"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What you don't want to hear at the start of a spinning class

Particularly when you haven't been to a spinning class, or on any sort of bike ride at all, in a couple months, you don't want to hear the instructor say, gleefully, before class, "I just signed up for the Death Ride! I'm so excited! It'll be my third time!"

Actually I don't think her spinning class would have been all that hard for somebody who's already been to it a couple times. Spinning is very adjustable to wherever you're at in your bike-fitness, and however hard you want to / are able to push it, but I was having trouble adjusting my workout to a low enough level that I could keep doing it for an hour. The secret is to start from a low enough amount of resistance that you can actually keep pedaling when told "Give me a quarter turn! Okay, give me another quarter turn!" etc. etc.  Maybe I'm still tired from the marathon. And maybe it might have had something to do with having eaten a whole loaf of bread in three days (homemade by yours truly, and almost perfect, but for letting it rise in the pan too long, which I think was the cause of the big hole in the middle when it baked - I should have just filled the hole with jam or Nutella or something), along with several bowls of turkey soup made from my FIRST ever wildly successful turkey roasting experience (prompted by an office party last Friday). 

I'm just glad I made it to the class and didn't have to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to do it. This class was at a very reasonable hour, 5:30 p.m. And the instructor turned on an extra fan and pointed it toward me when she observed that I was trying to fan myself with a towel.

I asked her about her Death Ride experiences after class. She said the first time she "only" finished four of the five mountain passes in the ride, and she was determined to do it again the next year and finish the whole thing, "hell or highwater." Those were pretty much the available options, since it started raining on them after they ditched their rain gear just before pass #5. But she did it, and now she's doing it again. Some people don't have a lick of sense. It's a relief sometimes not to feel compelled to try to do certain things (like the Death Ride). At least not in 2010.  Mercifully, registration is already full.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Go as easy as you can

They weren't kidding about the cold. With all the people crowded together at the start though, it wasn't too bad. It took me at least two or three minutes just to get to the starting line, a situation that would have caused me more frustration if I'd been closer to my wishful-thinking pace. Here's the news footage of everyone taking off. The beginning, at least for us middle-of-the-pack folks, is a pretty amazing collective sea of humanity experience. Then the honeymoon thrill of togetherness wears off and everybody has to go meet his or her own giant, some giants being more friendly than others, but still giants.

Yes, I managed to thwart the obvious efforts of the sport photography folks trying to prevent surreptitious downloading of the proofs of their pictures. Sorry about that. But now their watermark can enjoy free advertising on my blog, so that should be worth a little something. When you care enough to make your race photos outrageously expensive, I recommend them.

Views of the finish. I had a good sprint up that stretch of Capitol Ave to the finish line, never mind that maybe 800 yards before that I was walking. Walking as briskly as I could. An old Jennifer Stone saying came to mind - "Go easy, and if you can't go easy, go as easy as you can." This was a 'running theme' of my marathon though I didn't really plan it to be. I held back in the first half, which is probably why I got all the way into the low 20's before things got really, really hard and I started saying things like "Hey, I never have to do this again, so just enjoy this while it lasts. Don't be in such a rush to get it over with!" and also a 'thank you, thank you' mantra. Meaning thank you for my life, thank you for being able to run (and walk). Thank you thank you thank you.

So during and immediately after the marathon, and as recently as yesterday, I was indeed thinking how nice it will be to get back on my bike, do less painful kinds of exercise, etc. And I will. I need time to recover and regroup, and time for my feet to forgive me. I don't know if the marathon is really 'my distance,' as much as I may wish it to be, or if it was just that my training was too thin, or that I've still got the dregs of a cold, or all of the above. But I'm already feeling less averse to the idea of more running than I felt on Sunday when I could barely walk and pretty much just sat on H's sofa moaning for advil and cookies.

p.s. - I think my Nike+ wristband thing has been telling me sweet little lies about how far and how fast I've been running. Either that or I actually managed to run a marathon that was two miles longer than everyone elses on the same course. Time to recalibrate.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Around the corner

Well, Sunday is the big marathon day. My training wasn't exactly everything I'd hoped to accomplish, but it never really is. I've definitely been taking it easy the last couple weeks, partly due to getting a cold immediately after the 20-mile run I did two weeks ago and partly due to sitting around eating delicious cake and pie and fantastic curry sausage stuffing all the blessed Thanksgiving weekend.

I see that my big 1.8 mile run this morning wasn't enough to make my little Nike cartoon person start jumping hurdles again...but Sunday will put the life back into her. (Almost) all downhill. Just have to keep a cool head, think about people who have suffered or are suffering way more than I will be and have no choice in the matter, keep on truckin', and not be too attached to the outcome. How glorious to be able to stand and walk, let alone run. How lovely to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to catch a 5:15 bus to the 7:00 a.m. start. (Choice in the matter, choice in the matter. Yes. I signed up for this.)