Sunday, February 26, 2012

16 Miles at Fletcher's Boat House

16 Miles started at Fletcher's Boathouse.
Before our run began, a running coach taught us to count the steps we made with our right foot for 60 seconds of running. He told us that we should strive for 90 strikes per minute in order to minimize injury. I was somewhere right around 88 strikes so I've been working on shortening my stride during the long runs.

We also got to see a group of 20 or so guys heading back their cars. They were covered head to toe in a thick layer of wet mud. Preview of things to come?

We ran on the lovely Capital Crescent Trail. It was still cold, but at least it was sunny this time. This was the first week I ran with Beth, Melanie, and Renee (although she left us partway because she is training for the half marathon and the rest of us are training for the full).

For some reason I remember talking a lot about labor and delivery stories, although Renee was the only one among us who'd actually experienced labor and delivery. It's strange that we chose this topic, so mysterious to us, but I think it helped us to feel like what we are doing is small apples compared to what some women accomplish. Then of course, you have THIS woman, who ran a marathon in labor and gave birth a few hours later. For the record, she prefers marathons.

We ran all the way down to Bethesda, MD, and then back along the route all the way into Georgetown. Georgetown is where Jhonny and I went for our epic first date (before the part when he made me walk from there to Dupont Circle, in the summer, in jeans). Wouldn't you know, he surprised me by showing up by the water and running with us for the last 3 miles. I was glad he was there because he always keeps me motivated and supports me. He happened to show up right when I was starting to doubt myself. That particular morning I remember his concern because my hands started swelling. This is something I'm trying to work on since that day. I keep my hands and arms pretty clenched during my running, which causes the puffiness. It requires a lot of mindfulness on my part, but I am trying to keep hands and arms loose to allow for better blood flow.

We always start the morning by dwelling on our honored teammates -- those we've loved and sometimes lost to the struggle with blood cancers. Meditating on their fight reminds us why we fight through those tough running moments. This awesome teammate shared our "Mission Moment" that morning -- his young daughter is his reason for being a part of Team in Traning. Oh, and peanut butter is a pretty big deal to us, too. 

14 Miles at Gravelly Point

I was thinking yesterday while I was running about the long training runs I've had. When I say "long," I mean longer than a half marathon (13.1 miles), because that was previously my longest distance. There is something so exciting about tackling an even greater distance than ever before, and those weeks really stick in my memory.

14 miles took us to Gravelly Point Park.
This is one of the closest starting points to my home in Arlington, VA. It only takes 5-10 minutes to drive there and the parking lot is located just next door to Reagan National Airport. This training run was the first time I ran longer than a half marathon. 

It was also memorable because the area had one of its few actual winter storms the Friday night before. We were originally meant to run 14 miles on Saturday, the 21st of January, but with the snow and ice on the trails and no time to salt or sand before the early morning training time, the training was canceled and rescheduled for Sunday morning. As a result, many people on the team weren't able to make it on Sunday. A good number of us convened in sub-freezing temps Sunday morning and completed our run beside the Potomac. I can't imagine what the conditions would've been like if we'd tried to do our run on Saturday.

Normally this is one of my favorite trails because of the great DC views. I absolutely love running in Washington, DC, and it makes my youthful dreams come true every time I do! 

January 22nd was a challenge to that affection. The wind was freezing cold and sharp. Snow and ice shards blew into our eyes off the trees and ground surrounding us. Ice was a couple of inches thick on all the bridges. The sun never peeked out from behind seriously gray clouds. My mentor injured her leg badly and had to go to the hospital (this injury took her out of the full marathon). I ran alone for 14 miles, because none of my running buddies were there that morning. Still, there were some memorable sights and a great feeling of accomplishment when we finished.

Navy - Merchant Marine Memorial - Honors naval sacrifice during WWI
More info about the memorial
Gorgeous peek at Washington and Lincoln across the river
We tiptoed across several of these icy bridges 
The following Thursday was a team fundraiser at a martini lounge in Dupont Circle (DC). We had a great time and raised serious dollars! Here is a photo of my mentor, Amanda, and I (sorry for the quality):
Me & Amanda - check out her war-wound from the Gravelly Point run!

Stay tuned for 16, 18 and 20 miles...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

18 Mile Training Day!

Just checking in this morning to let you know that today I will run 18  miles, God-willing. I've done half-marathons, I've even done 16 miles, but today I do 18. This is the kind of distance I've always felt incapable of attaining as a runner. I'm anxious, nervous, lazy, curious, excited and privileged. 

I like to break up the mental challenge by saying to myself "Well, it's just 9 miles out and then 9 miles back," because 9 miles seems manageable to me. WHAT?! Sometimes I just have to stop myself and think of how far I've come, because 2 years ago there were days that 1 mile seemed unmanageable! It's truly incredible where a little training can get you. 

Currently I am training with Team in Training, an endurance training group that runs fundraisers for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Last week I had the very moving experience of an "Honored Teammate Picnic," where a few area teams meet over coffee and snacks after their training run and listen to leukemia/lymphoma survivors and their family members tell testimonies about life with cancer. We also heard from people who lost loved ones from this terrible sickness. I met 8-year-olds who've already survived cancer. I had a bad day at work last week.

Needless to say, it was an incredible time. I had tears in my eyes repeatedly, especially when I heard the story of the mother whose 18-month-old was diagnosed while she and her family were living in England for military service. She was one among many to thank US, the athletes, for raising money that would help others going through what she and her family survived. They were thanking US! We should've been thanking them for their courage and hopefulness, and the openness to share their stories without bitterness. 

We always have a moment of reflection before runs
Honored Teammate Picnic, and Carsten

Through my fundraising website, you can donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and enable them to continue their massive research efforts which regularly empower new medications with improvement on side effects, new training plans for previously untreatable forms of these cancers, and more. You can provide money for travel and treatment for people whose insurance can't foot the bill. You can fund support groups where young cancer patients can talk with each other and gain encouragement, or caregivers can find much-needed empathy from others walking in their shoes. Here is the link to donate electronically: Sydney's LLS Fundraiser. You can also send me a check or cash -- just email me if you need my address. 

I'm going to try and post a more thorough photo journal soon so you can see some of the conditions of my past training runs and fundraising events. Until then, say a little prayer for me. 18 miles in T minus 90 minutes. Go Team!