Saturday, July 19, 2008

Uphill - both ways

When you try to explain to people how running on the hill my street is on is really running up hill both ways, they often respond: but do you do that barefoot and in the snow as well?

Seriously, that 1.5 mile stretch is uphill from my house to the crest before it dips and goes back up the hill a bit. When you turn around, you're not really running down hill and you find yourself running back uphill until you reach the crest again and then you have a sharp down hill until you get back to the house. It's one of the hardest 1.5 miles you can run around here - there is actually a much harder one about a half mile from my house as that side of the same hill is much steeper but has more of a downhill feel when you're running down it.

I'll probably go out again today and do the 1.5 a second time to see if it's any easier after running it yesterday. I doubt it will be, it's been almost a year and it's still a tough freakin' run.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Some days the bear eats you

Tonight was my first race since... well, since March.

It was one of the weekly 2.6 mile races and I decided to give it a try. It wasn't a question of being physically ready - as I pretty much am sure I was. I wasn't mentally ready, and that makes a difference.

This isn't a "well, well, you tried..." sort of thing. This is a mile in I realized I just wasn't there. I ran about a mile and realized I was done. I walked the last 1.6 miles and threw in a bit of jogging here and there, but emotionally I was not in a good place. Perhaps I tried to push myself a bit too soon. Perhaps all those injury fears that I had finally dumped the day I set up a 1/2 training program and then promptly went down for the count were still a bit too close to the surface. Whatever it was, it wasn't a case of willing myself through.

It was a horrible run, no two ways around it. I will eventually figure out how to run that course with joy again, it just wasn't going to be tonight. In the meantime, my vertigo seems to have gone away and it's time for me to figure out a new course of action and give this a try again next Thursday night.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Where Am I? What Am I Doing?

Just as I started running and feeling good about it again, I started having problems with vertigo. So after a week of taking anitbiotics for a possible low-grade sinus infection, I'm better. Tomorrow I'll try going for a run and see how I do.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Two down

This morning I was committed to volunteer at the New Charles River Run and I had 2 miles scheduled on my c25k plan. This meant getting up hella early on a Sunday to get my run in.

But I did it. I ran two miles in 24:49 - which is a 12:24 mile. So even though I was saying things to myself like, "Whoa girl, take it down a notch...." and forcing myself to slow down, I ran 2 miles at my regular pace. There's something truly gratifying about that. I'm scheduled to do a 2.5 long run next Sunday, but I may move it up to Thursday and run the US Blues 2.6 miler... we'll see.

Either way, I'm feeling like I've got 2 down and a whole life more ahead.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lies We Tell Ourselves

I made myself a pair of sarong pants last night, but grappled with wearing them today because I was worried about looking fat in them. Then came the inevitable, "I only I were 70 pounds lighter...."

That's when it hit me, even if I were 70 pounds lighter, I would still be stressing over my weight. I would be worried about putting on or increasing a size. Size 8? Maybe if I skip lunch a couple of days I could squeeze into that 6....

I don't know if I'll ever be comfortable with my body, that's the reality. In the meantime I'm happy to be running again and maybe the rest will come.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Spirt of a Great Heart

Let me just start with RIP George Carlin. The world will be a sadder place without you in far too many ways.

Today is day 1 of a c25k program. I am using the Runner's World 5 weeks to a 5k and today was a 20 minute walk/xt day.

With my iPod on shuffle, I went out for my walk and the first song up in the playlist was "Spirit of a Great Heart" by Jimmy Buffett. I must admit that song really set the tone for today's workout. After 5 minutes in I thought "what the hell" and started to slowly jog for 5 to prove to myself I could. It felt so good to just be outside moving like that. I did throw in a couple of more minutes when the Nike+ warned me I had 5 minutes remaining.

In all, I covered 1.5 miles. Not a lot and yet what a great distance.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sunday morning

I can now use the glider, I'm walking and growing more flexible day to day. Yesterday our reel mower came back from the shop all sharpened and lubed and ready to go - so what's a Pika to do on her Sunday morning if she can't run? She spends 45 mowing down the hay field that our front lawn has sprouted.

I felt compelled to do this on this particular Sunday morning because about 300 runners will be passing my house for an inaugural 10k that I had worked into my training plan a few months back. I was going to run the Harpoon 5 miler on Saturday and the local 10k on Sunday to see how I felt. At this point in my training, it seemed to make sense... alas, the best laid plans of mice and men as they say.

So upon waking and looking out the window at my lawn this morning, the thought of waiting for any of the teenage boys in this house to "get around to it" didn't work for me knowing neighbors, friends and people whom I would never meet would run past all these well manicured lawns and then see mine.

Sorry Charlie, doesn't work for me.

So for 45 minutes or so, I happily listened to my baseball soundtrack on my iPod while mowed away. The boys can rake and trim later.

Beyond that, this week I work up to 30 minutes of walking and start working on the elliptical and bikes at physical therapy. If all goes well, I start on my c25k in a couple of weeks - a month earlier than expected. It's a nice way to start the week: feeling like you've accomplished something with the optimism of moving forward.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Another Day Another 20 Minutes

Today I just took a quick walk from work to the near by woods and walked along the trail for 20 minutes. It really was a pretty walk - the leaves were green, the sky was blue and the weather was warm. I'm down to a 16:09 pace for my walking, which is particularly excellent given I was walking on a trail rather than paved surface. I also did a couple of quick sets of jogging 15-20 steps along the way.

The orthopedist said my right foot is still about 5* less in motion than my left, but to keep gently stretching.

So right now I'm feeling good.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Captain My Captain

As promised - that's me and the Captain. Yes, he really is that much taller than me and no Gazelle Boy didn't think to do a vertical shot.

My ankle is growing stronger daily. I've been told I can walk 20 minutes 3x weekly and use the glider or elliptical on my off days for cross training. Today I did try jogging between phone poles, but the inside of my ankle complained loudly after a few steps, so I stopped.

I'm still doing my PT exercises and still growing stronger.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A good day for a walk

I am down to a lace up brace and new exercises were added to my PT: standing on my right foot for 30 seconds, runner's stretch and soleus stretch, I'm also able to take short walks.

So I restructured my "training" to go for 20 minute walks a few times a week. I decided to try and stay on mostly level ground but when I walked up the hill near my house I was feeling it. What was frustrating was wanting to walk at my regular pace and knowing I had to slow it down to an 18 minute mile. I know, I know, it's part of healing but it's one of those things.

When I was out, the colors were beautiful. The lilacs are starting to fade and the rhododendrons are starting to come into full bloom. There were a couple of gardens starting to bloom. As I finished up my walk, the sun was setting and the colors across the sky were breathtaking.

It was a reminder that no matter how rough the past six weeks or so have been, I'm getting stronger and it won't be long before I'm up and running and training. As if I needed a reminder that I"m getting back on track, today I got the notice for the Tufts 10k on October 13. If I start training the first week of August, I'll be right on track to run it. The PT told me that I should be starting to think about running about mid-July, so it looks as though it will be a good time to start training.

It was a good day for a walk and hopefully soon it will be a better one for a run.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The New Apple Store

OK, so I'm sitting here in the brand new flagship store where I have just had my photo taken with my hero.... Jason Varitek!!!!!!! Yes folks, the Cap'n himself is in da house.

Now you may wonder how someone with their right leg in a splint managed to make it up the spiral staircase. One word: carefully. In fact, I almost did a header when a Japanese tourist with a video camera just missed plowing into me.

But as I said, the Sox are in the house and I'm a happy Pika. The pix will be up soon (as I'm using the computer here at the store)

It's a happy day for me. :) I'm glad tomorrow will be about icing down my ankle!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Sweet Smell of Lilacs

One thing I love this time of year is the smell of lilacs.

Today they were even sweeter because I walked several blocks to stop at two different bushes and take a deep, lingering inhale of the sweet fragrance. I was also able to stand for a couple of hours on the floor at work to cover some breaks. Yes, I'm paying the price a little bit as I have my ankle up and iced right now - but it just felt so good to be able to do something other than totally hobble all over.

I'm happy. I'm relieved and I'm feeling good.

Hooray for lilacs. Hooray for feeling strong.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Let the Physical Therapy Begin

I went in today for my first PT appointment where I learned some interesting things.

For example, I learned that my ankle joints have a larger gap in them than normal. It's not a bad thing, but it explains why I tend to roll them. I also learned that because my hips are weak, my ankles are picking up the slack... again, part of the rason why they tend to roll.

My PT is a runner, so she is going to structure everything towards that goal as I heal. So now I've got a set of exercises to start working on to strengthen the gluteus medius (one of the hip/butt muscles) as well as some easy sets of ankle things to do as well.

Good times, baby, good times

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Getting ready to dance

The cast came off today! While I'm still not quite able to do the happy pika dance, it's a good first step. I'm on the crutches for another week and I didn't need a bivalve cast (splint/cast hybrid). I'll start physical therapy as soon as I can get an appointment and the hope is I can start back on a c25k program possibly as soon as the beginning of July!

The people at Harvard Health kept my cast to put on display in the cast room since I was just going to chuck it. Amazing what you can do with some sharpies and a lot of time sitting around singing songs about how much you hate people who can run when you can't. Right now - no more need for songs, no more Jim Carrey from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, loathe, despise....) and certainly no more sulking about this.

All of this makes me want to dance, even if I can't yet. So I'll let Pika dance for me for now.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

future plans

So I figure the best way through things is with a plan. So here's the plan, I will get through this and set my sights on the Disney half in January. Once I have a bench mark I will work from there - but that's the plan. When I see my orthopedist on Tuesday (who is a runner), I will discuss my plan with him and see if it's a viable one and if it is - then there's the plan.

Here's hoping.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bored, bored, bored

I'm so freakin' bored that I'm doing things like drawing on my cast, making up songs... the usual. No matter how upbeat I try to be, there are days like today when I want to be out and about and running on the paths or on Heartbreak Hill.

Today we were driving along Storrow Drive and I was getting mad at the people out there jogging and running. So I started singing:

I hate these people,
look at them running
and I'm stuck with this cast
on my right foot

Look at them jogging,
I hate these assholes
now that I"m stuck with
this cast on my foot

and so on.

As you may guess, I'm not in a happy mood about all this today. Tomorrow I'll be fine, I know I will be, but right now I'm sulky. So it goes.

No Dice Charlie

Well the trip to the orthopedist was not a happy one. Bilateral tendon damage upgrades you from a severe sprain to a fiberglass cast for a couple of weeks, a bivalve cast after that and then PT and a series of braces.

In other words: no races for a while.

On the upside, hauling myself around on crutches for a while should do wonders for my biceps and upper body. I'm starting to research what core exercises I can do and will think of it as "cross training" until I get the green light to start walking.

So for now, I have a blank, white fiberglass canvas calling out for some spectacular work with some sharpies.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Little Engine

Most of us were raised on the book "The Little Engine That Could" by Mary Pipher. The whole "I think I can, I think I can..." mantra comes from that story of a little train pushing itself up a major hill. It's all about believing in yourself in all that.

So here I am, a few days out from my injury with a foot that looks as ugly as it feels (and I"m feeling it through the good pain stuff too). But I've spent the last couple of days with my foot up thinking, "What's next?"

Well, first it's seeing my orthopedist to get a full assessment. Once I have that, it will be a lot easier to to figure out my plans. Until then we have a few things: The first is coaching Mr. Pi.

That's right, I'm coaching Mr. Pi again. He's doing the Runner's World 5 weeks to a 5k program for gym credit. I picked up a Nike+ Sport Band to help him record his info. He'll also be keeping an online log with notes and writing up a short report ... all for gym credit.

He's really excited about the whole thing - which is nice. Who knows what will happen with him.

So for a couple of weeks while I wait for the swelling and bruising to reduce, I'll be advising and watching Pi. As soon as I can bear weight again, I'm going to start building time on the glider (no stress on the knees/ankle/etc.) so I don't lose fitness capacity. As soon as I have the word, I'll start in on a walk to run plan and build up with the goal of the BAA 1/2 this fall.

This is a set back, not an ending. All I need to remember is "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can....."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

This Blows

I go out for a run today - the weather is beautiful, I worked out a training plan with an eye towards the BAA half in the fall. A mile and a half out my foot slipped on something and next thing I know, I'm in a heap on the ground with my right ankle is puffing up like a scared puffer fish.

A person nicely let me use their cell to call Mr. Bear and a woman driving by who saw me go down turned around to offer me a ride to the hospital. She nicely dropped me at the house and Gazelle Boy took me into the ER where I was given some percoset, an aircast and a pair of crutches before being shown the door to make a follow up with my orthopedist.

The golf ball sized lump on my ankle is an unhappy reminder of last fall. I know that I will get past this but it blows.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Keep Me In Your Heart for a While

Not that long ago, an online friend died suddenly. His sister thought to go through his online address book and let his running friends know. James "Cat" Cattano was one of the first guys to really get me to realize I was a runner. He worked with trouble kids and was often a confidant when I was going through some stuff with a crazy person in my life.

Last Sunday he would have been 46, so a group of us decided to celebrate his life by doing something we enjoyed. For me, I spent the day in my pj's reading the papers and doing the sudokus. I was going to run Cohasset but there were coordination issues with vehicles, timing issues and enough of a pain that I decided to pass and dedicate my run in the Doyle's Emerald Necklace run to him this week.

I love this run. This is through part of Olmstead's "Emerald Necklace," a string of parks around Boston. This is an out and back race at the Franklin Park end and it starts by the hospital near Forest Hills. From there it winds along the golf course, past the softball fields, the zoo and the stadium. It goes along water, where the ducks and geese were starting to swim and nest and through woods. If you didn't know that the funky end of the city was just the other side of the zoo, you never would have guessed by the scenery.

The weather was funky - overcast, chilly and threatening to rain. I stayed towards the back of the 1800+ runners and stuck to my strategy of run a song/walk a song and I was running pretty well. There were times when my inner loser would start raising his voice - which had me thinking, "I can just cut across the fairway..." or "No one would know if I ran across that triangle of grass instead of around it..." and I would think about Cat - which send the inner loser off to sulk in the corner and keep me on course.

The last quarter mile, you come out of the park and the last quarter mile is up Williams Street to Doyle's Bar and Grill. The street is lined on both sides with triple deckers filled with artists, hipsters and college students. As you come down that final stretch, they are out clapping and cheering. One group sits out drumming in the driveway, complete with baby hippies dancing in organic clothes. The college students were the loudest and most enthusiastic, thanking me for picking up the pace and I thanked them for their support.

As I approached the finish, there was a guy in a red hoodie cheering me on pretty enthusiastically and I realized it was my big brother! It was a real surprise and a happy treat to see him there.

Later, I was listening to a bunch of songs shuffling through my iPod and there was the one Warren Zevon song that still makes me tear up: Keep me in your heart for a while. It is the last song he wrote for his wife when he was dying. The words, "hold me you thoughts, take me in your dreams ... and I will be right there with you."

So yes, I kept him in my heart for a while and it was a good.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dirty Water

My first ever 5k was the Ryka Irongirl back in 2006. I ran the first mile, walked the second mile and just started running again when I was wondering what the hell I was doing out there. At that moment two things happened, the first was I came around the bend as the song "Dirty Water" was playing. There in front of me was one of the most beautiful panoramic views of Boston across the water. The sky was the perfect shadings of blue, not a cloud in the sky, the skyline reflecting a bit off the water... absolutely gorgeous. As I came on that view, the line "Oh Boston you're my home" blasted in my ears.

In that moment I knew why I was out there, I was a runner. The second thing was the elite runners doing the 10k race started to pass us as they did their second loop. It was breathtaking and inspiring at the same time. Us slow people questioning ourselves just stopped and applauded them before going back to our shuffling.

This morning was similar. The weather was perfect: 48* with no wind and a little overcast. I realized this is really the first time out there where I was running comfortably more than walking. I wasn't talking myself into the just to that pole... just to that mailbox... just to that tree.... - I was out there jogging along and feeling good. I was just coming down the pedestrian road by Newton City Hall when "Dirty Water" came on and as I passed the Johnny Kelley statue the line "Oh Boston you're my home" blasted in my ear.

"Dirty Water" is also the unofficial anthem of the Boston Red Sox. When the Sox win at home, they cue up "Dirty Water" and then "Tessie." It is a victory song for people like me.

I have to say that while I have been rebuilding, I've been wondering why the hell am I doing this? This morning, it was that same feeling I got that July morning almost 2 years ago.

This is my home, the BoSox are my team, I am a runner and I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Home Opener

This morning I woke up at 5:30 to a truly obnoxious alarm clock. The youngest ordered one from Pop Tarts a few years back and it has this grating voice that says, "Get up or I'll tell every one you wear jammies..." "Some one has to get up, and it's not gonna be me..." "Get up or I'll...."

After 10 minutes, I got up and shut it off saying next time it goes out a window. Mr. Bear decided no more alarms before 6 am unless you need to be up and out before 6 am (I'm fully behind that one).

But I was up and got dressed for a run in spite of it being around the freezing mark. I decided to go out for 2.5 today to work on my pace and I'm happy with the results. Until today I've been running a slow pace (even for me). OK, granted there was a time when a 14 minute mile was a major accomplishment for me, but now it's a source of frustration. Today I got out there and managed to cover 2.5 in just over 30 minutes for a 12:08 pace. It was the first time I felt like I was fully back in the game.

Of course how could I not enjoy today's run? Today is the Sox home opener so I put on my baseball soundtrack - which starts with Jake Shimabukuro's version of the National Anthem on uke. From there I have songs like:

The Ballad of Yankees Suck
Dirty Water
As We Walk to Fenway Park

How can you not smile listening to songs like that?

I registered for the Doyle's 5 mile race on Sunday so this morning was a good prep. I may try for a longer run tomorrow since I don't have to go into work until noon. Perhaps I'll do an hour long run and see how it goes rather than go out for a distance.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Berry Smoothies in the morning

After the chocolate bannana smoothie debacle of a year or so back, I have occasionally tried to figure out the smoothie process. This weekend I finally hit on the right combo: 1/2 a bag of frozen berries, 1 cup of OJ and a container of my favorite yogurt. Woo Hoo! Berry smoothie time!

In the meantime, I signed up for the Doyle's 5 miler on Sunday and the Harpoon 5 miler in June. I decided I'll go for a long walk today and a short run tomorrow. Long range forecasts have it warming up all week, which is a sure sign spring is really here finally. Woo Hoo again!

Berry smoothies and spring... life is good.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fool

I thought the weather widget on my dashboard had to be an April's Fool joke - I mean after the cold raw weather of the past few days to be 56* at 5:30 in the morning just didn't seem to parse for some reason. When I opened the door to check for the newspapers, I realized it wasn't a joke, so I munched a Pria bar, drank some water and headed out.

Near my house are some hills that have been known to make freshmen runners weep and varsity runners whine like spoiled children in a toy store. They are mean, steep and unrelenting. So of course I had to give it a go.

I made it about a block before I was walking to the top of the first rise. I started running again and made it a block before dropping back to a walk again. All the way up the road that was the pattern and when I got to the top, I turned around and ran back down to do it all over again.

But 3/4's of the way down I decided to go on an adventure and veered off on a side road. The road went up and down. It twisted and turned to another quiet road, which went up and down and twisted. I ran those roads more steadily - more of my run a song/walk a song interval before I took a turn and realized, "Hey, I live on this street!"

So that's where that road I drive past goes .... up down and all around before it opens out onto my street.

It was a nice way to start the month and for the first time since the calendar turned, it really felt like spring out there this morning. The early sunlight, mild temps and playful squirrels racing me on occasion. It felt good. It reminded me why I fell in love with running. I may not have my paths any more, but knowing there are these quiet roads in the morning is almost as good.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Why I need to run (a sorta RR from the Ras Na Heirann)

The past couple of weeks, piled on the last few months, have had me really asking why I haven't been running. I came out of the Hyannis 10k full of enthusiasm and excited. I knew I could get back to form after getting past a major hurdle.

So what happened?

I often read people's "I've lost my motivation" posts with understanding and sympathy. When you don't want to run after letting it define you, it really feels like breaking up with your high school sweetheart or losing someone special. Last fall I spent 3 months watching runners go by my window or pushing themselves along my running routes knowing I couldn't join them because I stupidly ran a 5 mile race after rolling my ankle. It felt fine, but I knew it wasn't and should have acted with restraint. But no.... I had to run.

Coming back from that injury has been scary. I was shocked at how much fitness I lost. I was saddened at my lack of stamina and fearful I'd roll it again and have all of it gone in a flash. So up until Hyannis, in the back of my mind was a little voice saying, "If you don't run, you'll learn not to miss it." But Hyannis reminded me why I run. The feel ing of exhiliration and freedom I feel when I run and I knew in that moment I could never give this up.

But then I didn't run again until yesterday when I ran the Ras Na Heirann - a 5k race that Gazelle Boy and I refer to as the running of the Irish. (It's idiomatically the Irish run or the Irish race, but literally it's the running of the Irish, which is the version I prefer.) There's something thrilling about running in a pack of 3,000 people and it takes over 3 minutes to get over the start line. This race is particularly silly because almost everyone is wearing green something, there are guys running in kilts and combat boots, leprechaun hats and outfits - you name it. I was there in my Red Sox St. Patty's shirt (an xxl number shirt with Matsuzaka's name and number on the back) ready to go.

Along the route is the Gaelic column - which always reaches an emotional core in me and I almost wept as a result of hearing those pipes and drums.... which I didn't do, but it did get me thinking. These past couple of weeks I have been so drained with fighting the school system to insure my son gets an equal opportunity education rather than ceremoniously shoved out the door with a piece of paper in hand and a "so long and thanks for all the fish." It has been draining physically, emotionally and spiritually. If this is what the battle is like in a supportive system, I can't even begin to fathom what parents in non-supportive systems have to face.

Ironically the one thing that I need to lighten the load, running, is the one thing that I just can't seem to work up the energy for. But somehow there I was running through Davis Square, trotting up college hill and through Powderhouse Circle, down the bike path to the Davis Square finish in 42:47. Not a great time, but I made it before a couple hundred other runners nonetheless. I've started selecting spring races: the James Joyce Ramble (10k), the Doyle's 5 miler, the Harpoon 5 miler, the Johnny Kelley Memorial (5 or 10k - haven't decided yet) among the choices. I have entries into the 5 big races on the Charles this summer and it won't be long before the Thursday night running group starts up again.

Yesterday someone I know who "doesn't get the running thing" asked me: do you feel stronger when you run? I realized, yes I do. when I finish a run I feel like I have accomplished something big - even a little run feels fulfilling. After the race I decided that maybe part of my problem is I expected to just restart rather than rebuild. I have time, so I'll go to the appropriate spot in a c25k program and start from just past the beginning again.

Today I have meetings and work, tomorrow I run.

Today I go into more meetings with guns blazing and tomorrow I run.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hyannis Marathon

Today was a glorious day on the Cape once again for the Hyannis 10k, half marathon, marathon and marathon relay.

This is my first race since Labor Day and I wasn't sure I was going to run until we were actually in the car and on the way. I signed up for the 10k and I was feeling strong and confident until a week ago when I was felled by a nasty cold going around. I spent Tuesday ensconced in my chair wondering if I'd have the lung power to make it. By Thursday I felt better but I took a spill down a handful of stairs in the house, landing on my right knee and left hip. I lay on the floor in the entryway swearing and asking who I pissed off to have this happening.

But this morning I woke up at 6, took some ibuprofen and packed my bag to head to Hyannis determined to walk the race if necessary.

It was cold - no two ways about it, but I shed my track pants - wearing my running tights, an underarmor long sleeve t and my oversized Dice-K shirt and was glad I had shed the pants the moment I stood in the sun. I would have been too hot and they would have been too heavy for me today.

I met up with Kristen from the Runner's World beginners forum before she went off for the early start on the marathon.

The mix on my iPod: the Apple commercial play list on shuffle mode.

It took a couple of minutes to get across the start line, but it wasn't long before I was off with my recent strategy of run a song/walk a song and the first 3 miles flew by. My goal was a 13 minute mile and I was pretty close to that for the first half of the race. After the first water station, I could start to feel the lingering effects of the cold but was able to keep pace until mile 4.5 when my knee began to stiffen up so the strategy became run a song, power walk a song, walk a song. By mile 5 I was pretty much down to power walking with the occasional jog for a few minutes before dropping back to a power walk again. In the final quarter mile, I was able to break into a jog to the finish for a time of 1:28:02 - which is certainly a respectable enough time.

There are a lot of reasons I love this race course, the main one being I just love the smell of the salt marshes as you run past them and the views of the ocean along the route. The relative flatness and tree lined streets are a bonus. It is certainly among my favorite races and I look forward to returning to this course for the Johnny Kelley Memorial race at the end of May.

So that first time returning fear has now been stared down. I have the Running of the Irish (Ras Na Heireann) in 3 weeks which is a 5k through Somerville in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Gentle Reader

I have not been good about keeping up with this since being injured. Like I didn't run this past week as I've had a cold and have been trying to rest before Hyannis tomorrow - my first race since Labor Day. To make matters worse, Thursday I took a minor tumble down a couple of stairs and my knees have begun to stiffen up a bit. My work schedule has been crazy while they try to figure out rhythms and times for all of us new folk.

I am racing Sunday, I don't care if I walk most of it. I need to break through that psychological hurdle that seems to keep getting in the way of me moving forward.

So if you will be in Hyannis - look for me as I trot along the route and give me a big "Gambatte" (a Japenglish word meaning: go for it in sporting events). If you won't, then check back here later Sunday as I post my race report and maybe a photo or few.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Surreal Snow

I beat the bed magnet to get out the door this morning at the butt crack of dawn and into a surreal world. It snowed last night. Not a lot - a dusting is the official term. You know, enough to cover bare patches and make the roads slick but not enough to really measure.

But the temperature was warm enough so when the snow stopped, there was this surreal fog over the road... almost as if the snow had suspended itself midair and just decided to stop before reaching the ground. Because it wasn't fully light out and the world was still mostly asleep, there was an eerie quietness in the air as well running up Commonwealth Avenue today.

I was early enough that the running clubs weren't out enmass yet. Every so often a pair or so of elite runners would glide past and there was the occasional dog walker, but the first half of my run was mostly me and my soundtrack for the morning.

Because I went for time instead of distance (I really only had an hour before I had to shower and get to work), it was interesting to hear that voice in my ear call out 5 minute intervals instead of mileage calls. I did manage to cover just over 4.5 miles in that time - I'll take it.

Now off to shower so I can get to work. After a serene, surreal start to the day, I'm in a good frame of mind - so it all works for me.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Two Against My Will

There were a whole lot of reasons not to run today:

- I have to be to work by 1
- It's snowing
- It's below freezing
- The bulk of my running clothes are in the laundry
- Do I really want my neighbors to see me
- I haven't eaten
- I really have anything to drink
- I haven't been eating well this week
- I over slept

and the list goes on and on. Yet the thought of a double digit week for the first time since Labor Day was just so enticing that I knew it would trump all the reasons not to. So I put on the running tights, the compression shirt and the oversized Dice-K shirt and strapped on the shoes for 2 miles.

That means this week I logged 11.5 miles and it feels good.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Up the Hill, Down the Hill, Up the Hill, Down the Hill

There is a big mambo hill outside my house. I really needed to get a 3 mile run in today so I went to the trusting distance tools at map my run and the nike+ sites and mapped out 3.1 miles. Essentially it was up the hill, around the cul de sac, back down the hill, around the little park, back up the hill and back down the hill.

It was around 40* and drizzly out, but I sucked it up and did it. While my times still aren't great, I'm feeling better about getting out there especially when my inner loser decided to pay a visit. I came down the hill and was heading around the little park at the end of the road when my legs began to feel heavy and the voice started.

"I'm tired," it said, "the house is right there. You got a mile in on a day you weren't even gonna run... c'mon."

I'm not sure where I found it in me, but I did. Next thing I know, I'm cresting the hill and thinking, "Wow, that was fast."

That gives me a 10k run and a 5k run on the week so far - more mileage than I've done in a long time. It feels good. Maybe it's being able to run outside again, maybe it's just time. No matter what the reason, I'm running and it doesn't get much better than that.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I'm a New Soul

Ever since Apple announced the new Macbook Air, the song "New Soul" by Yael Naim has been in the background of most of our hearing ranges. It's a lovely little song and the video is such a joyful little romp.

You can watch the video here.

It was the theme song for today.

The other day I downloaded the "Apple Commercial" mix from iTunes which included that and Feist's 1234 (from the Nano commercial) and Perfect Timing (This Morning) from the iPhone ad. Basically, it's just over 1/2 an hour of really good music.

Realizing I'm running in a 10k in 3 weeks, I went out for my longest run since Labor Day - I went out for a 10k run with the Apple commercial songs as my soundtrack. To encourage myself, I did my run on Heartbreak Hill.

Since all the songs are around the 3 minute mark, I decided the best thing to do was run for one song, walk for the next and then run again. It took 90 minutes to cover the 10k distance, but I did it. The carriage road was filled with running clubs doing their training mileages for Boston, Sunday runners, dog walkers, you name it.

When I started out and at the 5k mark the song "New Soul" popped up. My run finished to "Perfect Timing (This Morning)" and those two songs say it all. It was a perfect morning. The weather was warm enough to run outside, the sun felt good and it was just a nice feeling to run outside for a change.

10k - not too bad. I feel renewed for the first time in a while.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Mr. Pi

I can't believe Mr. Pi is now 16. He wanted a rock n roll cake, I ran out of time, so I ended up buying a cake at Stop & Shop but I did decorate it. All it took were some guitar swizzle sticks for the sides, some Little Debbie Cosmic brownies for the stage, drum kit and amps and lots and lots of Teddy Grahams for the musicians and audience. There were bears crowd surfing, laying out for sun, stage diving - you name it.

It was a truly inspired cake. :D

It was a busy day - running here there and everywhere figuratively and literally. I really didn't want to run yesterday. The treadmill is just really depressing no matter how spiffy it may be. But I made myself run the 5k loop program on the treadmill and pushed myself through the mileage. I want to run outside again but the weather is just too funky these days.

I did run the distance, so I'm giving myself a lot of pats on the back. I feel a bit sore. I also think I figured out why I stopped wearing the white socks I used to wear running as I now have a small, but annoying, blister on the bottom of my foot on the pad just below the big toe. I'll probably go and run a couple of miles on the treadmill today as well because sometimes you just have to suck it up and run.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I forgot about the hills

Today I took advantage of the January thaw and went for a 4 mile run up Heartbreak Hill. Having spent the past few weeks on a treadmill, I realized I forgot about how hard it can be to run up hills... but even then, it was a good run.

One of the advantages of a treadmill is you can be a little lazy. If you start to run out of gas, you have the motor and the belt moving at a constant pace and it can pull you along. When you're on the road, that doesn't happen. You're on your own power the whole way.

But the thing I like about running on the road, there's a lot to distract me. The treadmill is the same scenery and it's not long before I'm checking my watch and waiting for the numbers to count down. On the road I get lost in sights, sounds, smells and colors. I love looking at my watch and realizing I just ran 2 minutes longer than I thought and want to keep going.

It was a good run. It was enough to keep me going for a while until we start getting real thaws.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Oooo! New Treadmills!

Today I headed into the gym to run, in spite of the January thaw, since Mr. Bear is nervous that I'll hurt myself outside. When I got there I was surprised to see 2 and a half rows of new treadmills.

They are sleek, brushed aluminum beauties with a built in fan, instant read HR monitors, 1 button 5k course setting - truly a thing of beauty. I pushed the 5k loop button and pushed the speed to where I wanted and I was off. The fan kicked on by itself at a certain point (even with it, I was a sweaty mess at the end but I was loving that it was there) and the whole thing was a smooth, enjoyable experience. How cool is that?

They also got a tone of new cross trainers in that look like that thing I see advertised on TV where you can combine an elliptical motion with a stair climbing and treadmill.

I'm glad I pushed myself to go in because I really didn't want to run today. Having a new toy was just a reward for doing what I was supposed to do, and I'll take it.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Land of New

New day, new week, new month, new year - it's all part of the land of new.

Basically it's been a rough fall due to injuries, life and everything else that often gets in the way. But I'm planning on running the 10k race at the Hyannis Marathon (there's a 26.2, 13.1 and 10k race) in 7 weeks and this was week 1 of a 10k training plan.

I'm looking at the Cherry Blossom 10 miler the first weekend of April and figure on the Ras Na Heirann on St. Pat's weekend and the Doyle's 5 miler in the spring. I'm keeping my eyes open for the Harpoon 5 mile registration because I really enjoyed that run.

So far this week I've logged 8.5 miles on the treadmill - not bad for a first week back. I realized I really enjoy intervals of walking/running and have gone from 5 walking/3 running a couple of weeks ago to 4/4. I did up my paces to 3.5 mph walking/11 min mile pace running (5.5 mph). I know I'm starting to feel comfortable at this pace as I went long past the 4 minutes I usually run and after a couple of minutes of walking I'm antsy to start running again. When I get to the 3 min walking/5 min running mark, I'll probably stay there until I'm comfortable enough to push the pace again.

In the meantime, happy new year all.