Saturday, December 31, 2005

Hospitals and Happy New Year

Thanks for all the Fartlek advice. It all boils down to: I'm an idiot. IF I ever venture into speedwork again (a big huge giant IF), I can promise you I'll be doing it a little differently. NOD's BF says it just proves how badly I need to work on speed.

In other news:

My mom fell headfirst down the stairs in her house early in the a.m. Thursday morning. She had to be transported two hours from "Mayberry," West Va., to the UVA hospital in Charlottesville, which is where I've spent the past two days. What a fantastic hospital, and what great care they've taken care of her. She was pretty badly hurt, but no broken bones amazingly enough. I'll be heading back there on Monday, when it's time to look for a skilled nursing facility. Any of you who have gone through this know how hard it is. It's even harder when you live three hours away.

Let's just say my parents weren't so big on advance planning. Or any planning.

Anyway, Happy New Year everyone!

I'll be back, with resolutions and races, and all kinds of good stuff in the New Year.

So stick around.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Fartlek? F*** You!

Why, oh why am I taking training advice from a 21-year-old near Olympian athlete, I asked myself on this morning's excruciating 4-mile run? Who better?, I answered myself. That was while I could still carry on a conversation.

Number One Daughter's BF is trying to help me become a better runner, bless his heart. So he came up with a routine to get me in shape for this little dinky 5K I am aiming to run in on New Year's Day.

Yesterday: 80 minutes of cardio. Check.
Today: Run four miles like this: run two minutes all out; two minutes recovery, throughout. Check. Sort of. OK, not even close.

This was my first—and possibly last—fartlek.

Mile 1: 10:09 (easy 1/2 mile jog, then started two minutes on/off thing);
Mile 2: 11:20 (two mile recovery now includes walking, since I think I 'm going to hurl);
Mile 3: 11:30 (let's change the interval to run one minute all out; then cry for 2 minutes);
Mile 4: 13:11 (F*** this, walked 1/2 mile, ran the rest of the way home.)

The good news: um ... I got up at 6 a.m., drove to work, changed into running clothes, tried this new workout, ran out of steam, wanted to kill myself, wanted to kill NOD's BF, then I walked, and then I ran again!!!

The end.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Paging Norman Rockwell

(Is it me, or is that vid screwing up my blog?!?! It works fine on the pc, but on my little powerbook at home, it's freezing up every browser I try. Sucks, because it's the perfect song.)

So, here it is Christmas Eve, and I am up to my ears in balled up tissues. My eyes are scratchy, my throat hurts, my nose is running, I'm sneezing my head off. (Thanks for the tip for Airborn, everyone. I got it, in several versions. Not doing so much good though.) I haven't sent a single Christmas card, and I have to go to the mall today. I hate going to the mall with an all-consuming passion when I feel good, so this is like triple torture. I gave Number One Daughter a credit card and told her she'd have to buy her own Christmas presents this year. Oh, now that's sad and bad!! (Would be worse if I didn't have a credit card, though.)

Norman Rockwell, where are you when I need you?

Last night NOD and I made our traditional journey to the Kennedy Center to see the Messiah sing-along. This is not your usual Messiah sing-along that everyone and their mother stages. It's a concert hall filled with 3,000 people, all of them clutching the score to the Messiah, and all of them able to sing every single note. It's like surround sound. Awesome. Every year we drag someone different with us. So far, no one has loved it as much as I do. I told NOD last night that the person who does love it as much as I do will be the one. Oooh, mystical.

I didn't run at all this week. Fear of my ITB (jeanne, see song below), which hurts now when I walk. But I did manage the recumbent bike and the elliptical four days last week. And hey, I read a lot about other people running!! I know I will have to start all over again with $#!#@!^$# running, but I've done that before. So it's all good, because it's all about the journey, right? RIGHT??

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Walk (Or Run) Unafraid

A good New Year's resolution:
(Note: This takes a few minutes to load. But so worth the wait!)
Additonal note: I had to take down the player because it is INCOMPATIBLE with Macs!! And it keeps crashing my powerbook every time I try to load my frightfully interesting blog to see how many hundreds have visited. So, enough already. But it's such a cool song, here's the link to the vid:

(Lyrics here)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Cuz I'm Bored? And Not Running? And Not Feeling Creative?

What kind of girl am I, you ask? A sick, simpering, whinging, whining one? Or:





Nerdy Girl






Athletic Tomboy


Popular Bitch


Preppy Girl


I'm a popular bitch?? Isn't that an oxymoron?
And goth?? Yeah, that is so me. Jeeze, just because I wear black all the time, I get typecast!

But Loser??? Now that one really hurts! Slut?? No COMMENT.

What type of girl are you?!!
created with

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Better Days...


I'm sick. Sore throat. Runny nose.

Except I absolutely REFUSE to be sick five days before Christmas. How am I supposed to sing Christmas carols at the top of my lungs in the car?? HOW??

To add insult to injury, my left ITB is acting up, I guess because it didn't get enough attention before. I am now relegated to the bike and the elliptical. And temps are forecasted to be in the 40s this weekend, right before they plunge to the 20s.

I am not a happy camper.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

When Do You Stop?

<begin rant>

I got a call from Number One Daughter yesterday at work. I was in the middle of proofing pages and pages of mind-numbing data, but stopped to talk because she sounded distraught.

NOD had just taken her astronomy final. She has to take a year of science, and she chose astronomy which pretty much equals physics, and has been struggling with it. But she studied her brains out for the final, and thought she aced it, so why was she upset?

Because she had signed up for the second semester of this class with the same professor, only to find out afterwards that he had switched times and wouldn't be teaching the section she signed up for, but another one which was already filled up.

So why was she upset? Because after struggling for the entire semester, she finally has this guy's teaching style down, understands him, and feels she can learn from him, rather than from the old retired guy who hasn't taught in a few centuries they had brought in to teach the session she'd signed up for.

So why was she upset? "You might love this guy more than the one you have," I said.

She talked. I listened. And got convinced that this request—to keep the same teacher—especially when the sign-up system is wrong and still has the wrong professor listed for the wrong times—didn't seem way out of line to me.

So, I called.

I never call. N-E-V-E-R. You're in college. You deal. I don't jump in and Fix Things.

But this time, I just thought, this is such a little thing, such a small request, such an honest request, a request that will make such a difference in the life of one struggling non-science science student. NOD had already been to the astronomy office to request a change, and got totally blown off. So she had tried, and failed.

She didn't ask me to, but I did. I called the chair of the department. Who told me he didn't understand what the problem was, after I explained it twice. I had to ask him "Which part are you having trouble with?" He said he was sorry my daughter was such a POOR STUDENT, and man, I was off. "Poor student?? WHO SAID SHE WAS A POOR STUDENT?? I just told you she had a hard time with this class and struggled through it, and just pulled off an 'A.'" Him: "She has to learn how to accept change. These kids play these games all the time. [????] You can't always get what you want. [Yes he actually said that.] We don't guarantee anything. Life is not fair. [Insert platitude here.]"

You know what? I know all that. I teach occasionally for a living. And you know what else? NOD has been dealing with change and "life is not fair" all her life. "Surely," I said to him, "surely you know, as do I, a fellow professor, that some kids do better with certain professors than others. Surely you are not telling me you do not know this? NOD does not really need to learn that life is unfair. She's pretty much had that lesson shoved down her throat since she was born. Can we save that lesson for another time?"

Round and round we went. He was on auto-pilot, I swear, reading from a script. Me: "Well, I'm sorry you cannot have a bit of compassion here and since you are having so much trouble understanding students, who do I talk to next?" He said, oh-so-maddeningly calmly, "Well, you should call the Dean," knowing full well the Dean will Stick to the Rules.

So I put a call into the Dean, who, funnily enough, was not "in" at 4:50 p.m. on a Friday. I left a message.

I know, I know. I should have let her work this out herself. I know, this is not a Big Important Problem. I know, if this is her worst problem, life is pretty good.

But sometimes, ya know, just once in a while, can we just break a Rule and respond to one student's need with Compassion? Please? Especially when you are a Catholic college? Charging a huge chunk of change?

No, I'm guessing not.

Life is unfair.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Nothin' But Fun

Last night was the annual Christmas Light Run (pictures will be posted there, some day, and i'm sure i'll figure prominently) where I met up with Nancy, Holly (it turns out Holly and I have run many times together, apart) and *Jeanne*. I drove down with Bex, who later, at the bar, was busy matchmaking (thanks!). Also my work colleagues A., and C., and A's wife, joined in the running frenzy.

Colleague C. with startlingly strange expression on face

It was a nice sized crowd. A few hundred crazy people. It was very cool. No, not cool. Freezing. No, below freezing. But funny, all of a sudden, after mile .5, it was blazing HOT.

We ran from the beautifully decked out Union Station

Union Station, Christmas 2005

past the Capitol Christmas Tree (oh just imagine it, don't make me go find a photo ... it looks like a ... great big Christmas tree, ok?)

down to the White House Christmas tree

Ellipse, 2005
where we stopped to be filmed by local TV station WUSA (channel 9), while we carolled, and I jostled for a place up front because I am apparently a sad pathetic publicity hound.

We ran past the National Museum of Art's skating rink

This is pretty much what it looked like. Honest. Remember, I was running at the time.

and startled many a poor pedestrian as a swarm of crazed, singing runners suddenly rounding corners descended upon them. No fatalities (that I know of) occurred. And 4.5 miles flew by. The thought of a lovely Irish coffee awaiting at Kelly's Irish Times was a nice carrot. (But "sorry, mum, no decaf," meant I was up til 1:30 a.m.; which is why I barely know my name today). Who knew running could be so darn much fun.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


By a. maria, who writes: "The directions are....."Write 5 random facts about yourself, and then list the names of 5 people whom you in turn infect. Also, leave a post to these people letting them know they have been infected".....

Such a taskmaster!! At first I thought they had to be five random SECRET facts about myself, but now I see that is not the case. However, since I've pondered this question for DAYS (ok, one day), I already have my facts, and yeah, they are secret, so keep 'em to yourself ok?

1. On Easter Sunday, 1997, my appendix burst. I was living in Richmond, Va., at the time, and was in D.C. visiting my boyfriend and his family. I went to church (stood through the whole boring thing while something in my abdomen was busy hurting like heck) and then went to Easter dinner at his parents house, drank wine, had dessert, all the while my appendix was busy bursting. I had to spend a week in D.C. recuperating. The thing is, I'm a girl and girls are so used to things hurting that we mostly ignore them. Until, oops! Ka-boom. Proving once again that girls are superior to boys.

2. On Christmas Day, 2002, I spent eight hours making an incredible (Jon, I hope you are reading this) "Chocolate Coffee Volcano Cake," hands-down the best cake I have ever made, that the evil Nigella Lawson called "infant-school easy" to make. (She did! Read it here!) It required the use of a blowtorch (I am not making this up).

(For some reason, men seem particularly drawn to Nigella. But I digress.)

The next day I landed in the hospital with what was the start of a several-year stint of back problems. Coincidence? I think not.

3. My ex-husband is blind. (Wait, that's about him, isn't it? Tough.) He's been blind from birth. Just so you know, and as my contribution to humanity, blind people do not have superior hearing or other heightened senses. And blind people can be stupid jerks, too, just like everyone else. Honest.

4. I was 5'8" and 150 pounds in sixth grade. This does not make for a happy time in elementary school.

5. I was painfully, painfully shy growing up (see #4). My eighth grade teacher told me that unless I spoke up in class, I would never get anywhere in life. That admonition "to speak up" in class kept me from opening my mouth in class for years. I still find it painful. Way to motivate!

Well, now, wasn't that fun?

I have to tag five other people? I believe Naomi banned memes from her site, due to some quite cogent points she raised about them. (However, if you've changed your mind, and feel like spilling your guts, have at it.) I hereby officially tag (whether they ever know it or not) 21st Century Mom; Holly; Kim; Plods; and Jack.


Sunday, December 11, 2005


The Jingle All the Way race is over and I, Jeanne, can now officially run 6.2 miles.

(What exactly was all that fuss and bother about earlier?? Beats me.)

I got there at 7 (for an 8 a.m. start). At 7, the temp was 24 degrees F (according to accuweather it felt like 21); by 8 a.m., the temp was 30, felt like 27, and I felt like it was 0. And by 9 a.m.? Who turned up the heat in this place??

Fifteen hundred people signed up; only 753 showed up (numbers are important, people, if you are OCD (no offense to those who really are OCD)).

But I know you are all on the edge of your seats, so here ya go:
Mile 1: 11:06 (yeah, perfect!)
Mile 2: 10:51 (yes! times are heading in the right direction!)
Mile 3: 11:01 (walked 10 sec. thru mile 2 water stop)
Mile 4: 10:41 (you go grrl!) late add: Yes, none other than 26.2 miles vs. Naomi again was there, delivering water and cheers! Since the world revolves around me me me, I forgot to mention this! Thanks, girlfriend!
Mile 5: 10:47 (hasta la vista!)
Mile 6: 11:46 (oopsie, little walking here)
.2: 2:08 ( and maybe a little walking here, too, until a kind spectator said "Come on, turn it on!" Not to me, but it got my ass in gear. So thanks, Mr. X!)

I ran most of the way with Mr. Rucksack, who was hatless, gloveless, wearing shorts and carrying a 50-pound rucksak, and could STILL talk. I told him he was a machine; he said we were all machines (I'm pretty sure that was a compliment).

Oh, and we all had jingle bells on our shoes. It was quite a lovely sound. And Haine's Point, which was once evil, is now lovely again.

Beautiful sunny day. Haine's Point is a flat peninsula in-between the Washington Channel and the Potomac River. So you are surrounded by water, wildlife, and silence, except for the sound of 1,400 jingle bells. Yes, flat. Very very flat.

Today's total: 1:08:22 (11:00/mile)
Which is pretty thrilling, because let's take a trip in the wayback machine, back, back, to:
July 16, 2005, 8k: 58:18 (11:43/mile)

I promise never ever ever to bitch and moan nonstop about not having a race strategy again (lie).

Dec. 11, 2005, Jingle All the Way 10k; members of my MCM 05 pace group; l-r: Jeanne; S.; A,; and unknown friend.

Washington Monument, Dec. 11, 2005, 7 a.m. God, I live in a beautiful city.

So I'm a happy gal.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ice, With a Cherry on Top

And they said it couldn't be done.

They were wrong.

Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005:

Mile 1: 9:58



(Plus, I probably walked about four seconds that first mile due to a patch of ice. But let's not quibble.)

Mile 2: 10:48 (big-ass hill, with ice at top. And me, walking across it. See, I'm the cherry. On the top of the ice. On the hill. And the cherry is also me breaking a 10-minute mile. For the first time. The whole metaphor is impossibly clever, huh?).

Mile 3: 10: 39 (same thing, in reverse).

Total: 31:26 (10:28/mile)

And that, my friends, is all she wrote. (Except for this postscript: I was only scheduled to run two miles today but FORCED myself to run three because of that thing coming up on Sunday. And, as I was running, I told myself that whenever I don't get enough sleep (like last night, for instance, or skip breakfast, like this morning, for instance), I am going to have a hard time running.)

So really? I need to shut up.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Capital Crescent Trail, 10 a.m., Dec. 6, 2005
(Photos courtesy Sevans)

This is what awaited me this morning (only it was solidly covered with fluffy snow at 7 a.m., overlaying deadly patches of ice).

I'm from Connecticut, via Boston. Over the years, I have learned to tune out completely whenever our local D.C. weatherpeople mention the word "snow," which I believe they use synonomously with "rain" or "really cold" or "cloudy" or "Safeway is having a sale. Go now and buy milk."

But this morning it actually happened. And it was my first chance to try running in the snow, with my nifty new SportHill InFuzion Zone Three Running Pants (for temps from 0 degrees F to 40 degrees F), and their cousin the jaunty Sporthill Infuzion Hat (color="wintersky"):

With my ZONE three pants and that cute little hat, I was looking good.

But wait, something was missing.

Ah, I needed coverage from waist to neck! So, I put on my LLBean "Silk Pointelle Camisole," topped with my long-sleeved dri-max spring/fall top, covered by an old ski turtleneck shirt, covered by ... by my totally GHETTO green/gray puke colored sweatshirt that my daughter FOUND somewhere.

A final touch? The $2 throwaway gloves I bought for the marathon (and cleverly saved).

Thus sartorially decked, I set out.

10 a.m., after much of the snow had melted.

I was toasty warm.

And ... it was bliss. Utter, utter bliss.

I ran the path in its virginal state, hearing nothing but the crunch of my shoes and my own labored breathing.

(Susan, you didn't tell us how when the wind blows, the snow flutters off the pine trees to the ground, causing a momentary whiteout. I held my head up and caught the snowflakes on my face.)

It was silent. And white. And lovely. And I ran my three miles slowly, and I didn't care.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Call Me Melllow Yellow

I ran five miles yesteray and only walked 3 1/2 minutes out of a total of 54 minutes.

So, I think I'm good.

Actually, I think I ROCK!

And p.s. ignore everything in the post below, because you all already answered me once and I am starting to um, get on people's last nerve?

It's all good people.

I am now mellow.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Five Easy Pieces

So, my big giant 10K is next sunday.

Last Sunday I ran 3.5 miles, in 36:17 (10:22/mile).

Today, Saturday (in my spanking new running tights!), I jumped up my training run to 5 miles, and here's how how I did it, and I want to know what you—yes, I mean YOU!— think I should do (strategy-wise) next Sunday and yes I so know I am making a HUGE deal out of a little race but that's because I'm obviously insane.

Mile 1: 10:20 (I was trying not to go fast at all, but it's all slightly downhill )
Mile 2: 10:26
Mile 3: 10:38
Mile 4: 11:08 (slightly uphill rest of the way)
Mile 5: walk 3:45—I tried to only walk for 30 seconds (that was Nancy Toby's suggestion (and congrats Nancy on the PR on your 1/2 marathon!!)—and I can safely say that I can forget the 30 second break as a strategy)
Rest of mile 5 (running again) 8:36
(so total was 12:21)

Total time: 54:56 (10:59/mile)

What do you think? I've NEVER run 6.2 miles in my life. And today was I think the second time I've ever run five miles! (The last time was last summer, once, in some kind of daze.)

Why must I always make such a big deal out of these things? I really wish I knew. But meanwhile, while I go get psychoanalyzed, one of you coaches out there, please help me out with a race day strategy!

There's Good, There's Bad

Bad: Yesterday, while I was minding my business at work, someone decided to take a baseball bat and smash my car window in, and that of my colleague. I got off lightly; just a broken window. Colleague had his luggage taken (he was leaving work early for a trip to Memphis, which is how he discovered the vandalism), his radio stolen, and two smashed-in windows.

But the cops got a print off my colleague's hazard-light button, which the vandals apparently turned on. Because they are not so bright. So, this could also be good.

Bad: Apparently, we should no longer park in the secret, free parking lot we park in, the scene of the crime. Which is infuriating because monthly parking is like $90.

Good: Glass man came by my apartment this morning to fix my window, and it only cost me $100. Of course, this may also end up under Bad when my insurance company (ALLSTATE? Please???) cancels me.

Bad: Which meant I had to miss "silent day" (yep, I'm all about silence) at church today, in exchange for mad day sitting around waiting for glass man.

Good: Glass man showed up on time.

Bad: Glass man could barely speak English, and was dressed for a warm summer day. It's 24 degrees F.

Bad: He had to work outside.

Bad: I was annoyed that he couldn't speak English. At first.

Good: I gave him a hat and gloves. He was very thankful.

Really good: He asked me where I was from. I said Connecticut. He said I sounded European. He said I sounded ... English. (This is high praise to an Anglophile. And obviously, not the least bit true.)

Bad: I asked him where he was from. He said, "Kurdistan." (That's northern Iraq.) Very recent immigrant. My heart broke.

Good: I have a working car window again.

Really, amazingly, incredibly GOOD: A friend of the family's wrote to Number One Daughter yesterday and told her he and his mother were giving her $5,000 toward her tuition. Just because. You have no freakin' idea on earth just how good this is.

There's Good, There's Bad. Wait long enough and one or the other will show up.

Friday, December 02, 2005


I thought I'd collect all your great suggestions and put 'em in one place. So here's the rundown for cold-weather running gear, from the RBF (unofficial, of course, and in no order):

One More Mile
National Running Center
Title Nine Sports (love their Frog Bra!)
L.L. Bean
Goldman Brothers
Running Unlimited
Sierra Trading Post
What Nancy Will Be Wearing This Winter!
RNJ Discount Sports (think this is Maryland only.)

**Late adds:
I came home from work to these two catalogs:
Athleta and
Activa Sports (I guess if you put an "a" on the end of the word, it means "for girls.")

TJ Maxx/Marshall's/Ross, for tops.
And it's apparently all about Target!!
Oh, and Sears, and J.C. Penny's!
And I found some stuff on Overstock.

So now? I'm overwhelmed. I hate and detest shopping.

But I'm so here for all of you!

(And p.s. I do realize there are real problems in the world, and this is not one of them.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I woke up this morning, after eight solid hours of sleep, with a headache and the f-bomb on my lips. It was dark, and I was already mad at the world. Dunno why. I could NOT talk myself out of it.

Drive to work. Change clothes. Still mad. Out to trail.

I hate this. I'm just gonna hurt myself. It's cold. Why couldn't I be happy just walking every morning? Look at those normal people, walking, and laughing, while I'm sweating my ass off over here. Of course, the trail is practically empty. It's cold. Normal people are eating a nice breakfast, reading the paper. Which you gave up, in order to run. Me, a journalist, gave up READING THE PAPER. Just brilliant.

I look like a bag lady in these ghetto clothes. I have to buy some cool running clothes!! Have to! Except I hate running, so I shouldn't spend the money. Plus, I suck at this.

Whatever you do, do NOT look at your watch!! Don't do it!! You'll just get depressed.

OK, one mile down.

Try thinking of the nice warm shower you are going to take after this. It's only three miles! and one of them is downhill! You're almost there. God, why didn't I take up biking! Look at those guys coasting by. Bastards. I hate everyone. Yeah, nice warm shower. Except the locker room is like 15 degrees. So hot shower, then you freeze to death. More brillance.

Oh, now I'm running past the autobody shop. God, the fumes! Those people are RUINING the environment! I hate that place! I hate cars. Look at all those trucks pulling out onto the road, carrying vats of tar on the back so they can build more roads and ruin the planet some more. Did you read that article about ashphalt and runoff and the contamination of the Cheasapeake Bay? Yeah, it all starts right here. I am going to DIE from these fumes.

Oh great. Now I smell McDonald's. I'm like a mile away from here, and all I can smell is the grease. It's disgusting. It smells rancid. I hate everyone and everything.

Try composing that memo you have to write. You've got the first line ... s**t!!! I can't remember that opening line. And it was really, really good. That's just great.

Ok, you are so almost done. Only a half mile. Look, you are actually passsing someone. I don't want to feel good about that. That poor woman. That was you, like last week!! I don't want to feel good about passing her! She is doing her best, god bless her.

OK you passed her.

Only 1/2 mile left. No problem. I hate this part. I hate this sport! This is a piece of cake. You are so almost done. God, this is taking forever. Oh man, do I have to smell rancid McDonald's again?

Look, a runner smiled at you. You're almost there. Pour it on and get this the hell over with.

Finally. Finished. Ok, now you can check your watch.

10:18 Total 30:56 Average: 10:18/mile

Wait. That cannot possibly be right. But it is.

Tee, hee. That's amazing. Really. Maybe being mad makes you go faster.

OK, maybe—just maybe!— you can run three miles, but there is NO WAY you can run TWICE that. That is so not gonna happen. I am hot. And now I am cold. Now I have to stretch ... I hate stretching ....


Feel sorry for my colleagues today.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Alright Already

I did it. Not quite as daunting as Wil's finger hovering over the Ironman entry, but still daunting. To me.

(Jingle Bell Run, at evil Hain's point.)

(Oooh, and look at all the free crap and discounts I get!)

This message is generated as confirmation of your recent registration on You have been successfully registered for the following:

Registration: Acumen Solutions Jingle All the Way 10K
Purchase Date: 11/30/05
Category: 10K
Name: Jeanne McCann

So, now, I need you all to put your heads together and tell me what my race strategy should be. (Let the whining begin!) My primary goal is 1) to finish, and 2) to not run out of steam, and 3) Not to walk. (OK, that is three goals.)

So, do I run til I can't, and then walk? Do I plan to run/walk on some kind of schedule? (I don't wanna walk!) (No offense Nancy!!)) I won't have run farther than four miles by Dec. 11.

And don't tell me that if I can do four I can do two more! (OK, actually, yes, please, do tell me that.)

Should I slow down to 11:something minute miles for the first 3 miles, then try to pick it up?

This is worse than planning for the marathon.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Take Out Your Calculators

The 10K I'm scheduled to run is on Dec. 11.

The schedule I'm following to get me there is an eight-week one.

I just started week four. Once more proving that higher math skills elude me.

My question: Should I still do this 10K? Should I (and CAN I) just treat it as a training run, even though it's in two weeks and there is NO WAY on GOD'S GREEN EARTH that I will be ready? Because I can just see me trying to run the 6.whatever miles, having to walk, and then feeling like a failure. The farthest I've run (well, not counting the marathon) (yes, I'm linking to it whenever it's mentioned; what of it??) is 3.5 miles (post-marathon). I'm supposed to run four this weekend. (Well, I was supposed to run four last weekend. Had a little snafu with the whole mileage thing.) And then the race is next weekend. And my whole pace group signed up for this race, specifically because I CONVINCED them to!! So how, how can I back out now??

Woe, woe is me.

What do you all think??

And while I have your attention (in my fantasy world anyway), let me brag about this morning's three miles, because it makes me soooo happy! And I have no idea why I seem to be getting faster. None, nada, rien. (In fact, because I just wrote those words—that I am getting faster—now I'll get slower. That's how this jinx thing works, just so you know.)

Mile 1: 10:40
Mile 2: 10:39
Mile 3: 10:25
Average: 10:35 min/mile

It's so exciting to get better. I have still yet to feel like "oh, I could do this for a few more miles." Or even for a half a block more. But I guess that will come. Mostly I am still in the "Hang on, you're almost done" phase. Patience, missy. I haven't even been running for a year yet.


Parents: Thanks to everyone who asked about my vague reference to an ill parent. It's my mom, she's 83, has about a thousand problems, and was hospitalized last week, let out for Thanksgiving afternoon, then back to the ER on Friday with more problems. Not the least of her problems is that she is totally DEAF, along with her husband, but both of them refuse to admit that possibility, so I pretty much spent Thanksgiving weekend SCREAMING MY HEAD off, so that I could be heard. I literally had a sore throat at the end of the weekend. Watching them talk to each other is kind of amusing (well, it would be if the situation were not so dire): Q: "What did you say?" A: "What?" Q: "Say that again?" A: "What did you say?" ARGHHHHH!

Anyway, mom and I have not had the easiest of relationships; suffice it to say, I did yet another very hard thing by being with her over the holidays, which included sitting in the ER next to her bed for the entire day on Friday, because her husband went AWOL (don't get me started), before she was discharged with 57 medicines, all to be taken at different times of the day. Talk about needing your calculator. My biggest accomplishment, besides just being there, (which believe me, was huge), was telling every single person who came in contact with her that she is DEAF. Hearing aids should so be required.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Yes I Said Yes I Will Yes*

This morning's 6 a.m. run (note: it's SUNDAY, proving, once more, what a martyr I am at heart):

Mile 1: 10:11
Mile 2: 10:42
Mile 3: 10:14
Mile .5 5:22

(Today was supposed to be 4 miles, except (why, oh why is there always an "except?") I screwed up the mile markers. Whatever.)

I know I said I was throwing the watch out. I lied.

These are my fastest times ever ever ever.

I think one of my many idiosyncrasies is that I—like one of Pavlov's dogs—am totally conditioned to running the same route. And if I deviate, by say, doing something crazy like trying to run in West Virginia, or at some monastery on the Hudson River, well, my body apparently just can't deal.

So, the schizophrenic happy/mad running ride continues!! Y'all come back now.

*Joyce, James. Ulysses

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Picture this: Speeding pick-up trucks. Two-lane highway. Temp.: 30 degrees. Headwinds: No matter which way I turned. Dueling banjos. (Practically. I could practically hear them.)

Well, here's a close approximation of what running two itty bitty little miles on Route 219 in West Virginia could look like (cuz this is actually the scenic view of 219):

And here is the sad, sorry result of trying to run two miles on it on Thanksgiving Day:
Mile 1: 11:09
Mile 2: run: 7:18
walk: 1:34
run: 2:30

And I absolutely refuse to whine about it. All I will say is: I just ran out of breath and out of steam. I seem to run out of steam a lot. It's infuriating.

Tomorrow is 4 miles, and I am throwing out the watch (well, not literally). Because, you know what? JEANNE, PAY ATTENTION, BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT:
"Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow."
- Aristotle

and while you are at it, READ THIS ONE, TOO, GIRLFRIEND:
"If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul."
- Rabbi Harold Kushner

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Yeah, I need something presentable, dri-maxable, (and can it please look chic?) to wear when it's cold. The old cotton knit pants with the hole in the crotch and the ancient marine corps sweatshirt that we found somewhere (cool, huh?) are just not gonna cut it. And we've already been over wearing the long silk underwear ... but that was in a place where no one knew me. Cannot dress like a total freak at home.

What I'm saying here: I need some help! What do I wear? And it's not even really cold yet, but I can already tell I will want to die before I get on that treadmill; I can so see myself running in the snow! Can't wait! (Really, I'm psyched about that.) So, please, I need some cheap, good-looking gear, but don't know where to start. Send me suggestions, (extra points awarded if you include urls and product id's).

Yesterday's alarming (alarmingly good!) statistics:
2.5 miles:

Mile One: 10:56
Mile .5: 4.44 (unlikely that was actually .5, but whatever.)
Mile Two: (This is the exciting part, because this was exactly one mile and I didn't even have to kill myself:) 10:36!!!!!!

I so rock.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I'll be in West Virginia, visiting a very sick parent.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Not a Thing to Do With Running

Bex and I went to see Ira Glass, host of "This American Life," live, Saturday night. If you haven't listened to this show yet, stop what you are doing, and go—now!

It's a hard show to explain, as the Web site itself acknowledges:
One of the problems with our show from the start has been that whenever we try to describe it in a sentence or two, it sounds awful. For instance: Each week we choose a theme and put together different kinds of stories on that theme. That doesn't sound like something we'd want to listen to on the radio, and it's our show. In the early days of the program, in frustration, we'd sometimes tell public radio program directors that it's basically just like Car Talk. Except just one guy hosting. And no cars.

Start with "My Big Break."

If you like stories about real people who have things happen to them, you'll really like this show.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Kindness of Strangers

A nice thing happened Thursday on my two-mile run. I started at my usual place, and plodding pace, 6:45 a.m.-ish, and as I was struggling to get into my grooove (do I even have a groove?), a young gentleman was running toward me, (in the other lane), um, kinda fast. Like 6-min. mile pace fast. I smiled at him, because I am trying to get in the habit of smiling (in lieu of my usual concentrated scowling while running), and people, do you know what this fast young male did? He gave me the thumbs up, and then he said "good job!"

It made my day.

I just finished my 3.5 mile long run:
Except I'm calling it 3.6 miles because there was no 1/2 mile marker where I was and because here are the numbers:
Mile One: 10:59 (slight downhill)
Mile Two: 11:18 (big-ass up and then downhilll)
Mile Three: 11:03 (slight uphill, big-ass uphill then downhill, then slight uphill--ya gettin' all this??)
Mile .5 or .6: 5:42 (guessing mileage, based on time)

So it was either a 10.50 min pace if I went 3.6 miles or 11:09 min. pace if I went 3.5 miles. Like it matters. (Sigh. It does seem to matter.) Just for comparison, I went back and looked at my log for July 20, 2005, and found this: 4 miles
46:40 (11:40/mile). Some progress has been made.

But, that's not all! Because last night, I went to a rockin' out party with my pace group (remember them?). We had a potluck reunion at the home of one of our members. I didn't know what to expect: we hadn't all seen each other since the marathon, and I don't believe we'd ever seen each other dressed, showered, and all purtied up. It was awesome. We had a great dinner, in front of a roaring fire, shared all our photos, and marathon day stories, and reminiscences of training, and then everyone went around and told their story of why they decided to do a marathon. I told them mine, plus talked about the day of my emancipation from the running partner who had become a thorn in my side. They cheered.

But, that's not all! Our host had the most amazing gadget, called a magic mike, which turns your TV into a karaoke machine. Oh god, I thought, not karaoke! That's so last year. Four hours, several glasses of wine, and a sore throat later, I am so in love with that crazy game! We laughed our asses off—seeing our pace group leader sing "Cheeseburger in Paradise" or our hostess and host sing "I'm a Libbyan on a Jet Plane" or me doing bad harmony on "California Dreamin.'" Are you bad at parties? This thing is guaranteed to turn your party into the success you always dreamed of!

So, I got home at 2 a.m. which, if you know me, is waaaaay past my bedtime. I had not laughed so hard in 20 years, (and I laugh a lot).

And then, um, it was morning. And 3.5 miles awaited, after which I had an appointment at 11. Well, the 3.5 miles wasn't happening. My head was foggy. My throat still sore. But french toast? That was so happening. A lovely morning of french toast, then off to my appointment (which I may or may not share about--but it was good), then finally to work at 1:30, which was now the Time to Decide Whether to Run or Not Run.

The Key of course, is not thinking, as it is in so much of life. At work, I just let brain take over. Change clothes, grab keycard, and out I went. Sunny, fall, crisp, gorgeous day. And week #2 of training for my 10K is finís.

Friday, November 18, 2005


So apparently I missed the whole "don't run for six hundred days after a marathon" memo.

And, as you all know, I am in training for my first 10K (which I have yet to sign up for, but still.)

So, yesterday, I ran two miles —without my knee brace. (Get the title now? Naked.) Yes, tempting fate, but it was an accident. I was in a hurry, and after changing into full running regalia at work (no, no long silk underwear this time) in the wee hours, I walked to the trail that runs behind our building before I realized that I was braceless. But, I was too lazy walk the 20 steps back into the building to retreive it.

And, because I was slightly curious about what would happen if I ran without it. Because being scared all the time is just exhausting.

So what happened was:
Mile 1: 10:42 (slight downhill)
Mile 2: 10:54 (slight uphill)

I felt some slight twinges, but nothing bad. And, I didn't even push it and came in under 11 minutes! These are exciting times, my friends!! Under 11 minutes!! whooo-de-hooo!! Saturday is my "long run": 3.5 miles. And yes, I'm as nervous as a ... novice bell ringer making her debut on Sunday morning with the youth orchestra in front of a packed church. Yeah.

I have also jumped on the weight-loss bandwagon (all the
cool kids are doing it) with a simple trick I picked up at the monastery: dessert only on Sundays and holidays. After dinner, dessert is now 57 cups of decaf tea (Twinings, English Breakfast). Which I drink while taking my online Project Management class, which, I have to say, is literally? The single most horrifyingly boring class I have ever taken. But which every other person in my virtual class seems to love. I literally have to restrain myself from making snarky comments (well, from posting them , believe me, I'm making them alright), although I did post a question the other night asking if watching the 1,000 hours of videotaped lectures was really recommended, since the lecturer is reading verbatim from the powerpoint slides. Verbatim. And one of my classmates replied with: "I love the lectures." Alrighty then. (Work is paying for this class, and yes, I will learn something, so I am putting up with it. Besides, it takes my mind off the cookies I am not eating.)

But back to running. If I lose 10 pounds, I will become faster, and I won't be as likely to be injured. Or re-injured. This is my version of reality, so don't mess with it. My weight loss "program" is simple, mindless, and designed specifically to prevent an over-focus on food, eating, and all related subjects. So, this is probably the last time I'll post, or even talk, about it. Otherwise, the weight obsession kicks in.

In still other fascinating news, I have switched from the elliptical to the recumbent bike to work on those quads. And I'm still stretching.

No wonder I had to give up TV. Running is a freakin' full time job.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Real World

Monks lead very busy lives.

6 a.m.: Matins
Noon: Diurnum
5 p.m.: Vespers
7:40 p.m.: Compline

In between those services, they are busy making delicious meals (the other CIA (Culinary Institute of America) is right across the river; apparently one of the monks is an escapee from there); working in their garden; or making incense (which is how they make their living).

There are worse ways to live.

So that was my schedule for Saturday and Sunday, plus attending a talk by our retreat leader (if you wished).

I'll tell you: it was hard getting any running in with all that going on. So here's what I did: I woke up at 5:15 a.m. on Saturday (it's really dark out at 5:15, just FYI). I believe the temperature was oh, around 5 degrees. Maybe. Did I have running tights with me? I did not. Do I own running tights? I do not. I did, however, bring long white, silk underwear with me since I heard it might be chilly. So I put those on, with my royal blue running shorts over them, added a dri-max t-shirt, topped with a dri-max (white) turtleneck, plus green gloves and a lovely plaid scarf ... I looked like ... a freak? Whatever. Turns out not all that many people are up at 5:30 a.m. Except the monks, and they were busy.

So, I trotted up the monastery driveway to the main highway in West Park, New York, and decided to run for just 45 minutes (the schedule called for a 3-mile run, but I had no way to tell miles).

It's amazing how running, combined with utter terror of pitch blackness, which was only occasionally lifted by the lights of giant 18-wheelers flying past about 10 inches from your nose, along with the fear of the bears that probably lived in the woods aligning both sides of the road ... well, it's amazing how all of that can combine to kinda warm you up, real fast. My heart was pounding before I even put one foot in front of the other.

Once the sun came up, it wasn't so bad:

And in fact, it was fantastic.

As was being silent. Except for the fact that the older woman I drove up with kept hunting me down throughout the weekend to tell me such things as where I could hang my coat (on the coat hanger), or ask me if I'd seen the dog (I had), or try to tell me about last year's retreat. It got to the point that I started ducking her. I guess she was lonely; but damnit, I was there for silence! And, please tell me, why would you go to a silent retreat, and bring your laptop, like one guy did? WHY??

The monks belong to an initiative called "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (caution: a bell will ring), in which religious organizations toll their bells whenever there is a public execution. On Friday night, they told us about this organization, and said there had been an execution that day (I think in North Carolina), and then they tolled their bells for the prisoner, the executioner , and the victim(s). That was very cool.

It was odd walking past people, nodding to them, but not talking. Or sitting through meals, and not talking. Odd, but very freeing, because? No b.s. allowed. No stress of making small talk with strangers. (Am I anti-social?? hmmm.) At lunch, one of the monks reads aloud; they were in the middle of a Bill Bryson book. Meals were taken in a room overlooking the Hudson River.

Like I said: there are worse ways to live.

So, yeah, running:

I am following Hal Higdon's novice 0-10k plan, trying to teach myself how to run. Yeah, yeah, it's kinda funny, ha ha. Just ran a marathon, now I have to learn how to run 2.5 miles. Legs like lead, huffing and puffing. Tell me please, if I stay with this, will it get any easier?? I know it's not supposed to be easy, but easier?

This morning: 2.5 miles (that's what the schedule said!) in 26:47 minutes.

I will give me this; I'm persistent.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Quiet Down!

I so used to make fun of this woman*, and now I have to take it all back because she keeps sending me these amazingly timely and provocative posts! Stop it, damn you! Go back to e-mailing me shallow, simple, and superficial quotes.

"There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results."
- Art Turock


Today I started my (OK, Hal Higdon's) 0-10K eight-week training program, for novices. I am starting all over again, and I'm going to learn how to run.

This morning was my first foray out onto the trail; gorgeous, chilly, leaves falling, sun shining!! I noticed as I walked up the stairs to the trail that my right leg hurt. And it continued to hurt, throughout the run, causing me to limp.

Mile 1: 11:33
Mile .5: 5.09
Mile 2: 11:32
Total: 28:15

When I got back, I stretched my head (legs) off. Then talked to one of the office's resident jocks, who asked some pointed questions like, how could I run a marathon a week ago, with no leg pain, and then today, I had pain? His diagnosis? "You obviously need a mediator between your head and your leg." He said all this while pointing to his head. And smiling. A kind, benevolent smile. In other words? I'm mental.

Who am I to disagree? My leg started hurting while I was still just thinking about running. And it's been fine all week. Until today. When I decided to run.

In other news ... I'm off to the Big Apple for a conference for two days. I am loaded down with a laptop, but alas, it's for an online class I am taking and am already behind in. So no fun in the city for this gal. And as soon as I get back, I'm off here for the weekend

Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY

for a three-day silent retreat (no snickering; I can too be quiet!). This is my reward for running 26.2 miles. It's in Lara's neck of the woods, (Lara, I'll be kaizen-ing my brain out!) but not exactly. Still, on the Hudson River! In fall! Those monks really know how to live. I plan a few hikes but no running.

So I'll be quiet for a few days, much to everyone's relief.

*Kristin Coach

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Quit Yer Whinin'

Happy, excited pace group, BM (Before Marathon); l-r: Andrea, Maurice, Gwen, Claudia, Sarah, PGL Coleen, Wendy, Amy, Me, Melissa

Entering Rock Creek Park, spirits high! Around mile 6.

Me and the man. What can I say, I'm a sucker for celebrities. Obviously, I'm feeling pretty great here at mile 9ish, just past the Kennedy Center.

Along the National Mall, mile 11... whoo-hee!! Marathon? What marathon? (Photo, courtesy, S.)

My two saviors—Bex and Naomi—at my side. I think this is the ramp to the 14th street bridge (Mile 20) but I'm not sure I was actually there at the time this was taken. (Photo, courtesy S.)

(more to come...)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Morning After

Let's start by griping: First, how is it possible that a $19 oil change turns into $227??? Do these people see me coming, or what??

Second: Thanks for all your amazing, funny, uplifting, encouraging, warm-hearted comments. Really. Just awesome.

Third: Life. Does. Not. Change. After. A. Marathon. (See point first above.) After-marathon, I can safely say that I am no wiser*, no braver, not more organized, nor neater, thinner, or richer, than I was pre-marathon. And yes, I did suffer from thinking that some of these delusions might come to pass.


I am still me. And, still pondering the marathon and what it Meant.

I am proud, yes, but I'm also ... perplexed? annoyed? disappointed? embarassed? It's just the truth, that's how I feel. Right now.

I'm mad that I let myself get dehydrated. I'm mad that I didn't enjoy it more (though I enjoyed a whole lot of it). I'm mad that I didn't push myself to do more running and less walking. I'm mad that I didn't finish strong. I'm not talking about pushing myself to a five-hour finish, just a reasonable six-hour one. That was a totally do-able goal, and I'm not sure why it didn't happen, and yes, I know it really doesn't matter, I did an amazing thing. Still.

I've been ruminating about the whole run/walk training method. Five weeks ago, I thought it was just the most brilliant idea since high-def TV. Now, I'm not so sure (and I am talking solely about what's right for me, here). Yes, run/walk did allow me to finish. But I don't think I ever really learned to run. (Oh, just lent me vent, here, ok?!!)

So, if my body cooperates, I think that will be my next goal: to learn to run.

Even as I write this, I don't want to dis run/walk. It gave me an incredible experience: the training.

And I think that that's my main complaint, if I'm allowed to have one: the training was more exhilerating than the marathon was. And I'm really missing it.

So, as soon as I learn how to dress for running in the cold (suggestions welcome!) I'm going to follow this training plan that promises to get me ready to run a 10K.

*On second thought, I am actually a bit wiser. Here's what the marathon taught me, really: An amazing amount of people really care about me. And that is one mother of a humbling thought.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Real Recap: Part Two

Let's fast forward to the race.

Meet pace group at 7 a.m. at Metro stop. Marathon is starting in two waves: first wave at 8:15, second at 8:45. It's chilly. We take a short walk to the Pentagon, where there are seven zillion people milling around. Denise Austin (of exercise video fame) is supposed to do a warm up with us. No sign of her. I am the only one in my group with a bag to store, so everyone unloads their junk into my bag, which goes into one of 30 or so UPS trucks. (P.S. This was not such a good idea for after the race. When I couldn't find anyone from my group, and thus had to carry the bag. Which I ended up not carrying. But still.) We all decide on a 2:2 ratio to begin with (run two minutes/walk two minutes) but also decide everyone has to run their own race, so no worries if we break away from each other.

Use the portapotties (there are several million of these, so no waiting!). This is one organized race. The crowd swells and moves as one up a hill, walking along some highway, all of us wondering what the hell is happening.

Oh. We're starting.

Mile 1: 14:39 Groovy. Right on track.

Mile 2: 13:41 Nice! Except

Mile 3: 2:14---hello?? Jeanne has screwed up watch again.

Mile 2 redux: Probably 15:51 So this was the big-ass hill. It actually wasn't so bad. What was bad was watching the guy in the wheelchair try to negotiate it backwards. Then forwards. It took everything I had to not help him.

Mile 3: 13:27 Turning down Spout Run Parkway, a connector to the GW Parkway. This, this is what I live for, what I love!! It's a beautiful morning, people have already been cheering us along all the way, and now we're on this glorious tree-line parkway overlooking the Potomac. It was exhilerating! Our pace group was still kind of together at this point. We take turns making fun of the guys jumping off into the woods to do, um, something.

Mile 4: 13:21 I turn to cross Key Bridge into the District and there are my friends, R & K, jumping and screaming my name! I run over to hug them, telling them "Because I just hugged you, now I'll probably lose the race." Har-de-har-har. What a card! I remember (is it Dianna's advice?) to smile for every camera, so at the first video camera I'm sprinting and smiling my head off. I do this throughout the race, no matter how I feel. I am now running with W., and all is well.

Mile 5: 13:35 Right on pace! There's a high school band playing at the end of the bridge. I start singing along to "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" because? It would be so cool if they were playing that. Which they are not. Running down M Street in Georgetown, I see Noames and a friend, all decked out like ... well like some Halloween something. I can't stop again, we're getting ready to run downhill to the waterfront. I scream something to Naomi like "26.2 blah blah blah!"

Mile 6: 20 seconds. Stupid #!@$ watch!!!

Mile 6: 13:34 This is a loop around by the Watergate and up through Rock Creek Park. Familiar tramping grounds, and the beautiful park. So far, there have been hundreds and hundreds of people cheering us, and marching bands playing, and Marines lined up offering water and gatorade, and it's all been extremely humbling.

Mile 7: 20:26 We're still sort of running as a group, so for the first—and last—time ever, we all stop together for a potty break. Which turned out to be stupid, because we all ended up splitting up later. But even though it was stupid, it was still nice.

Mile 8: 12:43 Woo-hoo, we are doing fantastic!! We're right on schedule for a six-hour finish. Very very conservative. I am of course thinking about our pretend marathon, four weeks earlier, when I finished with energy to spare. Secretly I am hoping for 5:50, dare I think 5:45?? We are now looping back now out of Rock Creek Park. Someone spots buses behind us. "Are those the sweeper buses?" Meaning, are those are the buses that will throw out their tendrils and sweep you off the course if you are not at mile 20 by 1:45 p.m.? I say no, of course not! But I notice there are not so many people behind us now. Now, it's just me and W. running together. The rest of the group has gone ahead. My friends R. and K. appear again, and I practically knock K. over giving her a hug as she's trying to take my picture. I have so much energy!!

Mile 9: 13:01: Now we're really on home territory! We pass the Kennedy Center, right on our regular training route. I stop to have my photo taken with Austin Powers. No, really.

Mile 10: 14:37 Running up Constitution Ave., past the White House, the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian. It all feels normal! Except we're running in the street and the crowds are fantastic! W. is hanging with me. I notice I am having a bit of trouble keeping up with her.

Mile 11: 13:41 My friend S. is here, with a sports drink for me! She has a big poster and she's waving it like crazy! S. has bad feet and I feel sorry for her having to stand there and wait for me! I can't stop though, (yeah, like that would make a big difference!) but I'm thrilled to see her.

Mile 12: 14:34 Hmm. slowing down a bit. Looping in front of the Capitol Building, again, this is home territory. Any other training run we'd be on our way home by now. This thought does not encourage me.

Mile 13: 14:08 I see my friend A. from work and he runs with me for a few feet, tells me I'm looking good! I tell him, as though this has just occured to me, that I am, in fact, dying. A bit further along I see my friend S. is there again, this time with W., also screaming and yelling! I think I hugged them. Can't remember. This was near where the Falun Gong (sp?) were cheering for us. I do remember saying to W. "Isn't that the group that blew up a subway train in Japan?" Whatever, they were cheering us!

Mile 14: 13:27 Not quite sure where we are. Somewhere around some memorials. Yeah.

Mile 15: 32:30? Yep, Jeanne and the watch again. I'm guessing this is really miles 15 and 16. Still run/walking with W. We talk a little about LOST, which she has watched in preparation for today. I'm trying not to pay attention to mileage. Oh, but at mile 15, there's Naomi again!! Sans friend, sans bike! She jumps in, with her backpack on, and long pants, and starts running with me and W. "For a little bit," she says. She tells us about a Halloween party she went to the night before dressed as a geisha instead of as Punky Brewster, which someone suggested, because no one would get Punky Brewster, she would just look like Naomi with pigtails. So she wore a bathrobe and ate a lot of chocolate (see, I was listening! I just couldn't talk!). So here she is running with a stomach full of chocolate, on a warm day, with a backpack and long pants.

Mile 17:15:00 Haine's Point. Remember beautiful Haine's point, with that great statue of the awakening? I now hate and detest Haine's point. It's endless. There are no crowds. There are Marines, lovely Marines, but no crowds. There is no end to this Point, is there? Somewhere between mile 17 and 18, I notice Naomi and W. are running ahead of me, and I cannot keep up. Hmm. I stop for water, and notice that the ground is moving and swirling beneath me. That can't be a good sign. Am I over-hydrated? Under-hydrated?? All those warnings have me so confused!! But I feel like I've been drinking as much as I usually do, and gu-ing it up too.

Mile 18: 15:46 Still on this damn $#!^!#@ peninsula!! Will it never end?? A guy rides his bike by, blasting Motown for us. That's kind of fun. Our coaches are here, telling us that we "really have to pick it up now because we have to make the bridge by 1:45." I say a bad word. I so don't want to know about time. I am waiting for my second wind.

Mile 19: 14: 56 S***, I am having trouble even walking. I haven't bonked, haven't hit the "wall," and nothing hurts, thank God! Well, my feet ache, but my ITB is A-OK! I just have zero energy. Like a car just running out of gas. Naomi is still hanging in, long pants and backpack, and I am definitely holding this little trio back. Which is really making me mad, because right now is when I'm supposed to get my burst of energy and surprise everyone by passing them. Just like in the pretend marathon. We're almost at the bridge, going underneath it, when I hear my name screamed from up above! It's M. and M. from our pace group, cheering us on!! awwwww.

Mile 20: 14:22 Finally!! There's an enormous crowd here practically willing us onto the ramp up to the bridge. It's a steep ramp but I manage it. My friend A. is there again, runs with me for a few feet and tells me I'm still "looking good." He later tells me this was a lie, that he was worried because it took me so long to get there, and I didn't look so great. Still, it was a good lie!! Up the ramp, and there are my friends S. and W., again!! S., with the bad feet, has somehow gotten from mile 13 to mile 20. God bless her!! She's taking photos and screaming and yelling! Plus, there's Bex!! She jumps in and now it's me and Bex and Naomi and W. all running together. We finally make it up the freakin' ramp. We are now on the 14th Street bridge. I think we are home free. But no. You have to actually get across the bridge by 1:45. We can see the cops holding back the traffic. Oh, I bet those people are in a good mood!

Yep, it's gone. Whatever I had left is gone. This bridge is endless. Later, at work, my pal R. describes it this way: "And yes, the 14th Street bridge looks much different when you hit it running after 15 miles. It feels like an asphalt Pike's Peak in the desert. Totally sucks."

That? Is an understatement. It is hot. It is concrete. There are no trees and no cheering people. Somehow, we have lost W. She is behind, which is impossible since I am going slower than she is. I take a few extra walk breaks. Naomi and Bex are now cajoling me and regaling me with stories to get me across this freakin' bridge. I say mean things to them. I have slightly lost my mind. I recall telling Naomi (who is trying to HELP me) to shut up, after she tells me that I have more in me than I know. But I am polite enough to add, "But I mean that in the nicest possible way." And I remember her words often. They take my hands during my walk breaks and help help me count strides of 10 to keep me going. Oh, they are awesome. How I abuse them.

Mile 21: 17:43 Over the bridge at last. I remember something about cookies being given out, and I am so mad that I can't eat a free cookie!! I now seriously have no idea where I am. We are in Crystal City, Virginia. But I have to ask my honor guard (Naomi and Bex). Bex warns me that she's going to try to push me to go faster at mile 24. I think I may have said a mean thing here.

Mile 22: 15:09 Well, these girls must be doing something right! I refuse to let myself think that the end is near, because it is so not near. Even though I know I can run 4 miles standing on my head!

Mile 23: 15:27 More of the same. Bex is now trying to get me to pour it on, but I tell her there's nothing left. I think of everything I've learned over the months, but it's not happening. I'm afraid if I go faster, I will end up crawling. Or collapsing. I'm just afraid again.

Mile 24: 29:36? Yeah, this is miles 24 and 25. During which I summon the strength to give a lecture to my entourage about how beginners should just NOT be running marathons, and the people on the coolrunning boards were right, and how I should have started with a 5K and then a 10K, and how no one should be running a marathon without having been running for at least a year first. Amazing what the mind can summon forth, isn't it?

Mile 26: 16:07 I am still run/walking and no amount of begging from Bex can get me to keep running.

Mile .2: 6:00 Mile .2 starts with a hill. Up a ramp. Where all my friends are now screaming at me to run run run. R. is there and she tells me if I don't run up this ramp I will be disqualified (liar) which makes me laugh, but at the same time, makes me scared, so I run. I think I run all the way up the ramp, which then turns into the chute, which looks like it lasts another 26.2 miles and I so want to cry. Bex is running alongside me now, I don't know what happened to Naomi, and i can't remember if I am still run/walking or just running. Bex is screaming at me not to let me beat her, and finally, finally, FINALLY, I turn it on just a little bit and sprint 20 feet over the finish line.

6:30:40. Which fact I don't know til Naomi checks for me later.

Where 20 Marines high-five me, someone grabs me and says something about the AIDS marathon tent, and another Marine solemnly puts the medal over my head, as though I just won this race, and I kiss him like he's going off to war. I can't let go of him, I just say "Thank you, thank you, thank you" over and over again. But I'm thanking everyone, really, they just can't hear me.

The Marine hugs me tight, then kneels in front of me to take off my timing chip. I almost cry, but I don't. It's all so big and humbling at the same time.

I mill around in a daze. I'm not sure what to do. Then all my friends are there, hugging and cheering me.

There's more to this story yet.

Let's Recap This Bad Boy! Part One

Not sure where to start. Do I start the day before marathon? Or back in April, when training started? Or four years ago, when I was bouncing from doctor to doctor, considering back surgery, and barely able to walk 20 feet? (Warning: This is so not short.)

The Backstory
(Get it? "Back story?") Yeah, that last one. After a few bouts in the hospital, and being unable to stand to brush my teeth because it hurt so much (standing, not brushing), I finally went to an orthopedic surgeon, who told me I have "degenerative disc disease," with four discs seriously just gone. But guess what, everyone has degenerative disc disease. You have it. Your kids have it. That doc put me through some painful diagnostic procedures, then recommended surgery, but he couldn't definitely tell me exactly what was causing so much pain. I went for a second opinion, and that doc recommended I see two other doctors, etc. etc. I finally ended up being treated with meds by a neurologist; I don't do well on medicine (read=lots of barfing), so I literally have a bagful of drugs from her, which I could probably make a pretty penny off of, were I that kind of girl. Which I'm not. But, I kept that bag o' drugs, just to remind myself. I also tried chiropractic and accupuncture. I was walking with a cane most of the time. Sitting hurt. Standing hurt. Laying down hurt.

After two years or so of this, I read an article about back pain that mentioned a local gym specializing in exercise for people with back pain and other disabilities, so I signed up and went three times a week for a year, doing lots of strengthening exercises, and paying out of pocket. It was there that I first confided my dream of one day running a marathon to my trainer, who said, "I don't think that's very likely. Running," she continued, "is just not good for your back. Or for anybody's."

Of course she was right!! What a nut I am! I went to that gym for one year, until August 2004. I saw some improvement, but was still in pain. After I left that gym, I started using the elliptical machine at work four times a week. Religiously. And gradually I saw improvement. I could sit, lay down, and walk without searing pain. Not perfect, but liveable.

My good friend R. had been forever telling me about Galloway's walk/run method and the AIDS Marathon Training program. She made it sound so easy! And fun! So, in February 2005 I attended an orientation session for the AIDS Marathon Training program, and after telliing them about my back, they assured me that they could work with anyone and I plunked down my $75. Training started in April 2005, and mercifully, (for you) I won't recap that here. (Cuz I kind of already have. See every previous entry.)

The Day Before
Since I live in the city in which the marathon occurs, I didn't have to pack, didn't have to worry about hotels or flights or anything. Instead, I focused all my worry on logistics. Which took the form of first: changing the sheets on my bed. Right? Totally normal. Then I did a load of laundry. Then cleaned the house. Was I nesting? Or worried I wouldn't be coming back?? Ever??

After all that, I started laying out everything I would need. This took several hours. I had to write my name on my singlet, and oh yeah, remember somebody gave me that cute little guardian angel pin several years ago? Let's spend a few hours looking for that. Found!

Hmm, now maybe I should scope out driving routes. Let's see, I'll get up at 5 a.m., take the Beltway to George Washington Parkway south to the Pentagon Metro stop, where I was meeting my pace group. Ding ding!! Wrong!! GW Pkwy is part of the course, (so I'd heard), and would, in all probability be closed since 31,000 people will be running it. Call it a hunch.

It is now around 4ish Saturday (and yes I have changed tenses. It's my recap.) I figure an alternate route. I take the Beltway to 395 North to the Pentagon City exit. I find the meeting place and all is well!

While I'm out and about, maybe I should drive a bit of the course. Because remember: I'm in denial about this entire thing. So I figure now is a good time to take a short peek at what I'll be doing in the morning.

First, I open up the elevation map that lovely marine at the Expo gave me:

Wouldya look at that! Mile 0-2 goes from 20 to 180 feet. Huh. So I drive it.

Which pretty much leaves me panting and heaving for oxygen. OK, we'll just walk that part! The next part is, hmm, a downhill of 140 feet. Perfect for IT problems. OK, we can handle that too, just go slow, zig zag, whatever you have to do.

Next I cross Key Bridge, down M St. in Georgetown, where Nicole Kidman is being filmed! And that's the end of the follow the course by car.

Part Two: To come ...

Update ... But Still Not the Recap!

Post-marathon headache of massive proportions, along with post-marathon sinus infection ... How come the books don't tell you about the headache?? I think I must have had the sinus thing brewing beforehand, since you can't catch an infection in one day!

Anyway, it's coming! But looking at the computer right now makes my head hurt more, so am going to take another day off from my usual computer attachment—well as much as I can, since today is back-to-work day. Yippee!

Onward! and After?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Still Not the Recap

This in my inbox this morning, from my trusty Morning Mantra*:

"Fight one more round. When your arms are so tired that you can hardly lift your hands to come on guard, fight one more round. When your nose is bleeding and your eyes are black and you are so tired that you wish your opponent would crack you one on the jaw and put you to sleep, fight one more round - remembering that the man who always fights one more round is never whipped."
- James Corbett

That pretty much describes yesterday. And now I feel inspired by myself!

*From Kristin Coach.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Not the Recap

Holy mother of God, you guys are the GREATEST!! I thought of every single one of you out there on the race, and had the great good fortune to have Noames and Bex jump in (Naomi at mile 15, so she just up and practically did a half, just for fun, and Bex at 20, halleluiah!). So those two fine ladies got to practically haul my butt kicking and screaming to the end. Without them, I'd still be out there! (I might have said a few, um, not so nice things to them, but I swear I didn't mean it!! Really!!) They are both amazing and I just hope one day I will be so willing to help a new runner.

Official finish: 6:30:40, and yes, of course, I'm a wee bit disappointed, since I was hoping for a 6 hour or less time, but ya know what? That marathon kicked my ass. It was HARD! And I'm not sure right now (as I sit with my feet on bags of frozen peas) why and when it got so hard. I know that sounds stupid, of course a marathon should be hard, but it just wasn't hard during the "pretend" one. So I want to figure that out.

The good news? No puking, no injuries, no injury-related problems--NOTHING!!! (Well, some serious chafing in some unmentionable, and frankly, WEIRD places, but that is minor. And my feet are on fire again, but not so bad as last time.) So, I am very thankful for that.

I honestly cannot tell you how much your good wishes mean (and meant) to me. I thought of each and every one of you out there, many, many times.

Signing off now.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Thank You

It's been an amazing six months.

No matter what happens tomorrow, I hope I can allow myself to remember all those Saturday morning training runs, to remember how fantastic it felt to run long during the height of summer, and to rejoice that I actually completed this program, raised money for such a worthy cause, and learned a few life lessons along the way.

Of course, I want to finish tomorrow, and I want to finish strong, and I don't see any reason why I wouldn't be able to, unless I do something stupid, like eat or drink the wrong thing, not find the right metro stop, miss meeting up with my group, wear the wrong clothes, screw up my leg between now and tomorrow, or go out too fast or too slow. (I'm sure there are a few other little things that could go wrong, too, I'm just not obsessing about them at the moment.)

Bottom line: I loved training for this marathon. Even when it was an angst-filled pity party, I loved it. I have nothing but good memories of running along the National Mall, watching the sun rise over the Washington Monument, using the pit stop at Thompson's boat house, running past the Kennedy Center, watching the crew kids practice on the Potomac, running past the White House, having a freezing cold towel slapped around my neck by a thoughtful volunteer—right when I needed it!— and running along the Capital Crescent Trail, which is a ridiculously long way from where we start. I loved the heat. I loved being drenched in sweat from head to foot. I loved the ice baths afterward (did not!). I loved the fact that I did it.

So I hope that no matter how I do tomorrow, these are the memories that will stay with me, along with this blog and the amazing support you've given me and the friends I've made here. I'm constantly saying things like, "My friend, a. maria, just ran the S.F. marathon, and she ..." blah blah blah. Yeah, I call you my friends. And some of you, I don't even know your first names!! (My friend 21st C. Mom!!)

And (so this is going to start to sound like my Oscar-acceptance speech, but tough luck) my off-line friends as well. Thanks to all of you who not only donated money, but have been a constant source of encouragement, and advice, especially in my many moments of doubt. Special thanks to my work colleagues for putting up with my nonstop blathering about running, and then putting up with my many absences as I took off time for physical therapy and related appointments. You know who you are.

And many many thanks to those of you who helped me raise $1,900 ($200 over my goal!) with your incredibly generous donations for Whitman-Walker Clinic, (one of whom I have only met in cyberspace!):

Gary K.
Ed S.
Gregory C.
Andrea S.
Eileen M.
Virginia E.
Catherine G.
Judy C.
Hope B.
Hunter M.
Sanjay P.
Deirdre M.
Dw D.
Sangeeta A.
Doris U.
Rosy M.
Angela L.
Mary Ann Z.
Rhea B.
Drew L.
John M.
Jennifer L.
Winona M.
Ron S.
David K.
Shaiy K.
Renee D.
Rosy M. (yeah, twice!)
Lauren C.
Jess T.
Robert J.
Lara C.

And on that note, I've got to get my a** in gear and get ready for a marathon.

See ya at the finish!

Friday, October 28, 2005

My Head Hurts

I should be writing something profound right about now, but instead I am going to whine about how my head hurts and it's been hurting for two days and it HAS to stop before Sunday!! It's what I call a "loose brain" headache. When you stand up or change positions suddenly, your brains slosh around in your head, causing pain. Honest. I'm quite clear that this is a certified medical condition, no known cure. Alas.

I ran three miles yesterday morning, mostly to try out running in the semi-cold, and my legs felt like lead, so that was a bad experiment. But, my leg didn't hurt. Just my #@!$ head. I haven't done any weekly outdoor runs for a while, I've stuck to the elliptical. Well, last week I ran outdoors twice, but somehow it doesn't feel like it. This past month I have really eased up on pushing myself while running because I had this leg injury thing going on. As a result, I feel like 50 pounds heavier, and 10 times slower. So yesterday, I started with the "if onlies" ... if only I weighed 20 pounds less, I'd be faster, I wouldn't have hurt my leg, there would be world peace. Ya know?

In other news, I saw the orthopod one last time yesterday. (Can I please have a job where I make like $500 every 30 seconds??)

Actually, Dr. G. was very nice and encouraging in the 30 seconds it took him to examine me, and he wants me to bring him a photo of me at the finish (the walls of the clinic are covered with framed photos of world-class athletes and covergirl chicks with their signatures: "Thank you Dr. G, I could never have placed first in the Olympic quintathalon without your help!", so I guess if I bring in a photo, mine will go next to Miss Universe's). And rightfully so. Except for the 50 pound thing.

He said the clinic is going to have a booth at mile 10 and to come and see him. He wanted to know where mile 10 was. Me: "Um, don't know." He wanted to know my bib number. Me: "Um, don't know."

OK, I have barely looked at the map because it just freaks me out, so I'm planning to just follow the person in front of me. Marathon? What marathon? So, Dr. G. thinks I'm an idiot. Cuz it's hard to explain my whole denial thing in 30 seconds. Or even in a blog entry. I'm basically thinking of Sunday as just another training run, so please, have a heart and don't destroy my delusion.

Anyway, he pronounced me fit, and warned me strongly to NOT take any ibuprofen beforehand (advice I will ignore, cuz it worked before), and he said if something hurts out there, I should just push through because I'm not going to injure myself. So that was good (?), and encouraging, news.

And the physical therapy that I've been complaining nonstop about for the past three weeks? It worked. Really. Those gals know what they're doing. So I told Dr. G. that, and then the therapist came into the room and I told her that too. Wracking up the good karma for me!!

Today, I'm off to get my car inspected (it's overdue, and it will fail) and then off to the expo to buy stuff!! (a. maria, apparently no one on the East Coast has ever heard of biofreeze, but if they have it at the expo, I'm loading up with it, and then I'm going to cover my head with it to get rid of this freakin' frackin' headache!)

Tonight, I will chill to some running movie (I'm taking recommendations), and I will sleep and tomorrow I will likely just be nervous all day long.

Oh yeah, if you want you can sign up for race day alerts, delivered to your e-mail, or if you're crazy, your cell phone. My last name is McCann, and now you know all.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My Morning Mantra*

"Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use."
- Earl Nightingale


*I get this inspirational (sometimes just tooo corny) "Morning Mantra" e-mailed to me every, well, morning! This was today's.
(From Kristin Coach.)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Fear and Awakening

First, good luck to Jon and a. maria in their marathons this weekend! I'm on the edge of my freakin' seat, waiting, and sending good thoughts their way. It's so funny, how before I embarked on this little journey, I was pretty much oblivious to marathon-ing. Even when it happened in front of my face. Like when I lived in Richmond? The Richmond marathon used to go right by my front door. I paid it no attention. Because not in my wildest dreams could I relate to those people running.

Ain't life funny.

Enough of that, let's get back to me.

First, I forgot to report that I not only ran two miles on Tuesday, with much trepidation, but on Thursday I ran three (slow) miles, no walking! But forget about no walking, the bigger triumph was over the fear of running.

Fear is a such an insidious thing. It creeps up on you. It holds you back. It creates a cycle of endless worry and anxiety. All of which feeds into your physical well-being. Fear is what I've been trying to beat back for the past few weeks, along with actual, real pain.

But last week, PT#2 told me that the only way to beat the fear of running was to get out there and do it. And that's apparently what I needed to hear in order for me to get out there and do it.

So here's today's eight-mile (my last with the training group) run recap:

It was spectacular. It was raining. It was beautiful. It was cold.

I ran. My leg did not hurt. I did not limp.

We ran our fastest eight miles to date (1:46; a 13:15 min. pace) (remember, it's run/walk, so yeah slow, but fast!). We ran a new route, the Haines Point loop:

Haines Point, D.C., in warmer days

past this statue, called "The Awakening:"

Which was quite apropos.

Because finally, by our final training run, I now have my very own group. Which means I have come a long way from here. Which means I have accepted the once strangers who are in my group, and who, though they may never be my close friends, I have actually come to enjoy and care about.

Because today I started out accidentally running with someone with whom I haven't run in a long while, and who, within the first mile or so, started making snide remarks about my injury, and my need to go fast, which is laughable, really, and who was just being generally negative.

Because today I left negativity behind.

Because today, instead of worrying and agonizing about this person's feelings, I did what I needed to do, which was was to just run.

Because today, I just left! No good-byes. No guilt. No anger (OK, a little anger, more like befuddlement though, mixed with confusion and defensiveness). With no pace group in sight, I just left, thinking I'd run the next seven miles by myself.

Because I just left.

I ran and ran and ran until I caught up with my group. And then I had one of the best runs of my nascent career.

Because I'm not afraid anymore.