Saturday, September 22, 2007

What a Difference a Year Makes!

Last year at this time I still feeling the affects of three slow to heal broken ribs and the immense sorrow of losing my dad suddenly. These two events had made it very challenging to train to walk the Nike Women's Marathon for Team in Training. There had been some weeks where my training for the week simply consisted of showing up for the long group walks. Mentally it was hard to get myself out the door to go for a walk. However 2006 was the year I wanted to finally add the marathon piece to my Team in Training resume, and complete the Triple Crown. So come hell or high water, I was doing a marathon!

The long walks were difficult at times. I was slower then the other women doing Nike, so often I would have nobody to walk with until I'd regroup with one of the coaches for the second part of the walk. Thank goodness for my iPod. Music helped keep me sane on the lonely walks. The other issue was I had trouble with my feet. I had an annoying pain on the outside of the right foot, and lingering plantar fasciitis in my left foot. There were the annoying shin splints that made it hard to run earlier in the year, when i was trying to tri.

The day before my 20 miler I walked into Jack Rabbit Sports in NYC, had them look at me on the treadmill, and switched to a completely different shoe. I was so desperate that I made this huge change, and then went out and walked 20 miles the next day. That's about as close as one can get to breaking the cardinal rule of nothing new on race day. But then again, I don't always follow the sanest path. Fortunately my insane gamble worked, and the pain in my feet was easing.

Now it's almost year since doing Nike, and in less then a month I will be doing it again. I'm hoping to go faster this time. If my training walks are any indicator I should be able to easily beat last year's time. It's been interesting trying to balance cycling and walking. Last year I didn't have that issue. This year I've had to try not to over train. When you're walking 3 days and riding 3 days it's easy to go overboard. I was glad when the Empire State Games were over, because then I didn't have to fret over getting bike miles in.

Another thing that has helped this year is, I've lost most of the weight I'd put on last two years. Returning to Weight Watchers has helped a lot, even if they don't quite know what to do with people like me who can ring up 9 to 11 activity points in a day. (They suggest 4 activity points a day, 28 for the week.) It took awhile to get the metabolism going again. I was starting to think I'd never get back down to goal and would have to set an "old lady's" new goal. However patience paid off. 18.6 pounds down! 1.4 will put me back within 2 pounds of goal so I can stop paying!

I've had two good long walks so far, but I've had to do the last miles alone. Last weekend I did 15 miles. I had company for 10 and did the last 5 by myself. This weekend I again had company for 10, and had to do 7 by myself. The 17 miler ended the same way the 15 miler began last week. Walking in the rain! I think my last mile was the fastest because I was worried about my iPod and cell phone getting wet. I sure never had those issues 25 years ago when doing long runs in the rain.

Last week I picked my "Race Music" play list for my final 5 miles. It's got music that I've liked to listen to before races over the years. It's a mixed bag of rock, classical, new age, and jazz. It was what I was in the mood for last weekend. This weekend I was in the mood for something a little more spiritual so I opted for Handel's Messiah. How many people train to oratorio music? Actually I find Messiah very uplifting, and some of the choruses have good tempo for my walking pace. I could not have timed it better though. As I was completing my last mile the "Hallelujah" Chorus came on. "Hallelujah, Hallelujah! I did it, I did it!" I got through the 17 miles at a consistent 15 minute pace. (My apologies to Mr. Handel.)

Two more long walks to go. 14 miles next week, and then the big 20 the week after. Then the week after that John and I leave for a week's vacation in San Francisco and wine country.

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