Saturday, November 29, 2008

Talking Turkey Race makes me want to run

I took this photo at Holyoke's Ashley Reservoir with my
cell phone while walking there with a friend a few weeks
ago. Today, runners will pack the trail.

Holyoke's 30th annual Talking Turkey 6-Mile Cross Country Race, taking place today, is expected to draw close to 1,300 runners.

I won't be there, but I will be thinking about it.

That race, which circles the beautiful Ashley Reservoir, is a must-do for many area runners, along with March's St. Patrick's Road Race, also in Holyoke.

I've run the Talking Turkey many times. It has a special resonance for me: When I ran it in 2005, it marked my comeback to racing after my chemotherapy and stem cell transplant in 2003. I wrote about the events leading to the race, and about what it meant for me, in a piece for the New York Times magazine's Lives page.

I was just talking to my friend Emily about it. She said, "Next year, right?"

That's my goal, along with one day getting back to the St. Pat's race, a hilly 10-k.

Whatever you're trying to come back to, you figure out different ways to build back up. (I admire you Pilates people. Ouch. I couldn't do it.) Tennis came back easily this past summer and fall, probably because, unlike running, it allows for frequent stopping to catch your breath, and in doubles, it has the built-in capacity for shouting "Yours!"

When coming back to running after each of my three Caesareans and my first round against leukemia, I tried two approaches. First, of course, I walked, slowly, and then aerobically, until I got to the point where I thought I could jog.

After the babies were born, I just went straight at it and ran the half-mile or mile (I can't remember exactly which). After leukemia, I took the walk/run route; quarter-mile walk, quarter-mile run, for about a mile until I could do one mile at a time. The rest followed naturally, as I built back up to my usual level of six miles or so on weekends and shorter distances during the week, mixed in with tennis, yoga, weights, biking, and, oh yes, did I mention my full-time job?

With my hematocrit currently about 28 (normal is 34.8-43.6) I actually feel fine, but I obviously don't have it in me to do more than a fast walk with maybe a few minutes or so of jogging between trees. So, I guess I need to be patient. It's not always easy, but of course we all need to remember to be thankful for what we can do rather than spending too much time fretting over what we can't do.

I wonder what approach others have taken to getting back to running or whatever activity that makes them feel like themselves.

Runners at the Talking Turkey Race usually get a really nice long-sleeved mock turtleneck. The last year I ran it, in 2006, they gave something a little different: a maroon fleece vest that I wear all the time. This year, for the 30th anniversary, they're giving out something super-special: a windbreaker. Sigh. I'd really have liked one of those. Sure, you can buy your own windbreaker, but it's not the same as earning it at a race. And as most runners know from an unwritten code, you can't wear the T-shirt or windbreaker or vest or whatever unless you finish the race. Not that I need any more T-shirts, but I do need to at least have a plan about how to get back to running.


Anonymous said...

I just read your blog. Did you run today? I was there and it was a great day as always in Holyoke.

Susan C said...

Dang, that piece you wrote for the NY Times is inspiring.

I'm still intent on becoming a runner, but it's slow going so far.

Anonymous said...

Next time you see Iris, ask her about her Boston Marathon sweatshirt... ; )

Anonymous said...

I've tried to become interested in running many times. A few years ago when some friends did the Boston, I thought I would really catch the bug. But I never stick with it. Maybe Dancing With the Stars?!

Anonymous said...

It's really nice to see you perking up!

I've been running regularly now, but I'm still afraid to sign up for the Hot chocolate run in Northampton. The promise of a mug just doesn't overcome my fear of being last - but now if only it were a vest or windbreaker....

I had to run on a treadmill for months to get back to running this last time - and it was seeing you out in your cute hat that got me back on the road again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ronni--I enjoyed reading your latest--not sappy at all! And nice to see all the comments you've been getting. I really appreciate your fighting spirit, especially since I am currently pretty down about my bro Michael's partner Gerry. We're going to visit them next weekend. Our T-Giving was kinda bittersweet--great to see my Dad and others, and we all needed to be together. Hope to see you soon xoxoD.

Anonymous said...

Ronni, Well I read your talking turkey story and laughed and then you mom's story and bawled. why is it so hard to get used to our mom's absence? I guess cuz they are with us from day one!

Anonymous said...

Ah, heck, you're just saving up for the turkey race earmuffs, scarf, mittens and water bottle! I can't believe you look forward to running up and down hills for fun, you my dear, are a true athlete...