Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This is why.

Yes, I ran another marathon. It was amazing, and I'll have the details for you soon. For now, instead, here's why I did it. Please read.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

26.2 times 2

So, I'm running the Los Angeles Marathon in a few days (yeahhhhhhhhh!!). Yes, I did just run my first marathon less than 3 weeks ago! If you would like to let me know how fantastically bad-ass you think I am, there are many ways you can do that. Choose one OR MORE of the following options:

0. Donate to my fundraising page! The whole reason I got into this crazy thing was to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It's only a few days from race day, pleeeeeeeeease contribute now! Any amount helps - really. I so appreciate it. [All of those links take you to http://pages.teamintraining.org/los/mardigra10/erica] Thank you!

1. Come cheer for me at the race! Here is the marathon spectator guide with all kinds of info about the course and where the block parties are, where entertainment (Taiko drummers at Mile 3!) will be, and transportation and road closure information. If you are somewhere along the course and bring a sign or small edible offering, I will love you forever, but I won't stop and chat for more than a second. If you are at the finish line, it may be difficult to find each other, but I'll be able to actually talk to you and not just wave as I go by. I did my other marathon in about 5 hours, so it's reasonable to assume this one will be similar, although there are other factors that may change that. For one thing, I'm running with my team, Team Curly-Hair, so I alone will not be determining the pace. After I cross the finish line, I go into a runners-only zone for a few minutes to collect my medal and things, but then I can go to the Family Meet-Up area (I'll be in the "G" area, unless I'm with my team in the "S" area...) to find you - so let me know if you'll be there!

2. Get live updates about my progress by going to this race-tracker website and signing up your phone number or email address. They'll send a message when I've crossed the 10km mark, the half-marathon mark, etc. (You have to sign up for this BEFORE the day of the race itself.) If you'll be on the course, you can use that info to judge when I should be nearing your location (a full marathon is about 42 km). The race starts at 7:24am but I have no idea when I'll start running; I definitely won't be in the first few waves so it may be after 8 before I actually start.

If you're going to be at the finish line, read this info about the Finish Line Festival... and bring me some chocolate milk :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then...

In the pre-race dawn of last Sunday morning, my fellow teammates and I were huddled in a small pack awaiting the start of the run and trying desperately to keep from freezing. I was wearing leg-warmers; a teammate said to me, "Only a dancer would wear those to a race!"

In the post-race sunshine of last Sunday afternoon, my fellow teammates and I were stretched out on the grass, enjoying having finished our runs. I complained about having broken a fingernail; a teammate said to me, "How did you break a nail? You're a runner!"

Delighted. I was delighted at both of these moments, at both of these labels. But why? With the families at the camp I taught at this weekend, we discussed the labels we place on one another. With some of my high school students, we talked about the labels we place on ourselves. Tonight at the temple where I teach, I asked the students about what they are rather than who they are... it's been on my mind.

First of all, why did those labels delight me? I teach dance for a living; in fact, I make my living exclusively by teaching dance. In my spare time, I often go dancing just for fun, and I'm a member of a performing dance company, so I spend lots of time rehearsing and performing. I've choreographed for big shows, like one last year at the Kodak Theater, a show which included performances by the Idan Raichel Project, Rami Kleinstein, and Achinioam Nini (these are huge names on the Israeli music scene, if you don't happen to be steeped in Israeli culture!). I freakin competed in the International Golden Karagoz Folk Dances Competition in Turkey in 2003. I'm clearly a dancer. And yet...

And yet for some reason, I hesitate before calling myself a dancer, thinking I don't quite deserve the title.

I have run 180 miles in the past four months, I completed my first marathon a week and a half ago and I'm going to run my second in another week and a half. And yet.

And yet for some reason I hesitate before calling myself a runner, thinking I don't quite deserve the title.

If I were one of my students, I would tell me unhesitatingly: if you do it, you are it. And you can be many things at once.

In fact, I tell them that all the time. If you dance, you are a dancer. You may not be the best dancer, or a professional dancer, but that has nothing at all to do with the fact of being a dancer or not. If you sing, you're a singer (even if you're tone-deaf like me). If you run, you're a runner: there's no per-week mileage requirement for some magical exclusive club.

The other side of this coin that I stress heavily when talking to my kids is that you aren't *just* any one thing, and that there is a danger in the limiting we do when we say we can't do something because we aren't something. Oh, I'm not an artist, one says, shaking one's hand and one's head and taking a step backwards. Oh, I don't sing. Always that same wave of the hand, the same step backward.

You do it by doing it, I've been telling them lately. You do it by doing it, I've been telling myself lately.

Some kids already knew a dance I was teaching the other day, so I had those students demonstrate with me - more feet for the other students to watch, plus the room was too small for one circle anyway, so it worked out best to pull out some of the kids. "Watch how they do this thing," I told the others. "Try it like that."
"But they're dancers," objected some of the others.
"So are you," I responded.

But they didn't believe me. You do it by doing it, I've been saying.

I see them being afraid to try things they aren't already good at. How are you supposed to become good at it if you don't try? I ask. The more you do it, the better you'll be at it. You know how you become a fast reader? By reading. You know how you become a good runner? By running. As another local dance teacher would say, to great comic effect: Practice makes...

How can I, but I can't, but I'm not...
You do it by doing it, I've been telling them lately. You do it by doing it, I've been telling myself lately.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lies, damned lies, and... you know

Remember how this blog used to be about something besides running? Ahh, the good old days. Perhaps after I run the L.A. Marathon on March 21, I'll get back to the old navel-gazing and poetic-waxing and snarkiness-posting. But for now...

So, I ran my race in 4 hours, 50 minutes, and 59 seconds.
The fastest man finished in 2:22:31 and the fastest woman in 2:46:06.

There were 3515 finishers (of the FULL marathon; another 9311 finished the half!): 1959 of them male and 1556 female. Overall, I came in 2260th place and 840th among the women. Humbling. However, the overall average time was 4:35:52 so I was only a little behind that, and even better, the average female time was 4:51:36 - HOORAY, I AM ALMOST PERFECTLY AVERAGE!! (Believe that and it's clear we've never actually met.)
The longest time was 7:29:50. I kicked that chick's ASS :)

I was bib number 16176, which I liked because it was the start of a Boston phone number: 1-617-...
Total miles I ran in training prior to the marathon (since 10/31/09): 153

You can actually watch video of me finishing!! Click here and enter bib number 16176. I'm the first one across in the "finish" video, and I'm 3rd or 4th, against the far side fence, in the "before finish" video!!

Here are my mile splits (I know you were DYING for this info!!)
Mile / Time
1. 10.25 (so crowded!)
2. 9.35 (fastest mile - I was so hyper at this point I was forcing myself to walk my walk intervals and not just run through them...)
3. 10.08 (5K time: 31:08)
4. 10.05
5. 10.35
6. 10.02 (10K time: 1:02:50)
7. 10.04
8. 10.35
9. 10.18
10. 10.27
11. 10.58
12. 10.45
13. 11.11 (Half-marathon time: 2:16:17)
14. 11.27
15. 11.23
16. 11.32
17. 11.36
18. 11.47
19. 11.23
20. 11.55
21. 11.39
22. 12.18 (Slowest mile)
23. 12.00
24. 12.05
25. 12.15
26. 12.10
Average: 11.06

Next up: my five-hour iPod playlist! I listened to music the whole time I ran and it was wooooonderful!!

All the stats are from this website here.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rejoice, we conquer.

Well, I did it! I ran 26.2 miles, and I raised $4,985.17 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It's been quite an experience.

Running this marathon really was an amazing experience. Before I started training in November, I think I had never run more than four miles at a time. I remember being scared of the week we were supposed to do five miles. I remember being terrified of the jump to eight miles. Then double digits!! Yet a couple of weeks ago, I literally said the phrase "only ten miles". ONLY! This has been a huge lesson for me in how possible the seemingly-impossible can be, and how much a like-minded community and the support from the people in my life can make all the difference in the world. My goal was to finish the marathon in under five hours, and I did it in 4:50. It was a gorgeous day in New Orleans, and I felt totally prepared and ready. Many of the miles flew by, and it didn't get hard until well past the halfway mark. When I started to get very tired and things began to hurt, I thought of all of the people that donated and it was like this huge crowd of (nearly 100!) people was behind me pushing me on. I finished strong and very, very happy.

Here are a couple of favorite moments from the 5 hours on my feet:

I ran past a woman who was saying to her friend, "Boxers can be pretty rambunctious too." A mile or two later, I realized she was referring to the dog, not the undershort.

The morning of the race, we had to meet in the lobby of the hotel at 4am. My mom and I step into the elevator to an overwhelming odor of athlete... pre-exercise athlete, not post (thank god).
"Well, good morning!" says Mom.
"That Vicks VapoRub will always wake you up!" says someone squeezed in the back.
"Oh! says a woman by the door. "I was wondering why it was getting mintier and mintier in here!"

I loved all the signs and posters people were holding or had posted along the course. Some were hilarious. My favorite was the one I passed at about mile 8: "You can stop running now; the Kenyans have already won!"

If you or anyone you know wanted to donate but never got around to it, there's still time to donate here. In fact, if I raise a little bit more money, I get some good swag :)

And now my craziest news: now that I've done this ridiculous thing, I'm going to do it again!! I'm running the L.A. Marathon in less than 3 weeks. If you want to come out and cheer for me on 3/21, I'd be deliiiiiiiighted! Let me know and I'll give you the heads up on what to look for so you can spot me and how to track my progress!