Wednesday, April 30, 2008

From the Desk of Cranky

For those of you kind enough to check on this space, sorry for the lack of posts. Soon after I got back from Boston, the tree pollen of Central Park bitchslapped me bigtime, and I was down for the count for a couple of days. So right as spring arrived, I found myself with worse-than-usual allergies. Waited all that time for warm weather, and once it was here I had to stay indoors so I didn’t sneeze and cough mid-air during a run. Later, I ended up on the %&#*@ treadmill, right where I spent enough time already this year, thank you.

I’ll post about Boston soon, I started to write a short story and it got out of hand, editing is rather necessary. And I’ve been too mentally exhausted to think about planning a training program for the next marathon (or triathlon), so I haven’t had the energy to look at my own blog, much else anyone else’s. I have had the energy to go for runs and swims and crap like that, I just got too tired thinking about it (and reading and writing about it, actually). So I’ve had a little ‘mental’ time out. Sometimes you just have to go out and exercise and not think about it as part of a grand ‘training program’. I’ll get over that, I’m just tired of the workout schedule life for the time being.

Anyway, more later… enjoy the weather for me…

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Boston Marathon '08: The Days Before

Last Saturday was a beautiful day in New York City, and I probably ran a little too much that day; though I ran an easy pace for under an hour, I only had 48 hours to rest up before the race. And overpack. Since I was driving up to Cambridge, I could bring six running outfits based on whatever weather was about to happen. Which is ridiculous, but I’m so used to packing lightly for air travel that it felt liberating to throw a ton of stuff in the suitcase just for the hell of it.

And the drive up on Sunday was glorious. Let me tell you, if you want to get anywhere in the northeastern U.S. quickly and with little hassle, go early on a Sunday morning. Even with stops, the trip took three and a half hours. And the hills of Hotford and Angry Town looked great along the way.

Arriving at the hotel, I quickly called Speed Racer and we set up a rendezvous downtown. After some kibbles and bits and an early check-in, I made it over to the convenient T stop on Boston Commons and met up with SR. What followed was lots of walking, lots of talking, and general nervousness about the next day. We weren’t so sure, but we were ready. The whole ‘this is going to hurt’ bit got played, and we got over it, resigned to our fate.

So Claire and I hit the marathon expo, and got to walk through the finish line a couple of times along the way. Once we got in, the lines, well, there were no lines at number pickup. That’s Expo 101, and I’ve never had to wait long to get in to get the important stuff. But the technical tees left to give out came in only one size, large. So obviously when you check off ‘medium’ on the $120+ application, you’re not necessarily going to get one. Thanks, organizers, you ran out of mediums hours before the expo is over. Now I have a large, blue tent with super-long sleeves and that strange unicorn BAA logo on the front. Yeah, male runners are such big people, better order up more larges.

We get into the expo, and guess what, no men’s size medium of any of the official Adidas merchandise. Just large and small. Great. I don’t usually buy tons of overpriced stuff, but something, anything would be nice. Later we find another official merchandise stand, and I find their medium-sized jacket doesn’t fit me in the sleeve holes, my arms are too big. Yeah, I know, this is all very fascinating, but while this was going down I started to wonder: if they can’t order enough running merchandise for the expo and what they do have doesn’t fit, what’s the actual race organization going to be like?

And in this windowless, concrete-floored convention center, it’s gridlock. Somebody decided that aisles six feet wide would adequately accommodate a race of 25,000 people, plus their friends and families. It reminded me of a Filene’s Basement I hit once in downtown Boston. On Black Friday, that dreadful day after Thanksgiving. I usually don’t compare the NYC Marathon expo/convention center to anyone else’s, but at least ours has windows, wide open spaces, and carpeting.

Well, Claire and I were doing just fine, we were glad to see each other and know that we would have all this behind us in 24 hours. We fled the expo and sat and talked about everything we could get out of our heads, our antsiness from tapering had to find an outlet. And it did, and we could have sat there and chatted for days, but whoops, there’s a race tomorrow, maybe resting up is a good idea. Before I forget… as much as she says she hated doing another marathon, she was ready, and more willing than she lets on. Ms. Claire can finish this race, let me tell you, she’s no slouch. She may just show up for races, but she follows through. The funny stories are true, but she takes care of business along the way.

So we parted ways and she headed back home. And I headed back to my hotel for some meager, bland dinner (that’s not a complaint, that’s how I like it the night before a marathon). I hit the hay around 10, and set my alarm clock(s) for 5AM. Yes, clocks, plural, I saw that Seinfeld episode about the marathon, too….

Coming up: Running through sweet little towns where they ‘pahk the cah’. Yeah, I know, that’s been played out. Doesn’t mean it’s not true, though.

And by the way, if you want to read the usual patented, mirthful, slice of truth from Speedy Speed Racer, head on over here. She has the details down.

AND an interesting article from today’s New York Times about somebody putting their bib/race spot up for sale on eBay, and the fallout: Cheating Starts Before the Race Does.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

3:32:23 says Thank You.

All you folks out there, who tracked my progress in Boston, or left comments, all positive… well, I thank you. Glad I didn’t hit the wall!

And I didn’t. I’ll write a race report in the next day or two, but let’s just say I had a fine time (well, as good a time as you can have with progressively tired legs while running 26.2 miles). I ran a slower-than-normal pace in the first ten miles, picked it up strong in the next ten, and then just ran a good, moderately steady pace in the final 6.2. No P.R. for me, but that wasn’t on the agenda anyway. With the hills along the course on my first Boston Marathon, I didn’t know how I’d feel, so I saved up my energy and concentration for when they hit. And I was ready, and you can’t ask for more than that.

And Speed Racer had a fine day out there, too. We were both surprised how easy Heartbreak Hill was to climb, so we must’ve both been doing something right out there. Plus, she finished a few minutes faster than she had predicted, so she was happy, too.

So thanks again to all of you out there nice enough to check on me and make sure I didn’t end up on the ‘straggler bus’. I didn’t see Lance or the winners, they were all showered and eating lunch by the time I finished. But I don’t care, because I finished respectably (for me), and I had a nice spring day touring the suburbs of Boston on foot.

Thanks again…

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Race Coming Up

Hopefully, that will be all that’s ‘coming up’ on Monday. No ‘unplanned examination of recent food choices’ for me, thank you.

So tomorrow I’m off to Boston, driving up, using the gravitational pull of ‘Hotford’ to swing on over to Cambridge. Those slosh pipes do come in handy. And then an afternoon trip to L’Expo Officiel Frantique with our own Speed Racer. If we don’t get arrested for disturbing the peace along the way, well, then it’s an off day.

And Ms. S.R. will be out there running on Monday, too, her first marathon of MMVIII as well. Come to think of it, a marathon that uses just roman numerals sounds rather entertaining. I’ll have to ponder that instead of the usual world destruction around mile marker XXII. AND I’m looking to finish under IV hours. Rather appropriate, somehow…

So with that, # 12042 bids adieu. Happy weekend; I’ll be back with stories to scare the grandkids.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

At The Race Expo

No, I’m not in Boston yet. But since I’ve been meaning to write about the types of people I see in the gym or at races, I decided it was just as fun to write about the types of people I see at every race expo. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, next time you’re at an expo look around and you’ll see these folks coming toward you. It’s scary.

And I have to send out a real Sarcasm Alert on this one. I’ll probably alienate the rest of the people I haven’t alienated yet, but that’s what happens when you’re suffering from Marathon Taper Disorder. In the meantime, laugh with me (or at me, I don’t care) while I discuss the archetypes I notice at every race expo.

SuperDad is running another marathon, and he’s trained for it with expert precision. He’s wearing a clean Gap t-shirt and jeans, and a pair of spotlessly white trainers, and probably a backpack tied snugly in the front. His baseball cap from some Hawaiian marathon shows you he means business. Two steps behind him is Long-Suffering Wife, pushing a toddler in a stroller, followed by two more children white-knuckling it bigtime. Long-Suffering Wife has been to expos before, and she’s not going to complain to SuperDad about how fast he’s racing through the expo. She will stick with him through thick and thin, and will support and care for him if he gets injured, but she’ll sneak off to the ladies’ room to laugh quietly, if he does. Meanwhile, SuperDad is calculating the impact of running .03 seconds faster per mile and how it will affect his VO2 max threshold. There’s a vaguely frightening, steely glean in his eyes as he’s checking out the competition around him.

The Eurorunners
Jean-Luc and Ulrike flew in a few days ago for the marathon. They’ve been visiting every avant-garde museum in town, and regrettably, been exposed to American food. Jean-Luc is thin and bald and dresses in black Yamamoto knock-offs. He wears heavy, rectangular eyeglasses that only architects would know about. Ulrike is thin and small, and wearing black, too, but is a little more funky; she likes rectangular, black eyeglass frames as well. Her hair is short and dyed scarlet red, which you’d notice more were it not for the conspicuous navel piercing peaking out of her midsection, complemented by her sole accessory, a child’s purse from EuroDisney. Jean-Luc and Ulrike’s favorite race is the Berlin Marathon, despite what their grandparents said about the war. Oh, and they’d really like some techno, and a cigarette, right about now.

These Eurorunners love America, but not so much Americans. They think Americans are loud and pushy; ironically, at the expo Jean-Luc and Ulrike will loudly knock down a little old lady for a Clif Bar sample that will be quickly discarded once they get back to the hotel.

The Sample Whores
Speaking of samples, get out of the way! The Sample Whores are here, and today, and on no other day, will prisoners be taken. Though they come in many shapes and sizes, they will make their presence known through quiet body slams. Yes, the Sample Whores will commit crimes against humanity, all for a 1-inch slice of Powerbar or an unknown red liquid in a plastic shot cup. To them, the expo is a Thunderdome of Free Things, and woe be onto those unlucky enough to feel the sting of the elbow or the slam of the shoulder. Later, you’ll see them walking out, carrying plastic shopping bags laden with samples, like zombies in a glassy-eyed, hypnotic state.

The Codgers
The Codgers are a nice, retired couple, and they’ve done races in every state of the union. They’re pleasant people, and not in a hurry… because they’ve got race stories. LOTS of race stories, and if you’re willing to listen, you’re their best new friend. And their grandkids are all in school, and if you’ve got, say, three or four hours, they’d love to tell you all about the time their grandkids made a funny sign to hold up during the Bay to Breakers Race, ‘When was that Edna, ’94 or ’95?, ’94, I think. No wait, it was ’96, that was the year we had that funny cruise to the Juneau Marathon, I had to laugh. No wait, it was ’92, don’t you remember?’ And unbelievably, they’re carrying several hundred photos of all this with them.

The Codgers are wearing slightly out-of-date ‘official merchandise’ outfits from races they did in the late ‘80s. They like free samples, too, but before they mosey on over for the free stuff, they’ll converse with the very nice lady giving out the numbers with questions about… ‘how long ‘this’ marathon is, HA!’ And about the last race they did last month. And you’ll be behind them, forever waiting to get your number, too, as the stories of mirth go on and on and on.

Flip-Flop Dude
Just released from fraternity life, Flip-Flop Dude agreed on a dare made by a drunken frat brother at a mixer last year that he could ‘run 26 miles without hurling’. So now he’s running his first, and ‘this whole race thing sucks titties, and not in the good way’.

Flip-Flop Dude is wearing the standard uniform: flip-flops, XXXL cargo shorts, t-shirt with vaguely ironic logo, and baseball hat, brim scientifically calibrated to be parallel to the surface of the Earth. His girlfriend thinks he’s nuts to be even attending the expo, but now that he’s here, it’s ‘frickin’ awesome’. ‘Oh SHIT, their serving some beer, that’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout, DUDE!’

The Track Team
Bored with conquering the state intramurals, The Track Team is here and ready to score gold against all these old people. The Track Team averages 130 pounds a runner, and thinks upper body weight is for loser football players, which come to think of it, is redundant. They say they run as a team, but quietly hide seething contempt for their teammates. These runners roam in packs and make sarcastic asides about the expo and the old guys, especially the SuperDads. They’re NEVER going to be like that.

Pony-Tail Girl
She’s thin, she’s blonde, she’s single, she’s a career girl! Not long out of college, she’s spent months on that treadmill in the gym, getting ready for the marathon. She’s Pony-Tail Girl, and not a hair is out of place. Of course, she’d run outside, but the weather is not good for that trace of makeup she applies before mounting the treadmill every day at 5:45AM. She’s single-minded, and showing no fear. And she’s immaculate but… not quite perfect. But she’d LOVE to be just like the robot girl in that third Terminator movie. Those girls with fianc├ęs, you know, the ones she sees in the locker room every morning, are going to hate her when she tells them about how easy the marathon was. It won’t actually be easy, but she’ll never admit it.

And in all fairness, there’s one more:

This punishment glutton has been to lots of expos, and thinks he’s seen it all. While scoping out the crowd, he makes silent, sarcastic comments to himself and the habits of others. And while perusing the booths representing foreign races, he makes a mental note about running marathons in far-off places, which he never does. He chides the Sample Whores and then wonders where the samples are, and then balks at the high prices of official merchandise. Later, he is kicked in the back of the leg by SuperDad on the way to a seminar, and waits in line for ten minutes to buy a power gel while The Codgers relate some funny story to an exhausted temp cashier about the port-a-johns in Kona. Later, The Track Team run him over as he leaves the expo. But CrankyRunner is too busy to notice, he’s getting nervous about actually having to run yet another 26.2-mile race. ‘Why does he keep doing this to himself?’ he asks. Too late to ask now, obviously.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Boston Marathon ’08: Stats

112th Boston Marathon.
Monday, April 21st.
Buses leave for Hopkinton 6AM-7:30
Start times: 9AM through 10:30AM.
First (open) wave: 10AM
Second (open) wave: 10:30
Number of times the organizers will remind us it’s ‘The Greatest Marathon in the World’: 1,247

My Stats

Training (since 1/1/08, 16 weeks):
95 runs, 87 hours total
40 miles per week
650.65 total miles
6 Races, including 2 half marathons, a 10-miler, and three PRs, in a 15K, a 10k and a 4-miler
15 Tempo Runs at 6:45 pace

44 Swim Sessions
33 Spinning Workouts
47 Weight Training Workouts

The Race:
Bib Number 12042 (blue bib/10AM start)
6-6:45AM bus to start
Line up in corral at 9:20
Estimated arrival at halfway point: 11:48AM
Estimated finish time: (WHAT? I’m crazy, but not crazy enough to make that prediction. How about ‘when I’m damn good and ready’?)

(The preceding was neither posted for evaluation purposes nor for gloating-style ‘look at me, I’m raising my heart rate!’ purposes. I’m suffering mildly from the M.T.D.s (Marathon Taper Disorder) and I need to battle last-minute did-I-train-enough thoughts with hard, cold numbers. Thank you for indulging me.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Race Report: Run As One/TGL Classic (4-Miler)

Sometimes it feels like all I do is just run in races and write or talk about it. At least lately what I’m writing about is fairly positive.

At 9 this morning there was another overly well-attended race in Central Park. It was a 4-miler, and I knew I could approach it in one of two ways. After two recent consecutive race P.R.s in a row, I could race the 4-miler fast until I puked. Or with the Boston Marathon just over a week away, I could glide through slowly and enjoy the scenery. So which approach do you think I used? If you’ve read anything here before and retained it, you know it’s not approach #2.

Bring on the barf bags.

Aware of my previous 4-mile P.R. of 25:47 from ’03, I lined up. The New York Road Runners have an elite runner corral at the front of their races, and your pal Cranky qualified for that recently with an age-graded (don’t ask me what 'age-graded' means, I’m not sure myself) time of 72% or better. So I’m allowed to hang with the 5:40 minute/mile skinny kids in the front of the pack, roped off from the hapless folks who run just a little slower than I do. Today the elite runners were packed like sardines, myself included, but it was nice to not be stuck behind the few walkers who rudely position themselves up front in every race. And I know there were a lot of them and runners, too, over 6000 were behind me.

The starting gun sounded, and off we went up Cat Hill, and I don’t know which I hate more, immediately running up a steep hill in a race or hearing myself complain about the same damn hill, race after race. And on that hill I got passed like crazy, runners unable to make it to the elite corral were making up for lost time and losing their minds flying up, up, up. I kept a good pace, but soon discovered I was breathing a little too rapidly and also realized it was not going to get any easier until I got on the other side of the finish line.

I passed the first mile marker at about 6:22 and vowed to at least try to keep the same pace. And runners were still passing me like the apocalypse was coming right behind us. It started to get harder for me, but I made a conscious effort to tune out the other runners and to relax and ease into the pace I’d set. Nobody wearing headphones in this crowd; these runners meant business.

So I rounded the loop and started heading south to the finish with two miles to go. Rolling hills made it tough, and I’m relieved that on one of them I find myself with about six other runners at the same, all of us with a slowing pace, struggling to make it. I’d done this loop a million times, so I knew I hadn’t much time left. I started to think ‘there’s no shame in stopping for water, if a P.R. is not happening, that’s fine, don’t injure yourself’ followed by ‘as much as you want to stop, don’t blow a P.R. on a 10-second trip to the side of the road’. Of course, I didn’t stop, because today’s headline is ‘Cranky The Schizo Runner Races Again’.

Finally, finally, finally, I rounded the left hand turn towards the finish line. And through the brain fog I see 25 minutes and change on the clock. And I HAULED it. Once I crossed the line my watch said… 25:25. Later that afternoon the on-line results would list 25:33, but that clock can bite the big one ‘cause I still beat my previous time. Though I felt like I was getting run over by 5- and 6-minute milers most of the way, I still managed a P.R., the third race in a row. For a brief moment in time, I allowed myself the distinction of being Mr. All That. I forgot to mention it was an NYC team ‘points race’ that brought out all the city’s race fiends wearing their organization’s uniforms. So I was up against speed demons, though considering I’ve been called, and sometimes go by, Satan, I was right at home. Plenty of runners finished before I did (about 300), but I was so happy to be finished with my own personal speedwork of the day I didn’t care.

One more thing. Several women right before the race kept smiling at me and saying hello, and I couldn’t figure out why. Then it dawned on me; some had seen me cheerleading at last week’s More Marathon and had remembered me along the way. Good karma, people. Give it back, and it comes back to you. And if that kind of karma can help shave off 3 seconds per mile like it did for me today, I’ll take it.

Since I was too busy keeping breakfast down on the course, I didn’t take any pictures. Suffice it to say it was another cold, gray day out there. Spring tried to arrive yesterday, but it keeps getting beat back. Which mans less seasonal tranistion time to 'hot as hell'.

So it was, in the end, a good day. Since I am psychologically unable to bask in too much self-inflicted glory for very long, by Wednesday I’ll be back to worrying about and obsessing over Boston weather forecasts…

(Postscript, or 'Prescript', perhaps: the week started off with a nice swim workout followed by an encouraging e-mail from my swim trainer about my continued improvement in the pool. To me, it's not nearly as much improvement as I’d like, but it’s better than none at all. I also made a comment to him in passing about the importance of me ‘rewiring my brain’ in order to become a swimmer, and he agreed a bit too quickly. It’s not my breathing in the water as much as it is about my learning a process that my brain does not want to accept. Armed with that thought, my mid-week workouts were not as easy as I thought they’d be, but I’m still making trips to the pool. Anyway, it was nice to receive encouragement, I’ll take it. And it was a little birthday present, yes, my inner odometer clicked over a new digit on Monday. The digits are gettin’ high, but I’m still feeling as young as most of you mofos out there, let me tell you.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Race Report: More Marathon and Half Marathon

On a cold and gray Sunday morning, I headed out to watch and support this year’s runners in the More Marathon. The race is for women over 40, and it’s held entirely in Central Park. Happy that I possessed the wrong chromosomes as well as the incorrect plumbing for the job, I could only watch. So I finished my weekend long run on Saturday with the intention of taking it easy on Sunday. And in this case, It meant just watching other runners going around the fun park loop again and again, sometimes a real joy when you’re not doing it.

Earlier this year, the New York Road Runners announced that next year’s ’09 NYC Marathon guaranteed entry rules includes volunteering for at least one ’08 race (plus completing the usual nine races). So the volunteers were out in force, including Cranky running pal Susie, stationed at the Loeb Boathouse.

Long story short, I got to run from one mile marker to the next, and cheer on the ladies who were either marathoners or half marathoners (the vast majority). It was chilly, but clapping and yelling ‘good job’ for a couple of hours does warm you up. And those runners who were able to express their appreciation to me, did. Later, I spent some time at the finish line at the half, and it was about as inclusive an event as I’ve ever seen. Tears of joy, camaraderie, pain, it was all there, and if there had been a group hug, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Quite a change from the shark-infested 5-milers I’ve been in over the last year. I’m not saying I want Oprah and Dr. Phil showing up to sponsor races anytime soon, I just got the feeling it was a different vibe out there, and kind of refreshing to see.

So I cheered the runners on, ran around myself, took pictures, got to hang out with Susie, made one Starbucks run, and watched more runners struggle through. It’s different on the spectator side of a marathon, and certainly not as hard as participating, but I do recommend the experience. Because you know what they’re going through, and they know you know it, too. Even when they don’t say it.

Pictures, pictures:

Friday, April 4, 2008

iPod Friday 30 vs. Endorphins

One minute they exist, the next minute they don’t, now they do again. Just like those studies that conclude ‘coffee is bad for you’, then it’s not (thank God). And now the ‘eight glasses of water a day’ has been debunked. I should commission a scientific study that concludes scientific studies make you angry.

Anyway, here’s a recent article from the New York Times about endorphins. In case you missed the study published in ‘Cerebral Cortex’. I sure did.

The New York Times: Yes, Running Can Make You High

And I’d prefer this track instead while on a runner’s high, if you’re going to bring in Rachmaninoff. Especially in the last minute and a half.

Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto #2 - Adagio (Vladimir Ashkenazy)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Training Update 4/3

Not too much going on, actually. Starting to get a little excited and nervous about running in Boston on the 21st. Managed to read the race booklet and packet they sent out last week, I found out there are two start times, 10AM for those with numbers from 1-13,000 and 10:30 for those with numbers above. I’m in the 10AM crowd, and I’m happy about that because when it comes to marathons, the earlier I'm starting and I'm finishing, the better. So I’m hoping to finish sometime between 1:30 and 2, and that’s that. I’ll write more about all this later once I start getting antsy during the taper and have extra energy to obsess over race minutiae.

As for other stuff, it’a about the same. The 10K race last Sunday left me somewhat tired and a little sore, no huge surprise there. So I managed a tempo run Wednesday, and it kicked my ass; 20 minutes easy, 20 minutes tempo pace, 20 minutes easy, 20 minutes tempo pace, 2 miles easy. Easy is easy, right, but the tempo pace just about did me in. It was like running a fast 5K, twice, in the middle of a 13-mile run. After running three miles in 20 minutes, and later doing it again, I was cursing life. I forget to leave out the best part, it was all on The Treadmill of E-vil. Oddly enough, but when I do these workouts on a treadmill there’s something about it that keeps me on the program despite all the crushing boredom. When it comes to pace, treadmills don’t lie, and I can’t be distracted by nature and crap like I am when I’m outside. Anyway, this workout was courtesy of running coach Jack Daniels, appropriately enough.

I have yet to bike outside due to the small but important detail that I have to use a borrowed bike and can’t get to it yet. And have to buy a real one if I intend to be able to show my face at a triathlon. But I’ve been doing the hyper-sweaty, quad-burning spinning thing indoors for 30-60 minutes a few times a week, and that at least gives me the illusion of training. The tri-team I joined has serious workouts in the park; once I’ve pushed up Visa’s second quarter profits through bike-related purchases, I’ll entertain the thought of showing up and getting my butt kicked by some kids with Australian accents named Jason or Caitlyn, all discussing the best hotels in Kona.

As for swimming, my daily pilgrimage to the swanky pool facility has been uneventful. And uneventful to the point that it hasn’t been something I particularly look forward to. With the help of one good swimming lesson once a week, I’ve gotten better, but in a one lap forward, two laps back kind of way. I’m far more comfortable in the pool, I regulate my breathing, but 25 yards is about all I can accomplish before I start swallowing air and water and the oil light comes on. I know what to do, I know how to do it, I even think my stroke and kick is passable. It’s just getting the oxygen to the muscles barely comes together. I had a lung capacity test and chest X-ray last summer, and everything checked out OK, but I feel like my lungs just don’t have enough room for the air I need after about twelve swim strokes. Could be just leftover insecurity over the collapsed lung I suffered a while back, but I’ve gotten comfortable enough in the water that I don’t think that’s an issue anymore.

I will say that each day I approach the pool like it’s a new day, and I have an disturbingly cheery ‘let’s try this again’ attitude, and that at least helps me get there, ready and willing. I arrive when the pool is jammed by extremely elderly swimmers making their way at a snail’s pace, through lap after lap, without even stopping. Which must be nice. Yesterday I felt good after a half hour of laps punctuated by mid-pool emergency rest stops, but today was just more of the ‘keeping-my-face-down-in-the-water-and-counting-seconds-while-running-out-of-air’ when it should be ‘this-is-so-much-fun-I’m-going-to-explode’. It’s been over ten weeks of training now, and I’d like to stop being frustrated, which is just about every day. I stopped pressuring myself to make a breakthrough, that wasn’t helping morale. However, I do wish something would help morale, though my swimming trainer lets me know when I’ve done well or when I’m being too hard on myself (also, I must admit, just about every day). Next Monday is my last training session because the current set of three is over, and quite frankly, I can’t afford any more of the sessions. I’ll continue to hit the pool and keep at it, but I know that my expectations have to be lowered to a level that matches my ability. I realize that most of you reading this have been swimming all your lives and are probably scratching your collective heads as to why I or anyone would have any problems in the water, and that I all I need is to hang in there with a ‘can-do’ attitude. Which is an attitude I have already. And you’d be right, I’d give the same advice, too.

SO, how’s my running? Fine. I’m looking forward to Boston, it’s going to be a running experience, not a race for a PR. Biking? Not much going on, but I sweat my ass off in the gym, so I at least feel like I’m doing something before incurring more frightening credit card debt. Swimming? I plug away, five times a week, producing frustration along with depressingly familiar results. Almost forgot, weight training has hit a plateau bigtime, but there’s so much effort spent on the other three sports that it’s no wonder I can’t lift as much weight as I used to.

Angry advised a while back that I should take a week off, and that’s not a bad idea. Maybe some week after Boston. I have a half marathon two weeks after that, and as they say in the old country, a week off is not ‘bloody likely’, but I’ll think about it.