I’ve been READING a little!

Been progressing along with my reading and today I was able to read for eight minutes, and then hold the book for one minute…X five! Amazing! I can almost finish a whole chapter in eight minutes! And then I get to just hold it. I like holding it. It gives me a moment to reflect upon what I have read, and to anticipate what I will read next. I think I may always incorporate book holding into my reading!

Just wanted to give everyone an update. Still looking forward to being in reading shape so that I can finish a whole book!

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Oh, how I miss reading!

Let’s say your passion is reading. You spend your days and nights with your reading friends reading and talking about books. When you aren’t reading, you are coaching others to read. Oh, what a wonderful life!

One day, the doctor tells you that you can’t read for 6-8 weeks. He says that if you read before then, he will then extend how  long you aren’t allowed to read. You are told that for the first three weeks, you cannot read at all. You can’t even pick up a book. Stay out of the library. No Barnes and Noble. No reading. Do you hear me?

After three weeks have passed, you can pick up a book. You can’t read it. but you can hold it. You can go into Barnes and Noble and walk around and look at the books. You can buy a coffee and sit, but you can’t read a book. You can bring your iPod and listen to music, if that makes you feel like you are doing something. Oh, and you can watch other people read books. You can witness their enjoyment for  reading. You can sit and listen to  your reading friends talk about the books they have read, the books they hope to read in the future, but you cannot read a book yourself.

After three more weeks, if you have followed all of these instructions, you can read…for one minute. First you hold the book for three minutes, then read for one minute, hold the book for three minutes, read for one minute. You can continue this for twenty minutes. Then you must put the book down.

The next week, you can read the book for two minutes, and continue building up your reading time over several weeks until one day, you can read the book for twenty minutes without stopping to hold the book! Wow, you begin to look forward to that day. You might be able to finish a chapter in a couple of weeks.

Then, you start calculating how long it will take to finish a book. Your friends are talking about reading a  book. You start worrying that you will never be able to finish a book. And all of your friends will read the book and you won’t be able to!

You begin to wonder how long you can live like this! Without your passion! Just watching others enjoy reading, while you are just holding a book and watching everyone else read. What if you forget how  to read? What if your friends find someone new to read with?

The last time I read a book was April 20. And I didn’t even get to finish that book. I tried so hard to finish it, but it wasn’t meant to be. I tried to read a book last week, but I couldn’t. I don’t think I have ever gone this long without reading.  And now I am on summer break and I can’t read.

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Is Running Fun?

Without hesitation, my initial response to the question posed here, “Is running fun?”, would be a resounding “YES!”. But, the more profound question would be, “What is fun about running?”.

This is actually a deeply personal question, completely subjective, and thought-provoking. So, that is how I will answer it. Fun means finishing a  race at my goal pace and feeling accomplished at the end.  It is not fun to go out too fast, hang on, slow down, crawl across the finish, even if I still achieve my goal time. What makes it fun is when I have put in the training, followed my plan and felt a sense of accomplishment when I finished.

Training at a threshold or VO2Max pace is not fun, but it is rewarding because it makes me faster. Running when it is too hot or too cold or  too rainy, is not fun, but it improves my mental toughness. While challenging training runs are not fun in the moment, being able to achieve my goal is fun, so therefore, by the powers of mathematics, running hard training runs must be fun, right?

While “fun” might not always be the appropriate word to describe running on all days, I would certainly use it to get myself hyped up for the run. My self-talk would most definitely include fun, along with a cornucopia of motivating words along the lines of these: healthy, exciting, adventurous, challenging, invigorating… You get the idea.

Eating is more fun when running is involved. There is nothing like the succulent tastes and intoxicating smells of well prepared culinary treats at the end of a hard training run or a targeted race.

But everything about running is even more fun when you get to share it with your running friends. So, in conclusion, running and everything about it is…fun!

List of things that make running fun:

1. Training hard

2. Performing well

3. Eating afterwards

4. Sharing all of this with Running friends

Get up and run:)

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Who owns the roads anyway?

It’s bigger than the issue of who has the right to be on our public roads. I pay my taxes just like everyone else. It’s not just that drivers don’t think about runners and don’t see us until the last minute. And it has nothing to do with things we can’t control, like a distracted driver. What bothers me is the disdain that I see on the face of drivers who will stare me right in the eye and not budge one inch to let me share the road under these adverse weather conditions. I have purposely run on less traveled roads that have plenty of space and yet, there are always a couple of drivers who stare directly at me as they hold  their course in the same lane I am in, while  the lane next to them sits empty.

That’s what makes me wonder what has caused this intense hatred of runners. Are these people just inherently miserable with everything and everyone? Do they go home and kick their neighbors dog? Do they hate everyone? This is incomprehensible! How can anyone be filled with so much anger and how does that affect our society as a whole? For me, it leaves me feeling, well, hated. That’s a horrible way to feel. I want to try to reason with the person and explain why I exercise and  tell them that perhaps if they incorporated an exercise program into their life, they would not feel so much stress and misdirect their anger at people they drive past.

The bottom line is that they put our lives at danger and here I thought in America, we had each other’s backs. I thought that we, the  people, came together in times when we really needed each other and we never really intended any harm to each other. Well, aggressive driver, you won’t make a non-believer of me. I don’t know what is going on in your life. Maybe you just received some really bad news and it has nothing to do with me. Maybe you just don’t have good vision and you scowl a lot.

All I can do is run, make space for everyone on the roads I choose, and smile and wave to let people know I appreciate it when they don’t run me off the road!

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Every Race Can’t be a PR

There’s nothing sweeter than ending a race with the satisfaction that you just completed a PR. A personal record, which has trumped all previous efforts, and propelled your running status to the next level.

Unfortunately, it can’t happen every time, so we need to find a way to appreciate our efforts, no matter what the end result is. One way to do this is by cherishing the journey as you train for your event. Don’t overlook the work you put into your training runs along the way. Take the time to appreciate the sacrifices that you make as you follow your schedule and appreciate the small victories when you achieve your workout goals along the way.

As you remind yourself of how far you have come as a runner and how much you have grown during your training, that  positive energy can help you cope with the disappointment when you fall short of your race goal. Stay focused on all the great things that you can learn from your experience and set some new goals for yourself!

 

 

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The stretch debate

When is appropriate to stretch? Before or after activity? I wish I had a definitive answer for you, but it depends on whose philosophy to which you subscribe. Much like the barefoot debate, each side has their own story. Here’s what I can offer you.

One study says that sprinters benefit from static stretches held up to 90 seconds, along with a dynamic warm-up. Another study tells us that we gain more hamstring flexibility from dynamic stretches than from static stretches before activity.

Certainly, researchers seem to agree that we should not stretch cold muscles. My plan is to warm-up with some dynamic movements that increase my range of motion. Perhaps some leg swings and some arms swings before my run, with mile one being a warm-up mile. Post-run, for me it is important to get in a quarter mile walk for my cool-down and some very short, 10 second hamstring and hip stretches, repeated a few times.

As with most things in life, we have to find our own truths. We are all different and we should experiment to find works best for each of us!

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Boston 2013

I heard 2 explosions. Someone behind me said, “That was a car bomb!” We all turned to see smoke rising between the buildings behind us. I thought to myself that this is one of those defining moments and the smartest thing to do is to move away from the smoke. In my mind, the smoke was billowing towards us and it would be followed by more explosions and more smoke. As my thoughts were forming, the Boston Athletic Association staff began leading us to exit the corrals straight ahead onto Arlington Street. I was walking forward, at the pace you walk after you just raced 26.2 miles, and fumbling to call my boyfriend and hold  onto my water, food, checked bag.

People keep asking me what the other runners were doing. I don’t recall really. We were just all walking and calling. Not a lot of chaos with a group of post-marathoners. We lack mental clarity and physical agility. We are just moving along in disbelief.

Finally, Joe answered my call and I told him to meet me in a hotel that I was standing beside at that point. He was with our friends in the family meeting area on a side street. He couldn’t see the smoke and I sensed he lacked the urgency that I felt to exit the area immediately. But, they all said they would come meet me. Then the phone service cut off. And my texts were not going through.

Some time passed before we all found each other. We were all wandering around the hotel lobby, connecting with other running friends, checking on everyone’s status. My training team coach was emailing and trying to account for us all based on our finishing times. Friends, co-workers, family all began texting, emailing, calling. All of our phones going off continually. But, we couldn’t respond to everyone. Failed calls and texts. Some would go through. Facebook wouldn’t load for any of us.

“We need to get out of here” is all I was thinking. We have accounted for our Richmond friends. Now let’s move to safety. So, the 6 of us began our journey back to our hotel. We were staying in Cambridge, which seemed much safer than being downtown. The subway was closed, so that was not an option. We tried to hail a cab and the driver shook his head at us. About the same time, the sirens blasted as we had to move out of the way of several black SUVs racing through the streets. We were thinking SWAT team, bomb squad. All the while, all of our phones were blowing up with texts and emails, some of which we could reply, but most were fails.

Stopped in our tracks as the black SUVs swirled past, we looked up to see we had accidentally stumbled upon “Cheers”, which we wanted to see anyway. Everyone wanted to go inside. I wanted to get back to our hotel. I was convinced this isn’t over. But, we went inside. There was no seating, and I wondered why everyone was sitting so calmly, eating and drinking. Did they know what just happened? We asked the hostess for walking directions back to the Cambridge Marriott and we continued our journey.

The 6 of us were walking and messaging and attempting phone calls. Occasionally, one of us would get through. When we finally made it back, we sat together in the hotel restaurant and watched the events unfold on the television. Until then, we didn’t really know exactly what had happened and certainly not how it had impacted those people at the finish line during the blasts.

The hard part was that all of us were very proud of our performances. We wanted to celebrate the grand finale of a long training  season and enjoy that satisfying feeling of accomplishment and relief. In light of the tragic events and the uncertainty of whether or not there will be more events occurring, it was not only not possible, but certainly inappropriate to celebrate. We settled for a toast to our success and quickly turned our thoughts back to others who were truly affected by the bombings as we continued to watch the news coverage.

Somewhere during this time at the Marriott, we finally were able establish phone contact with our teenage daughters. I assumed my texts had gone through. I assumed they knew we were fine. I was wrong. They had heard about the bombings and knew that we had crossed the finish line, but they were not sure how close we would have been at the time of the explosions. And because they hadn’t heard from us, they were very upset. They had been on the phone with each other, trying to piece together what each one of them had heard. I think the first good news for them was when one of my friends posted on Facebook that he had spoken with me.

There is a quote I have seem many times before that quite simply describes the marathon experience. It most definitely has even deeper meaning for anyone who ran the 2013 Boston Marathon. I leave you with this short and deeply profound quote.

“The person who starts the race is not same person who finishes the race.”

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