Sunday, December 24, 2006
Looking back on how crazy the past few weeks have been, I realize that I live for December. For parties and cookies and egg nog. Friends and laughing and shopping and presents. Cheesy music and singing. Red dresses and white lights. LOTS of white lights.
December is happy. It really is, "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year."
The month went by very quickly, and now it is time to officially celebrate the holidays. This year I'll have Christmas in Lake Tahoe. With my roommate, AER, in her cabin in Squaw Valley. It's a great cabin in a fantastic location, almost walking distance from the mountain. (You can see the lifts from the kitchen table - if you look out past the hot tub on the deck!)
It is beautiful up here. And I am very excited to spend the rest of December in Lake Tahoe. It will be a wonderful way to enjoy the rest of my favorite month.
A very Merry Christmas to you all...
Monday, December 04, 2006
And that's what exactly what I plan to tell myself when January rolls around and I begin my quest to complete a 1.5K swim, a 40K bike, and 10K run in Lake San Antonio, Monterey County, CA on Sunday May 6, 2007.
I'll tell myself that I'm WILD. Yes, wild. Wild, but not CRAZY!
I don't know, I'm a little nervous. Fortunately Walchka - who was in San Francisco this past weekend - seemed to think that my plans to take a swim/bike/run on the Wild side were pretty awesome. Come January, I hope I agree with him!
For now, though, I am feeling good. Great, even. I am finally starting to feel rested. And I am ready to tackle a new challenge... Well, I'll be ready in a couple more weeks. No need to rush into things. The goal is to be WILD. Yes, wild. Wild, not CRAZY!
Thursday, November 30, 2006
I don’t spend a lot of time in cars. And when I do, I’m not normally driving. I’m being chauffeured. Most of the time, the chauffeuring is being done by a taxi cab driver. But on Saturday night, Dad was driving. He and Mom were driving me to the airport in Philadelphia, after a few days in PA celebrating Thanksgiving. Nine hours later, I was sitting in a limousine on my way to the Ritz Carlton Madrid.
It’s a tough life…
I arrived to a plate of chocolates, nuts, and dried fruits. But I was too tired to notice. I crawled into my bed and awoke nearly four hours later. I proceeded to take one of the best showers of my life. The water pressure and water flow was amazing. Seriously, I felt like I was standing under a steady stream of buckets of water. Better be a good shower for 480 Euros a night, right?
At 9:30 PM, I met the team for dinner. These late dinners absolutely KILL me. Spain and food in general kill me. I’m rather certain that my meal cost about 100 Euros. And I would have been just as satisfied eating a salad from Whole Foods for seven bucks. I don’t get Spanish food, really. So much bread. So little meat. So much fat. At least they poured healthy servings of wine.
The next day, we had a large meeting with almost 100 doctors and scientists who would participate in this clinical trial. The meeting went very well, and the presentation I gave ranks as one of the coolest speeches I have ever given. I was the only American in attendance at the meeting. And even though the participants were doctors and scientists, not everyone is completely fluent in English. Hence, my presentation was translated into Czech, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Everyone wore headphones while I spoke. It’s how I envision the United Nations operates. I couldn’t help but get wrapped up in that idea. It was cool.
After the meeting, the group attended a fancy dinner out on the town in Madrid. We ate in what used to be a casino but is now a space for private parties. At the dinner, I quickly made friends with the Italian doctors. Or rather, they quickly made friends with me. They noticed that my last name ends in a vowel, and had to ask, “From what village is your family?”
(Now, Dad, before you get all excited and impressed by these Italian men, you should know they are very disappointed that you have not brought your family to your homeland. And their eyes nearly bulged out of their heads when they heard that your Irish wife has been to Italy but you have not. So, maybe you should get on that?)
After a brief meeting Tuesday morning, I found myself with a free day in España. So I packed my bags and headed to the train station, La Estacion de Atoche. Just a few blocks from my hotel, I walked there, suit case in tow, and purchased a ticket to Toledo. Toledo is a small town approximately 70 kilometers outside of Madrid. A thirty-minute train ride followed by a 5 minute cab ride, and I was checked into my hotel, Toledo Imperial, right next to El Alcazar.
As I stood out on my balcony, looking at the cobblestone, labyrinth-like maze of city streets, I couldn’t believe I had taken myself all the way from San Francisco through the Spanish country-side and into what is essentially a medieval town. All without speaking more than a few words of English. For anyone who has traveled abroad extensively, this little trip from Madrid to Toledo is no big deal. But to me, traveling on my own, in Europe only for the second time in my life... I was a little pleased with myself. But I've always been good at navigation!
And so I dropped off my bags, grabbed my camera, and set out to explore the town. I shopped. I ate. I took pictures. I realized I needed an adapter to plug in my electronics, so I hunted one down. No one spoke English, so my Spanish skills were put to the test, but I survived. And I bought an adapter for only 1,50 Euros. My fun was cut short by rain, but it was still a nice trip outside of Madrid. Toledo is a beautiful city, and I highly recommend this day trip to anyone visiting Madrid.I got back to San Francisco late last night. The return trip took roughly twenty-four hours, from hotel to train station to airport (Madrid) to airport (Philadelphia) to airport (San Francisco) to apartment. It is amazing how tiring it is to sit on your ass in an airplane all day. Especially after a few days of leisurely strolling around town barely speaking to anyone.
This month alone, I have traveled 23,134 miels on United. That's a lot of miles. And a lot of hours. A lot of time staring at the "Welcome to United Economy Plus" sticker. And a lot of time thinking about life. But as exciting as traveling is, it's nice to be home again. Nice to get back into the groove. Again. ¡Otra vez!
Friday, November 24, 2006
- Energy. To wake up at 6:00 a.m. every day.
- Courage. To try new activities, like snowboarding and skiing and wakeboarding.
- Inspiration. To never settle.
- Charisma. To make each day brighter.
- Serenity. At home. At work. Despite the stress.
- Love. From a man.
- Loyalty. From my friends.
- Support. From my family.
- Ambition. To train for another race.
- Perseverance. To push through when it gets difficult.
- Speed. To run a marathon in 3:40.
- Acceptance. Of myself. For what I am and what I am not.
- Understanding. Of my brother. For what he is and what he is not.
- Patience. With my mother. And my father. Because I am only going to need more as the years pass.
- Discipline. To resist chocolate. Alcohol. Peanut butter. (In excess…)
- Forgiveness. For everything.
- Optimism. Because goodness often hides.
- Empathy. For everyone I know and love.
- Humor. Because I rarely feel like doing sit-ups.
- Laughter. Is there anything better on which I can blame the wrinkles around my eyes?
- Introspection. To write and read and think.
- Money. For now. And for later.
- Conversation. Over pots and pots of coffee.
- Pride. For who I am today. And for who I am going to be.
- Joy. To share with those around me.
- Growth. Despite the pains.
- Thoughtfulness. To give great presents.
- Depth. Underneath layers and layers and layers.
- Thick skin. To shrug off the criticism.
- Confidence. To toe the line.
- Curiosity. To explore. Dream. Discover.
- Peace. To sleep soundly.
- Flexibility. To bend when it’s necessary.
- Leadership. And something to believe in.
- Chemistry. And snap, crackle, pop.
- Surprise. Every once in a while. To keep it interesting.
- Warmth. In a smile.
- Comfort. In the embrace of someone I love.
- Excitement. In the ordinary.
- Excellence. Because anything worth doing, is worth doing excellently.
- Frequent Flyer Miles. To soak it all in.
- A porch swing. On which to sit on a clear night.
- A bay window. From which to view the San Francisco skyline.
- A boat. By which to sail away.
- Sand between my toes. While I lie and think about nothing.
- Musicality. Because life needs a soundtrack.
- Wisdom. To know what is important.
- To be genuine. "Even better than the real thing..."
- Creativity. To alleviate boredom.
- To "make the most of [myself], for that is all there is of [me]." (Emerson)
Monday, November 20, 2006
But once I do get started, things aren't as bad as I think they'll be. I am always glad I went on that run. Or to that yoga class. I am always pleased with myself for cleaning my room. I am always happy after catching up with that old friend.
And with all that said, I do feel a little bit better about a few things. It is good to get in a benchmark of where I am out in the open. Because in the future, I will only feel "better" with a frame of reference for where I was.
And so, I am now officially on the road. Again. For the first time.
On the road, training for another race. (Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon) I'm training with my roommate this time, which will be great. We'll run three-four days a week with plenty of cross training activities to keep it interesting. I am excited.
On the road, traveling for work and pleasure. I just got back from Phoenix and I'm headed to Philadelphia to visit my family for Thanksgiving tomorrow night. From Philadelphia, I'll continue onto Madrid for another work meeting, then onto Toledo for some exploration on my own.
On the road, to figuring out what I really want to get out of therapy. And on the road, to reaching inner peace and happiness.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Been staring at this draft for a while, now. Not quite sure where to begin. For starters, I'm in San Francisco. NOT Chicago. The meeting I was supposed to have in Chicago next week - the meeting to deliver my most recent project at work to the client - was cancelled. On Thursday afternoon. And with it, my flight to Chicago on Saturday morning to run in the Chicago Marathon.
Since Thursday afternoon I have been angry, and sad. Frustrated and stressed. Irritated with my project. My client. My job. And, if I'm being honest, my life. Because it always seems to work this way. Up and down and up again and down again. Hurry up and wait. Get it done yesterday turned, eh, it's not really needed anymore. I am overwhelmed and exhausted and tired. I am so tired. I really have never been this tired in my entire life. And I need... well, I don't know what I need. Or want, at this point. Other than to figure it out. I need and want to make some changes.
But admist the fluster and aggravation and disappointment, I am relieved, too. RELIEVED!
Because I'm not prepared. I'm not prepared to run this marathon. On such little sleep and so few long runs. Through rain and 40 degree temperatures. I'm not ready to attack the physical challenge of the marathon. Furthermore, and more importantly, I'm really not ready to attack the mental challenge. For so many reasons...
So I didn't buy my own ticket to Chicago. And I am not running this race tomorrow. I'm not going to push myself through something else that's been on my list of things to do just to cross it off. I'm not going to run myself down any more than I already am. I'm not going to just, "make it work."
It is 80 degrees and sunny today in San Francisco. I am going to take a long walk to the bridge, and I am going to read my book, and I am going to clear my head.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
At any rate, finishing - it is worth it. So now it's time work it...
|Marching Bands of Manhattan||Death Cab For Cutie|
|Mother We Just Can't Get Enough||The New Radicals|
|Bang a Gong (Get It On)||T. Rex|
|Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey||The Beatles|
|Kissing The Lipless||The Shins|
|Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)||Arcade Fire|
|Little Ghost||The White Stripes|
|Paint It, Black||The Rolling Stones|
|Steady, As She Goes||The Raconteurs|
|Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away||Clap Your Hands Say Yeah|
|Scrap Metal||Bitch And Animal|
|Barely Legal||The Strokes|
|The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song…||The Flaming Lips|
|Look Good In Leather||Cody Chesnutt|
|All These Things That I've Done||The Killers|
|Beware of the Boys||Panjabi MC|
|8 Miles and Runnin'||Freeway & Jay-Z|
|Notorious Thugs||Notorious B.I.G.|
|California Love||2Pac, Dr. Dre & Roger Troutman|
|Dirt Off Your Shoulder||Jay-Z|
|My Humps||Black Eyed Peas|
|Bring the Pain||Method Man|
|How Do You Want It||Tupac Shakur|
|What You Waiting For?||Gwen Stefani|
|Gone Daddy Gone||Gnarls Barkley|
|Party Up (Up in Here)||DMX|
|Just Lose It||Eminem|
|In da Club||50 Cent|
|Triumph||Wu-Tang Clan & Cappadonna|
|Fire (Yes, Yes Y'all)||Joe Budden & Busta Rhymes|
|Hotel||Cassidy & R. Kelly|
|Method Man (Skunk Mix)||Wu-Tang Clan|
|Work It||Missy Elliott|
|Stop Being Greedy||DMX|
|Feel So Good||Mase|
|Good Girls, Bad Guys||DMX & Dyme|
|My Love||Justin Timberlake|
|30 Gallon Tank||Spoon|
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Not that I'm 100% recovered from the twelve weeks of business travel I endured from June through August. Every now and then, I still wonder if my watch is programmed for the correct timezone.
I am somewhat cranky. And sleep deprived. Stressed, and anxious. I am tired...
But I can't rest yet!
Because my flight for Chicago departs from SFO on Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m. And I'll be flying First Class (Oh, business travel does have its rewards!) headed for an arrival at ORD by 12:00 Noon. And then it's off to 2301 South Martin Luther King Drive.
I've got a Race Packet to pick-up!!!!
So this Sunday, October 22, find me in Chicago, IL. In the Preferred II Start Corral.
It's Chicago Marathon time, Baby. I'm not making any promises, as I have not put in the level of endurance training I put in prior to Rock N Roll back in June. (Really? A 20 miler?) But I have churned out a few 16 milers. And quite regularly - for whatever reason - I have complete brick cycle/run workouts. So it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that my new average 8 Mile pace is sub 8:00.
Throw in the fact that my friends from DC and UVA (LGA, EMI, ESB, and CCE) are all going to be in the crowds to cheer me on and that I know - really, I KNOW - to never, ever, drink PowerAde. Again. And, shit, the fact that I'm running with Walchka, and I realize I'm pretty effing excited to run this race. And it's about effing time!
I feel a playlist coming on...
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
And I want it to feel good. I want to enstill pride. With a touch of fear. Of what people'd think. I'd want the feedback... As long as I wanted to want it, though. Yeah, that's what I guess I really want.
But I can't seem to find the words let alone write them down.
It doesn't choke. But it does kind of stifle, a bit. However it isn't angering. Actually, it just makes me feel incredibly tired. Too tired to find the patience to do a whole lot about it.
It'll come back...
Sunday, October 01, 2006
And for the first time in a long time, the thought of running the Chicago Marathon is actually making me smile.
I'm bouncing my knee.
I'm nervously grinning.
I'm enjoying the feeling of my heart beating in my throat.
I'm cracking my knuckles.
I'm stretching my hip flexors.
I'm confidently tightening my pony tail.
I'm donning my tights.
I'm lacing my Asics.
And I'm getting off of the couch...
Thursday, September 28, 2006
It doesn't take much for that gut feeling to take shape. It comes together, and then sinks down, nice and low. So low sometimes that we can't feel it. We can't hear it. For the rest of the night, the weekend, or the month. Sometimes for two and a half years. Yes, sometimes we ignore it for that long. But all along, we know.
We know when we justify. And make excuses. And omit key details of stories to our friends. We know when we don't ask them to meet our parents. When we don't call. When they don't call. When we don't go to breakfast in the morning.
He asked for my number on Saturday. He emailed on Tuesday. And he called tonight. And tomorrow, we're... Do I have a date tomorrow night?
SHIT! What am I getting into?
Deep down, I don't know this time. On the surface, it's a little complicated. No, really, it is. Or is it? Deep down, does it really matter? I don't think it should. Maybe at first it will. But deep down, we all know. I mean, it's not that complicated. Number. Email. Call. "Date."
SHIT! I just GIGGLED!
The ones that work are always the least complicated. Hardest to learn, but least complicated.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Since my body can't move without my mind sending it signals, I'm inclined to think that my mind is in charge. But I think The Body can take over sometimes. For the past three months, I think my body has been trying to control my mind. The result is that my boyd was telling my mind what to go back and tell my body. And what's worse is that my mind seems to have always been following orders!
Throughout the entire summer, my mind has known that it should have been running. And my mind knows how fast each run I actually did complete should have been ran. How long each run should have lasted. When to have pushed through and when to have pulled back. My mind KNOWS. She has done her research.
However, for an entire three months, my body - this LAZY body - has dominated the daily debate:
- Run? Don't run?
- Fast? Slow?
- Give it your all? Give it all up?
I haven't been able to write much this summer. Again, it has been a couple of weeks since I last wrote. And while it is true that I haven't had a lot of time to say much, it is also true that I haven't had much to say. And while I'm sad that I haven't had a whole lot to say, I'm more sad about my lack of initiative to really do much about the situation. I didn't take very many steps to get my life back in order this summer. To be true to my priorities, and to make time for what really matters. Something that is both difficult and disturbing for me to admit.
...Today is September 26. SHIT! It's already the end of September. That fact is also both difficult and disturbing to admit, to realize; but it is also comforting. A new season, and a new start. (I know that the current season is autumn, and that autumn isn't normally used in metaphors for starting again, but have you ever seen a San Francisco autumn?) I am pretty that the fall air has inspired my my mind to again rn shop. And I think she's running pretty strong! Because we ran well today. Me and the roommie, AER. We ran to the Golden Gate Bridge and back, for 8 miles in 65 minutes. At an average pace of 8:07/mile. And we felt great.
It is a homecoming that is drastically past due, but nevertheless much appreciated. I am so glad to be back. To that place where my thoughts and actions collide, my intentions and responses synchronize. Where I do what's right instinctively. When my spirit begins to sing and my heart begins to dance. In that place where my heart and soul, along with my mind and body endure.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
It starts and I am quickly reminded of why I come here. Because with every breath, I am a little bit taller. My head a bit higher, my shoulders less slouched. With every breath, I am a little more confident. A little more hopeful, with every breath. Less fragile; instead, more flexible, easygoing.
I am a little less afraid, with every breath.
Of the pain. In all its shapes and forms. That I am feeling right now and that which I feel all the time. I am a little less afraid of it. Because, I realize, it doesn't last. Not for long, forever. Once I let it in, I can confront it and allow it to pass. So that it ebbs and flows such that my tears well but then subside.
It hurts, it does. For 60 seconds or 60 months, either way. But we can come out of it. We do come out of it. We inhale deeply and we sigh slowly. And we release all that made us clench and twist and wince. We let go of the bite and the snap. We reach that point when we lick our lips and nod our head and move on.
For 90 minutes. For 90 years. We suck and we suck and we suck it all in. We hold it and carry it and too often, refuse to let it go. We strain and we wear down. We hold our breath and we purse our lips. Our hearts boom and we let them.
Until we burst. Until that time when our only remaining option is to let go. To blow it out. To blow it all out. Until there is nothing left. We sigh and we laugh and we cough and we sing and we scream and we sweat and we cry. Until there is nothing left. Until we are empty.
We empty our eyes and our minds and our mouths and our ears and our hearts. We give all that is left of ourselves. We don't stop for 60 seconds or 60 months. For 90 minutes or 90 years. We empty ourselves over and over and over again.
Until we are full.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I woke up to a sore, dry throat. And a headache that should only be felt on a Sunday morning after a fantastic wedding. 16 hours, 16 glasses of water, and 8 advil later, I still can't seem to evade the pounding in my head.
It seems as if the summer has caught up with me. Of course! One day after I finally woke up on the RIGHT side of the bed. And had a calm day at work. One day after I developed new ideas for how to overcome my lack of ambition... (More to come, naturally.)
And so, I sit on the couch. Crocheting a blanket. Trying to focus on something other than the hammer that is pounding against the back of my left eye.
Single crochet, chain one, single crochet, chain one, single crochet, chain two...
Saturday, September 09, 2006
I've been away from home weekend after weekend after weekend since... SHIT! I don't even remember the last time I sat on my couch on Saturday morning. And while I still do love to travel, I am realizing that I love it a little bit less these days. Since I have a great apartment and a fabulous roommate and an adorable cat...
I just haven't felt myself lately. I can't focus. On anything. As soon as I give my attention to one project another one starts screaming at me. And quite often I find that I am only half listening to people when they're talking to me. I'm walking into walls and bumping my head on doors. I keep losing my keys. My wallet. My cell phone. My mind...
I feel like I am falling apart.
And I'm pretty sure the only way to fix this feeling is to rest up, eat right, and exercise. But I can barely bring myself to lace up the Asics or roll out the yoga mat. All I want to do at this point is stare at my ceiling.
So that's what I'm going to do... Thus, my ambition-free weekend continues.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Monday, August 28, 2006
Hood to Coast 2006:
- 2 vans.
- 12 runners.
- 36 legs.
- 197 miles from Mount Hood to Seaside, Oregon.
All teams are required to finish the race by 9:00 PM on Saturday. So I have to admit, getting the late start time was both exciting (hell yeah, we're fast!) and nerve racking (but are we THAT fast?) We only had 28 hours to finish, meaning we had to average 8:30 miles the entire time. Could everyone on the team do that? For three legs? On zero sleep? In the middle of the night?
We'd soon find out. Van #1 blazed down the slopes of Mount Hill and through the first six legs in approximately four and a half hours. So at 9:35 PM, it was time for Van #2 - The San Francisco Contingent - to begin our journey.
Running in the afternoon can be difficult for me, so to say that running at night - er, EARLY morning - is difficult is also an understatement. I ran my first 5.9 mile leg of Hood to Coast form 1:00 AM to 1:50 AM. Sure, I averaged under 8:30 minutes/mile, but it was painful. I think everyone in Van #2 felt that way, too. We finished our legs, but it wasn't always pretty.
So, after meeting up with Van #1 at the exchange, the SF Contingent piled back into Van #2 and headed down the course to the second van exchange. During this time I had the *pleasure* of riding in The Stinky Seat, which not only sucked, it smelled. Needless to say, I did not get much sleep during this rest time. But I'm pretty sure feeling nauseous due to a lack of sleep, a smelly van, and an overdose of Cliff bars is all part of the fun of a distance relay...
Four hours later, it was time to run again. The sun was coming up now, and I must say, Oregon is really quite beautiful. RN, our first runner, had a pretty difficult 6-mile leg. Up up up up up lots of hills in time to pass off to DC, our second runner. He averaged 7 minute miles through most of his legs, and was a great last minute addition to the team. DC endured 6 miles on a dirt road for Leg #20. He passed off to EZ, another 7 minute miler, who killed his leg before SS climbed a mini mountain and picked up 17 road kills for yet another 7 minute mile performance on Leg 22!
The hand-off from SS to KT was just as fast, transferring enough momentum to KT to keep the speedy paces going. KT finished 4 miles for Leg 23 in 30 minutes! An average pace of 7:45 minutes/mile! She was going so fast she almost couldn't stop to do our transition dance. (You laugh, but relays are SO much better with transition dances...) I shouted, "Come on KT - MAKE IT WORK!" To which she replied, "Go Nic! CARRY ON!" (Yes, in our best Tim Gunn voices. Not going to lie, the crowd loved us.) A quick do-si-do and I was off on Leg 24.
It was starting to get warm by now. And although Leg 24 was flat, there wasn't time to slack off in cruise control. I flew out of the transition and onto the long, winding road. It felt good to be running in daylight. The team drove ahead to meet me 2.5 miles into my leg, but I reached them a little less than 20 minutes into the leg. No one saw me. To be frank, they weren't even LOOKING for me yet. I guess they thought I'd be running 8:30s again. Turns out, though, I was running a little faster than 8:00 minute/mile pace. And it felt good. So good. But not good enough to stop for water! I decided to keep going for fear that slowing down would bring me to a standstill.
Instead, I said I'd meet them at the transition, which turned out to be easier said than done. Because by now, there was a bottleneck of vans trying to make it to the van exchange. I passed our van and realized there was a chance I was going to make it to the handoff before they did. And that's almost what happened. Except luckily, SS and RN jumped out of our van and sprinted almost an entire mile to the exchange, just in time to see me finish 4.9 miles in 39 minutes. (With 15 road kills!) Under 8:00 minutes/mile average pace - a PR for Nic, and the start of a very-well deserved rest period for all of Van #2.
Thank goodness. Because by now it was pretty effing HOT. It took a long time to drive to the next van exchange. The traffic was terrible and there were runners everywhere. I don't think I have ever seen so many runners. It's just amazing to think that for two entire days, 200 miles of Oregon was covered in runners.
The heat slowed Van #1 considerably during their final legs, so we had to wait a little longer to run again. This extra time made us realize how tired we were. So by the time we met up with Van #1 at the final exchange, we weren't looking good. But we were so close! And Van #1 was done!!!!! So Van #2 embarked on the final legs of the race. Tackling rolling hills and cruising through well-deserved flats. In a lot of pain but with a lot of heart, everyone blazed through their final legs. Until it was my turn to run Leg 36...
I was nervous at the handoff. I was just so tired. And nervous. And tired. I really HATE being last! For almost 26 hours I had been dreading this final leg. Leg 36 had nearly two miles of climbing at the start. And I just haven't been training very consistently, lately. And I certainly haven't been running too many hills! FUCK! I'm tired! And petrified of that hill!
But eventually, it was time to face the incline. I took off at around 6:58 PM, climbing my first mile up mostly trail. Up! Push! Leap! Spring! I dodged right and left around boulders. I scurried past other runners. I pushed and propelled and forced my way to the front of the pack. Once I reached the road, I didn't quit. I continued to grind out the climb, and I made it to the top of the hill in 16 minutes.
Which meant that it was all downhill from there! Downhill for the fastest, most beautiful mile of my life. Winding right and left and down and right and left and down through the tallest pine trees under the clearest blue sky. Never stopping or slowing, only thinking of that beach. That beach that is only a few more miles away! And before I knew it, a H2C volunteer directed me to turn right and said, "Only a half mile to go!"
"WHAT? ONLY A HALF MILE TO GO?"
My watch read something around 37 minutes.
I ran as fast as my little 5'3" body could carry me. I smiled. I cried. I soared. I fucking booked it down that promenade. I high-fived small children. I high-fived their parents. I said hello to doggies. I looked out at that Pacific Ocean and BEAMED with pride and excitement.
And I crossed the Hood to Coast Finish Line at 7:37 PM on Saturday August 26.
- Team Total Time - 26:37:36
- Team Overall Place - 257/1032
- Team Overall Percentage - Top 24.9 %
- Team Overall Average Pace - 8:06 minutes / mile
- Leg 12 - 5.9 Miles - 49:45 Total Time - 8:26 min / mile pace
- Leg 24 - 4.9 Miles - 39:15 Total Time - 8:01 min / mile pace
- Leg 36 - 5.8 Miles - 41:29 Total Time - 7:09 min / mile pace
And I couldn't remember the last time everything felt so damn good.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
It's not healthy.
For me to feel this way..."
I am still at my desk.
I have a million more pages of documentation to pull together before I'm, "DONE." (Whatever that means.)
I don't expect to sleep tonight.
I am icing my left wrist.
Because I think I have carpal tunnel syndrome.
I have not had a good run in two weeks.
In fact, I have barely run three times the past two weeks.
And to prove it, I have a fucking WORK injury and not a RUNNING injury!
I am running in Hood to Coast on Friday.
Er... Saturday. Our start time is something like 9:00 PM.
And I'm running Legs, 12, 24, and 36.
So I probably won't be running until the wee hours of Saturday morning.
And even though this 195 mile 12 person relay race is supposed to be AWESOME, I just kind of don't want to do it.
Because I'm tired and cranky and stressed and overworked.
And because I'd kind of rather spend the weekend in San Francisco for once...
Oh, I am not ready for this race at all.
So if you thought I was dead, I'm not.
But I likely will be come Saturday evening upon crossing the finish line on the Coast in Oregon.
(HUGE EFFING SIGH)
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
And as I'm too tired to work - wait, doesn't this travel time actually count as work? - I've decided to uploaded all of my pictures for everyone's viewing pleasure.
And guess what? I'm going to Chicago next week... Nothing says, "Welcome Home, Nic!" like, "Pack your bags - you're going to Chicago!"
But I was wrong. True, I was already coming from behind with the jetlag. For all intents and purposes, by 7:00 p.m. on Sunday in Madrid I hadn't really slept since Thursday night in San Francisco. Except for a few naps here and there on the plane, coupled with a jolt to 9 hours in timezone changes, I was wiped. And my legs felt it.
But the heat itself was still pretty paralyzing. And the air? It felt like I was smoking every cigarette in the pack at once, while I was running. I mean, I was WHEEZING! I had to stop and walk to catch my breath! Now, I have certainly stopped running to walk from time to time, but it is normally out of mental weakness. On Sunday evening, however, it was because I couldn't facilitate a transport of oxygen from the air to my lungs.
It was a scary three miles. 10-minute pace, maybe. But not EZ...
I couldn't really fit in a run on Monday, because I spent the day in meetings. And then I spent most of Tuesday either working or exploring the city. Which left me only this morning to try one more time. So even though I went to bed extremely late, I rose at 8:00 a.m. I donned my little running shorts and packed my adorable little camera in my ID pouch. (And yes, Dad, I also packed my ID. And a few Euros for cab fare in the event that there was a repeat wheezing performance.)
But there was not a repeat performance. Madrid in the morning is cool and breezy. The air actually feels nice! Not too many other runners were out, but lots of older people taking walks. I decided to explore el Parque de Buen Retiro one more time so that I could check out el Palacio Cristal. I had a little bit of trouble finding it, at first, until I was stopped by an old man who asked me if I like to run...
"Te gusta correr?" he asked.
"Si, senor, me gusta correr mucho," I replied. Kind of funny, I guess. I always just assume that people who are running enjoy doing so. I quickly realized that there was no way I could continue on my run without first stopping to talk this man, and so I did.
He told me about the park, and then asked me if I run here often, because he has never seen me before. To which I basically replied that I don't live in Madrid, and that this is only the second time I have ever ran in this park.
Of course, the man assumed I lived elsewhere in Spain. So when I replied, "No vivo en Espana, soy de los Estados Unidos" he repeated, "No me digas!" six or seven times. (For the non-Spanish speaking, he basically said, NO WAY!) So it turns out that this man's son lives in San Rafael, which isn't too far from San Francisco. It is amazing that I know this, however, as I am still not too familiar with the majority of the Bay Area.
We talked a little more, and he told me my Spanish was very good. (MENTIRAS!!!! - LIES!!!!!) He asked me what I did while I was in Madrid, and couldn't believe that I was only here for a few days. He then directed me to el Palacio de Cristal - my final tourist destination of the trip - and then we I was on my way again. But before we said good-bye, he kissed my hand and both of my (sweaty) cheeks. He said he is glad to know I will be returning in October, and that he will keep an eye out for me in the park.
With that, I was back on my run. Legs strong, breathing well, and a smile on my face, as I realized that I was pretty glad I was going to be back in October, too.
NOTE: I'm having trouble with accents and tildes. Lo siento!
Monday, August 07, 2006
The answer was always quite simple, really: I was hungry. No one else was.
For the most part, these friends still can't comprehend the general comfort I have achieved with my solidarity. I think it is often because these are my friends who argue with boyfriends over what to buy while grocery shopping - Healthy Choice Frozen Pizza? Or Meat Lovers Digiorno? Wine? Or beer?
The answer, again, to me always seems quite simple: Buy both.
Maybe it's because my parents, still together after all of these years, maintain separate bank accounts. And pay for their own vacations that they take without the other. And prepare their dinners differently. The salad bowl on the dinner table at their house always has another little bowl of cucumbers next to it, because Mom likes cucumbers and Dad doesn't. They have maintained separate interests throughout their entire relationship.
Come to think of it, one reads my blog (guess who?) and the other doesn't...
Of course, I do often wonder how their relationship has made it this far. And I often wish they had more in common. But to be honest, I'm pretty damn proud of my mother for refusing to pretend she likes golf.
Because I am reaching an age when I am finding so many of my female friends conforming to the likes and interests of their boyfriends and husbands. At times it seems that many of them have forgotten to maintain a sense of self within their relationship.
I know I am not the best at listening to them work through the quibbles of their relationships. Perhaps that's because I don't understand why they don't just buy what they want to buy at the grocery store. Or go see the movie that they want to see on Saturday afternoon. Or take a trip to visit their friend without their boyfriend in tow...
It has been a long time since I had to ask Him what He was doing for dinner. For the weekend. For New Year's Eve. Perhaps I'm just insensitive.
But it does follow rather naturally that I am spending my first time in Europe, without a travel companion. Exploring by myself. Snapping photos by myself. Eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, by myself. I am sitting at a cafe on the other side of the world with no one to tell how entirely exciting and simultaneously depressing it is to be in Madrid. Alone. Because right now, it would really be nice to share this bottle of wine with someone special.
But if I have to drink it by myself, I will. Salud!
Sunday, August 06, 2006
In fact, I'm a little homesick... and that NEVER happens!
Four star hotels in Madrid are great, but when it comes down to it, there really is no place like home sweet apartment.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Can you believe it? Two weeks ago my boss called me into her office to see how I felt about taking on a new project. I was getting a little bored again, as my other projects were under control. And since I apparently LIKE having too much to do, she noticed that when I actually have time to stop and take a coffee break, I become rather unhappy.
What else would you expect from me? I'm a marathoner! For whatever reason, I enjoy pain.
So to thwart my pending job dissatisfaction, she awarded me my first international project. OK, that's not the only reason why she gave me this project. And it's not the only reason I took it, either. But if you're going to work late at night and on weekends, well it just makes sense to put in those hours while residing in a foreign country.
So, I expedited my passport and picked it up on Monday afternoon. I had a busy week - running, spinning, and yoga-ing on top of dinners with friends and full days at the office. So on Friday afternoon I came home from work and did three loads of laundry. I packed my bags, and then went out until 4:30 a.m. with some friends. The Super Shuttle picked me up for SFO at 5:15 a.m. I boarded a plane to PHL and connected onto MAD.
I arrived this morning at 7:30 a.m.
Once through customs, I picked up some Euros, hailed a cab, and successfuly communicated where I needed to go with the cab driver. We conversed in broken Spanish while we rode to El Gran Hotel Canarias. I checked in, took a shower, and tried to go back to sleep for an hour. But I am apparently too excited. So I headed downstairs to the Desayuno Buffet before picking up an adapter for my laptop's power supply.
And here I am! Is my life not crazy?
So my kick-off meeting with the team is tomorrow. I have all day today to explore Madrid before meeting up with everyone for dinner at 9:00 p.m. (Not sure how I'm going to last that long...) Right now, I'm headed to el Museo Nacional del Prado, and I have no idea what's after that.
Deséame suerte! (Wish me luck!)
Monday, July 31, 2006
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Place Overall................................................... 523rd
Total Number of Participants....................... 3858
Percentage...................................................... Top 13.55%
Place in the Women's Division...................... 144th
Total Number of Women Participants........ 2114
Percentage...................................................... Top 6.8%
Place in the Female 20-29 Division............. 60th
Total Number of Females Aged 20-29....... 722
Percentage...................................................... Top 8.3%
Age Grade: 58.08%
(What the hell is this stat? Did I finish ahead of 58.08% of other 26 year olds?)
Total Time: 1:52:34
Overall Pace: 8:36/mile
(Not bad for a wicked hilly training run...)
First 7.4 Miles Time: 1:04:13
First 7.4 Miles Pace: 8:41
(Hmm, I think I ran the second part of the race faster than the first... Every 5 measily seconds/mile counts!)
So what's the consensus?
I might be too hard on myself sometimes. OK replace might with probably. And replace sometimes with most times. I have to remember that this wasn't a race. It was a training run. I didn't do a lot of running in June, mostly cross training. And throughout July, I fit in as much running as I could while I was on the road. A difficult feat, considering all of the time spent on an airplane and bopping from one time zone to the next. But my volume and intensity were definitely not where they were back in April and May.
So it is easy for me to feel a little discouraged with my running right now. I've barely been able to focus on it! How can I be happy with where I am when I'm not entirely sure I know where that even is?
Time to get out that map, I guess, and really start following the directions. Right after I admit that I did run pretty well yesterday. And right after I admit that I am pleased with that 8:36 pace. Right after I pat myself on the back, but only a couple of times.
There is still a lot of work to do!
Recovery Run ~ 3.25 EZ miles ~ Total Time: 29:49 ~Pace: 9:07/mile
Weigh Training ~ Back, Biceps, Core
Sunday, July 30, 2006
I quickly threw on my gear and dashed out onto the street. I flagged a cab and made it to the start at 5:39 a.m. In time to hear them counting down the Wave 3 start. So I jumped in at the back of the pack, and I was off.
You know, I don't think I have felt good on a run since May. Seriously. My last runner's high was pre-Rock-N-Bonk-Marathon. Until today, that is. Even though I grinded out almost seven miles yesterday, this morning's very early 13.1 felt pretty good. Not the entire time, but there were moments. Moments when I remembered why I like to run. And that felt good.
I cruised through the first couple of miles. And then I soared up that hill between miles two and three. That hill that not even a year ago made me want to die. I glided down the hill and onto Marina Drive, where - get this - I actually saw the Golden Gate Bridge. Miraculously, even at 6:00 a.m., the fog remained perched high enough above the city ensuring a protective blanket from the sun while still enabling a stunning view of the area terrain.
With the cruise control set, I zoomed along through the first five miles. Dashing up yet another hill around Mile 5, I was able to position myself with a cruising altitude of 8:20-ish pace for the out and back over the Golden Gate Bridge.
It was kind of windy up there. And it was boring. So I slowed down a little on the bridge, as I remembered I technically wasn't supposed to be RACING this morning. Righ before the turn-around, I looked up and caught a glimpse of the city skyline. I puased as I enjoyed a few
seconds of complete happiness. This beautiful city, and this beautiful weather, and this great race... it's home.
And it was time to begin running back to it. I crossed Mile 7 and noticed that my watch read 59 minutes. "8:30s," I thought. "Cool. I should try to keep this up." So I continued to cruise back over the bridge. 2 more miles on the Golden Gate, followed by a rather difficult mile up Lincoln Avenue in the Presidio, before a long descent above Baker Beach to Mile 11.
This morning, I realized that the mile between markers 10 and 11 is my favorite mile of running in San Francisco. It was that beautiful. Really.
But all too quickly, the course rounded over to 26th Avenue. Where it upped and flattened and upped and flattened - repeatedly and painfully - for the next mile. But by now, I had made it to the front of the Wave 3 pack. Because each time we finished an up, I noticed that very few people were in front of me working on the next one.
I wasn't feeling particularly strong this morning. But the benefit of a Homefield Advantage can't be underestimated. I somehow managed to find a rhythm this morning. At times it was syncopated, and at others it was smooth. But it was enough to push me through every one of those last ups, such that I cruised into the 13.1 First Half Finish Line in Golden Gate Park near the DeYoung Museum somewhere around 1:52:00.
Hmm. Not bad... for a training run.
So I grabbed a banana. And a Cytomax. And a water. I stretched for a few minutes before I headed out of the park onto Fulton Avenue. I hailed a taxi and was home, showered, and back in bed by 8:16 a.m.
13 hours later, I'm still pretty tired. And although I'm pleased with the race/training run results, my reservations about a Boston Qualifying performance in Chicago have returned. Sometimes it just doesn't seem possible.
But it's too late to turn around. The goal of qualifying for Boston isn't an out and back course. I'm learning that it will likely keep getting harder and harder. But I'm halfway there... 13.1 miles down, 13.1 miles to go. It's too late to turn around. Time to see this thing through to the end.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
This is San Francisco! And it's July! It certainly isn't HOT here. Nope. If it's cool and foggy at 12 noon, it's certainly still cool and foggy at 7:00 a.m. And 8:00 a.m. Hours at which normal races start.
Oh, but one of the highlights of the San Francisco Marathon (and Half Marathon, which I'm running) is that you can run across the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, what the hell does that matter when you're running across is at 6:30 a.m.? We might as well be running through The Tenderloin. We're not going to be able to see our feet through the dense fog, let alone the bridge.
Complaints aside, I'm excited to run tomorrow. Because I kind of need to get back into the swing of things. So much has been going on the past two months. And it doesn't look like it's going to slow down much, either. So although it will be painful to be running at 5:30 a.m., it will be nice to cross the finish line before 7:20 a.m. And it will be really nice to get back home (to my awesome new apartment!) by 7:45 a.m. To shower and crawl back into my big, cozy bed to pass out for another hour or two by 8:00 a.m.
Yes, it will be nice to take a few hours for myself and my running tomorrow morning. Even if those hours are all before sunrise.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The stove is new. The oven clean. The microwave, of all things, capable of successfully microwaving food. And the countertops, which are made of granite, actually look clean when you wipe them down. Not that they need to be wiped. Like the cabinets, which don't even need to be lined, everything is NEW. And clean!
Oh, and did I mention there is a dishwasher? And a garbage disposal?
The closet is huge, too. No, not that closet, the other one. No, no, no... The OTHER other closet. Well, I guess they are ALL gigantic. Maybe I should rent one out?
Hell no! They're mine-mine-mine!
OK, except that one in my roommate's bedroom.
And speaking of bedrooms, I think my bedroom - which has a WALK IN CLOSET and its very own bathroom - is bigger than my entire first apartment in Washington, DC! Oh, it makes me happy. The sage green walls are soothing. The racks of wooden hangers energizing. The shelves and shelves of organization so, so satisfying.
I think I shall call my new apartment, HEAVEN.
Have no fear, sinners. HEAVEN is only a mere eight and a half blocks from the old place! (I think I will start to dub the old apartment Purgatory...)
And although I'm no longer at the top of the hill, and although The Gulch is not quite the East Side, I am certainly movin' on up!
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Problem solving, in all its forms, is natural. I think that I was born with many of the tools with which I so frequently tinker. The others accumulated through solid investments of time, conversation, and money... But at twenty-six, they come together nicely. And most of the time, I need only to plug and chug to find whatever it is I need to find.
I imagine that The Skill Set is responsible for taking me from 3 miles in thirty minutes in 2002 to 26.2. miles in under four hours a couple years later. Right now, I sincerely hope that The Skill Set will take me through my next 26.2 in under 3:40:59.
However certainty, I have learned, is absurd. Especially in The Marathon.
But still, I have my formulas. And the list of what I can and can't control. So I'm throwing it all in there. The running and resting. The going hard and the going easy. Long and short and fast and slow. I'm completing the intervals. And I'm enjoying the cross train.
The plan is in place. Though it may not feel perfect, sometimes we have to go with it anyway. We have to plug and chug. And chug, and chug, and chug.
(Tuesday - 7.5 miles - Intervals - Crissy Field/Treadmill - 63:30 - 8:28/mile average pace)
(Wednesday - 3 miles - Recovery - Treadmill - 28:00 - 9:20/mile pace)
(Wednesday - SPIN - Cross Train - 1 hour)
Hopefully, I'm on the right track!
Monday, July 17, 2006
My arms are heavy. There is a kink in my left shoulder and crackle in my right. I can barely raise my arms to brush my hair and adjust my ponytail. I am weak...
My eyelids are clumsy. They flip and flop as my head bibs and bobs. And though I flick the lids up in an attempt to stay awake, they droopily fall down, politely demanding we crawl into bed to rest. Soon...
I suppose it is only natural to feel this tired after getting back on track to complete my first full week of training.
However I am not encouraged.
(Rest Day - 4 miles - WALK - To and from work.)
Sunday, July 16, 2006
I can't tell you how nice it was to sleep in a room with the window open. To feel the sixty-one degree San Francisco breeze flow through the screen, prompting me to curl up under my down comforter. How beautiful to sleep under a down comforter in the middle of JULY!
I can't tell you how fantastic it felt to lace up The Asics this morning and leave for a long run at 10:30 a.m. To breathe in and not choke on humidity. To sweat freely without it stinging The Eyes, since the droplets have time to evaporate here! And, OH, to run under that beautiful Golden Gate Bridge!
California, I am back. I am HOME. I'm sorry to have kept you waiting for so long...
- Friday - 5 miles - Lake Shore Drive, but I might as well have been swimming in Lake Michigan, it was so freaking humid! - 47:30 before quitting - 9:30/mile pace - YES, it hurt. Badly.
- Saturday - 4 miles - Treadmill, because I'm weak - 35:30 - 8:53/mile pace - Ah, Air Conditioning.
- Sunday - 10 miles - Marina/Krissy Field/Fort Point - 1:32:30 - 9:15/mile pace - The LSD is back!
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
I didn't get to bed until kind of late. Because I was looking at the wrong clock and didn't realize just how late it was... HERE. And then, come 5:45 a.m. when I was looking at the correct clock, I refused to believe it.
So I ignored it! That's why we have afternoons, right?
Except that come afternoon, I felt those odds again. It was really the first time I actually FELT the odds, too. After my presentation. When I walked DOWN the steps leading off of the stage and back into the audience. Yes, only THEN did I finally REALLY feel yesterday's Kick-off Run.
But still... Even though the odds were against me - well, probably BECAUSE the odds were against me - I went out for a run this afternoon. Despite the fact that I was not finished tweaking my next two presentations. And the fact that it was still raining a little bit. Despite the fact that the rain meant the humidity had reached 100%. And despite the fact that I 100% HATE humidity...
Yes, despite all odds, I ran 4 miles this afternoon. In St Petersburg, FL.
(4 miles RECOVERY - 35:48 - 8:58/mile pace.)
Now if only I could find a way to beat the heat!!!!
Monday, July 10, 2006
|Tuesday 7/11 ||7.0||miles||IVL||7:20/mile|
Good thing I can read. Because I wouldn't want to run Tuesday's workout on Monday or anything... Nor would I want to run my intervals at the wrong pace.
So today's Kick-off Run was Sputtery, Sticky, Successful, and SCREWED UP.
Whatever, dude. I'm lucky I even know what time it is now. Alarm clock says Eastern, computer says Pacific, watch for some reasons still says Mountain, and yet my body still feels like it's on Central.
Seriously. It was suffocatingly hot and humid even before the sun rose this morning. Since I had to be at my meeting at 8:00 a.m., I had to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to complete my 2006 Chicago Marathon Training Kick-off Run. It was so muggy - and smelly - here in St. Petersburg at 6:16 a.m. this morning that after 3.25 miles I totally whimped out and took my run into the air-conditioned hotel gym. And that was after I had already taken two 30 second walk breaks...
Not so much the smooth start for which I was hoping...
Even the four miles that I ran INSIDE of the air-conditioned gym were sticky. My shorts kept riding up, exposing and chaffing The Chub Rub. Seriously, I think my Body Glide completely melted off this morning! And just LOOKING at the drops of air condense on the glass windows of the gym as I zipped along on the treadmill was enough to keep The Lungs in a heightened state of anxiety.
"Hurry up and finish this run inside," they cried. "Don't send us back out there!"
As for The Legs? Well, they cried a little bit, too. Those 3:45 half mile intervals were not as easy this morning as they were back in May. But I finished them. And now that it's over, I must say the Kick-off Run was pretty successful.
(7.25 miles of Intervals ~ 1 hour - 0 minutes - 48 seconds ~ 8:23/mile average pace...)
Saturday, July 08, 2006
I ran for about 6.5 miles.
And I had every intention to keep the streak going last week. But Fourth of July got in the way. And then it was a delayed flight back to San Francisco. And I couldn't get past the absolute necessity to spend some time hunting for a new apartment.
But now that it's Saturday, and I'm actually in my very own bedroom with nothing to do except some laundry and a few errands, I am happy to report that I'm ready to get it all started again.
So, even though I'll be on the road next week, in St. Petersburg, FL and my second home of Chicago, IL, the 3:40:59 or Bust Chicago Marathon 2006 Training Program SHALL COMMENCE!
But Dad says... my natural marathon race pace is 8:00/mile. And since Dad knows everything - or at least *THINKS* he knows everything - I am going to build my training plan around 8:00/miles come October 22. If I get started and it hurts - too much - I'll scale back to 8:24/mile pace. If I finish the race at 8:00/mile pace, I'll buy Dad another nice bottle of a Single Malt he hasn't yet tried.
It's a win-win, right?
I mean, I did feel really good training for San Diego using an 8:24/mile race pace as my guide. And 8:00/mile felt so good at the race on June 4... Until that PowerAde issue, that is.
So here's to 3:40:59 or less... I can't believe how excited I am to get back on the saddle. Er... path... and belt.
|Week Starting Sunday JUL 9, 2006|
|Week Starting Sunday JUL 16, 2006|
|Week Starting Sunday JUL 22, 2006|
|Week Starting Sunday JUL 30, 2006|
|Week Starting Sunday AUG 6, 2006|
|Week Starting Sunday AUG 13, 2006|
|Week Starting Sunday AUG 20, 2006|
|Week Starting Sunday AUG 27, 2006|
|Week Starting Sunday SEP 3, 2006|
|Week Starting Sunday SEP 10, 2006|
|Week Starting Sunday SEP 17, 2006|
|Week Starting Sunday SEP 24, 2006|
|Week Starting Sunday OCT 1, 2006|
|Week Starting Sunday OCT 8, 2006|
|Week Starting Sunday OCT 15, 2006|
|Sunday ||October 22 ||26.2 miles in 3:40:59 or LESS!|