Monday, April 30, 2007

Birds in the Hood

OK, one of the problems with the GIS mapping programs out there like 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.