Sunday, December 08, 2013

Let my imagination run away

I always let my imagination run away from and when it
comes back, it comes back with  cake! - Pinkie Pie
Last July or August, one of those times when it was wicked hot out there, I signed up for a 5k race in December.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  A chilly December race with lots of time to get ready would be easy as .... [pie, Sunday morning, whatever metaphor you would use].

Then, I promptly forgot about it until a couple of weeks ago when I got a reminder email about pick up details and things.


I hadn't been running, I hadn't been training and it was freakin' cold outside.  What's a girl to do?  Further, the group I had signed up with were all doing this Santa zombie theme thing.

I don't do zombies.

Not only that, this is the last week of the semester and between a 1500 word article due on Monday, 2 pieces of directed writing, a positive discipline plan due on Monday and 3 lesson plans all due by Wednesday, when was I supposed to do this?

What's a girl to do but veg out in front of "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic."  For 30 minutes I watched a group of ponies wander around scary ruins of a castle for different reasons but the best character is the ever chaotic, ever clueless Pinkie Pie.  At the end when the serious ponies declare they shouldn't let their imaginations run away with them like that again, Pinkie replies, "I always let my imagination run away from me and when it comes back, it comes back with cake!"

Yes, there was my answer.  It was time to have the cake my imagination seemed to be bringing back.  I got there at 9 am for number pick up.  I got my swag (a sweet pint class and long sleeved tech shirt - you can never really have too many of them this time of year) and brought my number to the group's VIP tent area for someone who could use it.  I then set my Nike+ for 5k and took off through Central Square and ran my own 5k.

I hit my three goals: I had to run more than half of it, I had to run under a 14 min mile and I had to run in under 45 minutes.  I ran about 2.5 miles, 13:55 mile and in 44 minutes.  Done, done and done.  I feel great, I was done before 10 and home in time to start cranking on things before I have to leave for the TGIO party in Copley Square.

It fits in with my c210k plan and I'm pumped for week two of things.

It's all cake... and running... and imagination.... and (most of all) good.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Street lights and memories

Having pulled the trigger on the inaugural Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon, this morning meant following the couch to 10k I was looking at and going out for 2 miles.  (What?  It's at the beginning of June so I have 7 months to train....)  So by 6:15 I had laced up, donned running tights and layered up for the 34* temp and headed out the door and was... surprised.

Since developing plantar fasciitis last year, I have been scared to run.   Sure walking through the hills in Brookline with November Project (no longer mistaken for the band) and a couple of trial runs let me know that yes, it is OK, to run but the memory still lingers.  So this morning was surprising.

We're at that time of year when it's dark out at 6 in the morning, so unless I wear a miner's light when I run, I run the sidewalks of my community by street lights and memories of where the potholes are: Cross the street here because there will be a puddle over there after yesterday's rain; the utility doors on the ground will be slick and shiny; the curb cut by the high school should be covered in a wet, muddy goo like always....  You know, the sorts of things people who run know about their routes.

I had intended to walk the bulk of today's route but then muscle memory and Irish punk took over and wound together with the sidewalk hazard thoughts to keep me moving.  From the second my feet started moving, they moved along at a jog for 3/4's of a mile.  I walked to the one mile point and two things happened.  First, as I did a quick mechanics check (and yes Nini, my right ankle was barking through the compression socks so I will have to KT tape and do strength work), a rabbit hopped along with me for a bit.  Rabbits are always a sign that I'm on the right track for some odd reason... don't ask why because it's something that started a while back and then just became that sign.  Then Flogging Molly's "Devil's Dance Floor" came on which started my feet moving and I didn't stop until I got to my traditional walk to cool down spot a quarter mile from the house.

Two miles at a 15 minute pace... wow.  There are many people who think they walk faster, and they probably do, but given a half mile of that running was walking, I'm quite happy with that test run this morning.  Tomorrow will be walking and there will probably be a run Thursday and a "long" run of 3 miles on Sunday - which coincides with a 5k I forgot I signed up for in fever pitch of frenzy with the November Project/Boston Brunch Runner folks.

Today said, "I can do this" and, at least for today,  I believe I can.

Friday, August 23, 2013


This morning was a hill work out.  The hill we run is described at the November Project this way: "Gradient of the incline varies from approximately 7-8% during the first third of the hill and goes up to 16-17% in the last quarter of the piece."

It's just under a 1/2 mile of fresh hell early on in the morning when your legs (and body) aren't quite awake and the standard set is 5 laps going down and up the hill - after you've gone up it to get to the starting point at the top... so I guess you can call it 5.5 laps.

Today there were some chalk drawings on the sidewalk from local kids of kites and unicorns and cakes and things.  It made me smile as I headed down.

Me, I'm good with three laps right about now because I'm pretty much a wuss. After this morning, I realize I just don't push myself enough.  I added a little this morning in terms of running all the way down and slingshotting around the turn and up the hill to the first phone pole before walking up the hill. Then I started running when I hit the part where it begins to level off near the summit to the crosswalk and slingshot back around down the hill.  But is it enough?


This morning, along with the hill repeats, we had an additional chore: 5 burpees and 5 wall jumps between hill rounds.  I don't really do burpees, my knees have a hard time with them and I'm trying to build up to them so I blew them off.  Instead of wall jumps, I stepped up on the wall and stepped down.
As I was running down the hill, I listened to Nike tell me my average time was dropping.  So that 18 minute/mile mark for walking up and running down the hill is now just over 17 minutes and that included a stop at the top.  But I had to wonder, could I do more?

Perhaps it was today's sound track that had me thinking.  I was listening to Some Nights by the band Fun. - the guys who do the song "Carry On" and "We are Young."  The first time I heard the album, I realized the catchy music hid the story of someone who is drunk, lost and alone fumbling through a really bad night.  But today I realized within that dark night crawl is a lot of determination and inspiration while trying to answer the question "What do I stand for?"

They talk of carrying each other through - strangers and friends, no matter how temporary - those moments when you're lost.  The line that kept me thinking: may your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground.

This summer I have been lost.  It's watching the transitions of life from when my kids are now old enough to take care of themselves and my parents are old enough to not be able to take care of themselves any more.  It's supposed to be "my time" (according to all those is the new books and articles).  Here I am trying to get through grad school so I can have my own classroom to try and let kids know the test doesn't define them and it's OK to be the weird kid because we're probably the happiest even if we question that fact the most.  Yet I'm still torn between my parents and my kids.  It's called the sandwich generation, I call it frustration.

Hell, I'm in my 50's and I'm getting my fat ass out the door to walk up a freaking hill with the rising of the sun with kids literally half my age.  I need to own that.  But it's also time to raise the bar for myself a bit.  Time to push for that one more rep - the 4th hill, the next few sections of Harvard Stadium, being able to confidently do a burpee.  It's all good and it's all getting better.

In the end, it's a matter of just being able to carry on knowing it gets better.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Same view, more work

Today I learned an important lesson about getting my fat, lazy ass out the door.  I got up, sat down to watch the news before heading out and thought, "I can take a 10 minute nap before leaving."

No I couldn't because the nap was closer to 30 minutes and that meant getting to the stadium at 6:15 instead of 5:45 and having to wait for the racers to off before I could start.  Basically, I started an hour later than I normally would.

Still it was a damn sight better than yesterday when I sat in my running clothes for 6 hours before I finally realized I was not going to will myself out the door for a run and changed into my regular clothes, so there's that.  I knew I was on the right track when I pulled into the stadium and Matisyahu's song "Motivation," came up in my "just play shit" (aka using the shuffle features on the songs library) mix on the iPod part of my iPhone.

I was glad to see Paulie there for his first attempt today and it was the first time I've seen Emily in what feels like forever, so that all worked for me too.

The reason this is the same view but more work is that I did it a little different today, instead of walking up one flight, walk over to the next section and down, I walked up one flight, turned around and went back down the same flight once I got a couple of sections in and in between the groups of folks.  It was good to be able to encourage folks to make it up the last few steps of their flights and I reached my mid-level goal.  (Small goal was what I did last time, big goal is last time * 2 and mid-level is half way between the two.)

Today's playlist was Beebs and her Money Makers.  I have both her albums on my iPhone and hit the "shuffle" button to mix it up between the two.  While my favorite song, "Jumpin'," did not come up in the mix, some of my other favorites did.  (Perhaps I'll build a playlist off that for next week.)

Now that I've rehydrated as well as had a waffle and some coffee, it's time to shower and get the rest of the day in motion.  I do make this promise to myself: tomorrow I WILL do week 1/day 2 of my C25K program.  No excuses, just motivation... and maybe some Jumpin' with my new shoes and my positive attitude.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sweaty "Bro" Hugs

The worst part of my school year schedule is I really can't make my favorite workout: the Harvard Stadium workout.  I also miss the sweaty hugs from Brogan and Bojan (or, as I call them, sweaty Bro hugs)

Last week I went further than I expected and this week I pushed it further still.  Today the Harvard football team was out doing their practices and drills.  The thing is, by the time they started at 6 am, a lot of the November Project folks were well into their workouts.  Whether it was the guys doing push ups on the stairs and then frog hopping up the sections to slow people like me trying to get in before the main crowd showed up, it was a bustling place this morning.

Today was an interesting play list as Chaka Kahn's "I'm Every Woman" came on, so I hit the genius button.  The hits, as they say, kept coming and kept inspiring.  Imagine Dragons "Fallen" and Guster's "Do You Love Me" set an up tempo beat for me.  But a few songs later came something a bit mellower but even more inspiration pumping for me: Matisyahu's "Exaltation:"

"Performing mighty deeds and making new things, sowing righteousness and creating healing
He spoke, the world came into being, Master of praise renews each day....."

There I am with a few hundred sweaty friendly folks performing a mighty deed, we are treating our bodies like temple instead of a tent honoring our abilities and encouraging others to honor their abilities as well.  As the song says, we are building back the temple one brick at a time.  Each time someone lifts a foot to go up a stair when their legs feel like jelly, each time someone gets out of bed instead of hitting snooze and rolling over to go back to sleep.

It doesn't just happen in Harvard Stadium.  I witnessed it all the way home when I saw cyclists out in the early morning or runners with easy strides and joggers laboring for the next step before slowing to a walk.  

My reward is that I get sweaty bro hugs for a few more weeks before life takes over again.  Perhaps I can find some folks that will meet up with me in the afternoons/early evening to attack the stadium when September rolls around.  Maybe I'll find some folks to show up locally and climb the bleachers at the local little league fields.  I don't know but I know I don't want this feeling to ever go away again.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Getting back to it

Over on my writing blog (yeah, it's a writer thing... a blog for writing, a blog for running, a blog for cooking and a blog about biking... I'm that kind of a Masshole), I wrote about my thoughts on what happened at the Boston Marathon and how I need to stop fearing getting injured while running.  I mentioned I was going to wear my "pun" shirt this year to Hill and Back.  Getting dressed I realized I bought the wrong shirt, I bought this one:

The back has a shamrock with 26.2 in the middle.  Not one I would normally buy as I've never run 26.2 miles in one shot in my life.

I now have a goal.  I'm also betting someone over at Asics is like, "Um.... yeah.  I didn't mean it that way," as they look at their design.

So I turned on the Nike+, set it for 15 minutes and headed out the door to run up the hill outside my house.  (This is the up hill both ways route as the hill crests in the middle.)  I cued up my Angry Irish Run playlist and got the following:

No Rest for the Wicked by Ramshackle Army
Tessie by the Dropkick Murphys
The Rotten Hand by Flatfoot 56
Selfish Man by Flogging Molly
Amazing Grace by Flatfoot 56

Again I wonder if iPods have an emotional algorithm built in because each song hit its mark exactly.  Better than that, I ran, that's right RAN the whole time, all 16:56 minutes for a mile and a quarter.  It's a first step and my only note on the Nike+ record is "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

One day I will turn right on Hereford and left on Boylston, I know that now and grabbing the wrong shirt off the rack was the little thing to tell me so.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


It's that time if year, time to be inspired at the Boston Marathon expo.

Walking in is overwhelming and exciting. The sights and sounds are a lot to take in. Walking up and down each aisle, talking to people, meeting folks from all over is a heady affair.

Even the convention center folks set up to greet you were sweet about directing folks to where they should be.  It is one of the happiest places to be in Boston this time of year.

One highlight is the Adidas (official whatever of the Boston Marathon) wall with the slogan "All in for Boston."  People jockey for position to take a photo there, often holding up numbers, past medals, etc.

I took a photo of a father running his 5th Boston and his 2 teens who are running the 5k on Sunday in front of the "all in" wall.  The daughter wanted a photo as this is the first time the three of them are doing this together and their mother couldn't quite get a pic from the girl's iPhone camera.  To top it off, the world's most clueless (or less than discreet photo bomber) kept standing there in front of the family like "Duh."

That's when I stepped up, Mr. Photo Bomber wandered off and I got the photo of Chris' family.  When I told him I volunteer at Mile 18 every year, he shook my hand and thanked me.  I always find that gratifying but surprising.  I do this because people have done that for years for my brothers.  It's my honor to do it for others.

One place I met a man who runs for a Christian charity he founded that encourages people who are struggling to find strength and peace in both the gospels and running.  He promised to look for me at Mile 18, I told him not to worry, run his race and bless him for his work.

The vendors are often laughing and friendly, eager to display and demo their wares.  Most of them were chatty and in good moods.  The first day had gone quickly.  One thing on the lips of a lot of folks: The November Project. The idea of a bunch of folks forming a community because fitness shouldn't have to cost you money is an intriguing concept. Some folks were excited because they were moving to Boston (or back to Boston) and wanted to know where to find details.  Others asked if they could join Monday's destination deck (of course, check the website for details).

I love the idea of the blessing of the athletes by "The Church of the Finish Line" in Copley Square.  This annual event is one of those things that makes me smile as well and adds something special to the race for me.

The closest I'll ever get to the VIP stands are days like this where the road is open and the only runners are locals who run the area on a regular basis or out of town era going for a quick jog.  In the raw, windy rain swept Friday evening, the place was deserted but Sunday morning the area will be packed with 5k runners who get the thrill of crossing the official finish line with maybe dreams of one day training and qualifying to run the big race on Monday.

The weather will dry out a bit this weekend with promises of warming up.  Sunday I'll take a ride on Gigi, my road bike, over to Hynes to check it out again.  Maybe I'll try out my new insulated water bottle and think about how to start running again while I train for my century ride.  Either way, color me inspired because it's that time of year when hope springs eternal, the Red Sox are playing ball, the Bruins are in the playoffs and the marathon runs through town.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Buzz off Nemo!

Nemo came, dumped a couple of feet of snow on us, then left.  For many it was a cause of panic, partially because of the timing (the 35th anniversary of the Blizzard of '78 was a couple of days ago) and partially because we are a nation of wusses nowadays.

Me, I was out there with the shovel early yesterday listening to Floggy Molly (yeah, still kind of on a jag from last week's show).  Here I am, waist deep in snow digging away and singing loudly to the song "Drunken Lullabies" when the plow driver goes by and I waved to him.  As I'm digging, I take a second to pogo to the line, "Then the rosary beads count them one, two, three as they fell apart on the floor..."in the song "What's Left of the Flag," the driver went past the other way and I waved again.   The next time through I was singing along with "So May the Living (Be Dead in Our Wake)" he pulled up and told me I'd be plowed back in before long as there were about 10 more passes scheduled for our street.

I shrugged and said, "I guess I'm at that age where a little exercise wouldn't kill me.  I'm out here with Flogging Molly so no biggie."

He laughed and said, "Let me give you a hand," and then plowed a foot of the plow sludge up to form a barrier to protect the driveway from oncoming plows.  He then pointed up the hill saying, "Here's one now, let's see if it works."  Sure enough, the big plow came by, went around the barrier and my driveway was still in tact.

I thanked the driver and told him to be safe out there.  He smiled and drove off with a final wave.

Sure enough, after every pass, my driveway remained without a new wall of plow crud and my hour or so of effort remained.

Later, my son went out to shovel the walkway from the driveway to the stairs but, a few feet in decided that it would be more fun to create a snow tunnel.  While he was right, it was more fun, the adult in me began to think about the killjoy things adults do like what happens if it collapses or how do I get the groceries up the front steps and those sorts of practical things.  So I went out to clear the walk way and found and he left a message for me.  One was a sign that simply read "Alive Inside" (in case the health department was checking for zombies) and the other was a message on McGreevey the Wonderbug.

It made me smile every time I looked over and saw it.  He was trying to make the Twin Berlin logo to suggest my car loves the band Twin Berlin.  Given my car's musical proclivities - as I am convinced McGreevey does let my iPhone know what is and isn't acceptable play in shuffle mode - I wouldn't doubt that he does indeed prefer Twin Berlin to Kathy Mattea, classical music, George Harrison or something more appropriate for a woman my age.  Given how often punk comes up in shuffle instead of other stuff, I can see where my son and McGreevey were trying to send me a message.

While my back was a little sore last night, it was nothing a little ibuprofen and heating pad couldn't cure and my biceps and abs feel like they are stronger than ever.

The moral of my story?  Does there have to be one?  I suppose it's being kind is often appreciated.  If you're digging out or own a plow or snowblower or something, make someone's day and give them a hand.  You never know, they may really need a smile.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

What Fresh Hell is This?

I got to the gym with my husband tonight and my first thought was, "It's February, what the hell are all these people doing here?  I thought they were supposed to give up on their resolutions and hit the bar by now..."

The joint was jumping, literally.  People were jumping and lunging all over the place with sadistic trainers following behind barking and all the machines were full.  So much for my bike time this evening.  *sigh*  In fact, the place was so packed the only machines open were a few arc trainers.

Apparently these things are a supposed to be the next generation of elliptical type low impact cardio trainers that move in an arc, not an elliptical, pattern.  I just know the damn thing kicked my butt.  Two minutes into a 30 minute work out, I was thinking, "If something else opens up, I'm bailing!"  Then came the psych-out games with myself.  I needed to last at least 15 minutes (half of what I set for a time) before I could bail.  After 15, it was last another 5 so I have the benefit of a full-on aerobic/cardio workout.  Then it was "damn, just finish off the program."

At the end of 30 minutes, when the thing was "Yep girl, you're done," I almost cheered.

A couple of things here, first the thing has a momentum factor.  Once I started going, there seemed to be a combination of my momentum and the machine's guidance that kept me in motion.  Second, it was a good thing I had an angry Irish punk soundtrack going because I felt like a freakin' step dancer the way my knees were high-stepping the whole time.  If nothing else, using something like this must give you one helluva a good looking butt.

It was a bit frustrating that I could either use the swinging poles for "a whole body workout" that seemed to build up steam in terms of motion, or uncomfortably hold onto the side of the machine and keep reminding myself not to put my weight on my hands, to keep it on my feet.

Why do I keep going to the gym and using the exercise bike instead of going to spin classes?  Well, truth be known spin classes are an hour and my husband won't last more than 30 minutes.  I feel like I have an obligation to get him in there with me, particularly on the nights where I'd rather crash on the couch and watch TV instead.  With two feet of snow predicted to hit here soon, I worry my bike will stay garaged even longer this winter.  But I do need to keep in motion.  I have 100 miles to ride this summer and I will do it.

I look forward to my hand being strong enough for destination deck work outs (although I'm now doing supermans and planks while watching TV) and it won't be long before I'm riding my bike the 6 miles to Harvard Stadium and the 6 miles home when school is no longer in session.  (Yes Brogan, that's a verbal!  But only when I don't have to be at school by 7:30 am :( )  Until then, I'm stuck in a stinky gym but at least I'm alongside my husband, so I can live with that.

In the meantime, don't forget I need your donations to JDRF.  You can click this link:

JDRF Ride: Karla's Page

and donate.  If Louie the supercat could get some scratch together, so can you. ;)

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Last night, I dreamt I could run

It's funny, I always know when an injury is starting to subside for real when I have a dream that I'm running.  This time I dreamt I was in a 5k and was going to just run when it felt good and walk the rest of the way (hmmm wonder why I would dream that strategy? 8-| ) and I ended up running the whole race and having a PR.

That was the sign that I'm ready to start a run to walk program again and the Plantar Fasciitis is now history.  Oh sure, I've had a few twinges (pogoing to Skinny Lister and Floggy Molly in the jolly boots of doom on the concrete House of Blues floor the other night didn't help things), but they dissipate quickly and I haven't worn the brace to bed for about a month now.  I've been using the elliptical or the lifecycle at the gym lately and the splint is gone from my hand, even if my fingers are still stiff, sore and only starting to bend again.

These are all good signs, so it's time to count some days and put together a plan - perhaps a 5 weeks to the Ras?

In the meantime - help support me as I plan to ride my bike 100 miles to raise money for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Ain't no stopping me....

Watching me type is amusing right now as my right ring finger is splinted and my right middle finger is buddy taped to my index finger.  I wasn't paying attention the other day and tripped over the step going into the garage and dislocated my ring finger.


It was one of those, if I don't look at it then it doesn't hurt injuries.  A couple of shots of lidocane and popping it back into the joint later in the ER, sprinkled with a liberal dose of comedy, and I was on my way back home to crash in boredom for a couple of days.  I tried to mitigate that with marching in place during commercials and a lot of food network, but I'm glad to be back at work today.

I saw the hand guy, who splinted me in a new manner and said I have to keep it straight for a month so hopefully the tendon does it's job and reattaches.  It better work because I don't want to have to go through surgery (even if he does fix the Red Sox hand injuries and has an office full of photos from famous golfers, football, lacrosse and hockey players).

The first question I asked: "Can I still spin?"

Hey let's get priorities straight here and one of them is not laying down in a lump of woe is me.  The minor ankle sprain that happened is that: minor.  I'll wear a wrap when I spin, but it's pretty much good at this point after a few days of rest.  Part of what's fueling me is the realization that there are people waking up with no right hand.  I still have mine, it's just a little out of joint (figuratively and literally).  Since I have a month of this nonsense, it is finally time to teach myself to write and eat left handed.  I was originally a leftie until that horrible nun in first grade kept whacking me with a ruler until I wrote right handed.  The PT at the school gave me a copy of the workbook the kids use to learn cursive and I will reteach myself.  My printing's pretty good (but slow and a bit shaky, as one kid noted).

He told me not an issue except for be careful how I grip the handlebars and such.

Tonight I'll try the elliptical.  If it's too much, I'll hop on the lifecycle.  No matter what, I won't let this stop me.  I got a 100 miles to ride and not a lot of time to train, so yeah, getting in a shape that isn't round is no longer an option - splinted fingers or not.

So I'll look silly typing, have shaking writing but it won't stop me.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Aging Realization

Last night I went to my spinning class only to find out it was cancelled.  Since I made my husband come with me, I decided on working out next to him on an elliptical.

He lasted 8 minutes, I lasted 35.

While he did leave the elliptical to walk on a treadmill until I was done, I felt a couple of small victories in: (a) not bailing totally and (b) not letting his boredom/discomfort/whatever force me to finish early.

I did sleep with my brace on last night but this morning, when I woke up hoping to tackle a flight or two at Harvard, my heel decided otherwise.  It was an aha! moment for me.  My aging body is making me choose what I do and when I do it as it will no longer do it all.

Right now my priority really is getting ready for this bike ride at the end of the summer.  While I didn't drop a verbal on Harvard today, I still feel like I bailed but I know it's because I can't do it all right now.  Perhaps soon I will be able to again and who knew that this stupid thing would last as long as it has.  But I will and it has.

Why is this bike ride more important than working out with November Project?  Because I am going to start raising money for a worthy cause: Juvenile Diabetes research.  When I miss an NP workout, I am disappointing myself.  If I miss this ride, I would be disappointing a lot more people.

I will go to spinning tonight.  It's an inconvenient time and not a class I would normally go to; however, it is what I need to do in order to build to the biking goal.  My heel will heal and I will be able to tackle Harvard Stadium and the hills before I know it.  Soon it won't be a choice and the two will meld like Mr. Spock with a giant space entity of pure energy.  Until then, I will reluctantly fork over $20 a month and go ride a Red Queen's race: racing faster and faster but remaining in place.

In the words of the great band Chumba Wumba: I get knocked down, but I get up again.  You're never gonna keep me down.