Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Committing to being committed

Day three of summer break found me making a summer "To Do" list, which included creating a marathon training program.  As I ate my way through half a box of Cheez-Its, I scoured the Internet for a suitable training plan.  After much frustration, a nap, and several hours of procrastination, I decided to adapt several different training regimens into one master plan that I creatively entitled, "Chicago Marathon Training."  Then, despite my hatred of calendars, I devised a simplistic (and colorful) monthly program.

I carelessly typed in workouts such as, "6x800's" and "10 mile race pace" and didn't bat an eye when I penciled in a 22-mile long run on Labor Day Weekend.  In fact, I kept right on going until all 14 weeks were filled with some type of numbers that resembled a craptastic marathon training plan. 

Then, staring blankly at my beautiful creation, I deleted it with one "click."  I've never been one to complete things half-heartedly - except when it comes to marathon training. 

Training for the marathon is a commitment, and perhaps I'm a bit of a commitment phobe - but I've got some serious baggage, which explains my tentativeness on many levels, yet is no excuse - I know.  In the past, I've made serious training plans, only to watch them unravel mid-way through due to various factors: weather, boredom or a Saturday night out with friends, which leads to one too many vodka sodas and a day-long hangover, which makes a Sunday 20 mile run out of the question.

Although I love schedules, many marathon training programs leave little room for flexibility, let alone, a life outside of running.  So instead of penciling in pre-emptive miles, I'll write them in as I go and try to relinquish some control.  And maybe even surprise myself in the process.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A "Finger lickin' good" race report

June.  The month when summer begins, school ends, and drinking takes precedence over running - sort of.  When it gets hot, I get thirsty.  And the only cure is beer.  Or wine, vodka, sangria...

Debauchery and sizzling temperatures aside, I still make time to get my run on at a few local events.  I may not be properly trained or hydrated for any of them, but no need to get serious about running (or anything else for that matter) until the thermometer dips below fifty degrees.

Run #1: Wissahickon Trail Classic

Living in Philly, there are very few hills; until one travels to the outskirts of town to the Wissahickon trails.  On a pleasant Saturday morning, a few friends and I trekked our way outside the city to run 6.2 miles on mountainous-like terrain.  Having ran the race in 2010, I dubbed myself an expert on such nonsense nursed a cocky inner-monologue - for the first mile.  After approaching hill mountain number one, I soon realized just how out-of-shape I was.  I also started breathing like an 85-year-old with an oxygen tank.  As I dodged uprooted branches and shuffled up hills, I became mesmerized in the beauty of nature.  That last sentence is totally bogus; in reality, I was thinking to myself "Is this effing race over with yet?!" while simultaneously enjoying the scenery/trying not to get poked in the eye with a stray tree branch.

When I finally finished the race, glad that I hadn't wiped out on a hill like the guy who beat me at the last second, I basked in the sweat/dirt that encapsulated my body and smiled, for nothing is more satisfying that accomplishing something difficult.  As the sweat in my eye burned, I watched as each of my friends crossed the finish line, all of them grinning, despite the difficult terrain they had just trodden.  Nothing beats camaraderie, challenge and a true sense of accomplishment.  I'll be back in 2012, perhaps with a bit more training under my belt.

Run #2: Fried Chicken Run

Anyone who knows me is aware of my love of meat.  And beer.  And running.  So when the Fishtown Beer Runners decided to combine all three of my passions into one event, you can bet I celebrated - with a beer, of course. 

The Fried Chicken Run was not a race, but a leisurely 5.5 mile run to a bar, where chicken and beer awaited sweaty runners.  Perhaps sweaty is an understatement; more like "drenched" runners.  Thanks to the sweltering Philly humidity, I arrived at the establishment about 2 pounds lighter than when I started the run.  Obviously, I had to replenish all of my lost fluids - with beer. 

If all of my runs ended with the fried chicken/beer combination, then...
Actually, then I'd probably make more bad decisions than I already do...until next year's chicken run!