Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sticky Summer Update

A small miracle has occurred right here in Baltimore, Maryland: I've been in the USA for two weeks and have managed to only gain two pounds. Apparently, one can eat treats (brownies, Starbucks lattes, and apple pie) all the damn day and basically drive everywhere, but still stay healthy by running at least five days a week in swamp-like stickiness. Yes, it has taken me 31 years to figure this out, but so far, so true.

My half-marathon training has been going fairly well, despite the rather devastating humidity, I got in 35 miles this past week. Truth be told, since I've been home, I've only gotten in one speed workout, but I have managed to do two ten-milers with my dad and we had a great four-mile race last Sunday.

Now, friends, the big question: to marathon or not to marathon? My inclination has always been to wait and see how my second half-marathon in October goes. I've always thought that if I could shave a decent amount of time off my 2:14 finish from last May, I would take the plunge and sign up for the Barcelona marathon for March 2011. But, if I don't improve my half time substantially (this means by at least five minutes) will I be horribly disappointed? Is it silly to think it necessary to be around the two hour mark for a half to realistically consider training for a full? I've read horror stories about injuries or five and a half hours of misery from people who weren't truly prepared. Is it really necessary to run a full marathon, for me, this year? The sensible, practical part of me says, no, it's not necessary at all and probably not a very good idea, but there is something deeper, more visceral and stronger that says, "I really want to try for this now."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Heading for the Hills

Yesterday, I was bad. First, I skipped a pool date with my friend Aitor. I pleaded "too much work," but the truth is I was just exhausted. On the walk back from work I stopped at the fancy Scandinavian bakery and bought an organic chocolate spelt muffin. As if “healthy” meant not fattening. Perhaps you’re wondering how it tasted? Very, very good.

When I got home from work I found that the latest issue of The London Review of Books had arrived. And I am, you see, a LRB junky. I devour the thing in two nights usually. No talking to my husband, no cleaning, no cooking-just reading. But yesterday I promised myself just one article and then some sleep. So I did just that: I read the one article and then took a long, delicious nap. It's been a long time since I've taken a nap during the week and it felt at once luxurious and necessary.

When Charles came home, he wanted to show me a new running route he'd been thinking about all day: Avenida Miramar on Montjuïc. Yeah, it's a mountain! So although 8 km of speed work were on my training schedule, I did 7 hilly km with Charles. Keeping up with him is speed work enough for moi. This route, which I would be a little wary of doing on my own, was absolutely breathtaking! At the Hotel Miramar we stopped and took in the whole city. Yes, I'm excited to go home for a month, but I'm really going to miss BCN for running.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Real Runner Now

Yes, I did what was once unthinkable: I took the hot needle to my black toenail. If that doesn't make you cringe, please keep reading…I'm happy to report that this new form of torture actually didn’t hurt a bit! Some blood and fluid (no pus!) came out and my (very soft) nail is now white instead of purple! Our bodies are really quite simple, I guess.

I've only operated on the right toe so far, but lefty is bugging me too. And I ask, why now? I have been running in new shoes, but they seem to fit fine and they're just an upgraded model of my trusty Asics, not a different brand or anything. There's been no significant increase in mileage either. 25 miles a week --give or take--since May... I’m thinking the culprit might be the heat. As I've gotten used to it, I've done longer runs later in the day and my feet probably swell and rub against my sock. After spending an entire workday reading about this on the internet, the basic conclusion on runner’s toe seems to be suck it up. Which, of course, is what I’ve done in the past. The thing is, I never much minded ugly toes in fall or winter, but now it’s August and I’m about to start my holiday and I really want to show off my lovely tan feet with some pretty pink polish. The sad, soft toenail with a hole in it is really ruining my look.

Now, I would like to ask you all for some advice:

a) Can I get me scheduled pedicure on Friday? And just paint over holeymoley? Let’s consider the person who has to do the pedicure…

b) Should I search for new shoes or just go with it? These new guys (Asics 1150) don't seem to hug my arch as tightly as the 1140s, but can't I adapt? I really don’t feel like shelling out more cash in order to solve a problem which I realize is actually inevitable.

c) Can I run 4 miles this afternoon?

Sorry for the gross out and please share your toe stories.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Feeling Famous

I’ve been postless for a few weeks because there is just so much for me to do in Barcelona in the summer. Some bad: eating way too much ice-cream, drinking many, many cold beers, staying out late and dancing in the streets, getting tan, which looks good now but will lead to a well-deserved lecture from my mom and the dermatologist. Some good: swimming in the sea, biking, and running. Despite two busy weeks at work, way too much drinking, and more biking than usual, I ran 105 miles in July. Up until now my goal was simply 25 miles a week, over vacation I'll be aiming for 30.
Right now, Barcelona is hosting the European Athletic Championships. Yesterday we watched the women’s marathon and wow, those ladies are fit. The fastest are all well into their thirties and have had at least two children. Interesting, hmm? I guess life just makes you a tougher, better runner. The coolest thing about Barcelona being the host city for this event is that the runners all train along the beach, right where I run. So as I plod along the Paseo Maritimo elite athletes fly by in their cute warm-up suits. Some even stop and take pictures, and two (one guy from France, one chica from Portugal) actually waved to me. So, yeah, this week I’m feeling famous.
Today: a 5-mile recovery run after yesterday’s brutally hot 8-miler and then I might go watch some of the men’s marathon, which starts and finishes about five blocks from my apartment! This time next week I’ll be on vacation, in Baltimore, frantically figuring out new, safe and shady, routes for my upcoming long runs. Good thing I'll have my dad to help.