and realized I ran the repeats too fast by about 5 seconds per minute pace. That doesn’t sound like much, but, believe me, you feel it when you’re already pushing the effort. I could only do three of my planned five. I did what I’ve done before, which is to cut down the length of the repeats and up the speed for the last few. It wasn’t a terrible workout or anything.

I miss mile training. 5K training is so much harder.

Friday featured a slow recovery run and legs too tired to do strides. Then a long day in the city, capped off with a midnight showing of a concert film by Sigur Rós called INNI. That ended at 1:30am. And then. We managed to get ourselves caught in a traffic jam at 2:00am. Police had closed off a great swath of the West Side Highway, so traffic got diverted. We got to bed at around 3:00am.

I must have been sitting weird all day because I got out of the car, twisted slightly, and then my back went into a screaming, oh-god-what-the-fuck-is-that back spasm. That lasted through the next day. Moving around a lot helped. Sitting sent it back into spasm. So I’ve been moving around a lot.

What a week. I’m not built for late nights.