Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm out of runner's jail!

I got great news from my sports medicine doctor today - I can get back on the road and run!
In early August I suffered an overuse injury, a pulled groin muscle, because I was training too much and too fast.
For my first marathon, I did everything right. I followed every training schedule that Coach Doug B. set out for me, and finished my marathon just one minute ahead of my projected time.
Not this time. I felt cocky - I'd already completed a marathon, so why follow a training schedule? I ran as much as I wanted, often 10 miles or more a day, 7 days a week. So I came down with this injury and had to spend two months off the road and in the pool and on the bike.
But - I love bicycling with Larry and my friends, so that wasn't a punishment, and I grew to love aqua jogging, which for an hour in the pool, with music blaring, turned out to be a lot of fun.
To keep my head in the game, I also spent the last two months reading every nonfiction book I could find about running and running marathons. I learned a lot from these books - including not to over train! I also enjoyed two fiction books by John Parker, "Once a Runner" and "Again to Carthage". I liked these books so much I asked our Space Coast Writers Guild to invite John Parker to our annual writer's conference! I also watched the movies "Spirit of the Marathon" and "Prefontaine". If I hadn't already watched "Chariots of Fire" again last year I would have watched that also!
So my two months away from running turned out to be very helpful to me in ways I didn't expect.
But today, when I got back on the road, running on Tropical Trail, with the sun glistening on the Indian River and birds chirpping overhead, I realized what I was missing and oh how glad I was to be on the road again!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What she said

Zoe Koplowitz, Achilles Track Club member with multiple sclerosis, said:
"Have a dream, make a plan, go for it. You'll get there, I promise."

To me, running is about running, but it's also about life...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Just Do It

You know those inspirational posters with a beautiful natural setting and some quotation underneath?
Larry woke up at 4:30 AM the morning of my first long distance race, grabbed his bicycle, and follwed me to the starting line of the Space Coast Half Marathon in 2007. He spent the next 2 hours and 9 minutes snapping photos of me, running at and after sunrise along the Indian River in Cocoa, Florida. Larry surprised me for Christmas that year with a poster of me running, palm trees and river in the background, with these words from Calvin Coolidge underneath:
"Nothing in the world takes the place of persistence... Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
That poster is one of my most treasured possessions.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Did you see the accordion player?

The NYC Marathon can be looked at as the world's largest carnival. There are going to be 2 million spectators cheering us on, 100 bands playing for us (including the Bishop Loughlin High School band playing, as it has since 1979, "Gonna Fly Now" the theme from the movie "Rocky") and 26.2 miles of road, including bridges, through New York City's 5 boroughs.
There are certain people who are out every year watching the race and inspiring the runners, such as Stanley Rygor, in Long Island City, Queens, who plays the accordion. I don't want to miss anything in this race - even the accordion player!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Real Deal

US Olympians Ryan Hall and Brian Sell. 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist and 2 time World Champion Jaouad Gharib of Morocco. 1/2 Marathon Silver Medalist Patrick Makau of Kenya. 3rd fastest marathoner in history James Kwabai of Kenya.
All the men listed above will be running in the New York City Marathon - with me!
That's the coolest thing about marathons. It's the only sport I know of where amatuer athletes like me can compete on the same street, on the same day, with the best of the best runners in the world.
But the professional athlete I am most excited about running with is Joan Benoit Samuelson. She is running NYC to commemorate the 25th anniversary of her Oympic Gold medael in the first women's Olympic marathon.
I ran my first long distance race, the 2007 Space Coast Half Marathon, with her, and got a chance to speak with her the day before. She is a huge inspiration to me for what women could do if they are determined enough.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What's the first rule about NYC Marathon? Don't talk about NYC Marathon

I'm running the NYC Marathon with a member of Fight Club!
Yes, Ed Norton, the actor who played Tyler Durden's alter ego in the movie "Fight Club" is running the NYC marathon on Nov. 1st.
Ed Norton is running it with 3 Maasai warriors, and 30 runners from a Maasai village. His charity is the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, to raise money for a Kenyan based conservation organization.
That's one of the cool things about this marathon - lots of celebrities run it. The organizers are sending us a list on Oct. 6 of all celebs to date, so stay posted to this blog for updates!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why I run

When I cross the starting line on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City on November 1, 2009, I will do something unheard of at the time of my birth - run a marathon.

In 1959, women did not run marathons, at least not officially. The farthest race sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee for women was only 200 meters, about twice the length of a football field. Women were not thought to be strong enough to run any further. Men, however, were able to run distances up to and including the 26.2 mile marathon in Olympic competition. By 1960, women were allowed to run the longer distance of 800 meters. 1972 brought the addition of the 1,500 meter race, and in 1983, the 5,000 (5K or 3.1 mile) and 10,000 meter (10K or 6.2 mile) events were added. And it wasn't until 1984 that the women's marathon was finally added to the Olympics. That year Joan Benoit won the first gold medal in the women's marathon. If you told me in 1984 that 23 years laterI would meet Joan Benoit Samuelson and get my picture taken with her at my local running store and then actually run a half marathon with her the next morning, I would have thought you were crazy.

Me with the first woman to win a gold medal in the Olympic Marathon - Joan Benoit Samuelson,
the day before my first long distance race - Space Coast Half Marathon 2007

But life is crazy and has its own twists and turns. When I was growing up, sports were not encouraged for girls. Gym classes were filled with calisthenics and team sports that no one liked or played well. The light blue polyester one piece gym suits with the elastic waists did not add to the allure of physical activity, especially since the boys, taking their gym in a separate class, were allowed to wear their own T shirts and gym shorts. The passage of Title IX, forcing equal spending for boys and girls in school athletics, began a revolution in girls' sports, but by the time the money began trickling down to girls like me, I was already happily ensconced in the world of books, band, student council, drama, and the school newspaper and had no time or interest in sports.

It wasn't until I had kids of my own that I noticed the 180 degree change that had taken place in our country. Girls played sports and played them well. While I sat on the sidelines at my son Daniel's soccer and baseball games, I noticed the girls on the field. Ponytails flying behind them, these Title IX recipients ran and threw or kicked balls as well as the boys, and smiled and laughed while they did so. I looked at my younger daughter Liana, watching with me on the lawn chairs with the other moms and younger siblings, and thought things would be different for her and her friends.

I don't know if my Liana and the girls of her generation take for granted the options they have in sports, but I do know that they now enjoy sports from the preschool level up through equal opportunities in a myriad of sports in college. Health and fitness are givens in their world. I envied them until the one day I decided to join them...

When the kids were finally old enough to be left in the house alone for a while without the fear that they would kill themselves or burn the house down, I came up with the idea of an evening walk with my husband Larry. We started walking that evening, and after a few steps I realized I had to jog a bit to keep up with Larry who was a foot taller than me and a fast walker. As I began to jog, he began to run. I had no choice but to run to try to keep up with him. And so began my introduction to the world of running - for me.

I joined a gym so I could become a stronger runner for my runs with Larry. I ran two miles at the gym the next day and thought I would pass out at the end. My legs hurt for days. But I felt a freedom and a sense of accomplishment in running that I never felt in those junior high and high school gym classes. I kept running.

I found out there were local 5K races, and began entering those races. A whole new world opened up to me. Adults of all ages competed for fun and exercise almost every weekend in races throughout Brevard County, Florida. At these races I made new friends and met really interesting people of all ages who ran for the sheer joy of the sport. The more races I ran, the faster I got. I watched Larry accept awards for placing (1st, 2nd, or 3rd place) in his age group in these races and soon it was also me receiving these awards. Larry and I got our kids to run with us in Clearwater, Florida's Turkey Trot, a race on Thanksgiving morning with 15,000 of our closest friends. This 5K race is now an annual eagerly anticipated tradition for our family.

I ran a 5K race in Titusville, Florida in 2008 with my 20 year old son and my Aunt Mary and Uncle Sandy, who are both in their 80's. It was a blast running with them and hearing Aunt Mary and Uncle Sandy regale us with their race stories over the years. Like me, my aunt and uncle began running in their 40's for fitness, then enjoyed it so much they never stopped. They started running 5K races, then 10ks, then the half marathon, and then many marathons. Always up for a fun family tradition, I decided to try the marathon length race myself.

Doug B., a local running coaching legend for high school athletes, has a marathon training camp for adults in the fall. I knew nothing about training for a marathon, and Doug was the expert, so I just turned my running over to this running camp and did every workout that Doug designed for me. I ran the Space Coast Half Marathon for marathon practice in November 2008 in 2 hours, and saw my time drop by 9 minutes from where it had been at the 2007 Space Coast Half Marathon, before I began training with Doug. On the day of my first marathon, the Disney World Marathon on January 11, 2009, I followed every step Doug had outlined for me and finished those 26.2 miles in 4 hours, 31 minutes, just one minute off my projected time.

Running is now a huge part of my life. I am grumpy if I don't run every day. Vacations are happy times when Larry and I run together, whether it is by the Coliseum in Rome, under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or through Larry's parents' neighborhood in Westerville, Ohio. I now love to shop in the Running Zone as much as I do in bookstores. Of course, exercise is so much more appealing wearing the latest sleek black spandex running outfit than a light blue polyester elastic waist one piece gym suit...

I will be running the New York City Marathon on November 1, 2009 with Fred's Team at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Check out my website at:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

38 days to go

My journey to the New York City Marathon has been an unusual one so far. I wanted to document my road to the marathon, then report back on the marathon experience itself. So here goes...