Monday, December 28, 2009

Running for Water

I have many ambitions. Some of them are silly - like my endless and impossible quest for a perfect butt. Some are improbable - like my deep and elusive desire to be a professional writer. But behind most of them is the underlying wish that my life have a purpose, that it make the world better somehow (the "perfect butt" quest does not qualify).

Up to now, my athletic pursuits have been for the singular purpose of enriching my own life - and, really, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. A stronger, fitter person is better in every other aspect of their lives and that, in itself, accomplishes a "higher purpose." But, now, I find I want my sweat to mean more than that. It began with Team Phoenix - an endeavor I hope I inspired but one that does better without me in the picture. I know that's vague, I'll get into the details another day. Suffice it to say that I was not the best Beast for the job. Now, I feel pulled to train for the marathon and I want that to have meaning too.

Last month, Hubby and I watched CNN Heroes and were struck by Doc Hendley, founder of Wine to Water, and his passion for what he was doing. Neither of us were aware that the "water problem" was this urgent or this far reaching: 1 billion people do not have access to clean water. 5 million die every year because of it. Lack of water kills more children that HIV/AIDS, war, you name it. Every 15 seconds a child dies from thirst or from water-related illness. The numbers are so astronomical your brain wants to reject them. But you cannot allow yourself to go numb because, both best and worst of all, this problem can be solved. Wells and water filters. Simple. Not even very costly. One organization suggests that 10 billion dollars would solve the world's water crises. That seems like a lot until you consider the cost of the Wall Street Bailout. Or how much Americans spend on Christmas, reportedly 45 billion dollars, every year. My goal here is not to induce guilt but to incite action. $500.00 drills a well. $100.00 provides a long lasting bio filter. These are numbers we can handle, if not individually, certainly collectively.

So, I'm running for water. If you're out there and so inclined, you can donate by clicking on the icon in my sidebar or by going directly to Wine to Water. If you do go there to donate, I would appreciate it if you let me know what you gave so that I can add it to my tally. My goal is to raise $5,000.00 - 100 wells or 500 filters. That's a lot of thirsty people saved. Whatever you can manage is appreciated - if you've only got a buck, know that it all adds up. If you can't spare anything, I would be grateful if you'd pass the message along.

Or . . . if you're so inspired that you want to do something too - join me! Create a page of your own (click on the "My Fundraising Page" icon in the sidebar, Firstgiving walks you through the process and it costs you nothing and takes very little time) and raise some funds with your next event.

No matter what you do, please keep these people in your prayers. If enough of us step up, they will know they haven't been forgotten.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Now I've Gone and Did It

Well. I'm officially registered for the Go! St. Louis Marathon. I'm excited. Its exciting. I'm really, really, pumped and excited.

Okay, I'm terrified. Petrified. Holy sh!t, I've gone and did it. I'm in for an a$$ whoopin' for sure. I'm seriously going to attempt to run a distance that up and killed the first guy who tried it. Very frickin' smart.

Oh well. No going back now. I can always switch to the half if my training proves grossly inadequate. I've got a feeling though. Under the terror. Its a good one. The beast is growling - in a happy way. She wants to come out and play.

She's been a happy beastie the last couple of weeks. My runs up to now have been the slow, plodding, base building variety. Not enough to bring Phoenix out of hibernation. She might have opened an eye to look around, groggily mumbling, "Whaa.... we running? mmmm, no. Not really. Night." She made one appearance during a pitiful little 5k I ran a month or so ago. I was pushing it as hard as I could on the last mile and sure I couldn't hold on. In my mind, I searched for the beast... "You there, beastie?" "yeah. i'm here." "I don't think I can do this. I'm too out of shape. I'm going to slow down." "no. hold on. you can do this. look, you're almost there." "Okay." .... "You still there?" "i'm here. hold on." "Okay". On and on for a mile. It sucked to be moving so slow and huffing and puffing like I was hauling it. But I did hang on. So it was good.

Last Sunday though, my long run. That rocked. I went to Phoenix's old hunting ground to do an hour. As soon as I found myself on that trail, I had to start pulling on the bit to keep myself from taking off. After ten minutes warm up, I let it loose - trying to keep my heart rate in a somewhat reasonable range - and, friends, it felt fine. Not fine as in "no, really, I'm fine" but fine as in "that dude is FINE". It was FINE. I actually felt like I was moving. My legs had that old sproingy feeling. Beastie was out and awake and loving it. Every turn and hill of the trail felt like home.

It used to take me 45 min. to complete a loop of the trail at my long run pace. I figured it would take me at least the whole hour to get through it this time. I made it in 50 min. So, five min. slower - but, seriously, that's not bad for two years away. As I rounded the turn for the last mile, my legs were getting that "long run" feeling and I knew I'd be stopping for ice on the way home. Ice baths in winter suck. But it helped, so what am I complaining for.

My Tues. tempo run was more of the same, Beastie growling happily, me feeling like my old self. Its good to be on the way back.

Next post: Running for Water. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Oh Yeah. Then, there's these guys.

The Marathon Experiment

Whew. Time to clear some cobwebs and do some writing, people. All my people. Well, me. And Hubby. And the robot spammers.

Its been a rough 18 mos as far as training goes. Twenty-five extra pounds that have been slooooowwwww in getting the hell out of dodge (10 lbs to go, as of this writing. come ON already.) Two stress fractures (one in the knee last March and one in my foot this summer). The swine flu. Countless nights of interrupted sleep. A thousand other excuses/good-enough-reasons. I worked it in where I could, whined a lot. Cried some. But, mostly. . . mostly, I've been enjoying life. Noah is a joy. Devin is a miracle of a big brother. Hubby is The Best Daddy Ever. Even when Noah runs to me as soon as Hubby comes home because he just loves Mommy best right now. Its all about the boobs and there's nothing Hubby can do about it. Still, he hangs in there and shows his patient love. The tables will turn before we know it, of this I'm sure.

Now, finally. Finally, finally, FINALLY - Noah is sleeping through the night. Through the night. THROUGH it. As in down at 8:30pm up at 6:45am. If you don't have children, you cannot appreciate the utter miracle that entails. And this means that I am sleeping through the night. Which further, and most importantly, means that it is no longer impossible to get out of bed at 4:30 am and . . . TRAIN. Yes, yes, yes . . . TRAIN, my people (me, hubby and robot spammers, but hey, they're my people and I love them). It some slow, silly, painfully non-athletic training just now. But it is what it is. Its running and swimming and spinning. I LOVE IT!!!

So, what have I done, one might ask (if one were a robot spammer or my husband - I don't ask, I just do)? I have, of course, gone and made a rash and bold and probably exceedingly stupid decision to train for The Big One. That Big Thing that I was supposed to be in training for when my little surprise came along and shook things up a little (a lot) - because life, people, is what happens when you're busy making other plans. At least that's what Lennon said. So, yeah. I'm going to try to run the St. Louis Marathon. I say "try" with all deliberateness because, though I have four and half (five if you count the two weeks I'm into it already) months to train, I'm really behind. My mileage is laughable and my speed - well, lets just say that there are some walkers that would absolutely smear me if I went out at my current "speed".

I'm going to try. Experiment, if you will. I've developed a plan that's a sort of hybrid of a plan I found based on time rather than mileage (for beginning marathoners - me) and the FIRST training plan that suggests running only three days a week with cross training on at least two other days. I like the FIRST method because it allows me to at least maintain the fitness I've worked on in the pool and in spin class (I have yet to get on the bike - that's a post for another, later day) and also allows me to try to avoid the dreaded stress fracture thingamabob that's cost me so much time this last year. I'm doing a tempo run, a speed workout and a long run (on dirt) every week with at least one swim, one spin and Crossfit.

So, we'll see. St. Louis allows me to switch to the half-marathon if I need to and I think that by March, I'll know if that is what needs to happen. In the meantime, I'm setting my sights on The Big One and waiting with baited breath to see if I can actually do it. I'm not sure if I can. That's what makes the Experiment interesting.