Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Variety of Confessions

1. In an attempt to keep things upbeat, I haven’t posted a race report about last Sunday’s Mercè 10k. Last year, I got my 10-k PR at La Mercè. Last year, this event was my perfect race. Last year, I worked fewer hours and had a job that allowed me to do things like come home and make a play-list for a race. This year, I got home from work at 3 am Sunday morning, ate a cookie, tried to sleep a few hours and then rushed off to the race. First time out the door, I forgot the chip. Ran back up my stairs and got chip. Coming down the stairs the second time, I thought, "should I really bring the chip--will I want my time on the public record?"

As was to be expected, my performance sucked. 59 freaking minutes. That’s slower than I ran a 10k before my first half marathon!

During the first half of the rest my energy level was pretty normal, but at the 6-K mark something happened, as if I were a balloon and a little demon with a pushpin appeared and popped all the air out of me. Certainly, we can find excuses for this disaster—exhaustion, PMS, humidity. We can say, as my dear Charles did, “just going to the race was a victory.” But I don’t want to make excuses, I want to tell you all that I’m concerned, frightened, worried. What is happening with my body? Why, after a solid year and a half of training, am I so much slower?

2. I’ve never read Kafka. Yes, I studied literature at a prestigious liberal arts college; yes I did a masters in Comparative Literature in Barcelona. Yes, I’m a vivacious and rigorous reader, but for some strange reason I’ve never read Kafka. This weekend I was planning on starting a Clarice Lispector novel, but I think I should probably check out Kafka instead

3. Despite the first part of this three-part post, I would still rather be skinny than fast. However, I’ve got some work to do in both departments and since numbers on the scale have never motivated me enough to actually follow a strict diet for more than a few days, I'm hoping running will inpsire me to eat, well, more rationally. I’m 5 foot 4 and weigh around 118 pounds, and I’m thinking that if I could lose 5 pounds, I might just become a faster runner. Putting the numbers out there in order to keep me honest.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cool Kicks

Ever since I started running seriously I’ve worn Asics 1100's. Several sales people over the years have told me that I’m a mild over pronator and, having no reason not to, I’ve always believed them. Being imperfect in many other ways, it was reasonable to believe that my stride needed some correction as well.

The Asics 1100's are cheap, durable, stability shoes and they’ve served me well. I’ve never (knock—all around the world—on wood) had a real injury. A few black toenails, yes, but nothing much beyond that. Sometimes, though, I have my doubts about using such a cheap model. I think, well, maybe I should “move up” to something better, lighter, fancier. I let marketing get the best of me and dream of having some cool kicks. (I understand that this is not a smart way to think about running shoes, but let's be honest, everyone wants cool shoes.)

So when I went to pick up my race packet for the Mercè 10k, I stopped by the Adidas display and got my gait analyzed. The salesman informed me that I have a neutral gait and when I looked at him, a bit incredulous, he showed me the computer-generated images of my neutral landing, high-arched foot. I’m not sure if this means that all the past analyzers were wrong or that my gait has changed. It’s true that my foot looks thinner and a bit bonier than it used too…Have I finally lost my baby fat?

So, yes, now I have a perfect excuse to get some cool kicks right away. On the one hand I fugure I should order some new, neutral shoes, but I’m also worried that changing up will lead to injury. Am I ready to run free, without stability?

Any hints? Have you changed from stability to neutral shoes? Has your gait changed over the years? Any shoes that changed your life and turned you into a speed demon?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Before 33

Bucket List

Just a few things I want to do before I turn 33 on April 30, 2012.

1. Publish a short story in a print journal.

2. Write a new book of poems.

3. Run a sub 2-hour half marathon.

4. Run a full marathon.

5. Tone the stomach, sculpt the arms.

6. Train to be a spinning instructor, or at least sign up for the class.

7. Volunteer at a race.

8. Host a(nother) great dinner party.

9. Drive on the highway in the U S of A.(haven't done that in years)

10. Publish an opinion piece in a Spanish newspaper.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A few of my favorite things

A few favorites that I'd forgotten about:
1. City bike riding. Love it. I just feel so cool riding around town in heels and a suit.
2. Running in just a sports bra and shorts. Liberating, comfortable and with this humidity just necessary.
3. Jorie Graham. Cool, snobby, always elegant and beautiful.
4. Simplest cous-cous for dinner: Figueres onions, celery, carrots, some beer, olive oil, chick peas, raisins, sunflower seeds, orange slices and cinnamon. Voila, Monday night dinner.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On Joy

Last week was lonely.

I did not want to be in Barcelona; I wanted to be in America close to my family. Driving in the car with my brother. Walking into the Blue Whale with sand on my feet to buy a six pack of beer and some avocadoes.

So, I was homesick, plus I wasn't doing well at work. The speech I was trying to write was awful. No narrative. No sense. No punch. No beauty. I spent Saturday morning sobbing and trying to fix it to little or no avail. Saturday evening, Charles--oh-that-patient.saint--and I took the train to Sabadell for the half marathon packet pick-up, but instead of enjoying the atmosphere--it was the town's festival complete with fire-breathing dragons and papier mache giants--I was constantly checking my Blackberry and just being a big old homesick, work-obsessed grouch.

Needless to say I had trouble sleeping the night before the race--sweating and tossing and turning and replaying minor fuck-ups from the long work week. A few times, at 3 and 4 and 5 am, I thought about not even going to the race, but at 6:30 I was wide awake and ready to go.

It wasn't a perfect half, in fact it was my secondest slowest out of the five I've done. It was hilly and humid, and I had no plan so I sort of spaced out after a while. I ran with a fast guy for a few miles, which meant I ran the middle section too fast for moi. My I-pod died and my stomach cramped a bit. But, I was never disheartened: I thanked all the volunteers. I cheered other, faster, runners on. I sprinted to the finish, drank my flat Coke and then talked to all the friendly women runners in the locker rooms after the race. In Spain, we female runners are few and far between, we're all sort of strange people and tend to be, well, pretty awesome.

On Sunday, in an industrial city called Sabadell, I found the joy in running and racing. The joy in participating, which is really nice when you're feeling nostalgic and far from home.

So, right now, I'm in a marathon training lull and I just want to enjoy the fall racing season and save the marathon stuff for Barcelona, March 25, right outside my door. Simple. Supportive. Fun.

All this could change after a few decent long runs, of course, but racing and getting a lil faster just sounds more fun right now. And, right now I need some joy.