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.