Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Make a New Start

Today's music: Misplaced by Moshav (think Creed - only Jewish instead of Christian), particularly the song "Lift Up Your Head:"

So lift up your head child and open up your heart
Today is a new day, gonna make a new start.

That's what today's run felt like. It was my first real run in two weeks and it wasn't a good one. It took me just as long to run a 5k distance as it did to run a 10k distance before this cold felled me a couple of weeks ago. I know that I need to be patient with myself, I'm getting to an age where I don't recover like I used to and all that - but it was still frustrating to be unable to run a full mile.

I did a run/walk today - running until something cried "Uncle" and then walked to full recovery before attempting to run again. Of the whole distance, I probably ran half of it. There was a time that would have been a joyous moment but now it feels weak.

At least I made it through the distance. I know I couldn't have attempted this a week ago. I suspect that by my Monday New Year's hangove race I'll be closer to "normal"... and yes, I will take it easy and listen to my body and all that folks, I'm impatient but I'm not stupid. I know it won't be long before I'm back on track and this blip on the radar will be just that; however, it doesn't keep me from feeling frustrated in this moment now.

But as the song says: today is a new day, gonna make a new start.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

TAG: Fun With Books

From L*I*S*A's blog:

1. Find the nearest book.
2. Name the book & the author.
3. Turn to page 123.
4. Go to the fifth sentence on the page. Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.
5. Tag three more folks

OK, the nearest book to me is:

A Great and Glorious Game by A. Bartlett Giamatti

There are only 121 pages - so I will go to page 121 instead of 123 (which is blank) and is the statement about banning Pete Rose from the Baseball Hall of Fame for life. The three sentences are:

"The matter of Mr. Rose is now closed. It will be debated and discussed. Let no one think that it did not hurt baseball."

How true is that?

OK... who's next? Nini? Pat? Denise? anyone?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sometimes the cold catches you

I caught a cold. It's been chasing me for a while and it looked like I beat it until Sunday morning when I woke up and I felt like crap.

I knew it was coming and took four days off last week. I just didn't have the energy to go out and run. I thought that if I took a few days off then I'd be fine. But Sunday morning the stars just weren't aligned for the Old Magoun Saloon race.

First up - picking up Gazelle Boy at his father's house. Good thing I called ahead because no one was up in spite of hammering out specific times when he picked up the boys Friday afternoon. The reason for the call ahead of time - because I knew that they'd still be asleep in spite of making definitive plans.

We were almost to the race when I noticed the heat had stopped working in the van. About two blocks away, the van began to smell funny and the "check gauges" light came on as the temperature gauge rose.

Not good at all.

Then, when we lined up, I started up my Nike+ only it had a hard time finding the sensor and kept turning itself off. While I started off well keeping up with the pack, about a mile in my lungs just said, "What are you doing?" and seized up. It wasn't an asthma seize, more like a traffic stopping protest march to remind me who was in control.

Yes folks, I was tired, cranky and wasn't real fond of the government at that point.

Fortunately one of the race volunteers was right there and gave me a ride to within a couple of blocks of the start/end before going on to his next traffic direction post. I could have walked the race or even have walked back - but this just made life nicer.

Gazelle Boy came into a neck and neck race at the end, with the other guy pulling a shoulder ahead of him for the 12th & 13th spots. We went inside, had some eggs and juice and decided to see if the van could make it the 20 minute drive home.

Good thing I have AAA.

We made it to within a couple of miles of home when it was clear the van was toast. The radiator was leaking - it still had water/fluid in it, which is good, but it was clear there was a leak somewhere in the system. I called Mr. Bear who met up with us and sat there until the truck showed and then followed us to the mechanic.

By then I was toast. I got in my jammies and curled up on the couch to read the papers and have been down ever since sucking on zinc lozengers and drinking water like a camel at a desert oasis.

Today I do need to get myself in motion whether I want to or not. I'm feeling far better than I did yesterday but I'm sad that I don't have the energy to run or do yoga or anything.

Of course, for some reason, blogger flagged me as a "spam blog." WTF???? I originally thought the email they sent me was some sort of phishing expedition - you know like the fake AOL and Ebay messages that appear in my mailbox on a daily basis. But in logging on this morning, I found out it was a real message and now have to go through the "hey folks, really, I'm not a spam blog" process. So who knows when this will finally go up at the site.

Just another reason to nag Mr. Bear to put blogging software up on our server.

In the meantime - Happy Christmahannukwanzica to everyone.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Running Down a Dream

Sunday I ran for 6 miles.

I didn't run/walk, I didn't walk. I ran 6 miles. I had never run a full 6 miles before that and I felt fantastic.

I also stuck to plan this week - 30 minutes of yoga on Monday (and one foot sort of off the floor in crow pose now) and a 4 mile run today.

But what happened last night was one of those odd, "I can't believe I did this" moments.

Every spring there is a 10 mile race in Washington, DC - the Cherry Blossom 10 miler. It's limited to 10,000 runners and it always fills up the first day of registration. Yesterday was the first day of registration and last night I thought I'd see what would happen if I tried.

It was as if something possessed me from the moment the thought crossed my mind until the registration confirmation email appeared in my inbox a few moments later. Think about it - 10 miles; in DC; on April 1... what was I thinking?

I obviously wasn't thinking it was the last weekend to get my home ready for Passover or traveling back and forth... you know, life details. Instead I was thinking about how beautiful it would be to run along the Potomoc with the cherry blossoms in bloom to welcome spring properly.

I never understood people who traveled far and near for certain races and now here I am doing what I didn't understand before. That race will mark the start of my 11th month of running and, right now, I can think of a better way to celebrate.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Baby it's cold outside

I have to admit that I never thought I'd be able to run in the cold - but this week has taught me differently.

Today I went out for a 5k run in balmy 38* temps. It was hard getting myself dressed and out the door. I reasoned I did a half hour of yoga and it was cold out. But it wasn't as cold as yesterday. Mr. Bear pushed a bit too reminding me it gets dark earlier these days and I needed to get out before it got dark.

I finally headed out around 2:30 and set the iPod for a 5k run and loaded up a 140 BPM podrunner mix. It's funny, in spite of one of my better 5k times, my pace wasn't as even as it normally is - today's looked a little more roller coaster like when the Nike site plotted the time and distances.

One thing I did notice was that being a shade dehydrated can make a huge difference in your run. My legs felt tighter. I was truly aware of making them work today. My mouth was dry the whole time and felt like I had cotton in the corners. Not exactly a pleasant feeling. I'm glad it was a short run today.

Wow... 5k is a short run. An easy 3 so to speak - I really have come a ways haven't I? Tomorrow is my long run day and I'm planning on a 6 mile run. I haven't decided if I'll go over to the Marsh Post and do Paulie's course but throw in an extra loop somewhere (that's what all those mapping sites are for... right?), over to Heartbreak or along the Charles someplace. I'll figure that out later tonight.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Red Queen's Race

It is currently in the mid-20's here in the Boston area and there's a fierce wind kicking up every so often. But I was having a Red Queen's race week (you know - where you have to run hard to stay in place). Between meetings and errands and getting kids here and there and going to workshops and... well, you get the picture.

This mean Wednesday's run didn't happen. There was so much to do and at least I got my yoga in. Then Thursday was the first chance I've had to crash. So now it's Friday and I've missed two runs. It's cold and windy and I've never run in the winter before.

But I had to go. I knew if I didn't, then I'd be indoors and all the good I've done so far would start to melt. So I pulled on my running tights and compression shirt, shorts and fleece pullover and then zipped my vest over the whole thing. I had a fleece headband around my neck and over my mouth and nose, hat and gloves and set out the door for my four mile run.

A half mile in, the headband was off my nose and mouth. A couple of miles in, the vest was partially unzipped - although when the wind kicked back up, I zipped it again.

I ran and I ran, my feet moving to the steady beat as I did so until the Nike voice told me I had 400 meters to go near the path entrance. I ran past the entrance, touched a tree and ran back just as I got the "congratulations" message for running my 4 miles.

I walked in the door of my house and peeled off the vest - which was soaked with my sweat, as was my fleecy.

I realized I probably could have kept running... it was one of those kinds of runs - but I'm still in a Red Queen's race with too much to be done and no time to do it in. But I got 4 good miles in and tomorrow I'll get my 2-3 miler in that I missed as well this week. It's supposed to warm up tomorrow - it will be strange going out without the layers, but at least now I know I can do it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Road Less Traveled

Today was a big victory - I went out running even though it was below freezing.

For some folks that might not be that much, but for me it's huge. Because of my asthma, I often find myself reaching for the inhaler when temperatures hover around freezing or lower. I've been concerned... nervous and I guess a bit scared about this time of year.

Today was the first step taken to get past all that by going out for four miles.

Granted, I now have a cold weather gear wish list (winter tights & mock turtle neck; gaiter; etc.), but I went out pretty sensibly and it worked.

I also took a trail I normally don't. There are some spots where I normally run where I turn around and loop back to the start. Today, instead of turning around, I chose to cross the street and keep going up the path to see what I could see. When the voice said, "Congratulations, you're at the half way point..." I turned around and headed back.

To be honest, the view was the same no matter what side of the river you're on and whetehr your in Boston, Waltham or anywhere in between along the river.

But it was something new, something underdone for me. I strayed out of my safety zones today: running while it's cold out and a new path.

All in all, it today was a victory all the way around.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Pretzel Logic

I've been following this Baron Baptiste Yoga DVD for athletes and today is a "stretch and strengthen" day - ergo, it's a yoga day.

Yesterday I also picked up a buzzy, squishy chair cushion (read a cheap massage pad for a chair filled with those squishy foam thingies).

Between the two my hips and lower back are just saying, "Ahh!"

Tomorrow I have a 4 mile run scheduled and it looks like it might be cold. There is a piece of me saying, "but it's warm inside and maybe you can do yoga again instead of running..." But I know, in the end, I'll go out for my four and feel better for it. Who knows, maybe I'll run a little faster so I'm not out in the cold for as long as I could be.

Looking over my training calendar that has all my planned activities in it (runs, cross training, etc.) for the month is a hair intimidating. All I need to do is knock off each activity, one by one - day by day, and I know I'll be a stronger person for it. None the less, it can still feel a bit daunting even though it's mapped in virtual bits instead of stone.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

An Accomplished Five

My niece, Nini, talks about the "bed magnet." Today was a day where I had a hard time escaping the bed magnet. I really meant to get up at six so I could get my run in early. Then it was 6:30. Finally, at 7 I realized if I didn't get up now, it wasn't going to happen - so I forced myself out of bed and down the stairs to get ready.

By 7:30 I was stretching and getting ready to do my planned 5 miler at Heartbreak Hill.

It was cold - the low 40's but felt colder. Such a sharp contrast from just the other day when it was just shy of 70. I started with my jacket zipped, my hat and gloves firmly in place as I sparked up DJ Steveboy's 131BPM nudge mix. By the end of the first mile, I had unzipped the jacket half way. A half mile later, the jacket was fully unzipped and by the two mile mark the gloves were in my pocket.

About a half mile in, there was a woman who was clearly struggling with her walk/runs. When I caught up to her, I asked if she needed a partner today. Smiling she said, "Thank you... that's so nice, but no - no I think I'm fine but thank you."

I was glad to offer her assistance because I thought about how lonely it can feel when you're struggling and how many times I wished someone had stopped to offer me some help. Like her, I probably would have said no thank you, but it's just when someone offers that can make a difference.

Sunday morning means the running clubs are out in force and most were friendly as they passed me going the opposite direction. Mostly it was the solo runners out today who were waving and greeting people they passed.

Instead of running back up the carriage road after turning around at BC, I opted to run up the side of Commonwealth Ave where the grade is more gradual. I wanted to see if it made a difference and to be honest, I really couldn't say. I suspect it was easier than the steep carriage road grade, but in the overall scheme of things - I honestly can't say.

In fact, in studying my run profile, I would have to say that my pace was steady throughout today's run. I'll have to try this run again and use the carriage road at the turnaround to see how they stack up.

Overall, it was a run of accomplishment. That sort of, "Hey, I got up and did five miles... I can handle the food shopping and everything else I need to do," sort of feeling. It's nice when that one big thing is out of the way and I can move on with the day.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Summer's last gasp

Today it was in the mid-60's and gray (yet again). Everything about it just felt wrong. I mean, it's DECEMBER first for crying out loud.

But I couldn't resist one last run in short sleeves and shorts before winter finally comes to town and hunkers in. So off I went with the thought of covering 3 miles.

Just before heading out, the cat suddenly looked up and starting meowing at me. "Meow, meow, meow," she cried out in staccato bursts, "Meow, meow!" It was kind of wierd, but I knew how she felt, the day had one of those horror movie "don't go in the house you moron" feels to it.

I suited up and headed out any way. Along the path there were squirrels. Not the usual one or two playful guys that run and jump along watching my progress. There were lots of squirrels everywhere. They were skittish and confused. In fact, instead of staring you down like normal, if you glanced their way they turned tail and ran! They were in bunches and solo - no matter where you looked, there they were.

The path was practically empty today too. I had the place to myself and again I was wondering if this was the horror movie set up - the cat, the squirrels, the odd weather and gray day. I could almost hear the cello strains in the distance, so I was on high alert around me as I turned DJ Steveboy's mix down a notch.

Every so often a fellow jogger would come the other way and I'd breathe a little sigh of relief. Then there was the guy riding his bike like a bat out of hell - his navy blue rain coat flapping behind him like a Scottish Superman cape in his wake. I finished the first loop and went back for the second.

Again I had one of those "screw it" runs where my body just decided it was walking. So I walked for a while and then it decided "screw it" again and began running. It was odd. On the last leg of the trail towards the entrance, I was again alone - no one in sight when I suddenly heard fast, heavy footfalls behind me. It came from no where and I jumped with a bit of an "eek!" only to see the captains of the high school track team blow past.

"Sorry..." they called out.

By the time the rest of the team came along, I wasn't surprised but I was glad to be done with my run for the day.

When I walked in the door, the cat looked at me with one of those smug cat looks. I'm not sure what got her meow going earlier, but whatever it was it was over.

Now the rain's here and the temperature is beginning to drop. Time to put away the shorts until the spring. Summer's over... it's about freakin' time.