April 2009


I can see Chris’ face now – he has become the topic of a blog post! So this week, I was lucky enough to meet Chris, the Gibtown Runner himself, in person, while he was in town on business.  We went for a run last night along the Charles River, and now I think he’s understanding completely why I say that  Boston is such a runner’s town.  So many people outside running, day and night. 

But really, it was so nice to talk to him in person, and feel very comfortable doing so, like I’d known him for much longer than I otherwise would have after the first meeting in person.  We all know, there is so much stuff  you cannot say on a blog, for whatever reason, because once it’s out there on the Internet, it’s out there. You can never take it back. Chris, you now have a running partner whenever you are in Boston, if you want one!

 It could be that we’ve all been house and snow-bound for way too long, or maybe it’s because this city is going through a re-birth, as Anne put it when commenting on D.C. during the Cherry Blossom festival period of the year.  Literally, the tres have been developing buds and leaves over the last 4 days. The hostas planted around the outside perimeter of our front lawn have been growing by inches over the past few days, and I mean, literally, inches.   And our little tree that flowers for just 3-4 days per year, already bloomed earlier this week. (And yes, I did take a picture, I will post it later on today when I download it from my camea.)  Hey, Kara, maybe I’ll make that my Twitter icon image! (I need help, people, most of my images are too  large for  Twitter, over 700k, and I’m not sure how to make them smaller.  I know, get googling.)

Ok, so back to the topic of this post.  Chris asked me last night where I see myself in five years. I think I now know the answer. In the same spirit as Lisa wrote on her blog a few days ago, here’s my goal. 

  • I want to be a published fiction writer in the next 5 years. I’ve now put it out there. 
  • And I don’t just want to be someone who publishes a book five people outside of my immediate family read – I want it to be bigger than that.

To be a better writer, I have to get down to the “basic me” and try to not edit myself so much. It’s funny, but I have no problem with mentioning certain things on this blog.  Yet, when I’m working on a piece of my book, and Bill walks near the computer, I tend to close up the screen.  It’s my fear that he will read it and won’t like it, but won’t want to tell me that for fear of hurting  my feelings.  Because that’s what family is supposed to do, right? Support you. My mom tells me I am very lucky to have my husband. She’s right. (Yes, Mom, miracles do happen, even your daughter that made your life complete hell when she was a teenager, can agree with you while you’re still alive.)

Am I setting myself up for failure with this goal? Perhaps.  Am I setting myself up for disappointment? Perhaps. Am I happy with the way things are in my life right now?  Not completely. I would definitely like to feel more fulfilled and inspired on a day to day basis, and not feel like I am in so much of a rut.

Is it scary to admit this stuff to myself?  Yes.  Is it also kind of exciting? Yes. I remember the feelings I had 10 years ago when I decided that I REALLY did not want to be a lawyer. There I was, about 100K in debt (that number has since climbed because of my MLS degree, sad, I know), and I was absolutely miserable. Didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do with my life, other than knowing at least one career I did NOT want to do.

I am trying to be more open to “signs” now in my life.  If I keep feeling like I am beating my head against a wall in certain aspects of my life, I am going to take it as a sign, to turn in another direction and try something else. 

And, honestly, I want to feel like what I do on a daily basis matters.

Anyway, thanks for listening.

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Yep, I’m back, didn’t expect it to be so soon in the season, but I’m back. Those of you who read me last summer know of my love for these magical little white pills made by Hammer Nutrition.  Kara was not feeling great tonight – she works in a public school, and around here, they usually don’t have air conditioning. (People just suffer in June and in September.) She said her office gets a lot of sun during the day and she was in meetings all day so she couldn’t make her way to the water cooler as much as usual. So, she was pretty dehydrated to start off.

Did I forget to mention that today we were forecasted to have 93 degree temps?  Anyway, I think the highest it got was 89, and then it started to get super windy during track practice tonight. It felt awesome, except when you were on the side of the track where the wind smacked you in the face and almost stopped you dead in your tracks.

Oh yeah, where was I with the Endurolytes?  Ok, so last week, I gave Kara some Sports Beans, and she liked how they kicked in – ZOOM!  So tonight, when she mentioned how little she’d had to eat/drink today, and with the heat, I figured she could use a few. She had 1, and was starting to feel better, but not completely, so I slipped her another one. I told her, she’d know when they really kicked in.  At first she felt like she was going to skip the end of our workout, and then she ended up doing 6 of the 200s at  the end.  She also just looked better in the face, hard to describe, but she just had more color, I could tell.

Anyway, the people tonight were friendlier, but it was pretty much just Kara and me most of the night, except for when Diane joined us for the last set of repeats. I really like running with Diane – she’s good at keeping us on track with times. Which is a good thing, because I really feel like I need to move up at least one letter group.

Workout:

  • 10 x 200 at 54-55 seconds. Rest 60 secs in between each 200.
  • Run 12 minutes EASY off track. Kara was not feeling well – we ended up walking – gotta be honest, it was super windy at that time and I was afraid of all the dust blowing up into my contacts, so it was fine with me!
  • 6-8 200s at 51-52 with 60-90 sec rests.

This is where my confusion comes in – if I am still in Group G, why are these workouts easier than what he gave Group G before? We’re getting slower times, and longer rests in between than what we used to get.

I wrote him today and asked if I could move up, but probably waited too long. I was a bit afraid of the heat after Sunday’s debacle. But next week, I need to move up, because I’m getting frustrated, with myself. I could not keep that first group of 200s to that pace of 55 seconds. I felt like I was holding back, except for when the wind really gusted, honestly.

One of my colleagues is attending the first track practice tomorrow night with MVS. I am going to see what he thinks of it. Supposedly, everyone is supposed to get some personal attention with that new coaching group. With our coach, if you want extra personal attention other than when we are on-site on Tuesdays, you have to pay extra. I am not trying to take anything away from our coach, he is good, as shown by some of his athletes’ performances. But I feel like where I am concerned, I might be part of the background. Does that make sense? 

I’m not the type to be constantly badgering a coach with questions, but I feel like a lot of my coaching that I’ve had lately has been from the people I’ve been running with, like Diane, who’s been running for 11 years. Have any of you out there done track workouts like this before and had similar experiences?

Oh, and by the way, here are some pics from Mexico – and NO, I don’t have the Swine Flu! (We got this very comical, I think, email from work – saying that they have not restricted travel yet to Mexico, and I’m sure it was meant in the way of  “official travel”, but my reaction was “oh please, do we really think we are this precious, that you could KEEP me from going someplace warm after this winter!? GIVE ME A BREAK!”

Oh, and by the way, anyone recognize this guy with me below, in the Boston Common? 🙂  It is none other than the Gibtown Runner, Chris, himself!!  We finally met in person last night because he’s in town on business, and we are going to go running together tomorrow night. He’s worried I’m going to kick his ass, and I’m worried he’s going to kick mine – LOL! (I am so not photogenic, sigh.)

More pics to come soon – we took a lot – I’m just trying to pick out the best!

Oh, and this Twitter thing – it’s interesting – I’m trying to learn to be concise – obviously I need a lot of work!

I’ve broken down – I’m on twitter. My username is “middlepackgirl” in case you’re interested! I’ve been trying to avoid it because I’m worried it’ll be another way I can procrastinate (like I need more), but Cheryl Richardson’s talk on Saturday at the Newburyport Literary Festival changed my mind.

I already found some of you out there! Now I just look like a complete loser with absolutely no one following me. This is so weird. 🙂

 

UPDATE – I’VE GOT THREE FOLLOWERS – WAHOO!

But now I feel like a moron – or it’s my computer – it won’t let me send direct messages!

grotonroadrace

What is that you’ve all been telling me – that when it gets nice out, I should be really rocking with fast times?!  Um.. Yeah… Nope.

Can you have a WORST PR?

Running in Mexico’s heat for just 5 days was not enough time to acclimatize, that’s for sure.

Thank GOD Lis and I decided last night to only do the 5K, rather than the 10K.  There was water only at 2 miles.  Getting about 3-4 ozs. is definitely not enough, especially since when we started, my mouth already felt dry. 

I never felt like I had any energy. I went to bed last night around 10, got up at 8. That’s more sleep than I’ve had in a while.

Here’s the good stuff about the race today:

  • Held in a small town, so this was a big deal. Lots of baked goods, real food to buy (hot dogs and hamburgers, slushes, etc.) Musical band acts on the track.
  • Started and ended on a track. Makes you feel good to hear lots of people cheering.
  • No penalties for switching from the 10K to the 5K or vice versa (although you’d have had to have had a lobotomy to think that was a good idea.)
  • Roads closed, with lots of police patrols.
  • Really well organized and well run, with one exception – water stops – not enough.

Bad stuff (note, not the race organizer’s fault):

  • 82-88 freaking degrees.  Yes, you read that correctly. Two days ago, on my last run, it was somewhere in the high 30s/low 40s.
  • It’s April in the Northeast. Most of our trees are lucky to even be budding right now. Translation = NO SHADE.
  • Race time of 11:50 a.m. (I take it back, this is the race organizer’s fault.) That’s too late to start a race when there’s a chance it could be really warm out.
  • During mile 1, one of the cops pulls out, on his motorcycle, to move along with the runners.  I’m thinking “dude, could you at least get on the other side of the road? You’re riding on what would be the shortest way to run.” (the inside.)  Lis told me later she’d had to run behind him at one point for a while and she was totally breathing in his fumes. So not cool on a hot day like today. Not sure what the point of that action was.
  • Some freaking guy decided to walk from the point of the starting muskets, even though he was pretty close to the start line – WTF?
  • Absolutely no time for us to acclimate – my asthma was really kicking in today.
  • I FREAKING walked a good portion of the 3rd mile, as my times show. I passed the 2 mile point at 17:42.   
  • I  literally had a meltdown during that last mile. At one point I was almost in tears, having stopped to walk for what felt like the 3rd or 4th time.  I felt ashamed to be wearing my MVS shirt, honestly, and was wondering just what all the work I’ve done these past several months was for.  The only time I felt ok was when the clouds finally came out when we hit about 2.67 miles. (Thanks, Garmin.)
  • I was running with the Female’s Bane of Existence (please don’t make me spell it out as to what I am really talking about – you ladies all know exactly what I’m talking about. And, guys, yes, it really does affect the way we exercise and our moods.  If you’re married or have had a girlfriend past the honeymoon stage, you know what I’m talking about.)

My stats: (no idea how I finished in the top half, at all.)

  • Official time: 29:43.  Real time on Garmin: 29:33. YES, YOU READ IT RIGHT.  I have not done a 5K that slowly in 2 years, I’m not kidding.
  • Place among females:  106/376.
  • Place in division (female 30-39): 37/125
  • Place overall: 318/753.

Mile paces:

  • First mile: 8:04 (this’d normally be ok if the weather had been normal. What the hell was I thinking going out that fast in this weather?!)
  • Second mile: 9:30
  • Third mile: 11:09 (AGAIN, NOT KIDDING.)
  • Last .13 (because of course I ran too far): 7:16 – don’t get too excited, it was 54 seconds to do a 200.  Again, that is ridiculously slow for me at the end of a race.

I think the heat affected everyone, except for the winners, of course.

Oh, and in case you are wondering how my track practice went last week – let’s just say I hope the people I ran with (except for my friend, K, who did indoor track with me), “warm” up a little bit where the friendliness factor is concerned. I got the feeling they didn’t think that “indoor track” was as competitive as “outdoor track” in the winter.  Um, I just don’t like to freeze and sweat and then take breaks in between my running when it’s freaking freezing outside. To me, that’s like asking for pneumonia. 

Also, my coach, who hadn’t seen me doing a real track workout in months, decided to go conservative with keeping me in Group G, even though he had literally taken everyone else in my group and moved them up to F. I was a bit miffed about that at first, but then realized he had not seen me run in many months and had no idea that I had improved. 

Oh, and we ran in mist most of that night, which was fine, until the very end, when it decided to POUR rain.  So I didn’t stretch until I got home, and I totally felt it afterward.  Until today I was thinking of asking him if I could move up to F. Then today was so awful.  I have to just get it out of my mind, I know.

I am going to try to put today out of my mind.  I saw that a lot of you ran races today and did awesome. Willie and Lisa, I’m so proud of you. And Lindsay, you WON your race last week. Wow.   If anyone else ran a race, I’m catching up on blogs, slowly!  I’m back, and yes, I will post Mexico pics very soon!

Happy Running folks.

You know how they always say that when you come back from vacation, that you feel like you need another one after just a few days? That’s kind of how I felt this week. Came back, and prepared to teach a class in two days. Hadn’t done a ton of prep ahead of time, so I had my work cut out for me. Even though it was a subject I’ve taught on many times (legislative history), you always get nervous thinking about what questions can be asked, whether your examples will work the way they are supposed to, etc.

Lis and I signed up to do the Groton Road Race tomorrow. You can choose to do either the 5K or 10K and can even do both. We both originally signed up to do the 10K, but get this? You know how I’ve been complaining about the cold for the past several months. Normal temps here average in the 50s and 60s right now. The forecast for tomorrow is 80 at noon and 82 at 1 p.m. The 5K starts at 11:50 p.m. and the 10K starts at 1.  So, we’ve both decided to do the 5K, and not feel badly about it. We don’t need to prove anything to anyone – that’s our motto and we are sticking to it! 

Yes, I have a goal of doing a 10K in 54-55 minutes this year, and this might have served as a good baseline for me for the year, but maybe not. We all know that it takes about 3 weeks to acclimate to changes in temps. I had 5 days in Mexico, and then came back to 40 degree temps in the morning. So my body is all confused right now where it comes to running.

Heading into 80 degrees here today – I found I just pretty much felt exhausted most of the day.  I got up early to get Bill and his car to a garage, and then checked out the schedule for the Newburyport Literary Festival. One of my favorite writers, Cheryl Richardson, spoke at 10:30 this morning. So I hurried home from the garage, showered, and  drove up there as fast as I could.  Imagine a literary festival where multiple New York Times bestselling authors are speaking, and it’s all free, and open to the public! I couldn’t believe it!! 

Cheryl  Richardson spoke about the writing life, how to get started, how hard it can be, etc., and it was basically like a really good conversation between her and everyone in the room. I came away thinking, “wow, she is so NORMAL.”  Here is her facebook page.  Gave me lots to think about, and a lot of inspiration.  I picked up her book, The Unmistakeable Touch of Grace, and so far, I am finding it to be really wonderful.

Oh, and this is totally unrelated – my mom told me tonight – the guy accused of being the Craig’s List Killer –  as if it’s not bad enough that he just got suspended from the same university where I used to work, he also went to the same undergrad as I did, and now my mom told me he went to high school about 12 miles away from where I grew up. I even ran a cross country race there in high school.  You just never know who could be living nearby.  I feel badly for his family – I am sure that they are getting attacked by the news media.

Anyway, wish Lis and I luck tomorrow running in the heat – we are definitely not used to this! (But we’ll adapt, gladly! LOL!)

And now that I am done with teaching for the semester, my hours go back to normal, and I can catch up on everyone’s blogs, I feel like I’ve been away for far too long!

Massachusetts celebrates a state holiday today, called Patriots Day.  We have the Boston Marathon, a day game for the Red Sox, and the Celtics are in the playoffs. Bill is in seventh heaven for the latter two, I was loving the former.  A LOT of people get the day off because the commute into the city can be hell. I took the day off even though my school doesn’t recognize it as a holiday.

I got home after our road race this morning, just in time to see Kara Goucher come in third and those other two duke it out for the first place finish – holy crap it was close!! (By the way, Kara, we love you, you did awesome and have no reason to be sad!!)  And Ryan Hall, I think he is the coolest – he’s running, coming in third overall, and he’s waving to the fans.  I remember reading this article about how when he ran the Houston Half-Marathon and finished under 1 hour, how people realized he could have finished even faster if he’d just concentrated on just the finish line. I like the fact that he acknowledges the fans – it shows what kind of person he is – it’s his way of giving back. It was cool to see that he was doing that again today even through the last mile.

Lis and I ran a 5 mile race today in Lexington, MA, a town made famous for the Revolutionary War battle where the famous line was  uttered “don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes” (Lis confirmed this is the one and the same battle, although there is confusion as to which side actually did fire their muskets first.)  So, that’s how the race started – with 4-5 guys lined up, and they shot their muskets off in unison.  It was LOUD. But very cool!

I decided I didn’t feel like “racing racing” today but wanted to have a good run with her instead. We have not run together in months and honestly, I missed it! A lot! 

Before we started, Lis said to me “I am running an 11 minute mile pace around now, are you cool with that?” Which I was, no problem.  I just wanted to gab and catch up!  And holy crap, this field was fast – to have come in within the top half, I’d have had to run 7:21 minute miles, can you believe it?!

We did our first mile in 9:51, and I think our slowest mile was 10:26 or so.  We walked through most of the water stops (only skipped one, but stopped for an informal one prepared by a very cool family who were handing out tons of 3 oz. cups) and did an average 10:12 mile for the entire race. Our finishing times were 50:25 and 50:26, and that is a PR for Lis!  I am very happy for her.  What’s funny is that she said that she had run 8 miles Thursday, hiked a bunch on Friday, ran 5 miles on Saturday and hiked 11.79 miles yesterday, yet ran faster than what she “thinks” is her current pace, and she looked great the whole way.  She said her legs felt it at points, but honestly, I didn’t notice at all. She did awesome!  (I decided not to say anything about our actual pace during that first mile – we both have Garmins so she figured it out, but I was like “hey, she seems to be not feeling this, who am I to say something?!”)

Bill was not able to go along today – had to work from home, so sorry, no pics!  But honestly, it was really, really fun to just run along at a leisurely pace and enjoy the day (even though it was a bit windy and COLD!)

In other events, my friend Amy, who I run with often on Saturdays, and with whom I ran indoor track, did her first marathon today and it was BOSTON! She finished in 4:47:16, which I think is awesome for her first, and also because the wind was in everyone’s face today – not good!

My friend, Corey Canada, finished his second Boston Marathon today in 4:35:13. My husband called/texted him afterward and he said that he felt dead from the waist down.  He said his injuries were definitely what slowed him down, as last year he did 4:09ish and he could have gone faster.  I am going to ask Corey to write up a race report (you reading this, Corey?) because he’s the one that ran for Abi Simpson with Miles for Miracles last year and was repeating his feat this year.  I know it’ll be a good one! 🙂

And Reese from Oklahoma – do any of you read his blog – I won’t steal his thunder and list his time here – but I will point you to his Boston Marathon race report – it’s great, and I’m so impressed with his time. There’s no way I could do a marathon in the time he did!

I PROMISE to attach pics from my vacation – but tonight I want this post to be about racing.  Tomorrow night is my first night of spring track, I’m excited but a bit nervous. My coach coaches the likes of Linda Jennings – check out what she wrote about her goals here (if you read Running Times, you’ve already heard her name), Becky Connolly (third in women’s indoor nationals at 400 distance – masters), and Dan Vassallo, who is going to try to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in the marathon – what the hell am I doing?!

Can’t wait to catch up on everyone else’s blogs this week!

So, we got home tonight from Mexico. Many of you were very close when you guessed Cancun, but we were staying in a beautiful resort called the Grand Sunset Princess just outside of Playa Del Carmen. It’s about 45 minutes south of Cancun, in the area known as Riviera Maya, on the Yucatan Peninsula.

I did promise pictures, and wanted to let people know I’ve not been commenting back over the last few days because we didn’t have access to the internet after my last post. The internet connection was good at first, and then it started to be up and down, leading Bill, the resident IT specialist in our marriage, to think it might have been problems with their firewall since we couldn’t even get an internal IP address.

To be honest, when you can’t get access to the internet, it’s actually sometimes a good thing. For me, definitely. I needed to decompress.

So, I still have to unpack – we literally landed about 3 hours ago, and I’m just cleaning out my personal email inbox, but I will try to post them tomorrow sometime, in between attending a 1 year old’s birthday party, grocery shopping, etc.

Oh, and getting ready to run a 5 mile race on Monday (not the marathon, this one is a fun one in Lexington, MA (Lexington is definitely a town where some Revolutionary War battles were fought, but my historical memory is neglecting to remember which ones right now), and I am thinking maybe Lis and I will run it together (if she’ll let me) and we can just be social and not worry about time. My runs were obviously slower down in Mexico due to the heat, but oh, it was so-o-o nice there, let me tell you. I’ll write up a review of the hotel, probably for Trip Advisor, but if any of you care to see it, I can also put it here.  (I heard there were some negative reviews on there, and all I can say is, those people must have been smoking crack to write them, or are the biggest pains in the asses on this planet. That place was BEAUTIFUL!)

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