2009 … so far

Cough! Sniffle! Hack! Look at that cloud of dust! Is that a cobweb?  ‘Scuse me a moment while I grab a broom, open the windows, and air this place out.

Please forgive the disarray of In The Distance. Quarterly new posts fall far short of my best intentions.  The Blogkeeper’s been working hard to get herself and her students in better shape, but in the process let the place atrophy a bit.

While I spiff things up, I’ll re-cap the first season of 2009.

January

Sunset Dec. 31 2008, San Diego

Sunset Dec. 31 2008, San Diego

Lloyd and I watched the sun set on a remarkable year in a beautiful place: an oceanfront condo in San Diego, where we spent part of our holiday vacation.  We started 2009 with an impromptu Polar Plunge in the Pacific. On Jan. 3 I entered a local 5K and surprised myself by coming within 7 seconds of my PR. “I am going to do my best to smash that this year!” I vowed.  A red-eye flight delivered us back to Ohio, and before I could adjust to the time zone change I was back at work.

Somewhere around last Thanksgiving, I realized the same fear of falling that holds me back when trail-running is exponentially worse if there is even a rumor of ice on the ground. Hesitantly I baby-stepped across frozen sidewalks and parking lots, certain the slippery stuff was waiting to kiss my agility-challenged, non-acclimated butt.  Walking was precarious enough; I wasn’t going to consider running on slick surfaces. In the middle of one of Cleveland’s snowiest, coldest winters, I retreated to the safety zone. Out of 20 runs completed in Ohio, 14 featured this view:

I logged 181.5 miles for January; 130 were treadmiles and I raced one 5K (23:07).

February

The snow and ice kept on coming. I remained in my winter quarters:

I learned the Brecksville Rec Center treadmills’ every nuance and quirk. ” This one shocks you when you touch it. This one has a weird belt. This one feels wobbly and lacks cushion.” And there was plenty of time to bond: With long runs approaching 20 miles, it became more apparent that I was marathon training again.

February’s running log lists 167.3 miles, 105 of which were on a moving belt. Clearly I have a high tolerance for boredom, and paired it with considerable gratitude for a comfortable mid-winter running environment.

On rare ventures outside, I was able to get in touch with my inner trail animal. I discovered that I love to plow, leap, and slide over a powder-covered trail. Something about the pillowy white stuff turns off my tentative trail gene. Who cares if I fall when I’ll land in softness and deja vu of playing in the snow as a kid?

Deer Lick trail in the snow, Brecksville Reservation

Deer Lick trail in the snow, Brecksville Reservation

Valentine’s Day weekend marked one year since my first trip to Cleveland, and it was also the occasion of my friend Mert’s first visit. We had a great time catching up, exploring, shopping, watching girlie movies, and especially seeing Michael Franti and Spearhead‘s warm and sunny blend of reggae, rock, soul, folk, rap, pop, and peace activism turn up the heat at the House of Blues.

Feb. 14 was also supposed to be my second Chili Bowl Classic 5K race and I eagerly looked forward to trying to better last year’s time. Instead, my warm up nearly stopped me in snow tracks on top of ice. I slip-ran the race all easy pace instead, disappointed in the weather and berating myself for “being an ice-fearing wimp.”

It turned out to be one of the coldest, snowiest Februarys on record. Despite gratitude and amazement for the manner and timing of moving to Northeast Ohio, I felt pangs of regret over leaving a mild climate.

March

Land ahoy! March 1 was the date of my first 20 miler as well as the first long run of the year that did not involve staring at an electronic console.

With two months of cushioned belt running, my legs were less prepared to take on the Boston Marathon course than they had been a year earlier training in flat coastal North Carolina. Attempting to make up for lost time, I sought climbs, rolling terrain, and descents on run after run. The Shamrock 15K race, which steeply then relentlessly climbs for its last 5 miles, was a good challenge that left no doubt that I have some work to do.

Reluctantly, winter released its frigid lock on Northeast Ohio. Climbing up and cruising down the miles, I spotted spring robins and saw near-record snowfall become gushing melt.

Brandywine Falls, Cuyahoga Valley National Park

With the arrival of spring , by the calendar if not yet the thermometer, I had an opportunity for another 3.1 mile test. The Strongsville Super Saturday course was not perfectly flat like the San Diego race, but thankfully it offered clear, dry pavement. Channelling February’s 5K frustration up a steep second mile hill, I hung on and for the first time found myself at the Finish in less than 23 minutes. After feeling like much of last year was a running recession, an unexpected PR was an extra rewarding surprise.

In this new season of rejuvination, I’m especially determined to give myself and training extra TLC in the coming 24 days leading to Boston. I’ll share highlights here before the dust has a chance to settle again.

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