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Ruth Gallogly


Ruth is training for the Maui Marathon with Team-in-Training.  

Why I'm Doing This….
I've always wanted to run a marathon. And when I turned 30 ten days after September 11th, I determined that I would run one before I turned 31. For those of you who know me, you know what a crazy determination that is. For those of you who don't, well, let me put in this way: before the middle of April, my cat could outrun me. I could maybe, on a good day, run half a mile.

So I knew I could never do it on my own. And as fate would have it, I know 4 people who have run marathons or half marathons with Team in Training (TNT). It was natural for me to look into the program. The minute I surfed their website, I knew I needed to go to an information meeting. And the minute the meeting ended, I knew I needed to be a part of the program. 

So I run for me, to prove that I can make the impossible possible and fulfill a long-held dream. But more than that, I run to raise money for a cure for Stella, my TNT honoree, who is 27, an engineer, and is in remission from Hodgkin's Disease. And I run for Gabe (AxeOutLeukemia is HIS site), my TNT mentor's cousin, who is 17, a high school student, and has Leukemia. And I run for Matthew, my former boss Zelda's grandson, who is 5 and in remission from Leukemia.

Ruth's Training and Fundraising Journal

Wednesday, October 2, 2002: I FINISHED THE MAUI MARATHON!!! I am now officially a marathoner and I have the medal to prove it. Go me! And, with all y'all's help, it looks like I'm going to raise more than $6, 000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Go you!!!

I so wish I could have kept up with this journal, because it's fun to read about those first few groups runs and how nervous I was and how long 3 miles seemed. Now an 8 mile run is comfortable and feels like nothing. Isn't that insane in the best sort of way?!

But here's the scoop on life since my last entry and on the marathon & Maui: On the non-running front, work was great but a little overwhelming. I was overseeing the re-design of our website, which we wanted up for the anniversary of 9/11, and August and September were full of late nights (not to mention weekends) at the office. Two weeks before the marathon I got home from work at about 1:30 a.m. and then had to be up at 6 a.m. to be at physical therapy. I averaged 4-6 hours of sleep a week night and spent most weekends trying to cram in as much sleep as possible to keep me going. The six weeks leading up to the marathon are pretty much one big blur of hyper, sleep-deprived, work- and running-filled delusion, and I just now feel like I'm waking up and trying to shake off the monster hangover. (But the new site looks great. Check it out:

When not working, I was running or seeing some form of doctor about my running. In August, the big mile numbers started to crop up: 15, 18 and 20. And with them came some serious knee pain and some serious damage to my toe nails. Now the toe nails, while not pretty, weren't that big a deal till the marathon and after. Two visits to the podiatrist and ten messed up and mostly removed toe nails later I was not in any pain just bemoaning my lack of pedicure-readiness. And after a day or two of pouting, I took my lack of toe nails in stride as part of the marathon experience.

See, there is this thing that happens to you when you become marathon obsessed. You lose perspective on pain and body damage. Your knee hurts? Well, yeah, whose doesn't? Will you run through it? As much as possible. It's like the phrase used in Northern Ireland in the 80s, something like "an acceptable level of violence." Only in this case, you're the one committing the violence to your body. And since everyone around you is doing it and is in a relative level of pain, it doesn't seem abnormal. Tasha, Danna, and I spent long runs talking about our physical therapy sessions like we used to talk about our Friday nights out, when we had Friday nights out at the beginning of our training.

This, honestly, wasn't as bad as I just made it sound. The toe nails didn't hurt, they were just gone. And my knee…well, okay, in August, pre-physical therapy, things got pretty bad. After doing 16 miles one Saturday, I spent the evening at a friend's going away party and really didn't know if I'd be able to walk to the two blocks back to the subway I was in so much pain. And in the hardest running moment of the whole training, I had to pull out of the 18 mile NYC marathon tune up race at mile 12 because I wasn't able to keep myself going through the cramping pain in my knee. It took everything I had not to turn into hysterical knee pain girl and start crying, but both Mike and Ramon were terribly sweet and encouraging and somehow didn't let me feel bad or discouraged about it.

Azania Andrews
TJ Anthony & Connie Marshall
Emary Aronson
Zak Berkman & Teri Lamm
Jon & Tracy Bienen
Anna Byng
Amy Christiansen
Tom Cordero
Ashley Crossan
Sue & Justin Cuyler
Natalie Danford
Andrea Dellechiaie & Risa Wexler
Tim Diehl
Suzi Epstein
Laurie Fabiano
Zelda Fichandler
Lois & Bob Fox
Ethan & Lee Gallogly
Fran & Vincent Gallogly
Isser Gallogly
Beth Gillin
Alex Goldberg
Dan Gouger
Irwin & Myra Gray
Ellen Greenfield
Bill & Shirley Greenwald
Jenny Grubman
Helen & Dave Hadani
Melissa Hammerle
Michele Healy
Lars Jahns
Daniel Lurie
Allison Lynn
Seth & Sophie Madej
Jenni Mann
Debbie & Tavis McCourt
Kieran McGrath
Jessica Orkin
Jen Owen & Chris May
Michael Park
Shawn Pattison
Kimberly & Matt Pitt
Nicole Plumez
Amy & Amir Poran
Mr. & Mrs. Portnoy
Stephanie Powell
Fran & Robert Raab
Jessica Raab
Joanne Roberts
Evelyn & Joe Ross
Julie & Lennie Rothman
David Saltzman
Claudette Scheffold
Margaret Schilling
Fran & David Seldin
Jodi & Jason Stewart
Sol & Judy Tane
Rebecca Torosian
Moira Trachtenberg-Thielking
Sheila & John Weiss
Elzy Wick
Eric Wolitzsky
Megan Wyatt
Zhao Xi
On the up side, dropping out of the 18 mile race made me really face up to the fact that I needed physical therapy and got me in to see Mike and his co-worker, Greg, both of whom got my knee back to functioning. And if you're my mother reading this and are worried I've been ruining my body, well, okay, maybe I have a little, but honestly, a lot of this was (and is) preventable. If I had been doing strength training religiously twice a week from the start of my training, had stretched more--particularly my IT band--and if I had gotten a foam roll earlier and used it more often, things would have been better. So, with a lot of all of the above and leg lifts and ice, Mike and Greg made my knee well enough to do a pre-race 20 miler and the marathon itself.
A foam roll is something physical therapists love to torture you with. It's a large Styrofoam log that you lay down on sideways--although there are other fun ways to use it for the gluts, hamstring, calf, etc--and roll on top of, letting it grind into your IT band--this long, jelly like thing that goes from your hip to below your knee--kneading it like it's bread dough. I have a love/hate relationship with my foam roll and if it could talk it would have a lot of nasty things to say about the names I've called it. Poor little abused foam roll.

And then there was that lovely prescription anti-inflammatory I was on: Voltarin. I'd recommend it, as it dealt really well with the swelling, but after being on it for three weeks I had a horrible reaction to it. If I hadn't been so busy and sleep-deprived I might have seen it coming, but I didn't put two and two together until the Sunday before the marathon when I completely lost my appetite, got more and more nauseous, and then woke up at 1 a.m. puking my guts out.

I pretty much couldn't eat from Sunday to Tuesday and could barely eat on Tuesday. Which didn't stop me from going to the practice that night or from doing the 30 minute run scheduled. And it made me feel better. Really. I think I sweated out the toxins. But not realizing Aleve was in the same drug family as Voltarin, I started taking that and spent most of Thursday nauseous until it got out of my system. Then I was just nauseous on and off until the day after the marathon, but I don't know if that was the effect of the drugs or pre-race anxiety.

So far sounds like fun, huh? You ALL want to train for a marathon now, don't you? But seriously, this isn't how it goes down for most people, and through all this, I still loved it. Yes, we all know I'm nuts, but training for a marathon is an incredible challenge and that you're facing it while raising money for a good cause and spending time with fun people makes it pretty addictive.

Through this whole experience, I think, in many ways, that I've never been happier. It was tough. Many days I felt hollowed out and with nothing in my physical or emotional tank to keep me going. But somehow, in facing a lot of my fears and doing this, I've really opened up and feel I'm relating to people from a different, better place. And I feel much better in my body and about my body (although I doubt my body is all that different). All said, training for this marathon and finishing it has had a deeply profound effect on me. Weeks before I even did the marathon I was already talking about signing up to be a mentor for a spring Team in Training event--most likely a half marathon since my body needs a little less abuse for awhile.

And, before I get to Maui, I have to mention how amazing everyone at work has been about this marathon. Not only have they donated about a third of the money raised, but they were all so sweet before I left, applauding and hugging me on my way out the door and applauding me when I swung by the office today. So many people told me they were thinking of me on Sunday and sending me good wishes. Elzy and Rebecca did the cutest "Go, Ruth!" dance before I left so I would have a cheering contingent to picture along the route (which I did at many, many points). I've been so moved by their generosity and support and feel so lucky to work with such great people (and I'm not just saying that because Kieran discovered this journal and spread the link around the office)!

Now…Maui! The whole team flew together, which automatically started the bonding as we were all nervous and excited about the marathon and worried about people running late for the plane. My roomie Kelly showed up just as we were boarding, and I joked with her that I was beginning to think I'd have to buy a Kelly doll, take pictures of it in the hotel room and run the marathon with it on my shoulder so she could say she was in Maui and had done the race.

When we took off from NYC for San Fran (where we connected to Maui), the pilot announced that our team was on the plane, what we were going to do, and how much we had raised. There was some very loud clapping, mostly from Ramon and Emily--our NYC TNT staff member--at the back of the plane, but we all were very pumped up and excited to be part of the group. And it was pretty funny to fly with us, everyone of us asking for more and more water as we also drank from these HUGE water bottles we were carrying. I felt all the work Greg had done on me two days before being reversed as I cramped up in my small seat and kept going to the back of the plane to stretch (and yes, pee, I was inhaling water). At one point, I asked the flight attendants for ice, and then sat in my seat with my leg in the aisle, a small blue vomit bag full of ice on my knee.

We arrived in Maui at 6 p.m. Hawaii time, which was Midnight on our body clocks. The drive from the airport to the Sheraton where we were staying was essentially the marathon route (there are only about 6 roads on the island) and we all got more and more nervous as we realized how truly LONG 26.2 miles is. We're all used to running in the park, where you do the same 5 or 6 mile loop over and over again, that to see it all spread out was pretty intimidating. Then there were the hills--4 miles of them, going from about 0 to 150 feet in elevation. Luckily they were early in the course and everything from mile 13 or so on was at sea level and right next to the ocean. But I definitely do NOT recommend driving the marathon course before you do it. We all kept asking, "Are we at the finish line YET?!"

The Sheraton is a beautiful resort hotel with a gorgeous pool and patio area leading down to the beach and the pounding surf of the Pacific. Saturday morning, before meeting everyone to head over the running expo to pick up our race packets and numbers, Kelly and I ran along the boardwalk for about 20 minutes to loosen up. We just kept pointing at the boats, the view, the parasailors in awe of the utter beauty of Maui. But the most important part of the run was that it built my confidence. The drive along the course the night before had completely freaked me out and while running I remembered that I was Ramon Bermo trained. I'd covered 20 miles already. I was prepared for this marathon and I knew how to do it.

The rest of Saturday was spent riding around in Jamie and her boyfriend Marcello's rented jeep, checking out the tourist hot spot town, Lahaina, where we ate lunch at Cheeseburger in Paradise, and napping. Oh, and remembering halfway through the day that it was my birthday!! Then we headed to the Pasta Party, which was on a lawn of the Sheraton overlooking the water with tiki torches illuminating everything, including the Team in Training banner. We ate good food, bonded as a team, and were re-inspired as to our reason for being there.

After, we all grabbed a spot on the lawn and decorated our purple Team in Training singlets with White Out. Yes, THAT White Out. The Maui team is thinking of springing for better decorating materials for the Hartford and DC teams because White Out is not a very good art supply. But we all managed to write our names on the front of our singlets (it's incredible race day to have random people yelling your name, it really helps keep you going) as well as phrases or the names of people we were running for on the back. I wish I had thought to write, "No toe nails? No problem!" but instead scribed, "Wait…how many miles?!"--a phrase that confused the hell out of a Japanese runner passing me at mile 3.

At 9:30 p.m., I was back in the room for a final pre-race icing of my knee and some much needed sleep. Before I went to bed, I heard a scraping under the door and got up to see two red notes lying there, one each for Kelly and I, from Emily and Ramon with words of encouragement. I carried that note in my back pack to the race's start and have it now in front of me on my desk.

At 2 a.m., Kelly and I were up and getting ready for the race. We'd set everything out the night before so we could just go through the motions. At 2:30 a.m. Jamie joined us, after knocking on the wrong room and waking some poor non-runner up, to get breakfast together. She had brought the bagels, I had the peanut butter. 15 minutes later, downstairs in the lobby, we all gathered for a large NYC team photo and then got on the bus to ride an hour to the starting line. We sat together, encouraged each other, and joked about Gary and Jim's breakfasts, as the two had somehow managed to bring cereal with them. Rich and Jim spent the ride coming up with marketing themes for Jim's pre-race breakfast in a bag.

We arrived at the starting area (around the corner from the starting line) a little after 4 a.m. Crowds of runners kept coming in and coming in, many with purple TNT singlets. We made up about half of the race. It was amazing to stretch under the stars with runners from around the country and the world, particularly Japan, while listening to the blaring music geared to pump us up. After numerous trips to the bathroom--where Rich saw some woman having a pre-race cigarette --a chanted Hawaiian blessing and a not so great version of the Star Spangled banner, we were off to line up for the start. The whole NYC team lined up together, regardless of mile time, and many of us were looking for our pre-race glimpse of Ramon (who had, like the insane Coach that he is, ridden his bike the 26+ miles to the start line, even after running a 5k--he came in 4th--and riding up Haleaka, the island's volcano, on his bike the day before).

After a lighting of tiki torches and a blowing of a conch shell, the race started at 5:30 a.m. And there was Ramon, ringing his cowbell for us. Throughout the training, Ramon kept saying that we only got to hear the cowbell during the race, so when we finally heard it we were so excited. Not only that, but we knew exactly where our crazy coach was. We all looked over and started screaming and yelling to him. It was the perfect way to start.

Slowly, as the day began to break, we all spread out over the course. I was at the back of the NYC runners' pack with Kim, a girl on the team who had trained a lot on her own, only coming to about 7 practices. We were paced about the same and both had had knee problems, so hung in there together to the end and helped keep each other going. I definitely got Kim hooked on my supply of Tylenol, which was in a sweat proof ziplock back in my back pocket next to my Gu, although I luckily had little knee pain until mile 24 so needed almost none of it.

I'd love to break the race down for you mile by mile, but not only would I most likely bore you to death, I can't really remember all of it. There's a part of you that has to hit a very basic survival mode to get through keeping your body in motion that long, and a lot of time you're not even thinking but just breathing and listening to your footsteps.

But Kim and I would talk and get to know each other. We'd cheer on other TNT people we passed or were passed by. We'd thank people out along the road rooting for us (and in one case, handing out candy). Every 3 miles or so there would be a TNT staff cheering group screaming for us and checking in to make sure we were okay, which was incredible. I was so impressed by the organization and their support. I can't imagine doing a marathon without this kind of cheering team. And at the halfway point and mile 22, Emily was there; it was so great to chat with her and see how happy she was for all of us.

Then there was Ramon. For the first 8 or so miles of the race (it would be more miles for the faster runners), he rode back and forth between our running group, encouraging all of us, and there was nothing like hearing that cowbell coming (or going). When Kim and I hit mile 24, we could hear Ramon coming back for us on his bike (he had run in the rest of the team), and it will most likely remain one of the happiest sounds in my life.

I wish I could say that it was my best running day, but honestly, it was my worst. After being sick all week, after not getting enough rest, I think I got dehydrated pretty early into the course (water stops were every 2 miles until mile 10). When we started at 5:30 a.m. it was already 77 degrees, so by the time the sun was up and we were halfway through it was in the high 80s. And there was absolutely no shade along the course. I am positive I would have gotten sun stroke except for the iced sponges they had at every water stop.

Then there was the fact that I was nauseous from about mile 10 on and had a hard time stomaching Gu, Poweraid, warm, fizzless Coke, pretty much all the things that help keep you going. I tried to get in as much water and oranges as I could, but I definitely wasn't getting all the nutrition I needed. I would run until I felt ill and then walk it off, and then run again. There was a spot along the road, I think at about mile 15 where there was construction, and I swore I was going to lean over the barriers and puke. Who knows, it might have been better if I did, but I hung in there and kept going. Somewhere in mile 18, when I hit "the wall" everyone always talks about, I thought, "There's no f*#king way I'm doing THIS again!" (Yeah, I wouldn't hold me to that.) But once the 20 mile marker was in sight and it felt like I was in the count down to the finish line, things got better. Especially after having a Popsicle at mile 22.

And as tough as it was, because, I'm telling you, it was tough, I also had fun. I decided that no matter how much it hurt, I had to smile at everyone cheering us on and thank them, which in a weird way really helped keep me going and going in a good mood. There was guy in the "rolling" hills, somewhere around mile 9, who none of us could see, but was pounding a drum so it reverberated off the rock. A crazy woman dancing with drumsticks in her hands entertained us at the half way point, where we also stopped to take a photo with two TNT runners who wanted every TNT person near them to be in their picture. The people manning the water stops were incredible, practically jumping over each other to hand us drinks and fruits and sponges and all cheering like mad to help keep us going (so unlike NYC races where the water is laid out on a table and the people behind it couldn't care less about you). And along the whole course, someone had written encouraging words in chalk for their friend Tori, including my favorite, "Got Gu?" I spent a lot of miles wondering who the hell Tori was.

From the halfway point on we could see surfers riding the waves, and at about mile 17 Kim and I both looked over at this pick-up truck with these two gorgeous, blond surfer boys, all tan and wet, standing next to it. We just looked at each other without needing to say a word. Talk about your scenic marathons.

When we got to mile 21 and were directed off the highway to run through the town of Lahaina, people were outside their houses with hoses offering to spray you down. A couple of guys had attached a hose to a tree that they could turn on and off from a switch by their lawn chairs where they shouted offers of free beer to us as we went by. But my favorite race moment happened somewhere in mile 7, when a guy drove by us in his pick-up (everyone drives pick-ups in Maui so their surf boards can hang out the back), holding his door open so we could all hear his stereo and the music he was blasting for us: the theme song to "Hawaii 5-0."

In mile 25, after hanging out with Ramon for a mile, I hit that point where I just needed the thing to be done and started running as much as possible, pushing ahead of Kim. Ramon rode off so he could meet us both at the finish line to run us in that last .2 of a mile, and was there waiting for me with his cowbell when I hit mile 26. Everything, all the months of training, the lack of toe nails, the knee pain, the nausea, was worth it for those last .2 miles. I was amazed by how many spectators were still there cheering all of us on (the elite runners had finished about 4 hours earlier), and there I was running through them, the finish line in sight, my name, number, age, and city being called off by the announcer, Ramon running next to me ringing the hell out of his cowbell, and my whole team on the sideline cheering their heads off. I'm teary now thinking of it and I was very teary then. It was an unforgettable moment. Ramon hugged me and left me to run those last few steps across the line on my own, at 6 hours, 19 minutes, and 19 seconds. Nothing has felt better than having that finisher's medal put over my head and feeling the weight of it hanging around my neck.

After that, I was kind of in a daze, going through the motions of checking in at the TNT booth, saying hi to my team and getting hugs, screaming Kim in moments behind me, taking photos, getting my bag and picking up my finisher's T-shirt, and trying to eat food and drink water. Jamie, exhausted and wiped out, was kind enough to wait a few more minutes (after already waiting an hour and 10 minutes to cheer me in!) so I could use her cell phone to make finish line phone calls to Tasha (who picked up in the shower because she wanted to hear all the details and who just kept saying, "I can't believe you're done and I have a month of training left!"), Mike, the Asst. Coach (no idea what I said on his machine), and my brother, Isser, my leading sponsor (who said something like, "That's a long time," when I told him how many hours it took me to finish, but also said he was proud of me).

Post-race hyperness winding down, I made my way to the massage tent. Yes, Maui treats you right and had a bunch of massage therapists in training waiting for us. I got a guy from NYC and chatted him up in the hopes of more massage time, which I most definitely got. I don't know how they did it, but these guys spent hours massaging funky runners and we were more than grateful. I got my quads, hamstrings, calves, lower back, ankles, and feet all worked over and it made a huge difference in my recovery over the next few days.

But when I took my shoes and socks off for the massage I got a good look at my feet and was horrified. Actually, terrified might be a better word. I knew the second toe on my left foot was getting banged up pretty badly, and I knew the fact that some overenthusiastic teenagers at a water stop at mile 23--who poured so much water over me they got it in my shoes, soaking my socks--had unintentionally made it worse, but I had no idea how bad it really was. The end of my toe was red and inflamed, and all around the toe nail (which was the worst of the lot to begin with) was a huge sack of blood and pus.

I hobbled over to the blister tent, but between being in a daze and having little faith in their roadside doctoring ability, just asked them to put some anti-biotic on it and wrap it in a bandage. I then made my way back to the team members still left on the sidelines and to Ramon to help cheer in the last of the NYC walking team. Back at my hotel room, where Kelly my roomie was kind enough to pick lunch up for us, I left an hysterically funny, babbling message for Laurie back at the office and picked up a message from my Dad, who had checked the marathon website for my time and called with it and a "You Go, Girl!"

That evening, we all made it to the victory party for a little food, drink, and dancing. A few of us even rallied enough to keep the party going and headed into Lahaina to the Hard Rock Café (the only happening spot on Sunday night). We drank, and joked, and had a great time until a band started playing Death Metal. I think we all made it across the street and into a cab back to the hotel in 15 seconds flat. But still not finished, even at Midnight, Ramon, Jim, Rich, Kelly and I got into our suits and jumped into the Pacific for some body surfing. New York City really has nothing on Maui.

On the way back to the hotel from the ocean, I showed Ramon my toe and I think even managed to freak him out. It became more than obvious that I would have to make my way to a doctor, which I did the following afternoon. In an attempt not to make all of you sick, lets just say the toe needed to be drained (which it continued to do for a week) and I was put on anti-biotics to ensure I did not get an infection. I was also banned from sand, which, when you're on Maui, is not exactly what you want to hear. My big toe on my right foot also hurt, but since it didn't seem bad we left it alone. A mistake, as I was back in on Thursday so they could drain that as well. A week and a half later they're both still ugly but are definitely healing.

The rest of the week on Maui was fantastic. I hung out with my teammates, toured the island, and generally enjoyed myself. And despite the fact that Greg and Mike don't seem to think I have a tan, I promise you I have one. Or what counts for one when you're me.

And now that I'm back, do I want to keep running? Yup, I do. In fact, I'm upset I can't run now. But my knee needs some rest and my toe nails…well, lets just say I went to get fit for new running shoes and the sales guy did everything in his power to talk me out of buying new shoes so that I wouldn't be able to run again until I'd had more time to heal. But with new shoes that fit better, orthodics, and a PT regime for strengthening my knee, I should be up for training with TNT for a half marathon in April or May. Although, I'm not sure Ramon will let me off that easy. He was picking on me about it when Jamie and I swung by last night's practice to say hi, saying I could race a half this weekend,. And judging by how much I wanted to be doing the 4.5 mile speed run with the group…who knows?

Saturday, July 20, 2002: After last week where I ran so much I blew my knee out a little, I had a week of not running enough. I think it's safe to say consistency is not my strong suit. I rested my knee until our Tuesday night group run, when we took on cat hill again, the quarter mile hill by the Met on the East side of the park. As difficult as these runs are, I prefer them to the long runs. I enjoy pitting myself against a hill or hard speed work for a few miles, getting out all the frustrations of the day, than getting up early on a Saturday to keep my body running for 2+ hours.

And during one of my "recovery" runs down the hill, a guy from the advanced group pulled up next to me to say hi. I looked over, and there was this tall, muscular guy, sweating with his shirt off. All I was thinking was, "Hel-lo?! Come to this hill often?" Oh yeah, I definitely prefer hill work.

After the workout, Michael had all of us stay who had knee pain and took us through some strength building exercises. While he was having us do squats and lunges in the middle of the park, this group of Italian tourists came by and started taking pictures of us and imitating us doing our exercises. We ended up in some many photos that evening taken by passing tourists that I feel like we should all go on some major workout tour of Europe, hailed "as seen in your cousin Paolo's photos."

By the time the full workout was over, it was getting dark. An orchestra was playing in the bandshell across the way, and I walked out of the park listening to them, feeling great that my knee was fully functional again, and enjoying the relaxed sensation of a slow summer night, with fireflies sparking yellow all around me.

But I was too tired to run on Wednesday morning, and then booked Wednesday night socially, then sick Thursday morning (due to anxiety, my digestive track is completely on the fritz), and home too late from work on Thursday night to run safely in the park. This is the thing about the marathon-I'm so glad I'm doing it, but I don't seem to have the time or energy right now to get in my miles. I was so exhausted after last Saturday's run, that I slept the rest of the weekend, which means I didn't get to a lot of work I needed to finish for my job.

However, Friday morning I dragged myself out of bed and ran. It was hot, but it felt great to be back out there. I went out with the intention of doing an easy three miles, but at the end of mile one realized I really just wanted to cut loose; so I started booking it. By the end of 2+ miles I was soaked in sweat, panting, my legs burning, my tension and anxiety released. It was the perfect run, and afterwards I was still so pumped up by it I put in a workout tape and did some strength training.

The next day we all met up early, at 7 am, to drive up to Sleepy Hollow, a town about an hour North of NYC, to run in Rockefeller State Park. It is full of trails, and Ramon picked an especially hilly loop of about 8 miles to start us off with. But it was lovely running through the woods, past cows and farms, over rivers and through fields, the smell of grass and wildflowers and the cold mist that lifts off a rushing, wooded stream following us everywhere.

Once back at the visitors center, Ramon let us drink, stretch and chill out for a few moments, before he sent us back out for more running. There was a second loop with a big hill and Nicole and I went for it. I was a bit wiped out, so needed to walk some of the uphills-and yes, I'm still having problems keeping my body going through the pained exhaustion of a long run-but enjoyed a great run back down the trail, especially after finding some wild raspberry bushes and eating its fruit.

Tasha and I snagged a ride back home with Frannie, one of the mentors, and she, Esther and I had a long talk about my five black and blue toe nails, especially the three with the blood blisters under the nails. Seems like my shoes aren't cutting it, even with the thicker socks I bought to help stop my heel from slipping forward (which causes my toes to bang the front of the shoe as I run). I'm going to need to make some time, and gather some money, to get new shoes and possibly orthodics for the insoles, as well as see a podiatrist about my healing my toenails.

When Frannie dropped Tasha and I off at an intersection near my place, we had the very funny problem of trying to get out of the car quickly while our extremely stiff joints and muscles fought against us. There was a lot of groaning and laughing on our parts before we started limping back towards home.

Sunday, July 14, 2002:  A good week of running, although I never relaxed enough to let myself get the sleep I needed after the Bronx Half. I should have crashed for a good two hour nap, but pushed myself through to finish work and felt the lasting detrimental effects of that choice all week.

But after a day off of running on Monday, I was back at the group run on Tuesday night. For those of us who did the half, we could either run 4.5 miles slow or do the hill run if we felt our body could take it. As I showed up late from work, I did a 5 minute out and back to warm up and then caught up with the team on the hills. We did a slow recovery from 86th to 90th Street, and then sprinted the hill from 90th back to 86th three times. Ramon was showing us how, by pumping our arms more, we could go faster without necessarily lengthening our stride and losing efficiency.

It was pouring rain out, which felt fantastic, and was exactly the kind of workout I needed after a very hard, long two days at the office. Nicole was there, who I had done part of a long run with weeks before, and she and I arranged to meet up and run the next day. We clocked 3 miles together Wednesday morning at the reservoir in the park with her friend Sunny, and then we all did another 3 miles together Friday morning, running along the water in Riverside Park. She and Sunny are both great to run with, make the miles go by faster, and best of all, knowing I've promised to meet them gets me out of bed!

Come Saturday morning, though, I was exhausted. Between long hours at work, marathon training, and a host of other commitments, I'd worn myself down quite a bit. I almost didn't make it out of bed. However, I was excited to see everyone, had brought Gu (something akin to a Powergel) and was looking forward to trying it out, felt well hydrated and utterly determined to run 10 miles straight, which I had yet to master.

I took the run slow, and while I'd started out with Jamie and Tasha, decided not to keep up with them as I knew how tired I was and how much I wanted to make the distance without conking out. And honestly, I was really in a mood to run on my own. I didn't feel like talking. I just felt like enjoying the park, some relative quiet and meditative time with myself, and the feeling of my body running. I was also experimenting with how to keep myself going on my own, breaking the run down into distances I could enjoy and mentally handle without feeling overwhelmed.

And I was doing great. I took the Gu at 5 miles and loved it. I had finally hydrated enough on a run to feel good. In fact, I had hydrated so much I had to go to the bathroom, which kept me going for a good mile or so until I reached the boathouse bathrooms.

I came up on mile 8 feeling tired and a bit sore, but also confident that I would complete the run. And that's when my knee decided it was thoroughly sick of me and all this running. Now normally my knee hurts at some point, a little soreness here and there is to be expected, but this was shooting pain that was cramping both my knee and my thigh to the point that I was limping.

So I stretched out a bit, walked for a minute to two, and then ran again. Then my knee would hurt, and I would start the process all over again. This went on for pretty much the rest of my run. It shouldn't have been devastating for me, but given how exhausted and emotionally wiped out I'd been the past two weeks, it just did me in.

When I got home, I sat down on the floor next to my cat and started crying. It was more from all the pressure I've been feeling these past few weeks at work and general exhaustion than anything else, but I just felt so disappointed by my run. At the same time, there was a large part of me that was laughing at the utter ridiculousness of crying because I'd walked a half mile of a ten mile run. Especially when I think about how three months ago, running a half mile was a long run for me! Also, I ran approximately 32 miles this past week. 32 MILES! Can you say someone needs a little perspective?!

After crying, though, I felt much better-cleansed of a lot of pent up emotion, and determined again to enjoy every moment of running and making it to the finish line. Then with a few breaks to eat, I promptly fell asleep for the rest of the day.

Sunday, July 7, 2002: I'm not sure where to start, with how great today was or how difficult. So lets start with last night instead. After a day of having people over to chant for hours and hours (which was great!), the carbo-loading dinner was a lot of fun (thank you, Peter, for arranging it), and it was really encouraging to talk through pre-race anxieties with my teammates, as well as just joke around. It was also great to see everyone with normal hair, smelling good, in non-running clothes.

Then, after about 6 hours of relatively solid sleep, I met up with Tasha and the rest of the team to head up to the Bronx for the Bronx Half Marathon. I really can't explain how much anxiety I had, or how many doubts, or how completely clueless I was about race things: like that I'd need to clip a race time chip to my shoe, or that my bag check number would attached to my race number, or that the line for the bathroom would be outrageously long and almost make me miss the start!

Then there were the things I should have brought with me but didn't, like sun tan lotion, tissues, and Power Gels. However, Tasha hooked me up with the sun tan lotion and the race supplied the Power Gels and the tissues, well, two out of three isn't bad. I also wish I had brought some fruit for after the race, or had least thought to grab more than one banana from the race stock at the end.

Tasha and I lined up towards the back of the pack with fellow team members Sylvia, Pat, and Leslie. I'm so used to races with starting guns from high school that I was a bit confused as to what was happening when we all started walking forward towards the starting line. Naturally, the race started, and the front group started running. For the rest of us, we all had to walk up to the starting line and then start running once we had the room to move. This is what the race chip on your shoe is for: instead of being timed off the clock, on which you've already spent about 4 minutes just walking up to the starting line, it times you from when you actually start the race. At the end of the race, the clip it off and you can read your "real" results on the New York Road Runners website.

Once we were running, Tasha and I both let go of the anxiety. Suddenly, it was just like a slow Saturday run in the park, just different scenery, set-up water stops, loads more people, and there were numbers pinned to our chests (which make you feel ultra-sporty). There were people scattered throughout the course cheering us on or yelling from windows. 

My favorite exchange: 

"Hey, you! In the pink shorts. Why you runnin'?"
"Because I'm nuts," the runner in question yelled back. 
"How far you runnin'?' 
"13.1 miles." 
"Oh my God! You go make me proud, honey."

And we also had great encounters with runners we met along the course (and sometimes not so great, as in the case of the man I saw pretty much peeing on himself so he wouldn't have to stop running!).

The first 6 or 7 miles were great. I felt good. It was amazing to be out there doing it. My pace felt right. I hit the zone and was just chugging along. When we hit that halfway point at 6.5 miles, I thought, "Wow. I'm really doing this."

But then, I don't know, at about 8.5 miles the soreness kicked in, I got tired, and running was all about mind over matter. Except my mind just didn't seem to want to be Master. Tasha and I had both taken Power Gels at about mile 7, a little later than we should have, and I honestly couldn't take even half of it because the sugary-sweet utter chemical nature of it just made me ill. I tried having more of another one at the next water stop, but couldn't do it either. So I didn't have much in the way of food energy to help keep me going, which you're supposed to have (and which I'm now going to have to play around with on my long runs so I can find what to eat instead of Power Gels).

So I started walking. And I walked on and off for the rest of the race. Although, once I saw the Mile 11 marker, things got much brighter. I had missed the marker for mile 10 and thought that was what I was approaching, so it felt great to be further than I thought. Also, a part of me just said, "You've got two miles left. That's nothing. You do that as a light run before work, no sweat." So I started running a lot more than walking, and ran in the full last half mile.

Throughout the race, we kept doing switchbacks, so while you were running one side of the road out, the people in the faster pace groups would be running back towards you. This was great, because all of us Team-in-Training people would cheer each other on. I also saw Elzy, my marathon running co-worker who has been immensely supportive and helpful to me, running with her friend and my teammate Rick. That was really fun for me. It just felt great to be in the same race as her, getting to cheer each other on. And then throughout it all, our coach Ramon was riding around on his bike, encouraging all of us, keeping us going with pep talks. He especially helped me when I was at my lowest somewhere in mile 10.

I definitely did not realize how much it would mean to me to come across the finish line, but I turned a corner and there it was and before it, waiting on the sidelines, was my whole team yelling for me. And Elzy ran with me a few steps, which I swear, meant so much to me I totally started tearing up and am even crying now thinking of it. Also, Tasha, who was doing great throughout the race and pushed it in ahead of me, was there with her husband Michael snapping a photo of me coming in. And Peter ran along with me to the finish line, which was extremely encouraging.

It feels incredible to cross over that line. To have everyone there for you. To know you did it. And to know you can stop running. Drink water. Eat a banana. Chat with friends. And stretch. But I was actually so deep inside at the end of it, just so overwhelmed and processing everything, that it was hard to focus or stay present with anyone for at least 5-10 minutes. I was just so amazed I was there, and so moved by everyone's support.

After, I don't know, it's been a little hard for me, the fact that I didn't run the whole thing. And hard more that I seem to continually hit some emotional wall I can't run through on long distances, which really has nothing to do with my body itself. There's just some part of me that seems to give up and feels like stopping and sitting down somewhere and crying. I've honestly been teary all day since the race. In Buddhism, we'd say I was hitting up against my Sensho Shima or devilish function - the biggest, deepest, most personal obstacle unique to myself. And trust me, I know this one well, see it for what it is, and get it. Now I just need to figure out how to run through it!

I also took a good look at my training routine for the last few weeks when I got home, and saw that I've been slacking off a bit on covering my weekly miles and that I haven't done any strength or cross training for awhile. And since Michael, the Asst. Coach, particularly stressed the benefits of strength training to me last night, it's time to get back on my marathon game, get my miles in, and lift some weights. I know this will help make the long runs better!

But mostly, despite how emotionally hard this race was for me, I loved being out there doing it, learned a lot that will help me out for the marathon, and feel great about the fact that I challenged myself to do something I've only dreamed about. I also realize that a race this length was a bit of a stretch at this point in my training, and am glad I took it on. I now know not only that I can make it to the end, but how great it feels to cross the finish line!

Saturday, July 6, 2002: I've been insanely busy for weeks now, too busy to write, so there is much to catch you up on!

First: California. It was so great to be there, seeing friends, and being a part of my friends' commitment to each other. It was a beautiful wedding. I didn't expect to be as nervous and shaky as I was when I performed the ceremony, but word is it went well. I have no idea. I was just trying to stay in the moment and speak clearly!

My long run while there went well. I hoofed it for an hour and 45 minutes, which, at my tortoise pace, is about 9 miles. I was going to run around this reservoir near my friend's house, but unfortunately, due to some serious trauma over the matron of honor's dress, that wasn't possible. So I ran the streets of Belmont instead.

Only problem is, go a mile in any direction there and you hit up against an enormous hill. So my run became utterly ridiculous, with me running the main drag, turning into side streets and going as far as I could go until the hill became too much, and turning back around. At one point I think I ran a Senior Citizens parking lot just to get in an extra quarter mile!

During my last mile or so I ran past a gas station I'd run past during my first mile. I couldn't tell if the attendant was talking to me or some really old car, but I swear I heard him call out, "You're still running?!" Have to admit, I couldn't believe it myself.

Unfortunately, with wedding chaos, the trip back home, the pile of things to do waiting for me at work, and my general exhaustion, I didn't run again for a week. And it's ten times harder to do a long run with no mileage under your belt than several days of running. So my Saturday long run, ten miles in 80+ degree heat, basically sucked. I think it was my worst run to date, mostly because I wasn't running.

To my credit, I need to say I paced myself wrong, was dehydrated to start, and hadn't run in hot weather in at least two weeks, but still. I did five straight and then walked and ran the last five. According to my coach, though, all that matters is that I covered the miles and I'm sticking with that theory. First, he knows a lot more than I do about this running a marathon thing. And second, it makes me feel like less of a loser.

But my Tuesday night run was great. It was about 93 degrees out and humid as hell (literally), but I paced myself right and just really was in a good frame of mind. I was completely enjoying the utter insanity of being out in the park running hills with 30 people, sweating from places I never knew could sweat. Ramon has us running hills for the next 6 weeks to build strength, so we warmed up with 1.5 miles and then ran up and down cat hill (in the E. 70s, by the Met) four times. It's a quarter mile hill, so that's 2 miles of running up and down.

What was wonderful, though, was that as a beginner, you never get to run with anyone more advanced than you. They sprint out and are gone. But doing hills, you keep passing each other, cheering each other on. And it really helps keep you going. Especially when you see the Assistant Coaches doing twice or three times the number of hill charges you're doing!

Wednesday after work I purchased some "real" running clothes-like good long underwear in skiing, you can't run long distances in cotton; you need clothes that wick sweat away from your skin. And let me share with you all that wearing cotton jog bras for miles and miles in heat can cause some nasty chafing! So Thursday night I took my new clothes out for spin, covering about 2.5 miles in sweltering humidity. The clothes are wonderfully light, airy, and I don't have that sticky feeling at the end. But I kind of missed that lived-in, sticking to your skin, good run sweat feeling of cotton. I'm sure I'll get over it, though, while running 13.1 miles tomorrow!

Yup, you read that right. A bunch of us are running the Bronx Half Marathon tomorrow. My first road race. To say I'm terrified is an understatement. And to say I'm completely excited and don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight would not be an exaggeration. I really can't wait. Tasha and I are doing it together, and we're just going to keep each other going the whole way.

In fact, I need to book off and meet her now to buy some Power Gels (like liquid Power Bars - I have no idea what they taste like, as tomorrow will be my first go with them), and then we're both off to meet the team for a carbo-loading dinner!

Tuesday, June 18, 2002: Okay, could I have been in a worse mood this evening? I don't know how it happened, I was looking forward to the group run, but with everything going on in my life right now and the stress I've been carrying around without a break for what feels like months, I just really plummeted into hell this evening.

It's been one of those weeks where you feel you can't stop for a second to take a breath; by the time I reached Central Park this evening, all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep for hours. So I was in absolutely no mental shape to face my body's soreness from Saturday's run and yesterday's three miler and my sense of being completely wiped out. I had nothing to give, and yet had to run.

We did 4.1 miles, two laps of the lower loop doing three lampposts fast, two slow, and then doing two final fast pushes across the 72nd Street Traverse with a slow recovery run in-between. By the end, I was panting, my legs burned, and I honestly didn't think I would finish the run. But I did. I just feel horrible for being so utterly cranky around Jamie, Michael and Tasha. Well, maybe not Tasha, she knows me well and was utterly cranky herself.

I realized this evening, though, that I'm beginning to hit my personal wall—mentally and, just a little, physically—and I'm hitting it early.  So I have two options: either I don't run this marathon, which is actually not an option at all, or I start chanting like mad.  I'm a Buddhist. Chanting is the only thing I know to do when faced with this kind of inner negativity. It's the only thing that's going to keep me going and keep me going in a good mood so my teammates, coaches and mentor don't end up pummeling my grumpy guts.

So this is what now needs to happen: I need to chant daily. This hasn't happened for awhile, but it's going to happen now. And I'm scheduling 3-5 hour chanting sessions every weekend and inviting every Buddhist (and non-Buddhist, if they wish) to chant with me. I also need to schedule fewer things and sleep more. But everyone who knows me knows I've been saying that for years….

Ok, I need to pack. I'm off to California tomorrow for my friend Helen and Dave's wedding (how cool is this: I'm officiating!). The funny thing is, I'm more worried about having to do my long, slow run by myself (9-10 miles!) than I am about performing the wedding ceremony. But I am so looking forward to this weekend. I really need some time to myself, and some time with my good friends from college.

Saturday, June 15, 2002: 7.8 MILES! That's what I ran this morning. And it felt great. After a week of crappy runs and intense pain, it felt so amazing to have a solid, relatively pain-free run. You get addicted to that, to having good runs. Trust me, I never thought it would happen, but when your running is off, it feels like your whole life is out of whack. Plus, you don't get to walk down the street with that post-run, low level soreness, "I'm going to be an Olympian one day, you just watch me," swagger.

And word on the long, slow run street is that we're all doing the Bronx half-marathon on Sunday, July 7. I cannot believe I'm running 13.1 MILES in my first road race in three weeks! I am so excited. OK, I must be nuts. Who but insane people would love the idea of reaching double digit running mileage?!

After the workout, about 10 of us went out for brunch. There's something about being seen at your absolute sweaty worst that really bonds you with people. But ugh, going to the bathroom when you're soaked in sweat…it's like that post-swim pee, wet bathing suit thing. I NEED to get some running shorts and stop using my five year old exercise spandex.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002: So, after a major freak out on Sunday, much worrying on Monday, a very sweet “You’re going to be fine,” phone call from Peter, and a quick e-mail exchange with Michael (our Assistant Coach who is also a physical therapist) about stretching and icing my hip, I showed up at last night’s workout dying to run but worried about the pain. During a meeting at work that day, I swear I was squirming in my seat from it. But Michael was great, talked with me about it before the workout, and since it was pain that was moving to various areas of the hip instead of staying focused in one spot (meaning it was general soreness and not an injury), he felt I could do the run, taking it slow and seeing how it went.

Tasha, being very supportive, stayed with me instead of running with the group (although it did get her out of the night’s speed work!). Michael ran with us to start, to see how I felt and to talk to me about my form. It ends up I look down when I run, which makes me lean forward and hunch over. This, most likely, is why my hip and back hurt like hell. I spent the rest of the run having to correct myself, trying to stay focused on the horizon. You wouldn’t think this was hard, but try spending 30-40 minutes correcting the way you walk. It takes some serious focus.

And I did the full three miles. In 80-something degree heat (your body turns into a furnace!) and without speed work, yes, but also with very little pain. I was just extremely tight at the end. Michael showed me this amazing stretch for my hip and butt (it involves lying on the ground with one leg folded under you and the other stretched out behind you). It totally hit the spot. And today I feel only about 15% of the pain I felt yesterday. I think with a little more stretching and another light workout this week I should be back on track for Saturday’s run. YEAH!

But this has really brought home the fact that a marathon means pain. I knew that, of course, on one level, but it’s a different thing when you face it. This is going to be a really tough road for me, both mentally and physically. And I’m terrified about what that means, but also really excited. If I can challenge myself to do this, what’s out there that I can’t accomplish?

Sunday, June 9, 2002: OK, I have come to think that I'm not sore or tired, I am possibly injured. The running hurts like hell. I couldn't do my full 2 miles this morning; I had to walk part a good of it. Not only disappointing and frustrating, but very depressing. I'm trying not to get too emotional about it, but all my fears are coming up. There's a big part of me that's thinking, "If this is what happens when you hit 5 miles, how do you ever get to 10?"

It's that post-benefit charlie horse thing again. Right at the hip. It hurts deep. And worse, it continues to hurt after the running and stretching. I've just felt like crying about it all morning, but that probably also has something to do with the fact I'm a bit stressed out in general and PMS-ing big time.

So, I have an e-mail into the Assistant Coach, Michael, who just happens to be a physical therapist, am going to lay off tomorrow (but still do some stretching), and start getting very serious about sleep. But I'm telling you, there's going to be a way to heal this, and quick. I have to finish this marathon.
Maui Marathon Home Page

With some of my fellow Maui Marathoners - Gary Osborne and Derek Smit.

Saturday, June 8, 2002: OK, running still hurts. I thought taking Friday off would do it, get me out of Thursday's running funk, but that doesn't seem to have happened. Ramon had us run for an hour and ten minutes. He told us not to ask how far we ran because it was "long enough." He also warned us to take it easy, because he's going to work us hard on Tuesday. Judging by last Tuesday's work out, I'm definitely nervous about that!

We ran from the park to the West side, and then North on the running path in Riverside Park. 35 minutes out, 35 minutes back. If we paced ourselves right, it should have taken just as long to get back as it did to run out (which it did!). Running along the Hudson river was great. A lovely view and fun to pass the 72nd Street boat basin.

I did most of the run with Nicole. It was her first time making it to a run because she was too scared to come before. Naturally, I completely understood and tried to share a lot of my experience with her, about how I was terrified but now look forward to runs, and I think she'll be there on Tuesday. The great thing is, she lives in my neighborhood, so we're going to try to do some runs together.

But as I said, this run hurt in a way runs haven't hurt to date. I'm beginning to see how important it is that I sleep regularly and fuel myself right. I think I've become a bit too focused on trying to lose weight and haven't been eating all I should.

After the run, a couple of us went out to breakfast and chowed down. We made the waiter bring us a pitcher of water, and he had to refill it for us about 15 times! Dina, the Marine Corps marathon honoree came with us, and it was incredible to hear about her experience battling Myeloma. I can't quite put the feeling into words of being part of this great group of women, tired but exhilarated from a tough run, really enjoying ourselves and joking around, and having Dina as involved in our training as we became in her treatment through that brunch. I may be only three weeks into this process, but I'm telling you, you need to do this program.

Friday, June 7, 2002: Last night there was a shoe clinic for all us marathoners. A handful of us made it, and had the great pleasure of taking our normal shoes off and walking and running for Mike, a guy who works at the Super Runners Shop and is an expert on fitting people for running shoes. I think he fit most of us out pretty well.

And I was glad to see that I've been running in the right shoes all along. Well, except for the fact that they're way too old (the support in the soles breaks down after awhile, even if the shoes are just sitting in the closet) and were way too short. You need about a thumbnail's width between your toes and the tip of the shoe. Evidently, your feet expand quite a bit while running long distances. Which explains the bleeding under my toe nails after I run! (Yes, it hurts and it isn't pretty. You do not want to see what's lurking under my red pedicure.)

So I now own a brand spanking new pair of Saucony (saw-ka-knee) grid stabilizers, size10 and a half (take a step back from the clown shoe joke). Peter took a picture of me with them, which I know he's evil enough to post right next to this entry, so I just want to say in my defense that it was POURING out, I was soaked, and my hair was freaking out. [Editor's/Peter's note: Photo to Follow]

After the clinic we all went to the Tiki Room to drink and socialize with our fellow TNT marathoners, triathletes, and century cyclists. The place was packed and loud, so it was hard to meet anyone, but I chatted with a few new people, caught up with some marathon buddies, and then waded home through the thunderstorm.

Thursday, June 6, 2002: Baby, into every life a bad run must fall. I don't know if it was because I'm still sore from Tuesday's run. Or if I was overly dehydrated while it was 70 degrees and 85% percent humidity (at 6:30 a.m.!). Or if I'm just still tired from the benefit craziness. But this morning's run sucked. I couldn't hit my pace. It felt like I was trying to breath through muslin. Usually my body hits a rhythm and I have to pull back mentally on my body's reins to make sure I don't outpace myself. But this morning I had to mentally kick my ass around the reservoir.

About one and a half miles into the run, when I wanted to call it quits, I started to think of Gabe, Peter's cousin, who's 17 and has Leukemia. I grew up about a half hour from where he lives in Greenwich, in the very similar town of Westport, and I just thought of all the things I was doing at his age right about now—particularly hopping in friends' cars to go to the beach after school—and how he's being denied all those normal things I didn't even think twice about then. While I know there's good that comes from everything bad—I'm a practicing Buddhist, and that's a deep part of our philosophy—mostly I just thought of how much that sucked. And how it definitely sucked a hell of a lot more than my run.

So I started focusing on something Peter e-mailed me and his other mentees: how the money TNT runners raised helped a doctor develop a drug, Gleevec, that has increased survival rates for people with CML (a type of leukemia) from 7 to 70% in the past year and a half. And I just kept saying to myself, "If this run could do that…If this run, right now, could help create something like that…how can I stop short?"

That last 3/4 of a mile was definitely the most motivated of the run. And because of that, I hit my stride and flew through it. Not that it hurt any less, but the pain was definitely put into perspective!

Tuesday, June 4, 2002: Tonight's session was fun. Or, maybe "fun" is the wrong word since it hurt like hell. But I'm really beginning to look forward to the group workouts and catching up with the people I'm meeting on the Saturday runs. And of course, catching up with Tasha. I've spent more time with her in the past three weeks than I have in a year. I can already see how much I'm going to miss this when it's over.

Now my father, if he could run (bad back), would love our Tuesday night sessions because they're like a mathematical word problem in motion. Tonight, Ramon our coach had us count how many strides we make in a minute. He wanted us to reach 170 (the idea being a more economical—shorter—stride helps you last the distance but in no way slows you down). Of course, most of us lost count somewhere around 83. I felt like I was in 8th grade algebra: if Ruth runs 158 strides per minute, and the goal is 170, by how many inches must she shorten her stride and by how many seconds must she reduce her stride time, using 2x+4y=z as your formula. (You must show ALL work to receive partial credit.)

Then we sprinted laps, recovered for laps, and sprinted for more laps. I think I officially won the award for "Girl Who Has No Idea How to Pace Herself." I took off much too quickly and my quads let me know it. My body parts are so not subtle when it comes to pain. They'll scream at the top of their lungs, who cares if we're in public.

But I'm really glad I'm doing this. It hit me walking home: I'm actually training for a MARATHON! I just couldn't stop smiling. I am so happy I overcame all my doubts, fears, insecurities, nerves, whatever, to sign up and make that first training day. I'm damn sure this is going to be one of the best things I ever do.

Monday, June 3, 2002: First, I need to let all of you know that my mentor is nuts. Peter's journal does not in any way clue you into this fact, but the man is out of his mind. He's run two marathons in the past two weeks. No, you did not read that sentence wrong. And he just ran the London marathon in April. He's probably run other marathons on the sly he's not telling us about. I think a marathon intervention might be in order.

The good part of all this insanity is: when he finishes the Maui marathon, I'll still have a good ten miles to go. He'll be in more than good enough shape to turn around and run the last ten all over again with me. The sad part is: he'll still be able to run them faster than I will! [Editor's/Peter's Note: I've been at this a little longer than Ruth, so she'll catch up so enough!]

Me, I'm just happy I made it to yoga class tonight. Getting into plank position, resting only on my forearms and toes, was more than enough for me. Can you say, "Ouch," boys and girls?

Saturday, June 1, 2002: That I got up this morning at all is a bit of a minor miracle. I've had one crazy week. On Friday, I was in more pain than I've ever been in my life. My quads and inner thighs killed, and I was having some horrible charlie horse in the top of my right thigh, by my hip. 

Of course, my sleep schedule got totally out of whack, with 3 hours of sleep going into Friday, a nap Friday afternoon, and then a night of tossing and turning until I finally passed out again at 3 a.m. So you know why I was thinking, "No way am I going for a f@#king run," when my alarm went off at 6:30 a.m. this morning. Add to that that the two people who hold me accountable at runs—Tasha, and my mentor, Peter—weren't going to be there, and you can see how little there was on the con side of staying in bed, and how very much on the pro.

But I knew that if I didn't get out of bed and join the group, I would never go for a run. And I would feel horrible about it all day. Hell, all week. Especially since I hadn't had time to exercise since Tuesday night. So somehow, I got to the park and joined the Beginner Advanced group in a 5 mile run. Yup, you read that right. Five miles. With my legs whispering at me the whole time, as if a character on The Sopranos, "You're gonna pay when we get home."

I did it, though. Only walking for about two minutes when I pushed the pace too fast and started to feel it in my hip flexor. The best part was that there was a group of us. Finally. I've been having a hard time finding people at my own pace, except for Tasha, so it was great to run with about five other women, all of us chatting and encouraging each other. The more I do this, the more people I meet, and all of them are pretty amazing. The more you get to know their stories, the more it becomes about all of you, collectively, getting each other over the finish line.

The run over, I naturally felt great that I’d done it. But it was strange. I thought I'd feel crazy enthusiastic about running five miles for the first time. Somehow, though, the perfectionist in me looked at those minutes of walking and the time we stopped to check on a fallen jogger as making the run somehow less than the full five. Stupid, yes, but there it is. I'm just reminding myself what I overcame to get there, what I accomplished once there, and then, that I hobbled a mile back home. How can I not see that as impressive?

And strangely, after the run, the walk, and all the stretching, I feel better than before the run. Looser. In less pain. But not less tired. I can't resist the siren song of my bed anymore.

Click to Read Ruth's May 2002 Training Journal

This site is maintained by Peter Klein and is not associated with the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society, Team-in-Training or The Light the Night Walk other than the participation in the Society's  programs of the individuals included in this site.  
Last updated on January 07, 2004 .