April 2010


Boston Skyline from Blue Hills Reservation

This photo is of the view I’d like to see about 7:25ish  in the morning of June 27, 2010. I took it with my iPhone, so hopefully you can all tell that it’s the skyline of Boston, just to the north.  It’s around the 7 to 8 mile mark on the Inaugural 13.1 Marathon that is being held just south of Boston this year. It’s in an area that is very pretty called the Blue Hills.  Note the second word, “hills.” 

The prospect of a route from hell was enough to prompt my friend and coworker, Meg, and I, to take a reconnaisance trip last weekend to check it out.  We drove the entire course, and while I think it’s challenging, I think it’s doable.  My plan is to do some of my longer runs on the weekends down there so I can get used to the course and know what to expect. (It’s certainly an advantage to doing a local race.) 

Just last week, I remember thinking “why aren’t there any races that start in the morning when I’m used to running?” And then I came across this race. It starts at 6:13 a.m., which makes sense considering it’s going to be held at the end of June, and it can be super hot around here by then. 

Over the past week or so, I’ve been getting up earlier (or procrastinating less) so I can get out the door and running by as close to 5:30 or 5:40 as possible. That way my usual runs can be longer than 3-4 miles. While a 5 mile run is only a mile longer, mentally it makes me feel a bit stronger.  And, I’m finding the roads to be even quieter that early. I usually don’t come across other runners until around 6:30. Luckily, our sunrise is happening earlier and earlier, and the pre-dawn light has been enough so that I don’t have to wear my headlamp and not fear for my life. 

I’ve also been paying more attention to what I’m eating. While I still like my chocolate, of course, I’m trying to eat less of it, and made a concerted effort to not buy Oreos whenI was most recently in the store.  I’ve also been really trying to get more sleep, and push myself to bed while the hour hand says “9” rather than “10.”  My alarm clock goes off too early, otherwise. 

I am not sure what made me decide to do a half now, after I’ve been really digging the shorter races. And, don’t get me wrong, I still do love them, and think I can work it out so I can still do them.  I’m going into work at 10 tomorrow, so I can get in an 8-mile run in the morning, take Saturday off, and then run a 4.2 mile race on Sunday that benefits the Boys and Girls Club in a town near me.  The following week, I’ve got a women’s only 3.5 mile race on Mother’s Day. My boss has agreed to let me work the 10-6 shift next week, which will allow me to do a 9-mile run next Friday too. Yay! (I have no idea how Kristin could get in a 14-mile run in the morning and get to work by 9 – her commute must be much shorter than mine!)  

Luckily, I will start a flex, 4-day schedule the week of May 17th, giving me an extra day off during the week. On top of that, I have so much vacation time saved up, that until the end of June, I’ll be taking another vacation day during the week.  That means I’ll only have to go into the office on Monday, Thursday and Friday. Wahoo!   

Things just seem to be falling into place.  I’m sure not all of my runs will be great, but lately I have been feeling really good when I’m out there.   (And don’t worry about me, I’m not getting obsessed, just trying to keep everything in perspective.)  Yesterday, I ran a bit over 5 miles and I planned on it just being a “chill out” but hilly run where I’d just run based on how I felt.  Well, imagine my surprise when every mile got faster and the slowest  was about 9:16 – yay!

I’m not looking at tomorrow morning with dread, but with anticipation. That’s something I’ve not done when it comes to running for more than an hour, in a while, believe me. I know some of you run longer than 10 miles on a regular basis, but for me, it’s been a long time.  

Anyway, 4 am-ish comes early around here, so I’m signing off for tonight. Wish me luck!

Lindsay and I after she ran the Boston Marathon, outside her hotel

Last weekend was a pretty busy one for me.  The best  part about it, though, was finally meeting Lindsay, of Chasing the Kenyans blog fame, having my brother come for a night to visit, and my family over for dinner on Sunday night, to help Linsday carbo-load for Monday.

I’ve been reading Lindsay’s blog, and she mine, for over a year. I’d say it’s almost a year and a half, actually. I took a look at her oldest posts and realized I’ve been reading it almost since its inception.  I found out it exisetd because she dropped a comment on mine, I took a look at the link she left behind, and was mind-blown by how many blogs she managed to keep up with. Plus, I loved image she had in her header, and thought, does she really run as fast as Kenyans do?  Well, if you take a look at some of the “bests” that she lists, you’ll see, she’s damn fast!

Linsday, at about the 14.5 mile point in Wellesley/Newton

So, it was only a matter of time until her training (which is beyond anything I think could handle by way of sheer miles, even with her recently as-yet undiagnosed, and confusing health problems) allowed her to qualify for Boston. So, of course I wanted to meet her! I just hoped she didn’t think I was too pushy, offering my place to her to stay.  Those of you who have met fellow online Twitter or blogger friends understand.  There’s our online personas and the ones we have in person. Even though you’ve shared a lot online, via emails or what-have-you, it is still a little nerve-wracking before you meet in person.  Will they think I’m a freak?  Not what they expected? Will they then be wondering “um, how do I work myself out of this person’s online life without them noticing?” Or maybe none of you experience this and it’s just me, who worries about too much.

Balloons we held so Lindsay could find us in the crowd. We got "congratulations!" from at least 3 runners, LOL.

Anyway, we had a great weekend.  I very quickly felt comfortable around her and her fiancee, J (as she usually refers to him online.) He is a complete sweetheart.  We went to the expo on Saturday afternoon where Lindsay was one of many who bought the real Boston Marathon jacket (I only have the pukey, lime-green colored volunteer one, but believe me, I’m stilll grateful for it as they cost $80 from Adidas.) 

Those of you who know about our yellow lab, Ruthie, can imagine how well she took to Lindsay and J, despite their allergies and Lindsay’s asthma. (Luckily, no emergency trips to the hospital ensued!) When they went to the hotel on Sunday night as planned, she moped and kept looking for them, and then realized, “Well, I guess I’m stuck with just Mom and Dad again…sigh.  Pet me, Mom?! I’m looking cute just for you.”

My friend Meg, and I, before the BAA 5K. Meg is wearing the race shirt under her jacket. Like I said, lime green!

Sunday morning was the BAA 5K.  The price is a bit steep – $40 for a 5K in a metro area where you can easily run 5Ks for $20 if you register early enough.  At least we go a short-sleeved technical shirt. Too bad it’s in the same pukey, lime-green color as my volunteer’s jacket, and the Small-Size still looks like I could almost wear it as a dress. (Didn’t stop me from wearing it the other morning though, so my butt didn’t completely show from my capris tights like they usually do. I can’t be bothered to wear shorts over my tights, sorry.   If you’re up as early as I am on my runs, you need to deal with the sight or avert your eyes, and move on.)

The 5K course is mainly flat – the only hill is right near the 1 mile mark, and you run up to the Statehouse.  Not challenging unless you are stuck behind people much slower than you.  For me, I was lucky and didn’t get caught in such a situation, as did many people I talked to.  This was a race limited to 5,000 runners. For spectators, as Lindsay learned, that is a lot of people flying past you in a very short period of time. Even Bill, who is a seasoned spectator, says he needs to turn his eyes away occasionally so as to not become nauseous.

The stationed themselves near the start line at a spot that also afforded the opportunity to try to pick us out just prior to the 2 mile point.  Bill said they only saw me and Josh once, and our friend Corey once, and my former coworker and running friend, Will (who took 3rd place in his age group of 60-64, with a time of about 20 minutes, 31 seconds. The man is SICK, I tell you, SICK!) 🙂  If you’re still reading my blog, Will, you should know that Bill thought you’d won the age group. As he put it, “he was HAULING when he flew by us!”

Anyway, I lined up between the signs that said 7 minute pace and 8 minute  pace.  From the sounds of it, it sounds like many people stationed themselves just behind the 8 minute pace sign that shouldn’t have.  I know there were people walking very shortly in front of me after the gun went off and we’d just crossed the start line.  Really, people? You knew you were going to walk but couldn’t start further back? Do some people just not get it?!

Anyway, J said he had to weave around people for at least the first mile. My friend and coworker Lisa said she had the same problem. Our friend Corey and his friends got so frustrated at not being able to pass people that I think they just decided to run and talk, finishing well behind me, and with all of them, especially Corey, having the natural ability to totally kick my ass at this distance. (Truth be told, probably at any distance.)  (By the way, Corey got spit on during the race. Yes, spit on by someone who clearly doesn’t get race etiquette!)

There was a lot of spectator support, certainly more than I am used to. Which was cool, considering that the race started at 8 a.m. on a chilly, rainyish Sunday. I was lucky and able to get running at my own pace pretty early on and of course, had my iPod going to keep me motivated. I didn’t take water along the course (I’d drunk so much beforehand that as soon as we started, I was like “oh man, I’ve got to pee!” Yeah, not something you want to have to think about for the next 25-30 minutes. Luckily, I was able to push it out of my mind for most of, but not all, of the race.)  

Funny thing about this race. It’s a 5K but held in a huge running city. So, of course you get the types of runners who are treating it as if it’s the marathon.  About mile 2, there was a water station. People were chucking their cups with lots of gusto.  One guy, about 5-8 feet in front of me, decides he’s done with his cup, even though he’d only drunk oh, I’d say about half of it. He whips it with a flourish to his right, never stopping to look to see if there was another runner there.  I mean, come on people, when are you not in a crowd in a short distance race like this, and you’re a middle of the pack runner like us?  HELLO, NEVER!  Well, you should have seen the look on the face of the guy who soon ended up wearing that liquid all over his shirt.  The phrase “WTF?!” comes to mind.  When I thought about it afterward, just ask Lindsay, I was giggling like crazy. (At the time I was pissed at the cup-chucker.)

Anyway, to draw this very long post to a close (sorry, folks, but a lot transpired last weekend and this doesn’t even cover the half of it), I did not do as well a I wanted, whcih was to break 25 minutes, but I did get a PR at the distance, by 6 seconds.

Stats:

  1. 66/363 F35-39
  2. 1182/4948 overall
  3. Official time: 25:34 (but if you ask me, I ran too far, 3.17 miles, so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out my “real” time. I’m sure it was painful for Lindsay to watch/hear about.)
  4. Mile splits: 8:18; 8:06: 7:57, and last .17 of 7.24.  NEGATIVE SPLITS, BABY!

(Mom, I know you’re reading this and are probably wondering what do I mean by negative splits.  It means every mile I got faster.  That’s a goal in running, to get faster, not slower, as the race wears on.)

Thanks for reading!

I’m still running!  And because everyone seems to always love pictures of Ruthie, here’s one to get this post started off on the right foot!

Ruthie, looks like she's smiling, doesn't it?

Last week was an extremely long one at work  since I had worked straight through, including on Easter Sunday. By Friday, I was definitely ready for it to come to an end. Some of us went out for drinks after work, but I only had one beer (and didn’t even finish it, lame, I know), but I don’t drink much, and definitely not on the night before a race.

Saturday morning started, as always, with a walk with Ruthie. We have definitely come to the conclusion that before we got her, she must have been attacked by other dogs at some point.  We were walking around what is normally a very quiet neighborhood. Long story short, there was a dog off of its leash on its back yard, with no owner outside (and no fence).  It came over to Ruthie, while I was frozen in fear, not knowing what to do.  We think Ruthie’s attitude in a situation like this is “I’m gonna kick your ass before you get a chance to kick mine.”  She definitely fights out of fear.  I yelled and screamed for help, and someone who lived down the street heard me, and came running to help.  Without that lady, who told me her name was Donna, I have no idea how I would have gotten the dogs separated. Ruthie had her mouth over the other dog’s face, over her eye.  I got bit (not sure by which dog, so I got a tetanus shot today), and so did the other lady.  I’m not sure if the other dog is up-to-date on its shots (and who knows if they would have been telling the truth even if I asked) but I know Ruthie is.   I ended up walking Ruthie a few times after that, and it made me feel awful, but I felt like it was necessary. I’m also changing my route with her on weekend mornings now to avoid that street entirely.  She and I walked together today without the muzzle, thank God.

So that was all before 9 a.m. on Saturday.   I have to be honest.  I was really upset that morning. When I got home, I asked Bill to take care of Ruthie and I was in tears. I feel like I just froze and didn’t react properly.  Next time we see a dog off a leash, I’m going to yell and scream at it until it turns around and goes in the other direction.  I was worried that if we ran away from it, that it would take chase and that would make things worse.

Bill and I got to the race at 10 am in plenty of time to get my number, bib, and free T-shirt.  Unlike last weekend, it was only in the 50s or 60s this weekend, and on Saturday, we had 19-20 mph winds set for 11 a.m.  I was kind of doubting my decision to only wear shorts when we first got there, as it was really cold when the wind blew.  However, I figured once I got going, I’d heat up pretty good and be fine.

This post has already gotten long so I’ll just mention some of the highlights.  Before the race, I pointed out a few guys to Bill, who I thought were the likely winners. You know how sometimes you can just tell if someone’ fast by looking at them?  One guy  looked to be the winner of the Claddagh Pub 4 Miler I ran in March.  (I was right.)  Another guy looked like this really fast Master’s age runner from Lowell, MA. (Again,I was right.)  By the way, this weekend’s results are here

Once the runners for the 5 Mile race were moved to the starting area, they had us just milling around for a while. (That was one of the few complaints I’d have about this race, that the start was a bit disorganized-feeling.) We started at least 10 minutes late. But, in the meantime, I’d seen the two fasties just milling around like everyone else. I went up to one of them and said “are you Titus?” thinking that the guy is going to either be nice, or think I’m a nut and try to get away from me.  He said that he was and I just looked at him and said “you’re from Lowell, right?” and he said “yep, that’s me.”  I told him that he’d won many races I’ve run, and he gave me a big smile.  I told him good luck and he thanked me.

Well, as you can see from the results, the guy is smoking fast. And 45!! I wish I could run on such a hilly course as fast as he did. Overall time of 28:52 (trust me, it was hilly, and super windy, and I felt like we were climbing for at least 5 miles with only a few flat breaks).  I saw him taking a cool-down run as I was in the last half mile or so, and he gave me a big smile and wave. At that point, I knew I was close, and the fact that someone like him had remembered me gave me a nice boost of speed.  (On a flat course, he keeps those mile splits down in the low 5s.  Trust me, the guy does NOT look his age!)

In case you are interested, here are a few links about this guy – he sounds like a good guy too – so nice to see that good people can do well sometimes, huh?  2007 winner of the Cape Cod Marathon (look at his overall time of 2:28:53!!) Results from 2006 Little Rock Marathon: winner of Master’s Men

This was a challenging course, as I’ve said, with so many hills, but I think it’s one I would do again. My overall Garmin time was 44:55 (official race time of 45:00 because there was no mat at the start).  While it’s not a PR for me at this mileage, it was a really difficult 5 mile course (probably my hardest race, hill-wise, at this distance), and with the wind, I am quite happy with the results.

Stats:

  • overall place: 85/164
  • division place: 8/24 of W35-39 (yay, top 10!)
  •  average pace overall: 8:58 pace
  • mile 1: 8:51
  • mile 2: 9:13
  • mile 3: 9:03
  • mile 4: 9:08
  • mile 5: 8:36

This race was only run for the second time this year. They do a great job of publicizing it way in advance (putting postcards on our cars at races, 6 months ahead!) There is ample parking, great volunteer support, many water stations, and lots of good food at the end: pasta salad, fruits, water, monster energy drinks, cheese and cracker snacks (love them!), cape cod potato chips!  They also had hot dogs and hamburgers you could buy, as well as many many awards to give out.  I think as they gain more experience, they’ll be better at starting on time. They don’t get the streets closed off, but not too many races I run, do.  Overall, it’s a race I’d recommend.

Anyway, below is a photo of me before the race. Yep, my shirt is tucked into my shorts, because I was turning into a popsicle right about then.

Before the race, I'm freezing!

Photo by Sakura Mutsuki, from flickr.com

Even though it’s April Fool’s Day, it’s really not a joke, today my blog is two years old. Wow.I wish I could say something eloquent on my birthday like Anne of the Run-DMZ blog did just a few days ago, but I can’t. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to just wade through my ruminations as they occur to me at the very end of a busy day that began at 4:30 a.m., and had me dry-vaccuuming our basement at 5:20 a.m. (I got a 4.1 mile run in though, and it felt great!)

 Two years ago:

  • I thought this blog would be a good way to stay in touch with my family. Instead, most of them don’t read it.  That’s alright.  I can’t expect them to understand my love of running, or of writing, or of combining the two. I’d like to say, thanks, though, to my mom, for being a faithful reader, ever since she started playing on the computer. Now, we just need to get her comfortable with email!
  • I was in North Carolina visiting my dad, along with Bill, my husband, and my sister and her family. It was during that visit that my little niece, Katie, who is cuter than Suri Holmes (they look alike, but trust me, Katie’s way cuter), crawled for the very first time, and I was there to witness it!
  • Ruthie, our yellow lab, had not yet come into our lives. (The calm before the storm, you could say. But she’s a storm I am more than glad to weather.) We could not imagine life without her. Yes, she’s spoiled. (I write this while she sleeps on her soft blue blankie that has been placed on top of her very comfy blue dog bed. See the photo below if you don’t believe me!)
  • I hadn’t yet realized that sunrise is my favorite time of the day, well, that and anytmie I take Ruthie for a walk.  She reminds me that it’s ok to move slowly sometimes, and that every day can be a good day. (For her, they all ARE.)
  • I’d never met, virtually, or in person, any of the wonderful people that read this blog and with whom I’ve been able to connect in many ways since, via email, Facebook, Twitter, on the phone, or in person.
  • I’d not met Lis yet – someone who was willing to spend hours running alongside me, trying to not slip in pools of sweat I might leave on the street.  She was the other person who thought that we could actually hide our headphones from our TNT coaches underneath shirts that were clearly not getting the job done. 🙂 She’s also still my friend! (Although this fact alone makes me question her sanity.)
  • I’d never run a marathon. Even if I never run one again, the knowledge that I was able to accomplish that gives me a confidence no one can take away.

Ruthie asleep, as she is in so many of my pictures

Thank you to all of you who have stuck with me, and continue to read my blog now.  Thank you to those who have faithfully commented on my blog – I do hope you subscribe to the comments follow-up, because I really do make an effort to respond to all of them.  Thank you to those of you who talk with me on Twitter, and check in to make sure everything is ok with me if I’ve been silent for a few days.  You’ve been generous with your time, and advice, and I do appreciate it, all of it!