Monday, May 29, 2006

Tiny Dancers






resulting in


Sunday, May 28, 2006

File Under: Running, Planes, Trains, & Tires

There are no hills in Washington, D.C., and environs. Got that? NO HILLS.

I had the pleasure of visiting 21st Century Mom, in the outskirts of San Francisco, this weekend. She took me on a short tour (by car, thankfully) of the places she runs and bikes. Holy mother of God. Remember my incredibly hilly 10k? Um, no. Not even close. I'm embarassed to think that I called those teensy ups-and-downs "incredibly hilly." If 21CM could see that route, she would keel over laughing.

I got to 21CM's hideaway on Friday afternoon. We had a lovely time drinking tea, looking at stuff on the Internet, and generally lolling around, until we had to do some 21st C. Mom chores.

The next morning we headed out to Lafayette-Moraga trail, a beautiful paved trail that meandered through some gorgeous scenery. 21CM needed to get 12 miles in; I needed 7. We ran the first 3.5 together, yakking about kids, families, men, blogging, men, running, men, and all of you (yes, we did!) It was tough, but I held her to about 11:30 min. miles for the first 3.5. It was like holding back a race horse, but I had a job to do and gosh darn it, I was gonna do it. The miles flew by, and soon I had to turn back. 21CM pushed on. The plan was for me to run back to the parking lot and drive the car of the future back home. 21CM would run all the way home to get in her full 12 miles.

I loved the run back! Loved it!! Except for one small problem. I have some serious blisters on my bunions and this trail was seriously cambered. With every step I put tons of pressure directly on the blister of my right foot. That pretty much sucked. I pressed on though, like the good soldier I am.

I'll let 21CM tell you what happened to her. My seven miles took me 1:19, or 11:23 min. miles. (This is why it's called a Long Slow Run.) All I will say is: She was practically home before me.

It wasn't until I got back to base that I discovered I had forgotten to wear my knee brace. I put that brace on if I even think about running. I'm scared not to. But...cue spooky music...nothing bad happened!! I guess I don't need to run with a knee brace. Right now.

Soon, 21CM was back, barely out of breath. After making ourselves presentable, it was off to Berkeley to see the sights! We strolled around, wolfed down some awesome pizza, temporarily lost 21CM's flying saucer, found it, and discovered its tires looked like this:

Oh, not so good. Back where I live, on earth, it would take several hours to buy new tires. But in Orbit City (that would be the Jetson's home town), you drive up to the local tire store, which is closing in seven (7!!) minutes, and you have four tires replaced, no problem:

21CM never gets rattled

But 21CM does have one secret vice:
No, that's not Tolstoy she's reading

We were back on the skyway in no time, now headed for the big city and Pier 39. Curiously, Number One Daughter happened to be in San Francisco on Saturday, too, visiting her boyfriend. We briefly met up with them. Too soon it was time for me to head to the airport.

At 7 p.m., we said our goodbyes, and I jumped on BART, San Francisco's public transport system, to get to the airport for an 8:35 flight out. (I was wearing flip-flops again, people.) As I sat on the train, pondering the day's events, I noticed the map on the wall. And then I noticed how far away the airport was. And then I started wondering what the odds were that BART would drop me directly in front of the America West terminal? (Ha, good one.) BART finally pulled into SFO at 7:45 p.m. (god, this is starting to sound like a police report). That would be into the international terminal. For the domestic terminals, you have to switch to another train. After first walking up several flights of stairs.

The rest of the story is I was the last person to board the plane after running like a madwoman—in my flip-flops—through the terminal, up escalators, and even pushing myself to the very front of the long security line by repeating 20 times: "My plane is leaving in 15 minutes!!!" And unbelievably, people let me through (that's when I knew for sure I was no longer on the East Coast).

And the rest of that story is that I had to do that again in Las Vegas for my connecting flight.

And the rest of that story is that I now have a new blister in between the toes of my left foot, so I am now basically lame.

But a little lameness is a small price to pay for a visit with the funnest mom around, the 21st Century Mom.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Adventures in Fitness

San Francisco, aka coldest city in the continental U.S.—Does this city ever warm up?? I've been here many, many times, but no matter the season, it's always the same: freezing. At least back east, we get snow with our low temps. Here it's beautiful blue skies, a wind like a mother*********, and cold.

Last night I ventured out for a short 60-minute run, to try to prepare for whatever horrors 21st Cent. Mom has in store for me. I left the very cool (pardon the pun) Hotel Del Sol, in the Marina district, and headed for the bay, and all that green stuff on the map that signals parkland.

I guess this is what skiing is like. Freezing your ass off while sweating like a pig in the unrelenting sun and did I mention the wind? I mean really. The wind was hurricane force. People should have been evacuating. There was zero shade. I ran along a park that had lovely views of the waterfront, and very smart people in wetsuits who were—what else?—wind surfing. There was no respite from the sun. And of course, I hadn't eaten much because I was on a plane all day, and they no longer feed you. Let's just finish up the run portion of this report by saying: not pretty.

Today: I sat in a conference room at Fort Mason, attending the Online Community Camp! (only no campfires) with people who were in SHORTSLEEVES and TANKTOPS, while I was busy shivering my ass off for eight hours. People actually opened the windows. I was wearing silk long underwear; a tank top sweater, a cardigan, a shawl, and a light coat. I looked like a bag lady. To make up for being miserably cold, I ate massive quantities of carbs.

A few days ago, following little Miss Life Is Nuts' example, I started a FitDay food and activity diary. Someday, when you're older, I may share it with you. You enter all your food intake and activities into it and it tells you how many things you are doing wrong. Actually it's a terrific motivator. When I saw today's carb overload, I knew action had to be taken.

But running was out. No way was I going back out into those frigid temps. But if it's Thursday, that means only one thing my friends: Bikram!! An hour and a half in a 105 degree (F) room was just what I needed. My friendly concierge found me a class a few blocks away. I packed up my running clothes, threw on flip-flops (note: FLIPFLOPS) to give the bunions a rest, and off I went. As I was filling out my registration card at the Bikram center, I casually asked the counterboy if there were showers. Um, no. Huh? When I leave a 90-minute Bikram class, I'm as drenched as if I'd gone swimming. If I tried to walk back to the hotel that kind of wet, I'd die of pneumonia.

What do do? I'm nothing if not resourceful, as I believe I have demonstrated before. I started walking back to the motel, and passed a movie theater, which was oh-so-tempting, and right next to it, a gym called "Crunch." I strolled in. Did they take drop ins? They did. What classes were coming up? Spinning! Perfect!! Almost as good as running! Almost as good as Bikram. Except, I was wearing flip-flops and class was starting in five minutes. No towel either. I asked counterlady, between her cell phone calls, if there was any chance she had any leftover shoes. She did!! What size? Size nine!!! My size!!! How disgusting is this? This is disgusting!!!! I bought a pair of socks from her, gritted my teeth, and pulled on some other person's old, dusty, rank running shoes. Oh, plus the shorts and top I'd brought for yoga. And off I toddled into a spinning class.

I must say I did OK for someone who hasn't set foot in a spinning class for five years. I even got out of the saddle and stood! Many times!! The main thing I hate about spinning? It's the most boring thing on earth. How do people stand this?? There's no escape. Nothing to look at except the trim young things in front of me who were not even breaking a sweat. It was a good workout, if only 60 minutes. But I will say, from my vast experience: Bikram is harder. Much much harder. They guy next to me told me it took him a month before he could get out of the saddle, and he was wearing bike shoes. Once he said that, I knew I had to rise to the occasion so I did.

At least the Crunch gym had a shower. No towel, and a drymax shirt isn't exactly a stand-in. It actually repels water, it turns out. So i'll let you use your imagination to figure out how I dried off. People were watching me, though.

I strolled back to the Hotel Del Sol ("ciao, ciao!" this is how they answer every phone call and greet you when you walk thru the teensiest lobby I've ever seen), then strolled back out for dinner. One french martini and some lovely broiled salmon later, and I'm ready for sleep, sportsfans.

Another hard day's work in the can.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Westward Ho

I'm on my way to San Francisco, where I'll be sure to wear a flower in my hair. I'm attending a ONE-day meeting, but whatever! I need to make the most of my time there by making sure there is at least one RBF meet-up. So, on Friday night, I will be spending the night with none other than 21st Century Mom, in her humble abode. God only knows what we'll get up to.

So far we have big plans! She thinks we're going on a 10-mile run. I have agreed (in my head) to five miles; I figure I can pace her the other five on her bike. Other plans include hot fudge sundaes and wine. That's as far as we've gotten. (I mean really, what more is needed?)

In running news, I hate running. Sunday I went back out and re-tackled the Mother's Day 10k route because it kicked my ass on Mother's Day, and it's not nice to kick mothers. I'm determined to show that trail who is boss. I finished it Sunday in the exact same time as I did during the race. So either I a) wasn't really racing on Mother's Day, or b) I was really racing on Sunday. Either way, I'm gonna show that #$!%!@^ it can't treat me like this.

Yesterday was back to the stationary bike to try to build up some leg muscles. And today a 4-mile run that felt like 400.

Does this %$!# sport ever ever EVER get easier???

Happy Tuesday everyone.

Friday, May 19, 2006


I ran a whooping seven 13.2 miles (counting the race!) this week. But come on, I ran that grueling 10k last Sunday. Then there was the grueling signup for the MCM. I deserve a rest after all that. Plus, now the search is on for a training group. I'm telling you, it's been an exhausting week.

What was fun was getting all your congrats! And that was just for signing up! How are you all gonna top that when I cross the finish line? You guys rock!

Finally, here is some video from the Mother's Day 10K. It's me (shocker) flying on angel's wings across the finish line. (You will, however, have to lay down to watch it since I cannot figure out how to rotate it in I-Movie. I tried a few plug-ins, and found out I have to buy quicktime pro. Yeah. No.)

Enjoy! (If you look closely, you can see Coach Bex scoring us as we come in.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

So, What's It Gonna Be?

It's gonna be this. (And, a few other things thrown in along the way, I hope.)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

How Not to Prepare for a 10k

First, do not drive six hours in two days, to pick up your kid, or anyone else.

Second, do not help kid move out of dorm (OK, I didn't do so much of that, I admit she did most of it. Still, there was walking and carrying involved.)

Third, and perhaps most importantly? Do not have a gigantor fight with said kid two nights before the race, and then spend the day before the race being mad at each other, while standing around the Schuykill River for several hours, watching her teammates on their last race of the season.

Fourth, uncomfortable non-talking three-hour car-ride home? No. Don't do this either.

Are we all clear on these points? So much for the "Is it right, is it necessary, and is it kind?" theory. I knew I'd have plenty of opportunity to practice, and I wasn't kidding. I get a big fat F on my first attempt. But, ever the optimist! (as I know you all know I am!), I'm sure that I'll do better next time (and yes I started the fight and it is all my fault. For real.).

On to happier things! Like Mother's Day! And the Mother's Day 10k! The hilly Mother's Day 10k.

My first (and only 10k) to date was the Jingle All the Way, on Dec. 11, 2005, on the beautiful FLAT Haine's Point in D.C.:
Results:1:08:22 (11:00/mile)

Today: YMCA Mother's Day 10k (Did I mention this course was hilly?)
Results (unofficial):
1:07:15 (10:49/mile)


Number One Daughter and I reached détente last night, so she came with me this morning at the ungodly hour of 7:30. The weather was perfect; overcast, slight chill in the air, a bit of a wind. In addition to my usual pre-race jitters, this time I had the added fun of feeling guilty, plus my extremely uncoooperative brain was very very busy replaying every crappy word I'd said to NOD. Which led to some extreme gastrointestinal problems. Very. Bad. Problems.

This was a nice small community race to raise money for the Y. Very sweet. (Except for those effing hills.) The only real drama was right as we were lining up and I couldn't get the Shuffle to work. Have mercy! That would have been bad. Me and my thoughts? Alone for an hour? Arghhh. But I fiddled around and soon, I had the sounds of "I Will Survive" blasting thru my brain (right before "Cold Hard Bitch." So appropriate.). (A friend of mine made me a "run" set. Thanks S.!!)

As I hit mile 2, the finishers were coming back. Nice! I cheered them on. Getting to 3.1 wasn't too horrifying. But after the turnaround it was 30+ minutes of me talking to myself, to God, to random passers-by, to the guy pointing the way to go (he was funny. He did a cartwheel.). By now, I was running alone. This is when I really started the bargaining..."just make it up the hill, then you can walk." That went on for the last 3.1 miles, and the 27 hills that comprised the rest of the course. I am proud to say I ran every hill. I walked maybe 30 seconds three times, each time on the flat, which made no sense (if you're gonna walk, walk on a hill!) so I would then tell myself, "Self, it is flat here. No need to walk!"

I pushed myself down the last few blocks (NOD took video! I was flying to the sounds of John Lennon rockin' out with "Nobody Told Me There'd be Days Like This." Too, too true.)

The minute I saw NOD, and could think again, I apologized. For those entire 6.2 miles, that's what I was waiting to do.

I'm sure there are easier ways.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Too Much

Thanks everyone for your well wishes for my leisurely weekend run rocket-launch race this weekend! And thanks to first-place Susie for sending me good vibes and peeps!

I read something in a yoga magazine the other day that stuck with me. It was about dealing with conflicts. The gist was this:
Before you speak, or send off that self-righteous e-mail, or leave a not-so-nice comment, or totally bitch out that salesperson, ask yourself these three questions:
1. Is what you are about to say right?
2. Is what you are about to say necessary?; and the kicker;
3. Is what you are about say kind?

I am one who often finds I need to back away from the computer, particularly if there is something happening, let's just say as a for instance on some high school crew team that I started, but am now no longer part of, where let's say some youngster is getting publicly humiliated by his coach via an e-mail list.

I cannot stand it when people use their positions of "power" to belittle those with no power. So, I hit that send key and told this coach what I thought. Privately, but too harshly.

It was right. It was necessary. But it surely wasn't kind.

Substitute your own current conflict. Work, home, complaining to your condo management office, for another hypothetical instance, or my fav, the bank. These three little questions can make you stop and, perhaps, revise how you might say that thing that it is right and necessary to say.

It never hurts to be kind.

I will have plenty of opportunity to practice this advice, as Number One Daughter returns for the summer on Saturday. I'm driving to pick her up tomorrow, so will be offline (gasp!) for two days. Meanwhile, I hope someone out there likes loves ADORES Billy Bragg as much as I do.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Funk Me

My 12-week 10k training program came to an end last Saturday, and the Mother's Day 10k is this coming Sunday. As usual, I feel under-prepared, but am trying to just go with the flow and see what I can do, without stressing too much.

After this morning's run, I looked back through my training logs from last summer and saw how I was running two days during the week, 3- and 4-milers—tops, and a long run/walk on Saturdays. On Saturdays, I would run/walk 15+ min. miles. During the week, I was thrilled if I could break 11 minutes. THRILLED. Isn't that great?

I'm now running 4-5 days a week, have started hill training, and am pretty routinely breaking 10:30 min/miles (JINX ALERT!), so I should be feeling damn good and proud of myself. And I have been proud of so many things I've done this spring. Yet I'm always teetering just this side of "you will never be able to do this again." I will never succomb to cockiness, believe me.

This morning, as I dragged my weary butt out to run, swearing once again, that as God is my witness, I will start going to bed earlier, I felt a profound gratitude come over me. I ran my three miles (all sub-10:30 min miles) (JINX ALERT!), and I thought how freakin' lucky I am that I can do any of this. Most of you have heard me say (read me say?) this before, but it wasn't that long ago that I was using a cane, struggling to walk at all, and considering back surgery. So instead of moaning and groaning and complaining, I want to be so grateful that I can run any miles in any time at all.

So why the title? Cuz I haven't a clear goal for the rest of the year, and it's bumming me out. My goals this spring were to run an 8k, a 10-miler, and a 10k. And I will have completed them all on Sunday (JINX ALERT!). What I really want is to spend my Saturdays this summer training for something big, bigger than me, bigger than I think I can do. I want to be up early on Saturdays, running with a group through the miserable humidity that is D.C. in the summer. I want to run long on Saturdays and get hot and sweaty and push myself, and I want to do it with a very structured and organized group.

So, I'm looking around. Looking for the next event, and looking for the next group to do it with.

Is it possible I have pre-race funk?? I know how I like to get a jump on these things.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Finally Running

So, I almost got to a) run with, and b) see Susan run and finish the Potomac half-marathon today. I say almost because, well, I'm an idiot. The race started at 7 a.m. I was up at 6, and got all geeked-out to "run her in" (ha!). I ambled on over to Alexandria, where the race was, but thought it odd that I didn't see ANY runners on the way down there, because I thought they were running north along the river (um, no Jeanne, that would be south. As in the opposite direction.). I parked at the start/finish, then realized I needed batteries for my camera, got back in the car, got the batteries, kept thinking the plan to meet Bex at 9 was flawed, rushed back to the start/finish line, which I almost tripped over (this was a small race!), asked someone did the race maybe start at 7:30? and that's why I didn't see any runners? But no it started at 7, and how odd, all the runners were coming in from the opposite way! I kept having the nagging thought that something was VERY wrong with meet-Bex-at-9-plan, but I am not so good at math. Good thing I wasn't running this, or I'd still be out there.

I saw a few people cross the finish line after almost missing it; the volunteers had to shout out to the runners to tell them where it was; I got to yell at a few bozos who were milling around on the path to get the hell out of the way (so fun to be righteous in the morning!) then I called Bex to try to find her. It was about 9 by then. I spinned around looking for Bex, and suddenly saw David (Susan's David, not the other one), and thought oh, he came in before Susan! But no, Susan was right beside him! So I managed to miss both of them doing any running, AND, despite the fresh batteries, missed both of them crossing the finish line, too!! $#!#&^!!!

But, enough about me. Susan's son and his girlfriend were there, and Bex as well, so we all went out for bagels, and then Susan and David hit the road to Fredericksburg. So go visit Susan RIGHT NOW to see how seriously she ROCKED THIS HALF!!!!

Friday, May 05, 2006

In Keeping With This Month's Theme ...

... of running skirts, dresses, bras, strides, eating, AARP, hills, and a run victorious (in other words, absolutely no theme whatsoever) I thought it was time to get back to some manliness. Hence, I present:

Chuck Connors in "Branded!" (Click to hear cool song!)
All but one man died
There at Bitter Creek
And they say he ran away
(note running reference)
Branded! Scorned as the one who ran
What do you do when you're branded
And you know you're a man?
Wherever you go for the
rest of your life
you must prooooove
You're a man!

(Extra points if you can tell me when this ran!)

And Branded! is quite in keeping with this informative flyer sent to me by one David of "Adventures in the Thin Trade." (David has, quite obviously, not been well lately. Feel better, real soon, David!)
Ah, the good ol' days!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Have We Finally Gone Too Far?

I give you:
The Marathon Dress. (Note: I had to change the link to a main one since the one to the dress wasn't working. You'll figure it out.)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Three Things

1. Do all the folks out there of, um, a certain age know about this free publication, GeezerJock? It's online and in print. It sounds funny, but it's quite a serious sports mag targetted at those of us who aren't exactly, shall we say, in our prime any longer.

2. From today's Washington Post: Feeding an Exercise Habit. More geared to the casual athlete than us HARDCORE types, but it has some good info nonetheless.

3. I totally forget.