Friday, March 31, 2006

30 Days to Big Sur...

…and I am still not running…

The foot bruise is better - doesn't hurt to step on it but it is still a little tender to the touch - but I need to press on it harder than before to feel it. That's good news.

This morning, I got on the bike for 29 minutes - around 8.5 miles. I could have gone longer had my sitz bones not been bothering me.

Tonight we are going to visit Joseph's parents so tomorrow I will take a rest day.
If we get back in time, I will get back on the bike for about 35 minutes. I am working up to an hour and the plan is to run 4 days and bike 2 days a week at least. I really want to doa duathlon this year. I should also add weights to that. And I might need find another 5 hours in a day. Now, that would be idea...

Sunday is the long run…

Nothing much going on.
Sometimes, it's good to be bored.

The poor Dingle...

…is officially F-A-T…

The doctor said so.

No table scraps.
No bacon fat.
No beef bones.

We also have to cut back on her feeding from twice to once a day.

Poor, poor Dingle Doggie.
Her life is going to the dogs...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Various and Sundry...

...stuff so far...

I keep thinking today is Friday.
Could it be because I am working from home?
Not only did I have a lot of appointments today, but I went into the office for a 1:30 meeting only to find that the construction noise on the floor has gotten to a fever pitch. Inside of oh... about 5 minutes... I walked out to Yelena, who sits right outside my office and gave her a look which means, "can you even believe the noise?"

Yes, they are doing construction on the floor. During working hours. These people are REALLY efficient; however, there is no way to mute the noise. I don't care HOW good you are. They started out doing the work after 5pm. That was okay since about 5:30, it drove me out of the office. Now they have stepped up the pace and it's going on all day.

I will be working from home or the remote offices for the foreseeable future. GAH!

On the running front, I didn't yesterday. I biked instead. Did 6 miles on the trainer. It wasn't the biking that was the issue. It was the seat issue. Today the sitz bones are a little tender. Tomorrow, I am scheduled for 6 miles but I am going to give it another day of rest just to make sure and get on the bike again. I hope to go for a whole hour this time. I want to make sure that my foot is good and ready for the 18-miler I have scheduled on Sunday.

Speaking of Sunday, the Lady Tarheels have made it to the Final Four. We got tickets! Yeah!!! For both the semi and the finals which are here in Boston on Sunday and Tuesday nights. How can you pass it up when your alma mater travels up the entire eastern seaboard to come play for the championships in your city? Nope. You can't. We are going to pick up the tickets on Sunday at the team hotel. You never know who you will see while you are there.

Still having the non-tennis elbow worked on. 7am on Tuesday and Thursdays. It's very painful afterwards. Sigh...

It seems that I will be traveling to the NH office more often during the summer. The group up there is really growing and they tend to work on the most complicated projects. The one day I travel up there now is insufficient for the meetings I need to have. Dang.

Thank goodness it's a stepback week. Delux has a new menu. They change their menu every 6-8 weeks. The last chef wasn't so good at keeping track, but this new one - 6-8 weeks right on the button. We are going there tonight (yeah!) and I will make the Beef and Broccoli for dinner on Saturday.

Tomorrow we are going to the Berkshires to visit Joseph's mom and dad. We will take them to lunch on Saturday before we come back. We will bring the Little Red Bean (this is a 1990 because I couldn't find a picture of a 1994 - close enough) back from winter hibernation now that the warm weather is hinting of it's arrival.

Street cleaning starts next week. I love that it's here because it signal that Spring has arrived, it keeps the streets clean all summer, and every week, I feel a clean feeling inside when I come home to a litter-free street (unless some bonehead decided to get a ticket instead of moving his or her car). But I hate it because it also means we have to do some car shuffling from street to street and side to start every week. This is when I wish we had two garage spots instead of one. But I am unwilling to actually pay for the second spot just so I don't have to deal with street-cleaning-car-shuffing. I do have my priorities!

Tonight, more work and stretching after dinner.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Told. You. So.

They are horrible horrible people.
I rest my case.
And another one.
At least the administration is trying to do the right thing.
Amazing.

33 Days to Big Sur: Recovery

…for the Klutzie…

So, there I am at PT this morning, getting worked on for my non-tennis elbow.
So, I tell my PT about my mishap with the foot on Saturday and how I have a bruise on my arch.
I tell her about how I tried running on it yesterday morning, how I went through all my inserts to find the non-supportive original insoles and how I slogged out 1.5 miles until I called it quits. I tell her how tomorrow, I have 10 miles planned. In fact, not just 10 miles, I have 12xHills planned. In fact, not just up and down 12 times but 12 LOOPS of my favorite Hill, my HUMVEE LOOPS. And I tell her how the bruise still hurts when I touch it, nay… it still hurts when I look at it. and I wonder how I will do my Hills. My beloved Hill Loops.

So, she hesitates for a mere two seconds (it could have been shorter but I failed to I time her), and she said that maybe, just maybe, I might consider taking it easy tomorrow.

Huh?
The hills stretch the arch. If it's still tender to the touch, the underlying structures haven't knitted together yet and it's still healing.

Oh...
If you keep stretching it, it might tear whatever got torn and it could start bleeding again.
Hmmm…
Yup. You should maybe consider taking it easy this week.
Uh
And yes, "I will take it easy this week" is the only right answer.
Alrighteeeeee….

I am thinking that maybe I can do 10 miles on the bike tomorrow.

Stupid Stupid Stupid (Sorry, Paul.) KLUTZIE!!! ARG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, March 27, 2006

34 Days to Big Sur: Bruisin'

The Bruise is painful to the touch and is now a nice shade of black.
Forget Purple. It is BLACK.

I didn't run on Sunday.
This morning, I went upstairs to try out the upstairs-tenant-neighbor's treadmill.
I carefully chose my shoes, the Nike Zoom Elites, from a group of 5 pairs currently in rotation.
I inserted the orthotics and walked around.
I could sortafeel the bruise - not too bad though.

But I wasn't too sure that it would work.
So I grabbed the Superfeets and the original insoles before I went upstairs.

I ran for about 5 minutes with the orthotics.
It wasn't too bad but I knew that there was just enough contact with the bottom of the foot to make me regret it later.
So, I stopped and switched the orthotics to the Superfeets.
Well, I didn't even have to try running on them.
They slid right up to my arch and just stepping on the foot was painful.
So, out came the Superfeets and in went the factory-supplied original insoles.
Talk about FLAT FLAT FLAT and NO SUPPORT WHATSOEVER!!
The original insoles worked well.
Of course, that meant that my weird-turning foot would be turning weirdly and G-d only knows what OTHER problems might ensue.

So, after 1.5 miles, I called it quits.

I came to work, I sat around, I iced my foot.
It's a little sore. Still. And it's been almost a whole day!
Tomorrow is a rest day - going to PT for the elbow in the morning.
I might have to get on the Bike this week and be done with it.

Stupid Stupid Stupid.
I am such a CLUTZ!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

36 Days to Big Sur: Wind and Hills


Today's long run called for 20 miles.
Training is starting to get serious. Sheesh.

Earlier in the week, we decided to run with our running club, Parkway Running Club.
Joseph and I belong to a few.
He belongs to and runs with the BAA.
I also belong to L-Street Running Club.
We both belong to the Dead Runners Society.
Parkway is one of the nicest clubs in the world.
It provides unconditional welcome to any new member.
There is no required "quarantine" period where old members circle around new members to see if they pass "muster" whatever that standard might be. There are no cliques, no separation between fast and slow runners, no division between the men and women.
The minute you join, they act as if it's a natural thing, as if they have known you forever.

This was another one of those "crewed runs." We met at the Y in West Roxbury and drivers shuttled us out to the starting line at Hopkinton. Today was also the day that all the charities were running the course together. Team in Training, Joints in Motion, Childrens Hospital, MS Society, you name it, they were out there. The cops were driving the course, controlling traffic. It was almost like Marathon Day!

This area is unique.
I don't think there is anywhere in the country that treats it's runners the same way the eight towns on the Boston Marathon course do. The drivers slow down and sometimes stop so you can have the light, the Cops are all watching, and businesses just look up and smile when you stop to use the facilities.

There is nothing to be said about this day other than that it was a difficult run. The first 10 miles were good. There was a steady 15 mph headwind. There was no relief and no escape. It made the downhills seems like uphills. My hamstrings started protesting around mile 11 and I started to significantly slow down. I started walking every 5 minutes to take a sip from the water bottle. Around mile 14, I took a major power walk break and at mile 16, I had to walk the I-95 overpass (as usual) and then I took a moment to stretch. I even walked up the first two Newton Hills. But I made it. 20 miles are in the bag. It was so hard.

While I was running, I thought to myself how I would be so unaffected if I never ran Boston again. I was so...indifferent to the idea. Then I thought about how I would feel if I qualified and I felt no difference. I was totally indifferent to that idea. So there you have it. True feelings come out under stress and duress. I guess I just don't care. The Boston course has become nothing more than a training ground. I am not sure if I can approach it any other way after having run it in training for so long.

After we got home, I fell in the shower. ARG!!! I slipped and slid and the left foot shot out behind me and it hit the plug thing that goes up and down and now I have a really nice purple bruise on the arch side of my left food. I have decided that I am a klutz. Yes, it's taken me this long to figure it out. Sigh...

Homemade pizza for dinner tonight - spicy Italian chicken sausage and mushrooms with 4 cheeses. Accompanied by a nice glass of Dutch Henry.

Tomorrow, I WAS supposed to run the Oleksak Lumber 5K (Joseph is running the half) but that was before I screwed up my foot. Looks like it might be a rest day...

Friday, March 24, 2006

37 Days to Big Sur: Running Free

TGIF.
And along with it is an easy run day.
Scheduled for 4 miles.
Done. Finito. In the Log.
Ran on our upstairs-tenant-neighbor's treadmill.
Had a nice easy smooth run.
Felt good. Even my achy ankle felt okay. It only hurts when I am walking. Strange.

It got hot on the t-mill this morning that I took off my singlet.
Which brings to mind something.

Before, on what seems like a galaxy far far away, when I lived with HWINLIML, and I lived out of my "Julia Suite" which I was regulated to lest I skultch up the "ascetic-to-the-point-of-psychotic" environment throughout the rest of the house, I had a treadmill. I slept in that room, worked in that room, I ate in that room, I did almost everything in that room; it was my sanctuary. Anyway, in the mornings, I would quietly get up, don my running gear, and run on that treadmill. It would get really hot, even with the fan.

One day, I decided to take off my singlet and try just running in my shorts and jogbra. I never did that. Not even in private. I have a "thing" about my flabby belly. Once, my friend, who is a doctor, told me that it looked like I had given birth. Twice. And that my skin never recovered. And the truth is, I've never been pregnant!

Anyway, on that one day of all days, HWINLIML came into the room to say goodbye before going off to work. I don't ever recall that happening until that day. I was mortified because, you see, my bare belly was jiggling up and down, and side to side and over and out and all manner of things. Well, I am very self-conscious of my flabby belly. I've always had it. It's like a loosely filled water balloon, no tone, all skin, lots of fat, and even when I was body building many years go and was in the fittest shape of my life, I had this roll. And when I was younger and danced, I had this roll.

It wouldn't have been so bad, had HWINLIML pretended not to notice. You see, he liked thin women. He actually liked them SKINNY before he met me, but he slowly changed his mind over the course of 9 years to say that thin and MUSCULAR is okay. Anyway, he opened the door, I looked over at him right away, and he stopped short, and before saying anything, his eyes gazed at my belly. And it still wouldn't have been so bad, had he not let out a back-of-the-throat-cough-laugh, almost uncontrollable, as if he was embarassed. Not just embarassed for himself, but for me.

I felt a little invaded in my personal space in more than one way, to be sure.

Anyway, this morning, I thought long and hard about taking off my singlet. Joseph had gone to the pool, I knew he'd be back before I was done running, and that he would come up to say goodbye like he always does. I thought, "do I wait for him to show up and then take off the singlet? Do I do it anyway and then put it back on right before he comes up (of course, this is flawed), what do I do?" I actually spen a MILE thinking about it. Then, I left fate to the wind and I took off my singlet and I felt so good, running free and cooler…

Joseph came up, on schedule.
No look.
No comment.

No surprise.
Just a "goodbye, I love you, and have a good day."

I love you, Hunny Bunny.
I am having a wonderful day!
Thank you.

Two Words

Dook lost.

Good.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Amazing...

I encourage everyone to go visit emaleejayne and see this.

Make sure you put the sound on!

Amazing...

39 days until Big Sur...

…nothing like that to get you rousted out of bed in the morning for your weekly hill workout…

8 miles.
10xhills.
I ran the HUMVEE to Beacon Street Loop which is .61 miles.
It was very different than running up and down Mt. Vernon Street.
Instead of stopping at the top and bottom, I would just take a left, a left, and another left to complete the circuit - all without stopping.

I loved this workout.

I went to PT yesterday.
My elbow is sore.
Erin was excellent! She massaged the muscles and tendons, then stretched the out, and then did the sonar-thingie (whatever they are called) and then muscle stim. After we get the inflammation down, she will work on my shoulders. She said we need to work above and below the elbow - which means the whole arm. Then she will give me upper body exercises for the "fine" muscles - which of course I will have to incorporate into my total body workout.

Looks like my weight lifting routine just got longer.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Medoc...

...as in France...

As in wine, bordeaux, wine country...
As in marathon...
Yes. MARATHON!!
We might be going there this September.
ACK!
Rumor has it that there are 59 wine stops or something - you run through the wineries.

Funny thing of all this is that our friends Jo and Luke are thinking about doing it.
Luke was searching online and he ran across it.
They live in NYC and they are avowed walkers.
Anyway, we get an email from Jo this morning, asking if we want to go with them, they found this site, and did we know about it, blah blah blah...
Do we KNOW ABOUT IT??
I've been wanting to do this for about 4 years when our friends Ken and Ellen did it!
I think they plan on walking the whole thing, which I know will NOT be a problem for either one of them.
And Joseph says it's on September 9th, which means we will be back for Reach the Beach (can't forget Reach the Beach, now can we?)
And it's a good opportunity because next year, we are thinking of going on a group tour of Asia and that might be the last foreign country trip for a few year due some investment activities taking place this year that will make it more difficult to get away.

Anyway, it's all so ironic!

Happy Happy Happy!!

Dratted Pictures from the Dreaded Cruise...

...did not work...
ARG!!!

Try it now.
Click Here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Michael Timothy's...

…is a restaurant in Nashua, New Hampshire…

Who knew that downtown Nashua would be so… well. "nouveau"-feeling! Wow. We looked in the windows and there were a lot of interesting-looking restaurants. We definitely want to go back there and go to some of the other places. Since Debbie lives up that way, we have more reason to go up that way.

We went to Michael Timothy's on Saturday to watch Vince and his band (Up Front Jazz) play in the lounge. We also met our friend Debbie up there. It was our first outing with Debbie since she moved to New Hampshire for her new job. We had a great time. She got there first and was nursing a glass of beer when we arrived. We immediately started eyeballing the tables and the diners at those tables to let them know not to linger. It's first come first served in the lounge and there was no way that anyone was going to cut in front of us! And it was a small lounge with only 5 tables! Anyway…

Vince came over during a break to say "hi."
This is the same trio that played for our wedding in 2004, with the addition of my then-boss who joined to make it a temporary quartet. They sounded really good. I was bummed that we had to leave early - but with a 16 and 22 mile run for me and Joseph the next morning, we should have really left earlier.

We told Debbie that she had to come to Boston and just hang out with us. Bring Lola and veg, do what she wants. We won't insist on entertaining her and she can explore Boston all she wants, with or without company - whatever floats her boat. And the Dingle and Lola would have a great time.

Crude Run...

…this past Sunday…

For those who don't know what this is, it's an annual event in March, leading up the Boston Marathon, held informally by the Dead Runners (more specifically by the BRaNE Deads - or Boston Region and New England Deads). There are runners and volunteers or "Crew" (which lead to the new Crewed Run, which then slowly evolved to Crude Run). We all meet at the Newton City Hall at Mile 19 of the Boston Marathon course. The Crew drives the runners up to the starting line in Hopkinton. Then the Crew take turns manning water stops ever mile, leapfrogging each other until the runners reach Newton City Hall. Some people go beyond to mile 20 and 21 to get their runs in or to run the Newton Hills for good measure.

This year we had TAILWIND! YAHOO! Can't believe it.

I planned on 16 miles. I started out at Mile 3, hitching a ride with Dave, one of the "crew."
Going along great, clipping off the miles at about a 9:45-9:55 pace. Doing well. Then round mile 14, some guy comes up on me, "do you mind if I run with you?"

Uh… no…
"blah blah blah"
I have my iPod on and I can barely hear a thing.
"I ran … Washington Street… blah blah… down and out… blah blah…"
ARG! SHUT UP!!!
"Is this your first Boston?"
"No." (Trying not to engage in conversation. Hated to tell him I was running Big Sur, not Boston.)
"Blah blah blah."
I slow down, he slows down.
I speed up, he speeds up.
At one point he WAITS for me! GAH!!!

And this continue for about 2 miles when I stop. I STOP! To stretch but keep an eagle eye out to see if he keeps running, which he does. Phew.

Needless to say, after the guy started running with me, my splits were slower.
But I am not unhappy. I averaged a 10:00 pace for 16 miles.

Afterwards, we all went to Buff's for wings and beer.
We emailed Debbie to let her know that she is missing out.
She didn't sound too bummed out about missing the run, though.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

My boss...

…is a procrastinator...

I am gonna poke my eyes out.
Anyone have a stick?
Anyone??

Monday, March 13, 2006

Pictures from The Dreaded Cruise

You can see pictures here...
If you are interested...

100 Steps

is approximately how far I've moved...

While I was away on vacation, I got moved.
Actually, my office got moved.
All of 100 steps. One Hundred Steps. Give or take 3 or 7.
The good news is that I am finally near the ladies room. No more treking to
the other side of the earth and RUNNING there and back becase I don't have even
5 minutes before meetings. Now I can just walk swiftly.

I packed 12 boxes before I left for vacation and I've spent the better part of
the day unpacking those same 12 boxes.
My company believes in moving everyone every 1 1/2 to 2 years.
It's a stacking strategy to consolidate space.
It also makes people accustomed to change.
And it forces people to clean their shit up!
Clean out the drawers and the cabinets and the book shelves.
If the company could, they would be paperless, what with all the hoo hah over
document retention and security these days.

So far, I have approximately 1 drawer of running gear, 1 cabinet of running shoes - unopened - along with empty boxes for shoes that are in rotation currently, 3 drawers and 3 cabinets of office supplies, 1 drawer of personal folders, 1 cabinet of empty notebooks (I guess you could call them supplies), 1 shelf of books, 2 empty shelves, 1 shelf of pictures and 1 shelf of nic-nacs.
I also have 4 pictures, 2 clocks and a big bulletin board to be hung.
I wonder when facilities will get to it...

Where are the work documents? On my desk. All over my desk before the move. Now they are all neatly stacked or standing in folders on my desk. I have onecorner to clean up. Oh, and half a drawer of folders containing mostly reference docs and admin items. Everything else is on my computer. Gotta love to 40gb disks. I am almost paperless - if not "stuff-less."

There was talk of me moving to one of the remote offices - I picked the New Hampshire office instead of Rhode Island. For one thing, I like their cafeteria
better and it's about an hour both ways, as opposed to Rhode Island which is
about an hour there and anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours back - due to the
convergence of about 5 major roads... talk about constipation! Traffic goes
NOwhere. Anyway, when the final move plan was done, I was assigned to Boston
(again) for at least through the end of the year and possibly next June. We'll
see...

It's always tough coming back from time off.
It's good to come back to mindless stuff like unpacking.
I figure I can milk this for about 3 or 4 days...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Book Review #3: Holy Cow

...by Sarah MacDonald...

This book was a gift from our upstairs-tenant-neighbor for my birthday last year. And yes, I just got around to finishing it. I started it about 6 weeks ago, but for some reason, I kept falling asleep every few pages. Very strange because I really liked this book!

This was a funny funny book. It recounts the author's travels through India. Having traveled there myself (and planning to go again in May), I could totally relate to her observations of what we would consider cultural idiosyncracies that Indians consider "normal."

Like the bobbing of the heads,
Like the inability to say no - even when we know it's the answer is definiely "no."
Like the interpersonal politics and even the idea of the caste system - which no longer exists according to the some people, but which all know still exists. Ahem.

The author is from Australia and so is her boyfriend, then fiance, then husband (through the course of the book). It takes us through 9-11 and the perils of her husband's job who is a reporter for the Australian Broadcast Company. The second half of the book finds Sarah learning about, trying out, and then trying on various religions - about, oh... five of them, only to insult the Christians Indians who are her household staff. She then goes to the Christian retreat, Indian style, and only chaotic as Indians can make it because their Christian worship is strangely similar to their Hindu worship.

I would recommend this book to those who have experienced India or Indians in some way. I am not sure how it would be received and understood by those who have no idea of the massive differences in life, outlook, religion, communication, interpersonal politics of the Indian culture.

Running on the Edge and Beyond

Today, we ran The Race to Remember. And boyoboy… was it a race to remember.

I didn't even remember there was a race until Joseph mentioned it on the last day of the cruise. So it surprised me and caused some consternation when he said, "You know..."
Uh-oh.
"I have an idea about how you should run your race."
Uh...I don't remember asking.
"but I won't tell you now because I'm still THINKING about it."
Drat! I hate it when he thinks about stuff!

I didn't need him to tell me how HE thought I should run the race. I KNEW how I was going to run it. Relaxed and easy, another long run - easier than usual because, well, I knew I gained some weight on our cruise (which turned out to be a veritable "Four Seasons Hotel on Floats" offering a gourmet dinner menu where you could order one of everything, which I did. Ahem.) Easy, slow, have a little fun, run at the back and keep people company, wave to the crowds (what crowds?), and maybe walk a little. Yup yup yup...

Then, he later said, "you should start out more aggressive then you usually do during the first mile, look around you, see who is there, try to stay with them, and run as the edge of discomfort."

Discomfort? Running = Discomfort! What does that even mean?? What the hell are you talking about??
"And if you can make it to 10 miles, then it was time to go over the edge into discomfort and give it all you've got!"
Uh. Run 10 miles in DISCOMFORT? Okay. Let me think about this...

So, race day arrives. I am tired and cranky. So let's get all the excuses over with. Let's see. I have toe that hurts, my pedicure (which I got on the cruise) could get ruined, it's cold out, there seems to be a wind, I have gained about 5 pounds on the blasted cruise - should NOT have had those double entrees every night, Hmmm... Let's see, what else... Oh. I have a HANGNAIL! Sheesh. Don't I feel better, now...

My mind doesn't want to do this. I want to be HAPPY! But strangely, I line up toward the front. I don't know what moved me there. My mind said "no," but my body just went over there like some remote-controlled robot. For the first time ever, I line up between the 9:00 and 9:30 pace signs. I NEVER do that. Never ever. I usually line up at 10:30 pace sign. Just in case that stupid hangnail keeps me from running faster, dontchaknow...

The gun goes off and people are running in and out and all about me, passing, falling back, sidestepping - GAH! You people get a GRIP! All I know is I am running harder than usual. I finally hang onto a woman dressed in black, smaller than I am (actually not smaller, just CURVIER than I am), and try to stay with her. First mile: 8:36. Dang!!!

I fall back by about 4 steps. Still hanging onto the Woman in Black. I slow down a little. What am I thinking? Keep going. Gotta hang on! I remember all those times I biked. Every ride was a race. Why bike if you can't win? My mantra was KILL KILL KILL! Forget catching the women. I was always gunning for the GUY in front of me. (Sorry to all women cyclists out there - I didn't know you then.) Second mile: 8:50. Dang. Shouldn't have slowed down.

I am still hanging on to the WIB. My glove drops! ARG!!! I go back and pick it up. Stupid Stupid Stupid!!! I spend time TUCKING IT INTO MY BELT! Stupider stupider stupider. Third mile without glove 8:53, WITH GLOVE: 9:22. Dang. You IDIOT!

Mile 4: I've lose the WIB. 9:02. Dang. DAMN WIND!

Mile 5: Missed the marker. Shoot. I need to take a GU! But I can't. I am running too fast to be coordinated! I HATE WIND!! I tuck in behind some big tall guy - much better.

Mile 6: By now I've lost the WIB so I am hanging onto various and sundry people. My legs hurt. But then they were hurting since the first mile. I should be used to it. 18:14 over two miles. 54:10 over

6 miles (WITH GLOVE time) - my FASTEST 6 miles to date. I foolishly start to think that maybe I can do this. If I can just keep going, I can break two hours! Uh... Alrightee...

Mile 7: 9:07 Still doing okay but boy, things are starting to ache. Not sure if I can go much faster. Well, I know I can go faster - did it at the beginning of the race...I finally take that stupid GU! Can I hold this pace for another... ACK!... 6.1 miles? I should never do math while running...

Mile 8: 9:43 Things are starting to really hurt. Can't even describe the legs. I am feeling the vacation bloat. I walk through the water stop and keep walking till I empty the cup. I take a SUCCEED capsule just in case.

Mile 10: 12:54 I break down. Totally. The course takes us under Mass Ave on Memorial Drive. Out and Back. This little ramp is HUGE. I wonder how the Boston Marathoners will deal with it at mile 25.5 in April when they have to do the same thing on Comm Ave where it dips and runs under Mass Ave? 'Cause it TOTALLY SUCKS. I walk. I stop. I stretch. Boy, do I look good! Yup...

Mile 11: 9:55 I start running again and think about walking the water stops. I see Mac from the L-Street Running Club. He grabs my hand and says I am looking good. He gives me a boost.

Mile 12: 9:54 Still holding on... Walking the water stop again, slow this time, drinking from the cup til it's empty. I start crying. Don't know why. The remote control again. I hang on and slow down until I get to the trash can. Everything hurts. I see Joe. I cry harder. I think he felt bad for me because for the first time he doesn't say a word. Will wonders never cease? :o) He runs with me til just before the finish. I see our friend Abby who is shouting and waving! Totally cracked me up. I try to sprint and for the second time in my life, I can't. Not if I was being chased by some runner-eating monster with blood dripping down his chin. I thought, if it means saving my life... I. Would. Die. No can do... Cannot move faster.

Mile 13.1: 11:03

Total time: 2:06:45

Thinking back, there are a couple of things:

1) This is my second fastest half marathon time ever. And I am 10 pounds heavier. Time to lose weight.

2) I know I can run at a faster-than-I-like pace for the first 7 miles. If I can just train and practice to hold it for 8 miles, then 9 miles, and 10... And so on...

3) Bonking sucks. But Joseph pointed out that a few years ago, when I slowed down, it meant I would be WALKING (not running) and my pace would be 11:30, 12;00, 13:00. This time (other than that 12:54) slowing down still meant sub-10:00 pace and only walking through the water tables.

4) One way to gauge how hard you ran is if your legs still hurt like you got hit with bats 3 or 4 days later. And your rib cage will hurt. So will your back and arms.

5) Drinking and taking GU while running faster than usual an art and a skill to be developed.

"Endurance first, strength second, speed third" and "Consistency and mileage" (Neil Cook).
I guess I've been working on Endurance and Strength. Trying to be consistent and get those miles under my legs. And somehow, I am surely picking up some speed without intending to. Joseph's program is working for me. Nothing like living with the coach. I just have to deliver and start approaching my running in the same way I approach my biking. KILL KILL KILL. Not competitive at all...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Cruisin'

We're back from the Dreaded Cruise.
Never been on one before.
Never been to the Caribbean.
Don't like sun.
Hate sand.
Not a real beach fan.
Alllllrighteeeee…

The short of it: We loved it.
The long it it: It was like a floating Four Seasons. 450 guests to 350 crew. Sweet.

We flew from Boston to San Juan. Very crowded flight. Lots of "Spanish spoken here…"
We boarded the boat right away and headed to our room. It was a suite. Wonderful. And we had a balcony. Even more wonderful. We thought this boat was large but when we ported next to other cruise ships, it was SMALL. Anyway…it's an all-suite ship and every room has a balcony.

The ship sailed at night and ported in the morning. First in St. Maarten, then in St. Barths, on to St. Thomas, and finally back to San Juan where we spent the day roaming the streets of Old San Juan - which is an island that is separate from Puerto Rico's main island and is connect by a single bridge.

My favorite island was St. Barths. Of course. Where else can you get a new Louis Vuitton pocketbook? I find out it's also the highest end island of three, the playground of the Rich and Famous. What else is new? We go to the beach and there is topless sunbathing going on. Other people we traveled with actually saw buck-naked-nude people at the beaches they went to but we weren't that lucky. Ahem.

We ended up buying scotch in St. Maarten and walked up and down the little downtown area. We also took a bus tour to the other side of the island - the one belonging to France. It was weird to get on a motor coach, drive down the road and pass from the Dutch side to the French side where there are signs in French instead of English, where things are more expensive and money is in Euro's as opposed to USDollars.

In St. Thomas, we ended up buying a few baubles for Joseph's mother (Larimar - a semi-precious stone named after the daughter of the man who discovered it - a combination of the name Larissa and "mar" for sea - the stone is a beautiful blue that almost looks like a turquois but it's not - you can't tell it's not, but very similar) and a little something for me - nice oval tanzanite set in 18k white gold with sparklies. Happy happy! I'll try to remember to post a picture sometime soon. We also bought some rum.

In Old San Juan, we had a mini-bus tour on the way to downtown from the pier. We walked the streets and had a wonderful time looking in all the stores. Didn't buy anything, though. We also had Mexican food at a little hole-in-the-wall off the main street. They served only 10 things (or something like that) and it was wonderful!

The food was wonderful. There wasn't any real buffets - except at breakfast and lunch - but dinner was all you can eat sit down. You basically had two sides to the menu - the chef's tasting on the right side and the regular menu for the evening on the left side. You could order one of everything. And so I did. They just adjusted the portions for you if they felt like it. If not, you got full size portions. The staff was attentive and I really felt like I was at the Four Seasons!

I also had the full regalia of spa activities! Massage, Facial, Manicure, Pedicure...

The other bit of good news is that the boat rocking didn't bother me at all. In fact, I liked being rocked to sleep. All those people who said you couldn't tell you were on a boat? They were wrong wrong wrong. We had rough seas one night and I woke up from the rocking but I went back to sleep.

We agreed we would definitely do a cruise again. But we can't do one on a ship that is much bigger. I could never do a cruise with thousands of people on it. And I would need a balcony and a suite. Gawd… this is what happens when you start out with the top of the line - you can't go backwards! And another thing, the islands aren't bad, not bad at all… Definitely worth another trip back.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

If you can run Stu's...

...you can run Big Sur...

That's what I've heard.

I ran Stu's 30k 2 years ago, vowing never to return.
Ever.
Last year, Joseph ran it and I and the Dingle drove around and supported him.
It was a fine time. I was ever thankful that it wasn't me out there running it.

Stu's is the Course. From. Hell.
If someone designed a course to suck out your soul, it's Stu's.

It's billed as a 30k but instead of 18.6 miles, it's actually 19 miles long.
And if you run the perimeter of the course, I bet it's about 20 miles.
It's VERY hilly course around the Wachusett Reservoir. Hilly is an understatement.
It starts out relatively calmly, but then it turns into a roller coaster ride of banked roads, steep cambers, and hills with pavement that rise in front of your face. The last time I ran this, there was ice and snow. This year was relatively mild.

I had forgotten how bad the course was until we got there. We picked up Simon and Josh in town and rode together. I asked Joseph if he warned them that they would be waiting an hour or more for me to finish after them (they are fast and run for the BAA with Joseph). He said they would be fine.

The key to this race is to start out slow. So I did. But how slow is slow? I found out that it's never slow enough!
But you don't know until you get there just how tough those hills are going to be.
They get steeper and steeper! It's one of those courses you wish they would run in reverse. That would put the steepest shortest hills first (and they would be DOWNHILLS) and the longer slow hills at the end (which is fine by me). At about mile 16, Joseph came by in the car to make sure I was okay. Of course he had showered and changed. He ran and got me refills on water and met me every mile or so. He even had time to go to the store, get a few drinks and some food - including a Hostess Snowball (in green) which he snuck into my bag for later because he knows they are my favorite. Happy happy! I cried when I saw them. I was in the ladies room getting ready to change, achey, breakey, and just dying. I unzipped my bag and right there on top was the Hostess Snowball. I cried when I saw them. My Hunny Bunny is always surprising me. He's amazing.

Anyway...
I finished with 10 minutes faster than I ran it two years ago.
I guess it's a sign of progress.
I hate to admit it but perhaps I should be running this race every year just to gauge how my training is going.
And one day, I might be able to make it up the last three hills without walking!

Regardless, Joseph said that a woman who ran with him said "if you can run Stu's, you can run Big Sur." And that is supposed to make me feel good?? Of course, upstairs-neighbor-tenant went out there last month for a visit. She came back with a story of how she and her boyfriend Jon drove the course. She said they kept looking at each other and saying things like "they must be crazy," and "are they kidding?" and "they're nuts."

And that's supposed to make me feel reeeeal good...

(Note: still haven't packed.)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Empty Nest Syndrome...

…is weird when you don't have kids...

Our pretend-kid, The Nephew, came to visit for dinner.
He and a bunchahis pals are in town to go to some conference to something or other in Cambridge. So tonight he came over and we went to The Dish for dinner. It was so nice to see him - he seems to get taller everytime I see him, which is stupid because if it were true, he would be about 8'7" tall. But he always brings with him a whoosh of fresh air. Just seeing him standing in my doorway just fills my heart.

This is what parents must feel like after they have raised their kid and he/she has left home to go to college or to make it on their own and he/she gets so busy with his/her own life that coming home is an appointment(!) and thus, a rare occurrence. It must feel that wonderful at the very least and probably ten times more.

And last night, we did what people probably do after their kids leave home… go to dinner with a bunchafriends and stay out as late as we want because there are no kids waiting and no babysitter to get home. We met with our Dinner Club of Six at Sibling Rivalry. It's around the corner from our house. The best part is that while everyone else has a 45 minute drive home after dinner, we just walk 5 minutes and we are home. No designated driver for us! SWEET!

I guess I will pack tomorrow. It's too late to do it tonight.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Have not...

…even started packing…

Still.

But I am thinking about it.
It's a start.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I got a new book...

...from my Hunny Bunny tonight...

To Hate Like This is to be Happy Forever by Will Blythe

I wasn't sure I would like it, it being halfway about the D-word school and all.
But I read the inside flap and I was mollified. A tad.

It's going on the Dreaded Cruise with me (next week. ACK!)

HOTTS in NH

I ran.

1 mile warm up.
10 .25 mile hill repeats at 10% grade with .25 mile easy "rest" in between.
1.5 mile cool down.

I am toast.

Dreaded Cruise Update...

I have not begun to pack.

I have not even started a list of what to pack.

Thought I would share that.