I first read about Back On My Feet in Runners World earlier this year. The article talked about a group of folks who were inspired to set goals for themselves and to persevere to do something they had never considered doing before. I’m a goal-setter, so this all resonated with me: it’s why I run marathons, to run farther and faster than I ever thought I could. But while my biggest challenge is figuring out how to motivate myself and fit in my runs around a hectic schedule, these folks were fitting in their runs around the “challenges” of homelessness and addictions.

Back On My Feet is a program begun by a 27 year old (!) who recognized that everyone wants an opportunity to achieve something for themselves and with others. The Back On My Feet program works with homeless shelters in Philadelphia and Baltimore to set up running programs that provide structure, dignity, and an opportunity to accomplish.

I’m running for Back On My Feet as a fund-racer in the Marine Corps Marathon. My fundraising requirement is $2500 – I’m setting “bold and audacious goals” of doubling that because I believe that (1) this is a great program, (2) this resonates deeply with what I believe of supporting folks while helping them pull themselves up, and (3) I think that my network of friends and acquaintances should be introduced to this program in a big way.

If you’d like to support me in this challenge, my fundraising hub is available through Active.com

I’m about to become the next great exercise (though not diet) guru.  Realized tonight that TiVo + treadmill makes a great workout.  Pick a show you’ve already TiVo’ed, but haven’t yet gotten to watch.  If you’re just starting out, pick a half-hour show.  (Are there half-hour shows for adults???  If you need to, pick your favorite old cartoon!)  If you’re further along, your typical prime-time hour show works well.  Pick a pace you’re comfortable with.  And go.

Now, the twist: if you’re just starting out exercising, walk through every commercial break.  That’ll give you roughly 7 or 8 minutes running time, and then 2+ minutes walk time, in basic intervals.  If you’re feeling a little stronger, do what I did tonight: run through the whole thing, but do the 30 second skip thing through the commercials.  Turns out, that 60 minute show was just shy of 44.  Next time I do a “long” run, I’ll run through a few of the commercial breaks, to extend the run.  Or if I’m feeling like a speed pick-up or a hill boost, through the commercials, change tempo / elevation / whatever floats your boat.

Just remember when you get really good to have more than one show saved.  Grey’s Anatomy worked for me tonight.  Hoping to bank an Ugly Betty later this week, and then maybe catch up on those Burn Notices that are piling up, as well.  No, I’m not just wasting time watching TV.  I’m “waisting” time while I’m watching TV.

Earlier this year, I was in shape enough to muscle my way through a half-marathon, albeit more slowly than I would have liked.  My dear hubby and I had had been having some success with a weight-lifting routine called 5×5.  However, lately, we’ve both slacked off.  The holiday season doesn’t help, of course, and neither does our natural state of putting-it-off-it-ness.  My pants are getting snug, and I’m nowhere near in shape enough to tackle some of the races I’d like to run this year (another half and a marathon), so it’s time to kick myself in the tail to get back out there and log some miles / lift some weights / otherwise make sure I stay in at least my same clothing size.

A horribly awful motivational approach came to me as I gazed at the magazines in the grocery store checkout aisle today.  Looking at the various starlets shown in their swimsuits, some of them not nearly in good swimsuit shape, a beautifully terrifyingly inspiring approach to self-motivation came to mind.  There had been a guy in some magazine or NPR recommending that we motivate ourselves by avoidance therapy: if I don’t meet this goal, then I promise I’ll do this thing I would otherwise be horribly averse to.  His example was giving money to a politician you radically disagree with, or supporting a cause you’d otherwise avoid like the plague.  Combining aversion motivation with swimsuits, this idea popped to mind: a person who really wants to lose weight could vow to lose a certain amount of weight within a given time period, or else post a picture of themselves in a swimsuit up on Facebook.  It’d work like this: at the beginning of the weight loss period, you take a pic of yourself in a swimsuit.  If you succeed in losing the weight, the pic gets deleted.  If you don’t succeed, it goes up online.  Bleah.

Not sure yet that I’m THAT motivated to risk that particular form of self-abuse.   But if I don’t come up with another form of motivation, this may be the thing that does it.  You might want to avert your eyes from my Facebook page come, say, March…

I popped my knee last Friday, playing softball at the office’s “team-building” picnic.  Went to scoop a ball, knelt down, felt it pop.  Ow.  Kept playing, seemed to be reasonably OK.

It hasn’t felt right since, though.  For a bit, it hurt.  Now it just doesn’t feel like it’s quite the way it was.  And no, I haven’t seen a doctor.  No real pain now, no way to describe the motion that caused the pop – what would I tell him?

The challenge: Saturday’s the half-marathon.  I’m debating.  Right now, I’m leaning towards yes.  I ran on the treadmill tonight with a knee brace on, and feel no worse/weirder than I did before.  I’m thinking that if I’m careful about planting my feet and don’t lead with the suspect knee when stepping off any curbs, I’ll probably be OK.  Will see how it feels tomorrow, after sleeping after my run.

I’m three weeks out from the Baltimore half-marathon, and feeling very excited.  I ran this race 4 years ago, in 2004, and discovered that Baltimore has hills!  This is not the thing you want to discover in the middle of a very long race.  I slogged through the race, coming in at 2:37:19.  That works out to be just slightly over 12 minute miles – bleah.  Or, more positively put, a time which gives me a lot of room to improve.  I’d like to come in at sub 2:15, which gives me 10:17 miles to work with.  (Confession time: I’m slow!)  On a treadmill, I’ve done 12+ in less than 2 hours, so this should be doable.  And this time I’ve added hill intervals to that treadmill workout.  Race day will prove whether I’ve done enough training and whether I’m smart about using these last few weeks.

So think about me October 11.  The race starts at 9:45, and I should theoretically be done sometime right around noon.  I’ll have a few minute delay to cross the starting line, since I’ll hang back with the slower runners for the starting lineup.  After that, though, the race is mine!  My daughters ask me if I race to win…  my answer is I race to beat myself.  I want to get faster and stronger.  I’m already thinking about my goals for after the half (marathon in the spring – not sure which one yet).  There’s just something about shaving time off, and pushing to longer distances, that really feeds the striving ambitious side of me.  If you know of a local race that sounds interesting, tell me about it: Saturday races work better than Sunday races, since I don’t run fast enough to let me run and then get showered up and ready for church.

My sister’s getting married in a few months, so in typical sibling fashion, I want to show up in a stunning dress that’s, oh, a size or two smaller than I am now, with abs of steel to show off in the hotel pool.  That’s probably a bit too lofty a goal, but hey, I’ve been professionally trained on “being the best by any measure” and “bold and audacious goals”.  These are definitely bold and audacious.

In pursuit of those goals, I grabbed a copy of the South Beach Diet and spent two weeks in the first Phase of the diet.  No bread, cereal, rice, etc.  No fruits.  Eat reasonable portions, and multiple snacks.  Outcome listed in the book: up to 8-12 pounds in that first two weeks.  Outcome of mine: 1-2 pounds.  Not very inspiring.  One of my snack breaks, I ate pistachios (up to 30 is a snack serving) and roasted pumpkin seeds.  Closest to eating like a bird I’ve ever done, and end result was 1-2 pounds??!

Beyond South Beach, I’ve also started taking a class at the gym called Group Power twice a week.  It’s an hour of continual weight training to your basic cardio-pumping music.  The class is probably broken up into 6 or so segments, with maybe a minute or so break between them.  You take a bar and then add weight, depending on the basic body area you’re working on (biceps, triceps, back/shoulders, legs, abs, warmup, cooldown).  I always know that I’ve done the class afterwards, and the first time or two I did it, I knew it for up to 3 days afterwards.   I’m also adding some running back into my routine, with hopes of doing the Baltimore half-marathon in October, and then a trail marathon in November.

Becky’s wedding is in September: I’m hoping a few months of watching my diet (more gently than formally), lifting weights in class, and running regularly will give me some noticeable results.  Nothing like a little motivation to kick me up a gear.

I’ve been scheming for a while now about a tattoo to mark the completion of the marathon. I’ve seen folks who put wings on their ankles and folks who put wings on their feet. Also, 26.2 with flames. Somehow, those just seemed a bit cliche to me, not to mention indicating a speedier pace than I manage.

Chic-Fil-A gave our girls the Tortoise and the Hare as a storybook for a kids’ meal. Although I’m certain that they didn’t intend for its artwork to end up on anyone’s skin, at least one of the drawings in there gave me an idea for a great tattoo. I’m one of those slow and steady runners, rather than the speedy hare, so my tattoo became the tortoise. When I went to talk with the tattoo artist (thanks, Drew, for the recommendation!), I said I didn’t want anything too goofy, and I really didn’t want anything Teenage Mutant Ninja-like.

So, last week I got a turtle tattoo: Tina's turtle tattoo. My last tattoo had been when I was 20, so either my memory was a bit fuzzy about how painful these things are, or leg tattoos hurt more, or things just hurt more when you’re some 10+ years older. Youch! But now my turtle and I will be loping along as I train for a half-marathon in June. Maybe when I’m fast (hah!), I’ll get Speedy Gonzales on the other leg.

Sunday was the 32nd running of the Marine Corps Marathon, also known as my first running of any marathon, after many years of interrupted training attempts.

As an indicator of how the race went, I have two times to report.  My
chip time was 5:44:32.  My chip time net time spent in port-a-pot
lines was 5:29:36.  I made the newbie mistake of drinking the PowerAde
I hadn’t trained with, and paid for it dearly, in terms of discomfort
and time spent in port-a-pot lines.  Girl or no, there are just some
things you CAN’T do in the woods off of Spout Run Parkway.

For one prolonged stretch of the course, I got to debate whether the intense cramping in my legs was (1) an indicator of something more unhealthy than an attempt to run 26.2 miles, (2)  something that I could manage to muscle my way through, or (3) going to slow me down so much that I’d get picked up off the course and told to ride the bus of non-completers.  I’d had rather turned myself in medically than get picked up by the bus.  Eventually (and I mean miles later) the combination of walking and shuffling worked the cramp out, or my legs just decided that my brain was too stubborn and decided to stop yelling.  From that point on, it was just a matter of making it through the miles.

On the more positive side of things, I completed my first marathon,
and managed to run up that last hill (thank you, baby bear, momma
bear, and papa bear, you hellacious hills on our training course!) to make sure I came in under the (adjusted) time of 5:30.  I learned a few things that I’ll apply the next go around, and I’m mentally rarin’ to start running again in preparation for the
half in March.  I made it up the stairs to class tonight, gingerly, and am thinking about what tattoo might best commemorate my first 26.2.  Thanks to all the Striders who encouraged me on the long runs those early Saturday mornings.  I’m certain I’d never have made it had not I had the structure of the program bringing me along.

04:42:43: nice round numbers that correspond to what a race pace calculator thinks I’d complete a marathon in, assuming I continued on the 10:47 pace I ran this morning for the 16 mile run.  That 10:47 pace, though, includes various stints of walks up nasty hills on the Strider’s training course.  I’m a lousy hill runner.  Today was better than many: I did at least make it up some PART of the hills at the end before walking, but I still haven’t managed to break those hills before they break me.  And it’s not as if I somehow have the gusto to speedwalk those hills: when I’m slowed to a walk, it’s more in the 16 or 17 minute per mile pace. 

 All of that to say, I’m getting more and more excited about the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October.  If I can run what would be a 4:42:43 on THEIR course, my expectation is that I’ll do better on the Marine Corps course.  And even if I don’t, I’ve still got 18 minutes leeway to make my goal of running a sub 5 hour marathon for my first time out. 

I got my latest issue of ‘Runners World’ today.  In the articles there, they describe folks whose first marathon experience was in the 3 1/2 hour range.  Hah!  I’ll likely never be there…  But sub-5 looks promising, and I’m already dreaming of what marathon I should enter in the spring.  It’s very empowering to think that by 10am, you could’ve already run 20 miles.  And to compare your commutes to the grocery store or to work to the lenght of the LSD (long slow distance) run for the week.  Just as a cross-comparison to today’s training run, my commute to work is something like 16 miles.