Tag Archives: niggle

born to (chi) run (barefoot)

me at KM41 (of 42) of the Rome marathon

Though I’ve always been a runner (or at least since the Girl Scout Olympics in elementary school), it was not until my 30’s that I became a marathon runner. I had been wanting to run a marathon for quite some time. A marathon, to me, is something that is do-able, but not immediately or all at once. It is something that requires training, practice, and sustained effort over time.

I tend to be more of a ‘if I can’t do it immediately why bother doing it’ person in many respects, so I had always thought a marathon would be a good discipline for me, an example of something that, poco a poco, could be accomplished by setting your mind (and training schedule) to it.

After fiinishing the Belfast Marathon (along with Julianne and Stuart)

I’ve now got 3 marathons under my Asics, so to speak. Rome (which is not a bad first marathon), Belfast (including a nice scenic path by the city dump) and New York (which I ran in honor of my dad and to raise money for the Labrecque Foundation). But in each of them, though I trained (and found out that I’m actually quite a fundamentalist when it comes to a running training plan) and though I finished, I never felt all that great (of course not, you might be saying) and wished that I could have finished stronger.

much too tired, at about mile 24 of the NYC marathon

Around the time that I was toward the end of my training for Belfast a friend introduced me to” target=”_blank”>Chi Running. Though I liked the idea of it (learning to allow gravity to power your running, rather than seeing running as a struggle) and though I tried to implement it, I was far along in my training and the chi running fell by the wayside.

That was in 2006. On a trip to the Philippines in 2010 the friend I was visiting brought it back up, as she was using the Chi Running techniques and highly recommended them. Though I had run the NYC Marathon in the intervening time, I hadn’t really run since (that was in fall 2007) as I’d been struggling with a ‘niggle’ in my right side. (Yes, niggle is a technical term.)

So, while in Manila, I finally bought the Chi Running. book, a new pair of running shoes (I hadn’t even brought mine with me on the trip, that’s how little I was running) and put my good intentions back out on the course.

Around that time, and while at the running shop in Manilla, I had also heard talk of ‘barefoot running’ as well. The idea behind barefoot running is that, without all the excessive padding of our ‘modern day’ running shoes, our feet can actually strike the ground properly, which actually prevents the injuries that some are saying are actually caused by the fancy, expensive running shoes.” target=”_blank”>Vibram Five Fingersare one solution to this idea of ‘shoeless running shoes’ (and a way for companies to make money off of ‘barefoot running’…though, you can always go barefoot for free…)

I still had the desire to run another marathon. I still struggled with that ‘niggle’ in my right side whenever I would run. So, I just sort of trudged along, not really running, but not really ready to give it up either.

Many months before a friend had recommended the book” target=”_blank”>Born to Run, saying I would love it. I had checked at the library and it was checked out and on hold, and then I forgot about it. That is, until another friend lent me the copy of it that she had just read saying, “You’ve GOT to read this. You’re gonna love it.”

” target=”_blank”>Born to Runis the story of the Tarahumara, an indigenous tribe of ‘running people’ in northern Mexico.  It’s also the story of ultramarathoning, trail running and barefoot running–telling the story in such a way to make both sound unbelievably compelling.

So I tried it. Not the ultramarathon part (yet). But the barefoot part. I don’t have any of those fancy” target=”_blank”>Vibram Five Fingersshoes (yet), but I do have a beach, and a pair of free-washed-up-with-the-tide-fake-crocs. So I put on my running kit (a phrase I picked up from the UK, meaning ‘running outfit’ which doesn’t have nearly the same ring to it) and the washed-up-with-the-tide-crocs and walked down to the beach during low tide.

I ran. Maybe it was psychological. Maybe it was the influence and inspiration of Born to Run that had not yet worn off. But I ran. I felt great. No niggle in the right side. Just me, the beach, the waves (and Tigger). It felt so good that I did not want to stop. But, remembering what happened to Forrest Gump, I figured I’d better start gradually.

So, we’ll see how it goes. I’ve ‘barefoot run’ along the beach a few times now. So far so good. I’m probably still a wee bit away from a barefoot ultramarathon trail run, but, poco a poco, who knows?

Finishing the Race

Jack McClarty

Jack McClarty

It is with sadness that I write.  I did run and finish the marathon on Sunday. On Monday, as I was hobbling my way through New York City, I got a call that Jack McClarty had been hospitalized.  I was able to get a flight home on Monday night in order to be with Martha and the family. Jack passed away early yesterday morning, November 7, 2007.

Each day before the marathon I had been talking to Jack on the phone, giving him the status updates on my ‘niggle’ and how I thought the marathon would go.  The night before the race he told me to run well, and not to go out ‘honky tonking’ so I could get some rest. I told him I would not ‘honky tonk’ since I was not sure what that meant anyway! He had also been giving me the status reports about the garden—it is his and Martha’s backyard where Tommy and I have been gardening these past months, an intermingling of growth and new life in the midst of letting go and passing of life.

On Sunday, after the marathon was over (I did it in 4:35:13, by the way, and have some pictures on edunny.com) Jack called to congratulate me. He had been charting my progress at each 5K and had plotted it on a graph, he told me, that he would show me when I got home.  He also pointed out that my pace had slowed significantly at the end, which I thanked him for rubbing in.  An engineer, he had spreadsheets for everything and though we did not know it, this was to be his last.

Running for four and a half hours through New York City gives you a lot of time to reflect. At one point, running through Manhattan, I thought of how proud my dad would have been, cheering me on. I thought of Jack who was tracking the race from afar via computer, and whose cancer had gained the upper hand.

Along the route itself friends had calculated the best spectating places and were there to  cheer me on at mile 8 and 14.5 (in Brooklyn) again at mile 16 (in Manhattan) and at mile 23 along 5th Avenue and into Central Park (I guess the tendency toward over-detail runs in the family).  I had written my name on my running jersey so as I ran through the various boroughs of New York City I heard “Go Dunny!” shouted all along the way, in a variety of accents.

At mile 15 I thought I was not going to be able to finish. My leg was hurting, I had a side ache, and I was ravenously hungry.  All I wanted to do was lay (or is it lie? Jack would be correcting me!) down on the ground. But as I came off the bridge and looked at the sidelines I saw friends there to cheer me on, and knew that there would be more friends a few miles on, it was as if a new energy lifted me up and kept me going.  I ran with Mason, a friend of a friend. When I was feeling weak, he kept me going. When he thought he could not finish, I didn’t let him quit.  We both said we could not have finished without the other.

The thing is, in running a marathon, and I think in life too, it makes a difference to have others who run beside you and keep you going when you think that you can’t take another step. It makes a difference to know that there are those who love you and who are cheering for you, encouraging you along the way.  Jack was one of those people in my life, and I will miss him terribly.  But I also know that his life and his spirit will live on in the lives of those he knew and loved.


Nothing Rhymes with F9621

It’s official—I picked up my NYC marathon number yesterday, F9621.

My friend Laila noted that it will be hard to cheer, since not much rhymes with F9621.   Maybe “26.2 is along way to run, F9621…?”

I’ve been battling a bit of a niggle in my right leg, but thanks to Dr. Williams, the chiropractor my friend Kelley recommended, I should be ready to go. If you wan to track my progress, apparently on the marathon’s website (www.nycmarathon.org) you can enter F9621 and get my progress on a map. Or, if you’d like to have an email update sent to you every time I cross 5K (about 3 miles) let me know and I can sign you up for the email alert!

The marathon is on Sunday and starts at 10:10AM.  For those who are in the NYC area, I would love to have any cheerers I can along the route!

I am going to take a camera with me while running (disposable—the camera, not the running) so hopefully I’ll have some pictures from the race posted. I did stroll through Central Park yesterday and saw the finish line, so I can have that vision in mind when the legs get sore (hopefully not in the first few miles).

Thanks again for all of the encouragement and support—and by the way, because of all of you I’ve raised over $4300 for lung cancer research—way to go!