Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Mile 1 - 8:41
Mile 2 - 8:24
Mile 3 - 8:50
Mile 4 - 8:37
Mile 5 - 8:58
Mile 6 - 9:26
Mile 7 - 8:05
Mile 8 - 8:03
Mile 9 - 8:38
Mile 10 - 9:47
Mile 11 - 9:16
Mile 12 - 9:45
Mile 13 - 9:14
Mile 14 - 10:15
Mile 15 - 10:12
Mile 16 - 10:52
Mile 17 - 11:27
Mile 18 - 11:02
Mile 19 - 13:00
Mile 20 - 13:26
Mile 21 - 13:02
Mile 22 - 12:39
Mile 23 - 15:07
Mile 24 - 14:16
Mile 25 - 13:36
Mile 26 - 12:42
Last 0.2 - 2:01
Finish time - 4:39:33
Here's me after the finish. Smiling because I'm SO GLAD to be done running.
Still not sure what's next. My goal of 3:49:59 eludes me, and it's frustrating. 5 of my 15 marathons have been under 4 hours, and I don't think this goal or my training plans are unreasonable. But waiting for the stars to align and provide ideal conditions on race day is trying my patience. I'll decide what's next later. For now, I plan to take some time off from running, especially now that NC summer's heat will be in full swing soon.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Not surprisingly, right now most of the choice-issue focus seems to be on the national scale, especially the presidential race. A nice overview of where Obama and Romney stand on these issues can be found here. But instead I'd like to turn our attention to state-level politics, because this is arena where the damage done is more real, effective, and critical. In other words, real women are affected every day by state-level legislation concerning their reproductive rights. If you've been reading my blog in the past couple years, you're no doubt familiar with my musings on North Carolina's abysmal record when it comes to abortion access - see here for a quick overview of these restrictions.
So, I'll keep this short and sweet: my part in electing pro-choice candidates in 2012 will be to implore each of you to (1) look up your state representatives if you don't know who they are already; (2) look into their voting record on pro-choice and anti-choice policies; (3) figure out if these candidates are up for re-election this year; and finally (4) vote with your conscience - should a crummy politician really have a say in your and your partner's reproductive health or should that be a personal decision between you and your medical professional?
Thanks for reading.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
I just got back from seeing the documentary “12th and Delaware,” a very powerful film about “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) in the United States. Everyone – whether you’re pro-choice or anti-choice – should see this film by the same folks who brought us “Jesus Camp.” But if you don’t have the opportunity to do so (I think screenings are limited), then read on.
CPCs are non-medical, anti-choice facilities that spread harmful lies and withhold important information under the guise of providing safe, medically-sound pregnancy care services. According to NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, there are at least 122 CPCs in North Carolina, and about 1000 in the U.S., according to the film. The dangerous misinformation these places spread includes claims that abortion causes breast cancer, abortion is very risky and unsafe, and that condoms and other forms of birth control are ineffective. CPCs also use manipulative tactics such as shaming women with religious ideology, suggest women delay decision-making until it's too late to have a legal abortion, offer free ultrasounds to emotionally manipulate women, and offer incentives to women (mostly poor women) who choose not to have an abortion. Additional info on CPCs in NC can be found here.
If you've seen Jesus Camp, you know that Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing have a knack for obtaining real, raw, honest footage that shows things - especially PEOPLE - how they really are with no accompanying commentary. Grady and Ewing filmed women going into an abortion clinic as well as women entering (in some cases mistakenly) a CPC, both located at the corner of 12th and Delaware in a town in Florida. The film showed women being treated at the CPC and being counseled at the abortion clinic. ALL of the lies and manipulative tactics that I mentioned in the preceding paragraph were documented in this film. For example, early in the film we see a 19 year old woman who had already had one abortion and is seeking another at the CPC (she apparently meant to go to the abortion clinic across the street, a mistake that happened to many other women). As Anne, the main provider at the CPC, launches into her spiel of lies and misinformation, all I can think is "Abortion #2? Someone please tell that girl about birth control! Give her some condoms!" When the woman mentions she has no insurance, all I can think is "Someone please tell that girl about Planned Parenthood!" Spoiler alert: after her non-medically-certified ultrasound, the women leaves and we soon find out that she got her abortion anyway, just as she had already decided to do. Anne is understandably near tears when she learns this, as am I, but my feelings are intensified by the outrage I feel at CPCs for doing essentially nothing to ensure this woman will not be seeking Abortion #3. But more than this, what these CPCs ARE doing (e.g., telling them condoms don't work) probably increases the likelihood of yet another unintended pregnancy and abortion. And they call themselves "pro life."
There were plenty of other places in this film where I nearly lost it. There was a woman who was heading into the abortion clinic and is stopped by the pleas of a group of protestors. In Spanish, they beg her not to kill her baby. She looks fearful, but listens, before finally telling them in a shaking voice that she is a single mom with 6 children already and no government support. "We'll give you whatever you need!" the protestors insist, "clothes for your children, money, food." One has to wonder for how long this charity actually lasts. According to the NARAL NC report on CPCs, "the assistance by many CPCs is, in reality, sporadic and contingent upon submitting to religious education." Some CPC volunteers even admitted that they only help women for a few months before cutting off all help.
The film also featured several women who indicated that their partners were abusive or refused to wear condoms. One woman at the CPC mentioned that her partner was verbally abusive. Rather than offering any comfort, counsel, or referral to a domestic abuse center, Anne instead said something along the lines of "a baby would change him," as if unwanted babies are the remedy for domestic violence.
But what really moved me to tears was a soft-spoken 15 year old girl. Near the beginning of the film Anne and the others at the CPC successfully scared this girl out of having an abortion with their usual inaccurate scare tactics, including inflating the risk that abortion could result in death. The girl is allegedly 7 weeks pregnant (I say "allegedly" because the film shows how this CPC deliberately made women think they were several weeks earlier in their pregnancy than they actually were to make them think they had more time to re-evaluate their decision). We see this girl again near the end of the film at which point she is 7 months pregnant. She expresses shame and worry, but what really gets me is that she mentions she decided not to have an abortion because of what Anne had told her, and that instead she was trying to end her pregnancy by doing things she perceived to be harmful for the baby, like drinking vinegar and lifting heavy things. Anyone who thinks criminalizing abortion is the answer - THINK ABOUT THIS GIRL AND OTHERS LIKE HER.
Let me be crystal clear. Abortion is tragic. I doubt any decent person would disagree with that. The decision to have an abortion should by no means be taken lightly and should be aided by counseling (as it most certainly is at Planned Parenthood and other legitimate medical facilities). We can all agree that abortion needs to be reduced and ideally eliminated. But the way to reduce abortion is NOT to lure women with misinformation and empty promises. The way to reduce abortion is NOT to criminalize it. The way to reduce abortion is NOT to tell women that condoms don’t work. The way to reduce abortion is NOT to withhold information about contraception from women prone to unintended pregnancies. The way to reduce abortion is NOT to withhold counseling and other professional support from a woman who’s just confided in you that her partner abuses her. The way to reduce abortion is NOT to scare a 15 year old girl with lies so that she decides not to have a safe, medical abortion and instead abuses her own body.
I encourage you to check out the situation with CPCs in your state, but if you're a fellow North Carolinian, listen up – this is important: first, do NOT buy a specialty “Choose Life” license plate when you’re at the DMV, as $15 of your money will be funneled to CPCs; second, do your homework before the next election and make sure you VOTE OUT anti-choice representatives in our state legislature. It is because of them that NC passed HB 854, the "Women Know Nothing" Act that requires women seeking an abortion to obtain an ultrasound 72 to 4 hours before the procedure, even if they already had one. The clincher is that this law also requires the state to maintain a registry of organizations that provide free ultrasounds for pregnant women, which means - you guessed it - this registry is littered with CPCs. As noted in that previously referenced report, "Legitimate public health clinics are often unable to offer all of their services free of charge, meaning that the law will effectively direct low-income women to these ideologically driven CPCs without any mention of their anti-choice agenda. By forcing the government to create and maintain a registry of these groups, the law, in essence, establishes a state-sanctioned channel through which women are referred to CPCs."
So again, fellow North Carolinians, two things to take away from all of this:
- Don't buy "Choose Life" license plates
- Show our anti-choice legislatures the door, and feel free to put a boot in their ass on the way out.
If you know what's up with CPCs in your state, please comment here - I'd be very interested!
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Anyway, as a frustrated and somewhat unfulfilled runner, I thought it would be therapeutic to reflect on some of my 2011 races. This blog post actually began as a Richmond Marathon race report, but the writing was going slowly because the race was a disappointment. As the weeks passed I ran three additional races which went pretty well (as I had no expectations), so I decided to blog about those, too. All in all, I think I ran 10 races in 2011 - three marathons, one 12 miler, and a bunch of smaller races.
Allow me to rant and ramble a bit. One of my running friends and I used to have the same marathon PR of 3:58. In the last couple years we have both improved on this PR. For me, it's been a "chipping away" process, getting down to a 3:57 last fall and then a 3:53 last spring. My friend, on the other hand, blew things out of the water when she dropped 18 minutes off her previous time and qualified for Boston. "How?" I asked her. "You just have to really want it," she said. She said diligent training that included speedwork and other quality workouts was key.
Well, damn it, I want it! I don't even mean qualifying for Boston - I just want to get below 3:50. I first broke the 4:00 milestone in the October 2007 Columbus marathon, and I haven't seen significant improvement since then. I must be in a running rut - time to try something new. I decided a good "something new" would be this Hanson Marathon Training Plan (http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-244-255-13791-0,00.html), AKA the "less is more plan," which makes no sense because there’s nothing “less” about it. Average weekly milage is 40+ miles, with a peak at 50+ miles. One of the key weekly workouts is an 8-10 mile marathon goal pace run, which for me is 8:45 min/mile. I had been rocking these workouts, running 10 miles at 8:29, 9 miles at 8:35, 9 miles at 8:40, and 9 miles at 8:29 in the four weeks before tapering – hilly routes, too! Long interval speed work is also emphasized - my workouts included 6 x 1 mile repeats (~8:20), 3 x 2 mile repeats (~16:40), Yasso 800s (at 3:45), and various types of ladders and pyramids. The "less" part of the training plan apparently refers to the fact that the longest long run is only 16 miles. BUT we're talking 16 miles after 6 consecutive days of running hour-plus long workouts. And endurance has never really been a problem for me - speed is what I need. I had run 13 marathons, but never trained for one like this before. I was confident that 3:49 was mine!
Race morning was sunny, chilly, and windy. Andrew was running the 8K, which started an hour before the marathon, so after seeing his race start, I had a lot of time to kill (we had not been able to score one of the many hotels walking distance to the race start.) I was happy to find an unlocked VCU building where I could hang out and escape from the cold and was thrilled to find clean, line-free bathrooms and a water fountain. Awesome! I hung out here until 10 min before the start, when I checked my bag and headed to the starting corral.
For some reason, I wasn't feeling as mentally psyched as I usually am at a marathon start. I actually felt a tiny sense of...well, dread. I knew I was essentially trapped for the next 26.2 miles and that the last 5-6 miles of that would be hell. I tried to shake off these thoughts and told myself to focus on the scenery of this new course and the energy of the crowds. We were off, and I settled right into my goal pace, though just a tad slow. Here are my splits for first 7 miles:
Mile 1 - 8:44
Mile 2 - 8:42
Mile 3 - 8:50
Mile 4 - 8:47
Mile 5 - 8:48
Mile 6 - 8:55
Mile 7 - 8:07 (all downhill)
Miles 8-11 were a pretty scenic part of the course along the James River and through some wooded neighborhoods. However, the end of this section is also where I really felt the hills start to slow me down. Between miles 10-11 someone had a sign that said "Remember your reasons for doing this." Um, reasons? Is meeting a self-centered somewhat arbitrary goal a good reason? I think I understand why people run for charity.
Mile 8 - 8:44
Mile 9 -8:45
Mile 10 - 8:48
Mile 11 - 9:11 (uphill)
Mile 12 - 9:03 (also some hills)
Mile 13 - 8:54
By the halfway point, I realized that it was gonna be really really really difficult to make my goal. I reminded myself of that time I ran something like an 8:30 mile 23. The 20's don't have to be a slow down - I can do this! "You trained for this," I told myself. But as the mile markers ticked by, I became more disheartened. I didn't hit a wall or anything, but I just couldn't keep up the pace I thought I had trained so hard to maintain:
Mile 14 - 8:52
Mile 15 - 8:44
Mile 16 - 9:23 (nasty bridge)
Mile 17 - 9:03
Mile 18 - 9:29
Mile 19 - 9:24
Mile 20 - 8:57
Mile 21 - 9:34
Mile 22 - 9:45
Mile 23 - 9:45
Mile 24 - 9:23
Mile 25 - 9:50
Mile 26 - 8:39 (Andrew and the downhill helped out here!)
Finish - 1:32 (3:56:48)
I finished with tears in my eyes (I didn't actually cry because I was SO GLAD to not be running anymore). I thought of all those nights I was at the track and everyone else had cut the workout short and gone home; those 10 mile tempo runs where I wanted to slow down but didn't; and especially those Friday morning runs, sandwiched between Thursday night's 8-10 mile tempo run and Saturday's 12-16 mile long run. I wanted to skip those Friday runs so badly! But I didn't, and I told myself "this will all be worth it - it's making you stronger and faster." WTF? So, I'm still feeling down on marathoning and haven't decided my spring racing plans yet. When I do decide to run another marathon, I probably won't tell anyone about it, another strategy my aforementioned friend used that may have helped her, at least mentally. Maybe I'll also run for charity or something. Probably not overtly or officially, but some sort of thing where I make a pact with myself that I'll donate a certain amount of money if I make my goal. I really believe that a large part of marathoning is mental, and this might help.
Education for Eve 5K
Speaking of racing for charity, the Education for Eve 5K in Chapel Hill is certainly a worthy cause. I'm not much of a 5K runner, and when I do run them, I promptly forget about them. Andrew wanted to run this race because a few of his coworkers were doing it. I decided to run it, too, even though it was only one week after Richmond. Short race report here - I'll cut to the end: I actually passed Andrew a few hundred meters before the finish (haha!) and finished in 23:56, a 7:43 pace on a hilly course. So, maybe all that marathon training did something for my speed after all. I can't remember my 5-K PR, but this might be close to it.
Run at the Rock 7-miler
The Run at the Rock trail race was just plain fun and had yummy soup at the finish. Andrew and I ran it together in ~1:11. We picked up the pace toward the end, but for most of the race we were in no hurry. I liked that we got sweatshirts instead of tee-shirts. Also, my race number was 69.
Couch Mountain 5-miler
The Couch Mountain 5-miler is also a fun race, part of the Carolina Godiva Track Club Winter Series. The course heads to the top of "Couch Mountain," allegedly the highest point in Orange County, then winds through more Duke Forest trails and country roads. There are burgers at the finish line and like all Winter Series races the entry fee is $5. This year I somehow managed to finish in 41:10, a 8:23 pace. Not bad for a hilly course and no recent speed training! Although, it's not as much an improvement over my previous time as I thought: I finished in 41:54 three years ago.
Now Andrew and I are getting ready to kick off the new year with another Winter Series race: the New Years 8K, which also winds through Duke Forest. I still haven't decided what running goals, if any, (or life goals, if any) I'd like to set for 2012. Maybe I'll just take things easy this year. Happy New Year, everyone!
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Last weekend was Andrew's birthday, and he requested peach cobbler after our fantastic lunch at Lexington Barbeque in Lexington, NC (on our way to Asheville). I don't think my cobbler turned out as well as theirs, but it was still pretty damn good, especially for my first attempt, if I do say so myself. Fresh, delicious peaches from the farmers market certainly helped.
We were impressed with Lexington BBQ, by the way. I haven't liked any BBQ I've tried in NC until this. The meat wasn't overly salty (just the right flavor), the hush puppies were very tasty, and you could order everything in reasonably sized portions, leaving room for dessert!