This weekend I completed my longest run in over a year. I continue to see progress in mileage and quality, and I’m even more excited to have another race coming up. Beach to Beacon has been on my “must race” list for years now. My long-time hero, Joan Benoit Samuelson, founded the race and I always wanted to compete there. The heat wave that suppressed the East Coast for the past couple of weeks has broken, so it should be a great race. Andrew and Piper are joining me for the trip since I am still feeding her. Piper turned 5 months old last week and hearing friends predict her sporting future has been amusing. As long as I am speaking of age…
Next weekend I am attending my 20-year high school reunion! Agoura High School produced some great runners over the years. Names like Bryan Dameworth, Ryan Wilson and Amy Skieresz. They weren’t in my graduating class, but it will be fun to connect with teammates and classmates. Until then, my week is action packed with a long run, miles repeats and a tempo run. Always more work to do…
This week marked one of great adventure. I needed to be in Pasadena, California to help announce a new Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena Half Marathon, but didn’t want to make a three-day trip to Southern California with Piper. My only other option was to charter a Cessna plane and pilot to take me to Pasadena for the day. I left Andrew and Piper at home in the early morning and flew only 2,000 feet above the ground as the Sierra Nevada peaks towered over me to the right. Mount Whitney was still snow capped as we flew under her.
It was a typical day in Pasadena as we were greeted with 95 degrees. The town was so charming; no wonder the Rock ‘n’ Roll series is adding this to their list of great cities to host a running event. Colorado Blvd was lined with new shops and restaurants, and I’m told the street is on the Rose Parade route. After a sushi lunch, I met runners at A Snail’s Pace running store and we went for a run around the Rose Bowl. It was a happening place. The three-mile loop was packed with dog walkers, moms with strollers, cyclists, runners and one man on horseback (odd).
After the run we sat around and chatted about training, racing and parenting. I’m new at this parenting thing, but still was anxious to get home to Piper. This was the first day I spent without her. At dusk, my pilot Jeff and I headed back up Owens Valley to home. I walked in the door at 10 pm and had been gone for 15 hours. It had been a busy day for me, but Andrew looked exhausted having had Piper all day. We all slept well that night.
Sunday was my first Mother’s Day. After a great long run on the hills around Owen’s River Road I headed back home to a delicious breakfast that Andrew made. He bought me a gliding bench for our back deck. It has large arms to host whatever I’m drinking at the time I’m enjoying this space under the pine trees. The plaque on it reads “Happy First Mother’s Day! Love, Andrew & Piper”. I can’t wait to lightly rock on this bench while enjoying my morning coffee. I look forward to swinging mid-day while drinking a post-run smoothie. And lastly, I anticipate sharing a glass of wine with Andrew here at the end of the day.
This wish list will have to wait, because as I type this it is snowing! Unbelievable! So, instead of gently rocking on my new bench, we are inside sitting on the couch watching the snow fall while the fireplace warms the house. Today is a far cry from the warmth that embraced me in Pasadena. I look forward to returning there next February to run the half marathon and for another break in the cold weather.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and there is no better way to give thanks than to honor someone who has had an influence on your life. Andrew and I had a chance to express our gratitude when we visited our previous hometown of Alamosa, Colorado. We attended a dedication ceremony on the Adam’s State campus to unveil a bronze statue of Coach Vigil. The small town hosted a large crowd of people, all of whom have been positively impacted by the wisdom and friendship of this amazing coach.
He taught me a lot about physiology: about oxygen carrying capacity, velocity at VO2 max, ferratin levels, perceived exertion, adrenal cortical reserves and biomechanical efficiency. But the greatest lessons molded my life philosophy of ever striving higher to accomplish great things. Through Coach Vigil I learned that nothing is career-capping and everything can be perfected, yet never perfect. I learned that our knowledge is only valuable when we share it, and that sharing with others is what makes the journey so special. I learned that the harder we work to accomplish things, the more gratifying the end result regardless of whether we reach our goal.
One of my greatest lessons came within seconds of winning my first national championship in cross country. I had just beaten Lynn Jennings, who had won nine XC titles prior to my taking her streak away. At the finish line, I found Coach Vigil and gave him a hug. He said to me, “Good job, but I’m not going to pat you on the back until you can run with the best in the world”. (Not that Lynn Jennings, who won three cross country world championships, wasn’t among the best of the world at her peak, but she was winding down her career by this time.)
Of course! Who was I? This was nothing compared to where I wanted to be and coach knew that. I had a long way to go. His words offered me an insatiability to always find ways to improve, while being proud of the strides I’ve made to move forward. He inspired me to be a better athlete, a better wife, a better student of life, a more generous citizen, a more helpful friend, a more supportive teammate…and soon, the chance to be a gold-medal mom.
So, it was wonderful to be able to express my gratitude toward Coach as so many others did last weekend. With Thanksgiving around the corner, make sure you are thanking the people in your life who have offered you growth, direction and insight. Better yet, thank them and then be sure to share those precious gifts with someone else.
It was a crazy week in New York City. I never thought I would say this, but it is way easier to run than to work at these events. One of my days consisted of a 4:00 am wake-up call only to return to our hotel at 10:30 that night. Long days. Now that a good night’s sleep (11 hours) is behind me, I can say it was a blast. I was able to be on air with Al Roker for his morning weather report, help raise money for New York Road Runners Youth Programs, run with various magazine editors whom my husband is coaching and be the keynote speaker at the New York Athletic Club dinner.
The day before the race I signed autographs at the ASICS store and Paragon Sports (with hurdle star Lolo Jones). Later, I went to the race expo to do a question and answer session with running expert Toni Reavis as well as signed autographs at the ASICS booth and the ING booth. I went through about 400 posters that day.
Race morning called for an early start as I was helping NBC with elite athlete interviews. All the athletes were gracious to give me some of their precious time before and after the race.
After our obligations were met, Andrew and I sat in a window seat of my favorite NYC café. We sipped on hot soup, ate sandwiches and watched through the window as runners passed in their silver post-race blankets. Their salt-encrusted faces wore smiles despite the fact that they were walking with an uncomfortable hitch in their step. It reminded me of one of my decisions to reward myself by shoe-shopping after the Olympic Trials in Boston in 2008. I went to my favorite shoe store on Newbury Street and bought a pair of brown leather flats, sure to go with everything in my wardrobe. Well, I got to wear those shoes for two days until the swelling went down in my feet and the shoes immediately became too big for me! So, to all you female runners out there, DO NOT reward yourself with shoes right after a great race! It is fun at the time, but a waste of hard-earned money and sweat! Try some of my other rewards like indulging in high-quality face cream, buying new bamboo bed sheets or consuming the ever-so-satisfying toasted coconut almond fudge gelato!
Andrew and I sat in that window seat long enough to order a post-lunch pastry and hot cocoa because we were having so much fun watching the racers limp past us. This was a rare occasion that my racing shoes were left at home so many miles away, but the spirit of the marathon gives me a “runner’s high” no matter how I’m involved. What a weekend.
I returned to Mammoth in time for rain and snow to wipe out my allergy problems. The quick change of seasons has been refreshing in many ways. Not only is it nice to get out and run on these crisp mornings, but it is also nice to have a change of running clothes as I bring the tights and long-sleeves to the front of my closet.
I am only home a short while before heading to Chicago for this weekend’s marathon. The men’s and women’s fields are very impressive so we are bound to see some dramatic races unfold. Although I’m not running this year, I am helping NBC with their television coverage as I ride the women’s lead vehicle. I travel with the lead pack and give up-to-date information on how the race is unfolding. Sometimes it is easier to race because we have trained well for it; television commentary is relatively new to me. I like the challenge since my challenges aren’t coming in training these days. I am more than halfway through this pregnancy and feel great. The joys of starting a family have been more powerful than I ever knew possible.
But, this week I’ll be in Chicago with my extended running family. Marathon week in Chicago is so much fun. The city welcomes runners from around the world with so much to do even before race day. The places I will frequent will be the waterfront for great running, the ASICS booth at the marathon expo and the two screenings of Spirit of the Marathon that also take place at the McCormick Place Expo. The screenings of this great documentary will be at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday and 8 p.m. on Saturday in room E350. Other than that, there are great races lined up for the 45,000 runners and a cheering crowd of 1.7 million on the streets of the city.