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.