Friday, February 08, 2013

Opening Day

Much like major league baseball, the racing season has it's share of rare yet popular experiences.

The Cubs may never win a world series, but just about any better than average baseball fan wants to step foot in the friendly confines. And what if the Cubs did make it to the world series? Imagine the fans that would come out of the woodwork to see it!

Along those same lines, most runners train for their first marathon in Anytown, USA. Some of us are lucky enough to have a big city marathon be our first. Sometime after that first marathon, most of us have thought about the Boston Marathon. Or for the Ironmen reading, Kona. The big event of your sport.

In cases of the true hallmark events, a vast majority of us average marathoners will never have the chance to run Boston or London (unless we get in through a charity race entry). The difference between our PR and the minimum for qualification into the race is too great. And even if we did meet those qualification standards, we'd still have to be sitting at our computers that first minute on opening day.

Opening day for Chicago baseball is usually a cold, sometimes wet, day in April. But it's opening day never the less, and tens of thousands of fans from all sides of the city and suburbs come out for it.

Opening day for your 'A' race depends on when it's held. In general, a fall marathon's registration opens in the first few months of the year. As endurance events have gained in popularity, registration on opening day has become imperative. Looking back to 2008, my first marathon, CARA training had started before the Chicago Marathon had sold out (about five months). Since that time, the race has added 5 or 7,000 additional entries and still, last year, sold out in a number of days.

So, on an upcoming Tuesday, I will be posed at my computer as the clock strikes noon to register for the 36th annual Chicago Marathon. Thousands of other runners from around the world will join me. I can only imagine the race will break a record again this year with the shortest period of time to a sell out.

The thought had crossed my mind (albeit briefly) to not run Chicago this year. I find myself thinking about the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. Marine Corps will be held at the end of October this year (ironically on my birthday). Registration opens mid-March and sold out in mere hours last year. So I will try again on Marine Corps opening day.

In a few weeks I could have entries into two marathons, one marathon or none.

Opening Day will decide.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Road to Nowhere

The nice thing about training is it gives you a road.

A weekly schedule of workouts. Strength exercises, track interval runs and long runs.

The road's clearly marked for the number of months you'll follow it until race day.

You don't question the road, rather just follow it on the journey it's taking you.

When it's raining on the road, you run in the rain.

You continue on the road until your run ends that day.

Many times you're doubling back on the part of the road you've just came from to get back home.

But what happens when the road ends? Not literally, but the training road.

Where do you go then?

Some of us take shelter in our home gym, athletic clubs, yoga studios, and cross fit centers to mix it up the training regime.

Some move on to the next road. A recovery schedule to prep for their next race.

Then there's the unmentionables. The ones that just stop.

I've met a few people like this. They run the marathon and stop running the minute their feet cross the finish like for months.

My post marathon training program hasn't been the best road I've ever been on. Mostly because instead of being on a rigid, clearly marked highway, I'm instead stuck on a windy road in the country that keeps changing names and direction. I may be running (read a lot) less than recent years' comparison, but I continue to enjoy the yoga studio and look forward to future success there.

Now where are my running shoes?


Remember when you were fearless?

You know, when you were a kid and you were willing to try things without worrying about the consequences?

Back before fashion woes, make up, or attraction to the opposite sex?

Before you were concerned about falling, a potential of hurting yourself or failing?

Can you think of a moment?

I found myself going back to middle school last night as I stared down an unassuming white wall in a yoga studio. Our instructor went over the set up for a handstand as I tried to reason with myself.

My first reaction was fear, and with it came anxiety and less confidence and physical stability. We were being asked to stay in the moment as we're tasked to do in yoga. Instead I went back there. Into the Rolodex of my memory to my last handstand. Where was I the last time I did a handstand? The truth is, I probably don't remember the very last handstand I did. It was probably something unassuming as a youth. Little did I know it would be my last one. I don't think any of us think that way as kids though.

What I did remember was doing handstands against the bookcase in my parents family room.

So I stood there staring down the wall and asking myself 'How did I used to do this?'

Then I tried. The worst that could happen was to fall and take out the girl next to me. That wouldn't be ideal, but I should proceed with that risk rather than watch others succeed because they were less fearful than me.

I tried a dozen or so times until I finally got the right momentum to get both legs up. Once I did it, I was able to hold myself there. I wondered, how tall was I the last time I did this? How much did I weigh? Most importantly, why did I stop doing this? This is fun. Certainly more fun than sitting on a couch or in an office chair. Why wouldn't I still be doing this?

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