Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Always wear sunscreen

Always. Don't argue with me about it - just do it.

I went in for my every other year dermatology appointment a month or so back and the dermatolologist said, "Let's just pop that mole right off your back." She numbed the area, removed the mole and called a week or so later to say the mole was benign but....

The but was that the area was in a "premelanoma" state and they wanted to remove skin from around the area. This is the point at which it's not skin cancer but it probably would have been if they hadn't caught it when they did. So now it's carving a hole in my back, six months from now probably would have been a very different story. I know it's no big deal - but it's one of those brushes with things we'd rather not think about moments.

The moral of the story folks (say it with me): ALWAYS WEAR SUN SCREEN.

As a result, I have to take an extra day off of running because I want to make sure nothing gets jarred open, so instead I'm going to go out and walk like six miles today. It's not a hard thing to do at all.

A quick update on the bike fund. I've been doing the "savings scavenger hunt" method of painlessly putting aside a few dollars here and there. What I do is put any ones I receive ending in 7 or 11 in my piggy back, which has now added up to $43. This is not counting all the change in my change jar that I rolled - which brings the total to $65. Granted $10 or so was contributed by the youngest as a "sorry I helped wreck your original bike that you adored." So by the spring I should have a healthy chunk o' change to go out and get a nice road or hybrid bike.

::Doing a happy pika dance::

Well off to literally run errands... or would that be walk errands?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Happy New Year!

Happy 5767!

Since we all make resolutions around new years (Jan 1st, birthdays and such), my resolution this year is to be faster, leaner and stronger.

Oh wait, I'm already working toward that.

So to celebrate, I did what I love doing on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur: instead of shutting myself up in a stuffy, overcrowded building, I went down to Scituate Lighthouse to get a little review and perspective.

I honestly believe when you grow up somewhere you have this sort of odd connection to the place. For me, I spent the bulk of my teen years sitting on the jetty by the lighthouse. Sometimes I would ride my bike there, other times I'd walk from Minot Beach all the way along the shoreline (except for one little stretch that was a bit tough to scamble around - so I'd just walk a block on the road) to the lighthouse. As an adult, I find myself there when I need to think things through and I always go down at least once during the High Holy Days.

Saturday morning dawned gray and ominious. It wasn't long before it started raining, which frustrated me a bit. By noon time it had stopped and it hit me - why didn't I bring my running stuff and cover from the lighthouse to First Ave and back. According to the USTFA maps, it was 3 miles and - if I started and stopped in the right spot, I could make it the 3.1/5k distance.

The roads around there are relatively flat - so it wouldn't overly stress the knee I've been nursing pretty much all week. I wanted to run because, after a week of nothing, I felt like a total schlub and that was not a good way to start a new year.

Mr. Bear came with me and brought a book. He likes sitting down there and meditating or reading - it really is a relaxing spot. So I started on one side of the lighthouse and took off with the Funk soundtrack for background music. (Yeah, yeah, it was a Jewish holiday so maybe I should have thrown on some Matisyahoo or Soul Farm - but I hadn't synced the mp3 player in over a week so it seemed Funk would be the right thing to shake me out of my lethargy.)

I ended up running it in 42 minutes - not bad, not great. It's 3 minutes off my best pace (so far) and, at the turn around, I allowed myself to walk for a 2:30 because I could feel the inner loser start saying things like, "What about your knee?" I use the walking as a test in these situations. I set a time I'm going to walk - in this case it was until the end of the song - and I must walk the set time. If I'm antsy to start running during any of that time, I remain walking and begin running again at the time I determined. For me it's a sign that I'm able to continue running all the way.

Within 30 seconds, I was antsy.

By the end of the song, I was so relieved to start running again, that it was no longer a question of could I run the distance and was more of a statement I can run the distance.

It was also a good run. I love being able to smell the ocean and hear the waves crashing as I run. Even though Cedar Point is heavily built up with bungalows, cottages and more than a few mcmansions on stilts - there are some stunning stretches where you can look out and just see open ocean stretching out for miles. Also there are those handful of salt marshes between rows of houses out on the point itself instead of manicured lawns. When you get to the lighthouse and hae the open ocean on one side of the jetty and the harbor on the other, it can be as dramatic a contrast as night and day.

Yesterday they were both pretty even, but I've been down there days when the harbor was still and calm while the waves on the ocean side were breaking higher than the roofs of the big houses down there.

When I finished, I walked out to the end of the jetty and sat on the base of the beacon light at the end for a while just watching waves form and seagulls playing in the wind. One flew by with a crab in its mouth which it dropped slightly behind me on the jetty to break open the shell. There was only one stinkpot (motorized pleasure boat), but the person piloting it was taking it slow and seemed to be enjoying being at sea - a welcome relief as often I see people in those boats going like a bat out of hell, skipping across the surface like a rock across a pond.

Instead there is a calm around me. Eventually a dad comes out with his two little boys to interupt my reverie and I realize it's time to come in. I make my way down the jetty as I see another father and son heading out - this time carrying fishing gear. A little girl plays further down on the wall under the watchful eye of her parents and a wedding party begins making their way down to the harborside beach with photographer. As I get to the end, anther limo pulls up with a second bride for photos. I hear her tell them, "I have no problem climbing up on the rocks..."

It's funny because she's in a sheath style gown and high heels. As I get back to the car, the other wedding party is back from the beach shaking sand from their shoes and hems before climbing in the stretch Cadillac SUV limo waiting for them. We drive off shortly after they do and we notice the bride and her escort (looked too old to be her new husband... but who can tell these days) standing atop a particularly high part of the rocks so the lighthouse is framed behind them.

"It was a good run today," I tell Mr. Bear as we drive off.

"Glad to hear it. You're knee feels OK?"

"It feels just fine," I say as I lean back into the seat and peel open a banana and repeat "it was a good run."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I'm so over the DNF

(NOTE: I was in the process of posting this Monday when my router crashed... apparently it didn't post - so I'm trying again.)

I just got a call from the race director who apologized for yesterday's mix up.

I suggested a few things (which he said he wrote down and likes):

- a cone or something with arrows to direct runners in case they get missed by volunteers

- doing a group walk/run class out of the JCC to prep for next year's race to have people who can walk, run or walk/run it for fun next year

- talk to the timing company about staying longer (They didn't see the last runner on the course and assumed everyone was in.)

Not to mention a lot of the regulars over at the Runner's World forums were not only sympathetic but help me put a lot of stuff in perspective - as well as sharing their stories of DNF's, running a course backwards, being sent the wrong way (or not directed at all and going the wrong way) and such. It's hard when you're in the heat of the moment with a level of expectation to step back and say, "shit happens." It's much easier to do it a day or two later when you have a little time and perspective.

So I'm officially over it now. As I say there were some good things that came from it - including a new way to think of myself. That in itself means it was worth it.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


I was planning a 6 mile long run as part of my training for the Tufts 10 in October when, the other day it hit me: why not sign up for a 10k this weekend? I'm planning on running the distance anyway, there are water stops and support along the course... makes sense to me.

So I signed up for the Run by the Sea 10k at the JCC in Marblehead. The weather was beautiful, a race course along the ocean - what more could a girl ask for?

Apparently I could ask for volunteers that give a flying fart in a dixie cup for the slow, fat old ladies at the back of the pack.

But I'm a little ahead of myself here.

I was a bit nervous about signing up because I looked up last year's results and there weren't a whole lot of folks at my speed... but it looked as though there were only 100 people listed and I've seen it before where the results of the first xnumber are posted but there were others behind them.

There were about 150 people at the start and it was clear the roads weren't closed (except for the initial start when traffic was held up for a few minutes until the pack thinned). Not good signs, but the guy with the bullhorn said, "Go out and have fun" after reassuring us there were "volunteers at every intersection" to make sure we were headed the right way.

So I start towards the back of the pack, as I usually do, and it isn't long before I'm the last runner. I'm not too worried because I now know from experience that plenty of people do run/walks or go out to fast and do recovery walks along the way. I can handle this right?

About 14 minutes in and not seeing a mile marker (maybe it was behind that group of people on the traffic island? But that didn't seem like a mile? Perhaps at the bend where the clam shack is...), my knee started to complain a great deal. I suspect it never really fully healed from twisting it a month or so back, but I did wear the neoprene brace today after last week's 5 mile run left it a bit sore.

Across the road I see a 5 mile road marker, so I figure I'm probably around the 1 mile mark and decide to take it easy on myself... run a mile, walk a mile, run a mile again. Between the knee and giving blood, I wasn't out for a PR or anything like that, just get my 6 in and work from there.

Finally a water station is looming up ahead. The woman who I keep trading places with for last now passes me so I'm last again. I lose sight of her because I can't tell if the two people taking up the whole sidewalk in front of me are part of the race or just walkers. Not to mention the people out jogging, walking their dog and everything else that happens along a busy stretch of public beach front.

I make it to the water table and grab a glass. The guys ignore me and I see a runner go off to the left, so I follow. About a half mile down the road, someone in a volunteer shirt calls out, "Are you running the race backwards?" as she sees me coming up the road.

"No," I reply, "I'm just the last runner."

"I think you're going the wrong way."

I screech to a halt.

"Excuse me?"

"You're going the wrong way, didn't they tell you at the water table to go right?" She pulls out the map and, sure enough, the route went to the right around the neck and looped down the road I am now running the wrong way on.

I could have sat down and cried at that point. I was already the last person. Not only that, because I know have to go back and loop around, I know there's no way I can catch the pack at all along with adding up to another mile to my run. The volunteer looked concerned - she could see I was upset and, to be honest, she was too.

"You could try running down to the point and back - that's probably the same distance and you won't be lost on the course at all."

I do my best to keep my composure as I say - "That's OK, I guess it just wasn't my day today," as I turned around to walk back to the start/finish. As I walk off - OK, as I stomped off - fighting back the tears and anger and emotion that's welling up inside, I see a new water station across from the one where they ignored me before.

I then did something rather childish, I took off my number and said to the woman there supervising the teens (the ones who ignored me) and said, "Do me a favor, in the future if you're not going to tell the fat, old, slow runners where to go on the course, then pick a spot where you don't have to tell anyone where to go."

She was only slightly apologetic... I understand as I probably wouldn't have wanted to been a stranger engaging me at that point. I tossed my number in the trash bag there and kept walking/stomping back.

I went into the registration area to get my bag as they were doing the kid's race registration. I looked at the guy behind the desk and said, "Look, I need to tell someone this and you're probably not the right person but someone with this race needs to know..." and told him what happened. He did apologize profusely and asked for my name and phone number so he could have the race director contact me.

I headed off to shower (one of the perks of this race was they advertised showers would be available) and, now that I had traded my previous huff for a brand new snit, headed out. I got to the entrance where they were breaking down the finish line - 1.5 hours after the race started. I figured the woman I was trading places with must have crossed and figured I'd take a drive to see how far I did make it.

I hadn't gone a half mile when I spotted her walking up the road - so she would finish with no time, no applause, no fanfare... only her personal sense of accomplishment.

Turns out that I logged 4 miles today - 2 running (including the off course part) and 2 walking back. I also realized that I had walked those 2 miles at a 15 minute pace.

I realized in that moment I walked 2 miles as fast as I used to run them a few months ago and over 5 minutes faster than what I think of as my walking pace.

This is where I need to cue the spooky music because fate had a funny little kick in the pants for me. Mr. Bear had left a Grateful Dead CD in the car stereo and just as I realized that I am now walking faster than I realized, the chorus of the song "Estimated Prophet" caught my ear:

Like an angel standing in a shaft of light
rising up to paradise, I'm a gonna shine.

This is where I start thinking about personal accomplishments, progress and labels. I have been OK with the fact that I am middle-aged, slow and fat. Being able to see myself in that light has been good for me, but am I becoming more of the label? If so, how do I change it so that it better suits who I am becoming? Who am I and all that...

It struck me at that point that I am a strong woman - I've had to be for a number of reasons (not the least of which is that's how my mother trained us girls to be). I am growing stronger on a number of different levels. Maybe it's time to think of myself differently. Maybe I need to start seeing myself as a healthy woman who is growing stronger and faster rather than slow and fat.

So, I used that to toss my new snit. Yes, I'm still upset - I didn't get to run my race and that bites. I have my first (and hopefully last) DNF, which makes me feel like a quitter. Even though I know I'm not. Even though I don't feel like I did anything, I really did accomplish something by getting out there. It just doesn't feel that way right now and that hurts.

I'll run my six miles either later this week or next week, I know that... it's just I didn't expect to have my race shut down that way.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Recovery miles

I gave blood Monday and the Red Cross person suggested that I wait until "at least" Wednesday before I start putting any mileage in again. She pointed out that, since the red cells carry the oxygen and I had just donated 10% of my red cells - it would take a little for my body to replace them and I shouldn't expect to much.

At this point I'm pretty sure that some of my lost enthusiasm is because I was nervous about running again after that warning. Suddenly it was noon time and I was still in my pjs - which isn't like me at all - and I knew I had to take action.

I started by putting on my running clothes. It didn't matter if I sat all day in them, it was a physical reminder I had to do something. After a few minutes, I got up and headed out the door to the running path. I figured I'd do at least one mile but the goal was a mile and a half and two miles if I felt good.

I also left the watch at home. No pressure to keep a pace or anything like that - just figure out my timing after the fact by adding up the time of the songs on the mp3 player.

So I went out and the first half mile didn't feel great but it wasn't bad either. I decided to try for the two, but a quarter mile later I realized I really wasn't up for two today, so I headed back. At the one mile mark - where I enter and exit the running path - my head wanted to turn and leave but my feet kept going on their own to do another half mile loop.

In the end it was 1.5 - my goal of the day. When I added up the times, I realized I did it in 19 minutes or a 12:40 pace.

Maybe I should leave the watch home more often.

The rain from Florence is supposed to hit tomorrow and come down through Saturday. I actually like running in the rain, so I'll try to get three miles in on Friday. Maybe I'll go back over to Heartbreak to get over this little glitch as well, maybe just map out 3 miles in the neighborhood. We'll see.

I'm thinking about running in a 10k on Sunday since I was planning on a six mile run any way. The sun's supposed to be back by then and I figure I'd rather do a relatively flat, fast course in Marblehead this week than wait until next week and try the Marine Corp 10k in Milton through the Blue Hills. I don't think I'm ready for that yet. Either way, if I get one in before the Tufts 10k, I'll probably feel a lot better knowing what I'm capable of doing.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The joggers go running two by two

Knowing I'm giving blood on 9/11 and knowing I have to try and get a 5 mile run in before I give blood, I decide to go out on Sunday morning.

I'm scared of doing a five mile run - I've never run that far before and I've never run for more than 40 minutes at a stretch. I've been out longer than 40 minutes, but that was doing walk/runs and there are still times when I struggle running three miles. So with all that in the back of my head, how am I supposed to do a five mile run?

My answer is: where do I face all my challenges? On Heartbreak Hill of course.

Running up the Commonwealth Ave carriage road isn't as hard as it would seem, it's really more of a mental thing because of the nick name and what it means to runners in the marathon. But because of that mental thing, I'm able to get past a lot of my demons there. My inner loser gets a severe ass kicking everytime I do a run there. No wonder it's become one of my favorite running spots.

So around 8 am, I pulled up at City Hall and walked to my starting point and stretched. As I stretched, you could begin to see the runners coming two by two down the road. Running along encouraging or just chatting with each other. Some were fresh, just starting their runs. Others had that sweaty gleam from exerting themselves.

I made a deal with myself that I would run at least 2 miles or 30 minutes up the road - whichever came last. I had to keep reminding myself of that deal as I went along because I wasn't mentally ready to run for some reason.

Centre Street - the 1 mile point - is really a mental barrier for me. Once I get past that point it really gets easier. The hill is still climbing at that point, but it's like there's a piece of me that says, "Good job - you've got a mile done and that's the hardest point." The other mental barrier is Hammond Street, which is the crest of the hill.

I made it past Hammond on the way to Boston College and I was feeling good. The runners are still coming solo and in good sized groups - but mostly they're running in pairs. I can hear their chattering to each other over my Funk soundtrack because I really don't have the volume up when I run since I like my soundtrack to be more background music than anything else. As I come down the hill toward the BC campus, I feel like I can go six miles. I feel good and I don't want to stop.

Is this the "runner's high" I hear people talking about?

I can smell breakfast all around me. The scent of coffee from Dunkin' Donuts - perhaps among one of my favorite smells ever - and frying bacon and toast from the greasy spoon on the corner. I run over past the green line stop to the wall of the former Cardinal's residence. Touching the brick wall marks 2.5 miles - the halfway point. It doesn't matter if I don't run all the way back, it matters that I'm putting in 5 miles total. As I touch the wall, I call out, "I fucking rock!"

A couple of sleepy people on benches outside of the shops look up with a puzzled expression. I don't care, I'm smiling and happy. I've just run 2.5 miles in 35 minutes. It may not be a speed record, but I did it and I'm thrilled as I turn back and start up the hill again.

Now this is the problem with running up and over a hill... you have to run back over it before you can run down the other side. The grade from the Cardinal's residence to Hammond is pretty steep and I'm shuffling along thinking, "I promised myself I'd do 4 miles - I have to make it to Centre Street."

There is a strong breeze blowing in my face. I know that this isn't ideal but it feels great. I keep going up and up and up and up, keeping my eyes on the street ahead of me instead of looking down. I'm scanning the road signs as I shuffle along watching for the one I know will make a difference. I'm looking for the Hammond Street sign as I run one of the longest 3/4's of a mile in my life. Finally I see it and I heave a sigh of relief because, from here on out, it's downhill all the way.

I keep going down the hill, past the synagogue and Kosher strip mall to Centre Street. I did it - four miles and I'm still in pretty good shape. Not great, but feeling OK. I start down the last mile of the hill and I want to tell everyone I pass on the road, "I just ran more than I ever have in my life!" I'm that excited because every step past the four mile mark and I step I haven't really taken before. Instead I can feel the grin on my face as I work my way down the road - the only indicator is when I pass the Johnny Kelley statue calling out, "I did 5 today Johnny." I can hear him say, "That's what I'm talkin' 'bout girl," as I go past.

I run across the crosswalk at Lowell Ave - my start and finish line - with my hands in the air again. I've done it, another personal milestone. As I stop my watch I realize I've broken two barriers because flashing back at me is the time: 1:10:06... a 14 minute pace and pretty even up and back... 35 out, 35 back.

Every time I do one of these runs, I feel that much more confident that I can do the Tufts 10k in a few weeks. Until this point I've been thinking I couldn't run 6 miles, but now I'm seeing I possibly can and it feels good.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Quick miles on busy days

I realized I reached another milestone today. Now that school has started and we're reestablishing routines, I realized that my normal time for running doesn't quite work for a couple of reasons - mostly involving getting kids out the door.

Also, looking at my calendar for the day, I realized time is very tight due to appointments and such. (Yes! Great Fenway Writer's series today with Leigh Montville!!!) Before a few weeks ago I would have ditched my run entirely today thinking: oh I'll just run more later...

Instead I changed up, ran a "quick" mile (under 13 minutes) and then showered up before heading out to my packed late morning/early afternoon schedule. I did it because a quick mile is better than not running at all.

I don't know if I'll get a run in tomorrow and it means I've only got about 6 total for the week - but I did slip it in.

By the way, the Fenway Writers' Series was fabulous as always. Montville is a wonderful story teller and he told great ones today. He started by talking about how he got his job at the Boston Globe in '67 and then stories about Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. He also told the story about how he was asked, "If you could spend a week with either Babe Ruth or Ted Williams - who would it be and why?" He explained he'd spend the week with Williams, who was interested in all sorts of things and could speak on them but if he had to choose between them for spending one night...

I have to agree - partying with Babe Ruth must have been a trip way back when but even in the height of my party girl days it would have been a stretch to go more than a night or two at that pace.

I might try to sneak another mile in before going to the game tonight, we'll see. I know that I'm torn between doing the Race for the Cure on Sunday and other things I should do. Again, we'll see. I know I have to get my long run in before I give blood at noon on Monday 9/11. (By the way - make that day a day to do a public service. I don't know why I started giving blood on that day, but I did. I think it feels right to know that, on the anniversary of a day where so many lives were senselessly taken, I can maybe save one through my actions.)

But I'll figure out when to sneak that run in over the next couple of days. I know it will happen but knowing I'm now at a point where it's more important to sneak in a quick run rather than live with no run is something new and exciting.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Back to school

Not me Lord, the children you gave me.


The punk, the teen and John Steed - and I have no one to blame but myself and the liberal media conspiracy.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Moving in Stereo

Because I raced on Monday, I didn't have it in me to do a 4 miler last night with the scary, crazy military guy. My friend and I decided to get together and run a couple of miles this morning - so we met at Heartbreak Hill.

It's odd to run without my mp3 player - having to set my own cadence and pace isn't a bad thing but it is an unusual thing at this point. I'm also not used to being engaged in a conversation when I run. This is usually my alone time to think through things.

Running with someone else was also nice. It's good to have company once and a while as your striding along listening to the slapping of your shoe on the pavement.

We did the two mile run - up to Centre Street and back. My friend had me set the pace even though she runs slower than I do. I tried to pull back a little so she wouldn't be uncomfortable but keep up to what I'm used to - this meant running a 13 minute pace (26:02 final) which pushed her but was comfortable for me.

She felt good and decided to run a little more and kept going, I had a meeting to get to, so we parted ways at the starting point.

Funny how different it feels to run with someone else. Normally I would have pushed myself to finish faster - trying to beat my 25 minute mark for those 2 miles. Instead I ran at a comfortable pace... which is good too.

On tap for this weekend is a five mile run at some point. Maybe really early Friday or Sunday morning (Saturday I'm taking Nini north for a tri). Maybe it will happen later tomorrow... I don't know, but I am going to run five and I'm going to do it soon. I'm going to do it just to show myself I can and once I get past that, a 10K should be much, much easier.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Run for the Hills 5k

There are many things to learn as a novice runner.

For example you really have to think twice about a 5k "fun run/walk" that includes an elevation chart with the course map.

The hill wasn't any hill, it was one of those killer hills that come at the end and make you understand the Gatorade commercial where you watch that Ironman runner just collapse in painfully slow motion. (OK, he's in slow motion - not the camera speed or race going on around him, so it's really that much worse.)

I managed to shuffle up the freakin' thing without dying.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

The other day I decided I should do a race this weekend, so I checked cool runnings and found this race not too far from my sister's house. I called to see if she was up for it and she figured "why not." Then my niece decided to join us after the Boston Triathlon was cancelled due to Ernesto.

We get to the race and register. The schwag bag had a piggy bank in it... OK. We dropped stuff at the car and morph into the mob starting to form at the start line. I ask my niece if I should go with funk or rock-n-roll cowbell for pace music. She say's cowbell, so I set the player for the cowbell list.

It's a local race and there are around 300 people there - many with jog strollers. I quickly move to the back of the crowd because I know I'm slow. I'm cool with that. The guy in the front on the megaphone is saying something but I can't hear him and I take off at my own pace for a change.

About 12 minutes into the race I'm keeping an eye out for a mile marker so I can pace myself. Lately I've been going out to fast and crossing the 1 mile point at 11:30 and dying on the back end and I'm a little concerned about time and mileage. Since this started on a down hill, I'm particularly worried. Another couple of minutes go by... nothing. Hmmm... I must have missed it so I say out loud, "Run your race, run your pace," (my latest mantra) to check how I'm doing. I seem fine and I keep running.

In front of me is a teen aged boy and (I assume) his father. It is clear the father is a runner and the boy is a beginning runner. I've been watching them from the start - the kid jack rabbitting out, the father getting him to slow down then the kid walking a bit and then trotting with a slow jog and so on. I'm 18 minutes into the race with no idea how far I've gone when I pass them. I tell the kid he's doing great - keep up the good work and I keep on running.

Finally, after 26 minutes I see a water station. The people there are saying "great job - just one more little hill and about a mile to go."

Umm... I've seen the elevation chart - one little hill? I don't think so. I keep going. In front me now is a woman who is obviously a seasoned runner with a little kid. She's running backwards to keep an eye on him and looking for someone following behind me. The kid is a typical little kid with two speeds: wicked fast and wicked slow. I pass them and keep on going as the hill starts to get steep.

Now here's the kicker, I run with my music turned down pretty low because I need to be aware of what's around me. That's just common sense for the most part. This means I can hear what's going on around me as well and I hear this lady say, "See, that's how you run a race. You pick someone you know you can beat and you stay with them to run past them at the end. Right now you should beat the lady in the yellow shirt."

Do I say, "Thanks a lot" or do I ignore them. I remember: run your race, run your pace and keep plodding along.

As she and the kid pass me she says to me, "Keep on going, you're looking good... just like Heartbreak Hill."

Aha, an opening. Remember, she knows I'm wearing earbuds but she doesn't know I can hear her. So I say, "This is steeper - I train on Heartbreak Hill." She gives me that "oops" look. "I live in Newton," I continue, "I run Heartbreak at least once a week and this is much steeper."

She suddenly notices some friends stopped on the side of the road cheering for folks and decides to say hi while the boy looks confused - does he keep going or wait for her? I decide to power past since I can see the top.

At the top my sister and niece jog out to say, "You're doing great - wait til you see your time." I look at the watch and I see I'm around 36 minutes. Not bad.

That's when I notice, on the ground in white is a little mark that reads "3 Miles."

They had painted the mile markers on the ground.

Just as I get close to the finish, someone wants to pull out of the general store near the finish line. A race person is trying to get them to stay put until I can get past them. I finish (according to my watch) in 39:22. That's about right - a 13 minute pace, I'm happy.

When I got home, I double checked on line and found that my official time was 38:36 for a 12:26 pace. It's also 1 second faster than the ESRI/UC 5K - so now I have a new PR of 38:36.

Oh yeah, the kid beat me by one second. While I was busy watching for cars, they were busy employing their strategy of beating the woman in the yellow shirt. I guess whatever works for you - just remember folks, while we all employ that strategy to a certain degree, please don't be inconsiderate enough to say it in earshot of the person you're trying to beat. Words can really hurt and just think about how you'd feel if you heard someone saying that about you on a bad day.

Fortunately for me, it was not a bad day.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

An Easy Mile

Normally I don't run two days in a row, but today I was really itching to do something - so I went out for an easy mile.

I went down to the running path and really did an easy mile on the path when it hit me - it wasn't that long ago that I couldn't run a mile... let alone an easy mile.

How cool is that?

Not only that, I tried some heel-lock lacing on my 991's and it made a big difference in the feel of the shoe. I think I'll have to do that with them from now on. Of course getting them off my feet was a pain in the butt, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.

I added a new feature to my side bar: other runner's blogs. Different people are at different points of running. Some are like me - just getting started - while others are having Ironman dreams. It's good to see that you're not alone out there trying to do this thing and we all have dreams, goals and expectations of ourselves... whether it's running an "easy" mile or surviving the Ironman.

Friday, September 01, 2006

See you in September

Put me down for 3 miles on Heartbreak today. I did it in 37 minutes - just over a 12 minute pace.

This morning I realized that I really do love running up Heartbreak Hill. Am I strange for enjoying that run? I'm not sure what it is I like about it so much, but I really do like it.

Another odd thing I find myself doing lately is running a hand along my thigh so I can feel the muscles that are starting to really define themselves and make themselves known. I feel so strong and lean. (Yeah, yeah, I know I'm about as lean as David Wells - but I still feel that way.)

There are other things I've been noticing too - like being able to stretch better and even sleeping a bit better as well.

I'm also loving this cool weather. While it's good to work up a healthy sweat, I love that the temperatures are cool enough that I'm not drenched in sweat by the end of my run. I actually feel refreshed, not bedraggled. I'm glad I read that chapter in Bill Roger's book that said dress for 10 minutes into your run, not the current temp. If I hadn't, I would probably be all sweaty and uncomfortable.

Because school starts next week, I'll get back into a groove after the holiday. Today I'll spend some quality time going through a couple of cook books and going over some basics with Micah about making his own lunch in the morning. I think I may see if my bike rack fits on his bike better than mine and pick up one with the support bars for mine so I can use my shopping bag (it really needs that extra bar so it doesn't bang against the tire.

Oh yeah - I'm thinking that whole 7/11 serial number thing was a good idea. Already I've received 4 ones where the number ended in 7 or 11. At this rate, I should have enough for a real bike before I know it. Later today I'm going to see if the boys will go for a ride with me. I don't know where - maybe on the path or something. I just know I want to get them (and me) riding.

I just added up the running mileage for August - 35.2 miles. That averages out to more than 8 miles a week. I know it's not a lot to someone who runs big things (marathons and such) - but I've been running over 8 miles a week.

Wow! Just wow. Who'd have ever believed it.... I can honestly say, not me.