Monday, December 29, 2008

The ups and downs

The last couple of weeks have been quite the rollercoaster in terms of mood. I was pretty down that I was injured, then up when I saw the doc and the prospect of knowing what was wrong loomed. Once I found out, I was very happy for a day knowing it was fixable, then down because I realize it'll potentially be April before I can begin to run again. Then I was back up for a while when Danielle and a few other people suggested I try swimming. I did, and I was cautiously optimistic when my knee didn't hurt and I didn't drown. I'd probably be really good at swimming if I didn't need to breathe, but I have to work on that. Today, though, I tried to ride the exercise bike in the gym for the first time in a few weeks, and after 5 minutes, my knee was really hurting, so again, the instant mood drop. I'm seriously bipolar right now. I'm sure I'm a joy to be around...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Under the knife

I had the follow-up with the doc today to get the reading of the MRI. I have two cartilage tears (one lateral, one medial). Surgery will be sometime in January; someone from the office is supposed to call me sometime today to schedule a time. It doesn't appear too serious. He's not sure if he'll be repairing or just trimming up until he gets in there (he said as a rule, he prefers to repair if at all possible, but he can't tell from the MRI for sure what he'll be able to do until he sees it), so I don't know if I'll find out if I'll be on crutches for 3 days or 6 weeks before surgery takes place...

At this point, I am happy he is the team doctor for a professional sports team, since he sees this type of thing a lot, and his job is to get them back on the field healthy and quickly.

Edited 2008-12-23 2pm: Looks like surgery will not be at least until February. I currently have an appt for February 5th, but that is only if the surgery takes an hour or less. The person who does scheduling hasn't gotten any paperwork from the doctor about me yet, so when she finally does, if she sees it'll take longer than that, it'll get bumped back even further. Woohoo! I have the Feb 5th appt because the doc told me I'd be scheduling an appt with her, so I called her, for lack of any other instructions. If I hadn't, I likely wouldn't have talked to her until next week sometime.

Monday, December 22, 2008

More Snow!

So I am not sure what is going on back in Iowa but out here in New England we are getting slammed with snow.

I seriously don't remember snow like this before Christmas since I was little.

I'd take pictures of the huge snowbanks but my camera battery is dead.

But anyway, I tried to run on Saturday up in Vermont.

Yeah... I made it about a mile and then I quit. Part of that was because nowhere in VT near our house is flat so I was running up steep slopes on unplowed roads.

So my long run this weekend? Didn't really happen.

It might happen tomorrow if I am sufficiently inspired.

But today I went downhill skiing.

Yay skiing!
Okay, this picture is from Winter Park CO in 2003, but who cares. Remember, dead camera battery...

Yeah, so I went skiing with my dad and a family friend today. The snow was gorgeous but it was frigid. Not quite the same workout as running, but my quads still burned.

But... now I am excited to live somewhere I can ski regularly again. I grew up skiing every other weekend or so when I was younger. I raced in high school.

Then I moved to a tropical island for two years.

Then I moved to the Midwest for SEVEN years.

So the skiing? A little rusty.

But there are mountains near Seattle!

Maybe I'll even get a season pass somewhere.

Cuz dude, skiing is expensive.

In other news, I got home and my grandmother who lives here died less than a day after I got here (literally as I was on my way over to visit her in hospice care). My mom works as a nurse, so this was the grandmother who used to watch us after school every day. She was really sick, so it wasn't completely unexpected, but I'm sad I missed out on saying goodbye bye by literally 15 minutes. Not that she has been conscious recently, so it was really for my sake not hers.

But the morbidly hilarious moment of the day on Friday goes to my mom. We were waiting for her siblings to get there before the funeral home took her away so there was this weird time-killing conversation between me, my mom, and my uncle as we hovered around my grandma. So my mom goes to my uncle:

"Will you ask her if she is dating anyone, because she won't tell me anything."

Monday, December 15, 2008

one pole, no protection

As Danielle so creatively pointed out. My car, a Rendezvous, had a rendezvous with a telephone pole. Apparantly, the ice doesn't count as a no fault accident, so indeed it is my fault that my car slid on the ice. I did a nice, slow thinking response. Steer with the skid. . . . . .didn't work. . . . .steer against the skid. . . . ..didn't work. . . . . . .hit the brakes. . . . .not a good idea, turns the car around. . . . .hit the telephone pole. And, I was on my way to the gym to lift weights before our work xmas party so I couldn't stop to call the police and make a report or I may miss the opportunity to see my only shoulder muscle reflected in the large mirror as I lift my punny weights!

So, Danielle listened to me talk to my insurance company on the phone all the way to the gym. And, then I drank a beer at the xmas party.

Do any of you have a car? If so, invite me to do things. Invite me a lot, take pity on me - I will be fun! All you need to do is pick me up. . . .

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Six miles of lumbering

Okay, at least I am up to six miles. That's something! Even if they were 11 minute miles. I think I may drop back to five mile long runs again, mostly because I get discouraged when I run my long runs in the 11s. I only wear my heart rate monitor so I don't know my pace until I finish. Okay, whine whine whine, boo hoo, I run so slow. Done.

Anyway, maybe I ran so slow because this is Day 9 straight of working out. Seriously! You'd think I was a machine or something! Normally I give myself a day of rest once a week, but Kori has been guilting me into working out, mainly because her car had relations with a telephone pole and so she can't get to the gym unless I drive her. So in the past nine days, I have had 4 short runs (2.5-3.5 miles), one long run of six miles, three spinning classes (two of which turned into bricks with 1-2 mile runs afterwards), and three trips to my weight class at the gym (lamely called Group Power!).

The last track at Group Power is the shoulder track and the music sounds like it came straight out of my Nintendo Dance Aerobics game. (Okay, I guess game is a really bad name for it, since it is dancing).

From 1988.

Yeah, we were doing Wii Fit way before it was cool.

The best was that they had this Track and Field game that was superfun. Of course, we would always cheat on the long jump and jump off the pad and then jump back on to land. And these guys here? There was many an hour of doing this in the basement in front of the Nintendo. If you have never played, I'd like you to note the movements during the 100-m dash, where you go fast by having quick turnover... which when running in place means picking your feet like an inch off the ground. Ah, such a skill to be mastered!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Next up, MRI

Went to the orthopedic today. He said the ligaments are fine. There was also an interesting, reproducible pop when he torqued the knee a certain way, though while amusing and loud, it's apparently nothing more than entertaining to the doc, so I guess I'm not worried. At this point, he is leaning towards some sort of cartilage problem. He is cautiously optimistic that it's not a breakdown of the support the meniscus provides, because on the x-rays they took, there is good symmetry for all 4 points of contact across both knees, though the x-ray don't show enough detail to be sure. I have an MRI scheduled for Thursday (because the radiology lab needs 3 business days to get pre-approval from my insurance, even though there was an opening Monday at 9 a.m.; yay insurance). So I get the MRI, go back to the ortho, and see what it says.

I really like doctors who deal with athletes (the ortho is the team doctor for DC United), because first thing he said was, "so, the goal is to get you to run marathons again, right?" He didn't tell me to stop running long distances because they damage your body. So now I just wait a while longer [insert Jeopardy theme here]...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I'm addicted to Mary Jane(s)

So here is where I am totally using this blog for my own personal gain.

Over here, Keen is doing a giveaway.

For any of their products.

Now, in case you didn't know, I am kinda a shoe addict.

And I am addicted to expensive shoes.

Not like Carrie Bradshaw shoes.

But hello, I own about five pairs of Keens, five pairs of Chacos, and five pairs of Danskos (to my credit, I snag a lot of them for like 50-75% off at Steep and Cheap).

I seriously have a problem.

I especially have a bit of a Mary Jane addiction. How can you not think these are not adorable?

Anyway, I get an extra entry into the contest if I link back to it from the blog.

Yes. I am a shameless shoe whore.

Oh! And in some running related content... We had our running group Christmas party tonight.

There was a white elephant gift exchange.

I put in an entire box full of Howard Dean pins and stickers that I have left over from 2004.

In return...

I got...


The German Chicken Hat hasn't even been worn since I wore it last year for Living History Farms. In fact, it still has leaves stuck in its feathers. Oh I'm so happy that the German Chicken Hat is moving to Seattle with me!!!

Sunday, December 07, 2008


So I went cross-country skiing four times this week.

Most excellent!

I did manage to run a few times as well, although I am not a fan of trying to do hard runs on the icy sidewalks. So I am only doing my long runs outside and I do my shorter runs inside on the treadmill where I can feel the pain.

I did about 4 miles today for my long run (you know, after a tough week peaking at 5 miles last week, I needed a rest week). But then right after I went skiing with my friend Jaymi for an hour:

I also went to spinning class twice last week with Kori. Lesson learned: I'm really lazy when it comes to spinning at 5:30 in the morning - I don't turn the tension up as much as when I do it at night...

In other news, I think I accidentally went on two dates this week.


I mean, I'm friends with boys like it's my job. (PLEASE tell me about the girl that you like that doesn't like you back AGAIN). So I don't actually think much about it when boys I know ask me if I want to grab a beer or coffee or something.

On Tuesday, I met someone for (what I thought was friendly) drinks and at 11pm he was trying to get me to go back to his place.

To meet his ferrets.

For real.

Saturday was much less weird so I won't get into it, but gees I'm excited to get out of this town!

Of course Seattle doesn't have Libertarian cowboys or boys with cute accents.

But at least a real city has shear numbers going for it.

And I believe a disproportionate amount of crunchy granola boys.

Who'll probably go cross-country skiing with me.

And we come full circle.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Time to visit the doctor

Yeah, so I was doing real well for a whole week and a half with the running comeback. Then, one day when I was in Austin, while out for a nice cold morning run, my knee starting hurting pretty bad again. I took 5 weeks off, then on my 5th run of approx 3 miles in length, the pain was back.

The appt with the orthopedic is next Friday. I hope it's something that can be fixed easily. I'm sick of not being able to run.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Joe should be shaking in his boots. (Or running shoes or Manolos or whatever)

My long run is up to 5 whole miles! 5!

So yeah, today I dragged my ass out of bed and met with my running group for the first time in like months. Because really, it isn't worth it to meet my group when I am running such short distances. Especially in winter when I would rather wait until mid day to run instead of the crack of dawn.

Since I don't wear my Garmin, I'm not sure how fast I went (since there was some creative route adjustment due to a locked gate). Somewhere between 10:30 and 11:00 min/miles. So yeah, not speedy, but I'm building here! I can do 2.5 miles at sub-10 min/miles, but 3 is still elusive.

In other news, I ran five days in the last week, got my ass kicked in spinning class on monday, lifted twice, didn't even celebrate Thanksgiving, and gained a pound.


It's muscle, right? Right?!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Unintentional bloggy meetup!

So today was the Living History Farms cross country race. Last year was a blast, but since my "long runs" are four miles these days, I decided to abstain and just volunteer (although being undertrained doesn't stop the vast majority of the runners of this race...)

My job was to hand out the chips. This is the first year they used chips. I'm actually sort of curious how well it worked, considering everyone's feet are submerged in water at least once during this race.

Anyway, this year I got to stay dry and just cheer for people and ring some cowbell. I was cheering for the folks from my running group when, lo and behold! Along comes Miss Allycat! We chatted it up for a bit after the race. I am pretty sure there was a commitment in there to come down and run for doughnuts next year...

In my own personal running news, I suck! Okay, maybe not royally, but I have been lazy lately. But the National Half Marathon in DC in March is tenatively on the plate. And I have some Jewish computer nerd ass to kick. So I better get crackin'!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The comeback continues

I've been running every other day for the last week, and I'm feeling pretty good. I feel a little sluggish because I took so much time off, but my knee doesn't hurt and I'm able to continue with the heel strike stride without falling back into running on my toes, so I guess so far so good.

I am going to be in Austin for the next week for a conference for work. I am hoping to get up and run in the mornings before heading off to the show. When I looked at the weather, it's supposed to be in the 60s, to which I thought, "Sweet!" until I looked closer, and found that at 6 a.m., it's supposed to be 35. What the hell?! 35 at 6 a.m. and 65 at 3 p.m.? What's wrong with this place? Oh well.

I was looking at a calendar today, and noticed that, should D and I manage to pull off the New Zealand trip, the race is 14 weeks from tomorrow. Guess it's about time to start getting serious about training. It's a good thing D's been a grad student for the last bazillion years. She's quite used to being schooled, so the race should feel pretty natural for her.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Back on the horse

4 weeks since Chicago, 3 visits with the chiropractor, buying orthotics and new shoes, I decided it was time to get back in the saddle, so I went for a run today. I only went around 1.5 miles, mostly because I simply wanted to test my sea legs out (I'm all about mixing metaphors, it helps keep my enemies confused). After about five minutes, my knee twinged a little, but a few minutes later, it was gone. Overall, I felt pretty good.

I went to the running store the other day and got fitted for some new shoes that weren't specifically designed for toe runners, as my old ones were. I gotta say, with the new shoes and orthotics, the heel strike stride feels pretty good.

Here's hoping I'm on the road to recovery, ready to give D a run for her money if we make it to New Zealand.


Oh so one thing I didn't mention about this job offer...

Wait, I shouldn't even say I have an offer until I actually have the formal offer. I feel like will jinx it or something. The guy I will be working for is a Pretty Big Name and I am still afraid when I talk to him that I will say something stupid and he will rescind my informal offer.

Anyway, back to what I was saying. While the position wouldn't start until the end of the summer, I do have to go on a cruise for the month of April.

Now "cruise" would probably be the euphemism of the year.

I am pretty sure there will be no fruity cocktails.

Instead there will be 12 hour work days for 25 days straight and sea sickness drugs and lots of science.

And so this will be my home:

I don't know if you can really quite tell from the photo, but the boat is 185 ft long.

What does this have to do with running at all?

Well, this is totally going to eff up any spring marathon plans.

Unless there is a treadmill somewhere on board, a 50 m long boat is not conducive to training.

Can you imagine? I would have to do 50 laps just to do a 5k! Oh my God, I think my brain would explode if I had to do an actual long run!

Add to that the 12 hour work day, which is mostly physical labor.

The cruise really is a solid 25 days at sea. I might be able to pull off a late summer half-IM like I had hoped. Well, I guess in some ways this is good - I can just focus on getting back into good running shape. Maybe I'll see if I can find a March half-marathon somewhere and aim to finally break 2:10...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Oh yeah, so there is a blog here...

So I haven't been writing much because well... I haven't been running all that much.

Total slacker! I know!

But this weekend I did go running.

In Austin.

With fellow scientist who blogs, Tammy (well, who used to blog, but stopped, which is why I didn't link to her).

I ran a whole 2.3 miles. Crazy!

Next thing you know, I'll be running a 5k or something!

Baby steps, Danielle. Don't get ahead of yourself.

So we ran, and then we ate breakfast outside at Austin Java, where a bird pooped her in coffee and another bird pooped on me personally. Twice.

So I realized I haven't posted anything since the middle of October. Here would be the highlights, very few of which have anything to do with running:

* I turned 31 on Mole Day. Me and Avogadro are totally homies.

* I spent my birthday week out in the wind, cold, and rain on my lake, all in the name of science. Good times! Here is me looking very sciencey while mixing up our dye:

* I found out my sister is moving to New Zealand at the end of the month. This was completely independent of my scheming. And I applied for a travel grant to go to a conference in NZ in February. I think I have Joe convinced to go gallivant around NZ for a bit afterwards and told him to find us a race. He found us this one and really what better way is there to spend Valentine's Day than trying to leave your friend in the dust? We are tied at 1-1 for who beats who at the HM distance. Of course, my only chance is if he is injured, so you better watch out... If anyone wants to come NZ, join in the fun!

* I went to Austin to visit one of my best friends from college! Like our college days, we did a few things, but mostly hung out on the couch and watched TV and ate leftover Halloween candy. She was in the hospital for like a month this summer and is still recovering, so she gets tired quickly. The point of the visit was to see her after her bout with pancreatitis, where her lungs and kidneys also decided to shut down and pretty much she is only alive because she is still young, so I wasn't going down for an excitement filled weekend.

* On the way back, I had an Iowa bonding moment with the six of us in the back of the plane recounting funny stories about things like asking us if we grow potatoes and confusing us with Ohio and pretty much how we get no respect. Then to top off the conversation, the flight attendent came over the announcement system and pronounced Des Moines as "Dez Moin-ez" and we all started laughing hysterically.

As an aside, why do people have such a hard time with Des Moines and Illinois? Did you not take 5th grade geography? I am from Massachusetts and I have ALWAYS known how to pronounce Des Moines and Illinois!

And yesterday.

What can I say about yesterday?

I worked for Obama as a poll reporter in the morning and then knocked doors all afternoon. After turning red in 2004, Iowa didn't let me down this year. I have always kidded that I would only move to a blue state (IA was blue when I moved here), and Obama just gave me a whole heck of a lot more new states to move to.

Although that is all pretty irrelevant, since yesterday morning I got a job offer in Seattle, which is in a consistently blue state. I have a month to decide, but I am not going to hear from NSF regarding New Zealand until March and that fellowship has about a 20% funding rate. Wellington has mountains and ocean, but then again, so does Seattle. The only thing Seattle is missing is the boys with cute accents - unless you count the Canadians there and their funny way of saying "about."

So yeah, yesterday was quite eventful!

On an amusing post-election day note, I leave you with this:

PS The Obama office here is trying to get rid of a crapload of Obama posters, stickers, etc etc. If there is anyone who is not in a swing state who wants some schwag, let me know!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Slightly better adjusted

One of the other runners in DC Fit has been going to a chiropractor for a long time, and absolutely loves this guy. Over the course of training, she recommended him to anyone with problems, and the handful of people that went to see him all spoke very highly of him. About a month ago, he told the original patient to extend an offer to everyone in the group for a free foot scan for custom orthotics.

After the knee pain I developed during the last month of training, I figured orthotics were probably going to be a good idea, so I called up on Tuesday and made an appointment for this afternoon. I went in, had the scan, and chatted with the doc for a while. I decided to ask him to take a look at my lower back, as I wondered if my somewhat severe supination (and unevenness in pressure, where I put more on my left foot than right, due to the extreme dominance of my left side, both left-handed and left-footed) stemmed from some minor issues I have with my back (a couple slightly bulging disks). He poked a little and found that one hip slightly higher than the other. He suggested that in about 6 sessions, he'd be able to straighten me out so I wouldn't have problems anymore, and between that and the orthotics, I'd feel a hundred times better, like a new person when running.

I had my first adjustment right then in the office, and my second coming up early next week. I felt a difference after the session, and he said by the 3rd or 4th, it would feel really different. I'm excited, I think this is going to be a Very Good Thing (tm).

I haven't started running again since Chicago. My knee feels better every day, but I didn't want to come back too fast, as it was still a little sore on Wednesday. My plan is to get on my bike starting early next week, and if my knee is feeling good, start running in a week or two. The chiropractor approved of this plan, telling me he recommended I not run for at least another week yet. I'm so itching to get back out there, especially so I can be ready to school Danielle in whatever race we end up running in the winter/spring. You're going down, D!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


It was waaaaaaaaaay back in April that teammate Lauren asked me to run the Chicago marathon with her. It's been a long road from then to now. So, here are some of the thoughts on the whole experience, in no particular order or with no particular significance...
  • DC Fit: Good idea in theory. In practice, implementation is everything. In this case, the other runners and the assistant coaches couldn't, in my mind, make up for the jackassedness of the lead coach. His lack of guidance, planning, and general enthusiasm leaked down throughout the ranks of the group, both staff and runners. In the end, I think we got enough out of it to complete our respective races, but I can see how much better it could have been, and that's too bad.
  • Injuries: I learned a lot about how to distinguish aches versus injuries. Along this journey, there were a few aches I mistook for injuries, and an injury that I mistook for an ache. I think this is one of the most improtant lessons I learned this year.
  • Walking in races: In three of my races this year, I had to walk what I would consider significant chunks (the last leg of MC200, the Philly Distance Run, and the Chicago Marathon). While I still don't like the idea of walking for any significant amount of time in a race, none were for lack of training, and I'm starting to learn how to deal with the fact that sometimes, your body doesn't cooperate. I've never done anything of the level of endurance as distance running before. This year, I ran three half marathons, the relay, and the marathon. I put a lot of miles on my legs, seeing as how Phoenix, back in January, was my very first half marathon.
  • Training: I hit a point in my training for Chicago where running wasn't fun anymore. It was an obligation, something I had to do rather than something I wanted to do. I found that I was actually most frustrated with the fact that I didn't like it anymore, and I really wanted to. Running is my outlet for all the crap in my life. I have some of my best runs at the end of my worst days, and if I run in the morning, it's like I'm coated in teflon for the rest of the day, everything just slides off.
  • Running partners vs running alone: I have found that I like running with people and also running alone. I can think of two specific runs with people that stood out in my mind as being really good this summer. One was with a friend from my old job, Kelly, who was in DC Fit training for Marine Corps. We ran a 10 mile training run during a taper, and we just cruised. It was awesome. The other was with Sarah, another DC Fit member. We ran a 10 miler in the rain on July 5th at 7 a.m., and it would have been terrible to do that alone. We really kept each other going and kept our spirits up as much as possible during that pretty crappy run. On the flip side, though, I did my 18 miler by myself at 5 a.m. on a Monday morning, and it was so great. That was perhaps the most fun run I had during the entire marathon training.
  • Why I run: I flew back from Chicago the Tuesday after the race. I landed, took the Metro home, dropped my bags, and jumped in my car to go to a workshop for work Tuesday night. On my way to the workshop, I drove past one of my regular running routes, and there were tons of people out. My first thought was, "I so wish I was out there right now." All the stress of training, all the "have to" versus "want to" crap about running mentioned above, it all left my mind about a week before Chicago. I remembered I run because I love it. I like that it's hard. I like that sometimes it hurts.
  • Race locations: One of our regular readers, Glaven, has mentioned that he likes how I tend to include a description of the city and my impressions of it as part of my race reports. I have found that the location of a race is a big part of my decision making process when looking for which race is next. There's a half marathon in DC in March, but I ran in Nashville in April because I'd never been there and I'd heard it was nice. The Marine Corps Marathon is three weeks after the Chicago Marathon, but I've run almost the entire MCM course during my regular running, so something new seemed like it'd be more fun. I am lucky that I have a job that affords me more disposable income than I need, and I can travel to races throughout the year.
  • Running friends: Of the five big races I ran this year, all of them were with friends who live in other parts of the country. Danielle lives in Iowa, teammate Lauren and her husband live in Chicago, the relay team is always made up of members scattered across the country. Running races with them is a fun excuse to see people I don't get to spend nearly as much time with as I'd like.
  • What's next: After this year, I am hooked. My goal is another marathon next summer. I'd like to do one healthy to see what I can really do. I've already started kicking around ideas with a few people, and we'll probably make a decision in January/February if we go through with the tentative plan to run a spring/summer race. In the meantime, there are a few half marathons in the spring that I'm considering. Hopefully there will be another relay next year, and I'd like to go back to Philly, as that was a really awesome race.
So, that's pretty much a brain dump of everything that's been rattling around in my head for the last few weeks or so. I consider 2008 my introduction to distance running, and overall, it was a pretty good year. I leave you with a pile o' memories of this past year.

2008's medals, shirts, and bibs

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hello pervy internet world!

I would like to thank Joe for having such an intriguing race report title and for linking to the Gmail blog entry on Mail Goggles.

Our readership has shot up approximately 10 billion percent from people clicking on the TrackBack link "Losing My Virginity, The Report" on the Gmail blog entry.

I think this may have trumped Audrey's post on naked triathletes for bringing new traffic to the blog.

In both cases, I am sure there were some sorely disappointed web surfers...

And in other news, not to disparage Joe's accomplishments, but my long runs are up to two miles these days. I mean, anyone can run a marathon. Now getting back into running after a month off? Now that is some hard stuff. I sometimes spend a whole 20 minutes running!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Losing My Virginity, The Report

I flew to Chicago on Thursday, first class, of course, because, as discussed, that's how I roll. Unfortunately, American Airlines sucks so hard, first class is a cup of warm nuts and an Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chip cookie (and unlimited alcohol I guess, which I did not partake in, but the guy next to me did. It was amusing to me because he spent 2/3 of the flight responding to work email while drinking heavily, then spent the last 1/3 watching stupid movie on his laptop, presumably when he was too drunk to safely work. He may be a target candidate for this).

Anyway, got to Chicago, chilled with Lauren and Kyle Thursday night and Friday. During the day Friday, Kyle and I went into the city for lunch and to wander around. I was struck by how tall the buildings are. DC is a nice city, but it's so short. All the tall buildings are weird to me, but very cool. Also, I had a moment where I felt like I was in the Matrix -- remember the scene from the first movie where Morpheus is leading Neo through the Agent Training simulation (the girl in the red dress scene)? They're walking upstream against a huge crowd of people. We crossed a street at a stoplight and people just swarmed around me for a second and it reminded me distinctly of that.

tall city

Saturday Lauren and I went to what was clearly the best race expo I have ever been to and met up with her cousin. The shirts they gave us were nice, but mine is about 4 sizes too large (it's a large, but I was wearing two shirts when I tried it on last night and it was still big enough for two of me). The expo's awesomeness can be explained by these examples of things we saw:
  • A giant liver (approx 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide, walking around with a sign that said "Go Liver!" scaring little kids and posing for pictures with runners)
  • An approx 60 year old woman with a mohawk, and both sides of her head totally shaved. The mohawk was about 8" tall, and highlighter pink. She had tons of tattoos, including a full necklace tattoo.
  • A goth clown (if you aren't sure what I mean by this, imagine a clown stepping straight out of a Panic At the Disco music video and going to work in the Little Rock Marathon booth -- it was awesome, but apparently Lauren's cousin is afraid of clowns, so when we showed her this, she almost jumped out of her skin).
  • Antarctica Marathon booth
  • Big soft squishy pretzels and fresh lemonade, which was a great lunch.
So, Sunday was the race. Lauren and I took the L downtown. We got to the stop at 6:30, and a train was coming the other way. There were like 5 people on the whole train. Then, our train pulled in like 30 seconds later, and it was completely full of runners, standing room only. When we got off at our stop, we're riding up the escalator, and the guy standing behind us, definitely not a runner, asks me, "Hey, where are you all going?" "Um, the Marathon." "Oh, I was wondering why everyone was dressed alike." Yeah...

We got down to the race, met up with Lauren's cousin, and got into the corral. There were so many people. Holy crap. It took us about 25 minutes to reach the starting line from our place in the corral. Once we got to the front, we were off. Right before the race, I got a text message from Meg telling me she'd be at mile 4 and 11 with a big neon green sign. So as we were about 1/4 mile from mile 4, I looked up, saw a big neon green sign, and said to Lauren, "I bet that's Meg." We ran over to that side of the course, and as we got closer, sure enough, it was. That's when it got funny. When Meg spotted me, she literally screamed, jumped up and down, threw her sign down, jumped down from the wall she was on and ran up and gave me a hug, while still jumping up and down. It was awesome. Then, she realized I stopped to give her the hug, so she starts yelling, "Wait, keep going! Go! Go!" So off I ran. Four people down the wall from where she was all laughed hysterically and gave me high fives as I ran by. They didn't do it for anyone in front of me, and Lauren confirmed they only did this for me, not anyone else behind me. Then the guy running next to me turns to me and says, "Geez. I hope you knew her." This greeting from Meg was absolutely the highlight of the running part of the race.

I ran the first five miles with Lauren and her cousin. At that point, my knee started to remind me it was there, so I started to do a run-9-min-walk-1-min thing. That got me through until mile ten, at which point my knee started to hurt pretty bad. I got into a run-walk routine with longer walks, and that got me through until about mile 18. During this phase of the race, I found that the pain receptors in my knee will completely overload after about 30 seconds of serious pain, and then spend the next 30 seconds slowly dulling until it's mostly numb, at which point i can go until i stop what i'm doing (i.e. stop running to walk), then the pain starts again next time I try to run.

Around mile 18, my calves started cramping pretty badly, and after a few tries and failures, I realized that I was going to have to walk the rest of the race, because anytime I tried to run, I cramped up within 15-20 seconds. I walked 18-22 at approx 15 min/mi pace, and was then able to pick my walking pace up, finishing 22-26 at approx 13 min/mi pace. My sister caught up with me at mile 25 and came out to try to walk with me for a bit, but had to run because she couldn't keep up with my pace. She decided to stop and hang back to wait for Lauren, who was about 3 minutes behind me at this point, while Kyle was waiting at the finish line.

Here are a few of the amusing signs or shirts we saw on the course during the run yesterday:
  • Sign: "What a dumb way to celebrate your 30th birthday!"
  • Sign: "Chuck Norris hasn't run a marathon, but you have!"
  • A girl running the race with a giant ass and booty shorts with the word "ANCHOR" written across them (this was my favorite clothing/costume thing of the entire race)
  • A girl who wrote on the back of her shirt, "I don't run to compete with anyone, I run to silence the voice inside me that wants to quit." This was especially poignant because I saw it around mile 17, when my knee was absolutely on fire, hurt to touch, and my calves were starting to cramp. I knew I could walk, but I was so mad I couldn't really run, this shirt really came right at the right time.
  • It was so hot, this guy just painted his shirt on:
  • Kyle didn't run, but he still kicked assphalt!
It was close to 70 degrees at start time of the race, and when we finished, it was 82. There was not a cloud in the sky, so the sun was just brutal, beating down. My time was 5:25:57. I am happy to have finished. This was a pretty crazy first race, but I'm looking forward to trying another one. This week, though, I'm going to rest and probably eat cupcakes. This is worth mentioning because last week I saw this in the Washington Post and decided I should probably confirm their results after the race, and Marcy commented on getting her cupcake on just this morning now that she popped her marathon cherry, too. Maybe it's the obvious thing to do -- run a marathon, spend a week eating cupcakes...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Not a marathon virgin anymore

There will be a full race report tomorrow or Tuesday, but for the time being, just wanted to let everyone know I finished my first marathon today. It was hot as shit, but a really excellent experience. As I said, race report to follow, but thanks to everyone for the good vibes and well wishes. The support meant a lot and definitely helped me through.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I ain't going down without a fight!

Thursday afternoon, I take to the air to go out to the city of wind to see teammate Lauren and husband Kyle. I'm going out a few days early to chill with them before the marathon. Oh, also, yeah, first class all the way. That's how I roll (with the $10 flight that cost 45,000 frequent flier miles). The happy discovery today was when I looked and found that first class doesn't have to pay for a checked bag. Screw you, all you bastards back in coach!

After Philadelphia, I took about a week and a half off, as my knee was pretty much in a state of constant pain. I finally decided I couldn't take any more time off, so late last week, I hopped on my bike and felt ok. I rode a couple days, and the pain continued to subside, so on Saturday, I went for a 6 mile run. I made it through, but my knee hurt for the rest of the day. I took Sunday off, and did another 6 miles again on Monday. That time, I didn't feel any real pain after that, which was encouraging, just a little stiffness. I was hoping to run again today, but didn't get a chance, so I'm going to go Thursday morning before my flight. After that, I'm probably just going to rest up until race day.

I'm a little nervous, but the feeling of dread I've had for most of the last two weeks has today slowly been replaced by excitement. I have made my peace with the idea of possibly not finishing. I'm just going to go out, try my best, and if I make it through, sweet, but if not, there's always next year. I'm just out to have fun.

So here's to my first attempt at a marathon! I ain't going down without a fight!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

How far I have fallen...

So I HTFU and started running again. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but my goal since July has been to do all my weekday runs at sub-10 min miles and my long run in my Zone 2 for HR. When I stopped running at the beginning of September, I could do 3.5 mile at sub 10 min pace and my long runs were 7 miles and Zone 2 was about a 10:30 pace.

On Friday, I managed to run one sub-10 minute mile and was dead at the end of my run.

Which was only 1.5 miles.


Then yesterday I went out to do a leisurely 3 mile "long" run in Zone 2.

My average pace? 12 min miles. Really! But to stay in the HR zone I kept having to slow down.

Not that I complained too much about that - I was hurting by the end of a three mile run.


One good thing about my long runs now and having a totally old Garmin and an old HRM which I refuse to wear both of at the same time (unlike some people, ahem Laurie) is that with only my HRM I have no clue how fast I am going, so I don't stress about being slow.

But it's all good. My obsessive compulsiveness is good for something, so that means that once I get going, I usually stay going. Two days in a row with running and I think I'll run again today. I also started going to my weight class at the gym again. Wanna talk about loss of fitness? Yeah, I pretty much had to go down to putting the lightest weights on the bar again. And lunges! Even with a pitiful amount of weight on the bar, I was in pain. So pathetic!

Well, no matter, soon I will be like a centaur* galloping around the streets of Ames!

And when you start so low, you can only go up, right?

In other news, I applied for a second postdoc in Seattle. That one hinges on the oceanographers accepting a limnologist like myself as one of their own. I always crash their parties and steal their money and I am writing a paper dissing their methods, but still! I'm such a catch!

And Lisa and I have been scheming to figure out how we can be running buddies again and we are both contemplating a return to the Hole for postdocy goodness (WTF? Apparently spell check doesn't think"postdocy" is an objectionable word?), where it all started lo these four years ago. We can run along the ocean again and see if the lady who used to run shirtless with nothing but this big white old lady bra that was three cup sizes too big for her is still there. But alas, the Food Buoy is now some posh little grocery store for the yuppies about to catch the ferry to the Vineyard, so that's sad.

*for Nitmos

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Do I really have to start running again?

So September?

Sorta sucked.

I was probably out of town for half the month.

And I have always been really crappy and getting my runs in when I am out of town. The shoes always come with, but they aren't often used.

I haven't run since Philly, and September included a total of three runs, if you include my two two-mile sufferfests in the oxygenless air near Lake Tahoe.

How come it is so hard to start up again? I'm good at being pretty consistent once I'm going, but once things fall apart then it's the end. You would think my body would crave exercise or something, but it sort of thinks "Hey, this not doing anything is sorta nice!"

This is also added to the stress that I won't be able to get my research done:
Do you see all that orange over the last day or so? That is a very bad thing. That means it really is fall and my lake is getting ready to turnover. And once it turns over, it is all the same temperature and then I can't get the awesome internal waves I need (you can see them on 9/29, which is a storm we couldn't sample after because it happened in the middle of the night).

Anyway, can you believe it is October? I can't! It can't be! I turn 31 this month! 31! I was back in Champaign last weekend and talking to my old officemate who I started grad school with 6 years ago and we both laughed at how we thought we might have our PhDs before we were 30. What youthful naivete!

I don't have to travel again until I go home for Christmas, so I am actually looking forward to getting back into a running routine.


I am going to blame my roommate.

She usually sleeps until at least 8am, but recently she has been getting up early, so the little ball of warm cuddly snuggly fluffiness comes up to my room and wiggles under the covers to lie next to me and then it is so hard to get out of bed. Especially now that it is cool in the mornings. Could you kick this out of your bed?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Too perfect.

This was in PostSecret today. My roommate thought it was too perfect not to share.

EDIT: Some indication of the back story is here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I'm famous!

Apparently April and Amy over at Twenty Six Point Two thought I was cool enough to name me their weekly pace setter. No one tell them the truth or they may take it down. In the meantime, check it out if you're interested in learning more about me than you probably wanted to know...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sooner or later God'll cut you down

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God'll cut you down
Sooner or later God'll cut you down

Seriously. This little ditty from my man Cash came on at about Mile 11, when I was in the middle of a major sufferfest.

I totally don't recommend running a half-marathon without training just a little bit.

My longest run since Norway was 7 miles.

And I hadn't run in two weeks.

And you know? Half-marathons are sort of old hat by now. So in my brain, I'm thinking "No problem!"

But yeah, today is the first day I could walk downstairs.

That was a blast yesterday when I had to be out doing field work at the lake.

This race report will be short.
Here are Lauren, Joe, and me at the beginning (note I am charging Joe's mom to give her my long sleeve shirt ).

The race started nice.

Some lady on crutches tried to cross the street through the pack of runners and right in front of Lauren and me. We both managed to dodge her, but hello?!

But as expected, at about Mile 5.5 I started to hit a wall. When I hit the halfway point, I was very aware that a PR was nowhere in the picture, so I just chilled out and enjoyed the run. That lasted until about Mile 10. Then, it was all about survival. Joe actually yoyoed with me a few times, but I was so oblivious to everything but how tired my quads were that I didn't even notice.

I came in at 2:28, which, besides the fiasco in Toronto in 2006 where I was crying from how much my calf hurt but for some reason couldn't just take a DNF, is my slowest time ever. And Toronto was 2:30. Three months ago, I came in at 2:13. Ah, how far I have fallen!

But the good news? I don't actually really care. I had a fun weekend, even if I did miss my flight home and have to pay $150 to get on the next one. Stupid traffic! Seriously. Pennslyvania you are so on my shitlist right now with your incredibly stupid road construction. I'm sending you the bill!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yo Adrian! I did it!

Last year, I signed up for the Las Vegas Half Marathon with MC200 teammate Lauren and her husband Kyle. At the time, my sister, who is also friends with Kyle and Lauren, decided that it was uncool that as runners, we get to travel to fun places for races and she doesn't. So with that, she decided she would try to run. Having never run a day in her life, around X-Mas, she started trying to run. Her original goal was the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in April, but after having the flu for most of February, she missed it, and when I pointed out that Philly was Sept 21st, she immediately signed up, because Sept 22, 2008 was her 30th birthday, and she so wanted to be able to say, "I ran a half marathon before I was 30." (Note that this was an arbitrary goal that was set after discovering the race would be a day before her b-day)

Anyway, this weekend, Kyle, Lauren, Danielle, my sister, my parents, and I all converged on Philadelphia for the Philly Distance Run. Friday night, we all got into town and crashed. Saturday, we did the tourist thing, walking around the city, even having dinner at the Hard Rock to be extra touristy.

Sunday morning was the race. It was about 60 at start time. The entire race was really a beautiful course, I very much enjoyed it. However, the first mile, starting at the museum-where-Rocky-ran-up-the-stairs (the Art Museum) and running down Ben Franklin Pkwy straight at the giant fountain in Logan Square with City Hall directly behind the fountain, was amazing. It was really just a stunning start to a race, perhaps the best of any race I've ever run.

I started running with Lauren and Danielle, while Sherri and Kyle were paced a little slower than us so were a few corrals back. Lauren, Danielle, and I ran the first mile and a half together before I ended up picking my pace up a bit and heading out on my own. However, we did manage to be together for a few excellent sightings, including Elvis (in our starting corral), a guy wearing a tutu, a princess hat, and no shirt, which appeared to be a lost bet with the two girls who were dressed like him but without embarrassing writing on their backs ("Flight from Florida, $200, race registration, $75, John in a tutu, priceless"), and, perhaps my favorite because I am a giant dork, as we passed the first mile marker, we found a really huge guy (probably over 300 lbs) running incredibly slowly in front of us. As we passed him, I saw his bib said he should have been in corral 16, but he was at least in corral 8, since we started in 11 and it took us a mile to catch him. Anyway, this was my favorite sighting because we saw as we passed he was wearing a Microsoft Vista shirt, and I turned to Lauren and said, "There's a joke in there somewhere about Vista running really slowly, but I won't make it because Kyle isn't here with us." (Note, Kyle is also a computer geek) She groaned at me, as I've so often come to find people do.

The first half the race, I was having a great run. My pace was steady, I was running PR time without really trying, and my (other) knee, which has been bothering me for about a week and a half (pretty much since the first one stopped hurting), was feeling good. I walked through the water stop at 6.8 mi to get a drink to put my Gel down, and my knee just totally freaked out. I tried to stretch and/or walk it off, but it hurt a lot. I decided if I DNF'd in Philly, though, I was most definitely going to be psychologically unable to do Chicago in 3 weeks, so I kept walking, and about 15 minutes later, the pain more or less subsided. I managed to run the next almost 3 miles, when I walked through a water stop, and, lo and behold, my knee just went to hell again. This time it hurt even worse. At this point, Lauren caught up with me, and tried to walk with me for a bit, but I was unable to take more than 3 steps without stopping. After a few minutes of that, I assured Lauren that with just 3 miles left, I would cross the finish line one way or another, and told her to go run her race. I tried to keep moving, and after another 15 or 20 minutes, the pain again subsided enough to the point where I was able to do a run-5-walk-1 minute thing to get to the end.

I finished the race, and sulked for a few minutes because I was frustrated I didn't run as well as I had hoped. I made my way back to the finish line and got to see my sister cross the finish line for her first big race (> 10k). At that point, I realized that the time didn't much matter. I managed to finish 13 miles, hurt a bit, but I had a great weekend with my sister, parents, and friends, so who cares about the time.

After the race,we went back to the hotel and everyone slept except for me, as I was feeling fine, just bored. I read for a bit, watched some tv, then got a craving for something-or-another, so I went for a Slurpee and Beef Jerky at 7-11. I texted Lauren about my trip, and she immediately decided she required Beef Jerky, so she and D went to 7-11. I'm a trend-setter. :) Sunday late afternoon, we all went to Maggiano's, which if you have never been (there are a bunch around the country), is amazing Italian food, where we gorged ourselves until we could eat no more. We went back to the hotel, watched some tv, played some games, and then a few hours later, gorged ourselves again on leftovers. It was disgustingly awesome.

Monday morning, the highlight was definitely going back to the Art Museum to run the steps and take pictures with the Rocky Statue (all while wearing our medals of course). After that, we all headed our separate ways, with Sherri, Kyle, Lauren, and I coming back to DC. Kyle and Lauren had a late flight, so we all went to see Burn After Reading before dropping them at the airport, and then Sherri and I headed out to her birthday dinner with her DC friends.

The one thing I noticed about Philly, compared to DC, is that the humidity was so low that there was an extreme temperature difference between being in the direct sun and being in the shade. It felt like there was at least a 10 degree difference. I'm not used to that, living in DC for the last few years.

Overall, it was an excellent weekend. I am still a bit concerned about my knee with Chicago being so close, but I think at this point, I am going to bag any run longer than 5 miles to try to give it a chance to heal up, just doing short runs and bike rides to try to maintain fitness. I may not be in perfect shape for it, but I just hope to be able to run in Chicago. I'll definitely start the race, and with any luck, maybe I'll cross the finish line. It's out of my hands at this point.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Off to Philly

I'm leaving in about an hour to head up to Philly for the Philadelphia Distance Run. My sister's 30th birthday is Monday, and she (somewhat arbitrarily) decided that she wanted to run a half marathon before she turned "old," so here we are. D, MC200 teammate (and jerk who convinced me to sign up for the Chicago Marathon) Lauren and her husband Kyle are all flying in to (hopefully) run with us, as well as my folks coming down to hang out for the weekend. Should be a fun weekend. There is already some hysterical stuff going down, so the race report next week should be awesome.

Have a fun weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Running's not fun anymore

At this point, marathon training has basically sucked all the pleasure out of running for me. While I used to run 4 or 5 days a week because I really enjoyed it, now the 3 runs (and one or two bike rides) I do feel like homework. I run because I have to, not because I want to. There are constant nagging injuries to worry about, the fear that missing some runs will mean i won't be where I need to be in 4 weeks, etc etc etc. Running used to be my outlet, so when life got stressful, I could run and I'd feel better. Now it mostly just compounds my feeling of crappiness.

I just want this marathon to be over so I can get back to enjoying running again.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A post a day on this blog? Woah!

So I just had to share.

My dad's birthday was yesterday (yeah, sort of a crappy day to have a birthday, no?)

So I called home and I was chatting with my mom who told me that she and her boyfriend my sister and her boyfriend were thinking of moving in April. (No, my mom is not currently living at home with my dad and a boyfriend on the side).

To New Zealand.

Seriously, my parents have got to be wondering how they raised two kids who independently came up with this idea. And not because they were horrible parents and we're trying to get as far away as possible from them.

So the good news is that even if I don't get this fellowship, I'm totally going for a nice long visit...

And is it weird that I just dreamed the other night that Jess and Sky (yes my sister is dating a boy with a total hippie name) were getting married in Argentina? I know Argentina and NZ are totally different, but still - I never dream about my sister.

In running news, I have run into this weird situation where I have zero money while I am waiting for a $1000 travel reimbursement to come in and so I can't get my new contacts. Which wouldn't be a problem if I hadn't tossed my last right contact. I have an astigmatism so I can't just put in a left contact. And my glasses?
They aren't really meant for running. Practicality was not in mind when I was at the hands of the fabulously gay Israeli man in Toronto. Running with them is not pleasant as they slip off my nose. And I am totally blind so I can't run without.

But I guess if it works for this dude:
it can work for me...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Danielle's alternative futures

So I am not quite sure what my odds are on the whole New Zealand thing. So I gotta be thinking about other future possibilities. So now I have proposal number two to work on. On a completely different subject. This one would be in Seattle. It's not New Zealand, but it still has mountains and ocean, so that's alright in my book.

But mostly the reason I mention it here? (Well, besides the fact that I know you are all dying to know my future plans). The research would be centered on Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Do you want to know why the research is focused here?

Only because one of the largest Superfund sites in the US drains into it.

I hope all you crazy Ironmen like swimming in diluted mining tailings!

I'm pretty sure that didn't go in the brochure...

Hmm, maybe I can write my proposal on the annual resuspension of heavy metal laden sediments by triathletes...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Run Geek Run

I was helping a friend who is attempting to get back into running find some short races this fall, and I came across one that I am totally signing up for: Run! Geek! Run! It's an 8k, and I'm totally going to run it because I want a shirt that says, "Run! Geek! Run!"

I sent the link for the race to my friend (who also happens to be the P.I. of the R&D project I work on at my day job, so perhaps even a bigger nerd than I am), and his response was, "Dude, those guys on that page there don't look like geeks at all. They look like they could be the reason the geeks are running." So we decided a better tag line for the race website would be, "Run geek, run, because these motherf**kers are coming for you!"

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


I just looked and apparently August 23rd was the last time I wrote anything.

Just livin' up to the slacker image I try to exude.

So I am just going to bullet point the past two+ weeks:

* Kori and I bailed on the GAAR because our kayaker apparently found some other girls to menage-a-trois with. We secretly hate her now and kinda wanted to find an even better kayaker and kick her ass.

* I just got back from CA. Five days in Lake Tahoe, two in San Jose. I ran twice in Tahoe. Both times I was gasping for air. I ran about 2 miles. Did I mention I have a half-marathon coming up in two weeks?

* Submitted my proposal for New Zealand today. So everyone should send "Fund me!" vibes toward NSF in DC. Then you can come visit me in my apartment by the ocean where I'll be shacking up with a boy with a cute accent.

* I am stressing out because the cold weather we are having means my lake is being penetrated convectively. Every night! Can you believe it? The slut.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ah, squishy cannibalism...The best kind!

Having been friends with Danielle for about 5 years now, I sometimes worry that I'm not hardcore enough to roll with her, and I'll end up being ditched or otherwise left in the dust as she moves on to more awesome friends. So, in an effort to up my hardcoreness quotient, I decided to do my 18 miler this morning and then go to work afterwards. I got up at 5 a.m., and did 18 miles in 3:10, then came home, showered, shaved, and went straight to work. I very much enjoyed fielding "Why are you late today?" questions all day, so I could respond, "Yeah, sorry, I had to run 18 miles this morning." I'm a rock star.

I was worried about my knee, but just wanted to do as much as I could. Around an hour in, my calves started tightening up really badly. I should note here that I am a toe runner, for anyone who's not seen me run before. My background is 30 years of soccer, only getting into running about 5 or 6 years ago, and only getting into distance (10 mi or greater) in the last two years. The toe running had never been an issue before, other than the soles of my shoes wearing out in funny places.

So anywho, with my calves hurting, I decided on a whim to try a heel strike stride. It immediately alleviated the pain in my calves, which was good. It was kind of awkward because I've never run this way for any long amount of time, so I sort of kept switching back and forth between my regular stride and the heel strike one. In the middle of one of my regular stride stretches, my knee started twinging a little. But I found that the heel strike stopped that, too.

At the end of my run, I had no knee pain and no real tightness in my calves. I'm really happy about this. It'll take some practice to get comfortable with the new stride, but if it'll solve my issues, it's a small price to pay I guess.

When I got to work, I emailed Lauren (from MC200, who talked me into joining her for this marathon) to let her know how it went. I commented that the cafeteria at work wouldn't open for a while, I was hungry enough that I was considering killing one of the people who sit near me and eating them, and there was one in particular who is kind of...squishy...and is probably good eats. The title of this post is Lauren's response.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Getting close...

I know I've been MIA for a while. I've been quietly freaking out about the upcoming marathon. My IT band has been acting up pretty good lately. Well, I should say, the tendinitis that flares up when my IT band is causing me problems is causing me trouble. I have yet to run over 16 miles. Last weekend I was attempting to run an 18 miler, and had to stop after 13 because my knee was hurting too much. I'm a little bit worried at this point. The race is so close now. I'll just continue to slowly freak out as the days tick by...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I got drunk texted by Barack Obama

Okay, not really.

But you guys? When I sign up for text alerts about who you are choosing for your VP, do you really text me at 2:30 in the morning?

Do you know who texts at 2:30 in the morning? Drunk people.

After having gone to bed at 10 so that I could arise at 5am for the Leapfrog run this morning, imagine my surprise when my phone went off in the middle of the night. After realizing that if there had been some family emergency, my parents would call, not text, I rolled over to go back to bed without looking at my phone.

But then my curiosity got the better of me. What if some boy was drunkenly texting me in the middle of the night?

But no.

It was just Barack.

Anyway, a mere 2.5 hours later I rolled out of bed to get ready to go. As I was finishing my breakfast of strawberry shortcake (breakfast of champions!), Kori came and picked me up and we headed down to Dallas Center.

When we got to the race, we scoped out the competition. There were people warming up. Who warms up? Overachievers! That's who! And we noticed a distressing number of teenage girls who looked like cross-country runners, who unfortunately would be in our age group for this race (combined age under 80). And there were huge ass trophies that we drooled over wistfully but which we didn't have any chance at.

We decided that Kori would run first and I would bike, so I got myself lined up near the front and quite suddenly they started the race. Our plan was to do 1.1 mile intervals. That seems random, but that way we each had six intervals.

The race was loads of fun. My lack of endurance right now totally showed though - look at these splits:

1: 9:36 min/mi
2: 9:45 min/mi
3: 8:38 min/mi
4: 9:39 min/mi
5: 10:24 min/mi
6: 10:39 min/mi

Rather than gradual decline, it is like I ran smack into a wall after the fourth interval. Which considering I have done one run over 4 miles since mid-July and that was a 6 mile "long" run, which was done in a low heart rate zone, is not all that surprising.

We came in at 1:25, which was 12 minutes slower than the winner in our group - Kori and I each would have to cut a minute off our intervals to catch up to that (so not gonna happen!). The overall winners came in at 1:06 - those are some speedy peeps! The woman in the winning coed team (who came in about that time as well) has won the Des Moines Marathon and was in the Olympic trials for the marathon, so I'm glad we didn't have to compete with them.

It was totally good times though! We might have to experiment with the half-mile interval next year though - that was what the winners in our category did. Just still not sure the extra bike exchange time is worth it though...

Tomorrow, a seven mile long run. Oh yeah, I am totally going to be ready for a half-marathon in four weeks.

One I seriously almost bailed on when I went to buy plane tickets and they were $500 from DSM to Philly. $500!!! But then I clicked the "Show nearby airports" on Kayak and I got a ticket for $240 flying into Allentown. Phew. Allentown is a little over an hour from Philly, but I got a rental car for $70 for the whole weekend, so total airplane score!

And all still on Northwest - I'm on track for upgrade to elite status there this year, which means I get to check luggage for free and free upgrades to first class when available. Best part about first class? (Well besides the free food and drinks and the bigger seats and more leg room) No kids! I seriously better not have kids or the karma that will be visited upon me after the evil stares I have given many families on planes will not be pretty.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm pretty sure my OCD a$$ is not going to like this...

So I got my new orthotics yesterday. As instructed, I wore them for a couple of hours yesterday. Today I am wearing them to work, but I am mostly sitting down all day.

So yeah, this is what arch support feels like I guess. Okay so here is the thing that is going to drive me crazy. My right orthotic feels like it is pushing into my foot more than my left one. I could deal if they both pushed hard, but the fact they are different is irking me. Of course my feet are different, which is probably why the orthotics feel different on each foot, but I also can't bear to be in a room with a stack of DVDs that aren't lined up neatly (I have problems, I know).

Oh yeah also? My knees aren't loving this yet. I guess I roll in a lot so the orthotics are supposed to keep me from doing that but they are screaming "Hey! I go that way!" I guess that is why I have to slowly start wearing them.

But in my head, I keep thinking these orthotics are magical and that not only will they cure my PF, my achy hamstring, and my weak left hip, that they might also get rid of the big zit I have right now and possibly balance my check book while they are at it.

Leapfrog Half-Marathon this Saturday! This is going to hurt.

Then the Great Ames Adventure Race the Sunday after that! Kori and I are actually switching to a relay team, so my job is just going to be to ride Aqua Velva into glory. I'm actually pretty excited because I have never raced my bike without a run looming on the horizon. And I know this course well. Can I average the elusive 20 mph? We'll see! It's a little shorter than Chisago (where I posted a 19 mph avg) but hillier.

In other news, I indeed was seated at my friend's wedding with my parents and two other older couples. My dad and I spent the night seeing who could outdrink the other. Who knew that the source of my teenage angst and I would find such common ground?

In other other news, there is nothing like writing a proposal (upon which all your fantasies depend) to make you realize how little you know. It's quite humbling. The folks in Mississippi keep e-mailing me though, so at least there is a backup plan. But can Mississippi compare to the land of this? I think not.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Best Speedwork Evar!

I just added this because it made me laugh so hard I cried. This is our local weatherman at the Iowa State Fair:

So on Sunday, Kori and I decided to practice for the Leapfrog Half Marathon in two weeks. At first the original idea was to do two practice sessions with 1.1 and 2.2 mile intervals and see which was fastest. But considering I am really only up to three mile runs, a two mile interval? So not going to happen. So we went up to the lake and we did loops.

And it was a superfun way to do speedwork! Seriously! I mean, I have never had so much fun running mile intervals. We both ran fast not to compete with each other, but because we didn't want to be the one holding the team up. In complete serendipity, Kori runs faster than me, but I bike faster than her, so we were right on in terms of finishing every other interval together (you need to finish the race together).

We did four intervals and I was pretty beat at the end - doing two more is not going to be easy. And I sorta have nightmares of the free for all that this is going to be at the race - people can stop wherever they want and I have visions of bikers pulling over unannounced. Helmets aren't required (!) but I sorta think we should wear it anyway, despite the time savings we would get without it. And really, Audrey's incident should be evidence enough as to why we need bike helmets.

We decided that after the race we might still do this workout since neither of us are lovers of the track. Even though I am sure we might raise a few eyebrows on the bike path around the lake with our random dismounting and leaving the bike.

In other news, tomorrow I head home for a whirlwind trip to New England. 5am flight, parents pick me up to the airport at 11am in Boston, and then we head directly up to VT for the wedding of perhaps my oldest friend in the world who I sadly haven't seen in almost ten years. I seriously hope that she didn't seat me with my parents. There is nothing like a wedding and a few glasses of wine to bring out the love life questions from the parents. I think they seriously think I hide things from them when the sad reality is that there is nothing to hide :-) On the plus side, I have discovered that it all goes much smoother if I match my parents on the wine intake at a 2:1 ratio (why it took me this long to figure that out is beyond me!)

In other other news, I talked with the dude in NZ yesterday and we are plotting and scheming to make this proposal the awesomest so that I can go live in Middle Earth New Zealand for two years on the US taxpayer's dime:
Aren't you all glad to know that you might be funding my life of being surrounded by cute boys with accents science? Don't worry, with my extravagant salary, I plan on getting a two bedroom apartment (with an ocean view, naturally) to house anyone who feels like visiting!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Joe bitching about DC Fit

Ok, so after going back and forth on the group for the last 4 months, it's pretty much decided that DC Fit didn't quite do it for me. I know that I've got about 2 months left until my race, but there's not really much left that the group is going to offer me, so I figured I'd offer some of my thoughts about it up.

First off, let me say, esp to those who spoke well of the group, I can see how this organization could offer a good service. The idea that a group is dedicated to helping first timers make it through their first marathon is admirable, and in my (perhaps limited) searching for a group like this in the DC area, I didn't see too many alternatives in this niche market. Some of the local running groups had marathon training programs, but were more aimed at intermediate or higher runners (i.e. for a program starting in June, training for MCM, they recommend a strong 10 mile base run). I also liked that DC Fit would let me just run for myself, and not have to worry about raising money for a charity, which, while also admirable, isn't something I felt like doing. So please, if you did the program previously, enjoyed it, and recommended it when I asked about it back in April, don't feel bad. I believe that it has the potential to be a good program. Unfortunately, it can only be as good as its leadership. And that's where I think we ran into trouble this year.

The director just doesn''t seem to care very much about the runners in the group. He doesn't show up to all the runs (I don't expect anyone to commit every single weekend for 6 straight months to the program, but when he wasn't there, it seems like he didn't tell any of the other coaches, so he was just MIA). When he did show up, he didn't run with us with any regularity. While all the other coaches ran with the group on our Saturday morning long runs, he would do whatever he felt like. Let me tell you, it's more than a little discouraging to have to run 12 miles, get back to the start line to see that the director showed up late, is just chilling, and when someone asks him if he ran the 12, he says, "Oh, of course not." Yeah, great leadership.

As we're training in DC in the summer, there has been ample concern on the part of the runners for the weather. At, say, 8 a.m. (approximately half way through a long run for the 7 a.m. start group), it's not a stretch for it to be 85 degrees and high humidity. So running on a trail that goes east-west, with absolutely no shade, sucks. It sucks a lot. Runners start to voice their concern to the coaches, the coaches bring it to the director. It just doesn't seem very motivational when word leaks back down that his response was, "We're not here to coddle them. They need to toughen up. We can talk about changing it up once we get to long runs, 17 miles and up." (for those keeping track, there are exactly 3 runs of distance 17 miles or longer in the DC Fit schedule) For this group of runners, a large percentage of whom have probably never run more than 13 miles, with a decent number never even doing that, before starting with the program, that just sounds so condescending and insulting. There are more than a handful of people who have taken to skipping the group runs to run in small groups or by themselves at other times or at other locations, so as to not suffer the route they force us to do week after week (in a 6 month training program, there are going to be 3 weeks that we don't run the same stretch of the W&OD trail).

I've yet to figure out what my $115 went to, because the trails we run on are free to use for everyone and there are no water or snack stations during long runs (we do run past multiple Team in Training water and snack stations on the trails, as well as those of other training groups, such as the Triathlon group who was training down where we were this past weekend). We're supposed to get shirts, but it's been 4 months since we've started and there's no word on if/when they're arriving. There's a picnic this weekend. So I guess maybe $20 for the shirt and the other $95 in hamburgers and hot dogs (the only food the group is providing, as they're asking people coming to bring everything else from plates/utensils to drinks, sides, desserts, etc). I'll make sure I'm extra hungry.

Now, there have been some good things I've gotten from the program. It was nice to have a schedule laid out that we could take, talk over with the coaches, change if necessary, etc. It was also nice to meet other runners in the area who had similar goals than you, and most people I know seemed to find at least 1 or 2 people who run at a similar pace to them. Also, I've been dating someone from the group for about the last month, which has been a very nice surprise. But those things notwithstanding, I've been pretty disappointed.

All things being equal, with the information I had at the time, I'd sign up for a group like this again. As I said, I see the value this type of program can offer, specifically trying to help first timers achieve this lofty goal. But, leadership is everything, and when that's lacking, the program isn't going to be very good. The rumor mill has it that many, if not all, of the coaches will not be returning, as they're frustrated with the situation as well. That, I think, speaks volumes.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I drove to South Dakota yesterday for kicks.

And I didn't even drive on a single interstate!

Were you even aware that South Dakota was a neighbor state to Iowa?

Yeah, me neither, until I moved here.

I had to go to Sioux City yesterday (which is not on the map but which is pretty much right where Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota meet) and since I hadn't been to SD since 1998 when I drove cross-country with my friend Karin, I decided I would pop across the border. That night in Badlands was the first night we had camped on our trip and that was when the discovery was made of my complete inability to put up a tent. I'm pretty sure all Karin was thinking was "I can't believe we have another month of this." On a sidenote, our last night in a tent on that trip was on a beach on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. When the signs say "You need long tent stakes" they aren't messing around. That evening ended with us sleeping in the car and being so grumpy the next day that we pretty much drove from NC back to Boston in one straight shot.

Okay total tangent.

Anyway, I went to Sioux City to see Kori's podiatrist, who she said very good things about. I actually drove three hours to go see a foot doctor. Back when I lived in the northeast, I might make a three hour drive for a weekend trip. Here in the midwest? Totally a day trip.

He spent about an hour with me and then made me stick my feet in this brown mushy stuff to make a mold for orthotics. He is pretty confident that orthotics will get this PF to heal as apparently I have narrow heels and high arches and I over-pronate so my foot rolls in and stresses the fascia with each step I take. Apparently all the inserts I have bought in the past don't have arches high enough to support mine.

He also told me that I shouldn't wear sandals. This is advice I am not sure I can follow. It's summer! I spend a lot of time on a boat or on the side of a lake for work! So I may have to ignore him on that one, even though I am sure my foot would get better faster if I didn't.

Of course, maybe he was just doing a public service in telling me not to wear sandals. Have you seen my feet? The second I start wearing sandals in the summer, they start getting gross and callousy. Pedicurists always tell me I need to come in like every other week (if only I could afford that!)

Anyway, after the appointment I thought "I'm going to go grab a bite to eat in South Dakota." So after winding through some shady parts of Sioux City (airport code SUX, I kid you not), I crossed the bridge into South Dakota.

You know what is in South Dakota? Apparently only casinos. Seriously. I crossed the bridge and I couldn't even find a gas station. I walked into a liquor store, bought a pop and some buffalo jerky (surely there are buffalo in SD, right?) and drove back over the bridge into Iowa. (You can see the children of the corn have fully indoctrinated me as I just said I bought "pop")

Since the interstate is the long way around to get from Sioux City to Ames, on both the way and the way back, I played my favorite "Take a random ass country route" game. The glory of the midwest is that everything is on a grid. If you played this game in New England, your ass would be so lost. But as long as you have faith (and remember what direction you are heading), in the midwest you almost always end up where you want to go. And you can go 75 on the country roads, so it isn't even that much slower.

Except of course when your paved road ends abruptly and you find yourself on a gravel road in BFE, you just hope eventually it will hit a paved road of some sort (and it always does!). Of course, sometimes this backfires and adds an hour on to your trip, like the time I was driving from Fort Collins CO back to Urbana and I ended up at the highest point in Nebraska, which is seriously ridiculously in the middle of nowhere (look at the little triangle near where CO, WY, and NE intersect):
It looks like this:
Seriously, I think it takes some serious talent to end up on a road like this and actually eventually find your way back to the interstate.

Which I had to go to Wyoming to do - note that the path from Nebraska to Illinois does not include Wyoming.

And instead of some cute libertarian cowboy giving me directions to I-80, all I got were some skeptical looks when my bestickered liberal hippie mobile popped out of a gravel road into some small pseudo-suburban neighborhood (suburban would imply an urban area).

Wow, that was a long story to say "Hey! I'm getting orthotics!"

Almost Urbana

Not a race or anything, but I thought I should mention here that a few days ago I did my first century ride, and almost rode from Chicago to Urbana. Almost because it was really hot, I was running out of water, and my route was too far from towns to get any without going way off course, so I decided to skip over to Paxton (where I have lots of family, and where I knew I could get water even if I couldn't find anyone at home); from there my aunt and grandma offered me a ride to Urbana, so I rode with them. Total distance was probably around 130 miles, plus whatever distance I wasted trying to avoid gravel roads in Will County (ILDOT has bike maps for every county in Illinois on the Internet; unfortunately the one for Will drastically overestimated how ridable its roads were, especially in thick fog after a night of rain).

The plan was something like this, the reality was pretty similar, changed only near the beginning to avoid the gravel roads.

- Did I say thick fog? I was riding through soup through the early morning, but I wanted to press through pretty hard to get clear of the suburbs before rush hour. Even so the fog was so bad I stopped for probably 45 minutes to let it clear before getting on US-45 (which gets plenty of truck traffic).
- Werner Bridge Road carried me a nice long way south, and was pretty scenic.
- Giant piles of... something... in Lehigh. Maybe salt or sand or something.
- When you're riding through nothing but huge fields for a hundred straight miles you notice every little thing. You wave at every person and even every car that passes. You notice the little plaque where a church used to sit. You notice that some farmers keep really nice groves of trees near their houses. You notice every tiny hill that you cross, and savor the chance to change up your cadence.
- When the miles really started to grow long, and the landscape particularly monotonous toward the end (Ford County did not offer much variation) I started singing to keep me going. An average song could carry me through a mile; sometimes it might be a whole album between turns. Route 9 into Paxton was a superhighway, and Paxton itself a great metropolis.
- Right, and then today I got a flat on the way home from work. And not on my front wheel, where I'm riding on an Armadillo tire that I got back in California probably 18 months ago that looks barely roadworthy (a couple of tears and cracks in the rubber, lots of wear), but on the back, which held a nine-month old tire that came highly recommended by some biking newsgroup. As far as I can tell the Armadillos really live up to their reputation (the only way I ruined one was by having poorly-aligned brakes rubbing against it). The bad side is they feel slippery and stiff on roads, and get almost no grip on steel-grated bridges. But, anyway, I'm pretty glad I blew it today and not on the ride. And that I almost got the tube patched before the next bus passed.

One of these days I'll do this thing right and make it all the way into town with enough water (this will probably mean refilling my bottles somewhere between Kankakee and Buckley, though I don't know quite where). Until then, at least I can check a century ride off my list of stuff to do before I get old.