Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Real World

Well, it's finally happened. The real world has taken over my virtual life.

I had my First Date in, oh, five years, with rower guy last Wednesday, after work, downtown. The short version: We met at a bookstore, it was raining, had coffee, he talked about himself and I didn't. He was very nice, but didn't get my jokes. I consider the date a total success because I learned, after much agonizing and e-mailing of girlfriends, that shoes don't matter. It's true!! So it's not like it was a waste of time or anything.

That's one down, 99 men to go!

Then came:

Saturday a.m.: First day of 1/2 marathon training with the newly formed informal DCRR training group. They were doing three miles. It was raining. I ain't driving 20 miles to run three. I turned over and slept til 8.

Spent the entire morning searching for a restaurant for this group
(R to L: Peter, surrounded by women as usual. K., Bex, moi.)
to celebrate Peter and K's Chicago victories, and Bex's new job and visit to D.C. We ended up at Tallulah: modern. hip. classy. That sums us up nicely. But before Saturday night, there was Saturday Noon. In which your heroine drives to the YMCA where she ... JOINS. I have spent months hemming and hawing about where to swim. They have an outdoor year-round pool at this Y and a special deal where the first month and the membership fee was waived. It was a sign.

Saturday night: Pajama party with Bex. It was wild. We might have had cups of tea. Hard to recall.

Sunday morning: Up at 7 a.m. to get ready for the Marine Corps Marathon. Bex had the brilliant idea to give out candy. So we bought six bags of candy and went from Mile 13 to 15 to 21 to 23 to 24—where the death march began.

(Bex is obviously starving. Those runners look perfectly fine!)

("Alms! Alms for the poor!")

("Take some! It's candy! Really! It's good!")

We both got told "I love you" from different runners. (Can't remember if they were male or female. No matter!) Seriously, I was touched by the runners who, at mile 24, while obviously struggling, took the time to say "No thank you" or just "Thank you." Like we were at the dinner table. I mean really. I remember my first marathon at mile 24 and if I'd had a gun ... well, nevermind. Who knew handing out candy could be so fun?? I also handed out words of wisdom because, well, that's how we roll here at NBTR headquarters. You eat the candy, you get the sermon: "This is your race!" "You own this race!" "Make it count!" and my personal favorite: "It's all mental from here!" to which someone said "All runners are mental?" Well, you said it buster, not I. See more pics here.)

From there, Bex and I walked 26.2 miles to another subway; she headed off to visit some other peeps; I headed off to a lead a hike with my church group, along the C&O Canal near Great Falls, which I was NOT looking forward to, but, which of course, turned out to be fun. After the hike it was yet ANOTHER dinner out at the Irish Inn at Glen Echo. I got home just in time to catch the next installment of Mrs. Pritchard—thank God.

Monday 5:30 a.m.: Day One of Triathlon training! Be very afraid. Cuz I was.

There are so many steps along the way to triathlon training that people forget to tell you. Like:
1. Join pool
2. Get bikini wax

So yeah, I forgot #2. Oh well, turns out it's pitch black dark at 5:30. Oh, also there's
3. Buy swim cap
4. Buy goggles.

So I bought 3 and 4 from the guy on duty (I stopped short of #2).

I headed outside in the 45F moonlit morn, and slid into the pool. And dang, if I didn't remember how to swim! I did 15 x 50. Or 30 x 25 (I'm still learning to speak pool). Took about 1/2 hour. I am blind as a bat so there's
5. Get contact lenses immediately.

That's gonna be some $$$. Contact me (get it??!) if you can donate any used ones.

Monday night: Out to bell-ringing practice (that's after Monday day working. Goes without saying, but I have to keep saying it). Home at 10 p.m.

Tuesday 5:30 a.m.: Run! Four miles! In the dark! Again with the 45F! It felt good. I threw in a few fartleks just for fun. I really love running in the dark. It makes you feel faster.

Work ass off all day.

Go out on yet another worknight to see "I Love You. You're Perfect. Now Change." With a friend.

Start experiencing computer withdrawal. Get home at 10:30, which is akin to midnight.

That brings us FINALLY to

Wednesday 5:30 a.m.: Back to the pool! Same beautiful moonlit morn. Steam rising off the pool. Same laps. I'm practicing bilateral breathing (that's how triathletes say breathe on one side, then on the other), and today I tried to count my strokes. a.j., who unbeknownest to all of us, was some kind of swim champion freak genuis in high school, has been answering my endless stream (get it??) of idiot swimming questions. (aj also sent me free pedals! she rocks!)

For instance, NO ONE TELLS YOU THERE IS MATH INVOLVED IN SWIMMING. NO ONE. Count strokes so you know when to breathe; count strokes to swim one length; count lengths; count laps (btw? laps are TOTALLY different from lengths), count this, count that.

Lose count. Start over.

I LOVE SWIMMING. Love it. I've never had so much energy.

The rest of my week, you ask? Spinning tomorrow morning and then probably running Friday and Saturday. I've got to get my run on! Apparently, after one too many, I inadvertently might have agreed to run this with Susie. I'm sure this is a set up, cuz I just decided to run this the week before! God help me.

Next up: Biking with Jeanne!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Home Again

Once again I am hopelessly behind in reading and updating. Once again I am in a running and updating slump. I have nothing to say and too much to say.

So here goes nothing.

First I went to Toronto. And met this cool and charming guy:
(Blogger friend Adeel)

We spent Thursday night hanging—no CLOSING DOWN—a Starbucks. We talked about elephants, qualia, words, running, and what the hell the name of his blog means. (Which I now know.) Then he got up and ran the Detroit half-marathon in the time it takes me to tie one running shoe.

Thursday morning I hauled myself out of bed after about one minute of sleep and ran a few miles toward Parliament, Queen's park and back. The weather was just this side of cool. A dense fog covered everything, which, though beautiful, worried me because I was a) asleep, and b) could see nothing. I didn't actually realize I was running by Parliament at the time that I was running by Parliament. I ran around the park twice, solely by mistake, since I couldn't see a thing. Let the cursing commence. I saw quite a few runners out.

Torontonians are not so big on telling you anything much about their edifices. I ran by this:

which didn't really fill my need for info. The South Building, most excellent!

The hotel had an Olympic-sized indoor-outdoor pool, so I thought I'd try some laps during Friday lunch, and allow myself a glorious sleep-in 'til 7:00ish. Only to discover that the pool was closed for repairs. What to do? Well, obviously, there was only one thing to do: Follow the signs pointing to massage. So I did. Glorious. Then back to work 'til late Friday night. (We didn't win the Online News Awards, but we were finalists.)

Saturday morning dawned breezy. Like hurricane level-breezy. Like blow my freakin' head off breezy. I headed out toward Lake Ontario (quick: name the Great Lakes! Clue: SHMOE) for what I hoped would be six miles, or an hour-long run. Loads of construction and traffic lights kept stopping me but I did some kind of running.

I also made it to Union Station and to St. James Cathedral—two sites that Adeel had suggested. Actually, I had to go thru Union Station due to street closings. I headed over to the Cathedral dressed in my finest running duds. All locked. I noticed two people shuffling in a back door so I politely knocked and asked if I could come and look around. A very elderly man explained in broken (what sounded like Russian-) English that they were mopping and could I wait 10 minutes until they opened at 9 a.m.?

As if! Listen, buster, you're talking to an American. Do I LOOK like I have 10 minutes to wait to WORSHIP GOD? NO? Right. Next!

(Both buildings were actually worth looking at, if you are into old buildings, as I am.)

The conference ended Friday night, so I planned to spend Saturday visiting the city. After running, showering, changing, and checkout, I took myself and my trusty camera to see the sites.

Four hours later it was time to leave.

I visited Chinatown, Kensington Market, The Royal Ontario Museum, Queen's Park, and walked until I thought my feet would fall off. It's a terrific city, there are recycling bins everywhere, people are so polite. I did NOT get the feeling that everyone was running around angry all the time. Which is kind of the feeling I have here.

(Queen's Park)

(They knew I was coming)

(This is the main building.)

(Royal Ontario Museum, Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. Only had time to visit the gift shop.)

Well friends, I had many more adventures, too numerous to recount here.

I find I am so D-O-N-E with running. I mean really. I am done! I haven't run since Saturday. Let's see if It can force myself to lope around 3 miles in the a.m.

Meanwhile, have I mentioned that I'm going to sign up for this?

I hear that all the cool kids are doing them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Oh Canada

Yes, I'm finally going to visit the planet Canada, home to my favorite boss, the Running Blogfather, the Pink Chick, Adeel, and others too numerous to mention! You know who you are. Anyway, as the people in my office said, "Canada: America's biggest state!" (THEY WERE KIDDING! Stop throwing things.)

I'm excited. I'd be more excited if I wasn't going to Toronto for work, and even more excited if I didn't have to wake up at 4 a.m. to get myself to the airport by 4:30 to get on the plane by 6 a.m., to get to the city by 8 a.m. in order to get to my first class—video editing, watch out—by 9 a.m.! CAN SHE DO IT??

My life is so outta control.

I just got home from a rockin' concert at the National Cathedral. Yep, our bishop (John Chane) is a rocker, hosting Graham Nash, David Crosby, John "Still the One" Hall (now a congressman!?!), Jackson "Running on Empty" Browne, Emily (Indigo Girls) Saliers, Keb Mo', and Krishna Das. Fantastic night. Think peace, people.

And just two days ago, I was running around the Cathedral like a chicken with its head cut off. Picture this: Saturday, 10 a.m., 6-mile run just to get me back in the saddle. After that, I remembered (after I forgot) that I had promised a friend to run a 4K "fun run" at noon to raise money for a local school on the Cathedral grounds. So off I went. But someone forgot to tell me that the National Cathedral is on a hill. Like the highest hill in the city. $@#!%^&!!

But I brought it on home, and I wasn't last. I chased several boys (some things never change) away as I came up behind and said "Don't let an old lady pass you!" That never fails to get 'em going.

7.5(ish) miles. Booyah!

(See how this post all fits together? Cathedral? Running? Canada?)

To my northern friends, I leave you:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Shiny Happy People

Newly 21-year-old Number One Daughter with New (1996) Shiny Happy First Car of Her Own:

(Givin' some car love. Her comment? "I never expected to own a car of my own." I raised her right!)

(Honda Civic Ex, since you asked.)

And now, on to the main event!

Remember this?

And who could forget this?

Or this?

After being without a bathroom for oh, six weeks or so, I finally got this (2/3 paid for by absentee upstairs landlord):

(Finally! Serenity now!)

(This one's for Thomas; he likes stars.)

(Look! Our first Real Toilet Paper Holder!)

It's all good. Well, except for the part where they removed the only outlet in the bathroom and replaced it. With nothing. Good thing I air dry my hair.

I've never had a pretty bathroom before! I might just move in there.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sometimes, Things Just Don't Go Your Way

And you just have to suck it up—because it can always be worse.

My heart goes out to the family of the runner who died in D.C.--25-year-old Michael Banner, according to the Washington Post [LINK UPDATED]. Cause of death: UNKNOWN at the moment. Please take a moment to hold this family in your thoughts and prayers, if you are a praying person.

Thank you for all of your comments. That's all I'll say about the comments, except that I think Peter (who ended up competing in a 26.2 miles "fun run" in Chicago) provided the last word with this thoughtful perspective:
A tragedy, any way you look at it. No runner dies b/c he (she) is "out of shape", he dies b/c events overwhelm his situation (Jim Fixx died after a run due to a congential heart condition). In Chicago a 35 y.o police officer died b/c of the confluence of circumstances, and we all mourn. And running, ultimately, makes all of us continuing participants better (lifestyle hoices) and we have the choice to continue or to retire (no shame in that!). Friends are looking out for us, who can't say that! That's what running can be about for other than the self-posessed, friendship. I have never run a race where there was not an very high high level of care, concern and dedication put out by 99.9% of the administrators. Occasionally bad things happen, as it does in all of life.
Friends ARE looking out for us, and that's a very special thing.

So here is my race recap.

Army Ten-Miler, 2007: 2:02:41 .
Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler, 2006: 1:57

I decided not to bring the water belt because I thought there would be water every two miles. This was not a smart decision, given the weather that day. I know better than to put my well-being entirely in someone else's hands. There are always things that can happen that are out of our control. Hopefully, I won't make that mistake again.

I missed meeting up with Old School Runner because everything (bag drop, portapotties, starting line) was miles away from everything else. The Pentagon is a lot bigger than it looks on a map. Next time, OSR! Meanwhile, go read his race report.

Things I liked about this race: They had very cool skydivers beforehand, including several from Canada (see Mark? We LIKE Canadians!). And the volunteers did their very best, as race volunteers always do.

D.C. spectators are the BEST. EVER. The course was LINED with cheering folks, kids who high-fived you, and terrific signs. There were marching bands and jazz bands sprinkled throughout. They were all terrific.

Here's how it went down.

Mile 1: 11:24
Mile 2: 11:17 (first water stop)
Mile 3: 11:33
Mile 4: 11:22 (second water stop, only? no water.)
Mile 5: 11:57
Mile 6: 11:29 (third water stop. no water!)
Mile 6.5: Someone spots a double spigot waterfall-fountain-type thing in front of the U.S. Capitol building, with a long line in front of it. I was afraid to wait 'til mile 8 to find out NO WATER there either, so I found a crumpled cup on the ground, and got in line, then scooped up water from the sink the spigots ran into (you know, the place the PIGEONS get their water from), then handed my cup to the next person...I could feel the PR slipping away...and on Sunday, that seemed to matter. Not so much now.
Mile 7: No idea.
Mile 8: Ditto. Here, there was water as advertised (but apparently not for the folks behind me). Between mile 7 and 8 I saw people leave the course and buy water from street vendors. Between miles 7 & 8 I begged a few spectators for something to drink, and one dear person gave me a 1/2 full bottle of water. D.C. spectators rock!

Mile 8 begins the climb up the 14th street bridge—that miserable bridge that I hate with every fiber of my being. I was about 1 hour 35 minutes in at mile 8. I figured if I could just run 12-min miles I'd be OK.

But alas, my brain turned on me. I had been reciting Tammy's mantra: I AM AN ATHLETE! I AM A RUNNER! and then poof, I was all about the pity party. "No chance for a PR, why bother? I hate this bridge and everyone on it. Could someone PLEASE turn off that SUN?!?!" So I walked. I ran some, but I walked.

Miles 7, 8, 9: 38:55 Mile 9 we were still on the bridge. Probably around 9.5 the course descends the off ramp and you turn a corner and bring it on home.

Mile 10: 13:15

The End!

Except, after you cross the mat, it feels like another mile to find water. There's no shade in the Pentagon parking lot. I wandered around trying to find the exit (the exits are monitored, so you can't just come and go). It took me 45 minutes to escape.

I finally found my friends, who had been patiently waiting outside the gates (they finished around 1:20 something—and hung around in the heat, waiting for me. Thanks guys!). But these girls were not happy either. The heat got to everyone.

Things I didn't like about this race: It has a lot of long, endless, never-ending straightaways past scenic federal buildings (not) in which they make the rules that strangle American entrepreneurial...nevermind! Maybe I'm just jaded because I live here, but I don't really think so. I still get choked up when passing monuments. I got choked up when the marching band played "It's a Grand Old Flag" (the song I couldn't get out of my head for the next few miles). The route could have just as easily gone down the National Mall, which is green and pretty. But loads of people disagree with me and like the route just as it is. And since I've never been a race director, what do I know?

So my final ruling? I did my best, I was disappointed, Marines Beat Army, and this is not my favorite race.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Army Ten Miler

I have a full, whiney race report all ready but then I read this and I couldn't publish it.

"Runner dies at Army 10-Miler near Pentagon"

A runner from Fairfax County died Sunday during the Army 10-Miler race near the finish line at the Pentagon.

The runner collapsed about 10:40 a.m. about 200 yards from the finish line, said Col. Jim Yonts. Arlington County medics responded immediately and took the runner to George Washington University Hospital.

The cause of death was not known. Yonts said he did not know the runner's age. The runner was a civilian, not a member of the military, he said.

"It's a tragedy nonetheless," Yonts said.

The race started in 70-degree heat and high humidity. Race officials said there was plenty of water and first aid stations along the course.

Well, I was there. After promising water every two miles, they ran out at miles 4 and 6. So that last statement? Either someone is ignorant or someone is lying. Half my post was about the lack of water.

But you know what? I didn't die. Didn't PR, but I didn't die.

Friday, October 05, 2007

I Got Me a Race to Run!

Along with a few other people this weekend, like Juls, Jon, Peter, Old School, and I'm sure many others i'm forgetting. (Oh and THOMAS! GO THOMAS in Loch Ness!)

Good luck to everyone!

My race is a little thing called the Army Ten Miler, but with all the hype around this race—plus the face that I've been training for it since June—you'd think it was the Marine Corps Marathon. Seriously it's a Big Deal in D.C.

So to prepare, I ran four miles on Tuesday (after my spinning instructor FAILED to SHOW at 6:30 a.m. No problem, I only had to GET UP at 5:30 a.m. to get there on TIME. Don't get me started.) Then I went to one spinning class on Thursday.

And—c'est cela!

Except I have also eaten every single thing that wasn't nailed down.

Oh, and worked straight 12-hour days. Oh, and yelled at one too many people. I actually googled this, and yep, irritability and weird eating are symptoms.

So, much of my week was spent apologizing to people for losing my temper. That's always fun.

I'm pretty sure this is what, say, Runner's World prescribes for the week before a race.


But, turns out that that's not the problem. This is:

I'm working too hard and not getting enough sleep and it makes me mad. So then I eat too much and the wrong things and stay up late reading because damn it, I'm entitled!

And the cycle begins again.

I've never claimed to make any sense, people. I'm gonna ask LBTEPA for a plan. She's the best at plans! It's all about one step at a time.

But, them's the breaks. I AM looking forward being in a race in which so many people I know are running.

So, it should be fun, even though headphones are really, seriously banned. I will have to make do with my 25,999 fellow runners for entertainment. Or I could just sing a few thousand bars of Good King Wenceslas.

Cuz we know it's worked before.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

What Women Actually Look Like

Drop what you are doing and check out the Illustrated BMI Categories Project.
The collection includes photos of women along with their weights and body mass index numbers. The pictures show normal looking women who are technically overweight, thin women who are normal weight, and supposedly obese women who look like pretty much everyone you know.

About freakin' time.

Via Tara Parker-Pope, author of the new and fantastic blog WELL, at NYtimes

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Not My First Oly Tri

Oh didn't I mention that I did an Olympic distance tri over the weekend? No? I left that part out?

That's because well I didn't actually, like, personally compete myself. OK? Sheesh. Can't a girl live vicariously? And sheesh again, I gotta start somewhere!

But since my good 50-something friend, let's call her Eileen, happened to complete her first Olympic Tri, and happened to KICK ITS ASS, well, let's just say I'm gonna draft off her glory.

I begged her to let me post her race recap. She finally relented. So please join me in a tip o' the cap to Eileen, who submits this Official Olympic Distance Race Recap:

The sea was rough that day, my friend.....hahahahha a line from Seinfeld.....

I was told it would still be dark out as we started the race. I knew this went against everything I knew about time, sunrises and the calendar BUT, it worried me very, very much. The day before the event, I checked the weather forecast for 5:45ish and read that there would be wind and a wind chill of 44 degrees! 44 degrees and the failure of the sun to rise as usual would not be good. I threw all caution to the wind and rose at 4:45 for my nice cup of laxative....I mean coffee. That worked like a charm and as I walked out to put my stuff in the car I noticed what a nice mild morning it was.

As K drove to the race the moon shone brightly through the sun roof but I detected a brightening in the East. We arrived at the parking area and noticed an amazing number of young and fit bodies. We also notice a good number of 50something women. I told K. that there is something biological and spiritual and mental about women and endurance sports. They were all beautiful and friendly and helpful. As we approached the entrance to the transition area one of the event staff, a 50-something woman said to me, "You can't come in, only the athletes." K. said "She's the athlete!" She said "Oh, good for you....are you in a relay?" That gave me little boost! In another life I would have been very pissed off, but now, I"m an athlete!!

I set up my little transition area and went to get marked. I wore the 56 on my calf with pride.

The race started with raising the flag as the SUN ROSE at 6:30 and the Star Spangled Banner was sung. I waded out to the starting buoy and found it hard to figure the course out. I just figured I'd find someone to pace myself with an took off about 15 seconds after the starting gun. I was in the wave with the Elite and 22 to 25 year old men [SORRY WE INTERUPT THIS RACE REPORT TO MAKE SURE YOU GOT THAT. SHE WAS IN THE WAVE WITH THE ELITE. MEN. 22-25 YEAR OLD MEN. SHE'S 56. THIS IS NOT AN ERROR, I REPEAT, NOT AN ERROR] so I let them get a good head start. Swimming that distance in a wetsuit was almost effortless. I couldn't believe it when I reached the turn. Unfortunately, not being able to follow the buoys, which were on my left, I passed the turn buoy on my right shoulder so I swam back and around with it on my left. That was a challenge. The swim back to the start was difficult because the sun was so bright and it was very hard to see through the glare and my goggles were starting to fog. There is a very strange primal reaction that some swimmers have when they come up behind you. It's very similar to a baby grasping at a finger right after birth. If a swimmer feels a foot or an ankle, he grabs on and pulls! Fortunately, that only happened a couple of times and I do understand because they would have been the fastest swimmers of the second wave so they are very competitive.

Coming out of the water was spectacular. The crowd was cheering and since I was in the first wave, the crowd was practically at its capacity and cheering!! Awesome feeling! My wet suit came off pretty easily, although I did get a funny little cramp in my left calf from the weird pulling and stretching you have to do to get out of the cuffs. I wasn't very careful about putting my cycling shoes on and the right one was too loose. I was so concerned about using the bathroom that I rushed through that important detail. The ride was a pure delight! The time of day, the temperature, the countryside, the views, the bike, the Pedialyte. Everything was perfect. I was surprised when we reached the end and felt totally psyched to run.

K. was there at every transition. He was in the front of the crowd when I came out of the water and he was way down in front at the bike dismount! It was great to hear him and to see his surprise when I arrived on the bike ahead of schedule. He called our friends, who were visiting, and told them "you better hurry if you want to see Eileen finish. She's way ahead of schedule!"

I was amazed at how comfortable the run felt and was surprised at how quickly the mile markers passed. There was Gatorade and water at every mile and I took it because I felt one of those little side cramps developing. The Gatorade did its job and I just kept running. On the last mile of the run I passed two 55-year-old women. I figured why not move up in the standings if I could...and I found, I COULD, so I did!

The refreshments afterwards left much to be desired. A few bagels, two jars of peanut butter, a squirt bottle of ketchup, a jar of Nutella and two scary knives to cut bagels and spread. The entry fee for the event was $180 ....I think they could have done better. There was a barbeque at around 11am, but who wants to wait and who really felt like a burger? THE END

Not quite the end, Ei.

Swim: 36:03
T1: 5:42
Bike: 1:24:48
T2: 4:51
Run: 1:03:22


We're all about the love here at NBTR headquarters. Give it up for my girl Born to Tri Ei!

The Black Knight Needs Your Help!

I just this minute received word that our friend and leader The Black Knight has had some very very bad luck. Details are still coming in, but I know this much:

Yesterday I got home after 13 days in the hospital for a surgery to rebuild my thigh bone broken in 2 parts with pieces everywhere. It was (is) painful and boring. I don’t know when and how I will be back to run but for sure I don’t surrender.
With kind regards
[The Black Knight]

Please rush right over there and leave him some comment love! Updates to follow.