Saturday, December 17, 2011

Curves

With the realization I have to build up to running when it's below freezing; after all, it's that time of year, I decided to take up a trubate deal that rolled into my inbox the other day. It was for a 30 day Curves membership.

Curves, for the uninitiated, is a women's only workout place where you move between stations every 30 seconds. So it's 30 seconds of running or something in place, then work on a hydraulic strength training piece, run in place, strength train, etc for a total of 30 minutes. I checked them out when they first opened a decade ago and it felt... well, stupid then. It feels stupid but necessary right now. They play peppy music and a little voice and chime come on every 30 seconds to say, "Change stations now...." About every 10 minutes or so, the voice tells you to stop and take your pulse. No one does, but the voices tell you to do so.

For a month, a combo of light strength training and running in place should be tolerable.

So for a little while, I'll be a curves girl. Heaven help us all.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

An easy, uncomfortable 5K

I was given the all clear to run again. My lungs were still a bit noisy, but my doctor was happy with my progress and told me I could restart running. That was a week ago and the past week has been overcoming the fear of running. All those what ifs that creep up in my mind: What if I have an asthma attack? What if I fall? What if I hurt myself again? What if I'm not supposed to be a runner after all?

I started by leaving my running gear in the bathroom Saturday night. But Sunday morning I overslept a little. Monday I went to NYC and Tuesday I was just going to watch the news for a little bit before I got in my gear. This morning I woke up at 5:30 and enough was enough. I put on my gear and came downstairs to watch the news long enough to get the current weather. 60* on December 7th? Really? Well, it was a sign to put on my shoes and get out on the road.

What if I have an astma attack? I followed my doctor's instructions to use my inhaler 20 minutes before I went out to run (which is why I waited for the weather instead of using the widget built into the TV set). My lungs crackled a little at first and then settled right down. Check.

What if I fall? Add my run this morning to the rash of tripping over the curb and going down that seem to be happening with my running buddies. I swore, got up and motored on knowing I need a new pair of running tights. Check.

What if I hurt myself again? Running with a skinned knee is doable. Check.

What if I'm not supposed to be a runner after all? That's the real question. After tripping over the curb, I decided to just run on the high school track. The plan became my 5 minute warm up walk (an unplanned trip) 2 minutes running, 2 minutes walking (repeat until reaching track) walk a lap, run a lap. Could I run a 1/4 mile? The answer was yes... repeatedly. Walk a lap, run a lap, repeat and repeat again. I averaged a 14 minute mile that way.

Not my greatest run, but I did it. I beat back the bed magnet, I beat back the what ifs and I found my body, in spite of pneumonia, didn't betray me fully.

It feels good. It feels like progress and it feels like I'm ready to set goals and get moving again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pneumonia ... really?

So the respiratory stuff turned out to be pneumonia. Not walking pneumonia but real, full-blown "if you don't promise to stay on the couch we're putting you in the hospital" pneumonia.

After a month of going from running a couple of miles to zero and a month of being winded walking up a flight of stairs, I am both happy and sad to say that yesterday I walked 1/3 of a mile to the store to pick up my prescriptions and 1/3 of a mile home.

Yesterday, 3 weeks after being diagnosed with pneumonia, my doctor still hears rattles in the base of my longs, but the rails and most of the crud are gone. I told the doc that I had been at the point of starting to run for real again and starting to look at races like 10ks and half marathons to train for as the season was starting to approach. She was sympathetic and said then I would have to do something she knew I didn't want to do: a course of prednisone.

Prednisone. A foul tasting drug that, at first, makes you feel like you have super powers. It also makes you eat like a horse because that little switch in your head in your head that says, "You're done eating," never gets flipped.

To give you an idea of why I hate prednisone, let me tell you about the first time I was on prednisone years and years ago. My son, who has a kidney problem, had been on prednisone for a while. I knew about it, I knew about it's side effects and everything else that went with it. So I dutifully took my prednisone and went food shopping. At the register the kids starting scanning the items. First he scanned the meats and fruits and veggies. Then he scanned the half-eaten bag of Oreos, slowed up a little at the almost empty bag of chips and pretty much empty 2-liter bottle of Coke Classic. After each item he looked at me a little more frightened. Finally I shrugged and said, "Drugs."

He chirped up and said, "Oh, OK," and finished ringing me up.

So here I am on prednisone and concerned about the graze factor but I feel like I can actually walk now. Hopefully after Thanksgiving I get the all-clear and can start a c25k program again. It will be the 5k in 5 weeks program from Runner's World because another 12 week graduate program will make me crazy. I may not be able to run the Hyannis Half at the end of February, but I'll be able to do the 10k. It also means that I have to sign up at a gym and use the deadmill for training because with the respiratory stuff, weather may be a factor until I'm finally over everything for real.

So... I'm taking advantage of the steroids and the Indian Summer weather and making sure, for at least the next week or so, that I take someone shopping with me so I don't eat my way out of the store. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why it's time to take a break in spite of great progress

Last week I mentioned that I knew there was a bit of respiratory issues (read: a cold) hitting me. What I hadn't anticipated was going down for the count. By going down, I mean Wile. E. Coyote get hit by a ton of bricks going down.

Yes, it was a "touch" of the flu. The aches, the pains, the fever and the "shoot me now... please" feeling that goes with all that. While the fever has finally broken and it appears as though my appetite is close to returning, I'm still pretty weak. The cough is finally starting to subside and hopefully I'll be up to walking again before the week is over. Once I'm breathing freely again, i can rebuild my running stamina.

This is going to be a long recovery until I run again after getting so close to be able to start training for Hyannis at the end of February. But here's the thing, I can adapt things. This is just minor set back to a long term goal. I can't help but feel that I recovered as quickly as I did because my body is becoming stronger.

They say the definition of success is getting up one more time than you get knocked down and I'm working on getting back up again.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wishing for the sun, watching my watch

I can feel the beginnings of a cold. The rumbling in my chest this morning was the early warning signal for me to break out the zinc. As a result I decided to alter my plans from a 20 minute run segment to run a lap, walk a lap. Some how I still managed to cover 2.5 miles during my half hour run this morning. Not bad at all for me.

But here's the thing, going out at 6 am the sun should be up, but it's not. In fact, the entire time I was out this morning, I needed to use the light on my watch. As I wrapped things up at 6:30, the sun was finally coming up enough to be able to see the numbers on there without the light.

One of the cool things about running at that time of day is watching the world wake up. If I run at the high school track, I start to see lights come on in the building one by one. On the street it's the single runner her and there. Every so often a car will go by. By the end of my run I start to see kids heading for the high school, teachers starting to arrive at various schools in the neighborhood, people heading for the earlier commuter trains, busses and other methods of getting to work.

It won't be long before the leaves start falling and I have to break out my running tights. In the mean time, I'll settle for pushing the button to light up my digital watch to keep track of time and stuff.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Running dark

I took off just before 6 am for a w5+r20+w5, it was dark when I went out.

Recently I've been running on the local high school track. It makes sense since I can run on the sidewalks to the track and then, on the track, I don't have to worry about vehicles and such. It's nice and even with a forgiving surface. As a result I can run at an even pace. Today it was an 11 minute pace. :)

My goal is a 10 minute pace, so I'm coming much, much closer. Pretty soon I finish the 12 week program and I'm able to just feel comfortable running again. The long term goal is to be able to go for a nice long run on a weekly basis. Probably a 7 miler on Sunday mornings, we'll see. Right now I am able to run 20 minutes without stopping and it's a good start.

The sun didn't come up until after I was back home, making coffee and hitting the showers. Like running through the leading edge of the hurricane a month or so back, I feel really bad ass. :)

Now it's time to get a move on the rest of the day while I think about tomorrow and speedwork. Today was a good run, it reassured me that I can do this.

Running dark

I took off just before 6 am for a w5+r20+w5, it was dark when I went out.

Recently I've been running on the local high school track. It makes sense since I can run on the sidewalks to the track and then, on the track, I don't have to worry about vehicles and such. It's nice and even with a forgiving surface. As a result I can run at an even pace. Today it was an 11 minute pace. :)

My goal is a 10 minute pace, so I'm coming much, much closer. Pretty soon I finish the 12 week program and I'm able to just feel comfortable running again. The long term goal is to be able to go for a nice long run on a weekly basis. Probably a 7 miler on Sunday mornings, we'll see. Right now I am able to run 20 minutes without stopping and it's a good start.

Now it's time to get a move on the rest of the day while I think about tomorrow and speedwork. Today was a good run, it reassured me that I can do this.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Hello Goodbye

Today was w5+r15+w5 for 2 miles, not bad for the first cold morning of the season. But it was a bit bittersweet as I ran, as usual, listening on my Apple in-ear headphones to the playlist on my iPhone that tracked my stats on my Nike+. I thought a great deal about the man responsible for those things - and so much more.

If anything spoke to the elegance and understanding of design, it was my run. An article in Wired about 18 months ago spoke of how he was at Nike visiting his friend, Phil Knight and Nike's clumsy and/or failed designs to deliver music and record stats for runners. Lo and behold, the iPod Nano and Nike+ were born. The real reason I have an iPhone is because they added Nike+ capabilities 2 years ago and given how I had gone down twice on a run with no cell phone, it was a no-brainer.

The playlist I chose this morning is one I put together for the Tufts 10k a couple of years back. It is a combination of music used in Apple commercials and music from a Joan Benoit training mix: think Warped tour at the Apple store. What made me smile though was the Fratellis. When I started working at the Apple store years ago, the Fratellis' song "Flathead" was in the overhead mix. I remember telling my co-workers that it was my "happy running song."

It still is.


Steve Jobs is partly responsible for getting my butt out on the road and keeping it going. So as I type this on my little black macbook, moving around the page with my Apple wireless mouse, I say thank you to the man that, in spite of being CEO of one of the most successful companies in the world, took the time to send me an email telling me he didn't agree with my opinion on a company policy.

So.... so long Steve, and thanks for all the fish.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Speedwork works, who knew?

Today was a w5+(r1+w2)+w5 day. The whole run 1, walk 2 thing is a form of speedwork. Me, normally I use hills as speedwork in disguise, but this is the plan so I followed it and put in 2.5 miles. One of the things I noticed was that I was covering more and more ground in those little 3 minute stretches.

I've been running on the local high school track lately. The gate has been open and there have been folks making use of it again. So it was easy to see the speed differentials on the track and it's markings. Because the sun is rising later now, I actually had to use the light on my watch for the first half on the run to check my timing. It wasn't until the 20 minute mark or so it hit me, "Oh, I can read the numbers!" So I guess there's no turning back, it's really fall.

So in the cold, dark, damp fall morning, I managed to move my butt along... all in all a good work out.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Holly Hill Farms Discover the Woods 5k


I've never done a trail race before. My son is the XC runner and this is really his sort of thing. But I have always wanted to try one. Now, living in New England I can honestly say there are certain things to be expected: there are hills, there is dirt and there are rocks. After several days of rain, that dirt turns to mud.

Most trail racers revel in these realities. Me, I now see the appeal but I"m not sure if it's my thing.


Sunday was overcast and fall like. After all the rain, I knew it was going to get muddy so I packed a change of clothes knowing that I would need a shower and met up with my sister and niece to go to the race. This was on a community farm in Cohasset that has over 130 acres of woods. Four years ago they started this race to let the local community become aware and explore the woods. There were maybe 75 or so people that turned out, several had done this race before. My sister and I started in the back of the pack and my niece ran with the bulk of the pack. We rounded the first bend and it was pure, deep mud. It was deep enough that the one passable spot required carefully balancing yourself in a narrow one foot after another passage.

We rounded that first veggie patch and circled past the start line and into the fields to the woods. There were lots of rocks and roots. Not surprising, after all, it was a discover the woods trail race. We ran the better part of the first mile, but after slipping a bit in some mud, both of us quickly came to the conclusion we were walking this race. It wasn't worth hurting ourselves, so we'd enjoy the surroundings and push when we could other wise, we wouldn't sweat it.


About a mile and a quarter in, we heard someone huffing and puffing behind us. Both of us were surprised as we thought we were the last, but another woman ran past. Then, crossing a bridge over some water, she started walking because she didn't want to hurt herself either. We caught up to her quickly and the three of us walked the last half of the race together. All of us were glad we didn't wear our "good" running shoes. We joked that we were surprised they hadn't sent out a search party for us.

Just as we were coming up on the 3 mile point, I saw my niece jogging at us and we started laughing. She had tried to explain to the race organizers that we were fine, but they were concerned someone might be hurt. We crossed the finish with a lot of laughter at the 55:59 mark.

Yes I was covered in mud and yes there was definitely dirt in the skirt; however, it was a good run. I did figure out I'm not really warrior dash material - no matter how much fun it looks. I haven't caught the trail bug... yet, but it was certainly a good time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Odd 1.9

Today there were runners... runners I say!

I've gotten in the habit of my (w4+r6)2+w5 being a walk to the local track with a run around the 1/4 mile, a walk around the 1/4 and a jog home. I've gotten used to doing this early enough that I'm often the only person on the track. It's a good thing.

Today there was a pack of 3 people doing speed work and I felt like the turd in the punch bowl as I ambled around my lane getting my mileage in. Normally faster, fitter runners don't intimidate me at all. I'm used to admiring the gazelle like creatures nature and the universe use to inspire me but today the universe taunted.

Or I should say, the runners' looks did. As the fast split shorts, jog bra skinny babe blew past, I got a "get off the track" look. I know the look from the gym I used to go to when I went right after the work crew hit the machine before heading out for the meat markets of Allston and Boston. She was followed by two runners. The man actually shot me an "atta girl" smile but the other woman gave me a look similar to the first one.

It's one of the first mornings I felt glad to leave the track for my jog home. The universe must have felt my heaviness because the dust mop was out early. His owner said he was busy examining a stick when she said it was about time for me to come running past and the dog jumped up and ran towards my direction. A couple of belly rubs and ball tosses later, I was feeling better.

I still have my chops at home too. In the 10 minutes it takes to toast my eggo, I made coffee, packed my lunch and poached an egg just at the timer dinged.

I'm off to school, most likely to be in a first grade room. I love first graders, they're still full of hugs and smiles. I don't know if I could teach them day after day, but on days like this, I prefer their happy faces to surly 4th and 5th graders who are chomping at the bit to join the "big kids" at middle school.

So another 1.9 miles and some fuzzy belly rubs are in the books on a fall day and life is pretty good as I finish my coffee.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It feels a bit more like fall

Yesterday's run was not good, the humidity felt like worst of summer. This morning was a different story. This morning it was still humid but it felt and smelled like fall. The scent of leaves and bursts of color made this morning's quick run delightful. Today was w5+r10+w5 and it was really comfortable. Given yesterday's struggle, it was a sweet surprise to just be able to run.

This is the first time that I'm thinking the Tufts 10k in a couple of weeks may not be out of the question. I'll decide after Sunday's trail run. If my ankle feels strong after that and I'm able to continue training, then I'll go for it. If not, there will be other 10ks and races to run. Right now, I'm feeling pretty good about things but I have to remember to take it easy so I don't hurt myself again. One step at a time... one step at a time. :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The difference between walking and running

For me is about .25 miles this morning. This week is another (w4+r6)2+w5 week. The humidity was as bad as some of summer's worst today and breathing was not easy. As a result, the second run segment ended up being a w4+r4+w2+w5. Also, as a result, I was about a quarter mile shorter of what I normally do in that time.

I won't sweat it too much as tomorrow's the first time I move from a walking chunk with a little touch of running to a chunk of running. We'll see how it goes.

Hopefully the humidity breaks tonight and we're back in the right season again. It may take a few days to get there... we'll see. In the meantime, if you think that minute or two doesn't make a difference, think again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Surrealism

I love a surreal run every so often and today's (w4+r6)2+w5 was certainly surreal. There are battling weather fronts around us that produced this incredible fog bank today so in the quiet dawn. Again the gates to the high school track were open so I took a quick detour for a couple of laps. While there, I couldn't resist catching a quick shot of the school from the opposite side of the track.

The blanket of fog quiets everything while you're out there. The sound of cars are muffled, and other runners would suddenly appear and disappear in the fog. While out running through the streets and on the track, I couldn't help but think of the nuggets of some SF stories that involve a runner coming out of the fog from seemingly no where with something that could change everything we know. A tool, a weapon, a disease, a message... it was the perfect setting for that one mysterious stranger to change life as we know it.

In the end, there were no mysterious visitors or messages. Just a couple of dog walkers, runners and the rare car as I wound my way home.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Share our Strength

Today is Weight Watchers Lose-a-palooza where Weight Watchers will donate $225k for every million pounds lost and $1 for every mention of Lose-a-palooza today up to 75k on social media. One of the organizations receiving the donation is No Kid Hungry part of the Share our Strength campaign which I totally support.

Today was (w4+r6)2+w5 and it was harder than what I thought it would be. I got to run 1/2 mile around the track as the gate was open this morning. It was nice to run on something flat and level. It also meant I pushed myself a little harder in some ways. Sure there really weren't any hills this morning, but that meant I felt I needed to move a bit faster as a result.

In the end, it was a good run on a crisp morning. I'm feeling good and strong as I keep on keeping on.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's fall

You know it's fall when you need a long sleeve shirt for your morning run. Yesterday was that day.

Yes the calendar says there's another week of summer, but the temps are starting to drop and it was below 60* when I headed out the door for my (w5+r5)3+w5 for 2.5 miles. Unlike the other day where the uphill run was a labor that left me huffing and puffing, I was able to comfortably do a longer loop as the sun began rise.

It was the first time in a while I saw other runners out and about, so it was nice having company on the roads before traffic picked up for the day. Not only that, in looking at my stats, I realized that I'm running at a good pace these days. I still have quite a way to go, but it's nice. Tomorrow I start the next phase where I build to running more than walking and it shouldn't be long until I get to the speed building weeks.

I'm back on the road again, and it feels great.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Recovery Run

I forget how much giving blood takes out of me. After such a confident and good run on Sunday, I was disappointed at how hard today's run was. On tap this week is (w5+r5)3+w5 but what happened was a (w5+r4+w1)+(w5+r1+w4)+(r5+w5). Now granted the toughest stretches were the uphill stretches (surprise surprise surprise), but I kept going.

We'll see how it goes on Thursday or Friday.. I'm still trying to figure out the best days for running around my work and school schedules. But it's clear I still need to recover a little because my body wasn't fully ready for the strain of running uphill.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Today is a new day, time to make a new start

Those words really stuck with me in my run today. The oversaturation of 9/11 coverage has left me somewhat numb. Like so many others, my heart broke that day as well; however, I fail to see how rolling around in the grief and anger then wrapping myself in a flag will make things better.

On 9/11/2002 I made my son's talit for his Bar Mitzvah. He had asked for a black, Jimmy Buffett talit. I found a rainbow of batik fabrics and worked in a piece of fabric I had saved for years from his first "big boy" quilt I had made for him. The rainbow was an echo of the first baby quilt I made for him. I spent the day watching MTV talking to teens about what they learned, how they had coped, where were they at after a year of change. On 9/11/2003 and every year since, I have given blood on this day. I would rather give life in honor of those who lost theirs on this day than wave a flag and scream "never forget."

Never forget what? The anger, the fear, the shock?

I said something to my boys that day, which started with, "I have to tell you something but I want to start by telling you Auntie Weasel and your cousin Randy are safe...." I then told them what happened and reminded them that the men who flew those airplanes into the towers were bad people. But just like the IRA bombers were a reflection of the people in Ireland, nor were these people a reflection of all the people from their faith and country. I still believe that.

This morning, the Dalai Lama posted these words to his face book page: "We need to learn from our painful memories of September 11th and become more aware of the destructive consequences that arise when we give in to feelings of hatred. This tragedy in particular has reinforced my belief that fostering a spirit of peaceful co-existence and mutual understanding among the world’s peoples and faith traditions is an urgent matter of importance to us all. We must therefore make every effort to ensure that our various faith traditions contribute to build a more caring, peaceful world."

He is right.

So today, I ran to my "Running Inspired" play list and did (w5+r5)3+w5 for just over 2.5 miles.

Now I'm going to go give blood before I celebrate my parents' 65th wedding anniversary. Go forward and live your life in peace and honor, not wallow, in the memories of those who fell today.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Efficiency

When I run in the rain, I think about how I'm efficient. At least that's what I tell my students when they show shock that I run in the rain. "But it's raining?!" they often exclaim. That's when I say, "Well, look at this way, at least you don't have to take a shower when you're done."

I got my (w3+r2)5+w5 in early. I wore my bright safety yellow jacket as I ran in the dark morning as I was out there, alone. No cars, no other runners... just me, my music and my thoughts. I start back at my school today as in school support. Tomorrow I start my class for the semester. As a result I needed to clear my head so that I start the year.

But I also need to head out and pick up some coffee as we have none in the house.

So much for being fully efficient. :)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Halfway Point, you have (six) weeks to go

If, like me, you run with a Nike+ device, then you know the voice. It comes on halfway through your run and tells you "Halfway point, you have (x) (parameter) to go."

I have been doing this for five weeks and this is week six. While frustration still sets in at what I can and can't do compared to what I once could do, the reality is I am halfway there. This week is the (w3+r2)5+w5 week. Next week is the (w5+r5)3+w5 week. After that it's odd intervals to get your body up to speed and such. I have a goal fo the Tufts 10k again this year. I don't know if I'll make it or not, but it's the goal.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Good Run

Today was a good run, tough but good.

The problem with restarting a walk to run program is that frustration of pushing your limit at 4 minutes of running when there was a time when I could run 5 or 6 miles without thinking. Now I'm pushing myself through four minutes of running. My first time through years ago it was "Woo hoo! I can run for 4 minutes!" Now it's like, "C'mon body, you know how to do this!"

But I have 2 miles in today and feeling stronger. I have a run scheduled for tomorrow and a rest day Saturday. Next week school starts so I need to push myself out the door earlier as school starts Tuesday which means traffic in the area by 7:30 am. It won't be long before I'm running in the dark wondering what happened to the sun. But until then, I'm out in the morning to get another run in.

Monday, August 29, 2011

When the Party's Over

One of my old work friends described yesterday's storm this way, "The city looks like it had a tree confetti party that everyone was invited but nobody wanted." That's a good description of what I noted this morning doing the same run [(w5+r3)2+w5] I did yesterday.

Things I noted:

- without running into head winds, I managed to add a full tenth of a mile to my timed distance
- it may have been more if I wasn't dodging branches of all shapes and sizes on the roads and sidewalks
- the air was cool, crisp and clean
- DPW crews were out busily trying to clean up after yesterday's party Mother Nature threw for us
- there was a lot more traffic, as in there actually was traffic

To make it fair, I ran to the same sound track, Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown.

It's time to start progressing to earlier morning runs as school is back in session next week. That means 7:30 am around here is a crowded mess of traffic of people trying to get to all the different schools in my neighborhood. Not such a bad thing as lately I've been giving into the luxury of sleeping in a bit more and more.

Well it's off to a full day, including registering for class and picking up my textbooks. Time to peel off the running gear and get to daily running. So goodnight Irene, I'll see you in my dreams after I get through cleaning up confetti in my driveway left by yesterday's party.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I feel like such a bad ass right now


With the way the local news media folks are wringing their hands and speaking in dangerous but giddy tones, it can only mean one thing: the French Toast Alert level is elevated or higher. This time for Hurricane Irene.

At 6 am, I got up to pill the cat and there was nothing. The sun was peeking through, it was a bit windy and nothing. OK, so I turn on the news and I'm seeing images from yesterday, cut to news people telling everyone to stay home, images of an empty Times Square, more news people standing in storm winds and such on Long Island, back to the studio for more predictions of gloom and doom before the news people outside in Boston and on the Cape trying to pretend it's much worse than what's outside my window.

Seriously folks?

Through all the weather model maps showing tracking no one tells me what I need to know right now. So I tweet to @DavidWade: Where's the storm now? Can I get a 2 mile run in?

Nothing. Radio silence baby.

So I make the call as I recall a line from Zaphod Beeblebrox: "I get weirder things than you in my breakfast cereal."

I suit up and the rain comes. Seriously folks?! After hemming and hawing for a moment, after all, it's only a 21 minute walk/run scheduled today, I decide to go for it. I felt bad ass out there in my safety yellow BAA jacket and iphone enclosed in a baggie. It was rainy and windy with no one on the road. None of the usual Sunday morning runners, no traffic, nothing. Just me trotting along Green Day's "21st Century Breakdown" getting wet. I hit a head wind as I came around the back of the high school by the football field but for the most part, it was a rainy day run like most rainy day runs.

Except I feel bad ass because I can now officially say, "I ran through the leading edge of Hurricane Irene."

Now, when I'm hiding under the bed when the worst of the winds and rains come through at noon time with no baseball to distract, I may not feel so bold and brave. But at 7:30 am on a Sunday morning, I feel like bring it on baby!

I did 1.5 miles of (w5+r3)2+w5 in the leading edge of a hurricane and lived to tell the tale.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

it's on... again

For the past year running and I have been in an on again/off again relationship. Today it is officially on again. I'm in week 2 of a walk to run program and I wasn't fully committed to week one to be honest so I wasn't sure how this would go. Then I made it out the door this morning in spite of my best efforts to stall.

Today was a (w5+r3)2+w5 day and I managed to get outside by 7 am. What shocked me was how easily three minutes came. No huffing and puffing and straining, just a good workout. It was a reminder of why I do this, early in the morning with the sun shining and the streets relatively empty (except the landscapers ogling my butt at one point as they drove past). It ended with the dust mop dog charging up the block for me to give him a belly rub and toss his little mini tennis ball a few times.

Yes, today running and I are a couple again. Hopefully this time it's for life.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Slow down

The Reel Big Fish song "Take it Easy" is stuck in my head right now. One of the reasons my ankle barked and told me to die a slow, miserable painful death on the fourth of July was because I got bored. Why take 12 weeks to do a walk to run when I'm ready to run NOW!

Yeah... I see how well that worked.

So here I am, happy the ankle is happy and taking it nice and slow. I'm in week two of the walk to run and spent a half hour on the treadmill this morning doing my (w15+r1)2+w5 nice and easy. I may not be able to run a half this year, but February isn't that far away and Hyannis may be a good one half to choose.

In the meantime, I'm going to listen to Reel Big Fish.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Just a reminder

I'm about to lace up my shoes for a short run but this morning, I remembered why I do this and thought I'd share about why I do this even though running can be a bit a high maintenance:







So go run already will ya... I am. :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wardrobe Malfunctions

Skirt Sports, Nicole DeBoom's company, is really on my shit list after today.

I get it, she's an athlete and thinks that every woman should have washboard abs of steel, but that ain't me babe. I have abs that resemble the Michelin man or the Pillsbury Doughboy. So after years of being told by her reps that I should buy this skirt or that and me tossing them into the back of the rotation pile - often left untouched - today one of her skirts came up. The very skirt I was assured would fit a woman of "my size."

Here's what happened on my mile run this morning, the waist band kept slipping down and down and down until it was under my belly. I spent the whole mile yanking the skirt up, tucking my shirt in, yanking up the skirt again... and again... and again.

I compare this to runningskirts.com's product and it's night and day. They get that women like me who want to run in a skirt shouldn't be humiliated at the same time and actually design the waist band to *gasp* sit on the waist! What a concept, a running skirt that fits.

In spite of the wardrobe malfunction, I shaved another 30 seconds off my mile to 14:30 before jumping in the pool and doing my PT exercises and a few laps. The peacefulness of the pool combined with the sun and the smell of the new mown grass and buzz of lawn mowers on the athletic fields help to erase the anger I initially felt.

I'm feeling stronger and I'm ready to take on the world... after I drop a couple of running skirts off at the goodwill box.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Everybody join in!

OK, the aqua jogging experiment became a lot more fun the other day when some of the older women in the pool decided to join me. I find myself a mentor of sorts because everyday I hit the pool, do my warm ups and then run in the pool for 20-30 minutes before cool down and some PT exercises.

Who knew?

Yesterday I did run a mile and shaved a minute off my time on Tuesday. The problem was I had a crazy schedule so I didn't have time to ice or elevate my ankle until much, much later in the day and by then I was limping a bit. Again, in one of those "that's weird" moments, walking was difficult but dancing along to music was not. Whatever works I guess.

Today things feel much better and I'll go back to the brace for a couple of days until things feel happy again. It was my own damn fault for not taking care of things properly at this stage of the game. I'll head back to the pool in the disgusting heat this afternoon and promise I'll do things right today.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Getting Ready to Run

Today I ran in the pool for a half hour. I like the odd scissor like motion running in the pool entails, but it's been over a week of my ankle feeling like it's fine. I've been doing my ankle exercises and such so tomorrow we'll take the puppy out for test.

The road the pool is on is a 1 mile loop. Tomorrow morning I'll go for a one mile test run and then dive into the pool for some recovery. If it goes well, then I'll try again Thursday. So think of me tomorrow morning and wish me good luck.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The times they are a changing

Swimming has been a good thing over the past week. I'm not as apologetic about aqua running these days and my ankle survived a full day of the Warped Tour's Mansfield stop.

But the changes will be to my blog itself. I may migrate the whole thing over to google sites, as google owns blogspot these days. I want web pages where I can add recipes and combine my neglected "What Pikas Eat" blog with this one. So expect to see changes here soon.


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Something new...

I started swimming again last week. The season opened at the pool and I picked up a tag so I could start doing laps during adult swim.

Then I tweaked my ankle a bit running on Monday. I'm not surprised, but it is what it is and I don't want to lose any conditioning. So yesterday I tried running in the pool with little success. It was awkward and difficult. My inner loser rejoiced at my flailing attempts to push through the chest high water and maintain posture.

But the competitive DNF piece of me reared it's head and beat up the inner loser. I hit Marshalls this morning to pick up an aqua belt (on clearance, so it was half the price of the other day... SCORE!) and strapped it on. While it was still awkward, I managed to push back and forth through the water for half an hour. A couple of the old ladies that show up for adult swim told me about using aqua belts in the past when they were rehabbing from broken bones.
As I pushed through the water today, I realized that when I'm out running again without the resistance, the results should be pretty exciting.

Today the ankle feels stronger, I think my body is liking the no-impact work outs. Tomorrow I'm trying a twice a day: running in the water for the early morning adult swim and then going back at lunch time for some laps. I have a month-long pass for a local gym so I think I'll head over there Friday and start using the elliptical to continue to strengthen my ankle in a non-stressful way.

It feels good. There's something deep inside that is waking up. It won't be long before I'm back on the road stronger and faster than ever before.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Fourth!


Today: Hingham 4th of July Road Race
Distance: 4.47 miles
Finish: 1:08:??








Yes I am enough of a nerd to think, "Hey, it's July fourth, I bet HBO w
ill be showing the complete John Adams
miniseries today. Let me see if 1776 is being shown too...." And yes, I am right on both counts. I was also right that I probably should have thought twice about doing a 4 mile race the day after running 4 miles.

I love this race. It's a mostly gradual down hill slope from the start at the Hingham Middle School to the finish under the big flag flying over Hingham Center. It's a friendly race. The annual parade rolls down the street a few hours later and people line the street. Often families set up unofficial water stops and stand with hoses for runners to run through. People play music, set out flags and cheer, cheer, cheer.

One of the sights along the way is a home owner who covers the front of his Colonial every year with the US flag. It's an amazing and inspirational sight shortly after the half way point as you make the turn from Main Street towards Hingham Center.

What isn't visible in the photo is the white chimney with black stripe rimming the top. In Revolutionary times, this was to show the home owners were Tories.

The first two miles went well. After a slow start (20 seconds before we even moved) I did a run 2/walk 2 pattern. I covered the first mile and half easily when my ankle began to bark at me.
I slowed down a bit from the 13 minute pace I was maintaining but quickly realized that running the rest of the race really wasn't in the cards for me today. I am not a DNF kinda gal, so I walked on.

I had the chance to observe the number of families around me. People with younger children being coached through by parents and family members. My favorite was a young girl running with an older brother. She was struggling so he started teasing her as only a brother could. He encouraged her, he scolded her and then, when she started whining a bit, he said, "Hey, you can run or I can throw this water in your face..." that triggered the "if you do, I'll tell mom!" threat. In the end, she ran and he didn't dose her but it was a wonderful set of moments to watch.

The most difficult part of walking was not the act of walking, it was hearing the Nike+ voice in my ear that kept calling the average pace. It continued to creep up until, just as I passed the four mile mark at the 1 hour point and it declared my 15 minute/mile pace.

After four and a quarter miles, the flag over the finish was clearly visible. I decided to jog to the finish, ankle willing. I was for a bit and I headed down the last stretch of road. I crossed at 1:08 and change.

In the end, I felt strong. In spite of the twinges in my ankle that required a bit of icing and rest. Tomorrow I will swim. A non-weight bearing exercise should further help things along and I'll test things out with a short run on Thursday.

Until then, I'll retreat into American history nerd mode watching patriotic miniseries and finally diving into "Plain, Honest Men: the Making of the American Constitution."

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Alway Wear Sunscreen

w5 +(r2+w2 *12)+w5 = 4 miles

I lost a week of running for a simply stupid reason: I didn't wear sunscreen for an outdoor festival last Saturday because it looked like it was going to rain the whole day. The result was a painful sunburn and the discomfort of any weight on my shoulders. This meant no running bras were going to do and so running didn't happen for a week.

It reminds me of a quote Jimmy Buffett had about the international date line: "Damn, I do detest losing a day for no good reason at all. Back in my wilder periods I used to lose lots of days, sometimes weeks, but that was because of my own lack of discipline. Just to cross some imaginary line on the globe and be told that it is now Friday when a minute ago it was Thursday just doesn't seem fair, even if you eventually get it back."

I lost a week of running for no good reason. I went to CVS the other day and stocked up on spray on sport quality sunscreen so that it doesn't happen again.

But I'll take todays run. It was a bit more than I was probably ready for, but it felt good to get out and run.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What do people see?

2.5 miles in 36 minutes: w5+(r2/w2*7)+w5

I went out for a run this morning, only I went out about an hour later than I normally do. While the increased amount of traffic was clearly noticeable, so were some other things. For example, at one point I saw a small group of elementary school kids heading to school and realized some of them were "my" kids. While they were engrossed in whatever it was they were doing (most likely discussing tomorrow as the last day of school), it was one of those "I hope they don't recognize me moments."

Then I became aware of people in the increased traffic. What did they see when they saw me? Did they see a plus-sized woman struggling? How would they know that it took me a month to get back out on the road? How would they know the battles I've fought with my inner loser over that time period?

Did they see me and feel a bit guilty about their drive-through breakfast and promises to themselves to be better? Did they see me as inspiration to get to the gym later or maybe to eat a little healthier?

I think about the people I pass when I'm out. Mostly we give each other friendly nods and waves or brief words of encouragement. I know they get it, I can only hope the rest of the world does as well.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Eastham Rail Trail 5k

It has been a while. Life happened, as usual. First it was the race up to finals week - three 3 page papers in one week as well as studying for a stats and US History final. Then a cold and then... well, my mojo went out for a run one day and never came back.

This weekend was the Runango birthday virtual 5k, so I chose to do mine in Eastham, MA on the Cape Cod Rail Trail. I wasn't sure what to expect from myself, as I say, it's been a while and my goal was to run/walk a 15 minute mile. The trail itself is a paved rail bed for cyclists through the woods along the National Shore line on the outer side of the Cape.

The first mile was getting my bearings. I kept hoping to see the ocean, as I could smell it and knew it was nearby, only to find more trees and thickets to one side and motels and campgrounds on the other through the breaks in the trees. I ran for 3 minutes/walked for 3 minutes to see how my body would do, it held up well but it also was a bit much to maintain. Then it was run 2/walk 2 and I finished the first mile in 14:42.

The second mile was run 2/walk 2 the whole mile. Cyclist would pass with a nod and along this stretch I was passed by an deeply tanned runner wearing just his shorts, shoes and a fuel belt. As he jetted past, he yelled out, "You're doing great, keep up the good work." :) This was my fastest and most consistent mile and my split on this was 14:12.

The third mile, six weeks of lumpdom caught up with me. I was now down to run 1 minute/walk 1 minute.... damn I forgot to check the watch... I can make to the tree down there.... and other such segments. It was my slowest mile at 14:59, which is not surprising as I walked the last 5-6 minutes as a cool down.

My final time and distance was 46:20 for 3.11 miles.

It felt good to be out there. It was the first time out in my new Trance 10's, which felt great on my feet. I would have loved a beach run today, but so it goes. Maybe next time I'm down here for a weekend.

Lessons learned: I have more gas in the engine than I thought, just because Eastham is the narrowest part of the Cape doesn't mean you're on the ocean and I need to do more of this.

Happy Birthday Runango, I did your 5k and I feel the better for it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Did I wake up in Seattle?

The past week and a half, it's been looking (and feeling) like Seattle out my window. While I haven't been running (which will hurt tomorrow when I have my 4.2 mile race), I have been riding my bike, walking and otherwise keeping myself active.

But this morning I was thinking about where is my motivation as I stared at my running clothes, still nicely laid out Saturday night, still sitting where I left them. I haven't even been motivated enough to pull them on in the morning. I know I can't entirely blame the weather, but it certainly is a factor.

Which brings me to something I know: you need to set goals to motivate yourself. It's a lot easier to suck it up and pull on the running tights and head out the door if you have a training schedule and definite goals in place.

"But... you have a race tomorrow! Isn't that a goal?"

Good thought, but no, not really. It's the first of a summer series where I go out before the race and then give my time to the timing guy so I can work the finish chutes at the end of the race. This tells me I need to find a race and get my ass in gear to train. Like, can I get it together enough to run a 10k on June 5th? What about the Tufts 10k in October? Too close... too far... just right? What's the right combo?

Perhaps I'll have a better sense after tomorrow. For today, I'm going to pretend that I'm living like I'm in Seattle. I'll find a hipster outfit to wear and trek down to the local Starbucks and drink coffee while typing all day. Running will have to wait.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

No excuses

w5+((r4+w3)*3)+r5+w5= 2.5 miles

I blew off running the last two days because I've been writing. Yes, I took fingers to keyboard and have been busily creating characters for a 15k word novella.

And all 3k words I wrote to date stink a big one (as my 4th graders say).

So today when my gray, furry alarm clock woke me at 5:30 instead of 6 looking for food, I hauled my sorry butt out of bed, tossed on a running skirt and top, my shoes and headed out the door. It was a good run too.

The first good thing, I pushed myself a little. That first 4 minute run was tough. That watch watching, song counting sort of "can I make it?" sort of push through. I did and after that it got easier to the point where my last burst of running I was going for 5 minutes before I looked at the watch.

This week marks the beginning of Thursday night river races: good company, 2.6 low pressured miles, cheap beer and good grill food (or pizza, depending on the night) until the end of September. In fact, it's time to add a countdown timer for my first Thursday night race: the Blues Run on May 19 so this will be the last week of relying solely on time. Sunday marks the beginning of running for distances with intervals.

Progress, it's a good thing.

Friday, April 29, 2011

And now for something completely different...

I'm watching the Royal Wedding and the Bishop of London quoted one of my heroes: St. Catherine of Siena: "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!"

She was an amazing woman, but I always remember Sr. Johnette (of Blessed Memory) telling us stories about Catherine when she subbed in our 7th grade room and, later, when she was my teacher in high school.

Catherine was middle class, the daughter of a dyer and poet. She had visions early on her life and chose to commit herself to Jesus. My two favorite stories of what an amazing woman she was were as follows:

- When there was a problem with church and the Pope took up residence in Avignon, France, she appeared and put him on a boat back to Rome. Every time the Pope would try to get off the boat, Catherine was there to put him right back and bring him "home" and restored the Papacy to Italy rather than allowing the French monarchy steal the church.

- She was given to visions and once, when cloistered in the Dominican convent where she was a member, she was tortured for 3 days by visions of the Devil. She stood fast and never wavered in her faith and, as a result, was "rewarded" with a vision of the sacred heart of Jesus. Her reaction was to ask him where he was for the three days previous when she needed him.

I figured any woman in the 1300's with a set like that was one of my heroes. She stood up to the Pope (and French authorities I'm sure) and to Jesus... that's one amazing woman. But Catherine's words are ones to live by. As you go forward, keep those words in your heart and set the world ablaze.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thundering through Thursday

This morning's run started with another gift from Ms. Kitten. Yes, I had to wrap another mouse in a paper towel shroud and dump it back into what's quickly becoming a mass grave of mice behind the shed.

Ah nature!

I'm glad I got out when I did as I could feel the thunderheads building as I was out. Unlike the other day when it felt like running through a cloud, today felt like trying to outrun the storm you can see coming. I think about all my friends in areas where tornado klaxons and severe weather has been their reality for the past couple of weeks and pray they're OK out there.

I'm grateful Boston doesn't get tornados (although, occasionally a freak happens and touches down in the Worcester area). We get microbursts which are scary enough, but those are usually in July.

But I did run, or outrun (as the case may be) the building weather. In my last w5+(r3/w3*4)+r3+w5 segment, I made it through with no stops. At first my lungs were pretty tight between the pollen and heavy air, but I pushed through and it wasn't long until my breathing was able to find a rhythm that matched my feet and the music. My music was in shuffle mode and seems to have felt pretty Indy today - stuff from Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Thick as Thieves and Passion Pit... even Feist popped up in there among others. A nice change from my usual running stuff.

Ms. Kitten is now curled up in my office, content that she is doing her job and I'm content to head out the door after breakfast and a shower to do mine. My next run on Sunday will be switching off from r3/w3 to r4/w2 - building a better aerobic base. I can live with that.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

One Misty Moisty Morning

Sometimes runners are surprised by what they find when they go out for a run. Today was one of those days.

It was supposed to be a r3/w3 morning running through a cloud, but then Johnny Kelley stopped me. I love running past this tribute to a Boston and running legend. In the spring as things begin to flower around it, it's even more of a tribute to the man and all he represents.

It's not unusual for people to use the statue as a place to stash necessities for long runs: bottles of sports drinks, snacks and such; but also people leave tributes behind as well. Silent, personal testimonies laying bare their soul to perfect strangers that may or may not notice.

This morning was such a morning where there were three testaments of Johnny's meaning in this world. The first was someone hung their BAA medals from the 114th running of the Boston Marathon (last year's 2o1o marathon) on Johnny.











The second was a tribute to a fallen loved one. His picture posted to the tree by the statue with flowers that had faded with the photo simply labeled with a name and his dates.













The third was an empty pair of running shoes next to the base of the statue:













So today I ran 2.5 miles in a fog with 3 minute intervals - 3 minutes running, 3 minutes walking - with one pause in the middle to be surprised, and touched, with a clear vision of why I do this.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easy Peasy Track Assessment - Easter Edition


2.9 miles w5+r3+(w 1/4 mile+r 1/4 mile *3)+w3+r3+w5

Long formula for a short workout: I ran to the local HS track and ran 1/4 mile then walked 1/4 mile to get a sense of my current pacing. The surprise, I'm running an 11:30 mile. The not so surprising, I was walking closer to a 20 minute mile. Usually I walk faster but this morning the energy wasn't there to push the walking and the running, so I pushed the running.

Overall I'm doing a 13 minute mile - not bad considering it wasn't that long ago I ran a 13 minute mile.

The plan this week is to start increasing the running and backing off the running. I need to push my lungs a little and get past the usual sharp, pointy asthma stick my inner loser pokes me with when I let my guard down. I think I'll still run time instead of miles for another week until May 1. Then I need to train for races. In fact I signed up for the "Lets Run, Have Fun and Be Fit Series" this summer.

Yep, this year I'm running it and not working the timing chutes. I'll do t-shirts, registration, whatever... but this year I'm going to run the races. :) :) :)

But for now it's time to get out and enjoy the spring day. What are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy the day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Familiar Ground


I had a chance to run on my old running trails along the river.

I started running there because I didn't want people to see me running. I would struggle along, inhaler in hand, counting the seconds until I could walk again. Then I began running along there because it was pretty. Finally it was just home.

When we moved four years ago, it was just far enough away that it takes effort to get there, so I found a new running route and pined for my old trails.

As it's school vacation week and I have a few days to breathe, I thought "why not?" As I pounded over the path, I marveled at how nature changes everything it touches. Branches and small trees damaged by the rough winter, benches that are normally far from the river's edge swallowed up by the spring overflow, wooden pathways that feel a little more weather beaten... it was beautiful. While it's too early for the baby chicks, I did encounter a Canada Goose. The thing was almost 4 feet tall and stood in the middle of the path looking at me. He sauntered over to the edge to let me pass, never taking his eyes off me. I nodded and he dipped his head a little and I kept going.

When I turned around and passed back that way, he was gone.

So a raw, drizzly 2 miles for me today down memory lane at w5+(r2/w2*5)+r2+w3

Photos from Boston

I started going to the Boston Marathon to watch back in the mid-70's when my oldest brother decided he wanted to do something big before he turned 30. He was a bandit runner and we waited near my uncle's house just past Wellesley College. Over the years, my brother continues to run Boston. The years he couldn't, usually due to injury, my sister-in-law would have to book a vacation and get him to leave town so he wouldn't jump in at the last minute. We continue to watch. After my uncle moved, we waited at Newton City Hall, Cleveland Circle and up near the top of Heartbreak Hill just before BC.

Some years he finished, some he didn't. This year would mark the 30th time he ran Boston.

For the past three years, my youngest son and I work at the Mile 18 water stop, giving aid and encouragement to runners while waiting to cheer on my brother and others we know who run the course. Some of them qualify, some of them get numbers through running clubs, like L Street, some are charity racers and some political. We cheer for people with names on shirts, we cheer for things written on shirts, chests, hats or anything else distinctive. I always consider my "job" an honor, it's our way of giving back to the people who worked hard and trained to be there.

Before things get really hopping, you can get photos of leaders. By the time some of the favorites come through: Joan Benoit Samuelson, the Hoyts, etc.; we're too busy to snap away.

But I always take a minute to get one of my brother. :)

Setting up the water stop at Mile 18 with Gatorade in the front and six water tables behind, the other side of the road is about 100 yards before our stop to keep things moving. This is after we got the initial set up done:


Our first soldier in full gear came through at 10:08 am:


The Yankee Division wasn't too far behind him:


The first male wheelchair racer went flying through:


The first Women's wheelchair racer was also amazingly fast:


Kim Smith, when she still had a comfortable lead:

and the rest of the elite women's pack:

Usually the women are on the opposite side of the road, we were surprised and shocked they passed so closely this year.

The elite men with Ryan Hall in the lead:


My son (left) and my big brother (right) :)


Now that my brother is retired, he is working for a group called "Back on my feet," an organization that promotes self-sufficiency to the homeless by building confidence and self-esteem through running. He also coaches kids locally with Dreamfar, which does the same thing with high school kids who tend to fall between the cracks and are struggling. He'll run a bunch of marathons with those folks, coaching people through. He'll run some others for himself.

One thing this son and I have in common, we dream of running like our big brothers who have a natural gait and talent for this. All of us love getting out there for a little while where it's us and the pavement and nothing else.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Boston Marathon

This is my third year working the Mile 18 water stop at the Boston Marathon. It's hard work but a rewarding job.

We got there shortly before 8:30 am to start preparations. First order of business is lining plastic trash cans with plastic liners, dumping in a few pounds of ice and adding a second liner which we then fill with large jugs of water. With the tables set up and water ready to go (the people at the other end were mixing gatorade, but I prefer the water tables), we were called in by our fearless leader who gave final instructions, passes out our jackets and set us to task.

Our stop had 4 Gatorade tables and 6 water tables. We worked in pairs and trios to fill cups and build it three or four layers high. When we were done, it was hurry up and wait.

First sign of life - a lone soldier in full gear just after 10 am. Shortly behind him came a company of folks from the Yankee Division. Then the excitement really started as the wheelchairs came flying through. those babies can move and it never ceases to amaze me how fast these folks really are. Finally it was time for the runners. Kim Smith passed so closely that I could have touched her, followed by the knot of elite women.

The elites don't normally take water from us, they power past towards the big incline of Heartbreak Hill. We cheered them on. It wasn't long before the men's timing and press trucks passed. The tightly knotted pack with Ryan Hall in the lead blew right past.

Now it was time for the runners. The waves started and we screamed encouragement and "water, we have water here..." to let runners know. (They need to know if they are going for water or gatorade). For the next few hours it was shoulder to shoulder folks. I was one of the folks running back and froth from the table to the "I have water here!" folks.

Right around noontime, I could see the carpet of cups starting to build up. I jumped from my runner position to clean up duty. A rake in hand, I began raking up the cups to inside the white breakdown lane line so runners had a clearer road to run down. For close to two hours I raked until someone gave me a break and I held the trash bag while she raked.

Just after the 2 o'clock mark, my brother came through. He looked tired but good and he stopped for a moment to chat before heading off on his way.

At 3 o'clock the police came through telling us they were going to reopen the course shortly. By then we had cleaned up much of the mess. Once more people broke down their tables and jumped on raking duty, we had both sides of the road looking better than we found them. By 3:30 we had finished the final walk looking fore empty gu containers, cups and other trash.

We all headed out for some beer and lunch Another year in the books . There were plenty of costumed characters - lots of easter bunnies (the small children near us did count the and called one toward the end "bunny number seven" so I guess there were at least seven or eight bunnies; a gorilla, french fry, several ballerinas (male and female), Elvis and a few others showed up to give us a laugh between our yelling "water, water.....) and a moment to breathe.

All in all a good day for a race. One year I'll run Boston, but for now I'll be content to run Comm Ave in the wither and pretend to feel a victory.

Good job Boston runners, you're all winners today.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spirit of the Great Heart


Today's run: w5+(r2/w2)+r1+w5 for 2.3 miles

I woke up to Miss Kitten wanting me to come downstairs (at 5 am >.<) to show me something. I could hear the rain coming down and realized I wasn't going back to sleep, so downstairs it was.

She danced around at the bottom of the stairs to give me "Here, does this cheer you up?" present - a little mouse on it's back in front of the front door with its little paws up in the air. My cat loves me. sigh

By 6 the rain had let up to a drizzle/light rain, so I suited up and out the door I went. I found an old play list called "Running Inspired" and listening to it was like reconnecting with an old friend. The opening strains of Jimmy Buffett's "Spirit of the Great Heart" really were enough to get me over the hump.

The road was surprisingly empty for a Sunday morning. Often I see other runners out and about this time of day, but I only passed one other person. Even when I got to the running lanes there was no one out - not even dog or fitness walkers. I suspect the roads will be busy later as the sun starts to come out as the storms have passed.

I am feeling stronger and continuing doing the ankle exercises. I haven't needed the inhaler while running since restarting and I'm starting to feel the aerobic ability starting to extend in my lungs. While I wish I could run like I used to, today was one of those days where I caught a glimpse of where I can be and now it's just reminding myself to have the patience to get there. I have the spirit of a great heart, and I will get there.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I need to get this off my chest

Yesterday I went to the Boston Marathon expo and it amazes me how clueless some companies are to women runners, and larger women runners particularly.

I go to Weight Watchers because I need a level of accountability, not because I need a therapy group or for fun. I also have the double whammy of a minor autoimmune issue that interferes with my thyroid so, even though I'm this side of "normal" and don't need meds, it does mess with my ability to lose weight. I'm trying to go from being a big girl who has every bit of food in my life scrutinized to unique like everyone else. I run because I love having that time that is solely mine and the sense of accomplishment that goes with it.

So why is it the running magazines try to tell me that they use "real people" and open to a section to prove it. When I ask them to find one person that looks like me (as they still look like those gazelle like creatures that bound weightlessly from the earth), the people hem and haw and then say, "Well, you could write a letter to the editor...."

At the clothing manufacturer booths, they hold up a woman's XL and it looks like it would fit.... if I didn't have chest that gives me two black eyes when I run if I don't double bag (which I do) and doesn't cover up my gut. Who do they think I am? Britney Spears at the height of "look at me! I have skin and it's E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E! My epidermis is showing along with other body parts!" phase.

I look a lot... um, rounder than Brit Brit ever has. This leads me to the other side of the booth to get the men's large, which fits over my chest. When I mention this to the shirt folks, they shrug and say, "Hey, if it doesn't fit, don't buy it."

The only people who got it were the Running Skirts people. One of the women looked at me and said, "I have your size." She handed me a skirt to try on. The shorties fit, the length was perfect and the waist band sat on my waist the way it was supposed to instead exposing my butt crack. The woman helping me said, "I was your size last year, trust me I know this will work for you." ♥ ♥ ♥ She is the first person since the iRun Like a Girl folks to acknowledge that I want to look as nice as the people I aspire to look like one day.

We talked about how the women in my WW meeting and I often talk about how unfair it is we don't get to wear "cute" clothes when we work out, how frustrating it is. Finally I have something that sits properly so I don't have to wear 2 tops running because if my shirt does the inevitable crawl, there is fabric covering my belly and I don't feel obscene running down the street.

So to the running gear and information folks out there: I'm a big market. Not just because I'm big but because I'm the majority of Americans who find themselves curled up in a funk rather than be relegated to oversized sweats and t-shirts hiding so you can't see me while I try to battle my way back to my normal weight. It's a double blow to be fat and be reminded of it at every turn as a result of the lack of work out clothing for us. You actually could make a lot of money off our desire to step back towards normal.

Until then, all of you can kiss my rather large posterior after you take an airborne act of fornication at a round breakfast pastry in motion. I'm about to get vocal and become an advocate because you delivered the straw that broke the camel's back yesterday.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Life is a dance

Last day of w5+(r1/w1*10)+w5 and I spent it with the fabulous Miss Chaka Khan!

I love running to funk and soul, like the angry Irish punk I also love, it has a steady beat to drive through even the weakest, "Why am I out here?" moments. Chaka Khan, Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, the Parliament/Funkadelics... I love it, I love it all.

A good run on a clear, chilly morning was just what I needed to clear my head of petty dramas that play out around me (and all of us) everyday. It's just me, the road, my watch and my music. All in all, a good way to start off the day no matter what else rolls downhill at me today.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Good morning, good run

w5 +(r1/w1) +w5

A good run is a good way to start your day. In the quiet of the morning before the rest of the world is waking up is a special time of the day. This is the time of year when the air is fresh and clear and the temps are just right for running. It's the sort of morning that makes you smile, knowing you're on top of things... even if it's just for the length of the run.

I chose to keep it light today after going long on Sunday. Right now it's about rebuilding the habit of running after a winter on the couch. I also made it out early enough that I suspected the local high school track would be open, I was right.

Jogging and walking on a level, forgiving surface is a nice change of pace over running on asphalt and concrete. It felt good out there and I had to hold myself back from going outside the (r1/w1) parameter. The logical side of me knows that if I push too hard now, I end up back on the couch nursing another injury, so I have to pull up on the emotional reins no matter how free and happy I feel in that moment.

What a way to start renewing my body and soul after a long, dormant state.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

2011 Doyle's 5 Mile

I love this race.

In case you didn't realize it, let me say it again: I LOVE THIS RACE.

On New Year's Eve, I went to dinner at Doyle's and the applications were out and I signed up. April seemed so far away that night, plenty of time to train. Then I ended up in a boot on Valentine's day and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do this. The reality is, I didn't really train. It's only been 2 weeks since I ended PT for the Valentine's Day injury and the closest I've come to running is last week when I went out for w5 (r1/w1)*10+w5 which was just under 2.5 miles. So would I be able to do this?

Add getting over an upper respiratory infection and I had to be nuts thinking it would be a good idea. So I made a deal with myself. I would check myself at the one mile and two mile mark and see how I was feeling. If I was hurting or slowing down, I would turn around. My oldest decided to run too. He loves this race was going to "take it slow" instead of running his race pace. For him, this means running a 7 min mile instead of a 6 minute mile.

Me, I was hoping for a 15 minute mile.

The race is through Franklin Park, one of the gems in Olmstead's Emerald Necklace park system. There are little treasures like the park entrance on the JP side of the park.
Behind me is densely packed neighborhood of triple deckers. In fact, all around this section of the park is densely pack triple deckers and a lot of lower income families, immigrants, old hippies and anarchists.

Going into the park, it's easy to forget all that when all you see is open space, trees, ducks and water ways. I would run the other way through this arch at the end, but for now, I was heading to the start line to warm up. My son had disappeared at some point, I figured he was doing his pre-race warm ups and rituals as well. Turning the corner, I saw him.
He was sitting in the spring sun meditating. As one of my friends said, "He looked as if he was solving all the problems in the world."

I lined up towards the back of the 2200 or so runners and walked my first five minutes. About a quarter mile in, just before I was going to run, was the Boston Police Gaelic Column. Every year, no matter what the weather, there they are to send us off.

It's a great feeling to hear the pipes calling you forward. I broke into my first run at this point and passed a number of people walking. I had a feeling that, in spite of the lack of training and prep, it was going to be a good race.

I followed the plan: run 1 minute, walk 1 minute and see how well I could pace myself. I crossed the one mile mark just before the 14 minute mark and everything felt strong. My ankle was solid, my breathing was good and I didn't need my inhaler. The course is an out and back and shortly after the 1 mile mark, the leaders were passing in the other direction. I saw my son and did my traditional yell to him.

"You're getting beat by a girl!"

"You disappoint me," he returned and we both laughed as we continued on our way.

I passed the entrance to the Zoo just before mile 2, where I checked myself again. I was still keeping a strong pace - down to under 13 minutes - and still feeling strong. That meant no turning around.

At the halfway mark my body began to ask if we were done yet? Given that my furthest distance in months was 2.5 miles, I can't say as I was surprised. I kept up the r1/w1 pacing to see how I'd do. I passed the 5k mark just after the 40 minute mark and that's when my body told me, "Enough." Just under a 13 minute mile was more than respectable.

I knew I'd be walking the last two miles. It was OK, I had already exceeded my expectations. Now came the next goal: finishing in 1:15.

I always love the 4 mile stretch when you cross over a bridge and through some woods. Every year I look for the ducks on one side of the bridge and the golfers on the other side.

From here, it's wrap around the pond, past the Shattuck (where we started) and under the arch back into the neighborhood before ending at Doyle's.


I always look forward to the drummers as you come out of the park and head up the street.

I crossed at the 1:15 and change mark, thus hitting my other goal on the day. My son, not a shock he ran the race in 36 minutes finishing in the top 250 runners. It was a wonderful day and a wonderful race and already I'm wishing for next year's race.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Litmus Test

I felt like I have been stalled. I know I've been injured and sick but I'm sick of being... well, sick. So today I decided to go for a litmus test and see what I could do. It was a simple plan: walk for 5, (run 1/walk 1) x10, walk 5. If things went south, I could turn around and walk home.

Something wonderful happened: I felt good and made it the whole way through. In fact, I ended up doing an extra run/walk set because I miscounted about halfway through so I was out for 32 minutes instead of 30.

Now it's a case of how my lungs react through the day, but I didn't need my inhaler while I ran (although I did have it with me) or when I got home. I feel good, I feel happy and I feel like I'm home.

Friday, April 01, 2011

So... what's going on?

Why is it that kids are really good at sharing colds and other viruses?

That is the question I ponder from my couch while watching the Sox kick off the march to summer down in Texas. This cold hit me hard, derailing all plans for week two with the exception of spending 5 minutes daily just listening.

I figure I'm good though. Sunday morning I can start week 2 yet again and move forward from there.

I must acknowledge a piece of sad news that came today: the passing of Lou Gorman, former General Manager of the Boston Red Sox. Gorman was, as many describe, "a class act." A gentleman and a scholar, he was an integral part of the club even when he wasn't part of the club. He was on the faculty at Stonehill College in the English department and wrote some wonderful books on baseball. I loved speaking with him the few times I ran into him at Famous Fenway Writers Series luncheons. I imagine he's watching the Splendid Splinter open his heavenly season today. So if you're a Sox fan and catch a game this year, take a second to pause and look heavenward and remember Lou. Red Sox Nation won't be the same without him.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Food for thought

"So what if some of my store-bought 'fresh' produce was picked 7 days ago and then trucked over 1,000 miles to be sorted and distributed and stored and finally put out on display? Food loses its ability to nourish my body every hour after it leaves the soil. How do I feel about the possible 151 hours during which the food that I am eating has been losing its value?" - Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet

I just started reading Growing at the Speed of Life by Graham Kerr. I grew up watching his show, The Galloping Gourmet, with my mom. He was funny and made cooking food look like fun but even then, I didn't really try cooking until I was on my own. Even then, like most people, I relied heavily on pre-prepared and processed foods. As I've struggled with my weight and exercise over the past couple of decades, I now know that a lot of my struggle comes from that struggle all of us have of convenience vs quality of food.

Kerr's quote is about how he began thinking in terms of starting his own garden. Like me, he never met a plant he couldn't kill. Last year I chose to start getting past that point. I planted some tomatoes, peppers, herbs, strawberries and a raspberry bush. Most everything survived. The peppers never really did more than survive as little plants, the chipmunks feasted on my strawberries and I shared the tomatoes with the squirrels.

But Kerr also got me thinking. I've been thinking about how to reimagine cooking for my dad as he now faces a renal diet again. I've been thinking of how to reinvent cooking for me as I step up to the plate. Between Jamie Oliver's show Jamie at Home, where he spends a lot of time in his garden, Growing at the Speed of Life and a book I picked up last year called Square Foot Gardening, I'm getting ready to tackle round two of gardening this coming season.

It goes hand and hand with starting over yet again with my running. Walking for 15 today will happen on the hills, food planning started with reading. Perhaps it's that 5 minutes I've been taking in the morning to just listen - who knows. I do know that I'm hoping to have something going here as the sun starts to shine and the air starts to warm.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Here we go, life's waiting to begin

...prophetic words that sang out through the speakers of my iPod during today's walk (with 2 1 min interval runs).

The workout for today was (w5r1)*2+w5 [that's walk 5 minutes, run 1 minute times 2 plus walks 5 minutes] and Mother Nature decided to throw a snow storm at us today just to challenge me. It takes more than a little spring snow to stop me, at least today. When I hit the shuffle button, the song "The Adventure" by Angels and Airwaves popped up with that line.

I started off the day 5 minutes of meditation, made sure to put lettuce on my turkey sandwich and counted all my points. Small changes... small changes... small changes...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Small Changes...

Today is the first day of a 12 week walk to run program. Yes, I'm out of the boot and the splint and have started back on the road to running.

The walk/run schedule for the week:

Days 1,3,5: walk 15 min
Days 2,4,5: (walk 5, run 1)x2 walk 5

I did my 15 minute walk today and it felt good to be outside again. I downloaded the Nike+ GPS so I don't have to deal with sensors that may or may not work.

I also picked up a copy of Elie Krieger's book "Small Changes, Big Results." The concept being that you make a series of changes and at the end of 12 weeks you've developed the habits of a healthier life style. It made sense to start the same day as my w2r program. This week is about building a healthier pantry, taking 5 minutes to breathe/meditate and start a walking program.

Bottom line - one day down, 80+ more to go.