Friday, October 30, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon 2009, Spectating Part 1

Last weekend was a whirlwind.

My bloggy (and now real-life) friend, Dianna, was coming into town to BQ at the MCM (I love it when I talk like that) and I was lucky enough to watch her do it.

I'd met Dianna (aka the running chick with the orange hat) in the flesh only once before, when she ran Boston in 2007, like this:
I think this was around mile 9

And prior to that, I had only talked to her once, as I was slogging through mile 21 of the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon, when Susie handed me the phone and Dianna wished me well and I blubbered back, "I love you!"

So it's not like she went into this thing blind!

Dianna was staying in Crystal City (Arlington, Va.), near Number One Daughter's domicile. I decided to spend the night at NOD's place so it would be easy to meet up with Dianna on Saturday morning and get to the race expo early. (Also gave me the excuse I've been waiting for to spy on spend the night at NOD's. Turns out? NOD is ridiculously neat and organized. The apple apparently does fall far...) Anywho, I had to get 7 miles in on Saturday morning, so resorted to using the treadmill in NOD's exercise room at 6 a.m.


I kind of forgot how utterly totally miserable 7 miles on a treadmill, in a windowless, airless soul-sapping mirrored exercise room, with some horrible Britney Spear-like videos blaring from the TV, can be. After 1 mile I was swimming in sweat. I could feel the skin rubbing off certain tender parts of my body. HAVE I MENTIONED BEFORE HOW MUCH I HATE RUNNING?

God knows how, but I hung in there, 7 miles all told in 1:20 (11:30 min. miles). My biz done, I washed up, suited up and met Dianna at Pentagon City metro at 8:30 a.m.

I was full of warnings about lines wrapping around the block. Instead, we got there and waltzed right through packet pickup. So much for having the inside poop.

I had, however, cleverly brought NOD's camera with me, instead of my old utterly reliable one, because her's is compact and you can drop it and it won't break. I was going to document Dianna within an inch of her life.

Here's my BEST SHOT of the Expo experience:

Although this isn't too bad:

Pretty funny:

Where's Dianna, you ask??



How about some sexy Marines, at least??


Well, we left the Expo and went on our merry way. First order of business, score some crack:
Chinatown's (D.C.) Starbucks

We toyed with going to the Spy Museum (if you're ever in D.C., definitely go, it's worth every penny), but decided to stay low key and headed instead to the free Smithsonian American Art Museum, where we fooled around in this excellent exhibition. (It never ceases to amaze me how little I take advantage of this city's abundance. Thank God for friends coming to town to pull me off my couch of doom.)

We had some fun there. I took some more excellent photos of inanimate objects:
This is an amazing piece of folk art--an altar composed entirely of tin foil!

Next, we met up with Dianna's travel companions (her friend K was running MCM, and had her husband and two adorable kiddies with her) for lunch, which I conscientiously chronicled thusly:

Kids: one is a boy and one is a girl.

Dianna. I think.

It was right about here that I noticed that just possibly, something was wrong with the camera...

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Water Water Everywhere But How Do I Carry It?

Mon Dieu, 24 comments on a post bitching about water-bottle belts?? Apparently I struck a nerve. Marketers, heads up: Unmet Need Awaits Breakthrough Invention!

I tried to summarize and tabulate from the comments (although some people had trouble committing):

But here's the final tally (as best as I could sort it):

The handsdown winner: Various configurations of multi-bottle fuel belts--7 votes
Runner up: single-bottle holder--4 votes
Handheld--3 votes (I am secretly jealous of people who can run with handhelds because I think they are bad-ass.)
Camelbak--2 votes
Small camelbak--1 vote
Leave cooler by the side of the road--1 vote

There were some equivocal comments left on Facebook, too. One kind soul (thanks Lynn!) even offered to let me borrow her multi-bottle one, although the thought of wearing it makes me cringe.

Finally, a few of you referred me to the excellent Running and Rambling hydration 101 series.

This is obviously a field of study that needs more ... studying. Someone should offer a Ph.D. in fuel bottles/hydration systems/water carriers (first item of business: decide what to call these things.)

The bottom line is: I will have to move out of my comfort zone, and try something new!

Which one will she choose??

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Color Is Your Water Bottle??

Stand back, I'm about to revitalize our sad economy: I'm buying a new water-bottle carrier.

I'm sick of mine. Sick, sick, sick of it!

(Who knew a water belt could garner so much passion??)

The problem with my current carrier, (which holds one-bottle at a rather jaunty angle in the rear) is that the bottle is always bouncing around, the velcro fastener never works right, and the zipper is broken. A trifecta of fail.

But possibly the worst sin of all: It really makes me look fat!

I've tried several makes of water bottle carriers. I'm not a fan of those multi-mini-bottle ones, you know, like this:

I'd rather not publicly identify the maker of the one I currently use, so as not to unintentionally offend anyone longing to send me some belts to test (FTC blogger review rules notwithstanding).

I've never tried a hand-held, but I have a feeling that would also make me crazy.

What I really need is a guy on a bike riding alongside me, handing me various things as I need them (water, gu, bandaids, sympathy, wine, cookies, etc.)

Until that happens, I need to find a fab water-belt carrier.

What we need is a water-beltoff.

What kind of fuel belt do you use, and why? Do you love yours? Why, or why not?

The comments are open!

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Secret to Life

In other news: I finally found the perfect apartment on Capitol Hill. (My grand plan is to move into the city, and rent out my condo in Bethesda). I've been looking pretty much every Sunday afternoon.

So I finally found the perfect place: a gorgeous one-bedroom basement apartment with a fireplace (working!) and loads of light, on a much sought-after block.

See? Who would ever guess this is the basement??!

Silly me, I figured that owning my own place and working at the same company for 12 years would make me a shoo-in for any apartment I wanted. The world was my oyster! (Within a certain price range.)

Not so much.

I got turned down.


It's not enough to get rejections from, now I'm not good enough to RENT TO?


I don't think the owners even checked my credit, because they said they'd charge $35 to do so, and I never heard from them.

I'm so naive.

Apparently, they just did not like me. (I know, it boggles the mind.)

Some days I wander around thinking that I'm the only one who doesn't know what the answer is.

I wish someone would spill the beans.

Feel free to leave it in the comments.

We used to have to get up at six in the morning, clean the paper bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down t' mill, fourteen hours a day, week-in week-out, for sixpence a week, and when we got home our Dad would thrash us to sleep wi' his belt.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Satan, Thy Name Is Procrastination

Maybe it's the time of the year? Or maybe I have finally found the thing I excel in? Wasting time?

Saturday is "long run" day, but because I'm not running with any particular group (there's no more Trail Snails, sniff!), and no one is waiting for me, this is what happens:

7:00 a.m. Wake up, make breakfast. Get on computer. Read e-mails. Cruise the New York Times.

Look! It's only 7:30! I can get out to the trail by 8, home by 9:30, perfect. Whole day in front of me. I'll just quickly check out the comments on this Washington Post article...

...I can't believe people actually believe that the H1N1 vaccine is a mad pinko Communist gummint plot to take over the world!!! Must lower blood pressure. Let's check Google Reader.

Time: 8 a.m. No problem. I can get on the trail by 8:30, be home by 10. Whole day in front of me. Meanwhile, let's check out Crooks and Liars.

Maybe cruise over to Andrew Sullivan.

There's PLENTY of time to check Facebook.

Just, you know, to see if anyone posted anything interesting.

Wouldn't want to be left out.

WTF!?! How did it get to be 10 a.m.?!?!

And, etc. Like that.

Until it's noon. And then my day is messed up.

Even better is Sunday morning, when I actually DO have to be somewhere by 11ish, and the morning starts the exact same way, with GOBS of time to go for a nice long bike ride, right up until it's 10:30 and TOO LATE to go.

I'm a menace to myself.

Why do I do this?? I didn't used to be like this. Apparently, I cannot be left to my own devices.

Do you do this? How do you stop it?? Cuz it's starting to screw up my life!

In other news, I ran 7 miles on Saturday, which is the farthest I've run since last spring!

It's all coming together!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Uno, Dos, Tres...Cartorce?

I have a perfectly good reason for not blogging.

I've been reading.

No really.

I come home from work, make dinner, curl up on the couch and read.

For like HOURS.


But I know you've been wondering.

And the answer is: YES.

YES, I have been running!

You can read all the gory details right over there --------->

in my little workout log.

After some dithering around, I finally settled on a half-mary training schedule. (As my friend LBTEPA is wont to say: All hail the schedule!)

Runners' World
has a nifty little tool called SmartCoach (thanks for the tip, Adam!) You plug in all your numbers and out pops a training plan.

My training plan calls for three runs a week. (That's not enough, is it? Oh well, it's a start.)

The week of the 20th (one week after Nation's Tri) I put in 14 miles.

Last week, I ran 15 miles.

And so far this week I'm up to 9, with 7 on tap for Saturday.

I LOVE IT. I love having structure. I loves me a good plan! I am ever-so-gradually getting a teensy bit faster.

But mostly I'm trying to help myself learn to like running.

Cuz, you know what?

This s*** is hard!

Harder than cycling, where you're at least sitting down!

Harder than swimming (except for open water, nothing beats that for hard), where you get a wall every now and then!


Who knew?

And speaking of swimming and hatred, I dragged myself back to American University for a structured swim class (sort of pre-Masters') on Sunday nights. This is led by the same evil swim coach that I had in the spring. (Remember "Can you FEEEEL the water?") Yes, Coach Tammy is happy to once more be kicking my ass.

So, I'm starting again, again.

I have many more adventures to tell you about, plus kind of a big story to tell. But that will have to wait.

First, I want to wish great good luck to Adventures-in-the-Thin-Trade-David, who is running the Hartford marathon on Sunday, and Now-the-Plan-Is-This-Allison who is running the Melbourne martathon, her first! Better you than me!

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with this video of my boyfriend, the awesome-if-egomaniacal Bono, who was in town to see me a few weeks ago, and who I dragged my friend Sandy to see at a nice intimate concert for 100,000 people at FedEx Field (rant about massive and overpriced, overproduced concerts held for future post) and she has the incriminating photos to prove it (so she says, anyway; ¿Dónde está?, Sandy??!):