Posted tagged ‘Phillip’s Ave.’

Ready for Race Day

May 7, 2012

It’s Monday morning and I head out for an easy five mile run.  The sun shines warm and bright on me, and on the tiny new leaves on the trees.   The full moon has pulled the low tide farther out than usual and I can see dozens of seaweed-covered granite boulders poking their heads up on the shore of Back Beach.  As I run, I make my plan for this week.  I will back off on the miles, ice my heel and arch, refrain from any crazy plyometric sessions, and ease up on strength training—in other words, rest a bit so that I can run the Twin Lights Half Marathon this coming Saturday and finish strong.

Today is the third day in a row for running.  There is a part of me that still doesn’t trust myself to run the distance.  While I rest, I plan to spend some time adjusting my attitude.  I am going to get in my own head and boss myself around.  I am going to muzzle  the chattering monkeys.  And then, I am going to let go of everything and be present each minute of the race.  I like the plan.

The monkeys are already backing off this morning.  Each stride is relaxed.  My breath comes easy—I can sing along to Girl Talk, The Black Eyed Peas, and Foster the People.  I run along Granite Street and close my eyes for a moment to fully appreciate the scent of the hedge of flowering lilac bushes along the sidewalk.  The sweet pungent blooms bow gently over my head and I think of my Nana and how she loved lilacs, magnolias, and lilies of the valley.  This feeling of being in the moment, with good memories tagging along, takes me to the place that makes running magical for me.  I am not thinking about the race.  I am not thinking about my foot, whether it is hurting or not.  I am not thinking.   I am just being.

I make sure to cut my loop short so I stay within my self-imposed five mile limit.  I curve around Phillip’s Ave. and turn right instead of left, easing down the steep hill toward the ocean and the old Tool Company.  The water, visible to the left of the building,  glistens and sparkles in the early morning light.  The clean smells of ocean, low tide and flowers are the core of my awareness.  As I turn back onto Granite Street, I run past a few walkers.  A car horn sounds and I see the hand of someone I must know but don’t recognize wave to me from their window.  I raise my hand back, but don’t even look to see who it is.

I take the big hill slowly, not pushing, but when I come to the long, easy slope that heads back to town, I speed up, letting my body go as it wishes.  My legs feel long, long, long today and I can feel myself flying.  My feet barely have time to make contact before they pick up to stride again.  I sprint down Broadway, cross Mount Pleasant, then slow down to a dog-trot as I turn onto Atlantic.  A small sadness sets in, as I know I will be backing off the rest of the week.  That was it, the last real run.  I will take a couple more short jaunts, but otherwise stick to the plan.  I’m ready.


Trial Run

April 25, 2012

It’s Saturday morning and I am three miles in.  My mind is playing the new, annoying game of “Can I Really Run This Far?” that has kept me from attempting to run long enough to prove I will be able to complete the Twin Lights Half Marathon in May.  The air is cool; the sun bright and warm.  The ocean is a rich, deep blue and calm.  Small waves lap the shoreline as I pass Front Beach, Back Beach, and Andrew’s Point.  My foot is feeling pretty good these days, the plantar fasciitis is slowly going away.  The insurance company has approved enough visits for physical therapy so that I can have the full ten treatments of cold laser therapy and it is working.  I am walking without a limp.  I am running, as my physical therapist tells me, with near-perfect bio-mechanics.

Today my goal is to run 11 miles in under two hours, although I have told my husband not come looking for me unless I am gone for more that two and a half.  I want to be left alone to win the game and toss it out for good.  Today’s run will decide whether or not to withdraw my entry for the race. I run up Phillips’ Ave., the hill long and slow.  I take my time, not pushing too hard because, after all, I have not run longer that six and a half miles in quite some time, maybe two months or more.  My mileage has dropped from 45-50 miles per week to under 25.  I have been cross-training like crazy, though.  Kickboxing, boxing, cycling, core and strength training at the gym two or three times each week have kept me in good shape.  I am trembling a bit on the inside despite it all, wondering if I have lost my distance mojo.

The chattering monkey in my head makes me wonder if I should turn left at the top of Phillip’s and head back.  I wrench myself to the right and cross the road, heading for Halibut Point instead.  I focus on my music, my breath, the sunlight bathing my face.  And suddenly I am there, running through the park as if I have been doing it all along these past weeks.  My legs are strong.  They carry me along the dirt trails and down to the Bay View path, then up and out along the fresh new mulch path back to the road.  I head back toward town, my stride easy, no longer wondering if I will be able to complete today’s goal.  I chug up the steep hill by my house and keep going.  I take Marmion Way the long way around and turn left onto South Street.  When I reach Eden Road, I cross and loop back around.  From this point, all I have to do is run straight home and I will be done for the day.

I glance at my watch as I approach my house.  1:42′.  I cannot keep the grin from spreading across my face as I climb the back steps.  I think about the way it feels to be surrounded by runners—listening to their breathing mix with mine, their footsteps pounding out a rhythm that gives me a beat to move faster and faster as we surge through 13.1 miles to the finish line.  I will not withdraw.  The game of “Can I Really Run This Far” has just been exchanged for “I Know I Can Do This”.  I will run the half marathon.  I will run strong and I will finish.

Giving in to Pain

March 1, 2012

Yesterday’s eight mile run.  Yeah.  Well.  The first three miles were easy—the feel of the cold sea air on my cheeks, the rhythm of my feet hitting the pavement, my breath soft and easy at my 8:30 m/m pace—and even on a day with much weighing on my mind, the pleasure of the run incomparable to anything else. That pleasure reached deep into me,  filling the empty space carved by the heavy sorrows of this world, my world on this day. My heel was not too bad; a little twinge here and there., but doable.

As I ran the loop of Phillip’s Ave., fat snowflakes swirled in the air around me and the desire to run to Halibut Point took me not left at the end of the road, but right.  As I entered the park, enjoying the feel of soft earth beneath my sneakers, I felt a stabbing pain in the bottom of my right foot.  I slowed a bit, trying to adjust my pace and gait to run more on my toes.  I continued through the park, taking time to look out on the quarry on this cold morning, then farther out to the sea.  The water chopped up and down; little white caps crested.  The pale sky against the rich blue ocean, the swirling snow, the solitude of the place made me forget everything as I ran along the path.

I returned to the street, noticing how, now that I was about five miles in, my heel was hurting more and more.  I headed home, trying not to think about the pain.  My Achilles tendon grew tighter and tighter as I favored the right foot.  My left hip began to ache.  I kept going.  I sensed this was going to be the worst so far, but I pushed, taking a brief walk break, then, as I turned onto Broadway, I began to sprint.  The heat of the pain shot up my leg.  I pumped my arms to try and carry some of my weight forward and kept my pace to the end of the road.  As I turned right toward home, I slowed to an easy trot, fighting back tears.  I forced myself to face the truth:  I need to take a break from running to let my foot heal.

I spent the rest of the day limping, barely able to put weight on my foot.  Sharp, stabbing pain in the bottom of my heel took my breath away.  My heel hurt even when I sat down.  I mourned running, in between the business of the day, dividing my thoughts between my family, my job, and this exquisite  pain.

I limped in to physical therapy this morning.  My physical therapist, Jodi, took one look at me and her happy smile shifted to a look of concern.

“What happened?  What did you do?”

“I decided to try a longer run yesterday.  It’s pretty bad today.”

She shook her head and asked about my weekend running.  I told her about the just-okay run on Saturday, six and a half miles, then the wonderful run of the same length with Sue on Sunday.  How could it be so different from one day to the next?

“I’ll see what I can do.  You look terrible!”

And so I sat in misery as she dug her thumbs and fingers into the soft flesh of my arch, into the crunchy tissue of my heel.  I held back on any wincing, stoically tolerating the deep tissue massage.

“So, what do you think you should do?”

I knew what she was up to.  I knew what answer she sought.

“I think I’ll not run for a week.  A whole week.  And no plyometrics, either.  Just boxing, kickboxing, extra strength and core work.  That’s it.”

“Do you think you can go a whole week?”

“It doesn’t matter what I think.  Obviously, I need to give my foot a rest.  So yeah.  I can take a week off.”

“Good!  Good!  That’s great.  It should help a lot.”

She flexed my toes way, way back, then turned my ankle left, right, then up, flexed it so far that my toes almost touched my shin.  Then it was time for electrical stimulation therapy.  She taped the electrodes to my calf and heel, hooked up the battery, turned it on, and walked away.  A thousand bees buzzed against my calf; a cold hand gripped the bottom of my heel.  I grimaced and read my book as I waited for the timer to signal the end.  I thought about buying a boxing bag for my living room.  I thought about the elliptical machine at the gym, and the stationary bike at home.  I poked my tongue out at no one in particular.

Jodi came back when the timer beeped and unhooked me.  She taped my foot, wrapping the arch tightly with flexible tape, then used firm white tape along the sides of my foot.

“That should help you today, at least.  Can you walk and bear weight on the heel?”

I could indeed.  I had to restrain myself from hugging her.  The wrap felt so tight and good!  It barely felt like my heel was touching the ground at all.  I stuffed the foot into my sock and then into my sneaker.   I swore to keep my promise and walked out.

One week.  Doable.

Resilient and Relentless

January 28, 2012

The sun shines bright in a clear blue sky this morning; the wind is light. The air is cool but not cold, fresh and tangy with salt.  I am dressed for a run, the bad knee covered in gauze and wrapped in paper tape.  Although I absolutely cannot squat down, I can move forward.  I can barely wait to get back on the road.

This is one of those runs where I am so grateful to be out here that I have no goals in mind— I am not watching the clock, I am not planning a set distance.  I’m going until I’ve had enough and whatever that looks like is just fine with me.  A revised running playlist is in order on my iPod and I start out listening to OutKast’s “Git Up, Git Out”.  Perfect.

I run the first mile easy, easy, listening to my body for any signs of protest.  “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People pounds in my ears as I pass by Front Beach and Back Beach.  The heel does not hurt.  The left shoulder and hip feel good.  My arms are still a bit sore, but I don’t mind.  As I finish my warm up and pick up my pace I turn onto Granite Street to the melted-chocolate-rich vocals of Notorious B.I.G. rapping “Can’t You See”, a great tune from the soundtrack to the film The Wackness.  I run uphill and then down, cringing inside as I pass the spot by the Tool Company where I wiped out the other day.

Before I know it, I’m all the way to Halibut Point State Park, listening to Journey’s “Any Way You Want It”.  The song and the air and the wind in the trees and the blue, blue sky are deliciously satisfying to every sense, and the touch of each foot on the soft ground is almost unbearably good.  I gasp aloud with pleasure as I pass the deep quarry set in front of the vast expanse of ocean all visible from the path.

A family is out for a walk on the thick wood chip path that leads out of the park.  The dad is lumbering ahead, the mother and two tiny little red-haired  girls trail behind him, laughing, loving this morning as I am.  I think tiny hurdles as I zip past, laughing.  The two little girls call out after me, hi, hi, and I turn my head and wave to them as I head back to the street.  I take the long way, first down Phillip’s Ave., then Point De Chene, my breath in sweet rhythm with the motion of my legs.  The sound of Girl Talk’s “Bounce That” and “Peak Out” play as I turn back toward town.  I sprint down Broadway fast enough that my hair flies out behind me; I watch my shadow for a moment and see one long-legged runner move with joy.

I run eight miles this morning.  I trot up the final hill, listening once more to The Notorious B.I.G., this time the song “Sky’s the Limit” and I agree, grateful for having a resilient body and a relentless passion for running.


April 29, 2011

The weather, oh, the weather!  It’s warm enough to run in shorts, cool enough for long sleeves and a cap most mornings.  Light, sweet breezes push me along.  Everyone is out running, walking, gardening, happy.  Magnolias are out in full force, cherry blossoms explode in pink and white.   Their sweet smell mingles with the fresh scent of salt air.  Even the misty mornings feel delicious against my bare legs.

Cars zoom by and people I don’t even know wave and beep ‘good morning’.  I ran by a dog yesterday and I swear it smiled at me.  The owner proudly held the leash and the pooch trotted along beside him with his eyes on me, looking like he wouldn’t mind coming along for a couple of miles if I would only take the leash in my own hand.

I start off thinking “Okay, just the six this morning”, but reach Andrew’s Point and instead of looping around, my feet, all of their own accord, take me up the long, slow hill at the other end of Phillip’s Ave.  I can’t bear the thought of not taking the little loop through Halibut Point State Park, and the long, delicious downhill on the return route along Granite Street. I press up Phillip’s, enjoying the way the pavement seems to glide beneath my worn out Nike Free sneakers.

Halibut Point is greening, the leaves popping brightly.  Yesterday I caught a glimpse of a wild pheasant pecking for bugs in the tall grass beside the edge of the woods.  It’s bright tail feathers disappeared as I bounded past, and I slowed to watch in delight.  The soft mulch path sprang up to meet my sneakers as I made my way back to the road.

Each run this week has seemed easier than the last, if that is possible.  Nothing less than six and a half, but averaging about eight.  I’m loaded with energy and excitement each time I head out the door.  I have been singing along with whatever is playing on my iPod (and hoping no one is listening!) and maintaining my speed on the hills, even the big ones.  A lot of the time, I feel as though I barely touch the ground.   I’m surprised by the way the miles and the time slip by, leaving me wanting more.

The Twin Lights Half Marathon is coming up soon. A week of hotel treadmills and too much driving left me wondering if I will really be ready.  Today’s 10.5 in just shy of 90 minutes relieves me of my worry.  As I sprinted up the last hill home this perfect April morning, I knew I’d be just fine.

Leap of Faith

March 1, 2011

I registered for the Twin Lights Half Marathon last week.  I know the route.  It begins at Good Harbor Beach and follows along route 127A right through downtown Rockport to Phillip’s Ave., looping there and returning along the same route, ending back at Good Harbor.  I run much of this route almost every day.  And I have run longer than 13.1 miles many times.  Yet, since the moment I started to fill out the application online, I have felt the flutter of butterflies in my stomach.  Well, maybe not butterflies, maybe more like the pounding of elephants charging through the jungle as they are chased by a pride of lions.  Each tap of each key of my computer laid the foundation for this unlikely terror.  When I listed my emergency contacts, it was the cement between the bricks.  By the time I typed in my credit card number, I was shaking.  I was also grinning, so don’t worry too much about me although…

I am filled with doubt.  Every twinge of a muscle reminds me that I am 47 years old.  Every ache seems it might be the start of something much worse.  I wonder how many runners will be there.  I wonder if the weather will be just so—cool, dry, filtered sunlight, precisely the way I like it.  Will all my winter training pay off?  Will all those miles logged in freezing rain and snow, in motion-stopping, icy ocean winds and bitter cold darkness give me the strength I need to finish strong?  Or will I have exhausted my middle-aged self, collapsing before I reach the finish line, straggling in like either a baby or an old woman, aching, sobbing, or, worse yet, picked up by EMTs and driven through an ogling crowd?

I know.  This does not sound like me at all.  I, mighty runner of many miles, woman who can finally do pull-ups and hold plank for more minutes than I’m willing to admit, crazy weight lifter and relentless personal trainer, am never in doubt of my abilities.  I jump into everything with both feet, never looking back (or ahead!).  I have only ever participated in one race, and it was just a 10K.  Piece of cake.  I experienced no pre-race jitters and ran the whole thing like it was any other day, except for the excitement of being surrounded by dozens of other runners.  I loved it!  I even came in first in my age category.  (Oops.  Is that a humble brag?  Nope. It’s a real one!)

Any other day, it’s one foot in front of the other.  That’s pretty much how I run.  Some days rock!  The legs, the lungs, the mind—they all meld into one and I go and go and go, surprised that an hour or two have passed and I’m already strolling through my front door.  I’m sweaty, happy and standing on top of the world.  On the not so good days, I still manage to run at least six miles, even if I’m slower than usual, a little winded on the sprints, or caught up in untangling a clingy worry.  So here I am, writing this, clearly with the sole purpose of giving myself a pep talk.  Here we go:

The race isn’t until May.  There’s plenty of time to rest, cut back on the miles, the weights, and even get in a little cross-training and rest.  Hmm.  I have time to work on speed drills, with or without my running partner, depending on her mood and availability.  I bet I can talk my hubby into coming to the high school track with the stop watch for a few mile repeats.  I can take one long run each week, even run the entire course a few times, just to let my body know what’s coming.  I can eat more, maybe gain a couple of pounds. Fries?  Cookies?  Coconut-milk ice cream?  (It’s not going to happen with leafy greens, that’s been proven…)  I can back off for a couple of weeks before the event, letting my body absorb the training and some extra rest, just to be sure.  Make the leap.  I know I can do it, and do it they way I envision it for me.

I have been writing fitness rules for more than a year, encouraging my readers and clients to adopt them into their fitness plans.   I want them to incorporate my fitness rules into their visions for how they can change their lives by making a few simple changes in attitude and behavior.   I think it’s time to write one for me.

Fitness Rule #18:  Take a leap of faith.  It’s the only way to uncover the truth of what I am capable of  in my life right now.

Some Settling May Occur

February 5, 2011

It’s warm enough to wear my Nike Free shoes today and one less layer up top.  I step out the front door and into the damp morning, hopeful that the rain will hold off long enough for a good run.

The past few weeks have been sketchy running weeks for me.  I have hovered around the 30  mile mark each week, but have incorporated lots of cross-training into my exercise time.  Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, shoveling snow (yes, it counts!), extra plyometrics, longer, more intense strength training, and a weekly Svaroopa yoga class have added up to wonderful workouts with new challenges.  I have new sensations in my legs, ribs, arms, and shoulders that reveal areas I could spend more time training.

The roads are the clearest they have been in weeks and my steps are more confident.  The fear of slipping and falling drops away and I begin with the steep downhill of Atlantic Ave. with a spectacular view of Rockport Harbor.  I feel some discomfort in the top front of my right thigh, a little more in my left hamstring.  The ribs on the left side of my body ache as if I had participated in a minor bar brawl, and the outside of my right foot sort of feels as if I might have a bruised bone.  I chalk up the foot to the new winter boots I have been trudging around in, but the rest, I know, is from such varied activity.  I am starved for a long run, though, so I will just suck it up, this unwelcome and unfamiliar sprinkling of pain, and feed my hunger.

I run up Main Street and find a digital camera in the middle of the road.  I welcome the break so early in today’s run and carry the bright green metal palmful into my bank, asking the manager to take the next step in finding the owner.  I go back out and resume, feeling a little less twinge-y.  I turn onto Beach Street.  The ocean is calm this morning, the tide almost high, and the cold wind coming off the water takes my breath.

I carefully cross Granite Street and begin the dangerous segment of my run.  Cars come flying down the road, around blind corners, and I pay close attention to where I run, trying to stay as close to the snowbanks as possible.  I make it up the hill safely, and notice that my legs don’t ache as much as they did at the start of my run.

By the time I have made the loop down Phillip’s Ave. and around Andrew’s Point, I feel like myself.  My sore foot is not sore, my hamstring feels loose, the quad on the other side is good, and my ribs are letting in more air.  I pick up my pace to tempo and then sprint down the long slow hill past the old Tool Company.  I try to figure out how running is making me feel better, when I think it should make me feel worse.  All I can come up with is this:  cereal.

Food manufacturers fill plastic-lined cardboard boxes with cereal.  When the boxes are packed, they are full to the top, all shaken up with lots of space between each little piece.  The boxes are packed into cases, the cases packed into trucks, the trucks move the cereal to stores.  Each time the cereal is moved, it settles down into the box.  By the time the clerk is tossing the boxes of cereal onto the shelves, the cereal has settled so much that when we finally open it, the box has a lot of room at the top, but really, only the space between the pieces had been eliminated.  The little bits of grain, dried fruit, nuts— whatever is in that cereal box— have nestled together, compacted to their natural state, and, well, settled down.

Today’s run felt like that— as if all the muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, joints, even skin— had the chance to settle back to where they belong, nestled and compact.  As if the run helped my body to return to its natural state.

I pass my house and have not had enough.  I decide to keep going now that my arms and legs are loose and easy.  I run up Smith Road and loop around Marmion Way before heading home— a sweet, settling eight miles tucked into my Saturday morning.