- We run because it teaches us to overcome adversity.
- We run because it makes us strong and powerful.
- We run because it feels right.
- We run because it gives us joy and courage and resiliency.
- We run because it welcomes us into a community much larger than our own.
- We run because it allows us to share the magic with others.
- We run because it teaches us perspective and patience.
- We run because it is beautiful.
- We run because some can’t.
- We run because we can.
- We run because we need to test our limits.
- We run because it offers us a way out – of fear, doubt, unhealthy habits, mediocrity, sorrow and boredom.
- We run because it inspires.
- We run because it’s easy. And hard.
- We run because the finish line is not the destination.
Even though there are effers who choose to defile all that is amazing, right, proper, joyous and legitimate in this world, we will continue to run (and live) in one that chooses otherwise.
What the hell? I was going along in the months of November and December. Minding my own business, doing perfectly fine on my diet and exercise program (post-Ironman failure) and feeling pretty good about how I was making it through the Eating Season: Thanksgiving, my birthday, office holiday parties, Christmas dinner(s), New Year’s revelry. I was enjoying gift bottles of wine, gift boxes of fudge, gift platters of homemade cookies, gift cans of vanilla creme almonds (my friends are obviously master saboteurs). It was all very pleasant and glorious and delightful when suddenly – out of NOWHERE – I somehow gained 8 pounds! Eight freakin’ pounds!!
It’s not fair. Not fair, I say!
So here I am. A new year. Newly fat. And ready to put my foot firmly down on this nonsense. This is the plan of attack I’ve come up with to carry me through the next five weeks; unfortunately, shortbread cookies and cheese wheels do not factor into the equation:
- Family loves you no matter what your finish time is.
- True friends provide a boundless supply of encouragement.
- Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
- You need a written plan.
- Happiness is a choice. (So is suffering.)
- Sometimes your goals are too ambitious but it’s the striving for them that makes you better/stronger/faster.
- The people in your run/tri club won’t think you’re insane when you talk about your training program.
- Chamois cream is like magic.
- Yoga and stretching are not time wasted. Neither is napping.
- It’s okay to be scared every now and then.
- Speed is not free.
- There’s always next year.
Merry, merry Christmas – enjoy the season!
(You can worry about all the calories next week.)
Everybody says, “Running is such a cheap sport! All you need is a pair of shoes!” While my running habit may be cheaper than my biking habit (if I even pop my head in the bike shop my wallet somehow instantly becomes $250 lighter), when you add up the cost of those running shoes, plus running bras, running socks, an iPod (and those tunes don’t download themselves for free), race registration fees, travel expenses, physical therapy and ortho visits to treat a persistent case of bursitis, cartons of Gu, orthotic insoles, Tylenol and Advil, a treadmill, books and videos promising to cure a disgraceful gait, race souvenirs, massages and … well … it all adds up to a lot of Benjamins.
But don’t worry! There are still TONS of ridiculous things your favorite runner needs to become a complete, happy, fully-formed human – and just in time for Christmas! Such as:
That new squeezing boot compression machine thing – the NormaTec Recovery System. The literature says the patented sequential pulse technology delivers “a unique, synergistic waveform that mirrors typical physiology, incorporates pulsing compression and directionality of flow and leaves muscles refreshed and rejuvenated.” It also says it “utilizes gradient hold pressures to keep your body’s fluids from being forced down toward your feet by the pulsing action in proximal zones.” I don’t know what that means but it sounds awesome. And it costs $1,650 so it must be awesome.
A pair of arm warmers (or arm coolers). Because, worn with a tank top, they create really hideous tan lines which provide runners with new opportunities to explain and talk ad nauseum about their sport.
A pair of $69 super-tight knee socks. Also known as a “compression stockings” or “recovery socks” to make them sound super technical. Because runners worry about having heart attacks and strokes.
A $499 Vitamix blender. Because every runner wants to become healthier and stronger and regularly vows to eat more veggies, fruits and fiber. There’s no better way to get all the benefits of a wholesome, nutrition-packed diet than through a steady stream of smoothies and frozen concoctions … like margaritas, daiquiris and piña coladas. Made only with organic fruit, of course, and a $499 blender!
A “Yoga for Runners” DVD. Because we really like the idea of being more flexible but can’t seem to figure out how to touch our toes anymore without snapping a hammy.
A Trigger Point foam roller. If you’ve never tried one, you don’t know the meaning of “It hurts so good.”
A $189.95 pair of Oakley Infinite Hero Signature Series Radar Path sunglasses. Because they’re cool. And maybe if you spend almost $200 on a pair of sunglasses for us we’ll be more careful about not losing them.
A DT5 Lifespan treadmill/desk combination. What better way for us to get more done than with a desk that lets us run AND work at the same time? Genius!
It’s going to happen sometime in the next couple weeks. You’ll be at an office or neighborhood holiday party and come face-to-face with someone you kinda, sorta know. Tina, from HR, whom you haven’t said three words to since last year when you asked her for a new W-4 form. Or Stu, the guy down the street who helped you jump start your car four years ago but whom you haven’t done more than wave to since. You’ll find yourself in a corner at a random party with Tina/Stu and they’ll attempt to break the awkward silence by saying, “Hey, how’ve you been? Are you still doing those marathon things?”
You respond with, “Hi there, Tina/Stu. Why, yes I am still running marathons, thanks for asking.”
“So, how far is a marathon anyway?”
[This is when you know the conversation will go south.]
“Well, a full marathon is 26.2 miles.”
“Shoo-wee! That’s a long-ass way!! I couldn’t even do the point 2 part!”
[Just laugh politely at this.]
“How long does it take to run one of those things?” Tina/Stu asks.
“Depends,” you say. “The pros do it in a little more than two hours. Takes me about two and a-half times longer than that.”
“Shoo-wee! That’s a long-ass time!! I can’t even drive around in my car that long without getting tired!”
[Laugh politely again.]
“And how do you go about training for one of those?”
[Know that Tina/Stu is just making small talk and has no real desire to know this information nor will she/he be able to follow you if you delve deep into base and build weeks, fartleks vs. hill repeats, lactate thresholds and anaerobic capacity or the benefit of recovery runs. Stick with simple.]
“I just run a whole lot.”
“Wow. Sounds hard.”
“Yeah. It kinda is.”
Might I suggest that if find yourself in such a situation it might be easier to answer the “Hey, are you still running those marathon things?” question with “Nah. Now I just sit around the house and watch reality T.V.”
After all, that’s something everyone can understand.
Well, I’m going to do it. Go ahead and turn 50 this week. I mean, what choice do I have? I’m still not sure how I feel about it but I suppose it’s better than the alternative. A quick Google of “50th Birthday Gift Ideas” comes back with an uninspiring list of things that 50 year olds supposedly want. Some of the suggestions:
- Thai lemongrass soap with cocoa butter
- Billboard Top Hits from 1962 CD collection
- 50th Birthday funny T-shirt
- Brazilian espresso scrub soap with coffee butter and vanilla
- “Really Cool 50-Year-Old” T-shirt
- Natural goat and organic coconut milk soap
- “50 and still screwin” corkscrew
- Personalized 50th birthday picture frame
- “Lawrence of Arabia” collector’s edition
- A book: “What You Don’t Know About Turning 50”
- Custom photo blanket
That list BLOWS! And what’s with all the soap – do 50-year-olds smell or something?
Anyway, my list looks more like this:
- $2,700 Zipp 808 Firecrest carbon clincher wheelset for my tri bike
- A 4.5-hour marathon finish time
- Ironman Florida finisher medal (my husband says I can buy one on eBay for $20)
- A Garmin Forerunner 910XT GPS heart rate monitor
- The superhuman ability to do at least five pull ups
- Six months of deep tissue sports massage
- Entry into the New York Marathon
- V02 max analysis
- Pair of K-Swiss Kwicky Blade Light running shoes
- A pedicure (because my feet get funky after a year of training)
- A couple jugs of Tide 2X Ultra Febreze Sport Active laundry detergent (okay, because sometimes I do smell)