Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Art of Abstraction

Phase I - Week Nine
07/23/07 - 07/29/07
Week Total: 16.3 miles

About 30 years ago, I read the book "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner", by Alan Sillitoe. I remember my fascination when the protagonist got lost in his thoughts during his solitary runs.

This week I knew that I was ready for more, and wanted to start running a little bit longer. By no means my actual runs are considered long runs, but I needed a process to jump from 7 miles done last week to 16 miles required for next week.

On Saturday,
when I hit the beach, with its delicious salty smell and the smooth ocean waves sound, I started to "write" in my mind, my running memoirs. I got totally lost in my thoughts and without noticing, I had past all my landmarks, turned around, and got back to my point of origin to complete 4 miles. On Sunday, I ran 5.8 miles, and beyond my expectations, I completed successfully over 16 miles for the week.

Certainly, Long Beach and running on its shore made a difference, but the big driver was the ability of applying the art of abstraction and reaching the loneliness of the long-distance runner.

Week 9 - Mileage: Tue: 2.5 / Wed: 2.2 / Thu: 1.8 / Sat: 4.0 / Sun: 5.8

Lessons Learned:
1) Abstract yourself. Write a story long enough to forget that you are even running. But, be aware: you don't want to be "abstracted' in a busy street or unsafe place.

2) Keep pushing.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Between the Mountains and the Sea

Phase I - Week Eight
07/16/07 - 07/22/07
Week Total: 7 miles
I was born and grew up between the mountains and the sea. Always wondered which of the two I liked more, as if was needed to make a decision. But my structured mind required that decision.

When I hiked (that happened to be daily), the cozy roof made of dense vegetation, under the dew on the leaves, the smell of the plants and the wet soil made me say:
"Yes, the mountains are my favorite." But when I went to the beach, I died for being hours laid down on the sand, swimming & playing with the waves, and having dinner at the marinas enjoying the warm sea breeze. Then I said: "No, the mountains aren't. The sea is my favorite. I am as restless as the ocean is."

I was leaving with that incongruent situation for almost 30 years. But one day being at Naiguata, the highest summit (9,069 ft / 2,765 m) of
the Venezuelan Coastal Range which run east and west along the coast of the Caribbean Sea, I had the fortune to see over my left shoulder down below, the magnificent city of 6 million, and over my right shoulder, the ocean. That moment was unique, and it was recorded forever in my life. The question of favoritism ended, and I understood that I loved both the same.

This running week happened between the mountains and the sea. The first part of the week was in my home state (Washington), running by the woods, among tall trees, dense vegetation, and enjoying the smell of wet soil and plants. The end of the week occurred in my second home, in Long Beach, CA: running by the beach very early in the morning, enjoying the ocean mist and the salt sea smell.

Could I ask for more?

Long Beach Running Trail

Week 8 - 2 days: 19r + 1 day: 24r + 1 day: 28r

Lessons Learned:
1) I got to the point that I can run beyond what the plan has established, without compromising anything (Plan this week was 15r but I started with 19r and ended with 28r)

2) Wear your running shoes for walking if you need to.

My Asics Gel Kayano 13 have helped me A LOT with my severe overpronation (especially my left foot, see Phase I-Week 2). I worn yesterday my Saucony just to walk downtown Long Beach. My left ankle was in constant pain. I woke up the following day with the pain. I was concerned. Laced my Asics up, went running, and NO PAIN. Conclusion: The Asics support my ankles in a way that other shoes don't.

Friday, July 13, 2007

My Guys at Sunrise, My Guys at Sunset

Phase I - Week Seven
07/09/07 - 07/15/07
Week Total: 8.5 miles (+6.5 miles walking)

Back to the Nation's Capital, my runs were dedicated to my guys, my heroes.

The first day (rest day) was not so restful. I was in DC for business reasons, but had some free personal time. I went to the National Mall to go back in time when I visited DC for first time with my dear sis Sarah, in 1980. I walked @ the hottest time, 5pm, from the U.S. Capitol to Lincoln Memorial, and then headed to the Arlington Cemetery, Iwo Jima and my hotel, the Hyatt Arlington. The walk was approx. 4 miles but under 100F and 100% humidity. The air quality code was elevated to orange. It was declared unhealthy. The Washington Post quoted on Tuesday 07/10:
"It feels like 100 or 120... It was hot, very hot: Sweat glistened on the faces of determined tourists; ice melted quickly in vendors' carts... A Code Orange day indicating unhealthy air quality was declared in the region for yesterday and today. On such days, the main pollutant, ground-level ozone gas, develops when hot weather cooks a mixture of pollutants from exhaust fumes, power plant smoke and other sources" .

When I crossed the Potomac, I called my hubby and let him know that if I jumped into the river, it was not suicide but desperation. When I got back to the Hyatt Arlington I almost collapsed. I drank 2 Gatorades like if I have never had liquid before.

Following day at 5:30 am it was already hot, but I was ready to run and visit my guys. I relived my recent past experience of running by Iwo Jima, and the Arlington Cemetery (see Week 3).

Fortunately, the rest of the week cooled off and I did extend some of the runs around the Potomac.

I concluded my business trip with another walk (this time 2.5 miles at nicer temperatures ~85F) from Arlington to Georgetown. I got that nice feeling when I got to M street. It was as full of life as twenty seven years ago. It was a very pleasant experience.

My Guys at Sunrise

My Guys at Sunset

Week 7 - 3 days: 1w x 9r (2) + 2 days: 1w x 12r + 1wx7r

Lessons Learned:
1) Stick to the route you know. I extended my run to the Potomac, and saw how my destination was getting farther. Didn't find an immediate way to get out of the river path. Consequence: I had to run back, doubling my training that day.

Stick to the socks you know work best: I ran one day of the week with thinner than my normal running socks. Consequence: Dancing ankles.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

From One Minute to Ten

Phase I - Week Six
07/02/07 - 07/08/07
Week Total: 12 miles

I remember the first week of 1wx1r and I was asking myself how could I get to the second week with a 1wx2r. But during this week - 1w x 6r (3) - I was able to complete daily the last set between 8' to 10'.

If I was able to keep this pace, my marathon time would be 5 hrs 50'.

Week 6 - 5 days: 1w x 6r (2) + 1w x 8~10r (1)

Lessons Learned:
You always can push a little bit more.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Catching Up!!!

Phase I - Week Five
06/25/07 - 07/01/07
Week Total: 9.5 miles

Just catching up.

2 days of what I should've done on week four, and 2 days of the corresponding training for week 5.

I have some vestiges of the cold, but I caught up with training.

Alejandra is still resting her ankle...

Week 5 - 4 days: 1w x 3r (2) + 1w x 4r (2)

Lessons Learned:
Project Management is about managing the unexpected. Catching up is always possible when we get behind.