Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Matchmaker Matchmaker

Yes, friends, it's that time of year again.

Maybe it's the air ... maybe, in this particular case, it's the pollen. Who knows? Who cares?

This is the exact text of an e-mail from a potential match, via match.com. For which I was again suckered into handing over my hard-earned dough.

Here we go. Are you ready?

60-year-old man (Note: my range is now 45-75)
Seeks women 42-54 (well, of course he would, wouldn't he?)

<Start wooing here>
A lady recovering from an illnes [sic] wrote about her pumpkins that she had grown from seed:

"Butterflies, thick as confetti, float there each day -- sometimes I wear them in my hair. I am amazed at the music a gentle rain can make on the wide leaves, and I feel tender toward the wrens that bathe in the water that pools in the hollow heart of each one. I have stood there in the garden with the new dog at nightfall, her pale fur sequined with fireflies, watching bats swoop and listening to the scurryings of mice while the blue moonlight licks at the round white fruit that might someday sit lit in a window on Halloween. And I feel hope for the future in a way I have not for a long, long time."

Now that is prose -Wow!

We seem to share many traits - I would have to meet you to see if there is chemistry.. I am afraid I can bicycle well still but am not as good at running as I used to be.. (no dogs any more - I use to run ahead and jump the creek and hide - and they would play and come and "find")

[name redacted]


I swear I am not making this up. I mean, who could?

It's lovely and all...there is a certain sweetness...but, um, SAY WHAT? Pumpkins? And yes, we actually would have to meet. Eventually. Or, I suppose we could get engaged after this one e-mail. It's possible!

Speechless in Bethesda

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fall Down, Go BOOM

I didn't want to ruin your weekend, so I waited to post this. (I hope I don't ruin your breakfast either.)

So last Wednesday, after my 13.1 mile victory in Philadelphia, I headed out for a little 3-mile run. I thought I'd try something new, having just read this article in Runner's World about dissociation and association. I thought I'd try to associate—tune in to my body, and try to reach a meditative state while running by practicing meditative techniques. Something like that. So I ran without music or watch.

So there I was, running along, no idea how slow or fast (I'm sure I was flying), trying hard not to think of anything (try that sometime, it's basically impossible, btw), and all of a sudden, at mile 2, I found myself face down, eating dirt.

(Exhibit A)

It was mid-day and the path was packed with runners and bikers. I sat there somewhat sheepishly, already planning my response to the inevitable good Samaritans who would soon be smothering me with attention: "No, no I'm fine, thanks."

No one stopped. I fell, and apparently skidded, on the pebbly verge of the path, but I think if I'd fallen smack in the middle, people would have stepped right over me. That's how much concern I generated. WTF?

I got up and ran the rest of the way back to work, blood now streaming down my leg, cause that's the way I roll, people. Back at work I entertained everyone by showing them my bloodied leg and watching their horrified expressions. So at least that part was good. Because my leg was so bloodied, I couldn't change back into my work clothes. So I interviewed a prospective intern in a nice business-y top and jacket, and my running shorts.

He didn't say a word.

(Exhibit B)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More Philadelphia Half Marathon

This is the front of the shirt that got so many comments during miles 1-4 of the race
(UPDATE: Go buy it here, from One More Mile):

And this is the back. It made people laugh and laugh, but alas, it did not work:

This is the bling we got at the end. But mine has a crack right in the middle of it:

Some love and wardrobe advice from Number One Daughter at mile 4 (UPDATE: I forgot to mention that I ran the entire race with my shirt on inside out. sigh):

A beautiful tree at mile 9:

Hey, get the hell out of my photo!

The bestest team ever!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

PR! Sort of! I Think!

Philadelphia Distance Run, September 16, 2007: 2:38:06 (12:04 min/mile)

Montgomery County Half Marathon, September 24, 2006: 2:38:15 (12:05 min/mile)

Phedippidations Worldwide Half (my own half marathon), October 14, 2006: 2:23:16 (10:56/mile)

Well, it all depends on how you look at it. Either I had a nine-second PR, or the highly unofficial time of 2:23:16 stands. Funny, when I set that time, it didn't seem so unofficial!

It was a great day today. Perfect weather, chilly, a bit windy, loads of sun, and a field of 15,000. I am happy to say I was not the 15,000th runner to cross the finish.

I was in corral 16 (there were 17) so it took a while to cross the mat. The race starts and ends at Eakins Oval, by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And of course the music at the start? Theme from Rocky, which for some strange reason, made me tear up.

The race was due to start at 7:45 and at 7:20 I was still in the car with the Number One Daughter and her boyfriend, and wouldn't you just know it, all of a sudden I had to see a man about a horse. WHY WHY WHY???

I will spare you the details. Let's just say I made it to my corral on time.

Miles 1-3 went by in a blur. I was wearing a great t-shirt, photos to come, and got a lot of comments on it. There were loads of spectators, but they were strangely quiet. It was odd. I actually tried to high-five a few kids but they were not interested. Later on I high-fived a couple of homeless guys, one of whom said something about me being a "hootchie mama." What's not to like about THAT?!

Number One Daughter and BoyFriend were at mile 4, where I stripped off my top layer as I heated up. They promised to be at mile 9, which seemed like a million miles away, but gave me something to look forward to, you know, other than crossing the finish line.

The course heads out of the city along the west side of the Schuykill River, crosses a bridge and heads down Kelly Drive, home of the famous Philadelphia Boathouse Row.

And there were the kids, waiting at mile 9, where they wanted to "talk to me about the car situation." The car was at mile 9. They wanted to know if I'd be up for a four-mile walk back to the car after the finish, or if one of them should skip the run and drive to the finish.

Ha ha ha ha. I managed to convey that I had no brain matter available at the moment. I just knew I wanted them both to run me in, so I said, no problems we'll hail a cab back. Despite the fact that none of us had any money. "Money in car!" I mumbled. And off we went!

My trusty coach had given me explicit instructions, to wit:

I believe you need to approach this totally as a supported training run. Your main objective here is Army Ten Miler. Don't shake your confidence by not making a goal. run easy the first ten miles, say, start at a 12:00 pace and see if you can sustain that or even improve it a bit and then have the BF help you bring it in. At the ten mile mark, the race is down to a 5K race left. Walk easily and purposefully through water stops and start running again. Don't be afraid to slow down, just don't start "plodding along". If you are "plodding", walk 100 yards to rest and collect yourself and then start to run again, faster than "plodding."

Don't forget pacing. Try to stick on 12s, or 12:30s, or 11:30s.
Well, y'all know me. Wind me up, point me in the right direction, and tell me what to do.

Mile 1: 11:38
2: 11:45
3: 11:38
4: 11:49
5: 12:18
6: 11:31
7: 12:18
8: 11:18
9: 14:03 (extended car discussion)
10: 12:34 (2:00 on the nose)
11: 12:07
12: 12:02
13: 11:57
.1: 1:08

I only walked the water stops. Until mile 11 when I told BF that I had to walk for a minute. He said exactly the right thing to get me moving again: "If you stop now, your body will start shutting down and it will be really hard to start again." (I don't know if he actually talks in italics or not.) That got me going because I was REALLY getting sick of this running thing.

I must confess that I took my iPod Nano and I'm glad I did. I listened to music on and off. From mile 11 to the end, I belted out U2s "It's a Beautiful Day" (chorus only) about 20 times, much to the bemusement shock and horror of my companions. But see, it WAS a beautiful day, so I had to sing it.

We saw the 20k sign and I knew the end was near. I kept running.

I sprinted that last .1 in 1:08. I want to run a .1 mile race. I bet I'd be really fast.

We crossed the finish line hand-in-hand and if I screwed up that photo I'll be really mad!

After hanging around picking up various schwag and free food, we started hunting for a cab.

Curiously, there were no cabs in Philly. None. As in zero. We hung around the art museum for a while, then the BF said he would run back to get the car.

As in running. That thing that we had just finished. That thing the thought of which made me slightly nauseated.

While he ran back, NOD and I started walking along Boathouse Row, Kelly Dr. BF made it back to the car—a good four miles—in oh, about 30 minutes. He picked us up and we made a stop at his boathouse, one of the oldest and most prestigious in the nation.

Vesper Boat Club

Inside Vesper Boat Club

After a lovely fancy brunch, we headed back to NOD's place, where it suddenly dawned on me that I would have to drive 2 1/2 hours home to D.C. I'm smart like that.

Caff frappacino in hand, I hit the road and made it home in one piece.

It was a day to remember.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Good Morning, Philadelphia!

I'm on my way out of town to my very last (OK, truth be told, my very first) Parent's Weekend. OK, well, I have gone to them before, I just skipped all the parent stuff. Kind of like when I was in college, and skipped all the student stuff. Hmmm. A pattern unfolds.

So, Number One Daughter and I decided we didn't want to drop $60 on the parents breakfast on Sunday. Instead, I dropped $60 on the Philadelphia Half Marathon, for which I am woefully underprepared, but which my trusty coach reminds me is just a TRAINING RUN for my REAL race, the Army Ten Miler on Oct. 7. I'm going to do my best to try and enjoy the day.

NOD did say she'd meet me at mile 12 and run me in. I am SO LOOKING forward to that you can't even imagine.

Wish me luck!

SHOUTOUT: To E., who is doing her first Olympic-distance triathlon this weekend on Long Island. Good luck, and I'll be thinking of you Sunday!

See y'all on the flip side. Cue theme from Rocky.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

We Got Bike

Susie says goodbye. She might look happy but she's crying on the inside.

Yours truly has no mixed emotions whatsoever.

BIKE is now safely ensconced at my office, which is craftily located right next to a bike shop.

I'm jazzed.

In other running news:

Eight miles this morning, and two of them were straight uphill on the Custis Trail. I hemmed and hawed about whether or not to take the watch, but decided at the last minute to wear it in case I needed to run by time instead of distance, since we were coach-less.

I headed out with my friend K., who is faster than me and has a Garmin. She kept me at 10:40 min miles for the first 3 miles. Then she took off. I am proud to say I DID NOT walk for those four miles, not even on the endless, freakin' totally endless uphill. I did slow down, but don't know my pace because we switched trails and the mile markers had all changed. So I ran a total of 48 minutes, which I'm sure was at least four miles.

On the way back, I ran with another strong runner, E. I took two walk/water breaks, but they were on purpose, not at all the kind of thing I've been experiencing, the just-give-up-and-start-walking-for-no-reason thing. Has the SPELL BEEN BROKEN?

My last mile took 11:40, which is fine by me.

But, curiously, I accidentally erased all my splits and my final time once I got back to the car. I guess I secretly didn't really want to know, because, as a famous German father of psychiatry once said: There are no accidents in life.

I did it. A good long hard run, with no iPod either.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Try One Thing Every Day That Scares You

Well said my good and trusty friends!

I (metaphorically) threw away the watch this week, even before I read all your good advice. I ran three miles on Wednesday and Friday morning, before work, sans watch. Ya can't fret about time when you have no idea what your time is. Tomorrow is an eight-miler and I'm pretty sure I'll be doing that watch-free, too, and like all my long runs, I'll do it sans iPod. Just me and my God, who might make another appearance, since the temps are expected to be high 90s. Good times.

I'm still pretty nervous about running, though. But I know that if you do the thing you fear often enough, the fear dissipates. So that's the plan. Just keep running.

Meanwhile, tomorrow is a big day for a few reasons.

First, someone very special is giving me one of these:

That's right! Ask and ye shall receive! I'M GETTING A BIKE! Susie swears she doesn't want it and is GIVING IT TO ME. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about this. Soon I'll be talking about watts and flats, and all that other jazz. Now all I need to do is learn how to swim. Oh yeah, and run.

And speaking of triathletes, I'll be (sorta) live blogging it over at a.j.'s site this weekend. A.J. is a spectator extraordinaire at Ironman Wisconsin (also known as IMMOO, don't worry, my first job is to find out why it's called that, other than the obvious cow thing), and there are all kinds of meetups and shenanigans planned for the spectators. The plan is for a.j. to call me or text me and I'll do my best to impersonate her over there. Which if I'm going to do it up right, should involve drinking, trying lots of cute hairstyles, and telling funny stories about men. In between working out like a maniac. So, I'm pretty much screwed. (Updates will also be posted on the IM Wisconsin 2007 site, here.)

SHOUTOUT: To my very special peep and bestest friend, Mark, the running blogfather, who is running the Regina, Saskatchewan (that's somewhere in Canada) Marathon on Sunday. Good luck to Mark! And to all the IM Wisconsin folks, too!

Monday, September 03, 2007


I am over my cold. Now it's become a sinus infection with what I like to call the "loose-brain headache" syndrome: you bend over and your brains slosh around in your head.

I'm so thankful for this long weekend, cuz I don't think I could face work at the moment.

I am struggling with my running. I don't know why. Two Saturdays ago, I ran a slooow eight miles, and at the time, you were all happy enough to join me in blaming the heat.

Last Tuesday, I ran three miles at about an 11 min mile pace, a definite slowdown for me, and then came down with a bad cold, which put more running on hold last week.

Just this past Saturday I ran 10 miles with my group, in 2:12 (13:12 min mile). My cold had dissipated somewhat, but I was still coughing. I felt OK on the run though—except for the fact that I kept walking for no apparent reason. And the weather was perfect: crisp, cool, fall-like. I would run and then just start walking. I honestly don't know why.

The first time I had ever run 10 miles was in the 2006 Cherry Blossom 10 miler and I ran it in 1:57. I think my longest run had been 7 miles up til then.

Today, Labor Day, I went out to redeem myself. I slept a good 10 hours last night, and got up to run 6 miles. I was feeling nervous. I used every piece of self-talk and pep talk and advice I have ever read or given, or been given! My head hurt before I started, but I just told myself I could quit anytime if it got worse.

So, my headache didn't get worse. But by 2.5 miles, I was seriously thinking of quitting. I tried to just calm down and continued on, because? NOTHING HURT. Just slow down I told myself. I even had a nice Alexander McCall Smith book on the Nano. I made 3 miles in 33 miles, slow but still respectable:

and then I honestly don't know what happened. I'd be running along, listening to my book, and trying hard not to think because thinking was doing me no good, and all of a sudden I would just find myself walking.

The weather was glorious, I had nowhere to be. No pressures.

Mile 6 you can see I just totally gave up.

This is not like me.

That's four runs in a row that have been really really disappointing. I can blame the heat on the crappy eight mile run, I can blame my cold, and I can blame my headache, but frankly, I'm running out of excuses. It's gotten to the point where I'm afraid to lace up. I start out with trepidation, but push those thoughts out of my head and FOCUS on the positive ("at least you are trying, you could totally give up, you walk slower than this, enjoy your book, enjoy nature," etc.) but it doesn't seem to help.

Something mental is going on. I don't know what it is. I just know I feel like a nervous wreck when I'm on the trail, and I spend the whole time trying not to walk. "Just go slow," I tell myself. "Forget about time!"

I think I should start back at trying to run one mile. And here I am supposed to be at 10! I was going to try for the Philly half marathon in two weeks, but have bagged that idea since I think it will make me feel worse if I end up walking half of it (plus it's Number One Daughter's senior breakfast that morning, so I have a built-in excuse).

So yes, there are many worse problems in the world, many many many worse problems. But I really did think I was getting better, and now, I've definitely gotten worse.

I'll keep plugging away, but my confidence level is: LOW.

In happier news, a shoutout to my pal Peter, who ran the Charm City Run 20 miler yesterday, and ... Well, I don't want to steal his thunder so I'll let him tell you all about it.

UPDATE: Another shoutout to my peep Phoenix, who just DISMANTLED her first Oly, The Lake St. Louis Long Course (Oly distance) triathlon! Go, read, be inspired!