Wednesday, November 25, 2009


This time the reluctance wasn't my own. It was such a beautiful afternoon, and I had a spare half hour to get outside and up my dosage of vitamin D. It was decidedly time to pull out the newest pair of running shoes that had been on fall break since my last race. Not that I haven't been running, just not in these shoes. My 2 and 3 year old shoes were doing just fine, but I've started feeling their age. These "new" shoes have only gone about 50 miles on my feet, including that last marathon.

They needed their break, just like I did. I understand. However, their time off was to purge the scent of a sweaty Ironman; a 5:45 trek of stumbling, jogging, walking, and getting doused in water that was a little less than pure by the time it streamed down from the top of my head, over my arms, down my legs, and puddled around my insoles.

The last 6 weeks of their life was spent on my balcony, airing out. I was sure this was ample time in the crisp fall air, so I went to collect them. My first warning of their reluctance to run should have come from the way they hid under a plastic bag. But there was no escaping. I held them at arms' length and took a quick whiff. No obvious scent, but just to be safe, I attached them to me at the furthest possible point on my body from my nose. Handily, this happened to be my feet, which is where they are intended to go. That's almost 5 feet from my nose, but I apologize to the short dogs I passed while running.

As I slid the lace locks into place, I heard my feet groan. The feet weren't excited about this reintroduction either. Could be the memories of ball-of-foot blisters, or the THREE damaged toenails these shoes rendered. At least they still fit (unlike some of my pants). We got all suited up and went out to the park. And they just stood there.

With the shoes not wanting to move, my legs had to drag them along. It was amazing how sluggish they made my poor legs feel; it was if they had walked through some hour-old gum that was spit out in the dodgy Kroger parking lot. Way too much time was spent in contact with the ground. They must've gained some weight during the off season just like I did. After 20 minutes of warming up, they kind of got into the groove, just as their song came on the ipod. We made an agreement that they would start running regularly again, but only once or twice a week, as long as they promise to be nice to all toenails in the future.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I had the rare opportunity to take my lunch break at Shelby Farms yesterday. I planned it well, brought my running clothes and sneaked in an hour run before returning to work. Some days it takes a little urging to get myself up and out the door from work to get a midday run in. Not Monday. I changed my clothes and was on the trail in under 5 minutes. I really love the Farms. I think I could run for days straight out there without getting bored or running the same route twice. We used to go there every day for cross country practice in high school. Then in college maybe once a week. Now that I live on the other side of town it is only on special occasions or maybe weekends when I get there. I'll really miss Shelby Farms when I move. Even though you're right smack dab in the middle of town, you can't see or hear a car, and only occasionally on weekdays another person. The Tour de Wolf trail looks completely different in the fall than the summer. This grass blocked my view from the thoroughfare that is Walnut Grove.

Time passes so quickly when I'm there. I'm not counting miles or minutes; I just keep running where the trail takes me: through the woods, up by the lake near the stables, down more trails, by that rock I almost wrecked my mountain bike on last time, through the dog park, between the barn and old blue car with it's door open, through the old cemetery, winding around the single track in the field, and back to the big lake. My legs know the route and I can turn off the navigation system in my head and just run. I need these runs every so often. It's not about working hard or pacing. It's just me and the trail.  One foot after another.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

the scenic route

It's that time of year again -- time to slow down and enjoy the view (unless of course you're doing one of those crazy St. Jude runs or something). All of my runs lately have been totally slow and enjoyable. Not that I really have any choice in that slow part.

Check out my view from Wednesday afternoon's run.

So it's really not that bad to run painfully slow through something like this. I'm at that time in my season in which I only do things I completely enjoy. It's much better this way than struggling to run at summer speeds. I have nothing left "in the bank" to withdraw from anymore. You know all those workouts, all that pain, the pushing through that happens during a big race build up? Lots of people say that's money in the bank, right? Around about October 10th of this year I withdrew everything I had in that bank. Actually I overdrew. It's like when you put $4.65 too much on your debit card and then you get charged $29 for overdrafting. Not that I know from experience or anything.. 

On the other hand, this overdraft is not quite as bad as the fatigue I felt this spring when I had some sort of virus. (And I thank the fiance for that. He's immune to all those bugs he brings home on his tie for me to enjoy.) That was more like losing your job right as the market crashes and having exactly $0.00 left in your mutual fund. I really don't know about that from experience. At least at this point I know how to put money back in the bank. It's going to be a slow process starting below the nil line, but it'll happen eventually.

Despite my dead legs, I realized that I do still have goals. Shiny new goals, as a matter of fact. Right after Ironman when Liz was asking for goals from her athletes, I had nothing for her. Now I realize that I can't imagine a day when I don't have running and triathlon goals. And I wonder how anyone who has been competitive in sports can just achieve their goals and not set new ones. Can they just simply meet them and move on to a new sport? I could see myself just knowing when the day comes that I won't be setting any more PRs. But that doesn't mean I don't have goals for myself. I imagine that even record setting marathon runners or world champion triathletes have goals that keep on challenging them. Otherwise what motivates them to get outside on those cold rainy days?

So maybe my motivation is in direct correlation to the outside temperature. At least my motivation for riding my bike. This morning I had everything packed and ready to go at 4:40 when my alarm went off. First, I picked up my phone to check the temp. I had made a commitment in my head to only ride if it was 45F or over. As soon as I saw the report that it was exactly 45F, I convinced myself that I had meant over 45F, not 45F or over. It didn't take a lot of convincing to change Jonathan's mind about it either. We both went to the 85F pool. Much better.

Of course I had to snooze a few more minutes so I got to the pool at my usual (late) time. Brian was directly in front of me and we were welcomed with a booming "see what happens when you're late?" from Rob, just as we scanned the lanes to see former collegiate swimmers Catherine and Gayle getting in our slower lane. I almost jumped into the already crowded next lane over, but decided that since I, too, was a collegiate swimmer (don't laugh, it's technically true), that was just the lane for me.

It must have been my scared poopless look, or maybe the way I hung on the wall "stretching" while those girls kept on (and on and on) warming up. Rob looked over, chuckled, and said, "Joy, you've got a swimming inferiority complex." Yes, yes, you may be right Rob. That combined with only 4 swims in the last month makes for an exciting workout with "the big girls," as Rob called them.  But I survived by hanging on to Gayle's feet, even throughout the hard 200s. I thank Catherine for backstroking those so as to not lap me during the 3:10 interval. When I made it through the entire workout, minus just a few hundred warm up and a 50 when they really were about to catch me, I realized I'd put some confidence in the bank. So the balance is slowing working it's way up! All it will take to get back in the black is a few more weeks of this scenic view.