Monday, September 24, 2012

2nd Annual National Take Your Daughter Running Day: Oct 1, 2012



October 1st, 2012 is the 2nd annual "National Take Your Daughter Running Day"!! 

This coming Monday, Oct 1st (Grete Waitz's Birthday) 2012 is "National Take Your Daughter Running Day". Some question whether any such special day is either necessary and/or good, after all, aren't we at a place in time where we don't need these things anymore? More women are now entering races (up to half marathons) than men. It seems we've achieved what we set out to do with Title IX (June 23, 1972)

Am I just hanging onto my old hang ups and perceptions which no longer apply? I ran my first race before Title IX and I was the only girl racing that day. Maybe it's time to just let this go.

Then there's the more troubling question of whether it's even good for me to encourage my daughter to run? Shouldn't I allow her to find her own way, her own passions, on her own? Am I actually hurting her by running with her?? 

Well, I don't think we are anywhere near where we want to be, nor do I think encouraging my daughter to run with me is somehow setting her up for trouble to come.   

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So, to the question: Haven't we achieved what we set out to do 40 years ago? I will answer, NO. Girls are still statistically less active than boys. The Women's Sports Foundation reports that by the age of 14 girls begin dropping out of sports at twice the rate of boys. 

Last year I wrote:
"In a recent Christian Science Monitor article, Little girls or little women: The Disney princess effect, Stephanie Hanes notes that: "Girls are participating in sports at a much increased level in grade school," says Sharon Lamb, a professor of education and mental health at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. But, she adds, they start to drop out of sports at the middle school level when they start to believe that sports are unfeminine and unsexy.
The Women's Sports Foundation found that 6 girls drop out of sports for every 1 boy by the end of high school, and a recent Girl Scout study found that 23 percent of girls between the ages of 11 and 17 do not play sports because they do not think their bodies look good doing so."
We seem to be loosing ground on this, and that may be because we think that there isn't a problem. While we have come a long way since 1972, we still have a long way to go. And certainly the national obesity stats do not point to an active and healthy culture!

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A couple weeks ago Athleta published the piece "Five Reasons to Run with Your Daughter"(http://www.athleta.net/2012/09/14/five-reasons-to-run-with-your-daughter/). This article sparked a bit of a debate between me and Dawn Coccone, author of " Week Ahead is National Take Your Daughter Running Ray, October 1, 2012" ( http://www.examiner.com/article/week-ahead-is-national-take-your-daughter-running-day-september-30-2012  Ms. Coccone states:
"While it is honorable and timely to for Athleta to post this article, I think you need to be aware that as attractive as the idea of running with daughter is, it might be idealistic to think she will embrace it as you do. If your daughter is already into running or asks you to train her that is a wonderful opportunity, but recall when you were young…you wanted the opportunity to embrace your own passions."
Running with my daughter is no way saying to her that she must "embrace it as [I] do"! Whether we like it or not we can not help but make statements with how we choose to live. My daughter sees me run, she knows when I'm off racing, she knows I coach others to run - she knows that it matters to ME. But she also knows that SHE matters more than anything else to me. She knows that I will support her passions, but she also knows that I want her to have passions. I am who I am. She is who she is. As a parent, one of my roles is to make her aware of the options out there, to expose her to different things and let her decide what she really cares about.

When I was young I wanted to find my own passions, but those are never found in a vacuum - those are discovered through the examples we have around us. We learn from those around us and the example they set may be positive or negative. I hope to be an example for my daughter, which is very different from pressuring her to please mommy - to do what mommy does, or else...

I was so fortunate to have parents who took me and my sister to races. They didn't force us to run. They opened the door and WE walked through on our own. I'm still running. My sister is not. Two different people. Two different paths.

There is a BIG difference between encouragement and pressure - and the argument that one necessarily leads to the other is a fallacious slippery slope argument. The first does not necessarily lead to slipping down that precipitous slope. And the fact remains, that our girls are constantly barraged with messages pressuring them to conform to a feminine stereotype. They feel pressure from their friends, from pop culture, the media, etc. and to argue that parents should be careful not to impress upon their children the passion that they embrace seems wrongheaded. I'm not just sending my child out into the world to flit around like a leaf in a breeze. I am here to help direct her to find her way, to instill values, and clear thinking. I like to read. I read to my daughter a lot. I value intellectual curiosity. Does that mean that she is going to be an uptight overachieving student? A perfectionist trying to please mommy? I don't know. But this is the best I can do.

So this coming Monday, run with your daughter - to school, around the block, down to the playground, up a hill, where ever. Share your passion. Share your time with her. Let her feel the power of her legs, and her heart and the joy of moving through space, side by side.




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Some stats on girls and sports:
http://www.girlscouts.org/research/facts_findings/sports_and_physical_activity.asp
http://www.aauw.org/act/laf/library/athleticStatistics.cfm

Monday, September 17, 2012

BQ Number Two: With A Little Help From My Friends

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.~Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Where do I even begin???

Yesterday (Sept 16th) I ran the Fox Valley Marathon in St. Charles, Ill. This was one of my most emotional races thus far in my 40 years of running. I had no idea what it really meant.

Last year when I qualified for Boston it felt easy. Everything went perfectly, and I felt good all the way to the end. Not so this time. This race was different. Good different and bad different in different ways.

And it all began with Boston 2012 - The hotter than hell Boston that left me feeling that I had to come back so that I could run it and actually "enjoy" it. This new goal seemed to grip me by the throat and shake me silly. And gradually too much began riding on this single goal.

So I headed off to Chicago on Saturday feeling the weight of expectations (mine and those of others - at least my perception of those of others) weighing on me. My feet were a mess and killing me. The weather forecast was for hot, humid weather - not my cup-o-tea. My training for the race was uneven at best, and I really began to doubt myself.  I gave myself an 'out' - if it sucks I'll just call it a training run for New York. But in my heart of hearts I wanted it to be more. I had come here with one goal in mind.

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The morning is cool, but too warm for 7 a.m. Standing around comfortably in shorts and a jog bra at the start of a marathon does not bode well for me. As Danica (of Boston or Botox) and I drive from our motel to the start (both of us have, within the week, been diagnosed with foot conditions/injuries and have been feeling fairly apprehensive. We spent most of yesterday reassuring each other that if everything went pear shaped we'd still be okay!), I ask her if she ever feels "ready" when facing a marathon? I wish I could say I'm one of those runners who goes into a marathon without any doubt that I'm gonna rock it - but I'm always a little scared - or a lot scared - and I always hear that voice in my head: "Why am I doing this???" I try to ignore that voice, but I'm always shaking under my skin.

We make our way to the start. I'm meeting up with a new friend - someone I feel I know well but whom I've never actually met. We're 'facebook friends' and I'm currently coaching her for her first marathon - Chicago -  She ran her first 20 miler the day before and got up at 4 a.m. to drive an hour and a half to cheer me and some other friends on. I see Sandra and her neon yellow sign. We hug like old friends.

 Danica, Sandra, and me. Before...

Soon I find myself moving toward the starting line  - I cross the mats and start the Garmin. And we're off. Things click along fine, as it should be early on in a marathon. It's feeling easy and I'm feeling good. The air is still cool and the trail is shaded from the rising sun.

I run into other people I "know" via social media - other Marathon Maniacs - facebook friends - Say what you will about social media - but for me it has lead to some real and meaningful friendships and a connection to the larger running community that I never had in the old days.

As we approach the halfway point my feet are crapping out on me and my energy is lagging. I cross the 13.1 mat and there's Sandra, small bottle of HEED and a Clif Shot in hand - I stop and grab them for the loop turn around where I'll hand them back off to her. That friendly face, that offer of assistance means the world to me at this point and I pick up my pace.

 Mile 14ish. I'm still upright, and my motion still resembles running!

As I return to her after the mile and a half loop, I hand off the bottle. I want to stop to hug her, but I keep going. She yells "Do you want another one?" I yell back "No. I'm good. Well, maybe later!". 

Things are uneven at this point. I jump into a porta potty for a quick pit stop (something I will regret later). And I keep moving through those difficult miles where you have run far and still have much left to do.

Somewhere around the 20 mile mark it's pretty clear that everyone around me is hurting. I'm hurting. My feet are killing me, though my legs feel really good. I'm trying to ignore the fact that I feel I'm running on club-feet - numb, painful, burning. The sun is now high in the sky and we're on the sunny side of things. You can see the humidity in the air. I look at my watch as we pass 20 miles: 2:58. The split written on my forearm in ballpoint pen says I should be at 2:56:40 - but I added a cushion to that so I'm behind where I want to be, but I'm still okay.

And then there's Sandra, holding out another bottle filled with fresh cold HEED. I fight the urge, again, to stop and hug her, but I feel a deep sense of gratefulness welling up inside of me. I grab it and go. She yells after me "You look strong. I'll see you at the finish!" I do not look strong, but what else can she say? It helps to hear the lie.

As we pass 25 miles I'm frantically doing the math in my head. Can I still do this? I can, or maybe I can, if I really push it, but as I push it I feel I'm running through the thickest molasses. I keep seeing myself crossing the finish having missed the mark by seconds. It's now or never and I have to fight ever ounce of my self-doubting soul to keep from stopping and giving up.


And then I think of Sandra, and I think of my husband (who calmly, or not so calmly, puts up with my craziness) and I think of my daughter who will ask me how the race went - and we pass mile 26, and as I round the corner for the last .10 mile I see that I have to push harder than I ever have (though from the perspective of an observer I'm barely moving), and I see Sandra out of the corner of my eye and I can't hear what she's yelling but I hear her voice, and those last few steps actually feel like a sprint...After crossing all the mats I press the Garmin: 3:54:54 (eventually the official time is 3:54:53 after being told that it was 3:55:07). A BQ (Boston Qualifier) by 6 seconds.

I thank Sandra for her help. I tell her I couldn't have done it without her, and that is the absolute truth. Her help gave me those crucial seconds. Her being there and supporting me gave me the motivation to push when I wanted to just say "screw it". She dismissed my claims, but I know better. I really would not have done it without her. I really would not have done it without the support, day in and day out, from my husband and daughter, and from all my friends. And, even if we can reach our goals on our own, they are more meaningful with the support of others.

We have lunch and say our good-byes for now. At this point I still believe that the official time is 3:55:07 (which means I missed the mark by 7 seconds) - but as I drive to the airport, radio blaring (because Chicago actually has a good station) I actually don't care because I've had a great day.

I get to the airport and look up the official times. I stare hard at the screen which seems to say: 3:54:53. I scan the screen trying to see if I am missing something - but that is what it is:

2439  Caolan MacMahon          F4549          336           13/73              107/492






            3:54:53

I want to jump out of my seat and scream but that might cause some security uneasiness. I text Sandra (she asks me if I screamed when I saw it ;), I call my husband, and I tell my daughter when she asks "How was your race mommy?". "Fantastic", I say. "It went very well."

And as I sit on the airplane flying back to Colorado drinking a Fat Tire for dinner (the first time I have EVER bought a beverage on an airplane!) I begin tearing up and am thankful for the darkened cabin lights - as I think of all the people who stand behind me and support me in this insanity. For me this is what is important in life. We all have our own personal challenges which matter so much to us. And it adds so much when we have other behind us. Then it is full, and great, and unforgettable. 

There are so many others, not mentioned here, but I hope you know who you are. Thank you. I love you!




Tuesday, September 11, 2012

10 Running-Related Personal Questions

Yesterday, Sarah Bowen Shea from Another Mother Runner posted her 10 Running-Related Personal Questions and challenged other mother-runner-bloggers to do the same - So here's mine...

And it all sorta begins here...
Captain of my HS Cross Country Team, 1981

1. Best run ever:   Colorado Marathon, 2011. It wasn't my fastest, but I did qualify for Boston. It was the first marathon I ran where I felt I did just about everything right, everything clicked, and it felt almost (almost!) easy all the way to the end. Now all I want is more of that! That was some good stuff.

2. Three words that describe my running:   Disciplined, thoughtful, life affirming

3. My go-to running outfit is:  Saucony P.E. running shorts and a Road Runner Sports Jog Bra - maybe a shirt if it's colder that 45 degrees ;) I like it cold when I'm running!

4. Quirky habit while running:  I tend to have certain routes I really enjoy and keep going back to, through the seasons and over years. I have a relationship and a history with my favorite routes and they help tie my running identity together as the years fly by. When I return to my childhood home (where my mother still lives) I run the same routes I ran in high school. Much has changed, but I'm still essentially that young girl running to discover herself.

5. Morning, midday, evening:  Morning - Always. It's the only way to get it done (for me) with a family and work. I've gotten up at 2 a.m. many times if that's what's necessary. Morning runs are also my favorite way to start the day.

6. I won’t run outside when it’s:  I pretty much always run outside. I never run inside and I've only run on a treadmill once, in Maine in 1989, for a VO2Max test. I'm entirely too spastic for the treadmill. I've run through Maine Nor'easters, -15 degree deep freezes, 90+ mph wind storms (I've been blown off the road many times!) and 105 degree Colorado bakers.

7. Worst injury—and how I got over it: Calf tendinosis, 2008. Nothing worked and the conclusion was that my knee was shot to heck. The diagnosis was dire. The MRI showed a grisly picture of flaking and tearing and delamination and just general destruction. Well, that didn't make sense to me, since my knee never actually hurt, and so I went on a 10 month long journey to find answers. My answer and salvation came in the form of many small needles redirecting my confused body! (http://www.chronicrunner.com/2011/10/confessions-of-born-again-racer.html)

 I have this done to various body parts very regularly.

Now I have a little addition problem with needles!

8. I felt most like a badass mother runner when: Boston, 2012. 90 degrees of baking hot love! Walking in the high sun to the starting corrals felt like a walk to the guillotine! I remember running up heartbreak Hill - everyone - and I mean everyone - around me was walking. Now I wasn't moving very fast but I was still running - and I ran the whole dang thing!
 Looking like something the dog dragged in.

Oh, and my feet hurt like heckety heck for the last 16 miles. Now I want to go back and do it again! (http://www.chronicrunner.com/2012/04/episode-three-steady-forward-progress.html)

Badass feet!

9. Next race is: Fox Valley Marathon, St. Charles, Ill., this Sunday (Sept. 16th), then NYC in November :)

10. Potential running goal for 2013: Dunno yet. This has been a big year - Boston, New York, qualifying for and becoming a Marathon Maniac. I'm going to reassess things after NY, though I'm already registered for the Colorado Marathon, 2013. There's lots of things to chew over - lots of directions to go...
 

Monday, September 3, 2012

'I Am Not a Runner'


"To know you are one with what you are doing, to know that you are a complete athlete, begins with believing you are a runner." ~ George Sheehan

I've heard this from so many runners...'I'M NOT A RUNNER' or 'I'M NOT REALLY A RUNNER'.

I spent this past Saturday in Estes Park, CO at Terry Chiplin's beautiful running camp Active at Altitude. attending an "Active Mind" workshop which Terry will be bringing to marathons across the country with his Active Mind Race Camps. At the workshop we explored some ways to redirect and refocus the helpful and not so helpful self concepts that we carry with us throughout our days and nights.

Several of the participants expressed a nagging feeling that they aren't 'real runners' or runners at all. This seems to be a constant refrain - Oh I'm not a 'runner' I just run...or some such nonsense. The usual grounds for such claims are: They feel that they're not running enough, or don't race, or have never run a marathon, or don't run fast enough, or haven't been running long enough, or are too old, or have the wrong body type, and on and on and on...To all of these I say piffle.

Being a runner has to do with attitude, period. I've written about this before in Running or Jogging.There I argue that being a runner has nothing to do with any of the above. Rather I concluded then that: 
"There's a level of commitment and a desire to make running happen even when it's difficult. Runners want to run. Runners enjoy running. Oh, we all have those days when we just don't want to do it - but we do it anyway - and once we do, we usually (but not always) love it. Runners run as an end in itself, not as a means to an end only. Sure, some runners run to lose weight, or for their health - but true runners keep running after they've lost the weight (or haven't) and feel healthy and strong. Runners sometimes run when they're sick or injured, even if they shouldn't. Runners run in the rain and the snow and the cold, and realize that it's actually always great weather for a run. Or, they might suck it up, and run on the treadmill, if there's no other way to get their fix."
However, going to the workshop this weekend made me realize that some recent experiences have upset my world just a tad. They've made me more nervous and uptight about my training. They've left me feeling that I need to compare myself to others. They've undermined what I know I really believe and my pure enjoyment of running. And when I think about it all, and the resulting feelings and reactions I've allowed in myself, I recognize that, in fact, they've pissed me off and made me question my own understanding of me as a runner.

Here's what happened...

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Earlier this summer I spent some time in the company of many, many elite professional runners, some Olympic marathoners and very serious amateurs. At first I felt that somehow there was some sort of mistake - 'Um, I don't think I should be here. Why was I invited?', I thought silently to myself. My running resume just didn't measure up. I immediately felt like an impostor - a fake - What if everyone finds out? I may be a "Marathon Maniac" - I may be a 'runner' of 40 years (or that's what I've always thought), but I'm just not very fast - at least by the standards of some - and the disparaging comments (which I do believe are not meant that way) creep into the discussions without some (fast runners) even noticing.

Well, I did my best to fit in and I can hold my own pretty well concerning my knowledge of training and physiology, and my experience with my own running and working with other runners allows me to put on a pretty good act, even if I can no longer run the paces I once considered respectable. I learned so much new and I also learned that I have a pretty good handle on a lot of running stuff. But then there were the little comments thrown in, almost in passing, and these words started borrowing their way relentlessly into my soul like termites eating away at my confidence.

It was simple, and common, and I've heard these things a million times and this time it got to me: Claims that those running over 4:00 marathons probably shouldn't be running marathons - Claims that someone running an 8:30 per/mile pace for a marathon is really a 'glorified jogger'. I wanted to run away and hide...or better, jog away and hide.

God, I hope no one knows how slow I am, I thought to myself.

I wish I could say that I'm over that, but the truth is, I'm battling it right now. I believe that I'm a runner. But the naysayers got to me and I hate it.

Then today I read something that really made me angry...

At this point we've all heard about Paul Ryans bogus marathon PR claims - and I'm not going to go on about that other than to say that lying matters to me - Instead I'm going to focus on some of the comments with respect to his claims.

In the BBC piece "Paul Ryan Marathon Claim: Would You Fib About Your PB?" by http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19462506  David Castle, editor of Running Fitness magazine suggests:
"When we talk about runners becoming proper runners, [it might be] under 3:30 [for a marathon]...Who wants to say they ran four hours? It's an OK time but not a runner's time."
Seriously? I'm sorry but this guy needs to get a life and a clue! I've been running for 40 years. I run every stinking day (minus one rest day a week - though I did have a 3 year running streak back in the 80s - and no, that probably can not be verified unless you want to look at my running log which could have all been fabricated). I run in all weather. I run when I'm sick. I ran through my whole bloody pregnancy (Ya done that Mr. Castle?). And, I was back out every day, with baby in tow, 5 weeks after giving birth. So, this tool is going to tell me I'm not a runner!!!! Yeah, this pushes my buttons. Yeah, I'm feeling a little defensive.

But worse, for many runners, it eats at them, it makes them feel silly and fake - How silly is it to work so hard for such slow times? How silly to spend so much time doing something one obviously sucks at? How can someone justify all this time and effort? These disparaging comments, arbitrary measurements and restrictive definitions of what it is to be a runner are pointless and irksome.

Well, it's really quite simple: I love to run. Period. That makes me a runner. Period. I am a runner.

The Things That Change Us

“The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety.” ~ Goethe Sometimes we never "go back" to what we were before....