December 2008


personalrecord1Ok, now that I know a lot of you are interested in Rachel Toor’s book, Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running, I feel a bit of pressure, but no sweat!  🙂 Here’s my suggestion, to get it at a public library. I say this in part because I’m a librarian and because I think $24.95 retail is a bit much for a book that is less than 200 pages long, and which I took to be an extremely fast read!

Kristin, from Running with the Runner Girl, commented that she has a hard time relating to someone whose physical body shape is different from hers. I found it a bit difficult to relate to someone who runs marathons regularly and can pace people running 7:30 minute miles, and is able to carry on a conversation the entire time, who just jumps into the NYC Marathon for a 20-miler run.  Keep in mind, though, this doesn’t mean I didn’t like the book. In fact, I loved it. Her prose is short and keeps your attention, and so are her chapters.  I found it hard to put down, even though I was tired at night and my body hurt from lifting lots of boxes of books in my mom’s house.

Rachel describes ultrarunners and trail runners as a very welcoming group, and I kept thinking back to the Trail Race from Hell that I ran this past summer, in the Finger Lakes of NY.  The folks who do run long trail runs really are a different breed, and very welcoming. She did seem to hit the nail on the head with that one.  (She even mentioned that she likes to run groups with that running club, which I could understand.)

As a Gear-Head, I have to mention the chapter titled “The Closet”, which, as I read it, I was wondering if she had literally opened  up my “running clothes drawer” and taken a picture of it. Right down to the Camelbak, which cracked me up.  Among many things, she mentions the socks drawer, with the wool running socks, the cotton socks that you know you should get rid of, and still keep anyway.  Made me want to dump open my drawer and take an inventory of just how many technical race shirts I’ve received, in white.

She did include a few chapters about a few men that she’s become “close” with over the course of her running career that I found seemed to open  up the door to who she is as a person, but which definitely seemed very different than the majority of her other chapters.  I say “close” because it was more on the emotional side, since nothing physical really appeared to happen. Many of her chapters center around her running various races, either as a pacer, or as a training run where she helps someone keep moving along.  I think she took a big risk in writing those chapters about a few of the guys, because I’m sure they can figure out who they are, and now maybe their wives can, too.  In my opinion, those were some of her best written chapters, although their inclusion suprised me at first. I wasn’t expecting them at all.

Oh, and by the way, the cover art is of many of her finisher’s medals. You have to read through to the end of the book to find out what she did with them when decorating her place. Very creative, I must say, although I’ve got a long way to go to get to that point, medal-wise.

On a final note, five of her chapters were previously published in Running Times. (I admit, I only recognized two of them, but I’ve only been subscribing to that magazine for about two years.)   Some of her other chapters had previously been published in a publication called Marathon and Beyond, which I’ve never read before.

So, my suggestion, definitely read it, but like I said, the price is a bit steep for something that comes in at 164 pages including her final chapter of “thank yous.”  Pick it up at your local library!

Oh, and on another final note, I just checked the Accuweather forecast for tomorrow – at noontime, (my race’s scheduled start), it is supposed to be 16 degrees, with the potential for 45 mph wind gusts, making it a “real feel” of -10.  Yikes!!!  This may be what I call a game-time decision as to whether or not I really run it. I’m leaning toward yes, just because I think it’d be fun, if not butt-cold (Bill wonders just how cold is that, exactly?!) but Jesus, that’s FRIGID!

Happy New Year’s everyone!

OH, AND GOOD LUCK ON YOUR FIVE-K TOMORROW, KARA!   

I’m back home in MA tonight, just in time for us to get more SNOW! I promise, everyone, not every single post of mine during the winter will involve that dirty word, I’ll try my best to not bore everyone to death with that!  My plan was to go to the gym in  my mom’s town this morning and then get on the road. When we got up, we saw it was already snowing and blowing all over the place, so my mom did her best to kick me out as soon as she could. The first 45 miles of my drive back were pretty nerve-wracking — on the NY Thruway, we were down to about 30-40 miles per hour at times, and in some places, it was almost whiteout conditions, but not quite.  Luckily I’ve been driving for more than half of my life, and have always lived in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast so I’m used to it, but it still can be a bit scary.

Oh, and let me just say this one tangent. My mom’s animals, Persephone the cat, and Amos the dog, I am sure are rueing the fact that I had to leave. I love spoiling them – Amos loves Wheatables (I just gave him a few, Mom, I swear), and Persephone loved sleeping on top of my fleece bathrobe on the bed in the room where’s she usually not allowed to enter. 🙂

We didn’t have indoor track tonight because the high school where we meet is closed this week, so our coach emailed the workout to us.  We were supposed to run at the same “effort” as we did over the past few weeks, and to use our 5K times to determine paces on a treadmill. That’s fine if you’ve run a 5K somewhat recently. I have not, so basically I put the treadmill on .5 incline and kept my speed at either 7.5, 7.4 (in the middle when I felt like I was “dying”) and 7.6 for the running times, and kept it at 5.0 or higher (except twice at 4.5) for the “easy jog” portions.  When my mind said “I’m dying, I’m dying” over and over, I told myself, as my brother said, “if you want to run faster, you have to start doing it!” There were two times when we were supposed to “easy jog” for 30 seconds that I just put my legs to the side of the treadmill to catch my breath, but to make up for that, at the end when our last repeat was to be for 30 seconds, I did it for 90 seconds, at a pace of 7.8 up to 8.0. My legs now feel like they usually do after a Tuesday night so I guess I did alright.

For tomorrow, I plan on writing lots of reviews, I am literally about 10 pages from the end of Rachel Toor’s bookpersonalrecord  I was also asked to try out a new (?) product called ProWash and write up a review on my blog. Those of you who know I sweat a lot know that this product has its work cut out for it!! 🙂

Oh, and being the true gear-head I am, I bought myself a stability ball at Wal-Mart ($10, yay!) so Bill wants to use his birthday present (some sort of drill with an air compressor, and yes,I bought it even though I had no idea what it did, just that he asked for it)  to blow it up, so sigh… I just might let him do it! (Hey, it’s either that or I have to use an air pump, I’m no fool!)

I am now actually looking forward to my 5 Mile race on Thursday, and catching up with everyone else’s blogs and goings-on!

Oh, and please vote in my poll below, I’m curious to see how many other people are running this week!

Sorry to all of my blog friends out there – I’m visiting my mom in upstate NY and she doesn’t have the Internet other than through the public library, so I have not had a chance to catch up on what everyone’s doing.  I’m heading back home to the Boston area tomorrow, though.  It has been a good visit so far. My brother was in town until yesterday, we went for a run together in the really WEIRD warm weather of 50+ degrees. Of course, both of us were way overdressed, since to come home to upstate NY usually means to come to the frozen tundra.  It was 60 degrees + in Boston yesterday, per Bill (he was not feeling great the day I left to come home, so he stayed behind and caught up on a lot of sleep. Or so he says….)

Just kidding…Bill… 🙂

Anyway, if you can believe it, the 2 feet of snow we got a week ago – it’s almost all gone on our front lawn anyway. It’s now green again, something we didn’t think we’d see until June 2009. Yay!

As for my run with my brother, we did fartleks, I think he came up with them to get me out of the bad mood my legs put  me in. I also was telling him about the training plan my coach gave me – the problem with it is that it doesn’t give me paces to do – just that I get to control it myself. That would be fine, I suppose, if I knew how to do that properly. So when I told Jamie I don’t usually do fartleks because I suck at them and can’t do them, he taught me to do them the right way. I tried them a bit today on my own and they are much funner with someone else. That’s all I can say.

My mom suggested that today, I run in and around a cemetery near her house. Running, literally, among the dead, is a bit odd. Especially when  you recognize so many of the last names, and realize they are relatives of people you used to know from school. I decided, I like to run on roads a lot more.

The weather in upstate NY is usually pretty gray and depressing this time of year. Today’s weather did not disappoint in that aspect.  My lungs disappointed me in every way possible today and yesterday, making me wonder if I need to get a new or more effective asthma medication.  As soon as I stop to walk, my heart rate comes right down, the lungs just really can’t take very deep breaths and it’s pissing me off.

Only good thing is that my brother did give me some good paces to aim for when running – in his words, to break out of the 10-minute mile cycle, you have to start running faster. He suggested I take shorter strides but to do them faster, so that’s why I tried doing today. I am beginning to think I should start running 4 days per week, and cross train on the 5th, and maybe cut back on the longer runs, but do more shorter ones of 4-5 miles, but concentrate on my speed. I am sick of being a slowpoke. Hopefully, by Thursday, I can get out of this funk.

I realized, I absolutely hate carrying a water bottle. Give me a camelbak on my day anyday – it feels much lighter overall, and I am not always cognizant it’s there. With the cold water bottle in my hands, how could I forget?!

Anyway, it’s been a good visit, getting lots of sleep and some good reading in. Will write up a book review on Rachel Toor’s book, Personal Record, as soon as I’m done with it. It’s short, it shouldn’t take me long.

Hope you’re all running better than me right now!

p.s. Just tried to comment on a blog or two and the public computer was giving me errors, so I think I’ll have to just catch up with everyone when I’m back at home. My mom wants me to try to organize a gazillion books she has at home, so wish me luck!

So, after those pics that I posted on Sunday, if you can believe it, we got another 8 or 9 inches of snow. Bill and I went out and shoveled for about 2 hours more that night and boy, were we tired. We need to get our snowblower fixed!

Tonight’s track workout was good – I’ve moved up to Group G, and I think this is where I should be. There were 4 of us tonight running together, two with stopwathches and two without.  The two without, when they led, had no idea if they were going too fast or not unless the other two of us yelled out, “super fast!” which I did once, so that our leader would slow down…All of them in that group are super nice, and I am happy to say that even though we ran faster than our goal pace for many of our repeats, especially the last one (!), I was able to keep up and I felt good. Definitely like I got a good workout which is what I’ve been aiming for.  One of them, K, who is also part of The Ladies who run on Saturdays, has only done two 5K races, but she ran one of them with an average pace of less than 8 minute miles, so I felt good about being with her tonight!

Going to try to get another workout in tomorrow, then who knows on Christmas, probably not. Not sure yet when I might be heading to my mom in Upstate NY – it all depends on the weather, but luckily I am off next week. There are some good things about working in academia!

I actually totally missed my long run this weekend, and basically didn’t work out between Friday and Monday, unless you count shoveling. I think mentally the not running made me pretty bitchy but my legs were pretty fresh tonight.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, and in general Happy Holidays everyone!

Photo by Stuck In Customs, from Flickr.com

Photo by Stuck In Customs, from Flickr.com

one of my favorite trees in spring and winter

one of my favorite trees in spring and winter

Kara mentioned in an earlier post that she had a “white moment” while running, when everything just seemed to click.

I’ve had a different kind of white moment today. For many of you who live in northern climates, you know how the snow can get dirty and gray after a while, kind of like some of our moods when we just want winter to be over, and how it’s been hard not to be, given all the bad news we keep hearing about on the evening news.

So, I wanted to share some more of my pictures of my neighborhood and trees today. Right now, the street is white, the trees are white, and it’s pretty peaceful out.  I so wanted to be out there and running in the first snowfall of the year, but I’ve made peace with taking these days off, keeping my eye on the bigger picture.

I am grateful to be in the warm today, with enough food to keep us going, and enough money to pay for heat to keep our house and pets warm. I’m not a particularly religious person, but when you see how pretty the world outside your window can be sometimes, it does remind me that there is a higher power out there at work.  I am feeling a bit of what I saw another blogger called Irrational Optimism.

Oh, and I watched a movie called Marathon Challenge today – I  recognize many of the routes those people ran, and I drive by the Tufts track almost every day – both are covered in that short film. You might want to see if you can get your hands on it – it’s about a team of sedentary folks who train for 9 months to run the 2007 Boston Marathon (also my brother’s first Boston Marathon!) All 12 who started the race that day, finished!

And the good thing I realized, all this running has done wonders for my aerobic capacity and cardiovascular system. Shoveling snow has not hurt nearly as much as in past years.

Seen today: NO runners. Two or four snowmobilers on the road (yes, it’s totally illegal in case you are wondering.) Many plows.

Happy Winter Wonderland!

So, I’ve got some pics for all of you, especially Penny, who I know loves seeing all the decorated  houses!  We think we got almost a foot of snow on Friday, and today when I got up a bit after 9 a.m. (really late for me, but I was tired), it was already snowing.  I had planned on going to the gym to run on the treadmill before the snow hit, but now that’s even a big question mark for me.  Where we live is almost right on the line – where it will turn from “wintry mix” to “all snow.”   We’re all supposed to get 50 mph+ wind gusts, which if any of you have ever lived where you get snow, know it can make whiteout conditions.

They haven’t even plowed our road yet today – to be out driving in this is just crazy, and can be really dangerous. To run in it, well that would be just obsessive, I think. I am trying to rationalize why I am not out there on the roads in any sense. I am trying to realize that it’s ok if I don’t get a long run in at all. I think my other option is to shovel all this snow, which will be the heavy type, and also to run up and down our stairs for a while as my workout.  I’m going to try to not feel guilty about not working out “in the traditional sense” for 3 days, if that’s what ends up happening. My goal will be to run tomorrow for about 6 miles or more, if I can, befoe going in to work. Having 3 days off should make my legs really rested.

Kara, I know you love the polar bears, they are now becoming glowing blobs of light.  The little baby polar bear is almost completely covered in snow, I’ll take a picture of him at the end of the snowstorm today so you can see what we mean.  And I’d love to move to Oregon! I find that state to be absolutely beautiful. 🙂

Lisa, you can tell your little ones that this is what they can look forward to at Grandma’s house this week. 🙂

For those of you like Jill, Alissa, Tamara, and Lindsay, can you feel my jealousy from here?! 

Some of the pics below are from this one street where everyone decorates (except for the house that we think is empty.) The one house is definitely the ringleader. On Christmas Eve, they stand out there decorated as Santa and Mrs. Claus, and they are taking money for donations for the local food pantry this year, which is the same one where I volunteer – yay!

More pics later!

Oh yeah, now I remember why I don’t run outside in the winter, or should I say, why I used to not run outside in the winter. We get a freaking lot of snow!!!!!  Bill and I are not even sure yet as to how much we’ve gotten but it’s been snowing for the last 9 hours or so, straight and it’s not supposed to stop, we think, until at least midnight.

Last year we got a snowstorm that was bad like this, that hit during the middle of the day. Tons of schools and workplaces let people out early, all at the same time. What does that do? Create gridlock, and lots and lots of it.  I left work much later that night, at 5. It took me an hour and a half to get home, about 18-20 miles. Bill took off from work that day around 1 or so. he only got home about 6 or 6:30. People were abandoning their cars on the side of the road, in the middle of the highway.  It was, as we say “a crime scene with yellow caution tape all over the place.”

I’ve got some pictures for you – I will take more tomorrow in the daylight.

our neighor's all lit up house

our neighor's all lit up house

Tomorrow I am sure the snow will be even higher! So yeah,I have already decided that I will not be running with The Ladies tomorrow. Some of them are going to wait until the morning to make a last minute judgment call. I can only imagine how dangerous that could be to run on the roads, and also on the sidewalks!  Although the treadmill is boring there’s a reason that they exist.

I can’t believe that we’re supposed to get another storm on Sunday or Monday!

All of this, and my 32 North Stabilicers just arrived in the mail today!

image from 32 North

image from 32 North

I’ll let all of you know how they work out.

And if you’re also getting snow and attempt to run this weekend, stay safe!

I think  I might just categorize this post under “training workout” because I think tonight’s shoveling (our snowblower is not working properly, great time to find out, right?) was a nice workout of its own.

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