Thursday, March 31, 2005

My more astute readers will have noticed that, aside from yesterday’s post about Saturday, I haven't really been blogging this week. (They will have been able to tell this by the absence of any entries posted between last Friday and yesterday. I told you they were smart.)

I have also not been running.

I have, however, been eating.

It started on Saturday after the run. I finished and went straight to the snacks table, as is my custom. I started reasonably enough, with a banana and peanut butter, and just kept going, after I got home, after I went back out again, after I came home again for the night. Food tried to run away, but I was stronger and faster, and it all went into my tummy. But I had just run for over two hours, so I wasn’t particularly worried about it. I had burned a squidillion calories (as calculated by this site) so even if many of the replacement calories did come from gummi bears and cookies and cheese, well, I deserved it.

The problem is that the running didn’t continue, but the eating did. Over the past few days, there have been cookies and brownie sundaes (yes, plural) and handfuls from coworkers' candy bowls and more cookies and good lord has it been delicious.

Except this is not The Plan. The Plan involves eating healthily with the occasional indulgence. Filling up on good calories and then treating myself and also exercising regularly.

I feel the need to break in here and do the “I am not anorexic” dance. It seems that making healthy choices is occasionally a worrisome trait in a girl—a sign of imminent Eating Disorder.

(I find the Anorexic Check almost as amusing as I find the Sexual Harassment Caveat, which I hear when male coworkers try to compliment me on the visual effects of my new relative physical fitness—and trust me, the compliments are always worded that awkwardly. I like compliments. I will not sue.)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that my friends care enough to worry, and I've performed an Anorexic Check or two in my day, but, trust me, I’m eating. I eat constantly. I eat all day long at work and then I go home and eat more, and then I eat dinner, and then I eat some more. This is normal for me, and how I’ve always been. The only difference recently has been what I eat.

I bring three kinds of fruit to work every day. I snack on crunchy vegetables and hummous. I cook with whole grains and more fresh vegetables. I leave off the cheese (well, mostly). And the sour cream. And for dessert I have a fat free yoghurt or sweetened cereal.

Not always, of course. I love chocolate and chocolate loves me, and we will never part ways. But since The Plan, it’s been a subdued love affair. When an overseas colleague brought me a gigantic bag of Swiss chocolates when she came to the main office for meetings (okay, now I'm just doing this to torture you all. My job has downsides, too, y'all don't know), I gave most of them away, and ate only small portions over the course of the next couple weeks.

So let's agree that I'm not anorexic. And let's also agree that I can eat whatever I damn well want, whenever I want, whether it's leafy and green or fudgy and not. But let's further agree that what I WANT is to feel healthy and energized, and not feel leaden and uncomfortable during my runs, as I did when I finally got off my butt and stopped eating long enough to get outside last night.

So let's agree that starting today, I'm back on The Plan.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

That elusive runner’s high

People talk about it a lot. Have you ever felt it? What’s it like? Is it great?

Some people worry they’ll never have one. “My runs aren’t long enough. By the time I get close, it’s over.”

Others talk about it too much, like they’re faking it. “That 12 mile run was fantastic. Best run I’ve ever had. There’s nothing like that moment, when you hit your stride. I felt like I could keep going all. day. long.”

Me? I don’t know if I’ve ever had one.

I mean, some runs are better than others. Sometimes, after the first mile or so, every step stops being an epic battle between my desire to reach the current mileage goal and my seemingly much stronger desire to just stop running already, my god, how much farther can it be, and why am I doing this already? Sometimes, when the weather is right, and the conversation or the music is good, and my muscles feel limber, and my joints aren’t achy, I don’t notice every step, and the miles accumulate without too much bother.

My 10 mile run two Saturdays ago was like that. So were the last 2 miles of my 8 mile run. Is that a runner’s high? Or was I just distracted by good company?

However, this much I know: last Saturday’s 14 mile run was NOT like that. I was glad to be out there, and I was pleased that I finished the mileage. It was 14 miles with an unspecified “plus”. 14 miles, give or take. 14 miles, or so.

That’s more than half a marathon, and for my personal psychological outlook, finishing that was big. The second half of any run is always easier for me. In my head there’s a shift after the halfway point, that makes the rest of the run feel downhill, regardless of any actual, physical incline. It’s like every step means one less than I had to do to get that far, and if I’ve already made it that far, I know I can do the rest.

Plus, 14 miles is a fucking LONG ASS distance (excuse my language). We basically ran from Georgetown, through Bethesda, and back. And that doesn’t mean much if you’re not from here, but it’s a trek that I normally drive, and it’s not all that quick in the car, if you see what I’m saying.

So I’m glad I did it. It gave me further confidence that I’ll actually complete this marathon in June. I can’t do it yet. But I’ll do it then.

But if I’m going to feel any sort of high during the experience, a little herbal assistance might be in order.

Not that I’d ever do that.

But it might help.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The fastest mouse in all Mexico, and why I have the best job ever

Okay so picture it:

It’s close to seven pm. The last traces of sunlight are disappearing below the horizon as I drive up to a mostly deserted high school. As I lock my car in the empty parking lot, the only people I see are some recreational tennis players in the adjacent court. But I’m supposed to be meeting my Team in Training group for some speedwork on the track, so, despite my growing doubts that I have gotten the date or location wrong, I soldier onward towards the dark and closed-looking track.

When I get there, I finally see some shadowy forms running and a group standing a dozen yards away. I know I’ve found the right place when I see the 40 inch thighs and body-builder stance of Coach Ironman.

He tells me to warm up with an easy lap, so I start jogging and I fall into step with two friends. One has been having knee trouble, so she asks me about Jen. As I start to explain, my breathing gets more and more labored, at which point I realize that they are doing the fast part of their Yasso repeats. But, in puffs and gasps, I finish the lap and my story.

Coach Ironman explains the two run/one walk lap repeats that we’re doing. And based on my 5 hour goal time, we decide that I should be running my two fast laps (800 m) at a 5 minute pace.

So, he loans me his digital watch, and…

I’m off. There is no Naomi any more, just the blurred image of me zooming past everyone.

Guys? I’m really fast! I had no idea. I never time myself, and except for Wednesday’s treadmill mile, I’ve never tried to do anything other than finish. I have no sense of distance or pace, but I run with other people who understand such notions, and they told me that we were running at about a 10/11 minute mile pace.

So when I set off to run two laps in 5 minutes, I just figured I’d run at the fastest pace I could maintain over the distance, and hope that was fast enough. I tried to look at the stopwatch to gauge how I was doing after the first lap, but I could really see it as I was running.

It was really hard. On my second lap, I passed my friends from the first lap (who were on their walk lap), and in reply to their shouted encouragement, I could only manage a short, “Running fast sucks!” and I kept going.

But at the end of lap two, I stopped the watch and was shocked to see 3:50.

Oops. Because the thing with Yasso repeats (and intervals in general, I gather) is that you’re supposed to maintain the same pace for the last interval as you did for the first. So on the one hand, I’d only been aiming for a five minute pace, which left a lot of room to slow down. But on the other hand, if I wanted to prove that I hadn’t just fucked up, I’d better keep it up.

So I walked a lap, caught my breath, and was off again. This time I took it a little easier, and I ended up at 4:02. And, another walk, and off for my third (and final) repeat. This time I was determined to get under four minutes again. I was starting to feel it in my legs and my lungs were definitely burning, and there may in fact have been some wheezing, but when I got to the end?


I may have to revise my expectations for the marathon. I mean, I’m still totally not going to win, or anything, but I think I'll aim for coming in second.

Heh. Maybe not. But now my reach goal of finishing in 4:30 seems like somewhat more of a possibility.


In other news, Jen made a friend. We’re going to call him Eric, after yet another annoying kid from elementary school (and if you think it’s easy to remember these kids’ names, it’s not, so there had better not be any more injuries in store for me, is all I can say).

Eric is my right ankle. At some point in the last week, I apparently twisted Eric. I don’t remember it happening, and in fact, for most of this week, I pretty much ignored Eric entirely. I thought it was some weird shin-splint thing that was happening because I don’t stretch enough (shhh, let’s not yell at me for that right now, we’re talking about Eric) and I just tried to stretch my shins and calves some more and kept going.

This morning, though, I was finally forced to admit that Eric was a problem, when I compared both ankles and determined that Eric was slightly, but unmistakably, swollen.

Here’s my question: do you think I’m sub-consciously sabotaging myself? Tomorrow was going to be my second attempt to top 10 miles, and we all know what happened the first time. And now, Eric.

Something tells me that it’s not a great idea to run 14 miles on a swollen ankle. And, I don’t want to jump to conclusions or anything, but it occurs to me that it might (might ) have been a smarter idea to not run on a sore ankle all week, so that it would’ve had time to heal before Saturday’s big run. (I know, crazy.)

Okay, but here’s why I work at the best place ever:

We have a nurse’s office. (And no, it’s not a school.) So after lunch, I headed over there, and they pulled out a fancy chemically ice pack, and wrapped it to my ankle so that I could keep the ice on my ankle without having to hold it there. All for free. And the nurse gave me an extra one for later, with extra gauze for wrapping it.

Also? when I was walking back to the elevator from the nurse's office, someone gave me green silly putty. Just cuz it's fun.

And? I had a shoulder massage this afternoon. That’s not because of Eric or Jen. That’s because my boss is awesome. I’ve been kind of stressed this week, due to some changes to my job and in general a bunch of things to do. And he felt bad for me. So he scheduled (and paid for ) me to have a massage with the in-house massage therapist (oh right, did I mention that we have an in-house massage therapist? Or not in-house I guess, but he comes twice a month.)

Oh, and last one, I promise, but this morning my keyboard broke. It may or may not have had anything to do with the water that I spilled on it when I dropped a water bottle. Not that it was my fault, in any way, shape, or form, I'm just mentioning what might have been a useful detail. But anyway, it broke, and when I called IS about it (after stealing an available keyboard from the office of someone who is on vacation) they just said, okay, we'll get you a new one, and it was at my desk within 10 minutes.

I have a tough life. But don’t try to come beat me up or anything, because I’m super fast, and you’d never catch me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Running on Jupiter

So yesterday’s run… It was ugly, y’all.

There was no reason for it to suck so hard. In fact, there was every reason to expect that it would be joyful. Spring had sprung just one day before, the sun had shone all day, it was legitimately warm (as opposed to being, you know, less than horrifically freezing—and by the way, I just spoke to my brother in New York, where it is apparently snowing, so yay for southern living) and, even though I had to stay a bit late at work, it wasn’t even completely dark by the time I set out. I was seriously one bluebird on my shoulder away from Zip-a-dee-doo-dah.

And yet, the suckage. For one thing, both Jens were way pissed off. They’d been pretty quiet during my long run on Saturday, but I’d iced them afterwards anyway. Still, I probably didn’t walk around enough during the cool down, plus I didn’t do my workout on Sunday. And I kind of think they need to keep moving, at this point, or they get sulky.

Also? For all that spring is great, with the sun and the flowers, there are some things I could do without. Topping that list right now is the foul-smelling fertilizer that is now blanketing my fair city. Green grass is great and all, but that stuff has GOT to be hazardous to my health. Or at least to my finely tuned olfactory aesthetic. (It really is all about me.)

But the main problem was that somehow between Saturday and yesterday, I seemed to have gained about 100 lbs. That’s the only explanation I can come up with, unless gravity suddenly got a lot stronger in my neighborhood. I kept looking behind me to see if I could shake off whoever or whatever I was dragging behind me, but there was nothing there.

For real, guys, it just felt like I couldn’t move. I didn’t feel winded or tired, but it was like slogging through pea soup (what an ugly cliché). The humidity wasn’t helping, for sure, and I’d probably dressed too warmly. Plus, I could have picked better music (Indigo Girls aren’t exactly known for their heart-pounding beats**), but I’ve never felt that heavy and slow before.

I finally gave up after barely 3 miles, and decided to switch tacks. I headed to the gym for strength training, which I hadn’t really done in a few weeks. So it wasn’t a total wash. But seriously, y’all, it was officially not fun.

Meanwhile, spring continued its non-love affair with me today by pouring rain all day long. It had stopped by the time I got home, but the ground was all puddly and muddy and gross, so I decided to go to the gym again for some cross-training on the stationary bike.

And in a surprise twist ending, that no one saw coming (M. Night Shaymalan worthy, for sure) when I’d finished my bike workout, I decided to hop on the treadmill for just one mile. I wanted to see how fast I could go.

Eight minutes and fifty-eight seconds.

In case you didn’t notice, that’s less than nine minutes.

It is also the fastest I have ever run a mile in m’whole life. By a pretty wide margin, actually. The last time I really timed myself running a mile was when we were still doing the Presidential Fitness tests in school, and the fastest I ever remember being able to go was nine-thirty-something, and I was probably eleven years old at the time.

And, yeah, it’s just a treadmill, with no incline or wind resistance or anything, but still? It was pretty awesome.

**Side story: Reading about Susan’s recent Indigo Girls concert date reminded me of the first concert of theirs that I went to with Anna, back in high school when they were my favoritest band in the whole wide world. It was in New Jersey, and thus not reachable by public transportation, so Anna’s mom drove us, and, bless her, disappeared for the concert itself. That was a year of concerts for my friends and me — I’d already been to Alanis Morissette and Sheryl Crow, and there was a Natalie Merchant concert at some point that year (I sure loved me some angsty chick rock back then) — but I couldn’t have been more excited for that Indigo Girls concert if they were giving out tickets to heaven.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Hi guys.

How’s it going?

So I spend a lot of time in this site talking about me. No, no, don’t protest. I know it’s true. And mostly, y’all just listen. Except for those of you who leave comments (Hi David! Hi BD1!), but even those are pretty much All About Me.

Which is totally awesome. I mean, in real life, you have to occasionally ask other people about themselves and at least feign an interest in their stories. But here it’s a 100% self-indulgent me-fest.

But, though it may seem like I’m unaware of this fact, you guys are people too, with stories and thoughts, and lives that are conspicuously not All About Me.

So today I took a tour of some of your blogs—or at least the ones of people who’d left me comments (I don’t know how to find the rest of you). Actually, I’d been to most of them before, but never all at once, and today I went back and read lots of back entries too. It was totally fun. I’m impressed with all the races you guys have run. Plus, you’re all really fast.

(This totally wasn’t during work hours. Because I am a diligent worker who never procrastinates or uses company time to do non-company work. Hi Boss!)

Oh, and I think it’s really neat how many people started running later in life, and how it’s become such a big part of your lives. It’s weird for me to think about how recently I had never run. And I’m still not sure how running will fit into my life post-marathon, but (do I lose my anti-running cred if I admit this? Eh, I probably got kicked out of that club weeks ago.) I kinda think it’s part of me now.

Basically, though, I’m a total hypocrite, because even though I want everybody who reads my site to leave comments, I almost never leave comments on other people’s sites. So instead, I thought I’d say a quick hello here.

So. Hi. Thanks for reading. Send me a link if you want a new lurker on your site. Non-runners too (I know there's at least one of you; hi Jessica!).

Oh, and in my last entry, I asked the boys a running question. To be fair, I think I should ask the girls a question too. But since I don’t really know what the equivalent to bloody nipples is for the female distance runner, that’s going to be my question: what painful side-effect of running is in store for me as the miles creep up? Doesn’t have to be uniquely girly, but all the more poetic if it is.

Monday, March 21, 2005

A very boring update (in which I ask for advice)

Surprising exactly no one, Saturday’s run was lovely and fantastic, and completely free from the heartbreak of food-related cramping (even though I totally had a bean burrito for lunch on Friday, which is not even just a little against the rules so don’t tell my coaches, k?).

I roused myself at 6, forced myself to eat a small breakfast, and moped around for a few extra minutes before heading out. It was early, y’all. So early, in fact, that I almost decided to stay home and not! run!, and given how anal I am about Sticking to the Schedule and my attendant paranoia about suddenly losing any pulmonary fitness thus far attained, that’s should show you how not! happy! I was.

But, the weather was unbelievable. Or rather, it entirely predictable based on climate, past experience, weather forecasts, and the approach of spring (and by the way, Happy Vernal Equinox everybody!). But by unbelievable, I mean that it was sunny, warm, and extremely pleasant for running in, despite the fact that we had to meet at 7 a.m. (Have I mentioned how early that is?)

And, continuing the non-dramatic narrative arc of my Saturday (in which I was not surprised by cramps, oversleeping, or the weather) it turned out that, Lady Fab or not, there were plenty of lovely and fantastic people to run with. I struck up a nice conversation with, let’s call him CML, who I’d never chatted with before, and he stayed at my comfy 10:30/mile pace, despite the fact that he intends to finish the marathon in under 4 hours. We are both v. smart and intellectual, of course, and had many deep and interesting thoughts to share. Had you all been on that trail to hear our conversation, you would undoubtedly have been extremely impressed. But, since none of you were there (as far as I know) I will repeat two impressive revelations:

1) Running long distances can be painful. Okay, I know, you know that already, but we’re not just talking about the gee my legs are tired kind of pain. We were talking (in great detail) about the gee my nipples are bloody kind of pain. Thankfully, as a girl, I don’t have to worry about this particular form of chafage, but I was able to share insightful thoughts on the limitations of Body Glide and the relative merits of the Man-Bra (Bro?) vs. duct taping gauze to the region vs. wearing one of those super tight Under Armor shirts. Boy readers of this site: what wisdom do you have to share?

2) Forcing your friends to eat gross things is funny. When running long distances, one must to eat to replenish glycogen stores. This, you all know. One of the best ways to do that is to eat Gu or Gel or other manner of specially-formulated sport products. If one is being charitable, one might compare the taste and texture of these products to a melted starburst (when eating a fruit flavor) or to frosting (when eating chocolate or vanilla). Frosting, as we all know, goes on cakes. And cakes are fun at parties. And parties are good ways to get friends to donate money. So, we came to the obvious conclusion: serve Gu-frosted cupcakes at fundraising parties. Heh. Pastry chef readers of this site: any good Gu-centric recipes?

So in this manner, 10 miles flew by, and, it should be noted, was much easier than the first time I ran that distance.

But here is where I actually need some advice:

When I started training, our coaches told us about run/walk ratios, explaining the many benefits of walking before you needed to and of experimenting with such things during shorter runs. It all sounded quite reasonable, and I resolved to run/walk during my training runs at a 10:1 ratio (roughly a minute per mile).

Except: the people who ran at my pace and distance didn’t want to run/walk, and I preferred to have someone to run with. So I eschewed the walk part of my ratio, except for brief walk breaks when I needed them, and which have been getting rarer and rarer. In fact, on Saturday’s 10 miler, I didn’t need to walk at all.

All of this is well and good. But is it reasonable to expect that if I continue along this trajectory, I will be able to run the entire 26.2 miles without smacking my face against the brick wall of “silly girl shoulda walked 10 miles ago”? And if that’s not a reasonable expectation, should I be doing a run/walk ratio already?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

One foot in front of the other

I need to admit something.

It’s kind of silly.

It’s just that… Wow, this sounds so dumb, but… I was kind of afraid to go running today.

See, silly, right?

I was feeling a lot better than yesterday, but still not 100%. So I kind of thought about not running. I mean, when you’re sick, your body needs rest. And I run all the time, so what’s the difference if I skip a day or two. I’ll be back out there on Saturday at 7 am (and remind me to talk about how not cool I am with this whole 7 am thing) with Team in Training. It’s not like I’m going to fail at this marathon thing just because of one little run.


Except I hadn’t really run since LAST Wednesday, unless you count Saturday’s abortive attempt, which I kind of don’t. And this Saturday, my running buddy (she needs a name. Let’s call her Lady Fab) will be on vacation. I have other friends at Team in Training, but Lady Fab and I, well, we keep each other going. Ten miles is still pretty scary, especially since I feel a little like I’ll be facing it alone.

And if I don’t run this week, for a whole week, then what if I can’t anymore? I’m still completely amazed by the shape that I’m in, and the amount I can run without getting winded or my legs falling off. But that was last week. That was when I, you know, actually ran sometimes.

So I was scared to run today, and to find out that I can’t anymore. What if I hit the hills and they hit back?

But I was even more scared NOT to run. Not just because of the impact it would have on my fitness, but because every time I cut myself some slack, it gets easier to keep slacking.

So I ran. I just put on my sweats and sneakers, walked out the door, and figured I’d see what happened.

And you know what? It was fine. My legs were all, “Don’t worry, baby, we’ve got you covered.” And my lungs were like, “Don’t even give us a second thought. We’re so on top of this.” And Madonna and Prince and Guns ‘N Roses kept singing, and I kept going.

You know what’s funny? Look how much more I have to talk about when I’m feeling kind of down. But actually, writing is therapeutic. And you know what else is therapeutic? Running. And also? Facing your fears.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The new and improved running blog-- now with more hallucinations!

Me: I’m si-i-ick. I’m starving. But food makes me want to throw u-u-up. And I’m tired but I can’t sleeeeep. I haaaaaaaaate this.
God: Oh no. You have GOT to be kidding me.
Me: This is your fault! WHY DID YOU MAKE ME SICK?
God: Are you serious with this shit? Because I swear, like five minutes ago, you were cursing me for making you so happy.
Me: Yeah, but I didn’t want to be sick. I never said that I wanted to be sick. This is totally unfair.
God: Honestly, I have had it up to HERE with you. You are NEVER HAPPY.
Me: Hey… you’re kind of right. Well… nevermind, then. Thanks, I guess. I mean, thanks for trying, anyway.
God: Whatever. I am so out of here.


So, I’ve come to an important Realization.

The problem last week was not that I was too happy. Happy isn’t boring.

It’s just me. I’m boring.

Now that I’m happily miserable again, back in my PJs after an oh-so-brief interlude in grown-up clothes today, sick and grumpy, but with a much clearer mind post-nap, I understand.

It makes a lot of sense, really. I’m not sure why I didn’t see it before, but we’ll just chalk it up to the crazy runner’s high I was on last week. Plus the cocaine.

But I’m better now. And I know the solution. Since this reality isn’t offering much in the way of fun running stories, and since I feel too crappy to go running today, anyway, and since that fact causes me no end of angst, because this will be the first time since I started training that I’ve gone more than two days without running, (because I was too busy on Sunday sitting around and eating French toast to actually exercise, and then I was too busy yesterday doing the chores I didn’t do on Sunday) then there’s only one solution: I will craft my own reality.

So wanna hear about my crazy run, today? Of course you do.

There I was at work, sitting behind my desk, pushing papers and filling forms, being barraged with a constant stream of useless email. I got up to give something to my boss, and all of a sudden, when I walked from my windowless hole into his spacious, bright, window-walled corner office, I saw the sun. It was beautiful. Clear, and bright, blue sky as far as the eye could see.

So I started to cough. And sniffle. Subtly, of course. I grabbed a tissue from his desk, and blew my nose noisily while he asked me a question, and sneezed mightily mid-response. It was a command performance.

And then, after handing him some Purell so he could get rid of any germs I had inadvertently spread, I high-tailed it out of there.

I went straight home, changed into running stuff and hopped in my car, and headed east toward the Maryland shore. I actually hadn’t been to the beach in Maryland yet, but I managed to find a nice shore point without too much difficulty, parked and stood by the water. It was cold, and there was a pretty biting wind, but it was lovely. Gray water, meeting pale blue sky, hitting the beach in foamy waves. It had been way too long since I’d been near the ocean.

So I pulled out my trusty pedometer, the one that never overestimates my distance by sixteen million times, set it to zero, and started running. It was a little weird to run on sand, and definitely more tiring, but of course it was mostly flat, so that made it easier. I ran about 4 miles, and than just sat for a while on a rocky outcrop, before heading home.

It was an absolutely amazing afternoon, and yet another reason to be so glad that I signed up for this marathon. I would never have thought to do something like this if it hadn’t been for the running. I’m having so many fantastic experiences, but the best part of this is the way that I’m so motivated to try new things and break my routine. Who even knows what tomorrow will bring?

How much better was that than the truth? SO MUCH better.

Monday, March 14, 2005

I'm famous!

So on this site, I have a web counter that tells me how many people come to my site, how long they spend here, and how they found me. And I like to check it obsessively. But today I didn't look until just a few minutes ago. At which point I discovered that there were about eleventy-billion more hits than usual. Because, apparently, Runner's World made me their bookmark of the day! I feel like a celebrity. And also, I feel like I'll never be able to come up with anything to write ever again.

To all the people who got here from that link: Welcome! Feel free to stick around and leave a comment or seven.

To the other five of you who have been slogging through my entries from the start: Thank you! Please stick around, and leave a comment or seven.

And if you're curious, you can check out what they said about me here.

For the record, I totally do not have issues. Shut up. I don't.

Edited to add: Looks like there's no way to link permanently to the 3/14 daily news. Guess my fifteen minutes of fame are up. It was fun while it lasted.

Edited again to add: Actually there is a permanent link, and now it's all fixed up. I swear I'll get over this eventually.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

A ray of sunshine appears in the distance...

All week I’ve been battling with this crippling state of euphoria. I mentioned it in my last post, but I really barely scratched the surface. Honestly, it was disgusting. Every aspect of my life seemed to be going perfectly, and I couldn’t manage to wipe the grin from my face for more than a few minutes at a time.

My friends would tell you that I’m generally a pretty positive person, but there’s certainly a limit, and I had far exceeded that limit.

So, this morning, I woke up bright and early with my usual sickening mix of confidence, excitement, and joy, ready to face my second double digit run, at 12 miles. I got to the site, met up with the friends I’ve now made at the Team in Training group, and started to catch up on how their weeks had gone. And when the coach asked who was running 12 miles (as opposed to the 8 miles for novice runners and 5 for half-marathoners), I boldly raised my arm along with the rest of my regular running group.

It was awful.

So we started running, and barely 500 yards into the run, I started to get a stitch in my right side. It didn’t stop me, but it wasn’t pleasant either. And as I kept running, the stitch got progressively more painful, sometimes jumping to the other side, sometimes appearing in concert on both sides, and sometimes disappearing for a few minutes at a time. I started running slower, which helped, but didn’t solve the problem. I walked for a minute or two, but that only helped until I started running again.

All I can say is, thank God.

It felt so right to have something go wrong. And I couldn’t blame it on Jen or anyone else, because (and Coach Everyman confirmed it when I got back to the starting point), the sole culprit is the Indian food I ate last night, full of curry, lamb, and other heavy ingredients that weren’t fully digested by eight this morning. So I have the added bonus of knowing that the pain was completely my own fault for ignoring the nutrition advice they’ve been repeating all along.

Of course, as you can probably tell, this insidious case of contentment won’t be quite so easy to shake. Honesty forces me to concede that there were still several things about this run that will only add to my general state of well being. For one thing, even though I didn’t run 12 miles, I did make it just over 7, which not very long ago was unthinkable. And I ran the 3.5 miles back, almost without stopping, because the cramps had alleviated somewhat by them.

I’m also compelled to mention how fabulous my training buddy was. We started running together a few weeks back at the first 6 mile run, because our paces matched pretty well, and almost immediately we hit it off. She ran the Marine Corps marathon last year, so she offers me constant encouragement, and we have such great conversations as we run that we often don’t notice how far we’ve gone. (Today, for instance, we missed the turn around marker because we were gabbing too much.) So, in the midst of my curry-induced agony, she slowed when I did, walked alongside me, and reassured me that next week, I’d be right back on form, and that this wasn’t a setback at all.

And, at the slower pace we were running, I had no choice but to notice the gorgeous scenery on both sides of the trail, and to enjoy the bright sunlight and warmer temperature we were running in.

As you can see, I still have a lot of work to do before I reach my normal state of grumpy cheer. But I’m encouraged by today’s run. And I’m helping a friend move her couches today, and she has promised to try to drop one on my foot, if at all possible.

I’ll report back. But meanwhile, I hope you’ve all been having good weeks, whatever that means for you.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

On the demerits of being happy...

A sad truth: it’s much harder to update when I’m happy. When my routine is in disarray and my legs are screaming for mercy and I have to fight for each mile, then I have plenty to say. My bitching and moaning is entertaining (at least to me). And it provides a contrast for the times when I can crow about just how fantastic I am.

But after a while, if I stay happy, it gets old. It’s like that Tolstoy quote: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” To paraphrase: happy is boring. And, boringly, I’m quite happy. So I will do a very business-like update, just so you don’t forget all about me.

Update on running: I’m still doing it, and still enjoying myself. Last Saturday was our first 10 mile run, and I’m more excited about that number than I expected to be. My dad, who is a math-and-science-loving and all-around-cool guy, had something he liked to tell us (his kids) when we turned 10: that it was the first order of magnitude shift of our lifetime. And since I can say with relative confidence that I will not be attempting 100-mile runs in this lifetime, whether or not I live a century, this will almost certainly be the only order of magnitude shift for me. And it was a really good run.

On another numbers front, if you check out the miles tally at the left, you’ll see that, since January, I’ve run well over 100 miles (which is where I’ll have to take my extra digits from now on). That’s more than four marathons in only three months. Go me.

Update on my knee: First of all, a housekeeping matter. I’ve decided that if I’m going to talk (and complain) about my left knee with as much frequency as has been the case so far, it will need a name. So, from now on, my left knee will be referred to as Jen. I’m naming her after two uninspired but persistent bullies from my elementary school bus**. They weren’t very clever or interesting, but day after day they made their presence felt.

And just like her namesakes, I’ve decided the best way to handle Jen is to ignore her, because she thrives on the attention. That decision was reinforced on Saturday, when I tried to shut her up by wearing a P-T band brace for the 10 mile run. During the run it seemed to help, but as soon as I took it off, and for the next two days, Jen was throbbing, and it put into perspective the mild discomfort I’d been feeling up until then. Plus, I spoke to my coach (the ever-wonderful Coach Everyman), and, based on my description, he felt confident that I wasn’t doing any lasting damage, and that with more miles and stronger legs, the pain will only decrease.

So, Jen, shut up. You’re not the boss of me.

Update on fundraising: I haven’t talked about this much here, because the point of the journal was to talk about running. Plus, I have been feeling some ambivalence towards the fundraising process.

On the one hand, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society does wonderful things, including funding important research and generally providing support to families dealing with diagnoses. Honestly, if I, or anyone I loved, were ever diagnosed with a blood cancer, I can already see all the ways I would benefit from the LLS, starting from the informational materials they provide on the internet and at hospitals to help new patients understand what’s wrong and how to proceed. I’m proud to be helping them, and that my actions (running, fundraising) will have a larger impact than just on my own health.

On the other hand, though, the truth is that I started this process for me, and the fundraising was simply a sidebar. I often feel like I’m asking people to give me money because I chose a new hobby, and as much as I believe in the cause, it’s hard to ask. That being said, my friends and family have been extremely generous (and supportive, even if many of them are completely baffled by my marathon-aspirations), and I am now within 80% of my fundraising goal. So yay for my family and friends. Not like I needed the proof, but you all rock.

** I have met several lovely Jennifers since those days, but my dislike for the name was solidified at a young age. It happens. Don’t be offended if that’s your name.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A bunch of things you don’t know about me**

1. I have a twin brother.
2. We’re not identical.
3. Because he’s a boy. And I’m not. (But you’d be amazed how many people ask that question.)
4. Also, we can’t hear what the other is thinking, or feel the pain of the other.
5. But my older brother liked to test out the second proposition by sitting on one of us, and seeing if the other complained.
6. I was usually the one getting sat on.
7. My twin brother usually tried to come to my rescue, though not particularly effectively.
8. I also have an older sister.
9. We’re not identical either, but we look a lot alike.
10. I’ve been friends with two of my best friends since nursery school.
11. There’s another boy who went with me not only to nursery, elementary, middle, and high schools, but also to college.
12. After not speaking with him since months before graduation in 2003, I ran into him a few weeks ago in the Starbucks in my neighborhood. He lives down the street from me.
13. I kind of want to ask him where he’s planning to be in 10 years, because if history is any guide, I’ll be there, too.
14. I was a founding member of a rhythm tap group in college. I’m better at tap than you think, despite the fact that:
15. I have zero natural rhythm, and
16. I have very little natural grace.
17. I’m extremely proud of the dances I helped choreograph, especially the one where we drummed and tapped on and around wooden blocks.
18. Actually, seeing (and helping) that group become established on campus is probably what I’m most proud of from my college years, even more than
19. my master’s degree in linguistics.
20. I like to do things to be able to say that I’ve done them.
21. Hence the marathon.
22. That’s also the reason I ended up at a live sex show in Amsterdam.
23. Once was enough for that one.
24. When I got to college, I was annoyed that my new friends seemed to think I was nice.
25. I am nice.
26. But not always.
27. And I’m not a pushover.
28. To combat my newly emerging reputation, I started a campaign to have an intimidating epithet.
29. I would have been happy with “Naomi-the-cruel” or “Naomi-the-Great”.
30. But my favorite was “Naomi-the-Impaler.”
31. That was really funny until last summer, when I accidentally impaled my armpit on an iron fence post.
32. I ended up in the emergency room at 3 am, soaking wet (from the swimming pool), half-drunk (of course), hearing the nurse laughingly repeat my story to all the other nurses, and getting about 25 stitches from a plastic surgeon.
33. I have never seen a plastic surgeon under other circumstances.
34. I have never had such a beautifully healed scar.
35. I don’t want people to call me Naomi-the-Impaled.

On that note, I’m going to end this for now. Last night I ran the ugly-all-uphill route again, and it was even better than before (I didn’t have to take even one walk break). Tonight I’ll be back out there, and I’m aiming for 4.5-5 miles. Of course, I still have no concept of how far that really is, but I’ll try to run for about 55 minutes, since my pace is usually between 10 and 12 min/mile.

** Traditionally, I think this is supposed to be 100 things, but that’s a lot (and one thing you do know about me is that I don’t like undertaking big, daunting tasks. Oh, wait.) I’ll do another installment sometime, and get up to 100 eventually. Maybe. No promises.