On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me . . .
Twelve months of running
* * *
On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me . . .
Twelve months of running
* * *
Nervous before that big race? Anxious about that long, tortuous hill at mile five? Stressing out about running a Boston qualifying time? Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
An article in the current issue of Time magazine reinforces what many have known for quite awhile: a certain amount of anxiety should not be seen as a negative, because the right amount can increase performance.
In “Why Anxiety is Good for You” (December 5th issue), the author suggests that in the right amounts, the hormones that cause anxiety can also be powerful stimulants that drive our senses to function at their best. It’s not a stretch to associate this condition with the old fight or flight response of humans, in which “flight” was a way for early man (and women) to flee predators, and is a way for today’s runners to perform well in their own pursuits.
In a classic bell curve, the quality of a performance increases along with the tension and worry that accompany the performance . . . up to a point. The peak of that curve – where this relationship is most productive, and where “the senses are alert and we recall with perfect clarity everything we’ve learned – is precisely where seasoned performers learn to hop off,” according to the article.
The article quotes Sally Winston, co-director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute (yes, there is such a place!), who says that “anxiety itself is neither helpful nor hurtful. It’s your response to your anxiety that is helpful or hurtful.” This idea is the difference between a challenge stress (which is good and can ignite our competitive fire) and a threat stress (which does the opposite), according to psychologists.
Interestingly, well-known “neurotic” comedian Richard Lewis gets some props in the article. He states that he is “a nervous wreck” before he goes on stage. He insists, however, just like the bell curve suggests, that he needs his anxiety to make it through a successful onstage performance.
Wait! Am I at the right blog?
Isn’t this supposed to be about running?
Do real runners actually drink wine?
Yes, yes, and yes.
Though you may be used to quaffing a pint of suds with your running buddies after evening workouts (nothing wrong with that, count me in too), you may be called upon to bring or provide a bottle or two of wine for this week’s Thanksgiving feast . . . after competing in the local Turkey Trot, that is.
The following is part of an online article I previously wrote to help in selecting a wine for the Thanksgiving meal (many of you know I work part-time at a winery). So, whether you are planning to bring a bottle for the host, or debating what beverage to serve your own guests, now is as good a time as any to show others that distance runners have a sophisticated side as well.
Many Thanksgiving hosts and hostesses (or those guests who were asked to bring a bottle to the meal) fret as much about the wine for the big feast as they do about lumpy mashed potatoes and the cooking time for the turkey. With all the little things to be concerned about when loving families gather around the table, wine selection should not be one of them. By following some simple rules, choosing a wine can be a stress-free event during the holiday.
What better gesture for a uniquely American holiday than to serve a wine made from grapes grown on American soil. According to Wine Business Monthly, there is now at least one commercial winery in all fifty states. So, while California wines are always a good choice, consumers should not be hesitant to try a local varietal. And that’s the beauty of American wines: the grape variety, or technically the “varietal,” is indicated right on the bottle. Forget about deciphering those complex labels from France or Germany.
Choose a Variety of Wines
Many hold fast to the notion that one type of wine will work with the entire meal. Given the bounty of foods, textures, and sauces, however, a single wine will rarely suffice. It’s too much to ask one wine to pair well with such flavor contrasts as white and dark meat, herbed stuffing, tart cranberry sauce, yams with marshmallows, and green beans covered with mushroom soup. Furthermore, odds are that no one wine will appeal to everyone’s palate. After all, pairing wine with food is ultimately a matter of personal preference; perhaps Uncle Fred likes a ligher red with his savory stuffing while cousin Kate insists on a fruity white. Variety is the answer.
Select Reds and Whites to Cover All the Bases
In general, the traditional Thanksgiving feast calls for light to medium bodied reds and whites rather than heavier, more complex varietals. For the whites, consider a zesty Sauvignon Blanc, an aromatic Gewurztraminer, or a crisp Riesling. Among the reds, a fruity Pinot Noir is a classic accompaniment to Thanksgiving dinner. This varietal is also a good introduction to red wine for white wine lovers who are a bit adventurous. Grenache is also a tasty option, while Syrah is worth considering for those who like a richer, fuller flavor. How much of the above to mix and match? Consider that one standard bottle typically yields five glasses.
Let the Guests Decide What They Like
Once the wines have been purchased, there is no need to lose sleep over the ones you chose, and no need to worry whether some like red or white. Thanksgiving dinner guests are much more likely to complain about the dry turkey or too-thin gravy than the wine. Here’s the key: just place the bottles on the table and let guests decide for themselves what wine goes best with the meal overall, or which ones work best with each serving.
But for those too preoccupied with food and family to follow the above rules, there are two words to remember: sparkling wine. If all else fails, America’s version of Champagne sets a festive mood for the meal, and its high acidity makes it a food-friendly alternative all the way through to dessert. Select bottles with “brut” on the label (the driest) for the main meal, and “extra dry” (sweeter) for grandma’s pumpkin pie. And don't forget to serve the whites chilled and the reds at room temperature. Cheers!
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln decided to "invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving and praise . . .”
Of course, never would he realize his Thanksgiving Proclamation would lead to green bean casserole topped with burnt onions, yams topped with miniature marshmallows, and cranberry sauce in the shape of a can.
Nevertheless, we still gather with family and friends and thankfully celebrate . . . another year of running. And what better way to celebrate than with an annual Turkey Trot that very morning? (I recently heard of one such race in which participants have to run a mile carrying a frozen turkey.)
To find a Turkey Trot near you, click on this link, go over to the right column, then scroll down to the box where you can enter your zip code. Enjoy!
Since a long-ago trip to Japan, I have been fascinated by many things Japanese. Haiku poetry is one of them, as you know if you are a regular reader of this blog.
Try it yourself: Three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables.
Wet leaves on the road,
Cause me to slow down my pace.
Want to run faster.
Crispness in the air,
Cool and no humidity.
We run for fitness,
But even more than that it’s
Part of who we are.
New York Marathon,
Four forty-six pace wins it.
Running on a trail
With fall colors all around
What more could I ask?
Ten and a half months
Without any injuries.
Better knock on wood.
The first link here is a 1980 race with Steve Ovett and John Treacy with quite a finish. Ovett gets cocky coming down the home stretch and watch what happens.
I ran a 10K once with John Treacy which he won, and I shook his hand after the race. It will probably be the only time I will ever have the pleasure of shaking hands with an Olympic medalist (he won the silver medal in the 1984 Olympic Marathon for Ireland).
Here are some other videos to inspire you for a great weekend of running. Enjoy.
Congratulations to Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai who followed up his Boston Marathon win with a victory in yesterday’s New York City Marathon. His time of 2:05:06 was a course record, while Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia won the women’s race in 2:23:15.
Just how fast was Mutai going? Well, Meb Keflezighi of the USA ran a personal-best 2:09:13--two seconds faster than his winning time two years ago--and finished sixth, more than four minutes behind the winner. And Mutai showed no indication of slowing near the finish as he cruised through miles 22 and 23 in a time of 9:04.
Congratulations to all the finishers, and to all finishers of any marathon anywhere anytime.
But beware of suffering the same outcome experienced by other marathoners whose love for running was diminished after their big race. As reported two years ago in a Wall Street Journal article entitled, “The Fleeting Benefits of Marathons,” studies have shown that hard-to-sustain regimens, like those needed to train for and compete in a marathon, can reduce a runner’s will to continue a lifelong exercise program. According to the article, fitness and dietary experts view marathons as “the exercise equivalent of crash diets, with similarly disappointing results.”
Fortunately, some marathon finishers featured in the article remained steady runners long after that first marathon. They achieved their marathon goal then went back to a running program with moderate distances, shorter races, more rest, and less vulnerability to injury. They continue to receive the satisfaction and health benefits of a regular running program by happily running, say, five miles four times a week, rather than waking up each day to another 40, 50, or 60-mile training week. Running a marathon will probably be one of your life’s crowning achievements. But the true marathon, as noted in the article, is the exercise program that can survive for decades after that first 26.2-mile race.
The ING New York City Marathon begins at 9 a.m. this Sunday, November 6. There are several ways to view it:
If you can get to New York City, seeing it in-person is perhaps the most exciting way to watch the race. Popular viewing spots are along First Avenue (especially where the runners come off the Queensboro/59th Street Bridge), Columbus Circle, and beyond Columbus Circle along the final mile of the course in Central Park. For more information, including other good viewing spots, you can check out the Marathon's Spectator Guide and also the Course Map.
Nationwide, LIVE coverage is planned for Universal Sports' digital cable channels beginning at 9a.m. EST. You can go to this link to find your local Universal Sports channel. In addition, NBC Sports will broadcast a two-hour highlight show nationwide, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
In New York, the race will be broadcast live exclusively on NBC4 New York beginning at 9:00 a.m.
Highlights of the race will also be carried in over 100 countries, so check local listings.
Go to NYRR TV to view the race live and for many other features all week.