Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Afternoon naps...

...just aren't my thing...

In fact, napping isn't something that I do. Period.
But for the last month or two, I get really tired around 3pm. I get to bed about 10:00 and fall asleep around 10:30. Then I wake up about 5:30 and stay in bed until about 6:15-6:30. I am wide awake before I go to bed. I am wide awake once I rouse myself in the morning. But at 3pm, like clockwork, I am fighting to stay awake.

Today is no different. Well... it's a little different because the sleeping sickness didn't alight until about 10 minutes - 5:10pm. It's delayed today because I had a 3pm appointment through which I was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. But now that I am hope, it's like the sleeping sickness is just picking up where it left off.

I am about to drop. Thank goodness I don't have to cook tonight. I might just cut myself. Again.

Another thing, this morning, I got out of bed and had a bit of dizzyness. It's been with me all day. A tilt of the head, maybe a little turn to the left or right, and the room sways a bit. I am getting another "fever blister" right under my nose. A small one right now. It could be that I am getting a virus that my body is trying to fight off. I think I'd rather have this happen than a full-blown cold or flu. Knock on wood... Of course there is a nastiness going around - not sure what it is but Joseph got some form of it last week.

Gawd. I hope I don't have a tumor or something. That would suck.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

New Recipe: Chicken Marsala

In honor of our good friend John Barney, we made chicken marsala.

Chicken dredged in flour, pan fried until brown (of course I tenderize the chicken first - thin slices in my super secret tenderizer at room temperature for 15 minutes) and set aside.
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter with garlic and mushrooms (I used baby bella's instead of crimini). Add some minced shallots.
Marsala wine.
Chicken broth.
Chicken demi-glace.
Add the chicken back, let it cook til the sauce thickens.
Served over spaghetti.
Yum yum yum.

And it was nice to get rid of the couch.
It fit nicely in the back of John's mini-van - amazing because that couch was really big.
It's also nice to know that the couch is going to a good home.

Look up at the beast...

...was nothing next to the great whirling maelstrom...

Long Run Day.
What can I say about it?
I always look forward to it more than I dread it.
Even when I a running on a treadmill.

Today's temps were 18* with 15 mph sustained winds from the NW, bringing the windchill to 3*. That's three degrees. THREE. Okay.

There was no way I was running indoors! No way!
So, I got ready to run outdoors. We were going to Newton City Hall and I was planning on two loops of an 8.3 mile loop that I had mapped out on my handy dandy DeLorme.
So, long johns under the Patagonia R2's.
Silkweight Patagonia zip top under thick foul weather ziptop fleece (also from Patagonia) with Boston Marathon jacket on top.
Fleece Patagonia hat with ear protection flaps.
(Yes, I love Patagonia. You get what you pay for...)
Fleece mittens (NOT Patagonia... yeah whatever...I got them at Campmor - real cheap).
Water bottle, small pouch for the iPod.
And I was good to go.

On the way out to Newton, Joseph mentioned that he was going to run up and down the Newton Hills.
Hmmm... really?
Yup. Gotta run hills.
Hmmm...hills, huh?
Yup. Coach said.
Hmmm... well, I am a tad worried about the hills at Big Sur. Maybe I should do the same thing.
Yup. You might wanna do that.
Really? Hmmm...

Okay. I have 16 miles. I think I can make this work.

We park the car at Mile 19 on the marathon course.
It's COLD out. Yikes. So glad I bundled up.
Head down to Mile 17.5 - which is not entirely all downhill. And there is a major headwind. But it's downhill, so how bad can it get? Hmmm... it's really actually VERY cold...

Turn around and head up the first Newton hill, the wind is at my back, and I am warming up. Hmmm... I hope I don't burn up in my many layers...

I hit mile 3 in really good time. I go over the second Newton Hill. Hmm... I am making great time. Those HUMVEES during the week must be doing some good. And it's getting HOT. So I take the gloves off. Up the third Newton Hills (Heartbreak Hill), and I hit Mile 5 in really good time. Wow. Time to turn around.

Yikes. Headwind. The kind that stops you in your tracks. I am supposed to go DOWNHILL and it's hard to do that! I feel like I am running UPHILL! OMG! It's like I am running uphill, going down hill, which means I am trying to push myself forward and brake downhill at the same time. It's the damndest thing! And not only that, I am FREEZING! Soon my fingers are cold, my feet are cold, and I know my skin cells are freezing and dying! WAH!!! I knew I was in trouble that first downhill mile when I finished is SLOWER than I did going UP the hill.

So, all the way back down to mile 17.5 on the marathon course. I want to poke my eyes out. My legs don't hurt. Nothing hurts. I am just numb. But my legs are so... TIRED. Can't really explain it.

Turned around, went back up hill. Met Joseph coming the other way and I KNEW things were bad when he leaned over and said, "This is BRUTAL!" Uh... yeah, like... it SUCKS! I go back up to mile 21 on the marathon course hoping to warm up, which I FINALLY do during the last mile up. Then I turn around again and at one point, I am running backwards because of the wind! It is unreal!

I get to the car. Joseph says to go back up to Mile 20 and he will drive the car up and wait for me. THANK YOU, G-D! *SOB!* So I turn around and up I go.

The three beasts of the Newton Hills were nothing today. The Wind took over. I did battle and I think it is safe to say that I was not defeated. I was bloodied and battle weary but I did 15.5 miles in record time considering the conditions. This was a great workout. Boston Billy Workout. Bill Rogers did it. I feel like I ran with the Big Dawgs today and I survived to tell the tale. Awesome.

Now, if Hurricane Point at Big Sur is anything like I experienced today, I know what to expect.

Tomorrow, I am taking the day off. Thank goodness.

Fresh croissants...

...are the most delicious bread-like food I've ever had...

This morning, thanks to my friend Debbie, we tried some of the best, freshest croissants ever. She sent us an order courtesy of Williams-Sonoma, made by a French baker. They are kept frozen, you put them in a baking pan for 9 hours at room temperature so they can thaw and rise, and then you pop them in an oven for 15-20 minutes. This means you can thaw and rise overnight - so convenient! And after we dove into them, I told Joseph, we should have made TWO EACH! ACK!

Thanks, Debbie!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Saturday Long Run...

…in 22 degree weather this morning was surprisingly good…

First of all, I never run outdoors if it is below 30 degrees.
It's just too cold.
My muscles get cold, and it's like trying to make molasses run in the middle of winter. I don't feel I get a good quality run.

This morning, there was very light wind - supposedly 2 miles per hour - all headwind of course. Just kidding... Anyway, I wondered why I felt so tired. I kept slowing down but my legs were sluggish and I felt as if my form was inefficient. I decided that the day after my massage, I always seems to have problems with my legs feeling sluggish.

Got home and saw that I had run about 20-30 seconds per mile faster than I typically run.

Today's run proves that I will not turn into a pillar of ice if I run in less than 30 degree temps.
It also proves to me that the massage doesn't hurt my running the next morning (I have no idea where I got that idea into my head in the first place).

Tomorrow morning, I have 16 miles.
And it's supposed to be colder.
I am pulling out the long johns.

The Dreaded Cruise...

…information came in the mail yesterday…

All in a handy zip up itinerary/passport case wrapped in a soft cloth drawstring bag, filled with tags and ticket information and packing guidelines and all sorts of stuff.

We are going on the Radisson Seven Seas.
Going to St Baarts, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.
We are in a suite. I think that's all this ship has - suites.
We are in a suite that is about the size of some studios in the City of Boston, maybe even a tad bigger.

They have a state of the art fitness center, too.

I hope they have internet. Sheesh.

Friday, February 24, 2006

How can I be so busy...

… when I am working from home…

And I didn't even work out this morning.
It was a rest day.

That poor chicken.
I defrosted it two days ago to make chicken marsala (new recipe).
This afternoon, I had a 4:30 massage.
Sarah decides to go over.
So my hour and a half turned into 2 hours (almost).
That got me home too late to make chicken marsala so…
I met Joseph at Delux - around the corner from the house - and we had dinner there.

Not that I mind, of course.
I love Delux!

Tomorrow we have Caroline the Niece for the day.
That leaves Sunday.
Which means we won't be having pizza on Sunday as we usually do.
*SOB!*
I love Pizza Sunday!

Okay. I know. For someone who doesn't have much of a relationship with food, I tend to obsess about new recipes a lot.

It's either that or obsess about all the work I have on my desk. I'd rather talk about new recipes.

On a better note, I might be getting a real office.
Kinda.
The front bedroom will be turned into an office-slash-yoga room-slash-treadmill-slash-reading room, once the couch is taken by our Good Friend John Barney.

That means I will not have to use the dining room table for a desk anymore.
Yahoo!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

HUMVEES and Wine Report

Okay. So last night, after I made the big statement that I need to cut out wine during the week, we went to a wine tasting. Our neighborhood association sponsors these wine tastings and you can host a tasting if you want to. In the past, we were always busy. But last night, we had time available and it was right next door. Living in the city, "right next door" means right next door. You walk out of your front door, take a right. Walk 10 feet to the brownstone next to you, walk up the front steps, ring the bell and walk into the house. How simple can it get? And so, we went and drank. Not too much. But still…

This morning, I had HUMVEES. 10 of them. I always inwardly dread doing them. But once I am at the bottom of the hill looking up, I get excited. I did 10 of them. 5 miles of hill repeats. It was wonderful. I felt so good. At the 10th repeat, I started thinking that I could do another two. But about a quarter of the say up, I was glad I only had 10 because I didn't think I could do another one! A mile there to warm up and a mile back home makes it 7 miles for the morning.

Of course this got me into the RI office really late - as in 10:30.

I won't be leaving here until 7pm. Too much work to do and an afternoon filled with meetings. I brought home lunch and dinner. Foresight. I used it this time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Twelve Steps...

...to clean and healthy living...

My body weight is stuck.
Stuck stuck stuck.
Like a pig!
GAH!

I told Joseph this morning that I need to make a concerted effort.
And he sort of paused and agreed.
Hmmm.
He's looking good, though, getting in shape and losing some extra pounds.
I must do the same. Cannot be let behind.
No. Not a competitive bone in my body...

So, I am just trying to jot down the things that lead to good health and good weight and good mental well-being.

Step One: Exercise
Okay. I am doing this. This is good. It's not like I am running, biking, yoga-ing, lifting, ab-ing, pilates-ing every single day like I want to, but I am doing something everything single day.

Okay. I am doing something at least 5-6 days a week.
Maybe 5 on average. But the point is that I am doing something.
Sheesh.

Step Two: er... hmmm. Let's see. Oh. Okay. Eat Breakfast.
I do this, too. Every single day, I have breakfast.

Okay. So a poptart in the morning isn't exactly the slow-burn glycemic kind but I have a snack mid-morning and this is a good jump starter for me.

I have one box of poptarts left. One box plus 3 poptarts from a previous box. Each box contains 4 silver-wrapped packages. each package has 2 poptarts. I eat one. And why not? If you read the label, it's plainly written that ONE poptart is a single serving - around 200 empty calories, ahem - and I can only eat one anyway. And no, why should it matter that the packaging belies the nutritional info? Nay, actually serves to lead you astray? Read, people, read.!!

Step Three: Okay. It's getting harder... hmmm... Eat many little meals a day
Okay. I TRY to do this and I can be better. I must admit it. I tend to eat FEW little meals a day because of the nasty habit of forgetting to eat, or not eating when I am stressed out even when I am hungry. I am doing better on this one.

Step Four: Eat more fruit
I am doing really badly on this one. I forget to eat! See Step Three above. I do carry a piece of fruit around with me but what a PIA! You gotta peel it or something. Yes. It's what we Asians do. we do not eat peels and we insist on cutting up our fruit into tiny little pieces. Comes from the fact that we cut up all other foods so we can eat them chopsticks. No sawing at the table for us! Sheesh.

I read about precut fruit - it's a bit pricey but it's not cheaper than buying fruit that goes bad because you don't eat it. At this point, I figure I've got hundreds dollars in bad fruit that I could have used if I had bought pre-washed, pre-cut, pre-bagged fruit! Gonna write this one down for the next shopping trip.

Step Five: Add more fiber - veggies, etc
This is tough in the winter. I don't like winter veggies. Okay. It's not that don't like winter veggies, it's that... well... not sure. It also adds to the amount of food I have to eat. I think maybe we should cut back on the non-veggie food and add a salad every single night. Hmmm... that might be a good idea. Spinach salad. Love it. Why not?

Step Six: Sigh... ok ok ok... Cut out the alcohol.
And this one has been a stumper. I think I need to cut the alcohol out for a couple of weeks and see what happens. Okay. Tonight. I. Start.

Sigh...

And with that, depression hits me so I am going to stop.
I know there are twelve steps. All the other programs have twelve steps, and so must I!
As soon as I think of more, I will blog them down.

Sigh....

Well, three things to work on. No. 6 things to work on. Sigh...

Exercise Note.
Tuesday:
Went to the gym - ran 3 miles. Got a late start so I cut it back from the planned four. Whatever. I need to overhaul the workout schedule.

Wednesday:
Did not run this morning... Got out of bed, did my usual stretch, and WHAM, major jab in the left psoas area. WAH!!! I had HILLS and I was actually looking forward to them. The plan is to take it easy, take the day off, do Yoga later - gently, and hope that it clears up for tomorrow. Gotta do HILLS!

Monday, February 20, 2006

"We understand Death for the first time...

...when he puts his hand upon one whom we love."
~Madame de Stael

Death comes to us all. And the impact of that single fact is no greater than when someone close to us meets Death, and is accompanied by her on the journey through the cosmos. No matter what you believe, Death haunts us all.

Rebecca lost her mother, during a routine procedure, after which was expected a full recovery. I don’t know Rebecca or her mother but I can imagine the spunkiness and life in this Korean lady. Rebecca lost her mother and I feel a profound sadness.

I feel a kind of kinship with Rebecca through her blog. She is half Korean and when she speaks of her mother, it resonates with me. Emotions from childhood, living with Korean immigrant parents, come back and flow over me. I get a feeling in the depth of my gut that only those who have been there can possibly feel. As children trying to blend into a white dominated society, we sit on the sidelines, watching in horror with a mixture of revulsion from the stereotypical ethnicity our mothers represent and a profound love that was planted when we were breast-fed until we were five years old, and carried around on our mothers' backs until we were at least six or seven. It's the classic love-hate that transforms to understanding when we are no longer children but finally adults - around the age of 35 and have our own kids, as is usually defined by Korean familial culture - although one can argue that one is always a child in the presence of one's parents no matter how old you are.

I call Death a "she". The classic image of the grim reaper brings to mind an old man in a hooded robe - much like those that an old-time monk would wear. I believe these are the same robes that the Franciscan Friars and Jesuits still wear. No matter. In my mind, Death is a lady with an ageless face, dressed in white, carrying a staff with a glowing orb on top. She has long hair - platinum silver - and wears shimmery robes. She never speaks and she is neither warm nor cold. The golden orb presumably helps lead us through the dark passage from this world to the next. And if there is a Mother Earth, and fertility goddesses to help populate the earth, then why wouldn't it be a woman who guides us gently onward? A woman brings you into the world and it only seems right that a woman would help guide you out. Perhaps it's my personal way of coping with the frightful journey of death and, hopefully, rebirth. I say "hopefully" because the thought that there is nothing afterwards would create hopelessness. And in my mind, there is nothing worse than hopelessness. Besides, as energy vessels, I know that energy never disappears - it just changes forms. Of course, someone could discover another law that states the opposite. I hope I am dead when and if this happens so I won't lose all hope...

Rebecca got a lot of comments on her blog. They all reflected shock and sadness. There are never any words to comfort. There is no action that can undo the personal tragedies of those who survive. And although time does heal, the pain always remains, even dulled with time.

And so, I leave you with this thought:

'I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side
spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: "
There, she is gone!"

"
Gone where?"

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!" there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: "Here she comes!" '

--- Henry Van Dyke

Beginning...

…of the week…

It's a holiday. Some president's birthday. Not sure if it's Washington's or Lincoln's. Regardless, that means the markets are closed. Which means that The Company is closed. Which means that I am working. Holidays are a good chance for me to catch up. There is not the usual endless parade of people, no disruptive emails from everybody and their mother looking for me to do something right then and there, no phone calls to avoid (thank goodness for caller id). Although arriving at the building this morning, you wouldn't know it was a holiday - lots of people are trying to catch up, it seems. Hopefully, I don't know or work with any of them!

Joseph is feeling better this morning. Of course, we found this out AFTER I walked the Dingle in below freezing temperatures. In fact, he felt good enough to get out of bed, contemplate a run or a swim, and actually drove me to work. I am happy that he is feeling better. The endless chatter started after he bounded out of bed, once again reminding me how quiet it is when he isn't around or he isn't feeling well - a quiet I find both deafening and annoying.

I was scheduled for a four mile run this morning. Nope. Didn't do it. I need a rest after this weekend. Tonight I will do my yoga and I'll run tomorrow morning instead. I think that yoga the day after the weekend runs is definitely the way to go. I can find T-W-TH. It's an easier schedule for me. Then Friday, I can do more yoga and schedule a massage every three weeks or so. The question is, how do I squeeze in weights and abs? I guess I can do the abs nightly before I stretch. What about the weights? Things are slowly coming together but the weight lifting issue keeps cropping up.

Lizzy the Niece was in town this weekend. She arrived last Thursday and I took her to the airport yesterday afternoon. She was in town to audition at NEC. I said the audition took about 10 minutes and went very well. She played some Bach piece - not sure since I was eavesdropping when she was talking to her mother on the phone - and they were excited because it was different, or something like that. After that, the teacher she would be studying with told her that she would be accepted, blah blah blah… and call him right away when she gets the acceptance letter. Okay. Whatever. She still has to audition at Julliard and at Colburn.

John the Nephew is coming into town in a couple of weeks - the weekend before we go on the Dreaded Cruise.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Poor Hunny Bunny...

...isn't feeling well...

He didn't run today.
Not one step.
He has a low grade fever.
And he's achy.
He has a headache and is cold - with the room at 71* and under two blankets.

I think he has the flu.
I feel so bad.
And so helpless.

Poor Hunny Bunny.

Back-to-back...

...long runs can really test your toughness...

Back-to-back weekend runs always signal serious training for me. Even the step back weeks have back-to-back runs although they are shorter than my ramp up weeks. Having run 10 and 20 miles in a single weekend, this weekend's 10 and 16 milers were welcome. I was a little concerned about the weather - all negative below zero degrees on both days. I knew I would be hitting the treadmill. Now, I've run up to 20 miles on a treadmill before so I was pretty confident going into it.

Saturday's 10 miler went very well. I held a good pace and I felt pretty good the whole time. I will admit that at mile 9, I was starting to look around for a stick to poke my eyes out. But, it wasn't too bad and I finished well.

This morning, I headed to the gym again. I had a good breakfast. Maybe it was too good. Or maybe an hour isn't long enough after oatmeal, bacon, coffee, orange juice, 9 ounces of ultra fuel... I felt the lump in my stomach from the moment I started running. Things went along well for a while and then I hit mile 9.

Mile 9 is the gut check. It's the defining moment when I have to decide, do I stop the treadmill because the 99 minutes on the clock will run out soon, and if I don't stop and restart the treadmill, then I will be working with some weird mileage numbers to add together, not to mention automagical slowdown due to the forced cooldown phase, which is so abrupt it tends to fling my person into the dash of the treadmill itself, which then totally freaks out my adrenal glands causing all manner of fight or flight hormones to be unleashed, thus ruining the rest of my run...

I should have kept going. I stopped and restarted the treadmill to save myself the aggravation. And then things sort of just. fell. apart. Totally fell apart. My hips hurt, my hamstrings tightened, my calves started spasming, and the underside of my arms started chafing... I had to stop and stretch a little bit, and then I started to slow down, and slogged along, and wished like hell that I was anywhere but there.

Yes. I was having a WIM moment. Woe. Is. Me.
Poor Me.
Aching Me.
Pity Me.
ARG!!!!

The next 5 miles was a long walk in the desert.
Without water.
Bleeding from every pore.

Okay, not that bad but it wasn't nice.

I stopped at 14 miles.
I decided to call it a day.
Then I spent the next 20 minutes stretching out.

On hindsight, I think that taking too much of a rest during recovery week last week didn't help. Also on hindsight, my last back to back should have had a 13-14 miler in it but I went to a race (The Great Stew Chase 15k) and ran that instead. 15k is NOT 13-14 miles - I don't care if it IS a tempo run the whole way - STILL NOT 13-14 miles. Your heart knows it, your brain knows it, and your LEGS FEEL IT!

So after that 15 K, and slow recovery week last week, I think the 10 miler on Saturday and a 14 miler on Sunday was the right call. Next weekend I have 8 and 18. I might change it to 10 and 16, or 8 and 16, or something. In two weeks I have 10 and 18.6 (yes, another stupid race - my NEMESIS RACE!)

Anyway, my hindsight is making me feel better about me blow up today.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Happy New Year...

...came a little late for us at work this year...

Actually, only for my group. Every January, I take my group out to eat someplace special. It's usually lunch event in Boston. For this food-loving group, it's a good way to thank them for all their hard work - and no, The Company doesn't pay for it; I do. Otherwise, it wouldn't be ME showing my appreciation - it would be The Company. Anyway...

This year, one of my managers decided it should be a dinner event. And that Grill 23 would be a good venue. Thank goodness he and the other manager decided that this time we would split the check three ways.

Now, Grill 23 is an excellent restaurant. It's also very expensive. Out of 32 people, 22 people attended the event. We were ushered into the Brahmin Room - okay, gives you an idea of the kindaplace this is.

We had a pre-set four course menu with each course having 4 or 5 choices from their regular menu. We had 6 wait staff all to ourselves and our own sommelier. Okay. That gives you another idea of the kindaplace this is.

And since this is Boston, it's not a "formal" place. Business Casual. Which meant I could wear my stretchy pants. To expand with all the good food entering my tummy, of course. Happy happy.

The funny thing is that before the dinner, one of the guys (who I will call M) bought me a drink. He is the youngest member of the team and probably makes less than anyone there. I had ordered a Highland Park 18 year. I remembered trying it at the Scotch Society tasting even last year and it's one we don't have at home. When the bartender delivered it, M signaled that it should be put in his tab. I wonder what M thought about the $25 price tag for that one shot?

On another note... I so do not want to run today...

Friday, February 17, 2006

ARG!!!

Did I mention that it's going to be something like 18* this weekend?

With windchill, this means that it will be -10*?

MINUS. TEN. DEGREES.

BELOW ZERO!!!

Did I mention that I have a 10 miler and a 16 miler this weekend?

Or that I don't run outdoors in temperatures than can freeze skin cells in 12 seconds??

GAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HOTTs versus HUMVEES

Once a week, my training plan calls for hill repeats.

That means I pick a hill, one that takes me longer than 2 minutes to run up, one that is preferably of considerable incline, and run up it and down it and up it and down it, and so on and so on until my prescribed run of hills is complete. And that is after the mile warm up run to get to the hill and then a mile cool down (right) to get home from the hill.

HUMVEES stands for Hills Up Mount Vernon Street. We used to do DROPS...Dead Runners Up Pinckney Street. But Pinckney Street is steeper and not quite long enough. Mount Vernon Street is longer. It is also the street that John Kerry lives off of (this little block is the most expensive piece of real estate in the country, I might add) - like in an open loop side street with a grassy square in the middle - hard to describe - so it was interesting running up Mount Vernon Street during the last presidential election - what with all the Secret Service Agents hiding incognito in their big black Suburbans...Anyway, I digress.

The last two weeks, either the weather didn't cooperate or I had to travel, so I did HOTTs (Hills on the Treadmills - inclined at 10% grade). But this week, the weather was nice and I did think that I really needed to go up some real hills instead of a mechanical one.

So on Wednesday, I donned my outdoor winter running gear and ran to Mount Vernon Street. Up and down - .25 miles up, .25 miles down - 8 times. Yes. EIGHT. TIMES.

Interestingly, HUMVEES are much easier than HOTTS. Go figure. It could be the breeze (not that I run fast enough to generate any real breeze) or the ambient cooling of my core temperature due to the 36* weather. It could be that it's more interesting to look at asphalt and dodge cars than it is to look at the blinking numbers in front of me. Or it could be that Mount Vernon Street is easier than the 10% incline in the treadmill.

Next week, I have 10xHills scheduled. I hope the weather cooperates. I do not run in anything less than 30* (including windchill). I am strangely looking forward to it. Go figure.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Everyday is Valentines Day...

…which makes Valentines Day extra special…

It's an interesting thing.
I was getting my hair cut yesterday when my hair stylist, Christopher, asked me how married life is.
I said, "Fine. It's wonderful."
He said, "That's good."
I said, "You ask me that every time I see you.'
He said, "And
I'll keep doing it because you are the only one who says things are wonderful."

Every day is Valentines Day in our house.
How do you celebrate it when you celebrate almost daily?
You start with a rose. A single perfect red rose on the day before, what I like to call Pre-Valentines Day Day. Then we went to Delux for dinner.

We usually take turns planning and we usually go away.
This year, we decided to stay home because we had been traveling so much.

And this was good because it was MY year to plan and I am not as creative as Joseph is. Anyway…
We had planned on taking Monday off but work got in the way.
But we celebrated with dinner out in the local corner eatery, and for dessert, champagne and strawberries dipped in chocolate. And that single perfect rose, which still sits in a tall thin maple syrup bottle, blooming along as happily as Joseph and I are together.

Tuesday, we did manage to take the day off. Nothing was going to get in the way of that. We ran. I lifted weights, Joseph swam. It was wonderful.

We walked to Whole Foods to pick out some things for dinner.
I got to try out a new recipe - Osso Bucco served with lemon risotto and garlicky spinach. It took about 3 1/2 hours to cook but it was well worth it, especially considering the Opus One we had been saving. Perfect for Valentines Day.

On the way to Whole Foods, Joseph lead me by the hand to the Boston Public Library, where I got my first library card in almost 30 years. I can cross this goal off my list.

It was simple. And the simplicity was just beautiful. Considering that our lives are so busy, the simplicity of the day was a perfect juxtaposition. And I can definitely lead a life of leisure. It was a wonderful gift to ourselves, the day off. And our time was a gift to each other.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Busy busy busy....

…week last week…

I spent a lot of time traveling to the NH office.
It's interesting. Not more than a month ago, the thought of driving to NH used to stress me out. Now that Our Good Friend Abby told me to go down I-495 instead of I-95 to Route 3, I enjoy the drive. Anyway, needless to say, as a result of my very busy scheduled, my running sort of - stopped. Thank goodness it was a step back week.

We had a major snowstorm come through today.
We had a leisurely morning. Coffee in bed, read a little of the paper and then down to the kitchen to have breakfast. Eggs, bacon and jonny cakes. Yum. I love johnny cakes. They are pancakes made of cornmeal and much tastier, in my opinion. I haven't head these in years and years and year. Joseph liked them, too.

Then after a couple of digestive hours, Joseph decides we must go to the gym. To his gym. Past the wind-tunnel buildings three blocks away. And so… with a n'oreaster, in blinding swirls of snow where I thought my eyeballs were going to freeze, we went to the gym.

I had a great 4.25 mile run on the Woodway treadmill. It was weird. Felt like I was running on pavement. I felt great! Then a hour long full body work out.

Back home. Had a little chicken stew to recover. Then dinner. Pizza. Chicken sauteed in lot's o' garlic with wine and lot's o' fresh herbs, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, 4 cheeses, sun dried tomato "pesto". It was YUMMY. All washed down with an O'Reilly Pinot Noir. Most excellent!!

I think I might have overdone it a little bit on the leg extensions. My upper left thigh was pulling on my psoas around my mid outer abdominal area. Joseph massage it out for a bit and I iced. Tomorrow is a 2-mile recovery run so I can pretty much forgo that if I need to. I might just do abs and yoga in the morning instead.

Can't believe I havew to go to work in the morning. I think I need more leisure in my life.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

What would you DO...

…if you were not afraid…

What would you SAY… if you were not afraid?

An interesting question, posed to me the other day...made me think.

When you strip away the reasons, excuses, rationalizations and stop the endless debate, what do you have?

Fear.

Fear of change.
Fear of the unknown.

Fear of no control.
Fear of … yourself?...

My most life changing events occurred when I moved forward in spite of my fear.

I moved to Boston 23 years ago.
I left everything - my home, my family, my friends - ummm…didn't have any. Okay. I only had one and she moved to DC shortly thereafter.

Three years ago, I met Joseph And the rest… well, the best is yet to come.

I welcome change in graduated,measured doses. Jack (who works for me) told me once that I take change at work and, when everyone else thinks we are all doomed, I take that change, hold it, mold it, and re-change it into something I like. I never knew I did that until he told me.

With change, comes more responsibility.
Usually.
And that brings more fear.
And more change.

And thus… another grand circle.

So, either you are a participant in life… or… are you even living?

But if you wipe away the fear… what would you do…what would you say?

Yes. I would.

Just being able to say that... I feel relieved - and I smile.

Oh, what a feeling...

…when you have a great run…

I was scheduled for 10 miles.
It's really cold. Started out something like 11* this morning. I waited until noon, when the temps rose to…23*. It was on the verge of balmy…

I really didn't feel like it - too cold.
But I didn't want to run indoors - too lame.
So I bundled up and headed out.
Half mile in, I reach back for my bottle of gatorade-water mixture.
I find air. Damn. It's sitting on the hallway table. Damn damn damn.
Turn around, run a half mile back, run in, pee, get the bottle, take a sip, tuck it into the belt, run back another half mile, and then settle in.

I wasn't sure about the route. I thought I would do one thing and then did another. I chose routes I had not mapped out yet. I just guessed based on my time and mentally calculated. Ever try to do math when you run? Ever try it when you're lousy at math to begin with? Yeah. Anyway, turns out the mental math was good because my iPod died at mile 1.2. One. Point. Two. ARG!!! I have 9 miles to go! I think the cold weather kills the battery. Things are fine indoors. Ever since Abby showed me how to do a soft boot, it's been doing really well. Until this morning. Then it SUCKED! So, thank goodness for mental math.

I felt really good the whole run. I drank a half bottle of Ultra Fuel about 45 minutes before heading out. I took my SUCCEED and my Accel Gel and my GU and drank my gatorade-water mixture, all right on schedule. Toward the last mile or two I was getting cold and my fingers felt like they were going to fall off inside my fleece mittens. There was a steady headwind for half of every loop - not much but just enough to freeze your sweat.

I got home. Calculated the miles and the pace. 10.9 miles. 9:41 pace. Not bad. I think I really ran 11 miles or a little more. I don't count the monuments on the Comm Ave Mall. Almost every block has a monument. There are 7 blocks. I map the distance straight down the middle but I have to actually run AROUND them and I tend to weave from side to side. It would be interesting to put on Joseph's Polar one day to see how far I really run.

I found it funny that all the runners with water bottles were out today. Everyone must have stepped up their long run since there is a N'oreaster forecasted for tomorrow.

Anyway, I am very pleased with the run. Especially since I haven't run since Monday due to my Work-Week-From-Hell.

Thank goodness...

...it's a stepback week...

I am heading out for my 10-miler.
I am procrastinating.

What else is new?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

My life is a book...

...and I am thinking of having it bound...

I already have a title.
I am thinking about it.
Just thinking...

The best Superbowl Commercial...

...this year...

Clydesdale American Dream

Made me cry.

The right formula

…for a successful run - my holy grail - is getting closer…

This morning's race was excellent.
I forgot to mention that my legs didn't hurt, my usual aches and pains were a memory, I felt really good for the entire run.

Last night, 4 advils before bed.
This morning, I had 9 ounces of Ultra Fuel, recommended to me by my Good Friend Cher.
Then a good breakfast of oatmeal and bacon, with coffee and a smackeral of oj.
Then 4 advils after breakfast.
I used Gu2O and Accel Gel during the run.
The Accel Gel worked so well that I ordered three boxes.
Joseph should get it delivered to him within 3-10 days.

I think I am getting closer to the right nutrition.
I felt that I ate a little bit too much for a 9.3 miler but I had to try it all.
I think I could eat less oatmeal for anything less than 10 miles but I think I am on target with the rest.

I cannot believe how good my legs feel right now.
And I think I ran pretty hard and it wasn't a flat course.

Very exciting.

Chasing that stew...

…over 15k of roads this morning…

Yes. I ran. For stew. The kind you eat.

Joseph, Abby and I ran the Great Stew Chase this morning.
I ran with Our Good Friend Abby.
Joseph, of course, ran with the other fast people.

I ran this race a couple of years ago and ran a 15k PR.
Wasn't sure how I would do.
I missed my 6 mile run yesterday due to extenuating and unforeseen circumstances.
Friday, I didn't run - a scheduled rest day.

Abby is great to run with.
She runs about my pace.

She doesn't talk or chatter or speak of inane or stupid things.
She doesn't clomp her feet to distraction.
She doesn't swish her clothes in an annoying way.
She doesn't bitch, moan, whine, complain… she just puts her head down and runs.
And best of all, she pushes me when I am tired.

I let her lead off. First mile. Too fast.
Never mind, I will take the lead.
Second mile. Too fast. One minute slower, but still..
We must slow down.
Third mile. Too fast. One minute slower than mile 2. ARG!
Never mind, let's just keep going.

The course is nice, rolling hills, and not much wind this year.
The only serious hill is about a mile long at the turnaround.
I warned her about it. She saw it, acknowledged it and we just ran in silence.

She with her iPod, me with mine - in our own little private revelry.

Joseph met us at mile 8.
We had caught up to Robin, a friend of ours, who is a steady runner.
Joseph ran with the three of us.
Then he sped up.
I just put my head down and concentrated on his legs.
Left, right, left, right… up the hill.
I know he is speeding up. I know he is…
Abby falls a bit behind - this, after I fell 10 feet behind her for about two miles.
Joseph takes us up around the last right turn up the hill and around…
I pass Robin and she says something - can't remember what because all I could see was the hill when I looked up and I said, "what… you've got to be effin' kidding me…" and then I put my head back down and just ran.

Joseph sped up.
I sped up.
He pointed out the Mile 9 marker.
And I start sprinting.
.3 miles to go.
I start getting that burning sensation in my belly - deep inside - the kind that makes me feel like a bushel of hot peppers have been dumped inside - the kind where I think my stomach is going to fall out of my body and I consider for a second, just a second, slowing down.

But then I remember… the MBA 5K 3 years ago where I felt the same way and lived to tell the tale.
I remember the HOTTs, and how with all the burning inside me, I survived.
I remembered two years ago, how I sat in that room with a bowl of stew and how that felt.
And I knew that's how I would feel again.
So I sprinted and passed a guy about a hundred feet from the finish. Was I a jerk? I didn't care.
If I can't run fast that long, it's the one thing that I can do… sprint.
I lean into turns,
I lean into the finish,
And I sprint at the end - always.
Not sure why.

All that hill work I've been doing since Disney has paid off.
Makes me look forward to my next run.

Today was a good day for a run.
First 15K PR in two years ago.
And to think this was just another training run.
It doesn't get better than this.

Thanks, Abby, for running with me!
We gotta do more of this!!!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

HOTTS...

…are hotter and harder than HUMVEES…

6 miles this morning.
1.5 mile warmup.
6xHOTTs .25 miles at 10% incline with .25 mile recovery
1.5 miles cooldown.

I am glad that’s over.
Until next week.

We are heading back to Boston this afternoon.
I am soooo glad.

I miss my Hunny Bunny.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

HUMVEE's and Catfish

This morning I was supposed to do HUMVEES (Hills on Mount Vernon Street).
Hard to do in Dallas when Mt Vernon street is in Boston!
So I knew I had to do it on the t-mill and it didn't seem like fun... So I didn't bother. Instead, I sat on the bed drinking coffee.

Then, My Good Friend Cher sends me an email from someone we know (DV) who says how hard the marathon we are training for will be, how hilly, how windy, blah blah blah, and how if we can run hills into the wind, we must do so… and I FREAK OUT! ACK! WAKE UP CALL...

So, tomorrow morning, I will definitely do hills on the t-mill. GAH!!! I am so tired. Traveling takes a lot out of me. And sitting at a conference table all day is making my back hurt. Whine whine whine...

Lunch today was at Big Fish in downtown Grapevine (Greg - the guy in Dallas that works for me - called it "old town" area - whatever). I had the best Catfish Po'boy! ACK! Love fried catfish and you can't get this kindafried fish anywhere else. It is crisky and crunchy - they use cornmeal. But the amazing thing is that it is NOT GREASY! You can't even tell that it is fried (except that you know that it is). We also got some fried crawfish (like shrimp but more tender and sweeter), buffalo'd jumbo shrimp. Texans know how to cook!

Dinner was at Via Real - right next to the hotel. It's tex-mex and it's been there for as long as I've been coming down here - oh... about 10-12 years. I had a small margarita and this disk called the Cancun. Three shrimp in mango sauce, three scallops in a cilantro cream sauce, grilled asparagus, poblano rice. It was so delicious!!!

Okay. I am falling asleep.

Tomorrow, HOTTs (Hills On The Treadmill). Then we fly back home.

Book Review #2

Blink.

Blink blink blink…

Yup.
By Malcom Gladwell.

Very good book about trusting your intuition and instincts.
That one word, "blink", now is quickly becoming a part of my vernacular.
The good part is that most people understand what I mean by saying that one word.

The book gave validity to what I always knew about how I think and make decisions.
I told someone once that I am a "conclusive person."
I tend to take my experiences and boil it all down to a single reflex. If you ask me to recall details and numbers and how I felt and what I was eating or wearing… well… can't do that. And I don’t tend to get along that well with those who can - my impatience usually gets the better of me. I don't understand the chewing on and pondering and thinking and analyzing and thinking on that some people do. I just don't get it. Just make a damn decision. And use your gut. I mean, all that analysis should fill your gut up with some sort of intuitive "feeling" about how you feel about something.

Anyway, great book. I highly recommend it. I liked it so much that I am thinking of reading his previous book, "Match Point."