Friday, April 29, 2005

Think of me with pity...

... tomorrow morning, when you're snuggling under the covers.

There are many things that I like about training with a group, and foremost on that list is our Saturday morning group runs. I may complain about how early they are (have I mentioned that we meet at 7 am? And how that requires me to leave the house at an hour that starts with 6? Which requires me to wake up at an hour that starts with 5? Yeah, I'm still not cool with that.).

But I really like the appointment aspect of it. There is no procrastination. None of this, "I'll just go after I rest a bit." No, "I'll just do it tomorrow." I either get my butt to the appropriate parking lot at 7 am, or I don't get there at all. And then I either run the unholy distance on my own or I don't run it at all. And neither of the latter options is going to fly, if I'm going to get through this marathon with any hope of retaining my sanity. I may skip a weekday run, but the thought of skipping a long run fills me with dread.

Which means that even when I oversleep (which I never do, especially not for the last two weeks straight), I leap out of bed, dump gatorade in my water belt doodad, grab a granola bar, and haul ass.

It's gotten me through many a new and scary distance, and it'll get me through this marathon.


Tomorrow's forecast?

It's filled with pictures like this:

and this:

18 miles people. That's a good four hours of running. In the rain. Uphill. Both ways. Barefoot. Chased by angry dogs.

Okay, maybe not those last things. But it will be wet and muddy and did I mention raininng? Because it will be. Raining, that is.

I will do the run. But do not expect me to take it gracefully. I am not British, people, and my upper lip is decidedly not stiff.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Open the pod bay doors, HAL

Here’s how I see it.

Don’t you just love a beginning like that? You know that whatever is coming next is going to be incredibly insightful and original.

Or at least that would be true, if I weren’t writing it.


I’m basically like a robot.

No really. We’ve already discussed how very much I like my routine, which is basically my way of saying that my robotic brain doesn’t do well with deviations from its standard operating program.

And, like any mass-produced model, I came with factory set defaults. These defaults can be overridden on a case-by-case basis, or they can be reprogrammed.

My factory presets came like this:

Exercise: none
Appetite: constant
Taste-preference: chocolate

Over the past few months, I’ve managed to reset my defaults to:

Exercise: run
Appetite: constant
Taste-preference: chocolate

But with my recent slackage spree, the exercise default got set back to lazy. And overriding the default can be a real bitch. The virus protection software kicks in, and dialogue boxes start popping up all over the place:

Naomi, you appear to be performing an irregular activity. Are you sure you want to continue?

Naomi, pressing okay will manually override the system preference. This action cannot be undone. Press OK to continue.

Seriously, Naomi, the couch is like right there. What the hell do you want to go out again for? Press OK if you've come to your senses.

And so forth.

Which is why, had you seen me on the red line just after six Tuesday evening, you may chosen to walk quickly in the opposite direction. I will not deny that I was muttering to myself the whole way home. And I may have been rocking with each iteration of my mantra, "I will run today. I will run today. I will run today."

It wasn't cute, but it was necessary. And it worked.

::Manual override successful.
::Computer adjusting presets.
::Report printing on HP LaserJet 2100.


In other earth-shattering revelations, the entry that got eaten, (stupid anti-Semitic blogger) promised that I was going to mark the Passover holiday by making a Marathon Haggadah.

I kind of think the technical difficulties may be the universe’s way of telling me that it wasn’t really that great an idea to begin with. But really, if I amuse myself, then the Universe can go read somebody else’s blog. (So there! Shut up, Universe!)

So, without further ado:

The 10 Plagues of Naomi's Marathon
(Please imagine me intoning these in a monotone chant, while dipping my pinkie finger into my glass of red wine and dotting my plate for each plague. It's a tradition. It just is.)

1) Blisters
2) Cramps
3) Tight hamstrings
4) Shin splints
5) Dehydration
6) Chafing
7) Pulled muscles (this one hasn’t happened to me yet)
8) Eric
9) Jen
10) The slaying of the first born. No, wait, that was in the real Exodus. But, really, I'm not going to top that one.

Rabbi Yehuda provided this helpful mnemonic to remember the order of the plagues: Blecrat Shdech Pejathsafab.

That's really funny if you're me. Promise.

[singing]Let my people go.[/singing]

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

5 kilometers vs. Naomi

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Naomi. (Hey! That's my name!)

She was very pretty and smart (that's just like me!) but she didn't like running at all.

Twenty-three years passed, and the only races she had run were children's fun runs against hunger (I'm against hunger!) and the odd 100 meter dash (the dashes weren't odd, just infrequent).

Then one day, she decided to run a marathon, because she firmly believed that she preferred jumping into the deep end without even testing the water first with a pinky toe.

But then spring came, the weather turned warm, the trees grew leaves, the birds started chirping, and Naomi remembered that she HATES jumping into the freezing cold deep end without getting wet first.

So Naomi signed up for the 2005 Cassidy and Pinkard Race for Hope 5K to benefit the Brain Tumor Society which is this Sunday in Washington DC.

And because Naomi loves fundraising, she is providing this link to her new fundraising webpage, in case any of her readers want to contribute.

The End.

Sleep well my little runners!

Monday, April 25, 2005

We were slaves once...


There was a whole post here about Passover and marathons and eating bread or not and being a size 8. I swear that yesterday, it was all there and was extremely funny (I can say that because none of you can read it now and therefore will have to take my word for it. Muah hahah).

But today, 2/3 of the entry was gone. I may try to reconstruct what was there. But maybe not.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

I am a drunken noodle

I just got back from heaven. Or, actually, Tenleytown. But I feel heavenly, because I just had a full hour massage.

I tend to think massages are for ostentatiously rich people. You know, the kind of people who might find occasion to say, “Dah-ling, could you possibly be troubled to pass me the truffle-glazed caviar? It’s just that this darned 9-karat diamond ring is so heavy, it makes it hard to reach that far!”

Like anyone else, I aspire to such egregious wealth, but somehow I think the pittance they call my salary doesn’t qualify me, as yet.

However, it has come to my attention that the therapeutic value of a massage is strongly recommended to counter the stress of training for an endurance event. It is, dare I say it, medically necessary, (though, not, of course, the kind of medically necessary that is covered by health insurance).

Given such a moral imperative, I felt I had no other choice but to scrape up the dough and get myself an appointment.

For my purposes, it seemed there were two options: sports massage (of the deep tissue variety) or Thai massage (which involves a lot of bending and stretching). Since the soreness in my joints seemed to stem from lack of flexibility and poor stretching habits, I opted for the latter. Plus, deep tissue massage sounds painful. I’m all for moral imperatives, as long as it means I get a foot massage, not if it means getting jabbed painfully and repeatedly in the leg.

The appointment was for today, and when the time came, I took an hour of sick leave (plus lunch) and headed over there. In Thai massage, you wear loose clothes, and lie on a mat on the floor—as they like to call it, a Pad Thai! Ba dum pum!

(Do you get it? Because Pad Thai is a Thai noodle dish? And it was a pad on the floor? At a Thai massage? It’s funny, right? And the title’s a pun too, because Drunken Noodles is ANOTHER Thai dish. HA!)

Pathetically, I have been waiting all day to be able to make that joke. I’m sorry you all had to witness that.

Anyway, I went, he stretched, and it was glorious. There was some weirdness at first—as he crawled from my feet to my hips, rubbing my thighs, I started to wonder where this was going—but by the end, at which point he was massaging my head and face, I just didn’t care.

Oh yeah, and yesterday, I ran five Yasso repeats, all around the 4-minute mark.

La vie est belle, mes chéries.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Bless me father, I have sinned

In the spirit of the new Pope, this entry will be a confession.

(I think, incidentally, that you learn all you need to about this Pope based on the name he chose: Pope Benedict XVI. The sixteenth? It’s like he’s put up a big sign that says, “nothing to see here, folks. Move right along. You’ve seen it all before. FIFTEEN TIMES.”

I have to admit that I don’t know anything about how the Pope chooses his name, and I mean no disrespect to any Catholics who may be reading this. But seriously, can’t you just picture all the other Cardinals scoffing when they heard his choice. There’d be one guy who’d be all, “I was going to be Pope LUKE. There’s a nice Pope name.”

And then another one was all, “Whatever, LUKE, that’s ALREADY YOUR NAME. Way to think outside the box.”

And Luke would be like, “Fine, Mr. Holy VonCreativepants. What name would you pick?”

And the other guy’d be all, “I’d be Pope Jazzy Jeff. That’d be sure to get the kids psyched about Catholicism again. And then I’d get all the cool celebrities, like Patrick Swayze and Molly Ringwald to convert. Catholocism is where it’s AT, yo.” (The Cardinals are old, so they can’t be expected to keep up with their pop culture references.))

Hopefully this digression has been offensive enough that everyone is too busy composing hate mail and organizing protests (“Hell no, noames.blogspot has got to go!) to pay attention to the confession that is coming:

After all my vows of running, and The New Accountability, and the tattoo on my arm that says “I will not skip any more runs ever, and that means today”, well, after all that, I totally didn’t run yesterday.

My official excuse is that I was still exhausted from Saturday’s long run. Did I tell you about how I slept all day on Sunday, except for a brief foray to the gym to meet with the trainer to update my weights routine? I thought I would have trouble sleeping that night, but it turned out that, nope, slept just fine, thanks.

So yes, I was probably still feeling the effects of the long run. But also? I’m a big baby and I’m lazy, and I felt at least two drops of rain on the way home from work, and I wanted a stir fry with rice for dinner, and brown rice takes 45 minutes to cook, and Gilmore Girls was on at 8, and once my mother sent me to my room without dinner, and the world is a cold, dark place where evil roams, and really, given all that, how could I possibly run?

Long story short (too late!), I didn’t run. And I know it’s not the end of the world, and, really, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t make much of a difference. But I’m annoyed because I set a goal for this week (to run 5 times) and even if I count Sunday’s weights as “cross-training”, I still will not meet that goal.

Oh well. As they say, tomorrow is another day. And tonight is a track workout for speed. Let’s see if I can still do a 4-minute half mile, shall we?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Not a Lying Tabloid

So as part of The New Accountability, in which I stop slacking and start working out, I was going to post every day this week starting with Saturday.

Hmmm. So far, not so good.

Of course, since I’m the only one who knew about The New Accountability, I could have just posted today pretending that it was a normal week, and no one would have been the wiser. But that would have only compounded the failure, I think.


Actually, what I wanted to do was borrow a digital camera from work to take with me to my 16 mile run, so I could post pictures from before (looking fabulous) and after (positively stunning). Plus, I was going to send an update to all the fabulous people who contributed to the Leukeuma and Lymphoma Society on my behalf. But then I forgot to get the camera.

So, instead I thought I would paint a picture with my words…

.... but that sounded like a lot of work. Let's just say that I survived quite well.

Also? I’m in love. Head over heels, giddy with excitement in love. I thought I had it good before, but that was only because I never knew how good it could be.

Here’s a picture.

Wait, you knew I was talking about shoes, right?

I bought these last week, after trying on every single pair of stability shoes in the store. The salesman was fantastically nice, despite the fact that I came in right before closing, and was as high maintenance as I’ve ever been. Of course, I ended up buying the world’s most expensive shoes (if running shoes can cost more than $120, I don’t want to know) so I guess I made it worth his while.

My knees have never been happier. The whole rest of me was sore after Saturday’s run, but the Jens, they were singing a happy song.

So, as of Saturday morning, I have checked off one more box on the Checklist o’ Fear (to borrow a phrase from a friend). Only two more scary new distances to go.

Oh yeah. And the marathon.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Litterbugs are gross, but spiders are still scarier

You’ll never believe this. It turns out? Stretching works. Like for real.

Today, after a single week of practicing what the wise They preach, I can once again walk not just up stairs but down them without wincing in pain. My legs both bend and straighten on demand with nary a creak or whine. I can twist my foot from side to side while simultaneously singing the hokey pokey. (This last is mere conjecture. Probably).

But, lest you think everything is furry puppies and dandelion showers here, chez 26.2, let me assure you: it is not.

My hamstrings are shockingly, unrepentingly sore from a full afternoon of picking up trash on the banks of the Anacostia River.

I thought about explaining how and why I ended up spending a workday afternoon crouched among the muck of the river, stuffing garbage bags with empty bottles, acres of Styrofoam, candy wrappers, and the occasional condom and couch cushion. But the real question is why YOU weren’t out there with me? Buncha no good polluters.

By the way, I am never using Styrofoam again. You would not believe how much of it coats the river banks. Of course, there was plenty of other junk out there as well, but Styrofoam was by far the most common material.

Also? Standing around picking up litter is an overwhelmingly futile task. We filled tens of giant garbage bags with trash, without making any kind of noticeable difference.

Of course, I was only there because it was an excuse to be out in the sun and away from my desk. So, from my perspective, mission accomplished!

This, in case you haven’t noticed, is the part of the week where I start to freak out about Saturday’s long run. I always find some reason to panic. Usually it’s Jen or Eric, or what I’ve eaten or didn’t eat, or how much water I’ve drank or not drank. This week it’s the sore hamstrings and not having run since Tuesday.

Probably it’ll be fine. It usually is. Starting is the hardest part, and once I’m in motion, there’s nothing left to do but keep going. But still. Sixteen miles, guys. It’s getting hard.

And now that I’ve gotten this far, the competitive streak is coming out. I don’t just want to finish. I want to finish under 4:45. Which I think is totally doable, if I were sticking to my training schedule. By my anal retentive self seems to have gone on vacation. I have skipped training runs each week for the last month, and it seems to be getting worse.

So I’m going to state it here for the world (by which I mean you all) to see: Next week I will run five times. I. Will.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The power of a name

When I was a senior in college, I lived in this awesome apartment off campus. High ceilings, crown molding, spacious rooms, wood floors. A two bedroom apartment that cost less total than my ugly (but extremely stylishly decorated) studio in DC.

What was my point again?

Right. Names.

Anyway, despite the fact that the apartment was almost always impeccably clean (no thanks to me, I assure you), when spring hit, my roommate and I found that we had acquired a deadbeat houseguest.

A mouse.

I don’t actually dislike rodents all that much. I had a pet gerbil when I was little (Shadow. Because she was black. Creative, non?) and my friend had three mice (Athos, Porthos, and Aramis) and a rat (D’Artagnan. She was literary). I loved those animals, and loved to let them crawl all over me.

But a mouse in the apartment? Turns out, that’s not nearly so cute. In fact, it turns out that it’s downright horrifying when a tiny rodent darts out from the wall and dashes across the room where you’re sitting by yourself on your horrendously uncomfortable wooden-armed couch watching reruns of Gilmore Girls after midnight instead of studying or sleeping. It turns out that the result of such an occurrence is shrieking and jumping and standing in the middle or the room, eyes darting in every direction to catch a second glimpse of the lurking monster.

Right. So: Mouse = scary. Freakout = happening. Solution = nonexistent.

So I did what any rational person would do: I named the mouse Fred. Fred just wanted to hang out and watch Gilmore Girls with me. And frankly, who could blame him? It’s a damn good show.

So Fred and I watched the rest of the episode, and then we both went on with our lives.


I have to admit, however, that I wasn’t thinking about Fred when I gave Jen and Eric their names. I just kind of thought it would be funny. But after my run last Saturday, as I was driving to Philadelphia, I kept stretching out my leg until I could feel the sore spots.

I’ve been thinking about what comes next after this marathon (another marathon? Shorter races? Non-running exercise?) and, in the car that afternoon, I briefly thought, “It’ll be good not to run so much, and not be sore all the time.”

But then I thought, “aw, I’ll miss Jen and Eric.”


I really am that demented.

But, seriously, try it some time. Giving a name to something scary or unpleasant? Totally changes your outlook.

Or maybe it's just me.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Random musings on a rainy Friday

I’m glad to see that we’re all in agreement on the cute vs. comfortable question. Y’all are cool. I’m glad you read my blog. I think Denise said it best, but everybody basically said the same thing: “Style over substance EVERY time.” Darn tootin’.

Speaking of which (smooth transition, no?), have you all seen Shuyler’s Fund? I’ve been watching with fascination as this has permeated the web, and I’m amazed and impressed to see that Schuyler’s dad raised over $10,000 in less than a month. How much does the internet rock? And not just for porn. (What? I mean, that’s what other people think the internet is for! Not me. I read running blogs.)


Welcome to my brain, y’all. It’s kinda ramble-y in here.


So, I like to think I’m pretty smart. I went to a good college, I got good grades, I know big words, and I read books ‘n stuff.

Of course, I don’t always act very smart. But I don’t like to think about that.


Okay, here’s an example. I wanted to run a marathon (yeah, you probably knew that part already) and I knew that I didn’t know the first thing about running long distances (or very short ones, either). So I signed up for a training group. So far so smart.

And the coaches of said training group impart all sorts of wisdom to help us novices run a safe, injury-free marathon. The problem is, you have to listen when they talk. And not just listen, but pay attention.

So, they say: buy really good running shoes. It’s important.
I hear: Go shopping. Spend money.
I do: Go shopping. Spend money.
Unintended side effect: I have good running shoes.

But they also say: Eat good carbs. Don’t eat heavy meals on Friday nights.
I hear: You’re running a marathon. You can eat as much as you want.
I do: Eat (and drink) whatever the hell I feel like, while complaining to my friends about the many hardships of marathon training, including the enforced pasta diet.
Unintended side effect: I proclaim far and wide that I’ve learned my lesson (the hard way), and that from now on I will heed the wisdom of my sagacious coaches (heed! sagacious! What did I tell you about big words.)

And then this:

They say: Stretch frequently. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds. Stretch after every single run, long or short. Then stretch more. This is the best way to make sure you won’t get injured.
I hear: Blah, blah, blah stretching. Blah, blah, blah, you won’t get injured.
I do: Stretch sometimes.
Unintended side effect: The Jens and Eric get louder and more shrill, until I am forced to rest, ice, and STRETCH, at which point they begin to improve.

Damn smart ass kids. You can’t tell ‘em anything.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Choose Your Own Adventure

Hello everyone! Today I have a special treat: an interactive update, wherein our heroine, Naomi, is faced with choices, and YOU get to decide.

Let’s start at a quarter to eight, when Naomi’s alarm wakes her with the dulcet tones of Steve Inskeep and Renee Montaigne. She leaps (okay, rolls grudgingly) out of bed and starts her morning routine, including picking an outfit to wear to work. Should she:

A) base her outfit around those super-cute new pointy black high heels she bought over the weekend, despite the fact that her ankles and knees (and, currently, back) are often sore from all the running she’s doing. After all, the shoes are way comfortable, for high heels.


B) choose to wear comfortable and sensible shoes, of which she owns many pairs, and of which many are extremely cute (though not as hot as those sling-backs from A).

If you chose (A), keep reading. If you chose (B), skip to the following section.

After getting dressed, Naomi eats a healthy breakfast, and packs a lunch for later. She dashes to the metro, buys a banana from the cart on the corner near her office, and scoots into her desk chair only 10 minutes late. Now at work, she is ready to be productive, despite the blisters that seem to have eaten both her pinky toes (new shoes, warm weather, no stockings… of course she got blisters). And look, the morning has flown by, and now it’s time for lunch. Should she:

A) fight through the pain, and go out to lunch with her friend, because the weather is gorgeous, and her friend wants a burrito from the burrito truck.


B) take the elevator down to the sunny courtyard and eat the sandwich she brought from home, minimizing the amount she has to walk around.

If you chose (A), keep reading. If you chose (B), do the same.

After her tasty lunch, Naomi totters back to her desk, where she fights evil, solves the unsolveable, and gives hope to the hopeless, per usual. But when 5:30 rolls around, it’s time to head home. Naomi is a little hungry and needs a few things from the store, so she stops at the market on the corner, where she picks up some yogurts, fruit, carrots and hummus.

When she gets back to her apartment, she opens up the carrots and hummus for a healthy snack before her run. Should she:

A) Eat sixteen pounds of carrots and five cups of hummus because, well, yum, even though she’ll be far too full to run,


B) Eat a few baby carrots with a small amount hummus, just enough to give her an extra boost of energy, without filling her up.

Whew, those were a lot of decisions. Let’s see how you did.

If you chose mostly (A)s, then you did just what the real Naomi did! Congratulations on looking super hot all day in your flowy linen skirt and fancy shoes (and I’m sure people totally didn’t notice your pained hobbling as you lurched home on blistered feet). Yes, your run was painful and sluggish, but at least the weather was beautiful, the daffodils were blooming, and you were running so slow, you hardly broke a sweat! Pretty girls don't need to sweat.

If you chose mostly (B)s, well, then, hip, hip, hooray, Mr. or Mrs. Aren’t We Just the Smartest Ever. I'm sure your run was just fabulous, and you made great time, and you probably even went to the gym for a circuit on the weight machines. Whatever. I’m totally proud of you. Seriously.