Tuesday, November 20, 2007

One for the money, two before snow

I wanted to get a quick run in this morning, which usually means a mile up a big mambo hill and a mile back down. Not a happy thing as it's a big freakin' mambo hill.

OK let me put it to you this way, I usually train on Heartbreak Hill and this hill basically goes up the same height, only in a shorter distance so the grade is much steeper than Heartbreak.

I wanted to get out early because it was supposed to rain around noon time, so by 8 am I was in my tights and under armor shirt and running up the hill. I got to the top, turned around and came back because I had a 9:30 appointment, I still have to pull together the turkey day shopping list (even though I bought the turkey yesterday) and meet with the teacher of my tutoree to see where she is vs where the student is and prepare this weekend for our first session next week.

Oh yeah, did I mention I'm also learning some ASL because apparently this girl had some speech problems at one point and sometimes uses signs as she speaks to make sure she's understood. So in order to understand, I guess I need to learn some basic ASL that doesn't include obscene gestures.

It was cold out there and I was worried that it wouldn't rain, but rather snow and sure enough, by the time I got home, showered and went back out the door for appointment #1, the snow was starting to come down. By 10:30 it was starting to tick. While it shouldn't be a significant snow fall, it's still covering parts of the ground. Welcome to New England.

In the meantime I discovered something new and interesting today (and to the RWOL folks that actually read this - my apology for carping on this discovery yet again) - we have a Narnia lamp post in the woods between our house and the neighbors' house.

How cool is that? I never noticed it before because of the leaves. I'll take a picture of it later.

The not cool discovery... OK, well maybe it's cool sort of: the squirrels started eating the pumpkins on my front step. *sigh* Not little bitty bites but ginormous chunks of my pumpkins are now gone.

Well, we'll see what the weather does. Tomorrow is suppoed to be close to 60 and I have a 3 miler planned. I survived today's hill and the cold, so hopefully tomorrow will be more pleasant (and less steep).

Monday, November 19, 2007

Four More Down

Yesterday I was scheduled to go for a 4 mile run and a tight schedule. The compromise was to head into the gym first thing in the morning to run on the treadmill. Not ideal, but at least I'd get a run in and a steady pace.

Worst of all, because of scheduling it means the health club where I'd get the 360 degree view of my ass. How joyful!

Well, that was not to be because all the treadmills in the women's gym were taken, leaving me to head into the main room where all the jocks use the various machines with lots of groans and sweat (and never wipe anything down when they're done... ick!). I took up the open treadmill in front of the set with CNN on and push the buttons to get going.

I was surprised at how easy it was to just keep running on the treadmill. That whole sort of motorized steady pace really does help, but I also began to feel certain changes in myself as well. I'm remember how to breathe again when I run, something you think would be somewhat innate but apparently isn't. That leads to being able to run longer with less walking breaks.

My legs are starting to feel stronger again and I've noticed my calves seem to be strengthen up again and that shivery feeling I get when my legs are feeling weak seems to be going away.

I'm going to up my mileage a little this week - squeezing in an extra, but shorter, run on Wednesday. Gazelle Boy and I are thinking about doing the Fried Turkey 5k on Thanksgiving.

Which reminds me - remember to do something nice for the police and fire fighters that will be working on Thanksgiving while we're gathering together to feast. In fact, these will be the same people helping to put out the fires caused by idiots with no clue trying to deep fry turkeys. About 11 years or so back, Gazelle Boy decided we needed to make cookies to cheer up the police that had to work on Thanksgiving and it's become an annual tradition ever since for our family.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A better run

Today I went out for a 3 mile run and ended up going a little extra to make it closer to 3 1/3. I ran the same route as Sunday, but this time rather than feeling discouraged, I felt energized. I have to admit part of what helped was today's mix on the new iPod.

Now because the old iPod worked mostly, I had no idea that there were certain things that I was missing out on, like a fully charged battery and being able to listen while it was charging. Who knew? Apparently not me.

Unfortunately iTunes is not communicating with Nike+ right now so my challenges will be missing a run (or more) until they find a way to talk again.

But while I was running, the "Running Inspired" play list made a difference. Now I know there are lots of folks who don't see why folks run with music. I get it, really I do; however, I need that steady beat and lyrics to grab my attention and lift up my spirit. It is who I am.

Sometimes the beats carried me through, sometimes the lyrics, sometimes my thoughts as I filter everything else out - that is often the case when I'm running. What makes it even easier is that, since I'm currently running for 6 minutes and walking for 3, I can keep track even when I do things like forget my watch (as I did today). I can say to myself, "I'll walk when I get to the end of 'Tessie' and run when the song after that is winding up...."

The bottom line is that it got me through today and today was the first day where running wasn't a scary chore but rather something I love to do. It was a good feeling.

I don't know if I'll race next Thursday, if not I will at least go out for a 5k run. In the meantime, I'm planning a long run Sunday morning and maybe a quick run tomorrow.

It feels good to be back.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The land of almost new

The other day I did go out for a 3 mile run. It was a tough one too. Not in terms of terrain or anything like that, in fact it was one of the flatest runs I've done in a while. It was hard work and I'm not used to 3 miles being hard work. I'm used to going out for 3 without really thinking about it but to have to really push through that second mile made me want to cry.

When I passed the Johnny Kelley statue, I could almost hear him telling me to stop be such a cry baby. I pushed myself to jog along as the dog walkers, marathoners and others passed me in both directions on Comm Ave. Because I tend to leave my iPod in shuffle mode these days, just as I was contemplating walking the rest of the way, the song "Don't Give Up" by Moshav Band came up for play.

It was what I needed to hear in that moment. It also made me realize I probably need to put together a play list of songs that make me happy or inspire me to get through the next month or so as I rebuild my base. I know 3 miles will be easy again and maybe I just needed to remember that it wasn't always the case.

When I got home, I couldn't turn off my iPod.

So today I made an appointment at the local genius bar where I ended up going through the process of swapping out my old Nano for the same generation/model as before. (The new ones are just a hair too seductive and I think if the Apple genius had said something like, "Well, we'll upgrade you to a new one for only..." I would have said, "OK.")

At least now I have a "new" iPod to keep me in sync with my new running. It meant postponing today's run because by the time they were finished going through the paperwork and such, it was time to get home for boys. So I cleared my slate for tomorrow morning and will go out first thing and try for 3 again instead of the 2.5 I was going to go for today.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Yesterday's 2 miles

This is what a 2 mile run looks like to me these days.

I did it, I survived and tomorrow I'll do it again. My ankle and I had a little chat last night about what is expected of it from now on and it seems to be cool with things. In the mean time, I'm trying to find a Thanksgiving race to do.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Braving a Single Step

When I started this blog a couple of years ago, I called it "Working out With Tek" because I thought of Jason Varitek as my imaginary trainer. At the time, my son's bedroom was off the living room and I could see Tek looking down on me from the wall from the spot where I'd work out. I could imagine him telling me to quit whining and keep going. When the going gets a little rough or challenging, I can see him in my mind's eye pushing me through to the end.

Yesterday I was brave enough to run again and I again needed my imaginary trainer to help.

The PT gave me the OK to run 1 mile only and to wear the brace when I did so. Finally the one thing I had been pining away for was about to become a reality - but I couldn't do it. There was this lingering fear in the back of my head: what if I roll my ankle again? There's uneven pavement, curbs, potholes and other hazards... can I bear to go through all this again so soon?

I couldn't bring myself to lace up my shoes and head out the door - so I figured maybe if I went to the gym and ran on the treadmill: no pot holes, curbs or uneven pavement. In fact I would even have the belt to help me along. But even that has it's own set of fears as well.

It took me a couple of hours to get to the gym as I decided I needed to run errands first. In fact, it took an awful lot not to say, "Screw it, I'm getting a pedicure!" when I walked past the nail place. Because I delayed things the way I did the gym was empty when I got there. I changed up and headed for the treadmill behind the pole - my usual station. Once on there, it was a matter of what playlist was I going to opt for and I ended up going with my baseball music.

Setting off, I walked for 5 minutes as a warm up through "The Star Spangled Banner" and "The Ballad of Yankees Suck." But then I started running to Jonathan Richman singing "As We Walked to Fenway Park." It's easy to run through songs like "Centerfield" that are designed to get the blood pumping and for 5 minutes I was good - but my fitness level has really declined over the past 6 weeks and it was almost painful pushing myself through the last part of the 5 minutes - which should be no big deal.

After walking a little more I was thinking about bagging it. I had run 1/3 of a mile and maybe that should be enough for a first time out and that's when I saw my virtual coach hitting the 2 run homer against Cleveland the night before as the song "Heart" from "Damn Yankees" came on my iPod. I could remember the look on his face as he stepped into the batter's box and faced the pitches. I remember the look on his face as the ball kept going as he rounded first base and the arm pump as it bounced off the top of the wall.

If Tek could reach down and find hope, well maybe then I needed to as well.

I punched up the speed to my 12 minute pace and promised myself I'd hold it for at least 2 minutes until the end of the song - that's when I got a cosmic push to the song "Dirty Water." For those of you who know the Sox, you know the home win ritual is they play "Dirty Water" by the Standells and followed by "Tessie" by the Dropkick Murphys - which was written as an anthem for the 2004 Sox early on in the season long before there were any thoughts of the post season playoffs and World Series. To be a Sox fan and hear those songs back-to-back can be an inspirational thing when your determination is flagging.

Yesterday they played just that way and kept me running for the additional 7 minutes I needed inspiration.

In the end I probably ran a hair more than a mile broken up by a bit of walking in the middle and I ran for 10 minutes solid in the end. It may be small in the grand scheme of things, but it was a major feat in overcoming my fears.

Friday, October 05, 2007


If only that word meant a vacation in Antiqua or riding horses in Utah... alas, I'm no celebrity, just a regular person coming back from tendon and (it turns out) minor achilles damage.

For me that word means doing exercises with resistance bands, icing and, starting today, rehab walks with a lace up brace.

I went out for a 2 mile walk today, my first real exercise in quite some time.

I'm still planning on running my first 5k on Thanksgiving and hopefully I'll be able to think about half marathon training again about that point. Gazelle Boy would like to run the Sarasota Half Marathon and promised he'd actually train for it (unlike last year's Hyannis Half Marathon). Nini is thinking about putting together a relay team for the full marathon and I should be able to handle that if I'm not up to training for a half.

I'm grateful that, even injured, I walk faster than when I started a year and a half ago. Running is still a week or two away (at best) and I'm able to do most things without the brace on.

But tonight will be about kicking back with an ice pack and watching the Sox while dreaming of the beaches of Antiqua.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Letters in the air

Physical therapy is an interesting thing.

Right now is the "easy" part to rebuild the basic strength - flexing and stretching to build up the muscles in the ankle and rebuild the spacial relations/memories of the nerve endings and where things should line up ... or something like that.

My set of exercises for the week include drawing the alphabet with my foot - upper or lower case, my call - a couple of times a day. I also have a red elastic thingie for resistance when I flex the ankle and stuff.

The good news, I can start going for walks of increasing lengths. For example, today I can go out for about a half mile or so and see what happens. If I'm not sore or swollen, then I can go longer tomorrow and so on.

But for now, I'll write my letters in the air with my foot three times a day while I anxiously wait for the word to run again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bad news, good news

The orthopedist gave me the word today. The bad news is I did manage to give myself a pretty good sprain and it will require at least 8 weeks of healing. The good news, I can start running again in mid-October in small, controlled spurts with low mileage.

OK, it may not be a lot to some, but for me it means I can run again starting around Columbus Day. I can't do the Tufts 10k this year, but I can go for a mile run along Comm Ave. By Thanksgiving I should be able to run a 5k and I should be able to do the 10k at the Hyannis Marathon this year.

If I weren't wearing the air cast right now, I'd be doing the happy pika dance.

I do have my first physical therapy session this afternoon and I should only need a couple of those and they should be teaching me a set of exercises I can do at home. As the old Joni Mitchell song goes: you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. But it will be back soon and I'm happy for it!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Turns out I have a ligament injury that has now been referred to a physical therapist. Excuse me while I scream.

When the PT place calls back, I'll book my appointments and take it from there. In the meantime I'm starting to think that there is something cosmically linked to me running 6 miles in a stretch.

Just when I was comfortable doing that last year, bronchitis laid me low for over a month. I get to that point again - turned ankle during a 5 mile race. Recover from that, up to a decent mileage again, another turned ankle this time with ligament damage.

I have come to truly love running and I'm wondering what I did to mess with the cosmic order to have to keep fighting these obstacles.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


When I rolled my ankle a couple of weeks ago it was painful but pretty much OK. A little RICE and a few days later it was solid enough to run 5 miles in the Iron Girl.

So why, oh why, haven't I been running? Because somehow I managed to injure a different part of the foot/ankle - the top from just above the big toe to the bottom of the shin. Because of the location and type of pain, I have to ask myself if I did real damage to a tendon somewhere along the way. What's even more weird is that the part I rolled actually feels fine - so I don't think this has anything to do with the roll.

Guess it's time to put a call into the orthopedist and see what he has to say. *sigh*

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I Am Iron Girl

I ran the 2nd annual Boston Iron Girl race yesterday. Last year it was in early July and it was my first real 5k, this year it was on Labor Day and it was my 3rd 5 mile race this year.

While my time was not spectacular (1:06), it was a PR for me. After rolling my ankle Thursday, I've been doing the RICE thing (rest, ice, compression, elevation). By Sunday it was feeling fine and I made a trip to Margaritaville when Jimmy Buffett landed at Gillette Stadium, so I was running this race slightly injured, little sleep and a touch dehydrated (but not hungover).

I drove in with my sister and we planned getting there so we had minimum time standing around since it's starting to get chilly in the morning (it is New England in September after all). The crowd was smaller than last year - I suspect that between the holiday and the 5 mile distance, people had other things to do. To be honest, if this race weren't on the holiday, I probably would have done the Marshfield one again as a measure.

The nice thing about the course, it was flat and I needed flat. It was also a 2.5 mile loop that you ran twice - which doesn't thrill me. I planned on running intervals: 5 min run/3 min walk and easing back if the ankle bothered me. It was a good plan and I pretty much stuck with it. In fact, I hit the water stop during walk breaks, making it that much easier. There were a couple of points where I got some bad stitches and walked through a run interval, but the ankle felt good.

I finished in 1:06 - not great but a PR for me. I would have liked to have done an hour, but given everything I'm good with my time. Would I do this again? Definitely but hopefully not after Buffett's Labor Day weekend show... but that's a different tale for a different day.

Friday, August 31, 2007

... you got to run with it

That was the thought going through my head last night at Pauly's Thursday night race. Here I am, finding a nice stride as I'm going along the Boston side of the Charles and I see a woman discussing what's wrong with her body with a friend.

I thought for a second about my body - the belly that just never went away after having kids, the excess weight, the chest many women pay good money for that I was "gifted" with naturally, etc. and all I could think in the moment was, "Well, this is the body I have so I guess I have to run with it...."

Funny the things that pop in our head when we're running.

I did pretty well last night considering I rolled my ankle about 1.25 miles into the 2.6 race. It was my own fault, it was dusk and I wasn't paying attention and missed a piece of curbing. I should know better. It happened just as I was about to take a walk break. I took the walk break, refusing to hobble, and continued running when the walk break was over. It wasn't ideal, but it wasn't too bad. I ended up finishing in under 32 minutes - which is about 3 minutes longer than I wanted to be out there but not bad overall. I put it up and iced it immediately and took some advil. When I got home I wrapped it and took a little more advil before going to bed.

It should be fine by Monday's 5 mile race, but it also means I'm not going for a run today as I originally planned. I might venture out for a short one tomorrow to see how it does.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Purple Haze

Today I felt like I was running through fog. It's only in the mid-70's but it's 81% humidity and I didn't think I'd make the 4 miles today. In fact, my pace was a full minute slower than a week ago running the same route.

I hate running in this kind of weather.

Wisely I'm using intervals for running now - 5 minutes running/3 minutes walking. When I can cover 8 miles, I'll adjust the timing but it seems to be a good set for my current level. It helped me get through the wall of humidity this morning.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Brie Burger in Paradise

First of all, I got a new running shirt. I figure a Pikagirl needs a Pikashirt - so when I took Mr. Pi into Hot Topic for back-to-school shopping, I never expected to find a shirt for me. Yet there it was, on sale. So while I may not be young, blonde and thin, I did wear it with my black running skirt and got compliments as well as a couple "Where did you get that?" squeals.

I really am enjoying the Marsh Post races this season - even these big ones with a ton of people. Tonight was the 4.2 mile Brie Burger in Paradise which included beer and a Buffett cover band along with the post-race cookout.

I wasn't sure how I'd do with the 4.2 mile distance. When I did the Reggae Ramble a couple of months ago, I wanted to bail because it was so hot out. Tonight it was cool, but it was really humid. I decided I would use the interval timer on my watch and run for 5/walk for 3 for the distance.

Now these races have a bit of a funky start. Hundreds of people and a two lane foot path along the Charles can be a bit harrowing, especially when you throw in kids on scooters chasing their folks, people with dogs and jogging strollers along with runners of all calibers. As Pauly, the race director says, it is what it is and I learned where I can start that has me far enough back so that I avoid the bulk of the pack. It's not perfect and the first walk break was a bit harrowing (I made sure to get as far to the right and that there was no one directly behind me before I walked), but after that the path widens and the crowd opened up enough that I was fine. My timing was good enough that I hit my walk break just as I got to the water stop.

All in all, I ran a 50:50 race for just over a 12 minute/mile pace - which I'm very happy with tonight.

Off to see if the rain delay has let up on the game. I hope it doesn't start too late, I don't want to fall asleep on the couch and miss most of it. :(

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New Attitude, New Look

I miss my old running path. I thought about that the other day after running the big mambo hill and then, later in the day, driving past the path on my way to do errands. So there was only one thing to do: get a new attitude.

But how do you mark a new attitude? I'm not buying new clothes... well, OK, a couple of things the other day when I was running errands - but that wasn't like changing my style. As I pulled my hair off my face (yet again) as the youngest asked if I could take him in for a haircut this week, I realized what I needed to do.

I pulled my hair back and then measured 12" up from the bottom and put in a second elastic and said, "Let's go." I sat down in the chair at the hair place and told her to chop it off just above the second elastic.

"Are you donating your hair?" she asked. I told her I was, so she measured again to be sure and then hacked off my pony tail.

My hair went from waist length to shoulder length in less than a minute and today I'm mailing my tail to locks of love.

Today when I ran up the big mambo hill, I had a dinky little tail bobbing along behind me but it felt all right. I still ran a 12:29 mile (which ain't bad considering I walked 6 minutes of my 3 mile run today), but I feel lighter and some kid out there will feel better as a result and you can't beat that feeling with anything.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Big Hill Mambo

This is the profile of the hill I ran this morning - it was one big ass hill to run on a Sunday morning after laying off for a while. I am learning certain things about hill running like - if you live at the bottom of the hill, the good news is the uphill is at the beginning of your run. Then, after you run down to the bottom of the hill, you can sort of run around the base of the hill to get back to your starting point rather than having to run back over the hill.

Also, even though it feels like you're going slow, your legs feel pretty strong - until you stop and you realize you resemble the wiggly leg guy from the Kliban cartoon.

But I ran 3.68 miles of that this morning at around a 12:30 pace, which works for me. I'll get at least one more of the big ass hill runs in this week before the Brie Burger in Paradise on Thursday - you know, something to make me think running 4.2 miles on a relatively flat course is a treat.

But for now I'm feeling sweaty and hungry so I think I'll take a shower and grab some breakfast.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Back in the Game

Tonight I ran in one of the Thursday night 2.6 milers to see where I was at after taking a month off. I managed to finish in 32 and change - for just over a 12 minute pace... which I'll take. At the half way point I walked for 5 minutes and then I walked for about 3 minutes more just before the final sprint to the end, so I'm certainly feeling pretty good about where I'm at.

Next week is the duathlon, but I'm only going to do the run. I'm also going to lay out a training schedule for the week and get cracking. The Brie Burger 4.2 miler is in 2 weeks and I'd like to be able to run the whole thing or do it with scheduled run/walks the whole way.

But right now I"m happy because I'm back in the game and feeling pretty good about it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

First There is a Sidewalk

then there is no sidewalk, then there is...

Don't ask me why Donovan's "Mountain" was stuck in my head this morning over the Stevie Wonder on the iPod, but it was. Perhaps because I now live on a road where the sidewalks are there and then gone and then there again - thus first there is a sidewalk then there is not sidewalk then there is ... but no snails upon my garden or a Juanita to call her name.

It was the first time I've run in a month because my life was consumed with pack, move, unpack, repeat until the other day. The good thing about being able to move in early was that I could bring over things, settle them and then go to the old place and do it again until the day the big men with a truck showed up to cart over everything else.

Unfortunately, it also gives a somewhat false sense of feeling done when there's still much, much more to do. Add a pair of in-laws with an RV pulling into your driveway as you're finishing cleaning the old place and unpacking big stacks of boxes and it was a fun time for all.

The other thing with moves is odd things go missing... like your left running shoes. There are the right ones sitting there in the closet waiting for their mates who are hiding in a box labeled "kitchen" down in the kitchen.

I now need to find new routes. Since I'm at the bottom of a big hill, this means hill work is now part of my regular routine and no longer just for days I need a challenge or to feel as if I've accomplished anything.

Since it's been a month, I promised myself that if I got up and went for a run, I could just run up to the end of the street and back, which would be just over a mile. Two steps into my run I breathed a sigh of relief like I was home. A minute into my run I realized this wasn't going to be as hard as I thought.

Don't get me wrong - ascending 90 feet in less than 3/4's of a mile and back down again isn't a walk in the park, but it wasn't the dreaded killer I feared it would be either.

In the end I ran 1.37 miles (according to map my run) in under 16 minutes for an 11:37 pace. I can easily live with that. Better yet, I have the feeling it is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I Got My Number

My number for the Jerry Garcia race arrived which means I need to step things up. Sunday's 4 mile run was tough and I bonked after 3 miles due to the heat and humidity (and stupidly going out around 11 instead of early in the morning). Yesterday's 3 mile run was much better, but there were still points where I was struggling in the humidity. So if I'm going to make it 4.2 miles in a decent time, I better buckle down.

Now that I'm going to yoga again, I feel... well, twistier. The teacher is all about the twist and convincing us that doing head and shoulder stands aren't that hard. (Yeah, right.) The good thing about her classes is I realize that I'm a lot more flexible and I'm physically stronger than I thought. I also like that my knees and ankles feel stronger when I do yoga. I'm also adding some core and strength work to my training - just a little bit a couple of days a week in line with one of Higdon's training plans because, while I haven't decided about the half yet - I want to be ready when I do.

I have a 2 miler on tap for today, so I'm trying to figure out the best route for that before heading out. I don't know how my running will go this weekend, I'm towards the end of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" as I re-read the cycle before "Deathly Hallows" comes out. I will be in line at midnight for it - fighting the desire to flip straight to the end to see how it all finishes up. Somewhere in there I need to break away for a 5 mile run.

At least if I get through the 5 mile run, I know I'll be good for the Garcia run on Thursday.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Thursday Night at the Post

Last night was the weekly Thursday night race at the Marsh Post in Cambridge. This week was one of the monthly duathlons: run 2.6, ride 2.6, run 2.6 as well as the 2.6 run.

Gazelle Boy was going to try his first duathlon and Mr. Bear, Mr. Pi and the youngest came along as "support crew." They really came along for the cheap cook out - but that works too. ;)

When we were about half way there, I looked at Mr. Bear and said, "Have you seen my iPod?" I had it in my hand when I originally went downstairs to put the bike rack on the van, but I needed my keys to get into the truck of his car to get the rack and when I did that, I left my iPod upstairs next to where I keep my keys. I was concerned about running without music and keeping pace... so it goes. At least I remembered my inhaler.

My goal was a 30 minute 2.6 run - which would be about a 12 minute pace. A few weeks ago when I did one of the 2.6 races, I surprised myself with my time of 29:45 and I wanted to come in around the same time just to show myself it wasn't a fluke. Last night I finished in 30:42 because I ran/walked the last half mile with someone who was struggling a bit after coming back from an injury - which is an 11:48 pace, so I would say that my last run was not only not a fluke but, had I just run the last half mile at the rate I was going, I would have PR'd.

About 3/4's of a mile from the finish line, Gazelle Boy passed me on the bike with "Get out of the way," comment and I responded, "Ride faster." A woman jogging along the Charles with her dog caught up to me and said, "Do you know that person?" I told her it was my son, we do this to each other a lot and it's a family joke. She was relieved to hear it was a joke and not someone being rude.

I crossed and Mr. Pi was at the timing table helping the guys and learning how timing systems worked. After I had some water and cooled off a little, I went to see if I could figure out my pace and found out that Gazelle Boy was estimated to win the whole race. At the 46 minute mark, they started watching for him. He crossed at 47 and change - almost a full minute ahead the second place guy.

It was a good night. Plenty of fun, a big win for Gazelle Boy and good food to cap the evening off. I want to squeeze in one more 3 mile run for the week - hopefully later today and get back into a building pattern. I'll decide in a couple of weeks if I'm going to go for a half marathon or not in the fall - we'll see. I have the Jerry Garcia Memorial 4.2 mile run on the 26th and I'll decide by then.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Four Sure

For some reason, four miles seems to be the new base distance for me. Between the Thursday night race series, the Hingham race the other day and now some of my loops - four miles seems to be the distance to shoot for in my life this summer.

Today's four mile loop was a "keep the river on the right" course - just running along the Charles from one bridge to another for 4.06 miles. I always enjoy a run when I see bunnies. I don't know why but I honestly feel like when I see a bunny that something is watching out for me and reminding me to smile and today I saw two playing together at the beginning of my run.

I also had a butterfly fly along side me for a little bit at the 2 mile mark. It joined up with me near the MDC pool and then fluttered over the bridge when I went straight.

This Thursday is one of the dirt cheap duathalons out of the Marsh Post in Cambridge. If I thought I had 5.2 miles of running in me, I'd give it a try. Instead I'll do the 2.6 run and be done with it, but it is a new goal to set - 2 runs with a bike ride in the middle. As they say: someday I will.

In the meantime, I hope to meet up with some more bunnies and butterflies as I start exploring some new places to run.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Racing Stripes

Today was the Hingham 4th of July race - a 4.6 mile point to point race down Main Street in Hingham, MA.

Ever since I rolled my ankle at the Harpoon 5 miler last month, it's been a bit tender and sore but no big deal for the most part. At the start of the Hingham race, a chiropractor who also does kinesio taping was there. I figured "what the hell" and asked him about the taping and my ankle. I sat on the table and he felt around the outside of my ankle (where the problem is) and had me flip over so he could tape it up.

I should note that kinesio taping is a Japanese thing. The Japanese are not only very aware of the body but of the mind and spirit as well and everything is infused with a level of philosophy. Because of this, color plays an important role in any treatment of anything so while most research will tell you the colors of the kinesio tex tape makes no difference, it was clear this guy had studied that piece of things and chose to use both pink (active) and blue (passive) tape. He made a point of telling me that I was the only person he was taping with two colors... everyone else was either one color or the other.

The tape itself is a cotton/elastic latex-free based tape and, unlike white sports tape, is designed to give full range of motion to the muscles while balancing the flow of lymphatic fluids (according to the literature I looked up after I got home).

Whether or not all that is true is another story - but I do know this much, after 4.6 miles, my ankle feels just spiffy. In fact, it's one of the few times I haven't had that nagging soreness I often feel after a run. So whether it's in my head or has something to do with the racing stripes I don't know, but I do know I'd like to learn how to do this properly for myself.

Of course, in looking all this up I did note one thing, in true American fashion, it was suggested that a) the color makes no difference and b) the tape was a perfect vehicle for advertising and sponsorship.

The race itself is a hometown race. People set up water stops on their front lawns and have hoses going so that runners can run through the mist to cool down if they'd like. There are lots of flags and patriotic bunting. So on that level it truly was a fun and enjoyable race.

The downside was that the beginning was highly disorganized and chaotic. Because it is a hometown race, there are a lot of small children (and by small I mean like kindergarten/lower elementary aged kids) "running" with parents. There are also a bunch of those pre-senior citizen types who walk the race. All of this would be fine if there was a level of basic race etiquette among these folks, but kids would scamper off while mommy peeled off for a conversation and I'd just miss tripping over little darling as they sprinted across the road with no supervision. Some of the walkers and semi-runners would weave back and forth across the road like drunken college students winding their way home from a party, making it hard to pace myself as I couldn't get past them.

In fact, this is one of the only races I've been in where the people with the jogging strollers were polite and acted the way you'd want them to ... staying off to one side, announcing passing intentions, etc.

Don't get me wrong, the downside stuff really was minimal in comparison to the feel of the race and the scenic course. It truly is a joy to run a race where people are sitting out on decorated lawn chairs or setting up home made water stops every few feet or so. It was a race where you feel connected to a community and that is a true joy.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

3 miles

I don't know why I'm always surprised at the difference between running at 7, 8 or 9 am on a Sunday makes, but it does.

Today I got out a hair late (the 9 am side) and started through the neighborhood. For the most part it was quiet, but there were people out walking their dogs, working on their yards and such as I ran past. When I got to the running path, there were all sorts of people on bikes, with scooters or walking with water bottles slug around their necks. And then there were the runners.

The long, lean gazelle like people with easy strides as they went for a long run. There were the folks like me, those little engines chugging along saying to themselves "I think I can, I think I can..." and everything in between.

Which is why I pretty much relished a part of the path that was quiet when I got there. In fact, it was quiet enough that a baby bunny hopped out and sat there on the edge of the path watching me chug along before scampering back into the long grass thinking "you can't see me, I'm invisible," even though he stood out if you knew where to look.

It wasn't a great run by any stretch - there were times when it felt chore-like and dutiful and the by-ways felt too crowded. But it was made into a good run because of a little bunny's boldness in the quiet moment suspended in time before the bikes and the walkers and the scooter and everyone else made it to that point to remind me that this is still a city.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hot, Hot, Hot

Tonight was the Reggae Ramble in Cambridge. Normally I would have done the race and hung out eating jerk chicken and listening to good music - but it was hot, humid and really nasty out.

The start was slow and the reason I say that is because when I start a race at my usual pace rather than too fast, you know it's a slow start. When I got to the water stop at the halfway point, I was ready to bail but another woman - who was also ready to bail - and I decided to walk the last 2 or so miles together. It was really nice.

Turns out her first 5k and mine was the Ryka Iron Girl last year and we're both signed up for the Brie Burger in Paradise in August. So we figure by August we'll be used to the weather and be able to run the whole thing.

I told her about RWOL, my Nike+ and DJ Steveboy. She told me about Chi Running and how she recently discovered things like map my run.

We finished together and I met up with Gazelle Boy who said he did OK and the last mile or so was pretty tough.

The people from Brooks running shoes there were givin out "More Cow Bell" t-shirts if you won the mogo ball race. A mogo ball is basically an adult hippity hop and even though I lost the race, she had some left at the end of the night so she gave me one anyway.

So I did 4.2 miles in 57 minutes and change - not bad for a 2.1 mile run and a 2.1 mile walk in the heat and humidity.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What am I?

Someone recently asked: what's the difference between a runner and a jogger? I was reading the current Runners World and the following quote is on the Warmups page:

"The difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry blank." Dr. George Sheehan, cardiologist, author and longtime RW columnist whose writings helped fuel the running boom of the 1970s.

While I don't fully agree with the quote itself, I do agree with the idea that the difference between running and jogging is how seriously you perceive your committment.

I consider myself a runner because I have specific goals, train, race and otherwise see myself progressing. There are people who finished before me that may be joggers - you know they entered to keep someone company, because there was bbq at the end or whatever. It isn't how they choose to define a piece of who they are. Me, I see myself as a runner because I feel like I have a level of committment and... if there happens to be free beer or bbq at the end of a race, so much the better.

For example, Sunday I ran a 5k that I finished in 39:45. Normally this would be a huge disappointment for me considering how far I've come in the past year - but the first 2 miles I was on track with a 12 minute pace when I got a bout of stomach cramps. The last mile was a combination of slow, gentle jogging when I could and speed walking when I couldn't while telling myself "the faster I finish, the faster I can get to the port-o-potty."

So I was actually quite happy with my time because it means that I'm walking faster and my "slow, gentle jog" is where my running pace was a year ago.

It's one of those questions - like did you get your chocolate in my peanutbutter or did I get peanutbutter in your chocolate debates that have no real answer beyond individual perspective.

Right now I'm content to call myself a runner. I like looking up and seeing my medals hanging on my corkboard or flip through the book where I dutifully paste in my bib numbers and record the race, distance, location, time and pace. Perhaps it's a bit vain, but it what it is (as they say).

In short: Even if I can't float and glide like a Kenyan or run for 24 hours on treadmill in Times Square, I'm a runner baby and damn proud of it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Half Fast

The same guy who does the Summer Run Series out of the Marsh Post also does a series of Thursday night fun runs the other 3 Thursdays. Tonight was "The Good Vibrations" run of either 2.6 miles or 5.2 miles. Gazelle Boy ran the 5.2 with the goal of beating me as I ran the 2.6 miles. My goal was a 12:15 pace and to cross before he did.

As Nini says, "Done and done."

I knew I had gone out too fast when 3 minutes in I was straining a little to breathe. I slowed my pace and just let people pass me. About a half mile in, I was still breathing a bit hard and slowed again and found a rhythm that felt good. With the iPod on shuffle mode and no one else in sight and I kept pushing myself along the banks of the Charles feeling strong now that my breathing was good.

At the 2 mile mark, the first 5.2 mile runner passed me just as I started getting a side stitch. I slowed to a walk for about a couple of minutes... maybe a full quarter mile... and then did an easy jog to the finish where Mr. Bear and the Youngest were waiting near the finish. As I turned the corner at the finish, there was Mr. Pi and Paulie yelling for me. Mr. Pi also enlisted a few other folks nearby to cheer me on - which was nice.

I crossed at the 29:45 mark (according to my watch), which is an 11:27 pace!!! Holy shit! I ran an 11:27 pace! Not only that, I crossed 6 minutes before Gazelle Boy.

I run the same course on Sunday for the New Charles River 5k - we just start a half mile further down the road. I'm not sure what to set as a goal. I was originally thinking a 12:15 pace, but I don't know now. I'll probably keep it at that - there's an extra half mile involved and there are about 1500 people running between the 5k and the 7.5 miler. A 36 minute 5k is a bit ambitious... or is it?

I guess I'll see on Sunday.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Run For the Arts 5k

Every year my brother from Ohio rents a place on the Cape for a couple of weeks and we all get together one day to relax by the pond, cook out and just hang out together. In recent years, the day has started with running a 5k in Yarmouth called "Run for the Arts."

Last year I was going to do the walk with Mr. Pi - but about a half mile in, his stomach cramped up with some sort of bug and we bailed so he could find a blue can of death someplace. I was going to jump in with the 5k runners - but then my stomach cramped up and I bailed to look for one myself.

This year was a different story, this year I was looking forward to running a fairly flat course that winds through sleepy treelined roads and past the ocean on a beautiful day on the Cape. Buoyed by his success at the Johnny Kelley Race a couple of weeks earlier, Mr. Pi decided he wanted me to coach him through this as well. I was hesitant in signing him up as he hadn't done anything since the Johnny Kelley race, but he said he was ready and I said "OK."

We started off pretty strongly with a 3 minute run, keeping pace with a good portion of the pack before our first walk break. During the walk break, we ended up with the police car on our back sides and it was clear the pattern would be us, a group of two women - one coaching the other through - and a larger woman running while she could and walking when she couldn't. As we in our second run, he began to get a stitch in his side. I was trying to get him to breathe properly (from the belly, not the chest - slow and steady... c'mon). At our next walk break, he was starting to slack a little and that's when I finally began to understand personal trainers.

Now as an aside here, personal trainers are supposed to push you past what you think your limits are. Sometimes it hurts like anything and other times it feels great knowing you're growing stronger. I know there are people who probably thought "what a bitch" if they saw us out there or heard me, but part of this is knowing Pi, his penchant for drama and that he has little self-confidence. This wasn't as easy as the Johnny Kelley for him and that started the cycle of "I can't."

Fortunately for him, I wasn't going to let him bail. So for 2 miles I used everything I could to get him through - reminding him that the youngest was going to be at the end ... did he want to be last for him to rub it in Pi's face later? Stop saying "I can't..." and just do it. When there would be a minute left and he'd say he couldn't do it, I'd say, "40 more seconds" and then keep running past the 40 seconds. If he started counting, I told him he was counting too fast.

At one point he said, "I'm a lacrosse player, not a runner" and I replied, "You're an athlete and athletes run." He complained about parts that hurt and I asked him if he ever heard someone from the Cannons complain about pain. He said, "They're crazy men."

"I thought you said you wanted to play for them."

"I do, but I'm not insane crazy like they are."

"Well, what are you going to do to be that insane crazy or else you won't be playing with them now will you?"

The last mile became "run 2 phone poles. Ready, let's go." If he said, "I can't run 2," I'd reply, "You're running 3, now go..." He would get a little defiant but do it. He apologized for holding me back and I said, "Well, I'm not bailing on you - so you need to move." He quickly realized we were running half a many phone poles as walking, so when I'd give a number, it was easier for him to do run it.

The last quarter mile, people along the road either doing cool downs or milling around the end began to really encourage him with "you're almost there" and "looking good." Nini ran him in the last couple of hundred yards and we crossed together at the 42:53 mark. They asked us who crossed first and I said Pi did - so I'm on record as finishing last.

Later I reminded him that, as tough as it was, he did well and, more importantly, he didn't bail. He finished and that was an accomplishment. I thought it might have even been a PR for him - but he did the Johnny Kelley like 5 seconds faster. When school gets out this week, we talked about a training schedule for him. He knows he needs to run a two mile course in 16 minutes to make the JV and Varsity team next year - so he's committed, he just needs to believe he can do it and after this race he's starting to see he can.

One of my truths came full circle yesterday. I started running last year to help him prepare for lacrosse and I stayed with it long after he bailed after the season started. Now here I am helping him through it again with the realization that next year, if all goes well, he'll smoke me at this race. I have to admit, I look forward to that happening.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Oh What a Beautiful Morning

I went out for a 3 mile run today - and it was a good one. But it struck me as I was out there what a beautiful day it was. Here I am in a semi-urban environment (I live in a City, but it's really a suburb) at 8:30 on a Sunday morning running through the streets with practically no traffic. The sun was shining, I could smell all sorts of different flowers coming into season and the temperature was just right.

It showed in my running as well, I finished my first mile in 11:14. I slowed it down a little at that point, it wasn't a race - just a base building run after the successful 2 mile run I had the other day. I finished the 2nd mile in 12:24 and the third mile in 12:17. It was all good too - even the 3 minutes I walked after I finished the 2nd mile. My legs felt strong, my breathing was pretty good and the ankle didn't make itself known in the least the whole time.

Later I had to go to all the little league fields to check on games and rode my bike from field to field throughout my part of the city. Again, it just felt good to be out and about. The hills just didn't feel like anything running or cycling.

I like days like this when they roll around. It makes the bad days when everything feel like a labored chore that much more bearable.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Two Good Miles

Two miles is not a lot these days. After a year of running, finishing a couple of 10k's and a couple of 5 milers - what's 2 miles?

It's a sign of a rebuilt base and renewed hope.

After rolling my ankle Saturday, I've been taking it easy and keeping it rested. I decided I'd only go for a couple of miles and take it slow. So I took off for a run through the neighborhood and running trail while Stevie Wonder crooned in my ear.

The first test was the uphill in the neighborhood and things felt good, so I kept going. The downhill felt good too. Never once did the ankle make itself known... again all good signs. By the time I got to the trail, I was feeling like I could keep going for a while, but I didn't want to over do it.

In the end, I did 2 miles at a 12:04 pace - again, pretty good and overall was happy with my run (in case the excessive use of the word "good" didn't tip you off).

Last night was Gazelle Boy's graduation. I never thought I'd get weepy over something like that but there were a couple of moments where I thought I was going to cry. In true Gazelle Boy form, as they called the kids up for their diplomas, he removed the mortar board and replace it with his pirate hat. When he approached the line of officials, he saluted each one of them - saying to the principal with his best Sean Connery accent, "It was a pleasure serving under your command M...." Even from where we were, you could see her laughing.

So he's officially a college boy now and, for now, I couldn't be happier.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Harpoon 5 Miler

This is one of these races that sells out in nothing flat. Over 1400 runners took to the streets of South Boston to run 5 miles and (if they want) drink beer.

The Harpoon brewery is just down from the Boston Fish Pier, so when I pulled up this morning I was happy to smell the ocean. I know a lot of people don't like the smell of the ocean at low tide, but I always have. Since the race was out of the brewery, it was a 21+ race and I needed to show ID - an interesting dilemma as I had to figure out a way to carry my ID, keys and inhaler. I dug out my old mp3 player pouch which filled the bill. On my other arm was my Nike+ with the sensor on one shoe and the timing chip on the other. Not ideal, but at least I was balanced.

I found my sister in the corral as we waited to start and we lasted maybe a block before I told her to go on and run ahead. Since I hadn't worn my watch, I decided I would run the first mile, walk for up to 6 minutes and then run to the next mile marker where I would then repeat the walk/run cycled. Unfortunately I went out way too fast at the start, finishing the first mile in 11:06. I knew I wouldn't be able to maintain that and, given the humidity, I was grateful for the walk. The first mile was through an industrial area - which was eerily empty on a Saturday morning.

After the first water stop, you start to run along the beach before being diverted over the pedestrian causeway towards Castle Island. What a beautiful part of the run - to be running over the ocean with a welcome breeze and beautiful views. This was my favorite part of the run and was probably half the race distance. I was doing pretty well - keeping around 12:15 or so pace until I hit mile 4.

Mile 4 was back through the industrial areas we had run toward the beach and I was starting to feel the heat. Once we were away from the ocean, there was no more breeze. I could see the bulk of the pack ahead of me and was feeling good. I knew I'd PR when, about a half mile from the finish I stepped in a pot hole and rolled my right ankle.

Yeah, I dropped a few f-bombs and hopped a little. My ankle was sore, but it felt strong and I figured I'd just walk in - kissing the PR goodbye. Just as the Nike+ voice said, "400 meters to go," I noticed my niece was waiting for me. She didn't run the race, she was there as support crew and walked me in. I did jog the last 100 yards or so for a finish of 67:01. Turns out that I PR'd anyway since I did 67:29 at the Doyle's 5 miler 6 weeks ago.

When I got home, I barely had time to shower before running out the door to a meeting and some errands. By the time I got home, I was starting to feel it in my ankle - which was now starting to swell a little, so I grabbed the icepack from the freezer, took some ibuprofen and watched the Sox game. I'll treat it a little gingerly over the next couple of days, but the swelling is pretty much gone and there is only a slight bruise. I decided to give myself Sunday & Monday off and I'll go for a short run on Tuesday to see how it does.

I definately want to do this run again. Maybe I'll do the Sugar Bowl in July out of the L Street Running Club which covers a chunk of that route as well. I do know this much, there is a note in my Palm to keep my eye open at the Harpoon site for when registration opens next year so I don't miss out again.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Getting Ready to Run

With thunder storms and rain expected, I wanted to get my run in before the sun went away. Apparently I did so at just the right time because I'm sitting at my desk, mid-day, with the overhead light and desklights on as the sky darkens like no one's business.

Saturday is the Harpoon 5 miler and I promised myself that I'd be closer to ready than I was for the Doyles 5 miler. (What is it with 5 mile races and drinking? Hmmm...) So I went for a 3 mile run to get a sense of where I am. It was a good run today through the neighborhood, up and down hills and down the bike path along the river. Hills that were taking a lot out of me last March are actually pretty comfy right now. They still aren't easy, but they aren't the "I'm going to die" feeling any more either.

Because this is a 21+ race, I'm not running it with kids. No Gazelle Boy to burn through the course and no Mr. Pi to coach, just me (and maybe Stevie Wonder crooning softly in my ear).

Basically, any race ending with good beer at the end for free is OK in my book. :D

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Kep Kep Jikwan

Today was the Johnny Kelley Memorial Race in Hyannis. I ran the 5k with Mr. Pi while Gazelle Boy ran the 10k (where he won his age bracket... again).

I was worried about doing this with Pi, he hadn't really trained and the last time I did a race with him was exactly one year ago where he spent the whole 2 miles whining. So needless to say, I was a little hesitant entering this one with him, but I really wanted to encourage him as well. We had agreed to walk at my pace for 5 minutes and run at his for 3 - so I wore my watch with the interval timer and the goal was a 15 minute mile.

We lined up toward the back and took off - him listening to Green Day on his iPod and me listening to Stevie Wonder on mine. At first he was disappointed we were so far back when I told him, "We'll pass most of these people as we start running."

I don't think he believed me at first - but he did keep pace and there was no whining this time. As we were coming up on the 5 minute mark to our first run, he said, "Count it down like Nina and then say, 'Kep, kep, jikwan.'" (Which is Klingon for "run, run, fat man.") So I said OK and counted "Three, two, one - kep, kep, jikwan."

Sure enough we passed the first group of folks and he held up well for the 3 minutes (which were more at my pace than his). As we started the next walk break, I pointed out that we had past the half mile point... much to his surprise.

He was excited to see the 1 mile mark a little while later and I pointed out to him that we were actually at a 13:45 pace - over a minute faster that our goal. As we turned the corner and had an open view of the ocean, he said, "This is beautiful, I wish I had brought my camera with me." Each time he'd start to fall a little behind, I'd encourage him to keep up. When we passed the 2nd mile marker, I thought he was going to leap with joy.

"I feel so good - I really do," he said as we passed it. As we passed the water stop where the half marathoners turn off the course, we walked through and I told him we were still on a 13:45 pace. The only thing that slowed him down was just after my Nike+ announced there were 400 meters left and his shoe untied. We approached the finish line and he grabbed my hand so we could cross together doing "the Johnny Kelley" - our joined hands upraised as we finished.

Unofficially, we ran it in about 43 minutes and I think he's now hooked. Even though I didn't really push myself, it was a good feeling coaching him through the race. Ironically, if he does use this to amp himself up to run, he'll be smoking me in no time - a day I look forward to with happiness.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Injuries We Don't Hear About

It isn't uncommon for someone to talk about injuries they receive as a runner. Sprains, bruises, stress factures, pulls, tears... you name it, there is a long, long laundry list of injuries to which runners are prone. Often they are accompanied by a sense of anger because the body betrayed you while you were doing something right and healthy.

The ones people don't talk about are even worse and are, in all honesty, far more common: bruised egos, damaged psyches, broken spirits, battered sense of worth, blown self images ... you name it, there is a far longer laundry list of those injuries than the physical ones. Worst of all, these injuries are far more debilitating because you are betraying yourself rather than your body betraying you.

I was thinking about this because I decided to use the treadmill today where it was still raw and rainy out. Surrounded by mirrors everywhere, I started my workout by catching a glimpse of my round body in the mirrors and it was a devestating blow. I almost dressed and slunk home but figured I was there, I was dressed - I needed to just bite the bullet and hop on the treadmill. The woman on the treadmill next to me was running at a faster pace and had that smooth runner's stride rather than my slow shuffle, but I pushed through trying to not look at the reflected image upon reflected image of me bouncing off 360* of mirrors.

The voice on the iPod caught me off guard when it said, ".5 miles completed." It didn't feel like I had been running for six minutes. It felt like I had just started. A couple of songs later, I was again surprised when it said, "1 mile completed." Then I noticed something odd.

Before the reflected image was that of a somewhat dumpy looking middle aged woman but after the slightly robotic distance pronouncement, I started looking good. My shoulders were in a good position - nice and relaxed instead of up around my ears. My stride didn't look so short and shuffly, my back was straight and head held high. Suddenly I began to feel good again. I was glad I had pushed through.

I ran an easy 2.5 miles before taking a "walk break." Now mind you my treadmill walk breaks consist on setting the incline to "15" and the speed at 3.5 - 4 mph and climbing through the break. I lowered back to 1 after 10 minutes and when the voice told me "400 meters to go," I pushed the speed up to a half mile an hour faster than I was running before. I ran that distance just that much faster to show myself I could.

After cooling down (and silly me, I forgot to reset the iPod so my cooldown is mixed in with the run), I headed back to the locker room for a shower and to change up. The reflection didn't look half bad after working out. In the end it was a good run with some interesting thoughts.

So Much for the Blues Run

Here I am all excited about the run when the following notice came in the mail for Gazelle Boy:

"You will be given special recognition by the World Language Department at our annual awards ceremony on the evening of Thursday, May 31. I would like to invite you and your parents to join us when we present this award..."

So no Blues Run, but that's OK. I'm kind of glad that I forgot to sign him up for the run and the night gets to be all about him.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Tiki Bar is Open

At some point, all three boys have come to me to say they wanted to learn how to play drums. I told all three of them that they had to learn another instrument first because drummers can make or break a band in how they hold things together (or not).

Today's random selections on my iPod reminded me of why I told them that years ago. When I started the first song that popped up was "The Tiki Bar is Open" from Buffett's "Live in Mansfield, MA" (which is a show I happened to be at as well). As I started through the neighborhood, I noticed how my feet were easily falling in time with Ralph MacDonald's drumming as I ran up a hill that normally is bothersome. A mile and a half later, when I was starting to struggle a bit, the B-52's "Private Idaho" literally drove my feet through until I forgot that I was struggling.

In the end it was a good three miles and today I have good drummers to thank for it. But now I'm home and as they say - the tiki bar is open. Time to go make myself a smoothie and read the papers after a quick shower.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Mixed Five

Yesterday I went out for five on Heartbreak Hill. I needed to give myself a push mentally and really assess where I'm at with things. Let's just say that with a hectic race week looming, I need to get my shit together which means I've got some work to do.

Basically here's what's happening, I am running the Johnny Kelley race on 5/27 in Hyannis - something I was looking forward to as a "benchmark" race ... you know, take your time from last year and compare it to this year and get a good measure of where you're at. Then Mr. Pi decides he wants to run it too, so instead of being a benchmark for me, it will be a babysitting race to encourage him to do what he needs to in order to make the lacrosse team next year.

Then, a few nights later, is the Blues Run in Cambridge... which is part of a race series that I'm signed up for since I volunteered to help before the Ras na hEireann... which is followed a couple of days later by the Harpoon 5 miler.

So - I think an easy 3 miles on Sunday with my son would actually be a good thing.

But to do all that I have to rebuild my base and my confidence levels. So yesterday I took to Heartbreak for a 5 miler. I ended up doing it as a run/walk and it was the first time on a run I stopped someplace to use the facilities near BC. But I did it and in about the same amount of time it took me to do the Doyle's race. So it's time to do some self evaluation.

First on the list is getting back to a regular schedule. It's one thing to train for a race and have a regular schedule - you know, following one of Hal Higdon's or John Bingham's or the Runner's World Smart Coach or whatever. Essentially I haven't been doing this in months and it shows. So it's time to pick a plan.

Second on the list is having some goals. The Blues run will actually help a lot with that as it's the first of 5 races. I can use that as my starting point - you know, see where I'm at in May, June, July, August and (finally) September and continue to whittle that time down race by race. There will also be other races through out the summer and picking a half marathon to train for.. which, right now, is down to the BAA Emerald Necklace half and the Lowell half this fall.

Third is cross training. I've been riding my bike recently - a half hour through the neighborhood and on the river trails Saturday, to run errands today and such. I decided to check out the parcourse at a nearby park and I'm trying to figure out the best way to use that to my advantage for some strength work. Once the lake opens for the summer, I'll probably throw in some dual training. I know it's exactly 5k from house to the lake, so to run to the lake, swim a half mile and then run home would be a pretty major accomplishment. Of course the pool is just down the street and I look forward to the adult swim time when I don't have to share the lane with 5 people of varying speeds while idiot tweens play "harass the swimmers...." if the life guards "forget" to put up a third lane again.

So I've got a grip and an overall plan, time to put it into motion.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wake Up Your Soul

Even though I've been running, I haven't been writing about it for a variety of reasons. The past couple of days I've actually been able to return to "my" running paths - the ones alongside the river where I started last year.

It has been refreshing and somewhat cathartic as it felt good.

First of all, it was a joy being able to run 2 miles straight without a break. A year ago that was a distant dream, last December I could run it without thinking twice and a month ago I was disappointed that I just didn't have it in me to run that distance. But after a couple of weeks of rebuilding a base, it was a good feeling.

I'm glad I planned on walking the last mile because it's baby geese season. This is an exciting time of year for me as this is when the baby geese and baby ducks begin to hatch and are running around on the shores of the Charles under the watchful eyes of mama goose and mama duck. There's something about it that just makes me want to squeal like a little girl and say, "Baby geese!!!!"

I know it's kind of pathetic, but it's one of those things that just wakes up my soul in the spring. The other thing is that the lilacs are starting to blossom. There is nothing I love more this time of year than burying my nose in lilacs and taking a deep sniff.

If you were to ask why those things excite me I would have to guess it's because they both last for such a short time. A month from now you won't be able to tell the baby geese from the adult geese and the lilacs will all be faded. So it's nice to note and enjoy them while you can.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Birds in the Hood

OK, one of the problems with the GIS mapping programs out there like www.mapmyrun.com is that you can see a route from the satellites, but they don't tell you necessary details - such as the logical route you mapped is for golfers only. (No bikes, joggers or skateboards... damn!)

So I walked a little further down the street and a loop that turned out to be 1.5 miles - meaning if I do that loop plus an additional loop around the street it's 2.5 miles, which is a nice distance.

While I was walking there was a family of sandhill cranes were standing in the middle of sidewalk. There were two parent cranes and a baby crane just wandering around. I stepped off the sidewalk and walked around them - but it was pretty neat. Just as I got around the bend, there was another family of cranes standing in the street. They started heading for the sidewalk, but I said, "Back off bud - I was on the sidewalk first." They very nicely waited for me to pass before getting on the sidewalk. Very cool.

But I have my route for the morning and hope to get up early enough to run. So long as my mother is uncomfortable with me running when it's not full light out, I'll suck it up and wait until after 7 when the sun comes up and take it from there.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Southern Mile

Yesterday's run was cancelled due to packing Gazelle Boy's running shorts and leaving my running skirt in the dryer (I must have dreamed I packed it). So this morning I went to Wally world for a cheap replacement while I'm in Florida.

This morning I discovered the loop around the neighborhood is one mile, so I've got one measurement down for now.

Over the past week I've been thinking hard about my running and what to do. It feels like April was a giant step backwards and I'm not sure what to do, so I figure I'll go back to basics. I'll start with run/walk intervals and start building my mileage again as I seem to have lost my base over the winter. I'll do the 5k race for the Johnny Kelley Memorial and think about an early summer 10k to train for and take it from there.

It shouldn't be long before I'm feeling confident about running again and able to tackle the next hurdle. But for now let's start again, not so much from square one as from near the start.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Five Miles of Excuses

Today was the Doyle's Emerald Necklace run, a 5 mile race through Franklin Park that ends at Doyle's, a landmark bar in Jamacia Plain. The run itself was a beautiful run alongside the golf course, playing fields, zoo and stadium. The sun was out, the weather was warm - in stark contrast to last Sunday's cold Nor'easter.

I started out with my sister and my niece - all excited because I figured out how to make the two interval timers work on my spiffalicious watch. Woo Hoo! I dutifully set it for 4 minutes running/1 minute walking and headed off from the start line with my sister and niece.

I did tell them to run on ahead of me because I knew I was feeling slow.1 Since it's spring and allergy season,2 and I've been feeling a little gunky lately, 3 I wasn't expecting much today.4 Not to mention the inhaler in my hand 5 just in case I needed it.

At the first mile marker, they called out a 13:49 split - but since it took a full minute to cross the start line6 and this wasn't a chip timed race, I knew my time would actually be better than posted. At the turn around they had run out of water, and I was starting to parch7 (not to mention that I really needed a blue can of death because I had to pee 8 since the race started). The third water station had run out of cups and I had to have them pour water in my hand 9 so I was dying out there.

It's amazing I was even capable of doing this after a stressful couple of weeks of little to no sleep.10 So is it any wonder I ran 5 miles in 1:07 instead of the 1:00 I wanted and the 1:05 I estimated?

Here's the truth: it was a beautiful run. Yes there were glitches at the water stations, but truth be told, I hadn't run since the Cohasset 10k 3 weeks ago (until the other day). I managed to get 7 miles in, but they were a tough 7 miles of basically restarting. Yes, at this stage of the game I should be able to do better, but I dropped the ball and it shows. The good news in all this, I did go out and I did manage to finish the race in spite of my short comings. As a result, I now can sit down and figure out what's what in terms of getting ready for the Harpoon 5 miler in June and any races in between. Perhaps that's why I'm being drawn to this, in other sports you can "get lucky" or phone it in, but when the only thing that counts is how you move your body from point A to point B, there's no such thing as luck. There is only Zool the reflection of the work you put into it. Today I saw myself clearly and it wasn't exactly the picture I wanted to see, but it was the one I needed to see.

Now there is no other direction but forward, full speed ahead.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Is it odd...

that I named my running shoes Thing 1 and Thing 2? I needed a way to tell them apart and that sort of made sense....

I did go out and run first thing this morning, which was nice. I'm glad that spring is here and I can do that again. I managed get a 5k distance in around the neighborhood, which then allowed me to a chance to see where I was at in terms of yesterday. It was a leap and bound better than where I was, but still a long way to go to where I was at in Hyannis.

I did keep to the run/walk intervals - my hope being that once I can get a rhythm going again I can start going for speed. That star reading "10 minute mile" is still hanging in plain site over my desk. It's there to remind me that I can achieve that time with work and training. I know I can.

Today is one of those jam packed days of frenzied insanity - so I'm off to shower and get running in a different way. If nothing else, at least I get to have lunch at Fenway, always something to look forward to. I also have tickets to Monday's game (woo hoo) and will just keep my eyes open for the occasional ticket or two.

Now if only a race had a pair of lower boxes behind the first base line... then I'd have an incentive to burn up the roads. :D

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Happiest Song Ever

Today was my first run since the Cohasset race on 4/1. Mr. Pi had his first home lacrosse game and since I had to drive him halfway across town to the field for warm ups an hour before the game, I mapped out a four mile route and figured I'd go for a run while they got ready.

One thing I didn't think about checking was elevation charts after I mapped the run. I started hitting an incredibly steep hill, leveling off a bit, climbing some more, leveling off before another short climb and then a humungous downhill before circling back around on level ground.

The good thing is, because I bought a spiffy purple Ironman watch I decided that my first run back should be run/walks and did 4 minutes running/1 minute walking to complete a 5k distance and then, depending on how I was feeling, I could use the last mile to either walk or run.

One problem - I didn't quite figure out how to make the interval timer work. D'oh!

But I did keep a close eye as I ran down the street listening to the B52's - which is the happiest band ever. You just can't be depressed listening to the B52's and "Love Shack" is the happiest song of all. My Nike+ was giving me 1/2 mile checks, which was nice, and the first two miles full of major hills were a little rough but certainly comfortable. Just after the 2.5 mile mark the realization that I just hadn't had enough water today kicked in. I felt my lips start to tighten, my legs get a little weak and my breathing a little labored. So I adjusted to 2 minutes running/2 minutes walking until I hit the 5k mark for a 38 minute 5k. Not my best and not my worst time, but I did it and that's what was important.

I figured I wouldn't push the last mile and just walk, but then "Love Shack" came on and I just can't be glum when it's "Love Shack" - it is the happiest song by the happiest band. Once that started up (15 miles to the Looooooove Shack!) I happily ran down the street towards the lacrosse field, finishing up just a couple of minutes after the game started.

Mr. Pi got goalie time in the 4th quarter. The defense did their job and kept the pressure on the opposing team, so he didn't have to do any work really. He has two more games this week - one home and one away. So I'm looking forward to catching at least one of them, if not both.

I'm looking to get a run in tomorrow and then Sunday's the Doyle's Emerald Necklace. Gazelle Boy will probably fly over the course yet again while I trot along in the back listening once again to the happiest band ever.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Chocolate Bananna Smoothies

Ok, so everyone I know is into smoothies. I hear about folks who start their days with all sorts of exotic fruit concoctions magically blended to give them a start to their day.

So I picked up a some smoothie base and figured, "I'll have a chocolate bananna smootie and see what the fuss is about."

OK - first of all, no one told me that when you freeze banannas, you should peel them first. If you have ever tried to peel a frozen bananna, you understand why. Instead, here I am after another sleepless night peeling a freakin' bananna over the sink with a knife because the skin is stuck onto the bananna - which is freezing my hand because the thing is frozen solid.

The other thing is the whole "Oh, to make it thick, you want to make sure you put in ice" advice I've received. I carefully pour my milk into my blender, then add the smoothie base, the bananna and about 1/2 a tray of ice cubes. I cover up the blender and press the button and...


The motor sort of makes a "what are you stupid or something?" noise. Hmm... let's try the blend instead of the frappe setting. The thing is still laughing at me. OK, let's try the "grind" setting on the food processor side. SUCCESS! Finally I can see the ice starting to break up and shift around as the screaming motor noise rips through the moring silence.

It looks good for a moment or two and then nothing. No movement, just a lot of noise.

"Damn!" I think, "Not again." I frantically push buttons but nothing happens. I turn off the blender, sigh and pull a spoon out of the drawer to see how chunk this thing is only to be surprised it's fully blended. It's just so freakin' thick you need a spoon to eat it.


It wasn't bad, but I did find out I'm not a big chocolate bananna combo fan. I may try some frozen berries in there next time, but I'm also thinking I should have bought a plain or vanilla base rather than chocolate. Maybe I'll just throw in a dash of vanilla to cut through the overpowering chocolate base to see what happens.

One thing I do know - six ice cubes and a frozen bananna equals one thick assed shake.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Time to run

I haven't run in a week. Between getting everything done for the start of the Little League season (if anyone ever asks you to step up as president of your local little league - use your running skills to run far away in the opposite direction), everything going on with my dad and planning my trip to Florida to help out down there - for some reason I just haven't felt like doing anything more than curling up on the couch to do sudokus.

It's really kind of pathetic to be that overwhelmed. It happens on occasion, but it's been rough battling through it. In fact, yesterday Mr. Bear finally said something he never says, "Why don't you go for a run?"

Today is Little League field day - where we rake up winter debris and such before next Saturday's opening day. If we end early enough, and after Mr. Pi's lacrosse game, I'm coming home and going for a run before heading into the Boston Marathon expo.

But first it's time to arm myself with rakes and bags and go clean a baseball field.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Evil Hills vs Pika - Let's Call it a Draw

Let me just say I was not ready for this race and it became quickly apparent to me that finishing dead last today would be an accomplishment.

Let's start with Thursday when I went out for just over 4 miles through the neighborhood. I had mapped out a course with lots of hills to get ready for today's race. The first 3 miles were fine but then my running shoe began to dig into the fleshy part under my right big toe. To be honest, I've been using these shoes pretty heavily since August and knew they were towards the end of their life span - but I hadn't expected that to happen a mile from home.

About the same time, I realized I was going to need to do the runner's butt clench for the last part of the run. Damn! The last mile was tough - my stomach was complaining loudly and my foot was starting to hurt. I ran in the door, up the stairs and straight into the bathroom. What I hadn't realized was that I had some sort of stomach bug or something and - long story short - I got a lot of reading done.

I took Friday off instead of doing another 4 miler to replenish whatever my body lost. The salt cravings were truly odd for me as I'm not a big salt person, but I did listen and took it easy.

Saturday I found out my dad was in the hospital. His good kidney is not a happy camper and I know he will refuse dialysis. My head was not in a happy space but I also knew that if I didn't get out and run, I'd go crazy. I ended up going out for a mile, making sure to hit a couple of hills in the neighborhood, but my heart wasn't in it and I just came home.

Then came today's race. I know those Cohasset hills well from my teen years (when I was half the woman I am today - literally) and rode my bike over them without a second thought. Thirty years has a way of sneaking up on you and, to be honest, I knew there would be some walking involved.

I met up with one of my brothers, my older sister and two of my nieces. At the starting line, we bumped into my cousin - who is the type of guy Gazelle Boy would love running with - so it was a family affair. To be honest, between the disappointment of missing the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in DC, the fear of the Cohasset hills and my dad, I know my heart just wasn't fully there. But I was excited to run by the ocean that I love in a spot that evokes strong memories of freedom for me.

My niece lead us all in 3 minutes of running/1 minute of walking. Those first two miles were just over 11 minutes each - which is over a full minute faster than my fastest pace. About 25 minutes into the race, I knew I couldn't keep it up and told them to run ahead. My sister decided to hang back with me and she let me the speed. We walked a big chunk of the race, running down hills and other spots... but mostly we walked and talked.

Around the 3.5 mile mark, my legs felt like rubber. I could feel some creeping crud in my lungs and I just hadn't realized how much Thursday's stomach bug knocked out of me. To be honest, had she not been with me, I may have ditched early. So I'm truly grateful for her company because it really pulled me through. Around the 4 mile mark, my right foot began to cramp and at the 5 mile mark, the insole of my left shoe began digging into my instep.

Again, I've been using these shoes heavily since October and I knew they were starting to hit their expiration date, but still a surprise to have it happen then and there (and all the way home for that matter). Can we say time for shoe shopping?

We came up on the finish and crossed together. We actually had a pretty respectable time of 1:23 and change. In fact, in spite of everything, it looks like I PR'd at this race! Who knew?

I will challenge these hills again and next time I will do better. So I'll call today a draw and keep training for the Doyle's and Harpoon 5 milers, the James Joyce Ramble and the Johnny Kelley Memorial.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Two Down, Eight to Go

I was supposed to go out for four miles today - then life happened, again.

So I figured I had to squeeze a run in where ever I could and, knowing the evil hill awaits me on Sunday, I decided to squeeze in another evil hill. Because New England is full of such things, I found an evil hill not far from Heartbreak Hill. This discovery has the same sort of roll up and down and then WHAM there it is - an almost vertical wall daring you to just try and make it all the way up without stopping just like the hill in Cohasset. (See the elevation profile I added.)

For my training run, the hill was shortly after the 1 mile mark rather than the three mile mark, but I was more interested in the idea of the intensity. I made it over the initial up/down roll before hitting that wall and ran a quarter of a mile up the hill when my body said, "That will do Donkey, that will do."

It was encouraging actually quite encouraging - I made it a quarter of a mile up a huge hill after running over some interesting rolling hill-like bumps (compared to that puppy).

One thing I hadn't factored in for this run was the amount of auto exhaust when you run on main roads in the middle of the day. I'm used to running paths, less traveled roads and roads shut down on race day. While this wasn't entirely new, it did catch me off guard a little. Even in a liberal community filled with fuel efficient vehicles and hybrids, I think I sucked more exhaust for the mile I was on main roads than I have in months.

But the good news is, I got a quarter of a mile up a hill I didn't know I could walk up until today. Tomorrow I'll do a neighborhood 4 miler - the one I would have done today had I the time/chance to do so. Even with it's hills, it's not even enough to be more than an annoyance and I'll get another 4 miler (minimum) in this week as well before Sunday's 10k.

At the end of the day, all that really matters is do I feel I did it? Today is one of those days where I say, "yeah, I nailed it."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

In Training

I am sad. I can't run the Cherry Blossom 10 miler next week because there's no way I can leave Mr. Bear alone for a weekend when he's only able to start putting weight on his foot the day I was planning on heading to DC. So I'm signing up for the Cohasset Race by the Sea 10k with the evil hill and dragging him to Cohasset with me. If I can't go to DC and run among the cherry blossoms, he's going to hang out in Cohasset while go for a run along the ocean.

Now comes the next question - I'm on track to run the half marathon at the Johnny Kelley memorial this year; however, I promised someone I'd do the Lowell Spinners run the day before that. So the question then becomes, can I run a 2 mile race on Saturday and a half on Sunday. Then there is that piece of me that wants to run the 5k of the Kelley race so I can compare it to where I was last year when I ran that race. I could also use the 10k race to compare myself to the Hyannis race a few weeks ago, as it's the same course.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

In the meantime, yesterday I ran a beautiful 5 miles from Newton City Hall to BC to train for the evil hill. I also saw something incredibly sweet while running. The hill was lousy with runners - many training for Boston. I expected to see that on a Saturday afternoon... no biggie. There was this one guy who jetted past me on the up hill. You know the type - he eats hills for breakfast - runner's body with his singlet and shorts, camelback, gloves and hat. He passed me coming down the hill and jetted past me again just before I turned around.

On my way down the hill, there was a woman running slightly faster than me and then Mr. Hills jetted past me again and when he reached the woman, he stopped, gave her a kiss and then slowed down to run down the hill with her. That's when it hit me, while she was doing her training run, he was doing his hill repeats until she was ready to finish up. There was something really wonderful about watching that scene - watching two people find a way to work out together even though they were really in different places. It was such a warm moment and it was just sweet witnessing it.

That one moment turned a satisfying 5 miles into something better. When I ran past the Johnny Kelley statue, I told him to put 5 in the book for me today and I'll see him again this week. I could imagine him telling me I better.

I'll probably go out for a little run through the neighborhood this afternoon after it clears up a bit. After all this is Boston. Yesterday I ran in 50* weather, went to bed after a line of snow/rain/mush hit and woke up to the sun shining and the snow melting.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Running of the Irish

Today was the Ras Na Heireann USA - a 5k race that is run in Somerville, MA as well as in Ireland. (Literally - according to the internet dictionary I found - the running of the Irish, idiomatically - the race of the Irish.) I like calling it the running of the Irish... it makes the race sound, I don't know - cooler I guess.

Now a week ago it was beautiful out. Spring was certainly in the air as the temperatures got as high a 70* and I was loving it. Then Friday a Nor'easter blew threw and dumped about 6-8" of snow. I was NOT loving that. Not only that the predicted near 50* temps for today began to decline until this morning the prediction was for the low 40's. It's 2:18 and just hit 30* - which means it was below freezing when the race started at 11 am. Since Nini is in England right now, her mom was there at the starting line with me and Gazelle Boy was way ahead in the front of the pack... no surprises there.

Because Gazelle Boy left his inhaler in the car, I gave him mine and borrowed a cell phone to call Mr. Bear and ask him to be waiting with Gazelle Boy's for when I ran by.

Within a quarter mile or so, I told my sister I'd see her at the finish line and let her run ahead. I was feeling a little slow today - maybe it was the weather, maybe it was just all the stress and such of the week catching up with me. But the idea of relaxing and taking my time was fine with me. After all, there 3200 registered runners, there's no way I'd be last so no worries on my end.

As we ran up the hill on Holland Street out of Davis Square, there was a pipe band playing, which made me happy. I'm not sure why, but it did. As we ran past the fire station, the firefighters would sound the siren and beep the horn. As we turned and came down College Hill (Powderhouse Blvd), there were people on their porches cheering for us, again, one of those things that just felt great. We came down through Powderhouse Circle and started up Broadway, where my brother in law waited with my inhaler since maneuvering around the road on crutches was a bit too tricky for Mr. Bear.

About that point there was a guy who reminded me of Scotty Dog from the Runner's World forums. For that last mile, I stuck with him while we did run/walks until the end of the race. It really was a pleasant way to finish up the race and I earned that sweaty hug at the end. According to my Nike+ I averaged a 12:37 mile. I do know my final time was 40:30 - but that was gun time. I have no idea what my chip time is yet as the only race up is the Southie St. Patrick's day race.

I should add they gave us a way cool medal with the race logo and it doubles as a bottle opener. More medals should be this cool!

I linked up with my sister. We couldn't find Gazelle Boy, so we figured he must have gone back to Ball Square to find us.

Once there, we couldn't find our husbands. So we ducked into one of the race party locations - The Powderhouse Pub - and didn't see them. I borrowed a cellphone (again) and called Mr. Bear to find out they were in a coffee house across the street. My sister and I grabbed a beer and then headed over to find the men folk. While debating what to do, since no one had seen Gazelle Boy, someone looked up and said, "There he is." He was across the street looking for us.

My sister took off, and Mr. Bear managed to hobble out of the coffee shop when I told him we were picking up some Zeppolis for St. Joseph's day (which is tomorrow... and it's my dad's birthday). I ran into my sister at the bakery, who was picking up a Zeppoli to ship down to my dad, so I ended up only getting enough for desert tomorrow night.

I have to admit, I liked this race but I was glad to get home to a warm house. I haven't decided if I want to soak in a hot bubble bath or take a hot shower... I'll figure that out in a few minutes when I amble into the bathroom and decide there.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Traffic Jam

Well, since the 25th hour was recalled early this year, I didn't get out to Heartbreak Hill until a little on the later end of things this morning. When I parked at City Hall, I was surprised that there weren't that many cars there - usually there are about a half dozen or so when I get there. I guess people are adjusting to the time change.

I set the Nike+ to a 5k distance and was off.

Out on the road, there they all were - runners on their own, dog walkers, fitness walkers, running clubs - you name it. The carriage road along Commonwealth Avenue was just packed with runners everywhere in ones, pairs, groups and otherwise. There were parents with strollers, dogs being walked and dogs running with their humans. In fact, I saw one beautiful Golden out there pulling his human along at a fairly good clip, it was kind of amusing to see the struggle of the runner who wasn't quite up to their dog's speed.

Of course the dog was faster than me, but that's OK.

After spending a season on a treadmill, I am beginning to recognize profound differences that, while subtle, really are noticable. For example, if I start to drag a little on the treadmill, the belt will pull me along. If I need to speed up or slow down on the street, it doesn't involve pushing any buttons - just adjusting my stride. But the main difference was the breeze.

See when you sweat on a treadmill, there's no breeze to help blow it off your face or dry you off a bit. Outside, between the wind resistance and any breeze or wind blowing, the change is huge. The good thing about the treadmill though was working on my speed. I ran a consistent pace today around the 12:30 mark without straining, fatigue or breathing issues. If I hadn't gone ankle deep in a puddle passing the Johnny Kelley statue on my way down the hill, I might have gone on for another mile or so towards the fire station and back.

Next Sunday is the Ras Na Heireann and I'm psyched because I'm going to spend a couple of days running outside this week just getting ready. If the rain comes through as planned, then I'll spend some time on the treadmill looking forward to running in the fresh air once again before having a run, a pint and some potato leek soup. Then I'll be in a real congestion of 2700 runners taking a scenic tour of Somerville.

But today was all about the company and joy of a good run up Heartbreak Hill.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Breath of Fresh Air

It is 50* outside, so I tied up my shoes and went outside for a run through the neighborhood. Not a long one - just down a few streets I normally don't run along - to be outside again. I ran up and down a few hills and around in a circle to log just over 1.5 miles over 20 minutes.

It was glorious. I averaged a 12:24 pace - not bad for not being on a motorized belt rolling over a flat surface.

I saw kids playing a games of street hockey in their driveway, shooting hoops, playing catch and riding bikes. It was as if something knocked on the door and said, "Can you come out and play?"

It was a good run and every so often, you just need a short one through the neighborhood to remind you that every time you back out of the driveway, you're just taking a scenic route home.