Saturday, December 30, 2006

I am apparently on the cutting edge of fashion now.

Not being in love with the Nikes I bought in August, I took advantage of being home to go to my favorite running store and get a new pair of running shoes. After trying about ten pairs, the woman comes out with a box and says "We just got these in four hours ago - you are the first person I have tried these out on."

And I fell in love immediately with the Adidas Supernova Cushion 6:Well, I should say back in love. I used to be in love in Supernova Cushions a couple of years ago. Ran my first distance race in them. But then they changed and the relationship couldn't go on.

I have had a few romances in between, the most serious being with the Asics Nimbus, but they changed too! And so I had to move on.

And in the meantime, my lovely Supernovas had improved. And now we have reunited and all is bliss. The best part is that the Supernova is totally a cheap date in comparison to the Nimbus - $35 cheaper.

Oh and here is a Runners World story from yesterday. On my flight from Detroit to Des Moines, while my friend Chris was in the back of the plane being harassed by the old lady next to him because he made the mistake of saying he was an evolutionary biologist, I was sitting next to nice little old lady myself (one who had to be escorted in on a wheelchair).

I had taken my magazines, including RW and put them in the pocket in front of me. I was reading another magazine, and this woman apparently didn't realize that these were my magazines. Obviously bored, she reaches right in front of me and picks up my RW.

I thought she might just pick it up, flip through, and then put it back. But she didn't. She started reading. For a while there, I was concerned I might not get it back - I kept thinking "Oh no! I haven't read this one! But I would be embarassed if I took someone else's magazine without knowing, so I don't want to point out this fact!"

So I sat reading my other mags, trying to to peek to see what sort of articles an old lady in a wheelchair reads in Runner's World. Eventually just as I was beginning to accept that I might not read this issue, right before we started going down into DSM, she put it back (phew!) and we chitchatted the rest of the flight (that was my offensive tactic to ensure that the magazine stayed in my pocket until I could grab it discreetly :-)).

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas booty

(or I guess Hanukkah booty in Joe's case)

Anyone get anything good?

I got bike gloves and a trainer (amongst other smaller things), so Santa was pretty good to me.

I did not get anything that will prove useful for running (although I guess the long underwear might come in handy). But I can't run right now anyways, so that's okay :-) I asked for The Stick, but forgot to give any details about what it was, so my mom was asking salespeople at REI what this was (and none of them knew). Needless to say, I didn't get that. The Stick is one of these items that I feel like I could make on my own with a trip to Lowe's, but really, I am too lazy to do that :-) I just can't get at my hamstring with the foam roller though!

In a weird twist, I came home to Vermont and some friend of my parents are staying at our house and lo and behold, there in our living room was their Stick! So I gave my IT bands and my hamstring some good Stick lovin'. That sounds a little dirty.

I haven't done anything for a week and my hamstring has still been throbbing, I have officially declared myself as off running for five weeks, until January 21st. And I am going to try harder to see what else might be aggravating it - before I just assumed it was remnant pain, but now I am going on the offense. Do my stretches and exercises from PT every day and quit anything that makes it hurt, even if that means I sit around doing nothing for five weeks. That's my new year's resolution, dammit!

PS I have totally been living in Iowa too long. I was under the impression that a 55 mph speed limit meant that you go somewhere between 55 and 65, not 75 mph. And still get passed on both sides.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I really need to bury that last post...

Especially since the "Tuesday the 13th" in my post title sits right underneath the "Wednesday the 13th" on the date. How embarassing...

I'm at home sweet home in Massachusetts, sitting on my parents couch and letting my mom make me dinner. Life is hard. Although I am mildly overwhelmed by all the cable channels. I actually flipped by a TV show called "Bathrooms of the World."

The snack food named after my hometown.

My hamstring has been pestering me, so I decided a week off from running is in order. I did actually bring my bathing suit home, but the odds of me seeking out the local Y and going swimming are pretty slim. So instead I go to the gym at my mom's hospital.

Besides the hamstring (grumble, grumble), life is good:

1. I just found out today that NSF has decided to fund my graduate research (well they "anticipate recommeding" it for funding), which means that I might actually get out of grad school before the end the decade.

2. I just finished a great book. How can you go wrong with a book whose main character is named Hiro Protagonist?! One of his other books apparently has a "cult following amongst water pollution control engineers." How can I not read that now?

3. I am merrily throwing away all my money at Seriously, they sell some good outdoor gear, only one item at a time, for like 75% off. My only salvation from the poor house has been that I am stealing my neighbor's wireless and my internet has been iffy lately. But I already bought a rain jacket and a watch. I needed that stuff! Yeah... I keep missing the sweet Patagonia stuff - a woman can never have enough wicking clothes! And in general, I can't afford that stuff, even though I get warm fuzzies supporting a company like Patagonia that does good things for the world.

Thank goodness I am going to VT in a couple of days where there is no internet! At least where our house is... I am pretty sure somewhere in the state has the internet.

Oh, and I just saw this. I believe this is exactly what I told my advisor and exactly what will happen:

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Beware of Tuesday the 13th!

My hamstring hadn't bothered me in two weeks or so. I was doing 1 mile and 1.5 mile runs slowly. Then last night I decided to run two. And for some reason I decided I should run some of it fast (6.5 mph, which is fast for me). And today it has been aching all day. Sigh. It must be because today is Tuesday the 13th! Yes! That's it! After spending two years in the DR and my entire masters degree surrounded by South Americans, I think their unlucky day has rubbed off on me...

But in other news, hell must have frozen over, because I swam two days in a row!

Five days until I go home! I have no money, but while I am home I am going to Marathon Sports in Wellesly to get another pair of sneakers. The whole alternating sneakers things has helped I think. So since I will have even less money, I will have to steal some of these ideas for gifts:

Monday, December 11, 2006

Victory is mine!

Well, ours!

After a painful morning of trying to register for the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run [edited to fix URL] in April, Joe and I have been successful. Man that was a pain in the ass. The 10,000 person race fills up in a day, so we wanted to register ASAP. I registered this morning but I never got a confirmation e-mail and Joe got one immediately after getting registered (after a long time trying). So instead of studying for my geochem final tomorrow, I was registering for a race all morning. Oh well, at least I know where my priorities lie :-) And now I have my first registered race on tap for next year, w00t!

Update: These people officially suck. I am now registered twice because I never got a confirmation or a charge on my credit card so I registered again and their stupid server kept crashing so you never really knew if it was processing your registration (unless you got a confimation e-mail). They better refund me that second registration fee!

Joe takes pretty pictures

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Al is full of LIES!

You know how I always tell people I'm totally non-competitive, I don't even wear a watch when I run, I don't race often, just like to run fast?

It's a total crock. I will race you anywhere, anytime. There just probably won't be a clock there.

Today I went out for a nice bike ride up to Shoreline and the Palo Alto Baylands. About 20 miles into the 36-ish-mile ride this dude passed me. Now he was going a bit faster than I wanted to go, but I wasn't about to just let him go. So for the next few-ish (maybe 4?) miles I put the chase on and kept within about 30 yards of him. But he was a much stronger cyclist than I am. I died and he pulled away. But I died really, really badly, to the extent that I had to stop three or four times in the last 10 miles of the ride because I was getting dizzy from fatigue and was straying out of the bike lane.

Moral of the story, don't go out for rides like that before breakfast without carrying food! Moral of the story number 2: don't break your pace just because some dude passed you! Well... I can do that running, because I know my abilities well, but definitely not on the bike.

Now that wasn't embarassing or anything...

The roommate: "Please don't make those sounds in the living room. You sound like you are getting it on or something."

What was I doing in the living room?

Rolling my IT bands with the styrofoam cylinder of death. So now I have been banished from the living room. Like I am intentionally crying out in pain!

Sheesh, I need to live with another runner.

Friday, December 08, 2006

There are machinations afoot...

I am the queen of procrastination. Really, I am hard to beat. I have been up all night in my office at school writing a term paper due in 3.5 hours. And I am still not done. Yet, I am posting here. Mainly I just needed a break and there isn't anyone else around to talk to :-)

Scheme #1. Monday. 9am sharp (10am EST). Joe and I are signing up for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in DC on April 1st. Granted, I can only run 1.5 miles right now without the hammy hurting. And my new physical therapist is torturing me (but I like her a lot better than my last one), but I better damn be able to handle a 10-mile run in April. Especially since...

Scheme #2. My next marathon. Green Bay. May. Seeing as my research life revolves around lakes, why not make my running life all about lakes too? I hit Superior with Grandma's, so now I will hit Michigan.

Plus, I have never really been to Wisconsin. Sure I have sorta been to Wisconisn. I ate lunch in Madison once and bought cheese curds near the highway. But if you count states that I have done such things in, I have been to 45 states. So I decided my criteria has to be harsher. I have to be in the state for a reason, not just driving through (although if I have stayed the night there, it counts). So by that criteria, I just have AK, MT, ND, WI, MI, WV, KY, TN, AL, MS, AR, and OK. And of those, the only ones I have never ever touched ground in are AK, ND, MI, MT, and OK. WTF! Why am I inventorying states at 6:30 in the morning when I still have a paper to finish! Back to work I go!

Thursday, December 07, 2006


So this freezing weather without the snow has got to stop. I'm a fan of winter, but only as long as there is the white fluffy stuff to play in.

One reason is that, every day, I wake up to a dilemma. There is no snow on the ground, so I really should ride my bike to school (about three miles). But ten degrees? And below zero wind chill (and note that the wind is always blowing directly at me on my way to school)? So recently I have been either "working" from home or taking the bus.

But Lisa, in all her awesomeness, has helped me to get my butt off the couch. She has knit me arm warmers for riding my bike to school. I love it when she knits me stuff. I also have a cute little hat with kitty ears and stripey socks that go well with my (excessive) Mary Jane collection, all courtesy of Lisa.

I tell ya - having friends who knit totally rocks!Oh, and simply because this photo also got uploaded off my camera when I uploaded this... gratuitous puppy shot!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Torn IT Band + Strained Hamstring = Two Superswimmers

So poor Kori is totally out of commission right now because of her IT band. She can't do anything but swim. So she has resolved to swim six days a week.

And I told her I would try and swim with her. I figure we can work on a synchronized swimming routine. But I think it would look better with these matching swimcaps.

The timing is sort of perfect. I just got a coupon in the mail for 20% off at, so combined with a sale, I just got a new suit that does not require MacGuyver like adjustments for only $30.

And I am beginning to come to grips with the fact that I think cycling irritates my hamstring as much as running (so it is looking like that duathlon probably won't be happening).

Someone mentioned this webpage a while back. It totally makes swimming more fun I think! It seems much less tedious if I have a list of drills to do as opposed to just going back and forth.

I shall conquer the pool! Well, at least after I figure out why if I swim 400 yds straight without stopping for water I get a massive pounding headache.

Oh yeah, and yay! 17 days until I go home to Boston!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fun New Feature

As you may have noticed, we're trying to incorporate a calendar into the blog. We're going to list upcoming races that members of Back of Man, I'm a Scientist, will be, or hope to be, running.

If you want an event posted in the calendar, for now you have to email me or Danielle.

Hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I'm going to try really really really hard not to wuss out

But I still wouldn't put any money on me... It is amazing how much more likely I am to do something if I can con someone else into doing it with me!

So I just found out about a duathlon happening in Ames on December 9th:
(The proceeds go to buying bikes for kids in Youth and Shelter Services in Ames for Christmas, hence the line at the bottom.)

I just started running again. I only ran a mile and the hamstring nagged. I am working on icing and stretching a lot more now. Last year with my calf, my calf still hurt when I started running again, but it went away. I am sorta hoping the same will happen with the hammy. Or maybe a month off wasn't long enough, especially when it wasn't a rest month, but rather a "do everything else but run" month. Hrmm.

But anyways, this duathlon is a 2 mile run/25-35 mile bike/2 mile run. So the running isn't the scary part for me, the bike is.

Now, I have totally been doing a lot of cycling lately. I go to two spinning classes per week and I usually ride the stationary bike a couple times per week too.

But I have totally been slacking on that "actually ride my bike on the road" thing. And I have never ridden more than 30 miles before. AND all the riding is on gravel roads, so that means that I will probably ride my hybrid AND that I actually have to change the tire on it now.

Oh but the fun part? The run segments are "about" 2 miles. Because the run part is sort of like a scavenger hunt. You have to get to two places in the park (which is a county preservation area so it is not some manicured lawn kinda place, but a place with woods and trails and water) in any manner you so choose (on foot).

You can't actually preregister for this, so I have up until the date of the event to totally wuss out.

Oh yeah, and if I ever saw a runner running like the guy in the logo, I totally would think something was seriously wrong...

Just Du It?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ice, Ice Baby

So while Danielle is off swimming in the landlocked state of Iowa, I just went ice skating outdoors in a state with no winter. That's right: they put up an ice rink in downtown San José, around a circle of palm trees. Cute.

I ice skate about once a year (UIUC's ice rink has a few open-ice days during the winter), and I'm not exactly very good at it. This time I managed to start out without hitting anything and after my first few laps I was feeling pretty good. I was getting confident, trying out ways to stop, start, spin around a bit. Then after a half hour or so I got in a groove and was starting to listen to the music... "Going the Distance" by Cake (I think that's by Cake) was playing and I was thinking that Kyle Zars did a project about this song when we were in Junior High and my project was about... *CRASH!* Right on my ass, jammed my ankle into the wall, just between two staff members that were probably talking about how dumb we all looked.

So I got myself up, slinked over to the exit, stretched out for a while. And the ankle started feeling better! So I got back on the ice. I had paid $14 for admission and I was going to get my money's worth, damn it! The ankle felt great the rest of the night, and through my bike ride home (San José is not so bad when it's late at night and there are no cars on the road... it's not exactly the most scenic place, but at least it's peaceful). Stretched more, ankle still feeling great.

Suddenly as I went on the Intertubes to check e-mail, order some plane tickets and check webcomics the ankle started hurting. Really badly. But, hey, at least it will distract from the three simultaneous hamstring injuries I have going... *fume*.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Building a better Lisa

After holding out as long as I could against running indoors, this is the week I made the shift back to the gym. (Which, by the way, I like to pronouce ghyme.)

It's not even that cold outside, but I've been ordered to lay off the running for a while and do the elliptical instead. Which... come on...that thing? for sissies.

But it's all part of Lisa's Winter Recuperation Plan. After stumbling awkwardly but heroically across the finish line of the Toronto half last month, my perennially painful trio of hip/knee/ankle was screaming so loud that I limped around for 3 days. Little did I know that there is a very excellent sports medicine clinic at U of T. For all the horror stories I've heard about physical therapy, so far, it's not that bad.

Drew, my physical therapist, is a cute youth-group-leader-type who smells nice and wears kahki shorts and pokes and prods my legs and hips and asks me whether muscles that I've never heard of feel "tight" or "tender." I usually don't know what to answer. What the heck does tenderness even mean?

Wait, that didn't come out right. Anyways, Drew concludes that my left leg is slightly longer than my right leg, and that's why everything got fucky when I started revving up the mileage this summer. Drew has a plan to get me back running like a regular person, despite my gimpyness. Drew pretty much rules.

I'm also doing pilates while I can't run, and i have high hopes of getting so toned and core-strengthened that I'll be whole new runner when I get back.

So yeah...coming soon, Lisa 2.0.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Does anyone else ever get so annoyed with their pant leg getting caught on their water bottle holder on their bike that they ride through campus occasionally letting out strings of expletives? I even have a little velcro thing for my right leg so it doesn't get caught in the chain. But that stupid left pant leg and the water bottle holder. Argh!!!I swear one of these days I am going to get off my bike and throw it.

My name is Danielle. I am 29 years old and I still throw temper tantrums.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Reason #42 to hate swimming: Indecent exposure

So I finally got my butt in the pool today. I actually don't mind swimming once I am in the pool. Today, I was given several outs once I jumped in. First my contact fell out. But I pressed on and swam with blurry vision.

Then, disaster.

A little background info. I'm "pear-shaped," so to speak. That means that bathing suits (and dresses for that matter) never quite fit me right. They are inevitably loose up top. After I accidentally put my bathing suit in the wash and ruined it, I had to buy a new one. I looked all over for the same one to no avail. So I bought one on sale from Speedo. It mostly fit well, but still a little loose up top.

Today I wore it for the first time. I warmed up. I did some drills. Then I was merrily doing 200s (well actually 184s since the pool is only 23 yds).

And totally inadvertently exposed myself to the 16 year old boy in the lane next to me.

My hope is that since he didn't have goggles on that he didn't notice.

Now Slacker Danielle would have said "That's it! I'm out of here!" But I took off my swim cap and took out one of my pony tail holders and used it to tie around the straps in the back to make them tighter and finished out the 1500 yds I had intended to do.

She flashes a minor and still finishes up her workout. I call that dedication. Now if only I would get in the stupid pool more than once every two weeks.

In more excitement, we got a freak snowstorm today. Of course I left my bike outside. I'm not gonna lie. I can't wait for a more substantial dumping so I can whip out the cross-country skis and snowshoes. Best cross-training ever!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Turkey Trots Anyone?

So this afternoon at work I started a test on my cluster that takes about 2 hours to complete. Rather than watching text scroll down the screen during the test, I decided to look around at racing calendars in my area. I came across a Thanksgiving morning 5 miler that is about 10 minutes from my apartment, so I signed up (and it starts at 10 a.m., not the ass-crack of dawn, so hooray for that!).

Anyone else running a race on Turkey Day?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Oh how the pool eludes me!

Why is it that I just can't seem to get in the pool?

It's not the prancing around in a bathing suit - I am so over that. Plus, there is maybe three other people in the pool tops when I go.

It's not a fear of the water. I have been swimming as long as I can remember.

It's not that I don't know how. I was on a swim team for five years as a youth. I can actually do all the strokes (even a really sad butterfly), although I am sure there is a lot lacking in my technique.

I have decided I am going to blame it all on Lindsay and Brooke (because accepting responsibility for my own lack of motivation is totally not my style). See, those five years on a swim team were at the country club that my dad belonged to because of work. Although I eventually did go to a local Catholic school for 7th-12th grades, my sister and I were public school kids when we first started swimming there. The other kids there went to fancy schmancy private schools (I'm talking their parents were probably shelling out like 20k a year for such schools). And their moms had them on swim leagues all year round.

I was just a summer swimmer. The worst part about that was that instead of having practices where your lane was dictated by your speed, it was dictated by your age. So I spent the better part of five years getting lapped by Lindsay and Brooke and girls with similar country club names (okay really they are just country club names in my head because those were the first girls I knew with those names :-)).

So I think I have been scarred by the lap pool.

It just seems wrong. I study water. I study the way it moves. My research involves playing on lakes and rivers. I am even a Scorpio, which is a water sign.

And yet, getting my ass into that water requires a force of will that is beyond me most weeks. Sigh.

PS I still really miss running and it's been two and a half weeks and the hamstring still aches!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Subverting the forward-running hegemony!

(Alternate title for this post is "OMG AL IS A CAMWHORE".)

They got tons of pictures of me at the half-marathon, especially pictures of me running backwards across the finish line.


I definitely don't look so good in the Cannery Row-area shots. In fact, I look like I'm stumbling and about to fall on my face.

Early in the race I waved at one of the photographers, but 'e must've either missed me or decided that I looked like a dumbass.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I miss running :-(

So I came back to my office at 9pm so that I could work on my journal article (that is part of the "Before I turn 30 goals") and here I am writing a blog post instead. Sigh. The procrastination is strong with this one.

Okay, it has only been 10 days that I have been in my self-imposed exile from running. But it's been so sad. There are all sorts of fun races going on this time of year, that I have had to skip the last couple of years because I always seem to be injured about now. The worst is that the hamstring is not debilitating, it just nags. But it has been nagging for 6 months now, so I need to stop and let it heal if I want to train for another marathon in May. Boo, hamstring!

So now the cross training begins in earnest. It has been all about the bike so far - two spinning classes a week plus two days a week on the bikes at the gym. I should really be riding my real bike outside while the weather is still okay, but the parents didn't come through on a new bike seat for my birthday, so the thought of taking her out for a long ride is just not fun. (The parents got me a really nice quilt instead, which I do love, but unfortunately it is a little too bulky to put on my bike seat for cushioning). That and my tailbone is *still* sore. I can't talk to the doctor again until I actually follow their advice of icing my ass routinely for an entire weekend. My massage therapist suggested putting a bag of frozen peas down there. I am not sure I have a bag that I would like to sacrifice as "butt peas."

Random way to end this: On Saturday night at a Halloween party, I spent five minutes talking with someone from my running group before either of us realized that we already knew each other. Sometimes the transition between "person in running clothes" to "person in real clothes" makes recognition difficult out in the real world. Add the next step of "person in costume" and it was just hopeless. And neither of us had our faces covered up. Nor were either of us drunk.

Immediately prior to this conversation, someone standing next to him asked me to spread my wings (I was a bat) and I lifted my arms to do so and dumped most of my drink on my head. I am glad someone I knew was around to have that moment immortalized.

Monday, October 30, 2006


I was reading November's Runner's World the other day and I saw a funny (sad) thing. In one of the Q&A columns, people were asking questions about marathons. Someone asked about the hardest hills in the Marine Corps Marathon here in DC. The columnist's answer was that the hardest hill was the climb to the finish by the Iwo Jima Memorial. You climb about 35 vertical feet over the course of about a third of a mile. That's the hardest climb in the entire race? Oy.

The "Middle Half" Race

Some people like to start slow and finish fast, yielding impressive-looking negative splits. These are second-half runners. Other people like to start fast and finish if they're lucky. These are first-half runners. Then there are runners like me that run nearly even splits for just about any race or run, whether we are trying to or not. We are middle-half runners, because we're running average pace when most people are running their slowest. I like to draw people in gradually over the race's long middle, or break away on a downhill when they try to use it to take a break. I like to nudge the pace faster as the halfway point approaches and the guys around me are hanging on for life.

What I don't like is hitting the 11-mile mark in a half-marathon and realizing, "If someone tries to pass me I couldn't even put up a challenge." Inconsistent tense and all. It's not a pretty realization.

My morning started at 5:08AM for the Big Sur Half. I had set my watch alarm for 5:00, but forgotten that my watch frequently resets itself to 12:00AM, Jan. 1 instead of sounding the alarm. I should probably get a new watch. Fortunately I got to bed early enough to only oversleep by eight minutes. I'd already laid out my stuff, so I ate half an energy bar, threw my sweats and water bottle in my sweats bag, and drove down to the starting area (parking garage entry was barred after 6). Hung out around the starting line for a while. Wanted a drink of water. Fished in my bag for the water bottle. Oh crap. I'd left the water bottle open and all its contents were now in my extra shirt. Fortunately it was a cool morning so I was wearing the rest of the sweats.

I ran the race pretty evenly; at the split-calling points they called elapsed time, pace and projected finish time. The fastest my overall pace got was 6:12 and the slowest 6:17 (I didn't keep individual mile splits because my watch has no wristband, and because it had been shunned). There were a few dudes that repeatedly passed me and then dropped behind me early, but I buried them over the middle. I know I buried them because of the two guys that passed me with about 4 miles to go (they were both definitely second-half runners) and the one guy that got me in the last mile, none of them were these guys. And I really must have put a lot of distance between myself and the next pack if only one guy caught me in the last two miles. I was really a dead duck at that point. Oh yeah, and I ran the last 20 meters or so backwards, and a photographer got a picture of that and asked for my name, but I didn't get in the slideshow on the Monterey newspaper's website.

Oh. man, were those last two miles painful. I have a bit of a "training wall", where I do lots of 10-11 mile runs but very few longer than that. That's something I should work on, because I really felt it in those last two miles. Also, do any of you know how do drink water/Gatorade while running? I grabbed a cup at a couple of the later stations and mostly just managed to get water/Gatorade all over my face and hat. They also had a Gu station and I tried that, thinking it wouldn't splash as much, and failed even more miserably. Any solution involving slowing down is completely unacceptable. I know that it probably would help my overall time to slow down for a couple steps and get some fuel at strategic points, but adrenaline won't let me do it.

So in the end, 1:22:25 and 41st place. A month ago I wanted to run 1:20, but my training fell apart a bit and I knew that was out of the question, so I'm happy with the result for now. And also, I don't know who it was that first had the idea of free beer at the end of distance races, but it is a good one.

Beautiful course, too. Gentle rolling hills, especially in the middle of the race, which was right along the rocky shore of the Pacific Ocean. Except that the Pacific Ocean and its rocky shore don't exist.

Lou Diamond Phillips? WTF!

This has absolutely nothing to do with running. But since I like to keep up with those internet fads, I went to, where you can upload a photo and they will tell you which celebrities you theoretically resemble (based on facial structure I guess). I have no clue who these first two ladies are and I really wish Carmen Electra's ass came with her bone structure, but Lou Diamond Phillips? C'mon! I feel sorta insulted.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

It's here!

My new bike arrived. I went and picked it up today. I haven't had an opportunity to take a real ride yet, though maybe I will get a chance tomorrow.

I can't wait until the first time I forget to unclip from the pedals and bail. I suspect it will be soon.

Monday, October 23, 2006

This one's for you, D!

In honor of Danielle's previous post, this one's for her.

Because I'm a shameless self-promoter...

It's my birthday! w00t! Presents are appreciated :-)

I now enter the last year of my 20s. The scary part? When I finally do a triathlon next summer, I will be considered 30 because of the age group rules. I consider that getting old before my time!

When I was a wee 22 year old, I thought up a list of things I wanted to do before I turn 30. It consisted of:

1. Get my PhD
2. Run a marathon
3. Pass that stupid Jeopardy test

Number 1? Well, I was oh so very naive back then. We are looking at 31 now.

Number 2? Done.

Number 3? Well, honestly, I don't care that much about that goal.

But that was the 22 year old list. One of my best college friends, who turned 29 a month before me, started talking about her list and asked me what was on mine and I wrote a new list on the fly:

"I want to do a triathlon. I want to get 8000 more miles on Northwest Airlines so that I can get a free ticket to Argentina/Chile and actually go there. I want to pass the test to get on Jeopardy (although I don't actually want to go on the show). I want to do my preliminary exam. I want to publish at least one more paper."

I guess I want to pass that stupid test more than I care to admit :-)

So I gotta get cracking!

Oh, and in very running related news, fellow teammates Jessica and Melissa ran the Chicago Marathon yesterday. It was Jessica's first, so yay for her! Melissa does things like the Quadruple Dipsea, so I am sure Chicago was a breeze for her :-)

In other Chicago related news, my friend Kecia who ran Grandma's with me in June finished just under the four hour mark. She dropped an HOUR off her marathon time in four months. An hour! I can't even comprehend this! She totally deserves the Rock Star medal, just because.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hooray New Bike!

With Danielle posting about biking a bunch lately, I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon, and tell my bike story.

I finally bought a new bike the other day. I went back and forth on whether to get a street bike or a touring bike, but in the end, my desire to try to start taking some weekend-long tours won out, and I got the Trek 520.

I test rode the 2006 model about a month ago, but when I went back last weekend, they had sold out of my size, and Trek had no more 2006s in stock. They were pretty cheap, as they were having the end of season sale. So I figured I'd have to pay full price for the 2007, but when I went back to order it, they charged me the same price as the 2006. So hooray for me!

I should get it in about a week and a half, as they didn't have any in stock. I'm so excited. Yay new toys!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A shrimp! On a treadmill!

He looks about miserable as I do while on the treadmill.

In other news, I am now famous. I got to sit on stage during the taping of Hardball with Chris Matthews yesterday. I was behind John McCain, but unfortunately like in the fourth row, so I got cut off most of the time. Oh well. At least I didn't have to worry about being caught picking my nose on national TV.

This only barely tops the time I got on the local news in Champaign-Urbana during a grown-up Easter egg hunt.

I have to note that only a nerdy grad student like myself would learn her school's fight song at the taping of a political news show.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I return from Canadia unscathed.

So I have returned from Toronto still in possession of my passport, MP3 player, camera, and credit cards (unlike last time). I consider it a success.

Oh yeah. And I ran a half marathon. Lisa, my running sidekick for this endeavour, has already given her recap on her blog. There, I just saved her the hassle of cross-posting here, unless she wants to.

Note to others: the Toronto Half Marathon course rocks the ass off the Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon course. The course was nice, the weather pretty, nice Ottawans saved the day... Too bad my hamstring hurt most of the way and my back was all spasming up on me in the last two miles. But I pressed on and finished without walking, coming in at 2:15 (10:21 pace), so a 4 minute PR, w00t! At least I am not setting the bar too high to PR on my next half.
With the silver cape, tights, and all the silver on my Nikes (which you can't see here), I felt mildly superheroish. Even though I was massively shaking as I tried to stand on one leg for this photo and my foot is like 2 inches off the ground.

The weekend was topped off be being upgraded to first class for my entire trip back to Iowa. After going to Africa on Northwest/KLM, I got a shitload of miles and I got bumped into Silver Elite status so these upgrades happen every so often, but usually on 6 am flights where I just fall asleep before the flight attendant can even give me orange juice.

But this time, it was evening so I was free to partake in the free booze without feeling like a lush. Except that the stewardess (are they stewards if they are male?) just kept fillin' that wine glass. I think he was trying to get me drunk. Anyways, I figured I had two hours in Minneapolis and then the next flight to let it wear off before I got to Des Moines (which the freakin' lady in Minneapolis kept pronouncing "Des Moin-es" - those "s"s are silent people!).

I was one pathetic cookie at the Minneapolis airport. I believe I tried to call Kori to ask her if she was still running Chicago this weekend, and I think I spoke to her husband, but I actually fell off the chair at the airport while on the phone - it's all a blur. See! People like me have "classy" as their middle name. That's why I belong in first class.

Oh yeah, Teresa accompanied me on this little trip. She was supposed to run the half as well, but pulled her hip flexor and can't run at all. This fact was established early on as we sprinted to the airport because we checked in 25 minutes before our flight left. To all the people who let us cut them in line, there is good airport karma coming your way!

Anyways, she walked the 5k in jeans and mocassins from Target, then she and Mark cheered Lisa and I on at about the 12 mile marker. Then they did fun exciting Toronto things while Lisa and I crashed.

I found out today that Kori is not running Chicago, so I am no longer bound to my promise of running the second half with her, so the healing of the hamstring can begin. Some other day, I will ramble about what plans await, including something so scary to me that I hope it will scare me into training. Maybe I will save that for a Halloween post :-)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Another bike down!

So on Saturday I went out for a 27 mile ride on my bike. Hey, that's far for me... But I still don't have any clue how I am going to do RAGBRAI next year...

I should note that even though RAGBRAI is 500 miles, apparently Iowa is full of non-cyclists who dip their back tire into the Missouri and manage to dip their front one in the Mississippi at the end of it all... I think it involves the copious amounts of pie that one is supposed to eat while riding across the great state of Iowa.
Anyways, Sunday was a gorgeous fall day, although I could have done without the 20 mph head wind the entire way back. The problem with fall in Iowa is that all the corn has been harvested and that natural windbreak goes away. But still it was a nice ride, even if I did come back with my hands, feet, and naughty bits all numb, some problems that will hopefully be rectified with the carefully selected birthday list I sent to my mom (October 23rd! Don't you forget it!)

Anyways, I go to ride my bike to school today and I hear the weirdest clanking noise.

I look down and two of my spokes are out and all bent out of shape! WTF?!

Then I realized the culprit. Yesterday my rooommate said to me:

"I hit your bike backing my car out of the garage today, but your bike's fine. Although it scratched my car up to hell."

The bike is most definitely not fine, but Bike Store Guy said it would be easy to fix up.

But since my other bike still has a flat tire (which I whined about over a month ago), this leaves me... *gasp* bikeless! If I didn't have to give a lecture on water harvesting methods in developing countries tomorrow I would make myself change that damn tire. I am sure I can figure out how to take off the back tire all on my own, right?

This is sad. Hopefully my bike will be fixed soon so that I don't have to take the bus for too long.

Although, truth be told, there are often cute boys on the bus.

The one problem will be Thursday, when we have our monthly Green Drinks meeting. See, I believe I am the one who established the "If you drive here alone, we have full license to mock you the entire evening because this is a meeting of tree huggers" rule. I think Thursday shall be dubbed "Hypocrite Thursday" for me :-)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Cleve suggested it

More science instead of running...

So I was happily doing some work (really!) on MATLAB. I was debugging some code so I decided to block off part of the code so I could look at a small part of it. I go to run my program (which is not supposed to plot anything) and this shows up:
How creepy is that?

After I did a little research (wanting to make sure my computer wasn't possessed), I found out that this is some MATLAB programmer's idea of fun and that it comes up if you type the command image without any arguments. I did this unintentionally as I called a matrix "image."

Here's some running:

One week until Teresa and I storm our neighbors to the north to run the Toronto Half Marathon with Lisa! Since I haven't heard from Mark about it, I'm assuming he isn't going to run, just cheer us on.

I say he needs pompoms.

In other news, I have a command from the nurse to ice my ass all weekend to see if my tailbone will stop hurting...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Stephen Colbert on Scientists

A brief scientific interlude from running... check out the website for the group he is talking about

Monday, October 02, 2006

11.38 nautical miles of something

I am going to run the Big Sur Half Marathon on the 29th of this fine month, whatever year it is this year, you know...

My goal was originally to run 1:20. Not going to happen. Not even close. So instead, in honor of the best holiday in the great month of whatever month this is (Oktoberfest started in whatever month was before this one so it doesn't count), I think I should run it in costume.

What I know is that I want to have a costume that gives me an excuse to get a mohawk. I really love working in Silicon Valley and knowing that even if I had a mohawk like the one sported by the rock star in that picture I wouldn't look as crazy as my boss. If you're reading this, Eike... um... I'm not the Al Dimond that works for you at Nvidia, I'm a different Al Dimond... mmm-hmm.

So far my best costume idea that incorporates a mohawk is the English flag. Big ol' red stripe vertically including big red mohawk, big ol' red stripe horizontally across my torso and arms. And if I wanted to really complete the picture I could even one-up Danielle's Krispy Kreme race by chugging a bottle of Red Stripe every three miles or so (hypothesis: carbonation plus alcohol plus running equals pain and loss of consciousness). But I think this is a pretty lame idea, so I'm open to any other suggestions, even non-mohawk suggestions.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I think I bruised my butt bootay...

That's better - I like Laurie's words better than mine :-)

So this is getting ridiculous. Last week after my run-in with the car while on my bike, I started to notice that it sorta hurt to sit down. Not too much, just a little... you know right on my tailbone.

Now, I am not really happy unless I am sitting on a big squishy surface. This sorta sucks... I don't even know what happened. Was there some weird seat action resulting in tailbone bruising when I fell? It seems like that sort of injury might have been more memorable. Ouch. But what else could it be?!

This sucks. And you get some pretty weird images when you google image "tailbone." This is a tame one:
(I wish my butt looked as good as the cartoon butt :-) The mystery of this incident is that I thought I had sufficient "junk in the trunk" to protect my poor tailbone from such things :-))

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


So Saturday morning was the Pi Mile Run. I rarely ever get to run 5ks anymore since Saturdays are for long runs and most 5ks are on Saturdays. But I have been unable to do this run the last two years because of injuries, so I signed up this year. Mainly because I just wanted the t-shirt...

Before the recap, a short story. Friday night I went to a movie with some friends. After the movie, I hopped on my bike to ride home. About a mile from home, I am tooling along (on the sidewalk - I know, I know, but I refuse to ride on this particular street, especially at night). Then, all of a sudden, without turning on a blinker or anything, this car turns right in front of me. I slammed on my breaks, probably a little too hard, and I went flying. So I am on the ground, bruised up, but okay. The driver of the car was like an 18 year old kid and he was totally freaked out about what happened, so at least I didn't have someone blaming me while I was on the ground. My laptop was on my back (not in it's little padded sleeve!) but thank goodness I went flying forward. Afterwards, I decided to walk my bike a little because I was pretty shook up. I was walking along and to top the evening off, some guy yells out the window "Why don't you get a car!?!" Sigh. Ames sucks sometimes. Really, do people have nothing better to do than taunt bike riders?

Okay back to the run. So the morning after the incident, I go down to the park for the 5k. This race was sooooo small. That's what happens when there are 3 5ks in a town of 50,000 people (including students) on the same morning. Chrissy happened to be there too, making her racing debut after her bike incident. Oh yeah, she is totally out for the Twin Cities Marathon. The driver's insurance company is reimbursing her registration fee... Yeah, I am sure that $70 will cover all the hours of training she put in for what was supposed to be her first marathon...

Chrissy hadn't run more than 2 miles since she got hit. We went and warmed up together a bit. Every step I could feel the big matching bruises I had on my legs from the night before. It sucked.

The course was one that is used quite often in 5ks in Ames. In fact, the last 5k I ran was on almost the same exact course. The race in April I finished in 30:10, but I was hungover on tequila and I stopped to eat four Krispy Kremes. With the donut time deductions, I actually ended up with a 27:40, but I don't consider that an official PR :-) Anyways, after having a good race weekend last weekend, I really wanted to PR on this. My fastest 5k was in February, 28:17.

So the 20 or so of us line up (I told you it was small!) and we were off! I have never felt more ridiculous than I did during this race. There was a pack of people who took off ahead of me and people behind me, but there was no one running around my pace. I barely saw anyone after the first half mile. I felt minorly ridiculous running through the park with a race number on. I wanted to to tell every non-racer I passed "I'm not last! Really! There are others behind me!"

They didn't have mile markers which bummed me out. My Garmin said I did the first mile in 8 minutes, and I didn't buy that. Plus there are lots of trees in the park - I wouldn't count on it to be accurate. So I really had no clue how fast I was going. So I pushed it the entire way. And then, before I knew it, I was done! 27:49, baby! Almost 30 seconds off my last PR. I was psyched. And the pace was 8:58 min/mi. There was an 8 as the first digit! That never happens! I don't care if that is only 2 seconds off 9. It's still an 8.

And then! To top it off, they had weird age groups (19-25, 26-35, etc). I was the only person at all in the 26-35 age group, so I won prizes! I can't wait to get that Love It Creation at Coldstone Creamery, yum yum yum! It was such a gorgeous perfect day for a race. In fact, I was excited about going and running the 7 extra miles I needed to run, it was that nice out.

And Chrissy? 20 minutes. She came in first. The boys couldn't even catch her. She won a pie. And still had enough left to kick my ass yesterday in the spinning class she teaches.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Capital Pursuit Race Report (a week late)

First off, I found this on a friend's blog... I laughed until I cried... For me personally, it was even more funny to do it to myself.

I just loved seeing my masters research described as:

Danielle is compar'n measizzles of dissipizzle of turbulent kinetic energy wit an acoustic Brotha hustla n a temperature microstructure instrument. She measured temperature microstructure in a field experiment ta estimate blingin' in a bubble plume.

Word, yo.

Sheesh, this week has been crazy. This 10-miler was a week ago and I still haven't written a recap. Which, considering it went awesome, I am surprised I haven't been driven to write about it sooner. In fact, I had another race yesterday to write about, but I will put that off until tomorrow.

Well, first off I want to give mad props to Shaun for coming in second in his age group in this 500 person race. And he wasn't even trying. I hate him. He won some gloves. Ya, the bling was most definitely lacking at this race...

Anyways, I went in going "Okay, I only need to do this at my half-marry pace, which to PR is only 10:30." But in my head I knew I would be annoyed if I only paced 10:30 on this race since I did it at 10:15 last year, and I limped the second half of the race. In fact last year I did the first half at 10 min pace and the second half at 10:30. So today I went in to this race saying, "Do the first half at 10:30. If I finish at 10:30, that is fine. But if I am feeling okay, I am going for the negative split to match my pace from last year, so a 10 min pace for the second half." That was my game plan. Because miles 7-10 are downhill, this is actually not a hard race to negative split in. This is also good practice for me since I always go out too fast. So my primary goal for today was to negative split, no matter what the pace.

So I started and I whenever I would start breathing heavy I would let up. I tried really really hard to be between 10:15 and 10:30 for the first five miles. If I got caught up running with someone and my GPS said I was going too fast, I would drop back. But I was having a good day and I hit mile 5 at 50:40 and I wasn't tired. But then I was like "Oh shit, now I have set a pretty high bar for the negative split," considering that this pace was faster than I wanted to do the whole thing at.

So, I just picked someone ahead of me, ran to catch up with them, ran with them for a bit, picked another person to catch, etc etc... I came in at 1:38:25, so below a ten minute pace, four minutes faster than last year, and with a second half split of 47:45. And my last mile was 9:15.

Total rockstar finish. I need to adopt this strategy a hell of a lot more often. I felt good the entire race. My breathing was also a lot slower and more even the entire time. I might even say that I had fun! I never have fun while racing. I have fun while running, but I am usually killing myself during an entire race, so fun isn't a good descriptor.

So there is now a half-marathon attack strategy. Beware Toronto, beware... I shall have my revenge... The best part is that this race also is more downhill in the second half:

Okay, there does appear to be an uphill at the end. That's not cool. Big mean Canadians.

Next up: Two girls who lost battles with cars on their bikes rock the Pi Mile run...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Eye of the tiger, yo.

So yesterday I did the Pilot Knob Trail Race 5 miler, the first of my two races for the weekend. This was the same place as the 15k in May. It was a really small race, probably due to the horrendous weather forecast for the day. But it turned out to be gorgeous and sunny and about 70 degrees with a nice breeze that hit us even through the trees on the trail.

At the beginning of the race when the director was briefing us on the course I surveyed the crowd to see if there was anyone else in my age group. At first it appeared that there was only one other chick in the 20-29 age group (she shall be dubbed Skinny Chick). But as he was finishing his schpiel, another girl came up late (she shall be dubbed Late Girl). She looked like she was in my age group but since she was registering late I didn't get a chance to slyly check her out. So I started the race assuming there were three of us. They only gave out two places and it didn't look good, as both of them looked like they were good runners.

So I started out too fast as normal, but the pace seemed to be okay. I passed Skinny Chick within the first quarter mile and I was more or less keeping up with Late Girl for the first mile. Then the fun began. It rained about an inch the night before the race. There were mud pits on the trail where I was slogging through mud up to my ankles. The course is actually really hilly with a lot of short steep hills, and a couple of long steep hills. I apparently suck at running up muddy hills. I should say "climbing up muddy hills trying to grab onto anything that might help me get up" rather than "running." Running down them wasn't much fun either until I figured out that I should accept the sliding downhill as forward propulsion without energy input and go with it...

The first big muddy hill, I totally got dropped by Late Girl. I am not quite sure how one improves in their muddy hill climbing skillz, but that killed me. In fact, this is what led to my downfall. Skinny Chick caught up with me again at about the halfway point. Well rather I started hearing her and her friend talking behind me. Argh! That drove me crazy, hearing them catch me. Finally on a particularly big muddy hill, they overtook me.

I spent the next mile trying to catch them to no avail and with every muddy hill I fell farther behind. Then came my chance. There was one water stop that you passed twice. At about mile 3 she stopped. I managed to catch her there. It was a five mile race an the weather wasn't too hot, so I wasn't going to stop for water, not when a trophy was at stake! So we had to do this little loop and she passed me on the uphill, I caught her on the downhill and then... she stopped for water again! That was her mistake...

We were a mile and a half from the finish and I booked it. I was charging down the path praying not to twist and ankle. I spent the whole time with this extreme paranoia that she would catch me again. I was already giving it 100%, so I wouldn't be able to give anymore to catch her again if she passed me. But somewhat anti-climactically, I had totally dropped her like a fly (what does that expression even mean?) at that water stop. Didn't even hear her behind me the rest of the way. I kept checking over my shoulder and I couldn't even see her.

The funny thing was that she was totally casual about the whole race. She was obviously not racing me, I was just racing her. Sort of like when you are at the gym and you are slyly racing the person on the treadmill next to you, but they are totally oblivious to your existence.

So I cruised in to the finish at 59:40. My splits were something like 10 (me trying to keep up with Late Girl)/13/13/13/10 (me trying to outrun Skinny Chick). I like trail races because I don't do them enough to know what my pace should be on the trails, so I don't ever feel bad after them if I don't do as well as I would have liked. Anyways, it turns out Late Girl wasn't in my age group! So I got a first place rock (or "hippie trophy" as the race director's daughter called them). Now I have one to match my rock from May.

One race down, one to go! Next up, the Capital Pursuit, where Shaun continues to kick some a$$ and Danielle learns the joy of the negative split.

One more thing:

Why wigs are more protective than bike helmets.

My favorite line from the article:

"In future research, Dr Walker hopes to discover whether this was because female riders are seen as less predictable than male riders, or because women are not seen riding bicycles as often as men on the UK’s roads."

Oh, we females are so unpredictable on our bikes!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Just wanted to let everyone know, the Official Back Off Man, I'm a Scientist Wild West Relay Photo Album is available online. The pictures or organized and sorted, funny anecdotes, comments, commentary, people's names, and all other sorts of random information have been added. Check it out!

I heart packages!

First, I am going to mention that by the looks of Joe's album, it appears as if Van 2 didn't even exist. That was my van. I warned everyone that I never take pictures...

So this is peripherally related to running, because my daily commute on my bike is cross-training, right? Anyways, I am so excited about this I had to share. I have a beast of a laptop, 17" screen and all, that I got in January when I seemed to think that having that big of a laptop would be a great idea because I don't have a desktop. I also had these fantasies about how when I move to Switzerland and sell all my belongings, I will be able to watch movies on it as if it were a TV.

Anyways, I had to stop using my old messenger bag for the ride to school because the laptop was so big. For a while I was using my backpack that is appropriate for weekend camping trips because it was the only bag I had that was long/tall enough for the new laptop but backpacks lead to a very sweaty back, which is most definitely not hot. The biggest problem I have had is finding a messenger bag that is actually good for transporting a heavy laptop in comfort. I bought a Timbuk2 bag (but not the laptop specific one since it was like $120 for the one for my computer size). I don't like it at all. I was at the bike store one day and the bike store guy told me I should check out R.E.Load Bags.

These people are awesome. They hand make all the bags exactly to your specifications. So I gave them dimensions, picked out colors, and for a little extra, they will do a custom design on the bag. Since this is the only item in my life that I use every single day, I splurged. I sent them this photo:
This picture is of lab experiments on Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities, which are my favoritest fluid dynamics phenomena ever because it looks awesome and it actually happens in nature. From that, they produced this (which I just got in the mail today):I have never been so excited to ride my bike to school!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Game on!

So it is official. I am now registered for the Toronto Half-Marathon on October 15th. I am giving Toronto a chance to redeem itself. If I get out of there still in possession of my passport and able to walk, I will consider it a much more successful trip than last time.

Mr. Passport, I promise I will guard you with my life this time and not let some sketchy dude in Chinatown steal you again. Although you really aren't nearly as cool as my stolen passport with that full page Ugandan visa and Haiti stamps.

I guess I need to start boning up on my miles/km conversions. Or I could just be like Al and calculate my pace in knots. That will be some new fun math to do in my head while I run. It might look something like this:
We all know Bessel functions are an integral (haha, get it?) part of converting paces. I think the Garmin does this though :-)

My hammy is still sore and I doubt it will feel better until I take a break from running. I would like to PR on this half though... My last half marathon in April was 2:19, and that was in the pouring rain AND we ran three miles before the start, since it was supposed to be an 18 mile training run (we never got around to those last two miles after the race). Granted I feel slower now than I was then. My friend says I should not push the hamstring and run it for fun and to hang out with Lisa. Although I fear that if I don't push it, Lisa will leave me in the dust :-)

So hamstring be damned! I will let you rest after October 15th! The aformentioned friend can't even make me feel guilty about this, because he is stuck on a boat in the middle of the Mediterranean and can no longer read this blog :-) I am sure I will get a huge "told you so" when I am hobbling around from not listening to the hammy.

So my first step in not taking it easy is to run not one, but two races this coming weekend. The first is a 5 mile trail race up at Pilot Knob State Park. This is the sister race to the 15k I ran in May where I won a rock. There are so few trail races in the area, you gotta do 'em as they come, even if they fall on a weekend with another race you have already signed up for... So that is Saturday.

Sunday is the Capital Pursuit 10-miler. I was wary of signing up for this one because I may not beat my time from last year (I am very competetive with myself). But if I could finish that sucker limping the entire second half of the race and still finish with a 10:15 overall pace, perhaps there is hope.

Today I was supposed to do 8, but I woke up at 6am ready to roll and it did not stop raining all day. Finally I thought the rain had broken at about 6pm, so I put on the running shoes and headed out the door. About a quarter mile from my house, it started pouring again. I could barely see at some points (forgot my hat). The leader of my old running group (which morphed into my current running group) is doing Ironman Wisconsin today, so I figure, if she can do all that in the rain, I can at least suck it up and run 3 miles...

So I turned it into a 3 miler, which means I'll have to make up that 8 miler some time this week... It actually wasn't such a bad rain to run in - the temps were around 60 and since I was only doing 3, I didn't have enough time to get cold. I ran a 9:18 pace too (I think I was just eager to get home).

Argh! The rain just wants to make me curl up in my pajamas and stay home. But there is homework to do for tomorrow. And I left it at school. So instead I must leave the cozy house and brave the elements to go face a pile of math.

Friday, September 08, 2006

More posts about running and science

Yes, that's right: my post's title is yet another spoof of the title of the Talking Heads' second album (it is a very commonly spoofed album title because it's one of the best album titles ever) and there's nothing you can do about it.

But what I really have to say is this: lately I've been doing my speedwork at the Lincoln High School track in San José. This track seems to be something of a hangout for young neighborhood kids, and a venue for their pick-up soccer games. It's thus a hangout for their parents also, who mostly walk very slow laps around the track in lane 1, talking on cell phones and pushing baby carriages.

Last time I ran there I was proudly wearing my bright yellow team shirt from the race. As I was about to start one of my intervals a young girl in the bleachers shouted to me, "Hey, are you really a scientist?" Even though I'm an engineer I answered in the affirmative. Based on the reaction of the other kids it sounded like she'd just lost a bet. Then she asked me if I was running for a science experiment. I should have said yes to that, too. It would have been more fun. But my legs weren't having any fun, so they didn't want my brain having any either.

The end.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Am I a real bike rider now?

So according to my friends who ride their bikes a heck of a lot more than I do, I went through a bike rite of passage yesterday. My friend Bill claims that it must happen in front of a large group of people containing many attractive members of the opposite sex, but alas mine was mostly a solitary experience.My rite of passage looked a lot like this, without the fire...

Anyways, what does Bill know? Last month, one week before the last triathlon he did, he drove into his garage, forgetting that his $2500 carbon fiber bike (I don't even know what that means, but it sounds fancy) was on the roof. It would have been fine probably. But his first reaction was to back up. So after driving his bike into the house, he then backed up over it.

Anyways, I have been riding my road bike for my three mile commute to school lately. I just got clipless pedals for it in July (can you tell where this story is going yet?). The bike store guy apparently has superhuman strength and cranked those suckers down so hard that I couldn't get them off to put on the old pedals to make riding to school easier. They are more comfy with my bike shoes so I have been taking this opportunity to get used to navigating the throngs of ipod-listening/cell-phone-chatting/why-bother-looking-when-I-cross-a-street undergrads while clipped into my pedals.
My fugly building: the ceremonial site

Anyways, I am finally pretty confident with them... I don't fear my dirt alley or sharp corners anymore... I "scrape the mud off" when I pedal. Well yesterday, I was running late. I pedalled my butt off to get to school. Finally I arrived to the building where my office is and I am slowing down and crossing the grass to the bike racks when I realize...

"$%#$^ I am still clipped in!"

There was this moment of "Can I still get out of them?" followed by resignation that I was going down. It seemed to all happen in slow motion and then a


I fortunately landed on the grass and was wise enough not to try and break my fall with my arm, so the only thing bruised was my ego. If this had happened five minutes later when classes got out, I would have indeed fulfilled Bill's prophecy. Fortunately, only a few souls witnessed my moment.

I flopped around for a moment or two trying to clip out while on the ground and then I gave up and took off my shoes. Then I had to clip them out with my hands - a girl walked by me with a knowing smirk while I sat there in my socks trying to unclip my shoes from my bike.

I would feel like a real bike rider, now that I have suffered this humiliation, except that:

1. The reason I am riding my road bike to school is that I have a flat on my hybrid bike and I don't know how to change it. Theoretically I know how to change it. I just haven't done it. And I insist on trying to do it myself before bringing in people who actually know how to do it. But I have been too lazy to take the time to sit down and figure it out.

2. The reason I was running late? I had to run to the bike store on my way to school. Why might you ask? Because my tires desperately needed air and I couldn't figure out how to fill them up with Presta valves. I got to the bike store and it took longer than expected because apparently I put my front tire on backwards the last time I took it off to stuff my bike in my car so I got a lesson in the proper way to put my tire back on (it still seems to me that it shouldn't matter which way I put the tire on).
Thanks a lot, Mr. Presta Valve, for making me have to walk into the bike store, yet again, looking like an idiot.

But in good news, I have discovered how much easier it is to ride my bike when the tires are actually inflated properly!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Apparently hell has frozen over...

I am running on Nikes again. If you asked me last year about Nikes, I would have said that they are the worst shoes on earth. I don't get all the fugly feet problems many runners get. I haven't had a blister in years. My days of losing toe nails ended long ago as well. Nikes caused more foot grossness than any other pair of sneakers I ever had in my entire life.

So when I was at the best running store in the whole wide world while I was home for my cousin's wedding, and the guy said "Why don't you try these?," I had no qualms saying "I don't think so. Me and Nikes aren't good friends." But he insisted. He said they have changed. In fact, he never ran on Nikes and now he is. He was cute, so I humored him. And. They felt good. Real good. I tried on Mizunos, Brooks, even the new version of my current Asics Nimbus, but these felt by far the best. I wanted to love any pair BUT the Nikes. But not even the Asics, in the cool purple and gray, could top the fugly Air Zoom Precept (mine are blue instead of green).

As if I needed proof to how much better these shoes are working for me than the the Asics, I did a ten miler on Sunday in the Asics and I felt creaky. I came home and put and ice pack on both the top and bottom of both my knees and ace-bandaged it up and iced. Today, I did another ten miler in the Nikes. The schedule only said six, but my regular running buddies who are marathon training were running ten. During the peak of marathon training, six and ten miles became oddly interchangeable. I mean, it's only four more miles! So mentally I was set to do another ten miler. My body disagreed, but my knees? Nary a peep from the knees. They were very happy knees today. And all because of my shiny (literally) new Nikes. Although oddly, I ran Sunday at a 10:15 pace and today at a 10:35 pace. But I blame that on me not being in shape to run two ten milers with only a day in between.

So in response to Joe's post, there are machinations afoot to run the Toronto Half-Marathon in October. As long as Lisa will be back in the country. I think Mark might be joining in the fun. And Teresa might make a guest appearance as well. So even though I shouldn't be running at all, I am now in half-marathon training mode. The one thing I don't like about races in Canada is their insistence on marking the course with kilometers. Silly Canadians.

I am contemplating defending my title as the fastest 20-29 year old woman at the Pufferbilly Days 5k (I won that sucker with an impressive 29:10 time - fear my speed). But I have been pretty slow these days, so I don't want to run a 5k unless I think I have a chance of PRing.

There is also the Capital Pursuit, which is a fun fast 10 miler (my average pace last year was 10:15 and I limped the entire second half). But I am slower now than I was last year at this time. I know it is stupid to not run a race because you will probably not go as fast as the last time, but what can I say? I am silly like that.

I put this in the category of "related to running" because our lovely relay volunteer Caroline is the librarian in charge of one of the world's largest collections of Proust materials (and to think that she slept in my car and stood out in the rain for us!). I just saw "Little Miss Sunshine" and it was perhaps the best movie I have seen in a while. I laughed and laughed.