Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Here I Go Again...

In the weeks (or occasionally months) following a big race, most runners take time off to sort out future plans, heal their muscles, and enjoy some quality time with their loved ones or with other interests.

Not me. Aside from a 4 day hiccup the week before Christmas (when it was cold outside - I HATE the cold), I was up and running at way faster than my marathon pace only two days after the race. Brian wanted to go for a run along the East River, and I didn't want to miss the chance to see a different part of the city on foot just because any expert out there who ever gave advice on marathon training would say it was a stupid idea. The morning was inviting and the route looked interesting and besides, I was beginning to get the notion I might actually have a gift for fast race recovery, if not fast race times. It was only after my first couple half-marathons that I felt creaky the next day. Since then, I've felt fresh after one good night's sleep - and that includes the DNF disaster in Illinois that had my left leg so locked up I could barely walk. Of course, most experts would probably point out this "gift" is merely an indicator my race times are well below my capabilities (surprise! I'm an underachiever!), but after spending so much time injured, I like feeling good the day after a race.

I made a friend for my Hudson River run! This one was
faster than I - I spent the entire run looking at her back.

So instead of a hiatus from running, I took a hiatus from writing and gave myself an emotional rest. While sickness, unlike fitness, is something you can't escape no matter how much "off-time" you take, I wanted to take a little time off from talking about it. At this point, my running and Mom's condition are inextricably linked. Even if I never run another race for Alzheimer's (unlikely - I'm already thinking about fundraising strategies for NYC 2012), this is the only thing I've done that I really feel good about since Mom got sick, and I'll always have that to hold onto no matter what. And I know I still owe myself (and you, what remains of my gentle readers) a NYC race report. I initially put it off so I could sort through how I wanted to write it...and believe it or not, I still haven't come to any universal, earth-shaking conclusions. Despite an overwhelmingly positive experience, I don't feel better about the way things are, just some mild hope about the way they could be. And that makes for some wishy-washy, inconclusive writing that doesn't do justice to the cause we're all fighting for.

Despite a brief consideration of making the blog a time capsule for the 2011 marathon, I decided not to let it go because (a) I really am a more talented writer than I am a runner, (b) it's still the perfect URL (see introductory post about the difficulty of picking a not-already-picked URL), and (c) while I'm still feeling out the concept of whether what I leave unsaid in this public forum is too much (or whether I'm saying things I should be leaving unsaid), leaving the cut under the band-aid will rot it in the long run. Writing this has been a crazy, emotional process but there have been moments of illumination, too. And looking back, it's definitely been some of my better writing. And besides, I need an outlet to talk about running. I suspect I'm easier to read than I am to listen to, sometimes. 

So after two and a half months of radio (blog) silence and running off-schedule, I'm back. I told myself last year, when I first started sending out fundraising letters, that if I wanted to do NYC for Alzheimer's again, I'd start planning way in advance...and that's essentially what my spring schedule is getting me ready for. Instead of running a marathon and aiming at a specific time, I'm running the Kentucky Derby Marathon in April just for the "time on my feet." I've only run 26.2 twice in my life, after all, and I'd like to have a better idea of what to expect (like how to handle GI-discomfort issues) from start to finish. Then, in May, I'm aiming for the Brooklyn Half-Marathon for a specific time - 1:55, to be exact, which would be a huge step up in intensity. I'm also thinking up some new ideas for fundraising, although without a formal "team" affiliation until April, all I can really do is plan at this stage. Ultimately, the goal will be to run NYC in less than 4 hours (sub-4, to those in the know) and $8500 for Alzheimer's. And I have eleven months to make this happen.