Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ran into friends this morning.

This morning we had breakfast at a local bagel shop. Within a few minutes another group of runners came in, damp and rosy and starving. They all stopped by our table on their way in and we stopped by their table on our way out. Companions on the road. Lifelong friends. With one exception in this morning's chance gathering, we have all done the New York City Marathon at one time or another. Some of us together. This morning I am struck by the tight kinship of running friends who share the secret the marathon teaches. We all know something that no one else in the bagel shop knows. It binds us to each other and to the infinite potential of the human spirit.

Feeling philosophical this morning. Must be the cream cheese. Or maybe it's gratitude.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thinking about Phil Wharton ...

I found this photo of Phil Wharton surrounded by ahtletes who have just completed one of his famous workouts. I think it speaks for itself. When the man works you out, you're worked out! HA! I'm sure he'll check in with us this week to let us know which workshop this was and to reassure us that he didn't wipe out an entire tennis team. (You didn't, did you, Phil???)

I write a lot about Phil Wharton, and you'll notice correspondence and conversations with him throughout this blog. He is the "son" part of the father and son team of Wharton Performance in New York City. Jim is the father. For nearly 25 years, these two have been preparing and repairing athletes and dancers on the highest level. Their client list is "Who's Who" in sports and on Broadway stages. Filled with energy, driven, and sweet-spirited, Phil is devoted to maximizing human performance physically and mentally.

Oh, yeah. And he and Jim are helping ME train. As I said ... "highest level." (Insert gagging sound here.)

I visit Phil's Web site from time to time ... and I also dog the live webcam sites on line for Flagstaff, Arizona, where Phil lives now to take his athletes through high altitude training. Right now I'm seeing a lot of snow, which fills my Floridian soul with pity for the boy.

His Web site is

Laundry burns calories.

I just read another study on the “AFTERBURN” effect of running. Researchers report that when you work out hard, post-exercise calorie consumption can be elevated to burn fifteen to twenty percent more calories than were burned during the actual workout. In other words, metabolism remains juiced up long after you’ve taken off your running shoes. The benefits are exponential when you’re trying to trim down. It’s a sort of physiological bonus round.

I agree with the immutable effect of afterburn. I just disagree with the cause. No offense to scientists, but afterburn is less a result of residual metabolic activity and more a function of laundry.

Yes, my friends. Changing sticky clothes, showering and generating soiled towels and washcloths, hauling clothes and bath linen to the washer, transferring wet stuff to the dryer, pulling stuff out of the dryer, folding, hanging, and hauling stuff back to closets and drawers … THIS is the true source of “afterburn.” And don’t talk to me about “residual.” I’m directly having to allocate extra time each day – fifteen to twenty percent more time -- to keeping my workout clothes in circulation.

Statistical coincidence??? I think not.

The magnetized sign on my washer obliquely reiterates my opinion: laundry=burn (or in the case of washing running clothes, AFTERBURN).

I’m a New York City Marathon runner, so I do extra laundry every day and bear it like a Kenyan. Silent. Stoic. Soapy.

Phil, there seems to be a fine line between “Run with the sun,” and “Run with the suds.”

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I'm an insider.

Winter reappeared in Florida this morning. The temperatures plummeted while I was sleeping like the Kenyan I aspire to be. But that’s okay. I can’t be cold when my heart is so warmed by the New York Road Runners. They sent out an e-newsletter yesterday: the “Insider’s Guide.” Now, I’m not saying that they’re implying anything by sending an INSIDER’S Guide to Bev, who has applied for entry to the marathon through the lottery. But I’m can’t help but notice that it wasn’t aimed at OUTSIDERS. Had it been, I would be discouraged about ever being accepted again. But the fact that they’re treating me as one of them—an insider—gives me a glimmer of hope. Am I reaching here? Am I looking for signs of acceptance where there are none? Is this just the editorial staff of NYRR, reaching out to all runners everywhere in camaraderie and good will? Have I had a psychotic break?

Never mind. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I keep working diligently to refine my Kenyan-ness.

I move with the sun, Phil.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Phil Wharton reveals a Kenyan secret!

Hey, Bev,

You asked me to share a Kenyan running secret from the time I lived and trained with them in Italy and Kenya. One secret that may be helpful to you is this: “Move with the sun.” The Kenyan runners go to bed with and rise with the sun. They know that to stay injury-free, they must recover from workouts. Rest and regeneration are important keys to their success. Sometimes in a running program, rest is even more important than the actual training.

So be like the Kenyans. Sleep your way to stardom!

Great Job! – Phil

Note from Bev: Training for the New York City Marathon is getting really tough. Running, eating in perfect balance, lifting at the gym, stretching … and now THIS? Do the demands of running like a Kenyan never end? No wonder they dominate the sport as best in the world ...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Deer were out this morning.

I was in a fog of half-sleep this morning when I rolled out the door, but put my muffin body on cruise control and padded down the driveway. By the time I got to the mailbox, cool air had begun to clear my thoughts. Not a lot. But at least I was able to take quick inventory and make sure I had my shorts on.

About fifteen minutes into the run, I came around a curve and startled a sorority of deer. Five of the girls were out secretly hunting squirrels or whatever it is that deer do at dawn when they think no one is watching. One doe stood me off as her sisters bounded into the safety of the palmetto forest. The sentry of the group threatened me by affixing me in her unwavering gaze and stamping one foot repeatedly in warning. But I wasn’t threatened by her. I was enthralled. I felt a little guilty. She was trying so hard to look rough and tough. Out of respect, I thought I should probably whimper and cower and beg for my life. I wanted her to feel good about herself. But instead, I stood quietly about ten feet from her and just studied big doe eyes. Finally, she tired of the showdown, turned, and with one silent leap, vanished. And I resumed my trot.

I love running in the morning. One never knows what great things might happen. With the deer-encounter, I was suddenly fully alive and charged up. No matter what horror and stupidity befall this day now, I will have this magic to hold in my heart. This is one of the gifts of running. It gives you the best first.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I lower my odds in the lottery ...

... but I'm going to heaven. This morning someone asked me about the New York City Marathon. I could tell by the line of questioning that he was interested in running it. I can always tell. The look in the eye is faraway. Somewhere in the distance, I can hear the soft strains of the theme song from “Rocky.” Doves appear. The runner is suddenly taller and more square-shouldered. There is spittle. I wanted to tell him it was already filled so that he wouldn’t run to his computer and apply for the lottery. I planned to be consoling when he deflated and the doves landed. I would purr that he would hate that marathon anyway. I might pat him on the shoulder … maybe even whip out brochures from other marathons that I carry for a moment such as this. I would be so noble.

Gotta be honest. I don’t want him or anyone else to apply for my New York City Marathon until I’m accepted. Getting through that lottery is already going to be impossible. I don’t want to make it worse by adding even one more runner.

But at heart, I’m a good guy. I very casually gave him the Web site for the New York Road Runners, which I am NOT posting here.

Let us picture the moment together: He gets in and I don't. Will he be able to run the marathon with Bev duct taped to his leg?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Phil lets Bev off the iPod hook.

Hi, Phil.

Confession time. I ran with my iPod today and am eaten up
with guilt over behavior unbecoming a marathon runner who aspires to
be Kenyan in her training. What are your thoughts on using an iPod instead of concentrating on the workout? Am I going to burn in hell?

One More Time, Bev

Hey, Bev,

Thanks for coming clean, but guilt be gone! Ten years ago at the World Design Summit, a question was asked: What was the greatest breakthrough in technology for training, health, and fitness of the previous decade? Yes, you guessed it. The Sony Walkman. Now, of course, a decade later we have the iPod. It’s digital and super light and has tons of memory. The key idea is that people are now able to train longer (if they are prone to boredom) and therefore getting fitter. Also, there are studies that demonstrate that music helps to rev up energy and can mask or override minor discomfort. And sometimes people plugged into iPods are listening to personal coaching. Apps for fitness are growing exponentially. You’re possibly the first person to use David Sedaris as a fitness app, but the world is full of “firsts.” So keep up the good work. Repent no more. Jam on!

Enjoy Your Workouts!


iPod is a guilty pleasure.

I got an armband for my iPod for Christmas. I also got a gift card for iTunes, which I quickly redeemed for author David Sedaris’s new audiobook, “Live for Your Listening Pleasure.” While I am deeply committed to the many benefits of running in silence and generally regard reliance on digital recordings as somehow unworthy of a woman who aspires to run like a Kenyan, the iPod with new toys was irresistible. Bad Bev.

In my own defense, I sometimes laughed so hard at Sedaris that I couldn’t breathe. I had to stop running and just stagger into the ditch beside the road, doubled over in hysterics. Laughing wasn’t running, but it was definitely anaerobic.

Anyhow, speaking as a grownup, I don’t advocate running with sound that engulfs you. It’s critical to stay attuned to your surroundings for your own safety. At the very least, you gotta keep one ear loose to hear vehicles, bikes, other runners, freaked out dogs, and ax murderers approaching. It’s equally important to learn to listen to your own thoughts and be comfortable with your own company. We’ll discuss running and the spiritual aspect of silence sometime in the future (when you’ve forgotten about this posting and that I have no credibility because I defy my own rules). But for today, let me just admit that I had a weak moment and shook up a routine with my iPod. It was really fun.

Is it possible that maybe Kenyans get bored and slap on iPods occasionally? Nah. I don’t think so. I really have to get my discipline to marathon-level. As Jim Wharton reminded me a couple of days ago, marathon training isn’t only about running. I’ve got a lot of work to do.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The finish line is where I put it.

I’ve got a golden day with clear, crisp air and a little extra time not being savaged by demands and schedules clawing at my morning. Out the door I go. I slip quietly into the stream of life … and just flow. Running. Is there any better way to connect to the universe than in the rhythm of footfall? There can’t be.

I’ve begun to envision my morning runs as the final miles of the New York City Marathon. I rehearse crossing the finish line. Just for a moment, our house is Tavern on the Green and our mailbox is a New York Road Runner cheering my arrival. I wave and smile up at the raccoons and down at the armadillos (who are no doubt impressed), raise my arms in triumph, run into the driveway in a final push, and then decelerate exhaustedly into a mythical crowd of finish line workers.

Sports psychologists teach us that envisioning success imprints it. I’m imprinting, baby! Later, when I’m further into training, I’ll add a laurel wreath and the cover of Runner's World (“Browning Wins ING New York Marathon”) to the fantasy. For now, the fantasy is a little limited by my being winded and wanting to throw up for real in the driveway. I’ll do better later.

The neighbors have begun to talk, but they have always thought me eccentric. My new behavior is probably becoming just one more of the stories that entertain them. When I'm on the cover of Runner's World, all will become clear and they'll be sorry they doubted my sanity ... again.

On to Tavern on the Green one more time! Whooooo hoooooo!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Never without my stretch rope now.

In spite of Jim Wharton’s warning that limping on a broken toe would set off all kinds of imbalances with even more dire consequences than a bitty fracture and my marathon runner’s iron clad oath to stay in perfect balance with a perfect gait, I couldn’t help a small limp. It happened without my being aware. No Kenyan would be admitting this. I’m sure they just shove the bone back through the skin, slap on a little duct tape, toss back an aspirin, and return to the trail. I, on the other hand, have an innate, human response to pain (even little pain). I avoid it. In mere mortals, this is natural. In marathon runners, it’s a character flaw. In my quest to become Kenyan-like, I have to be more mindful.

The imperceptible limp is exhausting me, which tells me that other muscles are kicking in to compensate for one side of my body that thinks it’s no longer on firm foundation. Because all body parts are interconnected (no matter where they are or what they do), all kinds of evil juju is beginning to crop up … just as Jim Wharton warned it could. Even my back aches. If I think about this long enough and draw a few anatomical charts and graphs, I’ll eventually be able to link the broken toe to bad hair and global warming. Stoooooopid little toe. Who knew it was this important for balance?

So we move to the Plan B. Hit the stretch rope intensively to loosen up tired muscles that are shorting out. Forget diamonds. Stretch rope is a girl’s best friend. Healing is happening. Back out onto the road. New York Marathon, here I come! One more time!

(Go to Jim and Phil’s site: and click on self-help to see some of the routine I’m using. And get yourself a stretch rope. It’s a Kenyan thing to do.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jim Wharton checks in.

Jim Wharton got on the phone yesterday to inquire about the broken toe. With Jim firing off questions, expressing concern for my training, and lavishing detailed instructions, I felt like a Kenyan (but Caucasian and with more body fat than the entire team combined). God love Jim Wharton.

Jim: “Bev, there are two components to dealing with an injury at this level of training.”

Bev: “Pain and suffering?”

Jim: “No. First, we have to make sure that you keep moving, but don’t modify body mechanics by limping or favoring the other foot or protecting the injury. If you do any of that, you’ll set up an imbalance that will cause you bigger problems very shortly.”

Bev: “But it hurts.”

Jim: (Silence from New York. I’m guessing this was an un-Kenyan thing to point out. Clearly, he wasn’t going to dignify the remark.)

Bev: “Got it. Keep moving. Keep my gait perfect and balanced. No favoring. Uh, will screaming throw my gait off?”

Jim: “No. Screaming is fine. It opens up the chest and expands lung capacity. Excellent. And the second, equally important component is healing that injury. Keep the foot moving, even though the toe can’t cooperate right now. Don’t let it seize up. To get blood flowing to the toe, plunge your foot into ice water, hold for a minute or two, and then plunge into warm water and hold for a minute or two. Back and forth several times.”

Bev: “Screaming still okay, right?”

Jim: (Silence from New York. I’m now guessing that Kenyans never scream when the Whartons are around. Or ever.)

Bev: “Got it. Cold and hot … back and forth. Moving.”

Jim: “Tape the little toe to the one next to it when you run. Be gentle. If running is impossible at the moment, move to an elliptical trainer or swim. Remember that marathon training is only partially about running. If you can’t run right now, move to something else. Just don’t quit. Keep your stretch rope close at hand and focus especially on lower extremities and core. Stay loose.

“And, Bev, remember that injuries are magnets. Once you have a hot spot, everything in the universe will hit it to remind you that it’s there. Ignore all that. This injury will nag you for about six weeks. Then it’ll be history. Keep running. This is your moment. New York Marathon one more time, baby.”

Bev: “New York Marathon one more time, Stretch Boy. Thanks. Bye.”

And so on we go with yet one more lesson of the marathon remembered. A runner’s discipline demands that pain be redefined as information. There’s a time to back off; there’s a time to plow through. You must be able to interpret responsibly in order to make right decisions. And most important, whining is decidedly un-Kenyan. We shall cease immediately.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Life is a pinata.

Forrest Gump (another great runner) opined that life was like a box of chocolates, but mine is more like a piñata. When my life is full of good things and I’m swinging festively in the breeze, something (or someone) will come along with a metaphorical baseball bat and … WHACK! Sweetness explodes through the air and scatters on the ground. Bev still swings in the breeze, but now is broken and empty with little bits of damp crepe paper in her hair, wondering what just happened.

Thus it was yesterday. Dashing through the kitchen in bare feet, I caught my little toe on a chair leg and … snap. I thought I was going to throw up. But ever the optimist (and embracing pain like a disciplined marathon runner), I toughed it out, waiting for it to stop hurting. Eighteen hours later, it’s still hurting, sending ache all the way up my leg. The bitty toe is also limp and a lovely shade of purple. Putting my shoe on this morning was an exercise in masochism and futility.

So I didn’t go out this morning to run. My training, going so well, has taken a hit. It’s okay. I’m glad this happened NOW. I’ll deal with it. And it’s early in training. No mere fractured bone is going to keep me off the starting line of the New York City Marathon. I’m filling my piñata back up and getting on with it!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Grimacing isn't.

Friend: “Hi, Bev. I saw you out this morning.”

Bev: “Pullllleeeze tell me that you when you saw me, I was running.”

Friend: “You were running.”

Bev: (Audible sigh of relief – evidence that something guilty and to the contrary might have been possible. Like walking. Uh oh!)

Friend: “You didn’t look like you were having fun. You were grimacing.”

Grimacing. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a non-runner remark on the “death face” that runners wear. At best, the grimace hints at effort. At worst, we look like we’re about to heave ... right before our lungs explode and spew goo all over the pavement. But that’s not at all what’s going on behind that set-jawed expression. Inside a runner’s head, there’s joy. For the first time since the last run, the brain is lighting up with oxygen. Thoughts are clear and freewheeling. Stress burns off and sweet relaxation loosens the sinews that hold your life in a grip. And on rare occasions when endorphins rev up and kick in, a runner enters The Zone, where time and space are suspended and every step is as effortless as soaring. Phil Wharton calls it, “Air Velvet.” I almost never hit it. And for sure, this morning I wasn’t anywhere near Air Velvet. But I was not grimacing. I was smiling. I was running.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Question to Phil Wharton about my running shoes

Dear Phil,
I’ve had this same pair of running shoes for a year. Like them. Do you think I can keep them a while longer? Please don’t ask the mileage on them. (If low mileage is the criterion for keeping the shoes, they are immortal. Rejoice!)

One More Time,

Hello, Bev,

Thanks for emailing me the "mugshot" of your kicks! Sorry to break it to ya this early in the game, but yes, they discontinued that model. Yes, I do like them. And yes, they still look like new. The dust and cobwebs came off nicely. Let's just take a moment to see if they’re ready to roll. Here are two quick tests for signs of life in your running shoes:

1. Run your hand through the inside of your shoe. Quick! Take it out! There might be a scorpion's nest in there. "Just kidding." Does the insole of the shoe feel smooth or does your hand disappear into a Florida sinkhole? If your shoe in fact has craters, you need to at least get a new insole or "footbed" that properly fits your foot and arch.

2. When you look at your shoe at its profile, are there any cracks in what the shoe designer would call the mid-sole? Shoes are made to be softer and more cushioned. However, the material to make this happen doesn't usually last as long. So even if you flip your shoe over and there's no visible wear on the tread of the outer sole of your shoe, your mid-sole may be totally shot.

Keep me posted! Remember, this is your moment!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Who knew that falling iguanas were running hazards?

It’s still cold here in Florida. Unaccustomed to the deep freeze brought down by the Arctic Blast, our entire state is caught off guard. Iguanas are falling out of the trees in a sort of frostbitten reptilian suspended animation. I want to modify my philosophical reverie of the 9th: “Running anyway.” I had pointed out that runners learn to engage the world right where we find it without seeking comfort. I had written, “If it’s hot, you’ll sweat. If it’s cold, you’ll shiver.” And then I went on to list another couple of assorted discomforts to which we runners adjust without whining. I now need to modify the list.

“If it’s hot, you’ll sweat. If it’s cold, you’ll get hit in the head by an iguana in a coma.”

I now run, looking up. Other New York City Marathon runners from around the world are going to have to overcome a lot of challenges in order to compete on November 7, but very few are going to have to overcome the shock and awe of an iguana concussion. Florida is NOT an easy place to train, my friends.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Application is in.

I applied for the marathon lottery to be held in mid-March. My entry number is over 500,000. This evidence suggests that more than half a million people have applied to the lottery ahead of me. This doesn’t include the runners for charity, the qualified runners, the disabled runners, the runners abroad who come through the travel agency, the members of NYRR, or the invited elites. And we still have more than THREE MONTHS for runners—American, international, and intergalactic—to get the bright idea that they would like to apply. I’m thinking this can’t be good. But this is the beauty of New York. Training begins with great patience and tenacity. New York gets you warmed up early. This is why marathon running is called an ENDURANCE sport.

The New York Road Runners have a countdown to the marathon on their home page. We have 299 days. Plenty of time.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I’m running anyway.

It’s freezing here today in Florida. Running anyway reminds me that one of the great lessons of running is to accept the world however you find it. If it’s hot, you’ll sweat. If it’s cold, you’ll shiver. If it’s raining, you’ll get wet. If it’s dark, you won’t be able to see very well. Runners are not seekers of comfort. When we learn to stop demanding that all unpleasantness be rendered neutral, we are more powerful people. So says Bev. I’m remembering.

This is the end of the first week. I haven’t decided how to craft this blog yet. I promise I won’t bore you every day with a workout report or a new food plan, but I will stay in frequent touch as I run toward the starting line of the 2010 New York City Marathon … one more time. Come with me.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Program is on course, of course.

Drove into town and walked/ran from there to take advantage of streetlights. Didn’t have as much time as I wanted, because got a late start, but 45 minutes was good. Still just meandering around. Discipline is firming up. And I’ve actually been spotted by people who didn’t point and stare or turn into pillars of salt. I stopped for breakfast at a convenience store on my way home. Noticed that instead of working up an appetite, I’m starting to naturally gravitate toward healthier food in smaller portions. Snickers with almonds. I didn’t buy it; I just gravitated.

I have not weighed yet. But I did get to the gym at lunchtime. (Friday night is date night.) The gym schedule is proving to be problematic. I have to figure out a routine that I can get my mitts around. Baby steps.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Something begins to change.

Repentant, I walked and jogged one hour before work. Nothing strenuous. Still getting used to being on my feet and moving. Dare I say it? I’m having fun.

Phil suggested that I check out a free online running log with lots of features for tracking progress: He's using it to keep track of the big dogs (and soon-to-be big dogs) he's training. Well worth exploring.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I love my sweatshirt.

Walked and trotted one hour before work. I want to take advantage of cooler weather to get a jumpstart on my program. By late February, it will be getting hot and muggy again. It’s unseasonably cold now. I love it. I can wear sweat pants and a sweatshirt. That’s good for reasons an overweight woman shouldn’t have to explain. Missed the gym tonight. The absolute perfection of Week One has been shattered already … and it’s only Wednesday. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I earn my breakfast.

Walked and trotted one hour before work. Trying to get used to getting up earlier and “earning my breakfast.” It’s hard because I have to go through the kitchen to get to the back door and something in the cabinet calls my name.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I add the gym.

Walked one hour before work, but now getting bored. This is a good sign. Decided to trot occasionally. This is the beginning of interval training or fartlek: an easy workout punctuated by short, measured bursts of intensified effort or speed. Really short. Went to the gym late at night after everyone was in bed. The gym at midnight is attractive to me. I won’t run into anyone I know, so my workout will not be disrupted. And I won’t have to explain myself. The instructors were very nice. We put together a practical, simple program. Two circuits of about 10 machines. Mostly core and upper body. Not ideal, but better than what I’ve been doing, which was nothing. I checked with Jim and Phil. They endorse working out before bedtime; exercise relaxes a person.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Run to the light, Bev!

Walked one hour in the very early morning. Intensified effort. Picked up pace. Boldly added daylight into the equation, but chose an hour when most of my neighbors are still asleep. That’s okay. I have my reasons.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I assess the perils of the swamp.

Walked one hour. It was kind of fun to be alone with my own thoughts. Usually I enjoy listening to birds, but walked in the dark again. Birds asleep. Except for one really large, thrashing, shrieking thing. Maybe a Pterodactyl. I do live in a swamp.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A new year brings a new plan.

It is said that whatever you’re doing at midnight on New Year’s Eve is what you’ll be doing all year long. This is why the New York Road Runners host the Midnight Run in Central Park. If you’re running at midnight, you’ll be running all year. So in that spirit, I fell asleep here in Gainesville right before midnight. I think I drooled even. Uh oh.

The next nine days (and beyond for a few weeks) will be crafted to affix discipline and to overcome my aversion to being seen in broad daylight. As long as I’m concerned about what people think, I’ll never get back out on the road. Also, gotta apply for the marathon. There are a couple of things that would shut this program down. Failure to apply would be one of them.

• Get up on my feet and out the door every day.
• Get to the gym three times a week for core and upper body strength.
• Eat like a human.
• Apply for the New York City Marathon lottery.

Today I am a runner. For the first time since I left New York, I’m on track … literally and figuratively.

This is mostly a confession. Confession’s good for the soul. And maybe it will speak to the heart of someone who has tried and failed at something that should have been so easy. Like running.

During that week in late October, face-to-face with the finish line, I turned nearly inside out with grief and longing. As Jim and Phil have done so many times before, they enthusiastically supported my sincere pledge to get back to running. I left New York with a promise and a plan and a yellow leaf from a Ginkgo tree in Central Park pressed into my notebook to seal the deal.

But the return to my home in Gainesville, Florida plunged me right back into the routines that keep me both crazed and exhausted. Worse, the holidays reared up. I had to miss only one day of jogging in order for my entire program to fall apart again. One day became two. Two days became three. And after three days, what was the freaking point? No amount of resolve in the world stood up to the demands of creating the perfect Thanksgiving and a fa-la-la Christmas, engineering a life, and keeping work on target for the fourth quarter.

But that’s over now. It’s a new year. Ever optimistic, I’ve made a few New Year’s Resolutions for running and have begun again … again … again …

1. Find shorts that fit so that the neighbors will stop asking about the apparent new craze in workout apparel – the running moo moo. No one is deceived by the Nike swash I have penned onto the sleeve.

2. Invent a new “client” who demands the first appointment of the day. Book out an hour for her. Lie to everyone. Stay strong.

3. Get to the gym in spite of the fact that they want to take my photo for an ID. We’ll consider it less an act of humiliation and more a “before” photo that I can explain each time they try to block my entry in the future. “This isn’t you! Get out, size 4 imposter!”

4. Make up a little log so that I can keep good notes and impress Jim and Phil Wharton. Accuracy and truth are suggested, but not required … until the end when all transgressions will reveal themselves anyway.

5. Weigh myself. (I’ve been afraid that the shock would kill me. Now I consider that the galloping heart rate and hyperventilation might qualify as an aerobic workout. I’ll take it.)

6. Start dogging the New York City Marathon Web site. I’m applying for the lottery. The long, angst-filled wait until mid-March to see if I’ve been accepted will teach me patience and toughen me up for 26.2 miles of running.

7. Stop obsessing about not being accepted into the New York City Marathon. I’ll cross that Verrazano-Narrows Bridge if and when I get to it. Remember: “The value is in the months of training, not in running on the one day of the marathon.” Yeah, right.

8. Clean out the kitchen and purge it of anything that will look and taste the same when an archaeologist carbon-dates it 500 years from now. Try to find Tibetan burdock root for sale in Gainesville. If I find it, figure out how to cook it. If I figure out how to cook it, figure out how to eat it.

9. Remember that running is a series of steps. Anytime that starts to sound a little too Zen, remember that the marathon is a series of steps, only LOTS of them.

10. Hold “One More Time” in my heart. No matter what. That marathon is mine.