My virtual friend, Amy, from Runner’s Lounge tagged me and asked me to write about my favorite runs of 2007. What a great idea, Amy! Thank you for thinking of me.
Well, my friends, this is really a tough one for me. My first inclination is to think of the races I ran, the very first of which occurred on January 1, 2007 at Mendon Ponds Park. This 7.5 miler is one of the most beautiful around and pretty darn challenging. I don’t think there’s 100 feet of flat ground throughout the entire course, and the rolling hills, horse farms, deer, and stately homes make for a very scenic run. Most importantly, the company of my friends made for lots of fun and that’s really what it’s all about!
February’s 20 miler in sunny Florida was another fantastic run. I rented my girlfriend’s condo on the ocean and Brendan and I enjoyed a glorious week of 65° to 70°days running and basking in the sun on the beach. I’ll never forget the morning I ran my 20 miler. When I started my run it was about 50° and the sun was just rising – glorious! My son took a picture of me when I returned (it happens to be the banner on my blog), and as you can see from the grin on my face, I had a wonderful run.
One hot day in July I set out along the Erie Canal Path for a run after dropping my son off at work. I really didn’t feel well but thought that a 5 mile run might help pick me up. To my good fortune, I ran right into my friend, JP. After stopping to chat for a few minutes, we decided to run and chat. He’ll never know just how much his company meant to me that day. JP loves to talk almost as much as me, and his conversation and cheerful nature helped me finish what would have been a tough run.
This post of favorite runs wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the Rochester Marathon. What a perfect September day we enjoyed for this race! This was my first (and hopefully not my last!) experience running for a club on a relay team, and I must say, it was a blast. My women’s master’s team won first place in our division and earned the fastest time of all of the women’s relay teams. All of the Greater Rochester Track Club relay teams did great that day, and it was really awesome to feel supported by all of our teammates.
“I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.” – George C. Lichtenberg
As a little girl in Ireland, I vividly recall going to mass everyday before school. In those days, mass was said in Latin, and although I knew little of what the priest was saying, I loved the predictability of mass. Even as a little girl, I depended on my daily visit to church.
When I arrived in this country as a young adolescent, I was shocked to learn that few people attended church everyday. In fact, not one single soul in my small circle went to daily mass. Although I said little, I longed to go back to the ritual I had known in Ireland.
However, as time progressed, I changed and became much more American than Irish. I quickly learned to assimilate to my surroundings and found myself “fitting in” quite nicely with my new friends. I began to think less and less about Ireland and its traditions and culture, focusing instead on being apple-pie American.
Yes, I still go to church every Sunday and I still hold to many of the traditions of my heritage, but I realized early on that I needed to make some changes to adapt to my environment. I also realized that change isn’t always desirable but it is necessary.
On New Year’s Day 2007, I never would have predicted the events that awaited me and, yes, changed me. Never, ever would I have thought that my youngest child would face death while away at college. Nor would I have predicted that I would start writing a blog and make new virtual friends. Certainly, I never saw myself running hill repeats, track workouts, tempo runs – only the really strong runners do that! Some of the people I met at school, races, and running groups are now friends, each adding to my life and teaching me important lessons (not all positive) that I needed to learn. Certainly, every event I’ve experienced and person I’ve encountered has helped to contribute to who I am on this 29th day of December, 2007.
I think it’s important to reflect on change. I think it’s even more important to anticipate and plan for change. No, I’m not referring to change that results from crisis such as my son’s illness but to goal-setting. In my next post I’ll write specially about my goals, both in and out of my running shoes, for 2008.
A belated Merry Christmas to all! Really, I had every intention of writing a post or two prior to today, but the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas kept me from writing. (Hey, it was either run or write. For my sanity, I chose running!)
I am happy to report that I’ve been doing a considerable amount of running, including social running. Last week I ran 36.4 miles and so far this week (Monday – Thursday) I’ve run 28.4 miles. Considering that I still have my long run to look forward to this Saturday, I’m pretty satisfied with my mileage. My speed is another story but I vowed that I wouldn’t whine in this post; so, I’ll save that for another time.
It seems like many posts I’ve read the past few days have focused on reflections for 2007. This past year has certainly been filled with change for me – some positive, some not so positive. Change is necessary for growth; therefore, I’ll embrace the changes (including the negative experiences) and glean whatever lessons I can from each.
When my alarm awoke me for my morning run at 4:13 this morning, I quickly jumped out of bed, reset it for another hour, and climbed back into the delicious warmth of my cozy sheets and blankets. Ahhhh! Glorious sleep!!! That “ahhh” feeling lasted for a whopping 3 minutes. My mind scolded my lazy body and shamed it out of bed and into my running gear. Instead of battling the slick roads, harsh winds, and frigid temps, I opted for my treadmill in my basement. A wise choice.
At 5:10 when I’d finished running my 6 miles I was so glad that I forced myself to get up and run. Because I find the treadmill about as exciting as watching paint dry, I play around with the speeds and inclines. I tell myself to run fast for 1/2 a mile and then I slow down a bit for a 1/4 mile or I run at an 8 minute clip for 1 mile, slow down for a minute or two, run a mile at a 7:49 clip, slow down. This breaks up the monotony and actually makes the run fun (and I get a good workout!).
So, I’m off to a good start with my running for this week. Tomorrow I’ll run the hills with the Winter Warriors at Fleet Feet. What’s that mantra again? Oh yeah, “Hills are my friends.”
What a week! Life has been so incredibly stressful and disappointing and hectic lately. It feels like I haven’t had a moment to take a breath. When I get busy and stressed like this I inevitably get sick. And that’s just what happened: I ended up leaving school early yesterday and stayed home today.
Working two jobs, shopping and preparing for Christmas, and problems with friends have left me drained and unhappy and 5 pounds thinner. (I suppose losing 5 pounds isn’t so bad!)
There is one thing that has kept me going this week: running. Monday through Thursday my running shoes were my best buddies. Silently sitting in my closet waiting for my feet to soundless slip in, they’ve been a reliable source of comfort. They’ve carried over some icy sidewalks and through snow-covered roads. Dearest Brooks Trance, I do love you so!
Putting in 24 miles across these 4 days at very odd times of the day, I’m again reminded of the power of a good run. (Heck! Even a bad run is better than no run!) Prior to starting out on some of these runs, I just didn’t want to do it. ”I’ll just skip tonight’s run and make up for it tomorrow,” I thought once or twice this week. But then I remembered how wonderful I feel when I’m done, and I forced myself to lace up my shoes and head out the door. I find the change in my attitude post-run amazing.
During the winter months it’s so difficult to stay motivated, especially when it’s cold and windy outside, but it’s so worth the effort. Tomorrow is the first race in our local winter race series called the Freezeroos. I’m registered to run but not looking forward to it because the temperature is only supposed to be 18 degrees. Brrrrr!
Speaking of race series, I just found out that I placed 5th in my age group for the Rochester Runner of the Year. You could have knocked me over with a feather! I didn’t expect any award for this series as I was injured and missed several of the fall races. Apparently, there’s a banquet in January that I’m supposed to attend to receive my award. Will wonders ever cease?
The human body: What an amazing, self-healing machine it is! Since September, I’ve been plagued with a couple of nasty injuries that have taken the joy out of running. I’ve tried to “hang in there” with my workouts, vacillating from water running to walking to running easy to yoga. Honestly, it’s been difficult to maintain a decent level of fitness. Knowing that my body will heal in time and I’ll return to some basking-in-the-aftermath-of-an-awesome-run runs has helped to keep me motivated.
I’m happy to report that I’m returning from the land of the injured runners! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready to dive into the deep end of the competitive racing pool, but I think I may just be ready to test the racing waters with my toes.
Yesterday I ran with a group of winter warrior runners who met at Fleet Feet Sports. We had a great 9.5 mile run around some unfamiliar parts of Rochester (unfamiliar to me, that is). The course was just beautiful (Highland Avenue was stunning) and the company was interesting, entertaining, and motivating. I’m so happy to say that I ran the entire way without stopping. (I know, I know two months ago this would have been an easy run.)
Today, on this second Sunday of Advent, I am hopeful and grateful. I’m hopeful that I’ll return to my old running self soon and grateful that I was able to run nearly 10 miles yesterday and 5 days and 34.5 miles for the week.
The longer I run, the more I learn about myself as a runner. As I posted yesterday, I know that I need to seek out the company of others with whom I can share a run and a chat. I also know that getting back into pre-injury shape will take time, diligence, and patience. Time I have, diligence I can work at, and patience, well, I’ll pray for that!
Last week I ran 30.62 miles. So far in 2007 (as of December 2) I’ve run 1,682.92 miles. Although this total is not even close to where I typically am in December, I’ll take it with a grateful heart.
Monday, November 26 – 5.3 miles. 5 miles in 42:52, .3 cool down.
Tuesday, November 27 – 4.12 miles. Easy pace at 4:30 am.
Wednesday, November 28 – 5.3 miles. 5 miles in 41:50, .3 cool down.
Thursday, November 29 – No time.
Friday, November 30 – Rest.
Saturday, December 1 – 3 mile warm-up run. Jingle Bell 5k in 25:08. 3.6 mile run. Total for the day = 9.7.
Sunday, December 2 – 6.2 miles easy.
Before I head to bed (it’s only 8:25 in Rochester but I’m exhausted) I thought I’d write about a reoccurring thought I’ve had lately.
The peace and solitude that running brings is wonderful, but running alone day in and day out is, well, lonely. A few years ago, I ran with a group of men and women at 5:00 am twice a week from a YMCA very near where I work. It was wonderful. Those two days were always the highlight of my week, and one of the women with whom I ran is still one of my closest friends.
Running seems to strip away all pretense and expose a person’s true nature. When my former little group ran together we shared many laughs and discussed serious topics that troubled us (many a dilemma was solved on our runs). Really, very few, if any, topics were off limits. Running will do that for people: break down inhibitions and build up trust.
If you’re a “lone runner” as I am, try to work in one day each week of social running. You may not run fast on this day, but you’ll make a friend or two or five and your life will be enhanced by these runners. I miss my friends (life can be devastatingly lonely at times) and I need to take my own advice. Most activities are twice as nice when shared with friends.
Winter has arrived full-force in Rochester, NY, and the weather for yesterday’s Jingle Bell 5k helped to create a feeling of Christmas. Cold, windy, snowy, slippery are just a few adjectives that describe the environment along with festive, cheerful, motivational, and friendly. There’s something so merry about hearing 800 or more jingle bells ringing through a crisp December air.
Although I enjoyed the course (it’s one of my local favorites) and the runners and spectators, I will admit that I had a terrible race. My time was 25:08 (one of the worst 5k times I’ve ever run), and it earned me 8th in my age group out of 66 women. Eighth is a tough pill to swallow, but I knew going into this race that I wasn’t in racing shape. The injury that I sustained to my left hip is still hanging around (believe me, I’ve sternly told it to pack its bags and get lost) but at least I’m still able to shuffle along and run a few miles. I’m just not taking home any medals.
Eating humble pie is good for me every once in a while. My plan is to continue to slowly build up my mileage and gradually reintroduce a little speed work and hill training. This injury has taken a lot out of me, so I’ll also focus on stretching and strengthening. If any of you know of some effective stretches/exercises for hip flexors, adductors, and hamstrings, please send them my way.
Thank you, everyone, for your encouragement. I’m so glad I ran the 2007 Jingle Bell 5k; it was a blast!