Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Leader of the Pack

It's hard to figure out why some days are better than others.

The last time I went to Happy Hour the night before a long run, and had a few beers, I felt like shit for 16 miles. There wasn't a single point in the run that felt good. Perhaps it was because I forgot to use those beers to wash down dinner. All I had to eat was a bag of Doritos that night. Not so healthy...

Last night, I had a few beers. But I remembered to eat dinner. A whole wheat crust veggie pizza. I went to bed early. Like, EARLY. Earlier than I've gone to bed every other night this week. Which is kind of sad, because last night was a Friday, but that's part of the game, I guess.

I woke up feeling fantastic. And when we started to run this morning, I just took off. Running fast. And strong. All the way down Great Highway. And all the way around Lake Merced. I turned around at one point and realized that there were only a few other people with me. And half of the group was pretty far behind. We looked at our watches. They read 70 minutes. Then we checked the route map. It said we'd gone almost 9 miles.


Luckily, one of the guys running with us had a Garmin, for GPS tracking. And the Garmin confirmed that we'd gone 9.1 miles.


That is not my normal long run pace. But it felt fabulous. So I have to wonder, why ISN'T that my normal pace? Was today just a good day? Or do I normally just let the others lead and settle into what someone else thinks is a good pace for the day? Should I be running at this pace more often?

We kept the 8:00 pace up for a few more miles, even running a 7:30 at one point, which honestly, I'm not sure I've ever done before. We eventually slowed a little when we turned up MLK Drive and up the hill into Golden Gate Park. But only down to 9:00 pace, which is still a great pace for the weekly LSD run. Most of the group dropped off at 16 miles, so I ran an extra 5 today on my own. Hauling ass all the way to a strong finish at Mile 21. 3 hours after we started.

Nic, the Leader of the Pack.

Vrooom. Vroooooom Vrooooooooom!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Dream Boy

My Dad says that the most important information in the newspaper is found in the comics. Yes, snippets of life's most treasured lessons and commentary on the state of the world can be found somewhere between Doonsburry and Cathy. (I cannot STAND Cathy!)

If only "Calvin and Hobbes" was still in publication, though. I'd probably still read the newspaper A1 to E16 every day if I could stop on E15 to catch a flashback of my youth in this adorable child.

Seriously, though. Isn't it pretty impressive how one can apply a Calvin strip to nearly every aspect of my life? Dude, he's even got TRAINING covered!

And again...

I miss Calvin so much it hurts, sometimes. It really hurts.

On the other hand, if Calvin is no longer in print, that means he's getting older. Do you think he's in his late 20s yet?

I wonder if he's figured out a way to make that Transmogrifier really work. I could probably help him out with that. And I bet if we put out some fliers, we could pull a Calvin Ball team together in no time. Hopefully he's over that morbid snowman phase. That was quite a clear cry for therapy. As long as Susie's not around to ruin things, and he's given up on being Dictator for Life of GROSS (the Get Rid of Slimy girlS Club) I'm pretty sure I have a good chance with Late 20s Calvin.

Ooooh, this is going to be AWESOME.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


It always starts as a soft shuffle. But it always builds. Slowly at first, but consistently. It swells, rising up from my feet until it settles. In my heart. A silent, steady beat crescendos. And an average pulse becomes the impetus for conquering all.

"I cannot name this. I cannot explain this. And I really don't want to. Just call me shameless."

These moments cannot be described. They can only be felt. And they can only be felt by those who dare to push. To prod and poke. Into those layers of oneself that have never had the opportunity to show. To shine.

"I can't even slow this down. Let alone stop this. And I keep looking around. But I cannot top this."

Faster and faster I go. Forging ahead into The Zone. That place where I am simultaneously unaware of anything going on and yet entirely in tune. With my feet. My legs. My butt and hips. My arms and shoulders. My back. My posture. My lungs. My body...

"If I had any sense. I guess I'd fear this. I guess I'd keep it down. So no one would hear this."

Because it doesn't always go this well. And on those days, when failure seems more likely than success, I often wish everyone didn't know about this.

"I guess I'd shut my mouth. And rethink a minute. But I can't shut it now. 'Cuz there's something in it."

The hairs on my arms and neck begin to stand on end. I am warm and cold and hungry and full and thirsty and refreshed. I can't think about anything except that finish line and that clock. Within these minutes I am not afraid of 3:40:59. And within these minutes, I can barely restrain myself from screaming.

"...I got to divide my emotions. Between wrong and right. Then I get to see how close I can get to it. Without giving in. Then I get to rub up against it. Till I break the skin. Rub up against it. Till I break the skin."

I never think about quitting. But I think about backing off. Slowing down. Or making an excuse to settle for something less. But I can't bring myself to do it. Not today! Even though it sometimes starts to hurt. Badly. It sometimes starts to hurt quite often.

"They're gonna be mad at us. They're gonna be mad at me and you. Yeah, they're gonna be mad at us. And all the things we wanna do..."

And so they tell you to take it easy. That you don't have to put yourself through it all. It's not necessary. And it could be bad for you. But it's just because they have never attempted something so big. So difficult. So demanding. Or so empowering. And so rewarding.

I want this. I am not embarrassed by it. "Just call me, Shameless."

-- "Shameless," by Ani DiFranco. From the Album Dilate.

NOTE #1: Yeah, so Ani's interpretation of the song and the one I described above likely don't jive. That's not to say I'm not allowed to apply my interpretations however I chose. Nor is it to say that I've never felt something else when I've listened to this song. In essence, it's just about wanting something so badly and giving into that desire. Who knew giving in could feel so good?

NOTE #2: I decided tonight that I will be running with music at San Diego. Yes, even though there is a band at every mile or so, I'm going to don headphones. If I'm running sub 8:30s I really won't get to hear each band for more than 30-60 seconds, anyway! But since I've received some requests about what music I listen to when I'm running, I promise to publish my Marathon Playlist - "3:40:59 or Bust" - when we get close to the race. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for some of the important songs that will surely be on that list...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Monday's Gone

I love Monday Night.

Yes. A lot of why I love Monday Night has to do with the fact that I normally spend part of the evening glued to HBO OnDemand, watching the episodes of The Sopranos and Big Love that I missed from Sunday night. (When my roommates preferred watching those shows on ABC...)

And yes, I also love Monday Night because I normally have a stockpile of food to eat for dinner on these evenings. Having just been to the grocery store on Sunday afternoon. The veggies are fresh, the chicken didn't have to be defrosted, and there is still milk in the carton!

But, if you really want to know, the reason why I most love Monday Night is because it is just SO far away from my next round of Manic Monday (Morning) Madness.

Monday's gone with the wind! Good (Monday) Night!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Head in the Clouds

This past week, which was supposed to be a recovery week, ended up being a week of negligence. I have been unaware, inattentive, and spacey. It was a week of ignorance.

In other words, it was pure bliss!

Save the cold, of course. My head has been clogged for a few days now. And it's been pounding. Not that it was much better before the cold set in. Wracked with my terrible attitude about this *race* that is only 42 days away now.

So, I just stopped. I haven't run since Wednesday. Thursday, Friday, Saturday... NOTHING. Today, I eased back into physical activity with a hike at Pinnacles National Monument, about two hours south of San Francisco. We hiked to North Chalone Peak, covering about 9 miles and an elevation change of 2500+ ft.

At the top of the summit today, I thought about how good it will to get back to training this upcoming week. Only six weeks left! Amazing what I was able to figure out with my head up in the clouds... instead of up my ass, right?!

Thursday, April 20, 2006


OK, I admit it.

I've not only been thinking about you - forever by now - but I've been wondering if you think about me. For a while, now, I guess. Yes, I've been wondering.

Maybe when you go out for a run. Do you think about me then? Or when you listen to certain bands. Strangely enough, I wonder if you can listen to The White Stripes without smiling. Or laughing. And thinking about me.

Do you still wear those sunglasses we bought while walking through the open market? And do you think about me when you put them on?

I wonder what you think about when you wait for your lunch at the sandwich shop. Do you ever catch yourself staring at that table in the corner? The one that we sat at for almost four hours that day. I will never forget that sandwich. That table. That conversation. Will you? Shit, I hope that sandwich shop survived the storm.

Do you still wear that Texas shirt? I can't think of a time when you looked more adorable.
I wonder if you kept that book I gave you. And I wonder if you stayed up late at night reading it over and over again. Because it's an awesome book. And/or because it was from me. I wonder what you say when someone asks you where you got it. Because people surely ask. It's such an awesome book... Do you say that your "friend" gave it to you? Or "some girl"? A girl from DC... A girl you used to date. Sort of. Or do you tell them that I gave it to you? Do you refer to me by name? I know that they know who I am. So I wonder, what do you say?

Do you ever re-read our emails? Do you have any of our text messages saved? I didn't want to get a new phone because of those text messages.

I think about you every time I hear that song. And I think about the last time I saw you when I hear it. The last time we were together. When you said that you hadn't been that happy with someone else... ever. That song is exactly us. Except that I don't want you pounded out of my head. I don't think I could bare to not have you in it.

I just can't believe you called last week. Well, I can, but I can't. I've been really glad, though. Glad that you called. I think that since then I have been allowing myself to wonder more about you. And I am remembering what it is like to actually miss someone. Not just a body, but an entire person. To miss the good and the bad. The easy and the difficult. I miss you.

But then yesterday... If only you could have seen me smile when I saw your name on the screen.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hey Self Defeater

I have powerful legs. And really great calves. My lungs are strong. Hell, tomorrow morning I am planning on adding five pounds to each side of that forty-five pound bar I've been bench pressing the past few weeks. So it looks like my arms and chest are developing strength, too. And my heart is healthy.

My mind, though? My mind is fucking weak.

I felt great on Saturday morning. I finished those twenty miles and felt like I could have run 6.2 more. Yes, even after running the majority of my twenty miles in the pouring rain, I felt good. So on Sunday, I rested. It felt wonderful to sleep in, eat a nice breakfast, and relax all afternoon.

But then I had to go and put on a bathing suit. And I winced at my reflection in the mirror. This is not the body of a Boston Marathon Qualifier. I spent parts of Marathon Monday reading and hearing about the Boston finishers. My roommate's friend ran at 6:50 pace for the entire race. Shit! I don't run that fast... I'm worried about sustaining 8:30 pace. And that is not the pace of a Boston Qualifier. And then, on Monday afternoon, ANOTHER cold hits my head and chest. WHY is this happening? I felt too weak to even run three easy miles that afternoon. So I left work early and napped on the couch. This is not the immune system of a Boston Qualifier. Come Tuesday morning, I gave my three miles a shot. I finished, but it was terrible. This is not the running of a Boston Qualifier.

And so I've spent a lot of time since Sunday afternoon moping. Second-guessing this goal and doubting my abilities as a runner. Surmising that I am not really THAT good if I wheeze during an easy three mile recovery jog. Back pedaling. And retracting my proclamations that I will run 26.2 miles in three hours and forty minutes on June 4 in San Diego.

And Why? Because I wish my butt looked better in a bathing suit. And because a girl I don't even know (just like lots of other girls I don't know) can run 6:50 miles at Boston. Because I keep sneezing. And because I had a hard time completing a run while I kept sneezing. And all in all, because I think too much.

Hands down, this season's schedule represents the most intense marathon training I have attempted to date. And last week, I ran more miles than I ever even remotely CONSIDERED running in one seven day period. My legs hurt. My arms hurt. BodyGlide has failed me, as I have cuts all over my chest from my sports bra. I also have a random cut on my neck from the chafe of the jacket I had to wear throughout all twenty miles of my Saturday run through freezing downpour. But amazingly enough, I have all of my toenails. And only small blisters on my pinky toes.

You know, this blog wasn't supposed to be about running. It was supposed to just be about... ME. It started the day I had the guts to admit that I wasn't happy in DC and that I wanted to start a new life for myself in San Francisco. It started when I accepted that beneath this external englineer lies a wannabe high school English teacher. It started because I had been wanting to write for so long but wasn't doing anything about it.

But running, I have learned, is a huge part of what makes me ME. I think about running every day. I have running ads pinned to the wall above my desks. And I have a race number with my name posted on my door. I put it up as a joke, but I can't seem to take it down. I have more playlists on my iPod for different running routes than other genres of music. I get teary in the middle of the gym reading a Runner's World. And when I meet people who have run a marathon I say, "1? Only 1? Don't want to run another one?"

Down on myself, I spent a lot of time today listening to Mark Mulcahy's "Hey Self Defeater."

"Wishing and thinking..."

And I've come to the conclusion that I do love running. Even when it gets ugly, as this training, which is fucking hard, has. And I'm not really ready to quit, because I am not one to propagate mediocrity. I was reminded yesterday that I chose this goal. The Boston Marathon is a huge fucking deal. It is the pinnacle of MY sport. And I really want to be a part of it. I have to go for it - there really just isn't any other choice. I couldn't move to San Francisco without planning. I couldn't start this blog without writing. And I will not qualify for Boston without running. Without a lot of quality, difficult, fast, hilly, slow, recovery, long running.

"Hey Self Defeater... Your underrated by yourself so quick looking down..."

Tonight after work I ran 7 miles in under 56 minutes. Outside, into the wind in both directions. Leave it to San Francisoo to make that, and walking uphill both ways to the grocery store, possible. At any rate, I think I'm pleasantly sick of myself by now. Thankfully, right?

"You're underrated so quit looking down, and look up..."

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bean with Envy

The winner of today's Boston Marathon finished in two hours, seven minutes and 14 seconds. Three years ago, it took me about that long to run HALF of a marathon. Now, though, I can easily run 14 miles in that time. And I can probably run 15 miles in that time. And if I'm racing, I'd like to think I can also complete 16 miles in that time.

Throughout the past three years, I have certainly become a faster runner. But I have also become a smarter runner. A lighter on my feet runner. A runner who is more optimistic. More dedicated, and more happy. In the three years since my first half marathon, I've become a better runner.

But this year, I've started to think that I'm not just a BETTER runner. What if I'm a GOOD runner?

With only one way to find out, I've started thinking. These days, I spend a lot of time wishing, and hoping, and planning - not to mention training - for the Boston Marathon. I think about running Boston on Friday nights, when I opt out of bar hopping to go to bed early. And early on Saturday mornings, when the alarm goes off before most of San Francisco has woken up. Later on Saturday mornings, when I start out on a long run, trying to settle into a comfortable rhythm.

I think about Boston at mile 14 of a 20 mile training run. When most of the group peels off and heads home. When I'm kind of hungry and tired. And when I think about how respectable 14 miles before 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning is. When I think that 20 miles is a little - or a lot - ridiculous. I think about Boston when I make that choice to continue on to miles 15, through 19. And I think about Boston again at mile 19.5, when I feel FANTASTIC. When I decide to sprint the last half mile.

I think about Boston a lot. And every time, be it on the road, treadmill, or couch, I think about how my little goal to run a marathon "one day" turned into somewhat of a hobby. Something I did in my spare time. For fun. A hobby that later turned into a passion and a way of life. I think about Boston when I realize that these days, I don't just aim to finish a training run. I aim to finish strong. Happy and smiling.

Today, when I thought about Boston, I was a bit of a green-eyed monster. A loving, admiring, respectful monster. Green with envy over all those amazing runners who braved The Marathon in Beantown today.

Great job, runners. I hope you had the time of your life on the course today. And I hope to see you there next year.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Kicking and Screaming

Why is a twenty miler so much more nerve racking than the actual marathon?

Is it because there won't be fans cheering me on at mile 19.5? Or is it because there won't be anyone waiting for me at the finish line? Is it just because there isn't an actual finish line? Maybe training runs are so much harder than the actual race because in between the training runs, I somehow have to squeeze in my day job. Not to mention grocery shopping. And cooking. And laundry. (And when you're training like this, there is SO MUCH LAUNDRY.)

Come to think of it, I've run more marathons than twenty mile training runs. That could be another reason why I'm so uncomfortable tonight.

Plus, The Legs are tired. And that is not alleviating this looming apprehension. Not one bit. The Legs are tingling, sort of. They feel a little heavy, and kind of warm.

Do you hear that, Legs? I really KNOW you're tired. Honest. But you can do it.

You can push through tomorrow. Push! For twenty miles. Yep, twenty miles. I know we've already ran 25 miles this week, but how much FUN did you have running those miles? We can re-live almost ALL that fun again tomorrow morning. For twenty miles tomorrow we can stride and dash and gallop. We can scamper up hills and then scuttle back down them. Because this is San Francisco, Legs - there will be hills. We can jog, or we can sprint, or we can trot. Hell, we can even SKIP if it makes us happy. We can kick and scream, too, as long as we're moving forward.

One step at a time. One mile at a time.

We will finish tomorrow. And we will finish strong.

Kicking and screaming, for joy.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Drones

"Oooooh. Eeeeh. Aaaaah."

It's from a movie. When Harry Met Sally. Specifically, when? When Harry is on the phone with Sally before going to bed one night. He is not doing all that well since his divorce, and Sally, slightly irritated, tries to get off of the phone with him. When she says good night, Harry responds that he plans to stay up a little while longer just to moan.

"Oooooh. Eeeeh. Aaaaah."

That wasn't from a movie. That was me. DAG, YO! I am tired. Beat up. Broken-down. Done in and Tuckered out.

"Oooooh. Eeeeh. Aaaaah."

And today was a REST day.

"Oooooh. Eeeeh. Aaaaah."

But it sure does feel good to drone on like that.

"Oooooh. Eeeeh. Aaaaah."

The week is more than half way over. 20 miles down, 25 miles to go.

Oh, what the hell, one more for prosperity.

"Oooooh. Eeeeh. Aaaaah."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The San Francisco Dodgers

They come out after the rain. And stand in the middle of the sidewalks. Gazing upwards. Peering down - often at a map. Or staring straight ahead, waving, hugging, and smiling. Sometimes, you'll even find them in the middle of the street. (When that street is Lombard.) Squinting through a view finder, attempting to capture a snap of magic.

Oh, tourists. You transcend on San Francisco and actually pay $5 to ride the cable cars. And because you think it's going to be hot and sunny here, with it being California and all, you keep all those shops in Chinatown that sell San Francisco sweatshirts in business. Without you guys, I don't even what to think about how expensive this city would really be.


Right-left-right-left-SLAM - into a woman who stops to take a picture of Coit Tower without consulting with the masses behind her. Right-left-right-left-WAY RIGHT - around the family posing for a picture outside of Ghiradelli Square. Right-left-right-left-suck in you can fit through this clan of people who are taking their grand old time at Fort Point.

Dodge-her! Dodge-him! Dodge-them!

I sound like I'm complaining. I'm not, though. I love tourists. Their presence validates how awesome my city is. It also funds a lot of public works projects. And not to be underestimated, the presence of tourists guarantees that my running route will be lined with lots of public restrooms.

But I have no idea how many miles I actually ran today. Out and back and 'round and 'round. But I think I kept a pretty fast pace most of the time. No one passed me save three people. Who were taller than me. And male. Not counting the Dodgers, I passed about 20 different runners over the course of my ten miles. And some of them WERE taller than me. And male. I'd say I averaged an 8:30/mile pace.

If that pace isn't accurrate, I will at least thank all of the San Francisco Dodgers for providing me with an excellent, yet unexpected plyometric workout today. I am feeling powerful and strong.

Now Dodgers, go sit down in Boudin and have some sourdough!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Manic Monday

My first - CASSETTE - growing up was The Bangles, "Different Light." I used to play it on a pink boom box that didn't have a rewind button. Play, Stop, and Fast Forward only. Much to my dismay, no doubt. The year was 1986, I was six years old, and I was officially OBSESSED with my first songs and my first band.

Without a repeat function, nevertheless a rewind button, Dad made me Different Light #2. Walk Like an Egyptian was moved up to the first spot on the tape. Followed by Manic Monday, a couple of songs, Walk Like an Egyptian, a couple of songs, Manic Monday, a couple of songs, etc. With this setup, I could utilize my fast forward button to listen to the songs as much as possible while I choreographed new and improved MTV videos for the Bangles and held live performances from either the TV Room firelplace or a bench in the basement. (I was Suzanne, obviously.)

Back in 1986, my budding music enthusiast self did not know the definition of the word manic. Nor did I truly grasp the meaning of my favorite line in the song, "
He tells me in his bedroom voice... C'mon honey, let's go make some noise!" However, at six years old, I believed in Manic Monday. How could you NOT believe in anything The Bangles sang in 1986? But oh, the Manic Monday. I was convinced that I wanted to have Manic Mondays when I was older. You know, like second grade older.

Now that I actually understand the lyrics, I realize my 1986 dreams, clad in pairs of slouch socks, side ponytails, and Keds, have come true. For now I really have Manic Mondays. And Sunday Fundays. Which, if we're going to talk training, also fall into the category of "I don't have to Rundays." But on Mondays, as well as othe weekdays, I have to be at work by nine. "And if I had an air-o-plane," well... you know. I'd still get there at 9:15 every day.

So in honor and denial of Mondays, I have decided to start doing my Yasso workouts on Monday mornings. Today I completed 7x800 repeats @ 7:20/mile pace with 800 recoveries at 9:15 pace for a total of 58:30. Because why NOT kick of a Manic Monday with some Manic Running? Run fast - Recover - Run fast - recover... It sure preps me for my day, anyway: Work hard - sit and stare in denial - Work hard - sit and stare in denial...

Yep... Just another Manic Monday.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

My Inner Flaming Feminist

Sitting quietly in the chair next to my mother, I turned the pages of my favorite book: The House the Biff Built. Lover of all things Jim Henson, I could spend days with these books. Pointing out Big Bird, Ernie, and Cookie Monster, giggling at Oscar and Grover.

I was two years old, and I had accompanied my mother to her monthly exam with the OBGYN who would soon deliver a new bundle of joy to the family. In an effort to include me in on the discussion of the family's upcoming expansion, the doctor liked to ask me questions. "Are you excited to be a big sister? Are you excited to have a baby brother or sister? Are you going to help your mommy with the baby?" Etcetera, etcetera, and so forth.

Honestly, I don't recall feeling overwhelmingly strong in either direction about the situation. I don't think I enjoyed talking to the doctor too much, to be honest. But on this day, as I sat reading about Biff and blueprints, as well as cement and lumber, the doctor decided to not ask me about my pending siblinghood. Instead, he asked, "Do you want to be a 'builder' when you grow up?"

And at two years old I retorted, "No. I want to be an architecht."

So you can imagine my parents' surprise later that year, when in a similar situation, my response to, "Do you want to be a doctor when you grow up?" was NOT, "No. I want to be a neurosurgeon." Instead, it was, "No. Women can't be doctors. I want to be a nurse. "

Where the HELL did that come from? I certainly wasn't raised to think that only men could grow up to be doctors. And obviously, in graduating from college with a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering, I luckily managed to grow out of those crazy sexist notions. Well, most of them, anyway.

I still think men should take out the garbage. And up until tonight, I thought - or perhaps I simply always allowed - men to handle all aspects grilling. Charcoals. Fires. Steaks.

Spring is over a week old, I know. But today was the first day it really felt like spring. In a city without seasons, one needs activities to differentiate the end of 60 degree winters and the start of 60 degree summers. Today's activities included wearing flip flops, standing in line for concert tickets, scoring FREE tickets to a baseball game, and of course, dining on hot dogs and beers at said baseball game. What better way to end this day than to grill a steak?

And so I did. I cleaned out the grill. I lit the charcoals. Then I called my dad. And after that, I added paper to the pile of coals. Then I REALLY lit the charcoal. I marinated the steaks. I plopped them on the grill. Then I went back to the more "girly" of the tasks - chopping the vegetables, sauteeing the spinach, and browning some onions.

It was a fine meal. And a great kick-off to what is going to be the most difficult week of my training to date. (Pics)
  • Monday: 7 miles (With speed intervals)
  • Tuesday: 3 miles (Easy)
  • Wednesday: 10 miles (With at least 7 miles at tempo pace)
  • Thurdsday: OFF
  • Friday: 5 miles (Easy/Hill repeats)
  • Saturday: 20 miles (LSD)
  • Sunday: OFF
Are you kidding me? 45 miles? I might die. These workouts don't even include time on the bench lifting, or my plans to make it to yoga three times. Dude, I am so going to die. But at least, on my day of rest before this ridiculous week begins, I scored tickets to Beck, drank a beer at the ballgame, and feasted on a lovely steak dinner.

Now, since I do not cohabitate with a male, I must take out the trash. And finally, to bed. My inner flaming feminist is spent.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Seven Stages of Marathon

I have an Adidas ad from a few years ago hanging on my wall. It reads...

The Seven Stages of Marathon:
  1. Ritual
  2. Shock
  3. Denial
  4. Isolation
  5. Despair
  6. Affirmation
  7. Renewal
I woke up before the alarm this morning. Again. (#1) I thought I had a nice, short recovery run on the schedule for this weekend. Much to my surprise/#2, it was a *recovery* 16 miler. DOLT! I did NOT want to run this morning. Definitely in #3 of the race that will take place a mere eight weeks from now.

But I went. Met up with the Road Runners and felt OK for most of the run. Although I didn't really want to talk to anyone, today. I ran ahead of the pack for a while, avoiding conversation. I just wanted to get those miles done so I could go home and take a nap.

I have never hit the wall before. Before today, that is. At 13 miles, nonetheless. Struggling to keep up with the pack, I told them to go ahead without me. #4. For three very brutal miles. Alone, and full of #5, I couldn't shake my inner defeatist: I'm NEVER going to qualify for Boston at this rate. NEVER.

Post run, a good breakfast. And a few hours on the couch. A conversation with my dad. And an hour on the phone with New Orleans. I again look at this Adidas ad - which was for the 107th Annual Boston Marathon in 2003 - and sheepishly grin from the realization that I placed this ad on my refrigerator back in 2003 when I was training for my very first marathon. Back when I wasn't sure I'd be able to run 26.2 miles at all.

I obviously did achieve that goal. So why not this next one? Why shouldn't I be able to not only run another 26.2, but run it in 3 hours and 40 seconds? Why NOT?


So, time for a quick cat nap. Because I do have a bit of a headache. And my eyes are heavy. And when I open them again, it will be #7 all the way.

Friday, April 07, 2006


It's not like I was having a bad time. But I wasn't having entirely too much fun, either. I lived alone for two years and drove across most of this country with no one but my iPod, Wilson I. I can handle silence. Or rather, I have a knack for filling silence through conversations with My Self...

Self, if that bastard ever calls again, you better say *THAT* to him.
Self, try harder to be patient with Mom.
Self, stop reading Us Weekly already.
Self, stop talking to Your Self in the mirror in public bathrooms.

I listened to him talk about his welding, his sculpture, and his "haunted" apartment. (WTF?) I endured the story of how he almost-auditioned for The Bachelor. He did audition, actually. He completed the first steps. Just because he didn't submit a video doesn't mean he didn't audition. (And between you and me, that story was REALLY just the end of all hope.) I tried to broach interesting subjects. But he cited Metallica as the only music he really listens to. I can't really DO much with that. We debated a few philosphies, but it was painful. He didn't ask any questions that struck a chord. And I wasn't doing much better. That awkward silence? I enjoyed it. But he asked (nicely) if I wanted to grab another drink after dinner.
I should have just flat out said no. Instead, "I have to train tomorrow morning..." To which he replied, "Just one more drink." I reluctantly agreed. And after that, he STILL didn't even ask me about my marathon. Isn't that just... well, INCONSIDERATE?

Conversations with My Self continued...

Self, I would definitely take you home to - as ACN calls it - play kissy-face.
And Self, I would SO date you.
Self, come to think of it, I would MARRY you.

I have met someone - actually, sometwos and threes - who made my heart race. Around whom I couldn't stop smiling. Our meetings made me talk faster and made him talk faster.We needed to tell everything and there was just not enough time! Because how is it possible we hadn't known each other all these previous years? Oh, we could not get enough of each other. SO fabulous. Awake until all hours, talking, moving,becoming closer. We'd entwine ourselves in each other for hours at at time to make up for the fact that we ever spent a second apart. When they are the only person you can think of calling when everything is right. And even more when nothing is.

This Guy? I saw that he called and let my voicemail pick up. I didn't listen to his message until the next day. I think I'm done with This Guy.

Because I want heart pounding. I want need wrinkle cream for my eyes because I can't stop smiling and laughing when we're together. I want conversations in the corner into which no one can interject. I want to be tired from staying up all night. I want to be perplexed. I want to be amazed. I don't want to be able to catch my breath. I want to call each other at the same time. I want long emails and secrets and forehead kisses. I want passionate fights. I want to spill my beans, and I want to feel that beautiful buzz...

New Orleans called yesterday. I was at work, and I missed his call. But he left a message. And just hearing his voice on my answering machine made me skip down the street. Warm and buzzing, remembering love.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


I am dedicated. Also committed, devoted, enthusiastic, and hard-working. Purposeful, wholehearted, and zealous. I have the ability to set goals and work to achieve them. And I am probably the most loyal person thatn any of you will ever know.

However, I am also quite scatterbrained. In the most responsible sense, of course. Quite often, I quickly lose interest in what I'm doing. Apply positive spin to this cold hard fact, and I become Miss Multi-Tasker. Stop by my desk and you'll find me composing an email, updating a flow diagram, and ordering concert tickets online, while also talking on the phone and to the person one cube over. I have not yet figured out how to talk on my cell while also sending a text message, but come to think of it, my phone does have speakerphone and Bluetooth capabilities; so I can probably figure out how to do it. I'll likely get this done tomorrow on my way to work. Why just walk when I could walk, talk, and text? Oh, and chew gum. I'll definitely need some gum.

So it makes sense that the only way in hell I can get in all of my training workouts is first thing in the morning. Before the stores open. And before my roommates and friends are awake. Not that I haven't thought about calling yous guys on the East Coast at 5:30 a.m. while I treck to the gym, but most of you are trecking to the office and are underground at that hour, so I don't bother. But it makes sense. Because if I try to run any later in the day, I will likely see a newspaper, drink a coffee, realize I have to buy more toilet paper, walk to the store, stop and buy some flowers, call my mother, crave a stiff drink, walk back to the corner store, spot a cute guy, sigh that I have nothing to wear, stroll down to Polk Street and into some boutiques, buy a new pair of pants, notice I need to shave my legs, and then go home and take a shower.

And why run when you've just showered?

All this lack of focus means that I have a plethora of good intentions. So if my committed side is playful, I can get a ton of work done. But never by 5:00 p.m. I can't seem to get anything done by 5:00 p.m. anymore. Every day this week, I have found myself burrowed under a pile of emails and a stack diagrams at 5:00 p.m. My phone screams at me to return calls. And those effing Outlook reminders keep ding-dong-ding-ing.

So what I'm taking forever to say (because there are so many other things to talk about, too) is that while I have completed all my runs the past few weeks, including another seven miles of Yassos yesterday, I haven't been getting in much yoga. And it's stressing me out. I'm stressed out because I haven't been to yoga and I'm stressed out because I haven't been to yoga. Do you get the difference?

So, being a total scatterbarined-sure let's open ANOTHER window while I blog this entry-cheese-ball, I did some quote searching. Here's what I've found...
  • "It is not good enough for things to be planned - they still have to be done; for the intention to become a reality, energy has to be launched into operation.” --Walt Kelly
Um, thanks Walt. I think I've learned this lesson. Just carrying around my yoga clothes doesn't mean I'm going to make it to yoga. I get it. I have to actually GO. Check.
  • "All that is necessary to break the spell of inertia and frustration is this: act as if it were impossible to fail. That is the talisman, the formula, the command of right-about-face that turns us from failure toward success.” --Dorothea Brande
Dorothea, you rule! What you're NOT saying is that I need to find a yoga training schedule. Something that says I HAVE to go. Because all this yoga has just been icing on the cake I call Busting My Ass to Qualify for Boston. Sweet!

Luckily, I ALSO still know THIS quote by heart...
  • "Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow. You're only a day away!" -- Annie
Except that tomorrow's Friday. So... Sunday. Yes, Sunday. I'll go to yoga again on Sunday. (Hm... So much for all that talk of intention...)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Three miles. They take less than 30 minutes to run. 27 minutes, actually. Tops. And honestly, what's the point in running for less than a half hour? Most of the time, it takes almost an entire 30 minutes to actually get into a run. One that feels REALLY good, anyway.

So I don't understand the whole Three Easy Miles concept. Because for the most part, their not easy. They're long. And slow. And grueling.

For the most part.

This week, I don't have to heave-ho my legs around. And I don't wince when I get into and out of a chair. Actually, it doesn't even hurt to just sit and be. And yet again, at 5:59 AM, my eyes opened so that I did not have to endure the blaring alarm. Even this week's three miles were... EASY.

I don't know what's different this week, but something has clicked. And for once, it isn't my effing hip!

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Entire Gamut

  • Giddy. For a weekend. That started with a low-key, Friday night Happy Hour with co-workers.
  • Amused. That drinks at “The Jack” continued with dinner at Hooters.
  • Surprised. Over why The Homeowner called after two months of silence.
  • Puzzled. Over why he didn't leave a message.
  • Excited. That I went to bed at 11PM on a Friday night after doing some laundry and cleaning my room.
  • Anxious. For that Saturday morning 18-miler out in Marin. With The Latest, who KT has been talking up for months, now.
  • Stiff. From 4 miles on trails followed by 14 miles on the road with only one packet of Gu.
  • Stuffed. From a fantastic brunch at Dipsea CafĂ©.
  • Smiley. Over our conversations during the drive back into the city.
  • Relaxed. Because of an afternoon spent napping and watching television.
  • Hesitant. About hanging out with The Architect.
  • Confident. Due to my amazing Saturday night skinny jeans.
  • Good. Because The Architect is OK with not meeting up.
  • Fabulous. Because The Latest was awesome and we hung out all night.
  • Drunk. From that unnecessary last drink.
  • Wet. From the hot tub.
  • Cold. Because the Hot Tub turned out to be the Tepid Tub.
  • Disappointed. That he has a girlfriend.
  • Incredulous. That he didn’t tell me until our lips were just about to touch.
  • Tired. Because holy shit it was 5 in the morning by the time we got home.
  • Giggly. To wake up, at 12:30 PM, look down, and see myself still fully clothed from the night before.
  • Peppy. At first, upon convening with the roommates to re-live the previous evening’s misadventures.
  • Hurting. From the run, the liquor, and the diss from The Latest.
  • Pissed. At the crappy $15 breakfast.
  • Pleased. At the last-minute decision to get Gelato for dessert.
  • Sorry. That I forgot I was supposed to hang out with The Big Brother.
  • Content. To have spent the majority of Sunday in my bed and on the phone with some of my best friends and family.
  • Elated. To hear their appreciation and love for my ridiculous misadventures.
  • Antsy. For The Sopranos and Grey’s Anatomy.
  • Sad. When the shows were over and it was time for bed.
  • Reluctant. To get out of bed this morning for 7 tempo miles.
  • Guilty. Of re-setting the alarm clock and getting back in bed.
  • Devoted. To this damn marathon, and so I got out of bed and laced up.
  • Starving. From 7 miles in 59:40.
  • Irritated. That I need to go to the grocery store AGAIN.
  • Angry. At the $35 parking ticket I got for forgetting to curb my wheels.
  • Dragging. Through this never ending Monday.
  • Bitter. That work is so slow.
  • Sneaky. And getting the hell out of here. Now.