February 2011


My brother recently wrote a really good post about conquering fears.  Even though he was relating it to running, it really could apply to so much in life. Please read it here on the blog: Coaching, Training and Motivation.

One of the things I love about my brother is his willingness to help others, and even though he has an amazing running ability, (one that most of us would pretty much die for), he always seems very low-key about it. When I told him that one of my very fast runner friends thought my brother was ridiculously fast in comparison to him, I could tell I made him blush over the phone.  He said, “you know I spend so much time talking to people about speed, I just seem to take myself out of the equation.”

I love people like that – people who could be all “big about themselves” for a variety of reasons, but they choose not to. People who dig down deep and face their fears. People who follow their heart.  (FYI, clicking on this picture of the elevation chart will blow it up for you.)

Elevation Chart for Leadville 100 course, which is an out-and-back, so what goes up must come down, and vice versa.

My brother has come a long way in a few years. He made a career change that took him from one of constant stress and anxiety attacks (literally) to one that he’s so devoted to that when he comes to visit, he always has his laptop out so he can communicate with his running clients. When he was on a bus enroute to come see me last fall, he asked if I could give a client of his a call, to let them know he’d be sending an email as soon as he got to me, telling them final strategy tips for their marathon race the following morning.  When I contacted his client, he said that my brother was an awesome coach, and so dedicated.  It was no surprise to me, but I think it might have been to my brother.  That’s just how he is.

A few years ago, he barely seemed to have the energy to train for marathons. Now he’s training for the Leadville 100, and signs his emails about it, by using the phrase “Crazy Train.” [At least he knows he’s nuts. :-)]   I like the fact that he’s pushing himself to another level (figuratively and literally, as the Leadville Race has some mileage that will be run above the tree line.)

In case you are wondering, yes, a longtime friend of his and I have already volunteered to pilot the Medivac Helicopter for him when the race is over.  We’ve watched him run the marathon at Philadelphia a few times, and always wonder “Why do we drive all this way [from D.C. and Boston] to see him fly by us for just a few seconds during the course of 2-3 hours??” LOL

Brooks ST Racers, image from Amazon.com

I’ll never have my brother’s speed (6 repeat 800s at 2:45, anyone?) but I’ve been thinking of ways to challenge myself too, running and otherwise.  On my brother’s advice, I’ve just bought a pair of racing flats to try out this year: the Brooks ST Racers. (This link takes you to the new model, 5, but I think mine will be the 4, pictured at right.)

I never thought that they were for people like me, before.  By that, I mean  people who tend to run in the middle of the pack. However, Ive seen my times improve over the past few years.  So, now I want to see if having less physical weight on my feet, and the added mental boost of knowing my feet are lighter, will help speed up my times. (Even though they will clash with all of my running clothes, color-wise…)

I’ve been meeting new people and reaching out to others more than I used to. I’ve tended to move away from people or situations that are not right with me, and doing so lifts a heavy load off of me, mentally.  Sticking with them just tends to make you look backward, and I don’t want to do that anymore. (I’m not saying it’s bad to remember everything, I think you need to learn and grow from past experiences, and not always dwell on the past.  It won’t change it.)

I’m also toying with the idea of learning how to rock climb. People who have known me my entire life know how terrified I am of heights.  So, I’m thinking more of learning what they call bouldering, because with that type of climbing, it’s more about the challenge of forging a route to the top of a, say, 30-foot high piece of rock that others might not see.  Or, it’s the challenge of finding handholds or footholds that work, while others might find them impossible. (At least, this is what I have read about it.)  You don’t have to be 100 feet off of the ground, or trying to scale the flat faces of Yosemite or Zion out west.  I’ve always liked reading about people who challenge themselves physically and mentally, such as the mountaineers who climb Everest, or any of the other 8Kers (mountains taller than 8,000 meters).  I’m thinking that maybe I should experience some of it rather than just reading about it! (Although, don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to actually climb an 8,000 meter peak!)

So, who knows? I may go to a class or two and find that “yep, I really do not like heights” or I’m so clutzy as to find the endeavor totally laughable, and feel like a complete and total jackass.  I may end up in a class with a bunch of under-10-year-olds.   But I will never know until I try it.

p.s. A friend suggested I find a half marathon to run this spring, after having run 10.2 miles (walked about .2 of it) on the treadmill yesterday. I am considering it. Some days, you just feel like running long and zoning out, and I’m just trying to go with the flow these days, in so many ways. I’m trying to make a concerted effort of keeping my workouts fun, and even think I’ve found a new good friend to run with now.

Things are coming together, slowly but surely.

Castle Island, South Boston, Autumn 2010. Loved the blue tones of the sky and water.

I remember our great plan for picking my brother out of the crowd the first time he ran the Boston Marathon. Just look for his yellow racing flats. They’d stick out because they were so bright, right?  Of course….  How little did we know, it was laughable.  Imagine our faces when we saw the lead pack with Kenyans and Ethiopians come flying through. In yellow racing flats.  And the first numbers of the 1000s and 2000s.  Many in yellow racing flats.  And my brother was right behind them, as he had started in the corral with the 3000s.  (The following year he moved up to the 2000s.)  Yep, the boy has some speed and endurance, that’s for sure.  (Speaking of speed, be sure to read his most recent blog post on Coaching, Training and Motivation. You’ll see what I mean.  Just goes to show how attitude can help you out so much, and hold you back.)

I used to always think that racing flats are only for the elites, or people like my brother. You know them. The Super-Fasties.  As I was running on the treadmill today, I thought that my shoes were feeling a bit heavy (the balls of my feet always hurt at 4 miles, so no matter if the display is covered, I know how far I’ve gone at that point) and that if I were racing, it might be good to have something a little bit lighter than my trainers. So, I’m hoping to get some advice from my brother as to what would be good for me to try.  I wouldn’t be using them for a marathon distance or anything, just 5Ks and 10Ks, so hopefully they wouldn’t help me incur injuries.  Who knows, maybe the lighter shoe will help me break into the 23 and 49 minute ranges this year? All I know is, I’m willing to give them a try. Any advice from any of  you out there for a good racing flat, if you’re usually a Brooks Adrenaline (stability) kind of girl??

My mainecoon, Chloe. Usually she looks pissed in pics because of her colors. In this one, she just looks, well, perplexed. 🙂

As to the other places I’m creating room for improvements in my life, well, this weekend I just felt like getting rid of a bunch of stuff.  The totally-dead sneakers I saved to use in the garden? GONE.  The “librarian skirts” my friend Liz (aka the Fashion Nazi) always didn’t want me to wear because she thought I looked like a moving piece of clothing (I thought they made me look thin if I wore a form fitting top with them)?  GONE. The two briefcases I had from when I was a law student and then lawyer (please don’t hate me)?  SOOOO GONE…….. My bar exam scores from Pennsylvania and from the CLE classes from New Jersey?  WILL BE GONE WITH THE SHREDDER AT WORK TOMORROW. And, some of my grandmother’s things with which I never had a connection, but always felt like I needed to hold onto them, because throwing them out=throwing her out?

That last part was definitely hard.  But, I realized, I’ve still got my memories of her, and no one can ever take those away. No one can ever take away that feeling of a special connection I always felt with her, and they can’t take away any dreams I occasionally have of her.  And, come to think of it, I still have the clothes she wore on that Easter Sunday which was the last day I saw her before her major stroke and heart attack. I don’t think anyone has ever known I’ve been holding onto them all this time. But I think it’s time to let them go too. They no longer smell like her, and they’re literally, just clothes.

Quite possibly, the largest flower I've ever seen. Grown across the street from where I work, August 2010.

One other place in my life I realize I need to declutter is all the guilt and self-loathing I’ve put on myself over the past 7 months. It’s not helped anything.

My therapist helped me realize last week that I tend to look for forgiveness from people but at the same time, keep jumping forward to take the blame for everything onto myself. When I start thinking that I’ve completely ruined Ruthie’s dad’s life, I start to make myself feel worse and worse. I need to remember my friend Lis’ advice (she’s always given me good advice since we trained for the marathon, even though I didn’t always agree with or listen to it at the time.)   She said that I did us both a favor last summer, and now he (Ruthie’s dad) can find someone else to be happy with, just like I can. 

Some people, like my mom, may never understand why we’re no longer together, or how some people can drift apart.  Sometimes it just happens.  Things change in a relationship and people may need different things. I’m not trying to sound cavalier at all – believe me, I’ve thought long and hard about it.

Ruthie’s dad has told me he is no longer mad at me, so I’m starting to not be angry with myself either.   Otherwise, I’m not going to move forward, and to stay in place is just not an option.  My running times are not the only thing that’s going to improve this year.

I’m smiling again…

Rocks at Rockport, August 2010.

p.s. I did 9.01 miles on the treadmill earlier today. For what reason, you ask? Yeah, I have no idea other than now my slow but steady pace is in the high 8s or low 9s, and I wanted to see how long it could last.  I read through some old posts and saw how excited I used to get when I could run a whole *4 miles* at 9:30.   If you do put the hard work in, it really can change things, in more ways than one. 🙂

Chestnut Hill Reservoir, with sun glare, even!!

I’m writing today just because I feel like it.  The pics I’m posting are to show why I love living where I live right now. I’ve got this beautiful piece of water so close to where I live, I am blessed.

All I can say is, I cannot WAIT to run outside again. I don’t care if it’s cold enough to make my eyes water and ears hurt, it’ll be nice to run on hills again, see the sunrise while I run, and generally have no fear of becoming human roadkill from slipping on ice just as a car rounds the corner. We all know how impossible it is for drivers to turn their head right when turning onto a road (of course, when I’m driving, that never, ever happens.)

I am still running inside, can’t believe it myself. I’ve become such a wimp. This afternoon, I took Ruthie for a walk and saw the hill I used to run every single morning, the one that would tell me how hard or easy the run would feel for the rest of the time.  It looked high/tall.  I really miss it, though. Running a “random hill” workout on a treadmill just isn’t the same.

So, I’ve been downloading lots of new music, and trying to distract myself as much as possible on the treadmill. I’ve been *trying* to do speed work on my trainer’s advice, basing it on time over distance, but might start doing some of my running club’s coaches workouts, because well, the ‘time” option is kinda boring.  I do a minute each at 7, 7.5, 8.0, 8.5, and 9.  When I’m feeling really daring, I kick it up to 9.5.  Of course this means I have to kick the incline down to 0. (Like I said, I’ve become a wimp. Go ahead, slap me.  I won’t even try to escape.)  When I tried running at 9.5 with the incline set to 1.0, I literally felt like I had to hold on for dear life, or the whole machine would go flying apart or shove me off the back.  And I figured I kinda looked like a jackass doing it, so I gave that up.  (Although it did make the 8.5 seed not seem so bad, and the 8.0 kinda manageable!)

What I wish the reservoir looked right now, because it'd be warm out!

I blame my wimpiness/aversion to the cold/ice running on the fact that I’ve not raced in about 2 months now, and on the really beautiful scenery at the gym.  (No, I will not elaborate, but I may giggle/smile a bit. Yes, I’m 14. Leave me alone. 🙂 Hey, I’d rather be smiling every day than feeling sad.)

My brother was here on New Year’s Eve and that was a late night at my older brother’s. So, yeah, the New Years Day race was soo not happening for us. Then I was signed up for a 10K on Super Bowl Sunday. With all the freaking snow we’ve had, the state police decided they wouldn’t allow the organizers to have the streets closed, and it was probably a field of a few thousand, so even after postponing it for another week, it just never happened. The kicker – no refunds, UNLESS you made a $20 donation to LiveStrong, to get your $30 back.  Yep. Supposedly we will be able to use our entry fee to run another race they host in December, but it’s only a 5K. Bleck.

Reservoir this morning in the sun, snow still covering the running path

I am planning on running the An Ras Mor race on St. Patty’s Day (it’s run by the Somerville Road Runners, my new group.) And the BAA 5K, because it’ll likely be my only opportunity ever to cross that finish line. (I’m not bummed personally about the Boston Marathon changes, I was never dreaming of qualifying anyway. I do think it sucks though for people who might work their ass off to qualify, only to still be shut out because they’re still not fast enough.)  After that I need to find some good 10Ks so I can measure my improvement from all this treadmill running.

I am also hoping to go on some runs with someone new pretty soon. He’s much faster than me, and really nice and laid back, so it’ll be great for me to run with him (emphasis on the phrase, “much faster.”)  We’ve both been kept captive inside on the treadmill and I don’t know about him, but I’m about ready to shoot myself soon from not running all my hills! I hope he just doesn’t die of boredom since my speed will be so slow for him.   I’d say he’s at least as fast as my brother, if not more so, for the shorter distances. So, I guess I will have to depend on my sparkly personality and wit to keep the coma look from crossing his face (I know, this is where you scratch your head and go, ‘um…should we tell her?  Should we tell her she doesn’t have any? Nah, her drugs seem to be working, just let her be….” 😉

Ruthie perfecting her "pathetic" look so I will pet her on the head. She was wagging her tail too.

I’m hoping to run again with my friend Dan eventually, too, but he’s not been running much lately. Not even inside on the treadmill.  (WIMP!!! J/K, Dan.)  Last week, we agreed that right now, I might even be able to kick his ass. Happy Dance! Happy Dance! Nothing says an ego boost like being able to kick a natural fasties’ butt.  (Actually, wait, there are a few other things but I won’t elaborate.)

My first of four sessions with the trainer is tomorrow. I am hoping I feel really dead afterward, since I also plan on running long afterward, then probably taking Monday off, because yes, I have to work. Enjoy your day off for the rest of us if you are a lucky enough bastard to have it off.  (And don’t worry, that’s not jealousy you feel coming from me…not at all…)

Of course, I will then be taking off Patriots Day to watch the Boston Marathon while the rest of you can only dream of doing such a thing….(evil laugh.)

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This post is actually two posts in one, which is why the title is so freaking long! The second post was promised to @mickdo100 on Twitter.  He’s been very good to me, and has always been able to read between the lines where my tweets are concerned, for which I am very grateful.

Yes, there really are two cars under there. I call them "car cocoons."

Since it’s been so nasty out, and I’ve not run a race in a while, please enjoy the photos spread throughout this post, again. I saw Ruthie the other night while her dad was out, and I had time before my board meeting. And I know you’re all dying to see how much snow we’ve got.  (Gee, thanks, Terri!)  The snow is part of the reason why I’ve been running inside so much lately.  (Plus, the “scenery” in a gym can be beautiful in a whole different way from a solo run outside in the elements. I think you know what I mean…)  But seriously, running inside also makes me feel like I’m not so alone with all these people working out around me, which is nice.

This photo was taken from inside my car. Notice how tall the snowbank is. This is in Ruthie's town.

Ok, so first part of this post:

One song that I listened to over and over toward the end of July last year was the song “It Is What It Is,” by Lifehouse.  I would go out on runs and literally listen to it over and over for the entire run, while I got lost in my head.   Physically, I would feel like some days I was flying, other days that I was really dragging, and then I’d look down at my Garmin to see that I was running paces in the low 8s. That’s what stress will do for you.

I hadn’t listened to the song a lot since, because it reminded me of that time when I was really hurting and really confused, and didn’t know if I was coming or going. I was crying just about every day.  Running allowed me an outlet in which to think all on my own, or to get out there and just not think about anything. I think those of you who are runners (past or present),  reading this, understand.

I've been trying to grow plants/herbs from seed inside. The plant lights really cheer up the place, and work!

Well, the other day it came on my ipod when I was on the treadmill. At first, I was going to turn it off, and then I thought to myself that I needed to change what thoughts came to my mind when I hear it. So, instead of thinking of how down and out I felt last summer, I thought of how much my life has changed since. I realized I’ve come a long way, and then I think I was smiling. (I’m sure that freaked out a few people around me, “what’s this weirdo girl doing, smiling at nothing?!)  Anyway, I listened to it a few times and realized I was saying to myself “you’ve come a long way, you know that? It’s been a lot of work and effort but it has been worth it, and now you are being true to yourself.”  (Luckily I wasn’t actually talking out loud, that would have been, well, kinda weird, don’t you think?)

This is quite a change from the last 6 months, when my self-talk (for lack of a better term) has been pretty harsh and judgmental. I am trying to let go of that. Lately, I’ve been feeling more of an urge to go back to that positive mindset I worked so hard to cultivate during my marathon training in ’08.  I’m really happy with that change.

Running Topless:

Ruthie with one of her many, many toys...

I mentioned this on twitter the other day, and it really got some people’s attention, LOL. My friend Bill  says that the phrase “running topless” definitely means something different to a guy than it does to a woman. Heh, Heh, Heh!

So, let me put it out there:  I’m thinking when a guy hears the phrase “running topless,” he thinks of boobs hanging out everywhere. A woman thinks, ok sans bra.  Note to guys out there – if you need to wear a running bra to cover up your man-boobs, um….yeah….we really don’t wanna see that!!!  EEWW A woman never wants her guy’s boobs to be bigger than hers, trust me on this. 🙂

On the other hand, if you’re a good looking guy and wanna go topless, by all means, go with that feeling!! Please!!  Tee hee.

Anyway, I’ve definitely heard women talk about smaller women who “run topless” as well as write about it on their blogs. Um, and the commentary is not always so nice. Well, there may  be reasons they go topless.  They could either (1) sweat like a farm animal, or (2) actually be a farm animal, or (3) be trying to show off their body.  In my case, I’m in option 1.  Definitely. 

So, please, if you see a girl in the gym, and you’re pissed at her for being one of those “little girls wearing almost next to nothing,” well, maybe you should thank your lucky stars that you don’t sweat like she does. 🙂   And if she doesn’t put her top immediately back on when she’s all done running, you never know…she could be trying to cut down on laundry, not trying to show everyone what she’s got, boob-wise.  (Not that I would know about that…..LOL)  Also, be glad she doesn’t wink at you, as someone suggested I should react!

So, you may have guessed – I’m having a fling with the treadmill. Not sure if it’s a May-December kind of thing or not, but I’m just going to go with it for now and rack up as many miles as I can or want to do.  They are doing a spring challenge at my gym, and I didn’t start out being competitive, but so far, I’m in 11th place out of about 100. (The goal is to run/bike/elliptical 204 miles between MLK Day and opening day for the Red Sox, or the distance between the Bronx and Fenway.)  While I’ll not win it (the leaders are training for the Boston Marathon, so they’re putting in insane mileage right now), I’m paying more attention to how much I’m running and biking. I really want to be toward the front of the pack – this is one time where I’m not gonna settle for “middle of the pack girl.”

I’m sorry if my last few posts have made me sound like I’m self-absorbed. I’m just trying to work through a lot and my therapist thought it was a good sign that I’ve taken more to blogging lately than writing in my journal.  If you’ve read this far, thank you!