Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Goals

Tomorrow I leave for New York City! I'll be stateside for a little over two weeks and here are my goals for the holiday season:

1. Brave the weather. Yeah, suck it up and run outside in 20-degrees. I'm already shivering.

2. Stretch and do yoga twice a week. Baby that hip!

3. Maintain my weight. Losing weight will be impossible, I know that, but I'm going to try not to gain.

4. No drinking. I've been drinking less and less lately, but sometimes in Spain one ends up drinking wine to be polite. Wine = empty calories and mindless eating

5. Become a soup master. Yes, I want to make all kinds of soups with all sorts of different winter veggies.

What are your holiday goals? And how about some tips for running in the cold?

Friday, December 10, 2010

City of Mataró Half Marathon Report

Be forewarned this is a Pollyanna post

I didn’t meet my running goals for November. Instead of running 145 miles, I ran about 90. Beginning November 10th I was dealing with a fierce pain in my left hip. The pain started during a tempo run with The Group and it scared the beejesus out of me because it just wouldn’t go away. I kept running, more like hobbling, made a real commitment to cross-training (spinning and core) and went to the osteopath (aka my speedy marathoner neighbor). My hopes for half-marathon redemption on December 5th went out the window and I seriously considered not running the
Mataró race. However, I’d already bagged out of a 10-k on November 14th due to the hip pain and I didn’t want to live with wasting another entry fee. So, I gave up hopes of a PR and decided to just run for fun. My hip did start feeling better the last week of November, which might be due to switching back to my old shoes and running less. Going into the half marathon on Sunday I promised myself to take it easy. I knew it would be a rough course—the last mile is a steep hill—and that I wanted to be ready for a steep hike the next day. (I’m going to be away from my husband for over two weeks at Christmas time and I really wanted to be able to do a two-day hike with him. Giving it my all at the half and ending up injured seemed not only stupid but very selfish.)

So, I relaxed. On Saturday, I drank water and ate some pasta, but I didn’t freak out about the race. Of course, it crossed my mind that I hadn’t done a long run since
October 24th and I hadn’t really had a pain-free run in weeks, but for some reason I decided that I could run 13.l miles the next day. Slowly, but surely.

On Sunday I woke up at 6:25: I was so incredibly calm that I’d slept through my 6-am alarm. By 7, I was coffeed, peanut-buttered and ready to roll. Charles uttered some sleepy good-luck wishes and I was off to the metro. The green line was, of course, crowded with drunk, glassy-eyed adolescents, two of whom begged for a sip from my water bottle. My new friends from The Group were waiting for me Plaza España with Lady Gaga blasting out the t-top. These new friends are big, fast men and I have to say I felt a bit strange in the car with them—these guys are serious runners, training for 50 milers and sub 3-hour marathoners and yet they treated me as one of their very own.

The race started out downhill, but I kept a 6-minute / km pace, tucking in behind a very nice woman who waved at everyone and thanked each and every volunteer. I liked her racing style and decided to copy. I sang along to my songs, high fived every child spectator and a few adults, and thanked the volunteers. By km 10, I was feeling fantastic, but told myself not to push it, that I would decide at km 12 about speeding up. The friendly lady sped up and an older man came up along side me. He was worried that there were so few people behind us, but I, in my new Pollyanna role, explained that I wasn’t worrying about that at all; I was just enjoying our view of the sea.

Turns out that by km 12, I was feeling tired and hungry. It was nice to watch the leaders coming towards us at this point and instead of concentrating on my pace, I looked out for folks from The Group and called out to all those speedsters.

Km 15 to 18 were windy, gray and boring. We’d left the beach behind and were running through the industrial section of the city, which was paved with (ouch) cobblestones. I was hoping there would be gels or oranges at some point, but there was only water. I tried to surge ahead a bit along km 18, knowing that the infamous hill was coming up. I closed my eyes, managed to pass a few people and then there it was: a super steep incline. A lot of people walked, I shuffled and just said to the guy next to me: “This is cruel.” But strangely, I was elated instead of frustrated. My hip didn’t hurt and I was going to finish the half in 2:09 and comfortably hike to Bellmunt the next day. It wasn’t a PR, it wasn’t amazing, but
I was feeling alright.