I Ran So Far Away

Mood: Rested | Drinking: Water

tiffany

Last year at this time if someone had told me I would run not just one but two half marathons, I would have fallen over laughing.

But change is possible. With a smidgen of faith, a lot of hard work, three pairs of running shoes, and a little help from my friends.

Last year at this time, I had just started running. I could barely run for a block or two before feeling like my lungs might be full of fire ants.

And now? Now I’ve got 13.1 competitive miles under my belt — twice. Not to mention a couple of 5ks thrown in for good measure.

It’s an amazing thing.

So is running with 20,000 other women (give or take a few brave men). The Nike Women’s Marathon and Half Marathon in San Francisco is billed as a women’s race, and marketed with a whole lot of pink banners.

And I have to tell you, it’s very different, running a race course with a bunch of women. A woman bumps into you and actually says she’s sorry. Women on all sides cheer (and sometimes drag) each other on, mile after sweaty mile. Compliments about hairstyles, t-shirts, and choice of footwear are easily passed about between strangers.

I never really considered a half marathon to be a nurturing environment, but in this case, it was.

I ran my first half marathon in Phoenix back in January, after training for 3 months with Team in Training. This time, I trained myself (with occasional accompaniment from my fabulous running buddy, Allegra).

On race day, Boy dropped me off a block from Union Square in the wee dark hours of the morning and from that point until I crossed the finish line, I was on my own. I trained on my own, ran on my own, and finished on my own, and goddamn, am I proud of myself! 😉

I finished the Phoenix Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon course in 2 hours, 55 minutes, on a hot day over flat roads with only 3 months of training to back me up.

My goal for this Nike race was to beat my own time, and I did: 2 hours, 52 minutes, on a foggy morning over San Francisco-sized hills with a year of running experience behind me.

The best part, besides crossing the finish line, was all my friends who got up early to come and cheer along the way, including my juicy nephew, Jude, and my parents, who just happened to be in town from Illinois. Thanks to all of you!

The other best part? Turquoise Tiffany’s boxes held aloft on silver platters by handsome tuxedo-ed men. And one of them (the box, not the tux man) is all mine.

I’ve been resting up all week, after a nice post-race soak in the ocean, and I think I’m ready to run again.

Time to go pound some pavement…

-Lo, who doesn’t photograph well when sweaty.

Run Like a Girl

nikerungirl
Mood: Jittery
Drinking: Lemonade

Three days from now, just before sunup, I’ll be shivering in Union Square with 20,000 other women, waiting anxiously for the sound of the starting gun.

Then I’ll be off and running 13.1 miles through San Francisco for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon.

Waiting at the finish line will be a bunch of firemen in tuxes holding Tiffany’s boxes. A nice way to end a race, yeah?

So if you’re up early this Sunday, think of me and send me a wish for fleet feet and foggy weather, won’t you?

-Lo, lacing up her running shoes.

Phenomenon

phenomenon
Mood: Waiting
Drinking: Things

Phenomenon

Breath comes in gasps at first
lungs shocked
with the sudden capacity for speed.

Then the rhythm evens out
and begins to keep time
with the beat of my feet.

step step
breathe
step step
breathe

I am doing something astonishing here
a small, perfect miracle
contained within every stride.

Every time my foot hits the ground
a snake
slides back in its hole.
Every time my foot hits the ground
a blackfish
finds its way home.
Every time my foot hits the ground
the concrete
loses its hold
Every time my foot hits the ground

seas part.
walls fall.
mountains move.

And I run on and on.

Lo, working miracles three times a week.

Puddle Jumping

puddlesmile
Mood: Bluesy
Drinking: Weak Tea

It’s rainy out west.

Rainy and cold. (Although according to the family in Illinois, it’s -17 degrees Fahrenheit, so I guess “cold” here is a relative term.) We have no shortage of mud puddles. No shortage of just plain old mud, either. I got plenty on my shoes this morning when the LeeLoo and I went for a run at Land’s End. (Yes, I’m still running. The bug doesn’t really let go after 13.1 miles, it seems. It just bites harder.)

There were a few brief minutes of sunshine this morning before the rain came down again, and we made sure to take advantage so we could spend the rest of the day lolling on the couch (Loo) and munching greasy popcorn at a Juno matinee (me).

Now it’s dark outside and the rain’s beating a wild rhythm on the windows. I’ve got a fire on and an itch in my fingers and I feel all out of practice writing anything interesting.

But there’s hope! I’m off to a big fancy writing conference this week, so I should be back in tip top word shape in no time at all.

I’m looking forward to it. For the past few months it’s been all running, all the time, and I’m ready to mix up the body action with some brain action and get the whole thing chugging along like some proverbial well-oiled machine.

I’ve noticed that’s what happens when you start to get some part of yourself in shape. Now that I’m well on my way to bulging — or at least slightly shapely — calf muscles, I’ve noticed that the noodley-lookin’ arms could use some attention. So I’m putting those cute little blue free weights that Boy bought me to work, finally. Bulging (or at least slightly shapely) biceps, here I come.

All this toning is addictive. First the legs, now the arms. Who knows what’s next! But the brain wants some attention, too. Hence the conference with all the books and the learning…

The rain drops are fading away now. Or at least blowing in a different, less audible direction. I like falling asleep to the splishing, splashing sound of it. Always have.

Tonight is rather melancholy, though. Boy’s at work. Loo’s crashed out on the couch, still. And I’m here at the table, tapping away, nothing much to say.

It’s nice to be slightly at a loss, though. All last year, if I had a moment like this, I pulled out my endless to-do list and got right to work.

There was no time to dawdle with directionless puddle-musing. I had a book to publish, a party to plan, a trip to take, and then books to sell and funds to raise and miles to run and a nephew to meet. 2007 was a lovely, astonishing, rewarding, incredible year, and it passed all too quickly.

But it was busy, too. So very busy. I’m ready to drag my feet a little.

Yes, 2008 has started with a race and a bang, but I’m determined to take it down a notch this year. To keep the list to just one page. To throw just one ball in the air at a time. To write about absolutely nothing important. To listen to the rain…

-Lo, who really should invest in some (cute) rubber wellies.

Rock and/or Roll

cactus_medal1Mood: Sunny
Drinking: Tea

13.1 miles?

Pffft. Piece of cake!

I ran my 13.1 on Sunday the 13th in Phoenix, AZ and had a fabulous time doing so, thanks to my running buddies Roy & Michael.

Since it was my first half marathon ever, as well as my first visit to the sprawling, sunbaked metropolis of Phoenix, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

All the unsolicited advice I received before the event went something like this: “Your goal should just be to finish. Don’t worry about how long it takes you.”

Which is all very reasonable. But I am an overachiever, so I set a time goal for myself.

I wanted to finish in under 3 hours. Quite realistic, I thought.

As it turns out, I was right. My official finish line time was 2:55:22.

And that’s even with the unscheduled run into McDonald’s for a bathroom break at mile 1.5. Hey — standing around for 2 hours waiting to start whilst drinking a bottle of water will put a girl in an emergency situation.

So in spite of the unexpected wait in said McDonald’s bathroom (I wasn’t the only girl on the course with the brilliant idea of peeing in a fast-food joint instead of standing in line at a porta-potty), in spite of the southwest sun and the warmer climate, I still met my time goal. So I’m rather pleased with myself.

Plus, a few last-minute donors cranked my fundraising total up to nearly $4,500 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which kicks ass.

All in all, it’s been lovely. I highly recommend both Team in Training and running a half marathon with good friends.

As a bonus, I got to take a little side trip into the Superstition Wilderness and wander around the beautiful desert. As you can see, Boy took the opportunity to photograph me, my shiny new Marathon Medal, and a friendly Saguaro Cactus while we were there.

And since I was lucky enough to have my cinepoem partner, Michelle, with me, we shot a new cinepoem out in the desert while we were at it. So that’s two new cinepoems in the can: Yellow, which was shot over Thanksgiving in the central valley of California, and our very first poem with cacti cameos, Strange. I’m not sure which one of those will hit the Internet first. You’ll have to stay tuned…

Meanwhile, I’m happy to be back in foggier climes, and so is LeeLoo, who is NOT a fan of the desert. Too many prickly things that get stuck in tender paws.

I’m going to sign off with a few shout outs to deserving parties:
* Roy & Michael, who are both more experienced runners than I, but stayed with me every step of the 13.1, just because they’re that awesome
* Chris & Shel, who drove there and back and toted camera equipment way out into the wilderness, and also made such lovely cheering signs to hold up for us along the race course. (Including a special “Run Lola Run” sign from my pal Eric.)
* Boy, who took a thousand photos and was staunchly supportive and makes everything better just by being there.
* Kathy, Lani, and Allegra, who sent me voice and text messages on race day that made me run that much faster.
* All my Team in Training coaches and pals who helped me learn how to run mile after mile after mile.
* All of you who donated to the cause and sent words of encouragement along the way.

You rock my socks right off. Thank you for everything!

-Lo, who starts running again on Monday.

Get Set

ready2runMood: Ready
Drinking: Water

Five days left ’til I’m off and running.

The P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon is Sunday the 13th.

I’ve got my Aasics all broken in and my shot blocks stocked up and I even bought purple hairbands to match my grape-colored Team in Training singlet! I’m all riled up and ready to run 13.1.

Of course, I have to get to Phoenix first.

Boy and LeeLoo are coming with, and so are my friends Chris, Shel, Roy, and Mike. And Roy and Mike are not only coming with, they’re running the half marathon with me. Because they’re just that cool.

I’ve got a few more days before I go, but they’ll be filled with planning and packing and squeezing in one more Team track workout at Kezar Stadium, so I probably won’t have time to write again until those 13.1 miles are behind me.

So I’d like to thank all of you who have sponsored me by donating to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Thanks to you, we’ve raised nearly $4,000 ($3,940 at last count) to help find cures for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma. You definitely went above and beyond, and I’ll be thinking of you all when I strap on my running shoes on Sunday.

I’m very much looking forward to all of it, from the starting line jitters to the finish line triumph (and probably tears), to all the miles of running in between.

And as a bonus? Shel and I are going to do our very best to squeeze in a desert cinepoem shoot while we’re there. Because it would just be silly to pass up a cactus cameo, you know?

-Lo, who won’t forget to stretch.

Running Sentences

dublin_run2
Mood: Rainy Day
Drinking: Milk (for all the good it does me)

I’ve taken up running.

Those who know me are slightly shocked by this announcement. I have never been mistaken for a jock. I did play basketball in high school. And I spent many years pursuing everygirl’s equestrian dream. But I am not now nor have I ever been an athlete.

Before this month, the most running I had done in recent memory was for a few scenes in cinépoems (like the upcoming Apres un Reve, pictured here). The running never lasted more than a few seconds, and I was usually wearing something entirely inappropriate for actual athletic achievement, such as lace-up knee-high platform boots (also pictured here).

But, contrary to popular opinion, people can sometimes change. And that’s what I’m counting on.

I have joined Team in Training, even though I have never been a joiner. But I figure if I want to reach my goal — a half marathon in Arizona in January — I’m going to need some help. Because honestly? I have no idea how to run 13.1 miles. I’m going to learn, though. I have to. I’ve already bought the running shoes.

The thing about Team in Training is that the journey to the race becomes about something much bigger than downsizing my ass or increasing muscle mass. When you join Team in Training, you commit to help raise money to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma. So I’m not just running for myself — I’m running for a cause.

You can check out my fundraising page for Team in Training and get more information, if you’d like. And if you’re moved to make a donation to help support the cause, well, that would certainly inspire me to run with a bit more pep in my step. Knowing that people don’t think I’m entirely crazy to do this. Or maybe they think I’m just crazy enough…

Who knows? Perhaps this whole journey will inspire a sport-related poem or two:
“Today I watched my toenail slide off
without even saying goodbye.”
or
“They say the high doesn’t kick in
until you’ve gone 3 miles,
but I’m 6 miles in
and still no endorphins.”

Yeah. Maybe not.

-Lo, who is running on faith and fumes at the moment.

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