Maybe I should have gone to FP last week so that I could reinforce the belief that I'm becoming a stronger runner. However, that did not happen and I thought that it would happen today. It did not. My FP went SPLAT this raw and wet December morning.

I was so hopeful, especially after having such a good practice on Thursday, in spite feeling 60-70% (a drastic improvement from Tuesday night, being run over by the proverbial 18-wheeler, steam-roller and locomotive and kaboshed on the head with a steel pipe for hours on end). I kept telling myself to nail the workout but not to leave my race on the track that night. And I didn't think I did. Friday, I felt fine for most of the day; I started feeling a bit worn out directly after I left work at 5. My shakeout was run a bit late in the evening (but I had gotten away with that before). I took a relaxing shower, ate and used my new compact (and ridged) foam roller (that HURT!!!) to break up any tight spots. I even shook my head to check if I still had that cannonball sitting in place of my head (yes, it was still there, but only partially). No big deal. People can run well in races even if they have headaches.

I slept fitfully. I don't know why. Was I worried that being not 100% was going to jeopardize my race? I don't know. But I slept fitfully for whatever reason and clearly those became factors that ruined my race.

I got up in the morning and dreaded the thought of trudging to FP in this rawness. I told myself that I was going to be racing in this weather someday, somewhere and if I didn't do it today, I was always going to make excuses to skip out in the face of icky weather. I think there's even a quote that says something like "Those who wait for perfect conditions do nothing." I didn't want to be one of the "Those."

My stomach was in knots, again. The same way it had been 2 weeks ago. I didn't think anything of it - I thought I could get over that icky feeling.

That icky feeling was nothing compared to the cold. But something in my brain shut off all logic and thought only of how I heat up quickly during harder runs, especially in my upper body and I did not wear the thin rain shell that I brought with me just in case. I thought I'd be fine in my capri tights, short-sleeved technical shirt and gloves. I never seemed to warm up during the race.

Or, maybe it was the fact that I was wearing shoes that I had just broken-in with ~10 niles on Thursday night. I don't know what went wrong.

I started off following the pack and unfortunately, there was no Gesa today. She helped A LOT last time. So, I followed Mike, the guy in the bright blue technical shirt. His was long-sleeved. Mike was the guy who finished his 5 miler in 37 and change (I found this out after). I had a feeling that Mike wasn't going slower than the pace I had set last time and planned to keep in within my line of sight. I succeeded for 1.5 miles. Near the golf course, right before the dog swimming pool. After that, the only person I was racing was myself. It's hard to race yourself if you haven't practiced that.

I think I'm still at the stage where I need to have someone in front of me to follow.

It was hard to hear my 2 mile split: 17:08. YUCK!

WTF was going on???? I was in partial disbelief when I heard that.

I mustered...or tried to muster (there is no Yoda moment here) all my strength and tried to ignore the dismay that I felt while going up the inclined path.

I finished in 20:52. 17 seconds slower than my last FP. WTF was going on????? This was the only thought in my head the whole day.

While I foam rolled after the race.

At Whole Foods while I ate soup. While I shopped.

On the train, while returning home (people must have thought I was crazy, because I kept shaking my head, not in disbelief, but to see if I still had a headache. I did. And I felt exhausted, like I was falling asleep on the train).

At home.

And still, while writing this post.

Speaking of post-race thoughts, while I was schlepping to WFM, Diane caught up to me and told me that I had made the paper...much to my dismay. And, this time I really did find it distressing. But oh well, I guess!

So, I guess my friends who check the paper on Sundays to see who raced will see my name. But, now you know why my time was what it was. I can pinpoint a lot of little things that went wrong which probably culminated in the bigger picture.

I know what to do differently, but the one thing I'm stuck on is when the weather report says it's 40 F, it means it's really 50 F (at least) for us who are racing, so I should have been WARMED UP! Totally confused. Maybe the rain had something to do with negating the heat wave we runners feel while we're running.

Onward to the next week...and the next...


Sign of the Times

I finally have something to write about. FINALLY. After 2.5 years of no guts to race, I finally made up my mind to unearth what had gradually gotten buried after my myomectomy.


I went to bed confident with my training - the running, the nutrition, the amount of sleep, the foam rolling, etc - from especially the past week. I had gone to practice on Tuesday, plowed through a set of 200s in the freezing cold, while being woefully under-dressed. I had done the shakeouts and gone to Thursday night practice where I followed Coach Callum's and Chris Blondin's advice. The one thing I regretted not doing was the shakeout on Friday morning. I felt a little scared about what was going to happen without that under my belt. But I was going. No matter what.

I woke up at 6 a.m. Saturday morning, though I was still in bed; my mind was a blur: "Am I really going to Fresh Pond? I had a good workout at Harvard on Thursday. Most of my times were at least 3 seconds faster than the goal. I can do this. Shouldn't I start going from next week instead? WTF, Mithu if you don't go today, you'll be making these excuses forever." And so on.

Finally by 6:45, after coaxing myself to get up, brushing my teeth and toasting a blueberry waffle so that I could give at least 3 hours before the time trial started, I was kind of ready to get dressed and go. Except for the fact that after I ate the waffle and chugged a bottle of water, I went back to sleep for 15 minutes.

I was oddly calm for most of the train ride to Downtown Crossing where I would switch to the red line going to Alewife. Of course, there were still those intermittent voices in my head, "You can still turn back. Oh, you might as well, you know, you got out late, you're not going to be able to get in a 2.5 mile warm-up and have 15 minutes to chill out before the time trial at 10. This train is slooooowwwwwww...and you got out late; you should turn baaaaaaaaaack noooooooooooooow." But, I didn't. I chugged some more water. The train to Alewife came fairly quickly; many times I've had to wait 10 minutes for the next one. A sign of the times? I didn't know at that point.

As I walked over the footbridge that seemed to be at least a 1/2 mile long, passing the shopping mall, the waffle decided it was going to rear its ugly head in the form of severe GI tract distress. I was sweating bullets at this point. I was crying inside and trying to shut myself up at the same time. I kept telling myself, "You're gonna get there. You're there. You're already there. The water works building is right there...you'll get to the ladies' room in seconds." I got there. With my dignity and guts in tact.

Then came the bombshell: The course had been changed slightly. "WHAT?!??!? How? Where?"

I thought I was mentally prepared for this time trial. I wasn't. Within the 20 minutes remaining before Diane said, "On your mark. Get set. GO!" I went to the ladies' 5 times. I didn't feel like a strong runner. I saw some of my very strong teammates - Kerry, Liz and some guys who looked familiar, but didn't know by name. I saw some other faces I used to see regularly when I had guts and strength every weekend - Johnathan, Gesa and her husband, Joe, Diane and some other folks who I don't know by name, but by face. I kept telling myself that I haven't been here to really RUN in 2.5 years (the last time I went, in April of this year, before I was hospitalised, was to just jog around the pond with Jon Berit and even that was painful for me, because I kept needing to heave every 3 seconds) and so I wasn't expecting anything...I'd just be happy with anything under a 9 minute mile pace.

With the way I was feeling, the doctors would have to perform some major surgery from my throat...because the entire contents of my thoracic cavity was lodged inside it...heart, lungs, stomach and all.

Diane announced that the course was indeed a little different. Instead of going through the woods, on the black-top incline, we all had to take a sharp left on the wood chip-lined trail, before the parking lot. "Oh joy. Where exactly IS that?" I was really scared at this point. And yet, somehow determined to get the job done.

"Hey, this feels easy!
Follow those men!
Why does it feel so easy??
Where is Gesa? Why is she behind me? Am I going too fast? Why is she behind me? She's usually in front of me.
OK, keep going.
Was that a mile?
Oh there she is. I knew it was too good to last, with her being behind me.
Oh, but I can follow her. And she knows where she's going.
Hang on for dear life, because she knows where she's going.
Pleeeeeease, Gesa, DRAG ME WITH YOU!!!!
I'm hanging onto this iron chain attached to your leg for dear life...pleeeeeeease drag me with you!!!
My legs feel weak.
Don't say that! No, they DON'T FEEL WEAK. Get the eff out of my head you effing creep...
GESA, pleeeeeeeeeease don't leave me....
Oh CRIPES, here comes the turn...
OHHH CRIIIIIIIPES, they weren't kidding when they said wood CHIPS...I was hoping for...shavings...maybe??
FML...I'm going to roll my ankle on one of these chips and sprawl haplessly while Gesa runs away..."

The wood chipped trail finally turned into a pathway of fine gravel/sand/earth...a softer than asphalt surface. YEAH, THANKS...Now that I've probably screwed myself by slowing down on those chips.

I thought it was supposed to be shorter...?
OH sh*t, you'd better run faster!! Do you really want to run the time for a 2.5 miler on a 2.25 mile course??? THAT would be embarrassing...

Oh look! There's the finish! Kick dammit!
I have no kick today...
Where the hell is my kick???
You have no kick today..."


"20:35????" I goggled. I took the popsicle stick (I was #20) and just walked around in a daze.

I couldn't believe my time...but then there was the doomed question. How long was the course?
"2.5 miles."
"Yep. But the trail was downhill, ya know."
"That downhill meant diddlysquat to me, because I run faster uphill on smooth black top than I do on loose wood chips the size of chestnuts."

Anyway, the fact that it was actually 2.5 miles was great news, because the original course is not even 2.5. It's something like 2.40 miles or something...

I think we should keep the "new" course.

While a man who I didn't know was writing down my name, city, etc. I was thanking Gesa (who gave me a big hug) profusely. She was my lifeline that day.

I walked around on cloud nine for the rest of the day. I was content that I didn't place among the top 5 women because I couldn't imagine that 20:35 wold make it. Besides, it would be a very slow 5th place...I was happy to have something to conquer next week. If I could run an 8:14/mile pace after just 2 weeks of speed work and still have the strength to jog/walk...heck, even jump after that, then I could run even better the following week. I just had to do what I did this week with a little more push.

Later that day, I went to a craft fair which featured a cat café (but the cat café was closed. BOOO!). The craft fair was fun; I bought some unique things as a treat to myself.

Sunday evening I was checking my FB page and a received a message from Jon Berit congratulating me on my 5th place finish. "5th place among the women? WOW. My name's in this week's paper."

My eyes goggled.
"I made 5th place??????????" Even though I was happy without it, I wasn't going to complain...

"...But my time made 5th place?" I was goggling all evening. Even in my sleep.

Stay tuned for FP: Thanksgiving Redux.


Comeback: Phase I

So...I have been absent from this blog for some time. Couldn't write about my runs if there was nothing to write about. I mean, what runner wants to write about being injured, losing heart due to injury...and subsequently not training the way they should because of feeling discouraged?? I sure don't!

BUT, I've heard some strange definitions of what it means to be a runner lately. I'm not sure you can call yourself a "runner" if you just pick yourself up off the couch and waddle for 30 minutes after a warm-up of walking for 10. Even if you do this every week for months. People might call me elitist. They may call me judgmental and scream that I should be more open-minded in my definition of "a runner." But that's because they hide the discomfort of the truth by being offended at my un-PCness. To me, a runner is someone who gives it their all, pushing themselves to run harder, longer and more frequently. Being a runner takes experience and drive. The hunger that develops from watching people do what you do, but so much better that you are discontent with your own meagre standards. So, you raise the stakes.

When people see pictures of runners, most pick out the ones who look like what I've described in my personal definition, even though they continue to defend that a runner can look like this. Even Wikipedia defines jogging as "a form of trotting...at a slow or leisurely pace." There's nothing wrong with jogging. Runners do it before and after a workout/race. But when we're running, we DON'T jog. We lay down the gauntlet and just GO.

So, that's why I am starting to write for this blog again. Because I don't want to be a trotter/jogger/someone who can laugh and chat while "running." I want to be held accountable for my training. I want to improve by leaps and bounds like I was doing in 2007/2008 before my surgery in 2009. I don't want to be injured, so I want to be held accountable for preventing that too. I want to post great times in my races, but in order to do that I will have to post some not-so-great times in my first races. But every race should be better, because I will be training honestly, so that when I look st this entry, I am not ashamed of the promises I made to myself, and really to my team. I have a responsibility to live up to my own expectations and when I joined GBTC in 2006, I set myself up for some very high ones. I should not be afraid of them. I should not be afraid of setbacks...they are always temporary, if there is someone strong enough to knock them down. This goes for ANYTHING you want in this world.

So, with that in mind, I will write that I've had some good workouts. Last week at practice, I ran 38 laps (~7600m) around the perimeter of a 200m oval. I ran 23 laps continuously. Then I divided the last 15 laps into 3's. For every 3rd lap in the set, I was to sprint along both straightaways. In the last set, my goal was to do the entire 200m lap this way, not just the 100m straightaways on both sides. I knew it would be painful, especially after running in ellipses for such a long time, but that's the point. To get used to running hard on fatigued legs. This is what we all do in a race. At least those of us who actually race when we enter  A RACE. I was exhausted, sick (I was battling a bad cold) but happy.

With that in mind, I am now going out for a run in this white wasteland we call Boston. I'll have to see how ice-free the pavement is, but I am going to find a stretch where I can at least go out there for a few miles.

Until next time!



Quote of the Day

I found this on Facebook on Samyr Laine's status update...

"Don't lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations. Expect the best of yourself, and then do what is necessary to make it a reality." -- Ralph Marston


Wake-Up Call

So, here's a lesson that I learn from time to time...

All last week I was feeling like death because of my hellish schedule and it caused me to feel faint and feel severe pain all over my body. Oh, and...uh, I guess falling off a ladder might have had something to do with it too.  I went out for a 6 mile run 2 days after falling but succeeded in running only 3 miles because I was feeling lightheaded and dizzy.  But that doesn't mean I can just stuff myself to feel better.  I ate the worst food - much of it lacking in any nutritional value - to make myself feel better, and therefore I wanted comfort food. I ran well below my weekly total and paid for it during today's run.

I geared up to run 8 miles today, I ran only 3.5. And the reason is absolutely clear: I had such low-energy that I couldn't run faster than my cool-down pace. Luckily, I had enough energy to keep going without stopping like many people do when their out of breath. Being out of breath isn't my problem. Frankly speaking, I'd rather have been out of breath after running fartleks at a crazy-fast pace than the light-headed, low-energy pace that I jogged tonight. Eww. Jogging.. Jogging should only be done after a hard effort, but we won't discuss that in this entry.

Anyway...I'm just happy that I refused to stop from psychological weakness. I only stopped when there was traffic on the street I had to cross...and those are the 2 times when I realised I felt light-headed and dizzy. So dizzy, everything was foggy and all throughout my chest, it felt like heart burn, even though I hadn't had anything to cause that feeling.

So, there we have it...it takes a really bad run for me to realise that my recent actions (or inactions) aren't going to get me anywhere and will probably leave me more miserable than any body ache I could experience.

From now on, I should muster up my strength and plow through that fatigue and soreness and just run. Even if it's for 2 or 3 miles on my worst day. "Just do it" is my motto, not just for races but for days like these.  It is normally a no-brainer for me, but my hellish schedule and the effects of the fall just blew-up in my brain and I had a hard time wrapping my head around how I'd go about defeating this severe malaise.

NO MORE. I'm taking back those days forever. And though today's run sucked big time, it's a feeling I hope to never forget. And, though I've said that I learn this lesson from time to time, it angered me so intensely today, that I vow to not let soreness and fatigue get the better of me. What's done has been done. I have to move forward and never let this happen again. NO MORE!! 


Improve Your Running

As I get ready to go to practice, here's an informative video showing 2-time U.S. 5000 meter champion, Lauren Fleshman, doing plyometric drills to help with running form and speed. Happy running!


Quote of the Day

"Conditions are never just right. People who delay action until all factors are favourable do nothing." - William Feather