Saturday, July 25, 2009

Liam Update, and My Cr*ppy Long Runs

Liam update:

On Thursday, Liam goes in for his surgery. It is going to be a very invasive procedure. His dad, Larry, goes into more detail in the family's blog, Prince Liam the Brave, which I suggest you all read. I will pull out this one excerpt, because it sums up all of what makes me -- and everyone who meets him -- fall in love with this exceptional little champ, and why I will run for Fred's Team as long as I can run:

"He is an amazing little boy and has taken all that has been thrown at him in perfect stride, never complaining, and always full of love and kindness. He has every right to throw things, scream, yell, cry, and to be miserable but then we would not be talking about Prince Liam. Liam is in for a very rough couple of weeks. Our hearts ache for our precious son who deserves none of the pain and suffering he has been chosen to endure (no child does). He has had more than his fair share and what lies ahead for him over the coming month weakens my knees. I would take it all for him if it was at all possible. Take his cancer away and give it to me....As his father and his mother one of the most painful aspects of this journey for us has been the inability to protect our son from further harm. To protect him from the cancer that keeps trying to take him from us all, the toxic treatments required to keep him with us but that we know are harming him in other ways, and the uncertainty of what tomorrow holds for him...We are tired, saddened, weak, and working to muster the strength to get through the next few weeks to be strong for Liam when he will need us most. Your prayers, good thoughts, and random acts of kindness have given us added strength in the past and why I felt the need to bring everyone up to date on Liam regardless of how difficult it is to share the news above. He needs us all once again to cheer him on and to focus all of our positive energy in his direction. "

Any amount you can donate to the Aubrey Fund, which has paid for all of Liam's treatments, is amazing. If everyone who read this just gave $5, think of how much money could be raised to help fight pediatric cancer. And your money means more than a dollar sign -- it's hope for Liam, and all the children being treated at MSKCC, that there will be a day that they will not just imagine a world without cancer, but live in it as well.

So far, I have been able to raise, thanks to amazing people like you, and like the latest members of the FRED'S TEAM HONOR ROLL:
a grand total so far of
but there's a long way to go.

Regardless of whether or not you can donate, please offer up your prayers, thoughts, good wishes, white light -- whatever positive energy you can send Liam's way, as he and his family undergo the next portion of their journey.

Thoughts of Liam have kept me going through some pretty -- there's no nice way to say it -- crappy runs. I don't know what it is, but I have lost everything, all my stamina, my strength and most distressingly, my speed. Where did it go?? I want it back!!

I had some pretty good midweek runs, so imagine my surprise when, at last Saturday's team long run (14 miles) I totally bombed. I had to do a few miles beforehand, to make to a 10:30 rehearsal, so I already had 2 1/2 miles down by the time I met the Team at 7am. The course was a simple one, and one of my faves -- from 97th Street up to the GW Bridge, then down the West Side to 40th Street, then back up to 97th. Scenic and flat, a great combo.

The trouble began almost immediately. I had to go to the bathroom. Of course, I had to go from the moment I left my house, but the park bathrooms don't open until 7am. Sigh. So I chugged along until we got to the first possible bathroom by the uptown tennis courts and there was a guy just opening them up. Teammates Ernie and V had also veered off, and we took a brief pause.

The rest stop, though needed, disrupted what little flow I had. I started falling further behind, and soon, I was dead last. Last. What the hey? I know it's not a race, but I've never ever been this slow. It was getting hotter and more humid. I kept fluids with me, because there's only one water fountain between 97th and the GW Bridge, but they weren't helping. My breathing was fine, again, it was my legs. They felt like lead. I couldn't turn them over. Worse, I started getting a shooting pain in my right knee that I couldn't shake, and I kept having to stop and rub it out. By the time I got to 97th Street (mile 8, or in my case, mile 10 1/2) I was in pain, I was dehydrated, and I was PISSED. Coach Jeff gave me a few words of encouragement, advised me to see a doctor (which yes, I am doing next Friday) and sent me on my way. I hobbled off. Just get through it. Just get through it. Got to 40th Street, turned around, came back up to 59th Street and -- as planned, because I was shorting the course, having run some beforehand -- turned off and went home. No time for an ice bath, had just enough time to shower and head over to watch the final rehearsal of the Cape show, before helping them load out and retaping the floor for my show. No nap for me...

Took Sunday and Monday off, trying to really refresh my legs. I did the first Team track workout on Tuesday. We were up at Riverbank, as always, and there was a light rain throughout the majority of the workout, which made things feel better, but didn't cool it down much.

The workout -- a one mile warmup, and five repeats of one fast lap, one slow lap. Finish up with 3 extra slow laps cooldown. Four miles total. The fast laps were meant to be about a minute over your normal pace, so if your normal pace is a 9:00 mile, push the lap for an 8:00 minute mile. Before the workout, Coach Ann pulled me aside and told me that she noticed my form was shot. She had really helped me last year getting my arms in the right position, but now they were even worse than last year. I wouldn't doubt it. That's probably part of the reason I'm running so badly. She also said that the one things that would help me a lot is ... getting rid of the iPod. For a number of reasons, it is bad for you, and I know this, but I use it for motivation and rhythm. She said that ditching it would help my form. So I agreed to give it up (sniff), and really concentrate on my arms. I think by the end of the workout, I was getting the hang of it. I could feel what Ann was talking about in both my arms and my hips, and it was, I dare say, helpful to hear my own breathing through the fast laps. It helped me get in a good rhythm, as demonstrated by my times for the fast laps, in order: 2:14, 2:15, 2:13, 2:08 and 2:05.

Took Wednesday off, to finish some transcripts.

Thursday was supposed to be a step workout, but because it was raining heavily, Jeff cancelled it. Did I go to the gym and work out instead? No. I thought, why don't I just do my long run on Friday morning instead, before rehearsal. My thinking was this -- I had taken Wednesday off already. Why not take the rest of Thursday off and do the long run on Friday, with somewhat fresher legs? Even though I had mentally blocked out Thursday night as Team time, I could use that time to finish up the rest of my transcripts instead -- so in theory, it made sense. Otherwise, I'd either have to drag myself to the gym on Thursday night in the rain, or do something on Friday, which I didn't want to do prior to the 15-miler. And since I was ready for bed by 8pm, it seemed the logical choice.

So at 5:30am Friday morning, I set out for a 15-miler. Decided to keep it in Central Park, where I felt safer -- yes, there are a LOT of people in the Park then, and it was already getting light out. The plan was a 6-mile loop, a 5-mile loop, and breaking up the five-mile loop by getting two loops of the Rez (1.7ish miles a pop) in, heading down the west side towards home, and then crossing the transverse at 72nd Street and heading down the east side for the extra half mile.

First six miles felt pretty good. I must say, and I'm going to hold to this, that I do pretty well on hills. That being said, I was debating two 6-mile loops, with the Rez loops in there, and ixnayed it after I hit Cat Hill the second time. Didn't feel like testing that theory with a second loop of the Great Hill.

Had the iPod (sorry, Ann!) but spent a lot of time really concentrating on my arms, and I figured out a couple of things. First off, I realized that when my arms were in what I believe to be correct form, I felt lighter, like weight had shifted off my hips. I also realized that having my arms in correct form pulled my back up into correct alignment (you can slouch when you run.)

So while it was not 100 percent there the whole run, I finally became aware of the difference between proper and improper form, and every time I felt myself falling out of form I would snap myself back in. And even though my time wasn't great -- averaged just over 10 minute miles for the 15 -- I physically felt better about the run. A couple of times I was tempted to short the course, just run down the west side instead of cutting over the transverse, but I thought about Liam, and as corny as it sounds, it gave me the strength to keep going.

Of course, spending the rest of the day in rehearsal, aching and desperate for a nap wasn't pretty. Oh, well. I'm in rehearsal right now for SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE, and we work on Saturday, so I'd be saying the same thing if I waited until Saturday.

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