Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I am a very bad blogger


It’s been a while, huh.

Actually, it’s been a really crazy week. Kind of traumatic really.

I was working late one night, and out of nowhere a deranged b-movie actor ambushed me and buried me alive in a plexiglass coffin, my only hope for survival resting with my super-sleuthy friends and coworkers.

Oh wait, that wasn’t me. That was the CSI season finale. I do get confused sometimes.

Actually, there was a bunch of family stuff going on. See, my father killed my mother last year, but it turned out to be her clone. Meanwhile, my evil aunt had imprisoned my mother and coerced her help to craft a doomsday device that she was planning imminently to unleash on the world. So after I rescued my mother, she, my father, my half-sister, and my fiancé had to disable the device and, well, you don’t need to know the sordid details, but suffice it to say, my therapist is shopping for jaguars as we speak.

Or no, that was the Alias season finale.

Hmm… Was I combating a mysterious evil cloud on a deserted island on the South Pacific? Nope… Did the ex-wife of my brain surgeon boyfriend who is also my boss show up at the hospital where I am an intern? No…. And I'm pretty sure I wasn't crowned America's Next Top Model, either.

So, what was I doing all week? I just can’t imagine.


The weekend, however, now that was fun.

But you'll have to wait for my next post to read about it. Which will be sooner than next week, I promise. It's hard to catch up after staying away for so long.

Let's never stay apart like this again. Best friends forever?


In running news, the storied “taper” period has begun, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Aside from the clichéd fear of losing my hard-won stamina during almost a full month of taking it easy (I get it, my body needs rest, everybody does it, it’s better this way, but still) I’m just not sure how well I’m going to do with this fake resting.

After all the build-up to the 20-mile run, both in training and hype, this whole, now-you-run-but-not-as-much-but-not-too-little-either thing seems anticlimactic. And the more they tell me that I need to rest, the more I think, “so what am I doing all this running for?”

And, for those keeping track at home, I’ve discovered a new ache. Anna, I’ll take you up on that offer to name this one. Go wild. It is, sadly, a pain in my ass. Or, if you want to be polite, my lower back. I’ve been stretching and doing some exercises to strengthen my back and stomach, which have helped, so I’m not particularly worried. Funny how running for nearly four hours doesn’t leave you feeling particularly spry.

Monday, May 23, 2005

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

This is the best thing I have ever done, and don’t let me tell you anything different.

Driving home from Saturday’s TWENTY MILE RUN (ahem), my windows were down, my sunroof was open, the weather was glorious, and I was filled with endorphins and sugar (peanut butter M&Ms are, bar none, the perfect post-run snack).

I called my brother from my cell phone to congratulate him on his graduation from law school (which blessed event I missed in favor of running—yes, I am a bad sister). After he filled me in on the prep for the party I was missing and other things, he asked me how my run had gone.

“This is the best thing I’ve ever done,” I told him. “No matter what happens on marathon day.” (That part’s a total lie, but shhh.)

“Did you win?”



“Well, if by winning you mean setting a goal for yourself and surpassing it, then yes, I won.”

This, he tells me, is, word-for-word, a quote from the Simpsons, spoken by Principal Skinner in a moment of extreme nerdery. So yes, I’m a nerd. Don’t act surprised. But I’m a happy nerd.

The people that I’ve met, the trails I’ve explored, the Saturday morning in the sun (and, yes, sometimes the rain), the goals set and surpassed, it’s all been amazing. Starting in the winter, when there was ice on the ground and the world was brown and dormant, through the early spring, when the new leaves appeared, until now, with the hot sun burning my shoulders and the lush green surrounding us on all sides, this training process has been worth every whiny moment and achy knee.

My poor brother had to listen to me wax ecstatic as I drove home. And poor Lady Fab had it worse—she had to listen to me say the same crap in the midst of our twenty-mile run. If I didn’t already know that she was a better person than me, the fact that she refrained from kicking me in the shins around mile 17 confirms it.

So I drove home, planning my blog entry in my head, thinking about how I was going to tell you all about how very, very cool running is. Then I parked, turned off the car, and tried to get up.

Yes, tried.

I physically could not get out of my seat. My knees just wouldn’t do it. I finally managed it, with a fair amount of moaning and cursing, by leaning heavily on the steering wheel.

As I limped to my building, one guy asked me, amusedly, where I had fallen.

“Nope, didn’t fall. Ran 20 miles though.”

“That’s a lot,” he conceded.

“Yeah, it’s really a lot,” I grinned.

Then, an elderly lady sitting in the lobby asked me what had happened.

I grinned some more and said, “I ran a lot.”

Still worth it.


So the run itself (feel free to skip this part… this post is getting LONG).

Honestly, it could not have gone better. I had done some feverish calculations, and decided that we should aim to complete the 20 miles in 3:40. That would be slightly faster than our 18-mile pace (completed in 3:23) but with better weather and my newly confident racing self, I thought we could handle it.

As an added bonus, while the trail in Reston is paved, there is a parallel gravel trail, with a lot more rolling hills, which is what we’re being told to expect in Anchorage. The nice thing about Reston is that you can go back and forth between both trails, which we did. We started and ended on the gravel, and probably did about 8-10 miles of gravel over the course of the 20 miles. Again, this is comparable to Anchorage, which alternates between gravel trails and paved roads.

I have to say, while the extra hills can be tiring, I prefer that kind of trail. It’s more interesting, it allows you to use different muscles for different gradients, and there’s usually a downhill not too far away.

I also love having a stop watch and mile markers, so I can keep track of my pace. Knowing where I am and having a time goal gives me more energy, somehow. It’s my own brand of competitive. I don’t really care what other people are doing, but if I set myself a challenge, then I’m going to accomplish it, no matter what.

We ran the first three miles at about 11 min/mile, and then picked it up to about 10:30 or better for the next four. Then we stopped to use the bathroom, which took ages (6-7 minutes), because there was only one, and several people waiting.

We kept up the pace after the bathroom break, hitting the miles at about 10:30 or better for the next 9 miles, even including a few short walk breaks at water stops and in between. The sun was coming out and we wanted to make sure we had the energy to get through the last few miles.

Miles 16 and 17 were rough. I ran out of water and wouldn’t get to refill until the water stop at the end of mile 17. We were on a really sunny stretch of the trail, and we started to fade. Plus, I somehow thought we had an extra mile left, which would mean that we would probably not make our 3:40 goal, and that disheartened me.

But as we approached the water stop, I realized we only had three miles to go and almost 35 minutes to finish, and all of a sudden the endorphins kicked in, and I was raring to go.

We hit mile 18 at 3:18, five minutes faster than we’d done it a few weeks ago.

And we rolled in at the end at 3:39 exactly, having done the final mile in just under 10 minutes (who knew? Lady Fab and I both thought we’d slowed down at that point). And that includes the 6 minutes of bathroom break.

I knew my knees were going to hurt (I should have worn the new shoes…), and they did. As did a lot of the rest of me. And I’m not too thrilled about the speeding ticket I got later that day, or the sunburn on my shoulders. But… see above.

Best thing I’ve ever done.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Note to self: shut up already

So remember how I went to the gym for strength training on Tuesday? I know it made a big impact in your lives, as it did mine.

What I failed to mention when I told you that story, is the encounter I had with one of the trainers as I arrived at the gym after my highly satisfying, (relatively) fast 5-mile-run.

After checking in at the front desk, I walked over to the water fountain, red-faced and breathing hard. The fountain is in the operation direction from the weight machines, so my back was turned as I heard someone calling my name.

I immediately assumed, as you do, that I had something horrible stuck to my butt or perhaps was the unwitting recipient of a “Kick me” sign, that this very friendly trainer, currently racing across the room, was nice enough to relieve me of.

Alas, the truth was far worse.

“You need new shoes,” she said.

“But these shoes are new,” I said. “They’ve got less than 150 miles on them.”

“Hmmm,” she replied.

“And aren’t you supposed to get 400-600 miles on a pair of shoes?”

“Yes…” she conceded.

“And these shoes are expensive and I love them”

“Hmmmm,” she repeated.

“But,” she was finally able to interject, “look at how worn they are on the outside edge of the heel.” (I obligingly turned up the bottom of my foot so we could look.) “By the time that happens, the inside edge that supports your foot is usually well fucked.”

“But these only have 150 miles on them!”

“Right. That’s odd. They shouldn’t be this worn.”

So we discussed how all my shoes do that, and how maybe it’s just a lack of flexibility in my calves leading to my dragging my feet as I run (I’ll grant you that there’s a lot of figurative foot-dragging, but I never noticed any actual dragging), but left unresolved was the question of whether these shoes are no longer viable as long-distance running shoes.

Flash forward to Wednesday and Thursday’s runs, and the reappearance of Jen (Now with More Angst!).

It seems like an unlikely coincidence, of the sort that would lead reasonable observers to scoff that I am just imagining things.

But my knee really hurt yesterday, enough that I stopped running after about a mile and a half and walked home, something I have never done in the course of this training. (Although, to be fair, another day I might have pushed through it, but I’m running the 20-miler on Saturday, and I was extremely nervous about conserving my energy—and pain threshold—for that.)

Of course, there are plenty of other things that could have contributed to my knee pain, including the fact that I (finally) managed to get in a full week’s worth of runs, so maybe my legs weren’t up to it. But I’ve been careful about stretching well, and I cut Wednesday’s run short because of (less severe) knee pain, and Monday’s workout was on the elliptical, and Saturday’s long run included a lot of walking, because Lady Fab felt under the weather. So all in all, I don’t think I attempted an unreasonable jump in mileage.

There is something to be said for the psychological factor. I’m paying more attention to twinges and aches this week, because I’m nervous about the long run. And our weekly coaches update scared the bejeezus out of me, with all it’s talk of “this is a dry run for the real thing” and “wear exactly what you plan to wear the day of the marathon” and “you must wear these shoes on marathon day unless you want to suffer a cruel and painful death.”

Until we got that email, I was mentally preparing myself for a long (the longest) training run. Longer, but on par with all the other ones I’ve already done. But this “pretend it’s marathon day” is much scarier.

Anyway, my point is that I don’t know what shoes to wear (or, really, if shoes are the issue). I know that in theory, you never want to wear a brand new pair of shoes on a long run, but back when I first got these shoes, they were perfect. And I bought a second pair of these shoes, on the theory that I should alternate pairs on successive days. But I never used them, mostly because it seemed like I was never running two days in a row, because of all the runs I skipped.

So should I wear brand new shoes on my 20-mile run? Or should I wear the older (but hardly geriatric) shoes that I’ve been training in?


I whine too much. Don’t feel like you have to humor me, just because I keep posting these self-pitying rants.

This knee thing has really shaken me up, far more than any of the other stupid things I whine about in this space. But underneath the panicking, I have little doubt that I can finish this marathon. It’s just a question of how long it will take, and how much I want to die during and afterwards.

These past few weeks, especially after my races, my confidence had soared and I was getting my heart set on a good (for me) time. But there’s still a month to go, and anyway, as long as I finish, that’s all that matters.

In other, related, news: less than a month to marathon day! The countdown begins!


Oh, and thank you all for your wonderful food suggestions. I’ve been bringing protein-y snacks the past couple days (including some mozzarella and one very tasty cottage-cheese with red-pepper slices snack), and I’ve been feeling much more full and energized. Although I’ve been deviating a little from my usual lunch fare, and I think I might be accidentally eating a bunch more calories there. But I have high hopes for this once I’m not trying to carb-load at the same time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Did you hear about the new pirate movie?

It's rated ARRRRRRR!

The new Carnival of Runners is up at Brooklyn's place, and it's a treat.

In other news, Porky was spotted at 10,000 feet yesterday, the Devil went ice-fishing, and Britney showed some class, because I, me, the person writing this entry, ran 5.3 miles AND did a circuit of weights at the gym.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005



Deliriously happy.

I woke up early for a short workout, because I had lazed away the entire Sunday eating sugary cereal and not doing my recovery run, among all the other things I was not doing. (In the plus column for Sunday, after an entire day on the couch, and I wish I was exaggerating, I found myself with energy to spare at 11 pm, so I scrubbed my bathroom and the inside of my microwave, and cleaned the top of my fridge, and…. Okay, I know that all sounds a little OCD, but actually, it was entirely necessary, and had been put off for too long.)

There was a new leaf, and I had turned it over. I had a new plan, which included eating better and waking up early to exercise. And weight training! And keeping my apartment as shiny and clean as it was right then! And saving the world from brain-gobbling zombies! (You know, if it came up.)


Not so much.

The plan: wake up early for a run. Go to work. Eat well. Return home and vacuum (the part of my midnight cleaning frenzy that didn’t happen. Because even if my neighbor is rude enough to practice his guitar late at night, I am not rude enough to inflict my vacuuming on him or anyone else). Then go to the 7:30 weight training class that I used to love.

That’s right. TWO workouts. In a SINGLE day.

What really happened: I woke up early. Got out of bed. Got back into bed. Slept until 8:15, and then scrambled to get to work on time.

Why is it so easy to see the mistake but so hard to do the right thing? (You know, one of these days, I really am going to write that Self-Help book. I’ve even got a title for it. Ready? The Road to Happiness is 26.2 Miles. Is that brilliant or what?) (Did I already make that joke? I’m losing it people.)

I know from plenty of experience that even when I don’t feel like running, if I put on my running shoes and walk out the door, somehow I manage to feel like running. Or even if I don’t, it’s too late, because I’m already running.

But at 6:30 am? Couldn’t manage it.

So I slept. And now I regret it. Because now I have to run after work.

At least the smarter part of my brain is awake now, so that when the instinctual lazy voice whines “running? That doesn’t sound like fun! Why would you want to do that?", the other part can say, “You like running. It feels good. It’s a nice day. Just get your ass in gear and go already.” Also, it says, “You’re having trouble motivating today. Why don’t you call your friend and run with her.”

Which I did. And we will. Woohoo.

And maybe I’ll even do the weight class after all. (Plus, I hear there’s a pig in Scotland who can fly.)


I think part of the reason I’ve been having trouble motivating to run lately is a food issue.

I think I’m not eating enough. Or at least, not enough of the right stuff. I bring my snacks to work and I eat them at various points of the day so that I’m never hungry. But I don’t think they’re fueling me the way they should. Every day by mid-afternoon, I get tired. Not sleepy, but weary. And that’s when my brain starts saying, “and you want to run when you feel like this, why?”

I don’t know if I need more carbs or more protein or more cookies, or what, but it’s very frustrating.

Actually, you all are very smart people, so maybe you can help me.

Here’s what I usually eat before 3 pm:
Breakfast: Cereal with skim milk (a BIG bowl with lots of milk)
Snack 1: Banana
Lunch: Varies, but always includes some kind of protein and carbs (like a chicken breast in a sandwich, or black beans, or sometimes sushi, or tuna and chickpeas on a salad)
Snack 2: fruit of some kind or a granola bar
Snack 3: apple (this might happen closer to 4 pm)

What do you think? More protein maybe? What would be a good snack for the afternoon that has protein in it but isn’t too caloric/fattening?

I dunno. I suppose it would help if I did one of those food diary things that tracked calories and nutrients and stuff, but that sounds like a lot of work.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Seeing and Being Seen

Right. Wednesday’s race.

Well, it was basically your standard race fare. (I speak, you see, from my vast experience of having run in three races, ever. In my whole life. Of course, all three were in the last two weeks, so that’s gotta count for something.)

However, setting this race apart were the presence of Secret Service (far fewer than in previous years, I imagine, when Al Gore was a regular participant), Chairs of Committees, Leaders of Majorities, and lots of guys in Navy tshirts (so cute! So fast!). Although, come to think of it, I wouldn’t have recognized Richard Lugar if he punched me in the face, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, or not, so I can only confirm the presence of such noted notables from hearsay. But I don’t think he punched me in the face. Since you asked.

Also of note: the kitsch-y tshirts sported by many of the teams, including
  • The Tariffics
  • The Credibles
  • Not Running for Governor
  • and, my fave “Vote Republican. It’s a democracy thing.” Oh so funny, those Republicans, with their crazy democracy jokes.

Of course, none could compare to the team from the Treasury department, who humorously named themselves, “Team IRS-Pay Your Taxes,” and send a side-splitting letter to the Spirit Judges “threatening” the “full furor” of the internal revenue service “audit department” should this good-natured bunch fail to take home the Spirit Award. They were totally only kidding though, I’m sure, so it was hilarious when the Emcee pretended to be nervous when he gave them the award.

I made sure to let the Team IRS guys beat me in the race, though. Just to be safe.

In other excitement, Alan Webb*, of high-school-mile-world-record fame was on hand to start us off. He later caught up with Rep. Jim Ryun, of previous high-school-mile-world-record fame, and they enjoyed a leisurely 7:15/mile pace. Or so I’m told.

The race itself was a flat, three-mile, out and back, along a paved road by the Anacostia River. This was my first experience lining up by anticipated pace, and it was quite the scramble trying to push through the hordes to get to the 8-10 mile group. I lined up with someone from my team, but we didn’t end up running together.

When the race began, the pace was hardly more than a shuffle way back where I was, so I started weaving and dodging to get to a comfortable speed. It wasn’t a CHIP race, but it probably only took me a 10-20 seconds to cross the start line.

Eventually I caught up with someone else from my team, and we ran together to the turn around (conveniently marked by a guy holding a sign instructing us to “Turn Around”) at which point she sped up and left me behind.

Somewhere along the second mile, the guy I lined up with passed me, but my pace stayed pretty steady throughout. My splits were pretty evenly 8:30-ish, and I finished in 25:36, safely under my goal time of 26:00 minutes.

Of course, that was good enough for last among the speedsters I work with. Four out of five on the “fast team” came in under 20 minutes, and they placed second in the print division, and fifth overall.

But even including my plodding pace (only in comparison, mind you. I’m thrilled with my result), the “slow” team managed to come in 13th in the print division, out of 30 teams, which I consider respectable.

Fun times, y’all. Fun times.

*ETA: Mistakes happen. Thanks, Scooter, for calling me on this one.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Carnival of Runners

Step right up, step right up, come on in, to the Greatest Show on Earth!

Okay, I don’t know why my mind went from carnival to the Ringling Brothers, but there you have it.

This entry, for the first time in the history of ever, is not about me.

Instead, in this second edition of the Carnival of Runners, I get to make a little map to the big information superhighway, alongside which many feet are pounding the pavement for fun, fitness, or just to have something to talk about besides the Amazing Race. (But ain’t nobody torturing a metaphor like I do.)


What did you do with your mother on Sunday? A nice brunch, perhaps? Or flowers and chocolates? Well, the Pink Lady, herself, came up with a much healthier option: she talked her daughter and grand-daughter into running a 5K with her, and, in the process, may have enticed two more souls to the collective. Er, sport, I mean.

Dawn’s intergenerational extravaganza sounds more fun than the inter-species attempts of others who learned the sad lesson that running with pets is overrated. Tracy dragged herself out at 5:15 am one morning only to discover this essential incompatibility: “You see, I am out for a short, fast run with a few pee stops. The Labrador, on the other hand, is out for a long, slow pee with a few jogs in between.”

The less cynical might note that Tracy and her puppy found their groove soon after. And a more charitable sort might point you towards BD1, who managed to find running nirvana in a 7 miler with his dog last month — after which he went back out and ran another 7. “Anyone who has run for any length of time knows what it feels like when you have THE AMAZING RUN,” sayeth BD1, of the experience. “It doesn't happen often enough but it happened to me today.”

So maybe I’ll put off that phone call to Cruella. Although that puppy coat would look awfully cute with my… what? Over the line?

Kim discovered that canines aren’t the only dogs in this world, when she complained to her boss of her running-induced shin splints. His reply? “Aren't you much too heavy to run?” To which I reply (far away and far after the fact), “Shut it, asshat.” Inelegant, but surprisingly effective.

Though we might not envy Kim her boss, David gives plenty to inspire our inner Tonya Harding. Following his hour-plus barefoot run on the beach, he gloats, “My legs were a little stiff but I stood in the waves drinking a bottle of water and let the waves massage my calves.”

And speaking of gloating, Jonathan is still not over his marathon, even though it was almost two weeks ago. “[12,500 feet}. Wow, that's just a little taller than Hurricane Point, a hill I had to run up when I ran the Big Sur Marathon last week. Did I mention I ran a marathon?” Umm. Yup, Jonathan, I think you may have said something about that once or twice.

That, by the way, is SO going to be me in two months.

And, just because it exists, go take a gander at this, the fictional tale of a love affair with the recently re-elected Tony Blair. In this entry, our protagonist runs a marathon, while finding time to do a little matchmaking on the side. Deliriously sane, indeed.

The internet is a lovely and amazing thing.

Happy trails, y'all.

If you want to be included in next week's Carnival, send your submissions to running /at/ derekrose.com.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The New Lazy


You know how you feel when you wake up from an unexpectedly great afternoon nap? The sunlight is warm on your face, and you arch your back and stretch your arms and legs, and blink really, really slowly? And you just feel amazing?

That’s how I feel today.

As planned. I skipped my Saturday long run in favor of sleeping in and a leisurely neighborhood jog on my own.

Despite not setting my alarm, I jolted awake at 6 am. I couldn’t quite remember what day it was, and whether I needed to get up or not. But after a few moments of panic, I remembered that it was Saturday, the race was Sunday, and I could sleep as long as I liked.

Which, apparently, was until 8 am. Man, I’m getting old. And lame.

Actually, I hate sleeping past 9:30 or so, because then the whole day feels truncated and wasted. So to wake up feeling rested and refreshed at 8 am was perfect. I lazed around, watched some TV, ate a bowl of cereal, and finally managed to get myself dressed and out the door by about 9:45. The weather was sunny and gorgeous, and I had a nice, slow, 5 mile jog.

Then I spent the rest of the day being not exhausted and not sore, running errands and seeing friends. It was like I discovered a whole new day to my weekend. Divine.

The 10K was in Arlington, so Tim and I arranged to meet at his apartment at 7 am that morning. We probably could have met up much later for the 8:30 start, but we weren’t sure how far the course was from his house or whether we’d find parking.

It was a much smaller race than the 5K last week – probably fewer than 400 runners – but there were lots of moms running and families out supporting them, including two of my Team in Training Anchorage buddies. Very cool.

I was kind of nervous about the 10K. I had visions of exhausting myself in the first three or four miles and having to walk at the end. All the talk of the monster hills on the course wasn’t helping.

Worse, Saturday night, I had nightmares ALL NIGHT of the “I’m naked, it’s finals, and I didn’t STUDY!”-variety, except substitute a 10K race for the finals.

I never got those nightmares back when I actually had tests to take. I was plenty cocky, back then, and slept like a rock.

Actually, I think the nightmares may have had something to do with the giant glass of water I drank right before I went to bed. Several of the nightmares included emergency trips to the bathroom. (Note to self: Getting up to pee in the middle of the night sucks, but sleeping fitfully all night sucks more.)

Was that an overshare?

10K Race. Sticking to the point from now on. Promise.

Bizarre nightmares and paranoid delusions aside, in the end, we did fantastically. We ran the first mile faster than we’d intended (about 9:00), and the 4th, very hilly, mile slower (about 10:00). I didn’t feel like I was holding Tim back as much this time, though with a bit of training, I think he could smoke me at this distance as well as he can at the shorter distances.

Around 50 minutes, I started to wish we were done already, but I think that was because we picked up the pace pretty significantly in the last mile or two. We finished in about 56:40, which is a 9:07/mile pace (Tim, I know you used to be a math wiz, but remember: decimal points are not the same as seconds).

So yeah, we pretty much rocked it.

And according this pace predictor, that’s only a hair slower than projected from our 5K time. And my training runs fall right into their suggested pace range as well.

I’ll take my 4:30 marathon, now please. Does that come with fries and a coke?


In other news, you may have seen that I will be hosting tomorrow’s Carnival of Runners.

Be very excited.

Also, be sending in your submissions to running /at/ derekrose.com. If you don’t get included tomorrow, you will have no one but yourself to blame.


Friday, May 06, 2005

Stop the madness!

Ask and ye shall receive, that's what I always say.

I said:

I want to have workouts that are just about sweating for forty-five minutes or an hour and don’t leave me tired three days later.

The Universe said:


Last night I went to the Team in Training track workout** (six yassos, all around 4:00 minutes, and I jogged the recovery lap instead of walking it, so go me). As I was stretching afterwards, I started chatting with Coach Ironman about this weekend, and how I was running a 10K on Sunday, and that I thought maybe I should do a shorter run on Saturday in preparation. In my head, I was thinking 10 miles instead of 14.

And he immediately said that I shouldn't even think about doing the full long run on Saturday. In fact, said he, I should probably not do more than, and here he paused to consider, three or four miles.

Three or four miles?

How amazing would that be? I wouldn't even have to go to the group run for that. I could sleep in and run a leisurely loop around my neighborhood, in full sunlight, without being exhausted from work or the previous day's exhertions, and maybe even head to the gym afterwards for some strenth training. Doesn't that just sound heavenly?

Who am I, that what I just described sounds heavenly?

Anyway, I think this sounds like a perfect way to spend my Saturday. And I have another "low mileage" run next Saturday to get me ready for the 20 miler that's coming.

Now if only I can manage not to need alcohol to drown out the tiny voice in my head that's screaming, "Are you crazy? You're just going to skip a long run? Well I guess you were never serious about this marathon thing, because now you're just quitting for no good reason. Loser."


Meanwhile, since the universe is feeling all friendly these days, I thought I'd make another teeny-tiny request.

Enough with the races already.

I loved the 5K last weekend. And I'm really glad to be running the10K on Sunday.

But that was plenty. I did not need to be talked into that 3 mile race for Wednesday before work.

It's a special race that's only for members of Congress, the judiciary, the executive branch and the media, and, as it happens, I'm a member of the media. My company enters two teams every year, and last year the "fast" team came in first.

Well, this year, one of the team members has injured herself and can't run. But if she can't fill her spot, the entire team gets eliminated, and they've all been planning this for months, and so she heard that I'm a runner and begged me to fill in for her. Of course, I'm not a runner, I'm more of a "runner," and I'm already pretty fully booked, but... I'm a sucker for this kind of thing. I get to run with really cool people from work in a race that's for "insiders" only, and I get to be affiliated with a team that might win.

How could I say no?

I'm going to be on the "slow" team, so my time doesn't matter (they say, and I'm holding them to it).

Too bad Tim won't be there to pace me.

But this is it. No more races until the marathon. I mean it.

** Tim came too. How long do you think before he signs up for a Team in Training marathon? I’m thinking of starting a pool. $1/slot. Split the proceeds with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, natch.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Tired and babbling

Here’s what I want:

  • I want my knees not to hurt.
  • I want not to be so hungry all the time.
  • I want not to be so grumpy.
  • I want not to have worn those stupid sweatpants on Saturday that got so soggy and heavy and that rubbed off four-inch-wide swaths of skin from my inner thighs.
  • I want to have workouts that are just about sweating for forty-five minutes or an hour and don’t leave me tired three days later.
  • I want my apartment to stop being such a ridiculous mess, which probably means that I need to find enough energy one evening or weekend to put all that crap AWAY already.
  • I want to know what makes some runs so good and some suck so much.
  • I want to be able to have a nice hissy fit without knowing just how ridiculous I’m being.

You know that friend, the one who, when you complain to him or her about how much everything sucks, feels the need to say things like, “but think of the starving children! And babies with cancer! And look at all the good things in your life!” when what you really want them to say, “good god, how you have suffered! No one could have withstood so much and with such grace! You poor, poor, thing.” You know how you hate that friend?

My interior monologue is that friend. All day—all week—I’ve been in a mood. I’ve been operating at about three-quarter normal speed, tired, and grumpy. I want to blame it on my weekend run-apalooza, but that just makes me grumpier, because yes, there was some serious mileage, but I’m supposed to be able to handle it, and plenty of people run that much and more, and I am going to have to be able to run that much and more, and I’m the one that signed up for this stupid marathon anyway.

And I want it to be last year at this time, because if I were in this kind of mood back then, I would have picked up a tube of cookie dough or at least some take out, and camped out on the couch in my pajamas for hours of snacking and bad TV. But now I’m active, healthy Naomi! And so that thought never seriously occurred to me, and instead I made plans to run with a friend from work so that my lazy ass wouldn’t wimp out again.

And so I went, and it was fine. There were no 8:30 miles, I’m sure, but the weather was nice, and I came home feeling better than when I’d set out.

Stupid running. Stupid marathon. Won’t even let me stay in my stupid bad mood.


So even though I’m exhausted, I’m still really glad that I ran that 5K last Sunday.

Initially I viewed it as a sort of dry run; to see what it’s like to check in and line up and lace in a chip and run with thousands of people on an unfamiliar road course. And even though pretty much all of that will be different the day of the marathon, mostly there’s a vast difference between 3 miles and 26 (about 23 miles worth, actually), and also Anchorage is not metro-accessible, I think it was still a valuable experience for those reasons.

But I learned something else that is far more important: that I’m capable of running faster for much farther than I thought.

Not “oh look, it turns out that my normal pace is faster than I thought it was.”

More like, “oh look, I can push myself this hard, and I don’t need to die after 400 meters.”

I have always been (quite reasonably) afraid that if I overdo it, I’ll collapse well before the end. And I would. It’s not like I finish my long runs with loads of energy to spare. But I sort of think that there’s a hidden reserve that I’m not tapping into. Like, it might be slightly less pleasant a run, you know, with lower quality witty banter, but I would be about the same amount of exhausted at the end, and I might be a bit closer to my time goal.

So anyway, I’m thinking it’s time to test that theory this Saturday. If I die, I guess we’ll know it wasn’t a good idea.


Oh, and just in case you thought I wasn’t obsessed, and also crazy, and unable to give myself a break, even though I clearly need one, I have signed up for a 10K this Sunday.

I really liked the experience of running in the race, because of how it was a different kind of work out. Which I just explained above, so I don’t know why I’m telling you again. But anyway, I want to try a 10K, because for 3 miles I can basically run all out and not die, but I want to try pacing myself for a 10K.

I would have preferred to wait a week or two, but I didn't want to do it the same weekend as my 20 mile run, so it was pretty much this Sunday or not at all. Or I could have gone to Baltimore, but really, that's nobody's first choice. (Heh. A little city snobbery always makes me feel better.)

And I've convinced Tim to run with me, again, so that’ll be good. (Just wait. He's going to join the RBF before you know it.)

Monday, May 02, 2005

Plus I can eat bread again!

Despite the great deal of evidence to the contrary, I am not unaware that I am hardly the first person to run 18 miles.

In fact, every other member of my marathon training group ran the same 18 miles in the same rain as I did. Plus, everyone who has trained for a marathon, ever, has run that distance, and probably farther.

I’d like to be the kind of person who can keep that perspective in mind when I talk about my training. In fact, I’d like to be the kind of person who didn’t need to talk about her training constantly, bragging about the latest, greatest distance, or the fastest time, or just how very hard core I am.

But you all read my blog. I’m not that person.

So, that being said,

This is the face of a woman who ran 18 miles in 3 hours, 23 minutes, and some seconds on Saturday.

I am officially hard core now. So hard core that I don’t even care how terrible a picture of me that is. Not just hard core, in fact, hardest core. There’s core, and then hard core, and then there’s me. (Note to self: Shut up already. Reply to self: Good call. Thanks.)

And by the way, “18 miles. In the rain.” has officially surpassed “yuh-huh” as the world’s best argument ender. To wit:

You: You’re an idiot.
Me: No, you’re an idiot.
You: No, you are!
Me: Nuh-uh!
You: Yuh-huh!
Me: 18 miles. In the rain.
You: Right. I’m the idiot.

Pretty good, right?

(Here’s where it’s a good thing that most of my friends and family aren’t long distance runners:

You: Did you remember to take out the trash?
Me: Sorry. I’ll do it after dinner.
You: You promised to get to it!
Me: 18 miles. In the rain.
You: 36 miles. In the snow.
Me: I’ll go take out the trash now.)

In case you can’t tell, I’m immensely impressed with myself. In fact, that funky odor you smell? Eau de smug self-satisfaction. I’m exuding enough of it for a complete line of perfume, body lotion, and scented candles.

Because, of course, I didn’t just run 18 miles on Saturday. (Heh. “Just.”) I also ran my very first road race: The Race for Hope 5K.

I was shooting for a time of 30 minutes or less, although I was pretty sure that wasn’t realistic. (Because, you know, 18 miles. In the rain.)

Nevertheless, I was very excited to be running in the race. I convinced my friend Tim, my occasional weekday running buddy, to sign up with me. Maddeningly, despite the fact that I am in major training mode, and he only runs occasionally, he is definitely faster than I am. But, like a good friend, he acceded to my demand that we run together and that he ignore his extremely over-active competitive instincts.

He stayed a couple steps in front of me for most of the race, just like a mechanical rabbit at the dog races, though unlike the mechanical versions, when he got too fast, I yelled and he slowed down. He set a faster pace than I would have and to my shock, 8 minutes and 30 seconds later, we were passing the first mile marker.

We stayed together for the next mile and a bit, but then with about three-quarters of a mile to go, he could hold himself back no longer, and he decided to sprint to the finish line. He lasted about a minute, apparently, and then he crashed and burned. To which I say, HA! He still ended up finishing about 40 seconds ahead of me though.**

And my time? 26:39.

I know. Unbelievable. (Perspective, shmerspective. I’m the coolest.)

Here’s a picture of me celebrating after the race:

And here’s a picture of Tim after the race pretending he was exhausted:

**For an account of the race from a universe in which I am not the center, check out Tim’s blog.