Friday, June 29, 2012

Of running and cooking

I have been away from bloggyland for a bit. My apologies, but life does get in the way.

The good news: I finished my second marathon (!!).

The bad news: I was waaayyy off my goal time.

I ran the whole race with a bladder infection. Cried for a few miles but kept plugging along. (Do not EVER do this!)

Still, it was an awesome experience. The race was miserable yet I was happy the whole time, even while running through incredible pain. How can this be? I dunno. (I still smile whenever I think of the race, and MM is getting sick of hearing me say, "This is the marathon course!" each time we drive down Campbell Airstrip Road.)

A full race report will be coming soon.

P.S. MM did awesome too, and finished his very first marathon. Woot-woot!!

As for right now, I'm busy, busy, busy with my final novel copy edits. (So exciting!)

My novel involves a Polish grandmother/ghost who appears and offers comforting recipes. I kinda made up these recipes and thought: Hey, it's a novel.

Well, hey, it might be a novel but according to my editor, I still have to test cook each recipe.

I am one of the world's worst cooks. But this weekend and coming week I'll be taking over MM's kitchen and testing and sampling every single of my recipes.

I am channeling this lady:

Oh, Julia, you are so lovely with that big hunk of meat (and forgive me for being a vegetarian)

Hope everyone is having a great week. Good luck to all those racing this weekend.

Running: Marathon recovery week (yeah, right!) 13.45 hard miles yesterday. Felt great.
Reading: Not much, sorry.
Writing: Editing and grant applications
Cooking: Oh, please please don't make me

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lucky Number 1021 (or not??)

Today I picked up my Mayor's Marathon bib.

 I didn't take any photos of the expo, which was very small and kinda sad. I did, however, snatch up another Bondi Band (well, okay, MM bought it for me--thanks, honey).

Why do I love these so much? I dunno, I just do.

Please don't judge me by my messy bathroom, okay?

I have no idea how I'll do Saturday. It's been hot, at least by Alaska standards, which means in the 70s, and I'm not used to running in the heat (don't snicker, Lower 48ers. Seventy-degrees is a heat wave up here).

Still, I'm excited. I'm eating healthy. I'm trying to get enough sleep.

And I'm actually tapering, which has left me restless and weepy, almost as when I was pregnant with my son. Is there a correlation between tapering and pregnancy? Hmmm.... Whatever the cause, I've cried about five times today, the last time while driving home after a zippy little sports car cut me off.

So instead of getting weepy again, I've decided to write about my last marathon experience, which was actually my first marathon experience, the Big Wildlife Run Marathon last August.

My sister flew up from Philly to run with me. This was also her first marathon. We emailed our training woes back and forth all summer.

(I was going to post a pic of my sis here but a chunk of my photos have mysteriously disappeared from my computer. Huh? Thank god for external hard drives.)

Anyway, I was a bit overconfident come marathon morning. I followed Hal's training plan. I put in my 18 and 20-milers, my tempo runs, my speed workouts (well, okay, I didn't actually do all of my speed workouts, but no matter). I was ready.

And really, I did quite well and hit the halfway point at 2:05, right on target for my goal of 4:15.

I breezed through miles 14, 15 and 16.

And then I hit an aid station. And instead of water, I grabbed a Gatorade. And I drank it all down, too.

It was so good! And I thought: Now, whyever do they tell you not to try anything new on marathon day? This tastes good. My stomach feels good. I feel good.

A half mile later, I found myself crouched in the woods behind Campbell Creek, my tempo shorts pulled down around my ankles as I suffered one of what would become many runner's trots espisodes. (And thank god Alaska doesn't have poison ivy. Wait, it doesn't, does it?)

I stopped again at mile 18. And mile 19. And mile 21.

I couldn't eat anything. I couldn't even keep down water. My stomach was a cramped mess.

And I couldn't stop, umm, going.

Finally, around mile 23, I spotted something beautiful, something miraculous, something that brought tears to my eyes.

An Alaska Port-a-potty.

This lovely "potty" isn't from the race but it is a real Alaska port-a-potty, which I guess is a big deal.

I ran toward it with outstretched arms, plucked my tired behind on that cool, stinky seat and let loose.

Then I realized that there was no toilet paper. I looked around in panic. There were no dandelion leaves, no grass blades.

I had to use my last Gu.

I don't remember the last few miles. I must have run because I don't remember crawling.

And then I hit downtown Anchorage. And the city streets. And the good-looking cops patrolling the city streets.

Some of Anchorage's finest, neither of which I kissed. When I Googled "sexy Anchorage cop" Sarah Palin's photo came up, twice. No lie!

I had promised (to everyone who would listen, and I'm sure they got tired of hearing it, too) that if I finished I'd kiss one of the cute cops at the finish.

And I did too. I ran up to a muscular blond cop dude and said, "I promised I'd do this." He raised his hand to high-five me and I grabbed him in my sweaty arms and planted a huge kiss on his cheeks.

He actually blushed.

Then I sprinted up the street and over the finish line.

My time? 4:38.

I'm hoping to beat this time Saturday but I'm smart enough to know that anything could happen. And I am not, under any condition, drinking anything with Gatorade or sugar (she says, hee, hee).

Happy running, everyone.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mount Marathon Race reflections

So there I was, all cozy on the sofa reading through my favorite running blogs, when I came to a post by this tough and cool woman, who is panicked about running a high-elevation 50K when she's been training practically at sea level. (Of course, she will do well.)

That's when my own personal panic hit me and I thought: Uh-oh, Cinthia, you've done almost no mountain climbing, and the Mount Marathon Race is just a few weeks away.

Photo credit: Ron Niebrugge

Worse still, the race is a mere 10 days after the Mayor's Marathon.

The race is tough, even when one adequately trains. And since I'm tapering for the marathon, I can't exactly go out and run full-force up mountains.

Struggling up a brutal ridge during last year's Mt Marathon Race. I lived in Seward then and trained on the mountain. But still, see the look of pure and unadorned suffering on my face?

I have resigned myself to the fact that I am going to have a slow race. In more optimistic moments (i.e., when I'm lying), I tell myself that all of my long-distance and cardio training can substitute for steep, uphill training, though I know that it can't, at least not all the way. Or at least, not enough.

But then I think of the real reason I run this race: In honor of my sister, Cathie, who died of eating disorder related complications on July 4, 2001, and I realize that it isn't about how fast I go or how much I impress myself. This race is about committment, about honoring my ties with my sister. It's about pushing myself beyond my limits and digging down deep, beyond ego and pain, to that simple place inside of myself, and that feeling of joy and freedom I used to feel with I ran with my sister through the pastures and fields of our childhood.

And when I remember that, it no longer matters how much I suffer or how slow I race, because I am alive, I have that luxury. I can still run and breathe and hurl myself down a mountain. And really, that is no small thing. And really, I am so, so very grateful.

So Cathie, honey, I'll see you at the top of the mountain, okay?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Heaven is a muddy run

Last night MM and I took the dogs up Prospect Heights, over South Fork and then the Powerline Pass trails.

It was a partly sunny evening, the air still and fragrant with leaves and flowers and thick, gooey mud.

We took it easy, since we're tapering (oh, tapering is such fun!). We ran slowly. We enjoyed the views.

Most of the trail was muddy, some of the mud deep and thick, the kind that covers your shoes and creeps up your ankles and makes a thwarcking sound when it finally releases your foot (I just made up the word twarcking, but think it fits, no?).

It was impossible not to get muddy so we went with it and really, it was like being a kid again. We were splattered with mud up to our knees, and it was fun. I couldn't stop laughing. I felt so very free.

The dogs had a blast, too. MM is dogsitting Tena'ina for friends, and these poor, misinformed friends actually had her groomed (groomed!) before leaving her in his care.  This was Tena'ina's first trail run. I think we've converted her.
Tena'ina in the mud. Her legs are normally yellow, hee, hee.

Hoping to get in more lazy-paced trail runs through next week. Then, it's marathon time. I don't know about any of you but I enjoy training for a race much, much more than actually running a race. I've had some awesome runs, both alone and with MM, and most of these have been on trails. Oh, I so love trailrunning! But if I weren't training for a marathon, I doubt I'd do 20-mile trail runs. So it's all good.

Running: 11.5 Tuesday, 5 Thursday
Writing: I was up until 6 a.m. trying to edit my second novel into shape. It still isn't in shape, sigh, sigh.
Reading: Anne Tyler, Anne Tyler, Anne Tyler (any and everything I can get my greedy hands on)

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's taper, taper time

After a week of some good, long runs, it's time to taper for the Mayor's Marathon on June 23 (that's a Saturday, right?).

Except I don't want to taper. I love running long. I'm hoping to squeeze in another 20-miler before mid-week.

Will this hurt my marathon race? I dunno. I do know that it's summer and the trails are out there and it breaks my heart to run 5 and 6 miles when I can run for hours and smell the deep, green scent of the foliage and feel the sun (as infrequent as it shines up here) on my shoulders and hear my breath mix with the sounds of birds and wind.

Yesterday I hit the Campbell Creek Trails for a 21-miler from heaven. I swear! It was muggy, by Alaska standards, and I was wet with sweat by mile four, and the trails were fairly empty and there was a lot of mud and tree roots and bear scat, and some killer hills.

I love birch trees. They're so slender and peaceful.

I also love this sign. I smile each time I run past it.

Friday I ran a 19-miler on the paved bicycle trails that wind through the city.

I feel fortunate to live in Anchorage, where there are so many trail options. And really, running on a smooth surface through trees and past creeks and streams is great. My pace was fast, much faster than I intended, and the run went well.

Still, it can't compare to running on dirt and mud trails. But I intentionally ran two long pavement runs this week, because I knew that I would run them hard and fast and wanted to be fatigued for my 21-miler.

I was, too. The first few miles HURT, and then I settled into a pace and I felt great, I really did. I thought: Running back-to-back long runs is easy.

Then I hit the hills. And more hills. I ran up to Stuckagain Heights, which is basically a mile-long push of continuous uphill. My legs screamed. I wanted to stop and walk. I suffered terribly. But oh, the run back down was glorious.

I have no idea if I'm training smart, if I putting in enough miles for the Resurrection Pass Ultra, if it even matters. I only know that I am having fun, and I suppose in the end that's what it's all about.

Lastly, pics from last week's Flattop hike.

Running: 63 miles last week
Writing: Slogging through Chapter Three edits

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A good day

I had the most perfect day today.

Earlier, I was honored with about 26 other Alaska Artist with a Rasmuson Foundation $5,000 grant. There was a cool reception Monday night (with veggie food--gotta love it) and an award ceremony this morning.

Photo credit: Rasmuson Foundation (I'm the blonde in the back with the messy hair)
It was nice to mingle with other artists and writers. The life of a writer is pretty isolating and you don't get many ego boosts. Mostly, you get rejection. And rejection. And yet more rejection.

But walking downtown to the award ceremony this morning(yes, I finally washed my hair), I passed Sixth Avenue and F Street and what I thought wasn't: "I'm walking to receive a prestigious writing award." I thought: "I'm walking past where I finished my first marathon last summer."

Start/finish of the Big Wildlife Marathon: I'm back there, waaayyy back there, somewhere.

I swear, I almost got tears in my eyes.

Of course, once I was in the Alaska Performing Arts Center, I forgot all about running. I forget about writing, too.

Because when my name was called and they read off my bio (making me sound better than I really am--don't you love when they do that?) and I walked up to receive my award, it hit me: Uh-oh, I forgot to wear a bra.

I was mortified. They were filming the event for a live Webcam coverage, too.

Luckily I had on a loose black dress. And luckily, I am not very well endowed, so I suppose my mistake wasn't apparent to anyone except myself. (But, still!)

Now, back to running.

Except, I didn't run today.

Tomorrow is my last 20-miler with MM before the Mayor's Marathon, June 23. Then he's heading for taper mode and I'm packing in more long runs, since I'm also training for an ultra in July.

I probably won't taper for the marathon. This gives me a good excuse if I do poorly. "Oh," I'll say, with a lofty toss of my unwashed hair, "It was just a practice run for my ultra." (And if I do poorly in the ultra, I'll say, "Oh, I spent so much time training for the marathon that I couldn't squeeze in enough long runs." I love my clever mind, hee, hee.)

Last night we took The Beebs halfway up Flattop. Pics coming soon. (Um, MM, where are those pictures??)

Hope everyone had an awesome and blessed day.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Six slow miles with my best friend

Today I ran the Turnagain Trail with The Beebs.

Since she's been limpy lately, we had to take it slow.

Poor girl just turned 12. Happy birthday, Beebs!

I thought that running slow would be tedious but I actually enjoyed it. I was able to notice more: The smells and sounds, and oh, the violets blooming and dandelions shouting cheerful spots of yellow.

I didn't wear my watch and it was no-stress, stop at every stream (Beebs hates the heat), and savor the moment kind of day.

View around mile 2.

The trail is shaded, with views of the inlet and mountains. But what I love most is this:

Roots and rough footing!

We encountered a moose right before mile 3. It was a trail moose, more skittish than city moose, and it ran off before I could snap a decent picture.

See that blurred spot in the left-hand corner? That's a moose. Really!

Guess what burly critter left this??

It was a relaxing, low-key run, and I think my body, and my mind and soul, really needed to tone it down and just linger.

Beebs hopped in the stream at the end of the run and refused to get out.

Until I uttered the magic word:

Yeah, I seriously stopped at the supermarket and bought a steak for the dog. I'm a vegetarian, too.(Yep, I'm one of those sappy and pathetic dog owners.)

Tomorrow, it's back to serious running again but today, oh, today was a much-needed interlude.