Family


I did it, FINALLY. Didn’t think I could possibly freak out a guy who runs 100 mile races, injuring himself halfway and continuing to run on for 60 more miles.  [He’s signed up for the Leadville 100 in August, I can’t wait to go see and support him, and take him to the hospital afterward in the medivac helo. :-)]

 He’s the same guy who ate a Nathan’s Hot Dog from a NY State Thruway rest area, the day before he decided to run a 50 mile trail race.  (Yeah, that didn’t work out so well for him and his intestines, as you can imagine.) The guy who just ran a mile last week in 4:56, and does 6 X 800 repeats at 2:45, which is a seriously sick pace I can’t even fathom for one 800.

 Last week I actually set a new record for myself with a two-footed, weighted plank. 7.5 pounds (just spread the weight out more evenly), and held it for 7:30.  Yep, blew away my old record of 6:19 that I blogged about last week. Yay!!  One thing I did learn – not to do that again while wearing my racing flats. My feet kept sliding on the mat the entire time, and then my calves were killing me for most of the rest of the week.

When I told my brother this, he said I blew his mind – I DID IT!!  Then, he said that he can only do it for about 2 minutes without shaking and stopping. I was like “really??” Wow! Never thought I’d hear that.

I realized today that “running topless” remains a popular phrase whereby people find my blog and tweeted about it. A male friend of mine, who shall remain nameless out on the West Coast where he lives and whose first name rhymes with “hill,” suggested a few terms I should use in my next post and see if they drive up traffic. I will just put them in bold font throughout this post, and also use them as tags to see if his prediction comes true.  🙂

Wow, are those people going to be sad when they get to my blog…. ha ha ha

I actually had a really good weekend. Went climbing with a new friend I made at the gym.  It’s the first time we’ve hung out, and I felt like I’d already known her for a long time.  So, that was very cool.

That's the climber, toward the top of the red stripe. Notice the tall ladder to the right, for a height perspective. People in foreground are sitting down.

My friend had never top-roped before, so they wouldn’t let her take the test at Metro Rock Gym (we went there because we knew the other place, Boston Rock Gym, was having comps (how they refer to competitions in the climbing world, I am learning), all day long. But, I took the top-rope test (which means I can climb and belay people there) and passed (phew!). We then just decided to boulder for a few hours. By the time we were done, my palms had gotten calloused (a good thing for doing it on a regular basis, going forward), and  my fingers hurt, but luckily the rest of me, other than my fingers, were not really that sore. Guess my body is getting used to the new muscle groups being used.

This guy made it look so easy. Needless to say, there's not an extra ounce of fat on this guy. Insane in so many ways.

The Metro Rock Gym definitely has a much different feel to it. Some of the top-rope routes are much taller than at the other gym (which kinda freaks me out), and it’s a much larger room, rather than a few rooms. The crowd does tend to be a bit younger, because it’s accessible by the T. I even saw a woman who was “climbing topless.” Get your minds out of the gutter, boys. She had on a sports bra like I do when I run topless.  She wasn’t necessarily stacked enough to fill a DD-cup (really, guys, how many do you think actually exist who do?), but I was glad to see that kind of thing was acceptable there too.  (Yeah, it might take me a while to get to that point, however.)  I think I will probably go to both depending on my schedule, but I definitely like the approach the folks take at the Boston Rock Gym, and can understand why a lot of people prefer the atmosphere of it too. 

We were clearly newbies there, as were a lot of other folks. But a really friendly, supportive and experienced boulderer gave me some pointers, which definitely helped every time I tried it afterward. (He was helping out another newbie friend at the same time as he was helping the two of us.) I was crouching up my body too much, and holding all of my weight on my arms, when I should have been resting them, and I also learned that once you commit to take a move, you just have to go for it.  And I just got a book called Training for Climbing (yep, I am a librarian after all), and a good portion of it is about mental training, something I think I can also apply to running.

Guy is just about hanging by fingernails, and the wall also forces him to be leaning back away from it, like an overhang. Cannot imagine the upper body strength it takes to do that!

I went to see a bouldering comp on Saturday night at the Boston Rock Gym. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s climbing that doesn’t involve ropes, and usually you’re not higher than 25 feet in the air (probably even less inside, I’m not a good judge of height), and if you fall, you land on crash pads. It’s great to have a spotter for support, but you can do it alone. Some of the climbers involved in the Finals were professionals, and it showed. I’ve posted a few pictures throughout the blog.  While they really don’t do the climbers justice, since they were taken with the iPhone 3G (which doesn’t have a flash), the strength and control these folks displayed was pretty awesome. Guys had to start one route by jumping and grabbing the handhold with one hand (seriously difficult), and at times, both men and women had to climb upside down to pull $ off of the boulder. (Yes, part of the incentive to do well…)  It got me inspired.

And ladies, yes, the guy is bouldering without a shirt on up above in one of my pictures. For some reason, still unknown to me, a lot of the guys tend to “climb topless.” If I ever figure out why, I’ll let you know. I can just think of so many ways that that could cause pain if you made the wrong move. Or, on the ropes. Can we say “ouch?”

My brother asked what I liked about the rock climbing so far. I told him it’s a new challenge for me, and one that  I think I can get better on given time and lots of practice, and some good mental and physical training. As runners, I think a lot of us are in really good shape, but let’s admit it, we usually have little chicken arms. Rock climbing is definitely a sport where you can easily find out where your muscles are weak. I’m hoping it helps me to improve my running times.  And, honestly, the people in that world seem to be so chill. Concerned about safety, of course, but it’s a nice break from where I spend my working hours. (I like my job but the institution can, at times, be overly concerned with its image, to its own detriment.)

The only bad thing that happened this weekend is that Ruthie’s dad and I will continue talking about and arranging for visits with her, but that will be it. I don’t want to go into details here, other than to say I think it’s for the best, honestly.  It’ll make for more of a clean and final break, and maybe it will help us both move forward more easily. No, I’m not made of stone, I do think it’s sad, but it honestly is probably a good step for both of us to take right now.  And Ruthie remains the one thing we both love, so I’ve included a picture of here too. I’ll continue to take lots of long walks with her and love and hug her to death when she visits.

Ruthie playing with one toy while another one waits to be mauled, lying next to her.

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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 after way too much snow. John Hancock and Prudential Towers are off in the distance.

Oh My God, Terri’s posting again! For the second time in less than two weeks!  What are we going to do?  whatever are we going to do??

Um, dramatic much, Terri?  Yeah…maybe just a little.

But isn’t that more interesting of an opening than just a post called “Goals?” Come on, admit it, it is.

Sigh.  Ok, maybe not, but here it goes anyway.

And by the way, in case you are one of those lucky bastards out there (ahem, Glenn, from the blog of The Running Fat Guy, or Jill from JillWillRun) (@gwjones00 and @jillwillrun on Twitter) who don’t usually see snow because of where they live (trust me, I know there are more of you out there), I am going to sprinkle pictures of the snow throughout this post.  There is something called the Shaq-O-Meter, and basically it measures the snowfall we’ve received, and compares it to Shaq of the Celtics. Let’s just say, right now, he can see over the snow banks, but not for long. If the snow were water, I’d already be treading water. And, I’m not a great swimmer. Yeah, I’d be drowning very soon. Middle-of-the-Pack Girl wuold then be known as Dead Girl Floating.

Ok, so where was I? One of my friends who has read my blog for a very long time told me last week that he liked how the tone of my posts over the past few ones have started to become more like when he first started reading my blog. I’m going to treasure that email from him.

Ruthie, very sleepy after a long night walk. It goes without saying, I will continue showering her with lots of love and attention. 🙂

Lately, I have been feeling more like writing. That’s why I think my anti-depressants are working. I’m starting to take joy in more lately.  For many months, I’ve not wanted to write much, even in (or is it on?) this blog.  I’ve really begun to love reading again. For several months, I couldn’t even get through a magazine.

So, as I  mentioned in my last post, I’m carving $ out of my budget to meet with a trainer a few times. We met for the first time this past Saturday for about 45 minutes (thankfully he won’t charge me for the full hour we’d originally planned on), and well, yeah…I have weak triceps.  I know this because they are the one part of me that is still sore.  He basically ran me through a lot of full-body workout exercises, so we could focus on building strength and flexibility, and on my brother’s advice, how to strengthen my inner core muscles. I understand that these are lower in your core than your 6-pack muscles. While my abs are getting more defined, I have no idea what a six pack on a woman looks like. So, if I ever get there, I’ll let you know.

As I said to a few of my coworkers who were saying they were unhappy about the way they look today after kids, I am actually happy with the way I look now. It’s taken me a lot of work to get there, and I reminded them of my weight loss plan: “stress, and getting divorced.” Not necessarily something you want to go through to lose weight.  I only lost 11 pounds, but I’m on the smaller side to begin with (ok, I’m a midget, or almost one, at 5 feet, and a quarter inch.)

Ruthie's mailbox: please note that the snow is a few feet higher, and it's Jonly an. 31st.

So, the flattering part was when he had me do some bicep curls, and a few other things with free weights, he said that I was already strong, but we’ll work on toning and building more lean body mass (or was it muscle mass?)  Yay, a trainer thinks I’m strong!  (Believe me, this guy is strong but not in a “I eat steroids for breakfast and drink creotene” way, so I was very flattered.)

By the way, in case you are in the Boston area, the trainer’s name is Rich Rowland, and he works out of the Boston Sports Club in Watertown. I definitely recommend this guy, and that club in general. It’s run very professionally and efficiently from what I can tell.

So, my goals, not necessarily in any specific order.

  1. Get into the best freaking shape of my life.
  2. Build speed from last year (ok, get it back), and break into the 23 range (even if 23:59) at the 5K distance, and break 50, (again, even if 49:59) for the 10K distance. My PRs are currently 24:45, and 50:56 (for 6.29 per my Garmin).
  3. Really work on my diet and make sure I am eating healthy.  (This means continuing to use my blender on a regular basis. More to be said on that later.)
  4. Return to the attitude of “food as fuel.”  In so doing, waste less of it. If I don’t want to eat it, I can always blend it into a smoothie. Also, continue eating veggies, especially spinach.  (Never as a child did I ever think I’d say that!)
  5. Try to return to that positive mindset I had when training for the marathon. It helped me to run better and have a better outlook on life in general. I’m getting there now. Still a work in progress.
  6. Continue to put myself out there and try to make friends who I feel really comfortable around, as well as strengthen the friendships I already have. This is hard for me to do because I am so afraid of being rejected by others right now, and my self-esteem has been ebbing and flowing. There are definitely days where I don’t feel like I deserve someone being nice to me or showing that they care about me. Another work in progress.
  7. Gain as much knowledge as I can from books such as Body for Life for Women: A Woman’s Plan for Physical and Mental Transformation, which was recommended to me by my trainer. (Will let you know what I think of it when I’m done.)
  8. Continue working on healing myself by working through things with both my therapist, and my doctor who have my best interests at heart.

Last goal, but it’s definitely not least. If I can afford it, I’d like to go through the RRCA coaching certification program. Because I am also saving to go and watch my brother, Jim (also a running coach with a blog called Coaching, Training and Motivation) run the Leadville 100 this August, I need to do it in an economical way. And hopefully meet some of you in person FINALLY!  (Already planning onvisiting Fern, known as @sitbones on Twitter.)

And oh yeah… get better with time management so I can read more of your blogs on a regular basis like when I first started blogging a few years ago.

And oh yeah…have my credit card balance paid off by August. When with Bill, we paid it off every month. I don’t like having that hanging over my head. At all. It’s doable if I budget smartly, and continue saving at the same time.

Wow, wordy post. Maybe I should add “gain self control and preciseness” into my list of goals?

Thanks for reading.  I’ve got to head for bed so I can get up and run/bike tomorrow morning. While I’ve not loved the treadmill in the past, right now, it’s much safer than running down the middle of the streets just to avoid falling on ice. It kind of increases your chances of being human roadkill, know what I mean?

What I wished we had as a view right now. Photo taken last fall, looking toward Boston from Castle Island in Southie

Image from Boston Volvo 5K race website

I’ve had this post written, but as usual, I’ve been disorganized and not actually published it!

As is our custom for the past 4 years, my brother Jim and I ran together on Thanksgiving.  The first year we ran together, we did the Feaster Five 5K. The second and third years, we ran the Feaster Five 5 Miler.  This year, I meant for us to run with the Somerville Road Runners and their Gobble 3X, but I didn’t have my act together enough to get us signed up in time, and the race closed out with 2600 runners. I wanted to volunteer, but that would have meant we couldn’t run together, and I knew my brother would be disappointed (as would I.)  At one point, I thought of volunteering and asked my brother if he would mind also doing it, but he said there aren’t many days he gets to sleep in, so he felt bad saying it, but he wanted to be lazy.  Honestly, I can’t say as I blame the guy.  He got in at 12:30 in the night on Tuesday evening, and he caught a  6 a.m. bus back to NYC on Friday (he had to work that day at 11.)

Anyway, my brother hadn’t run much since his 100 mile trail race in October.  He had planned to take 4 weeks off anyway, so it was easy for him to obey the doc’s orders after he ruptured a tendon behind  his right knee. You can read his race report here. So, when it came time to pack running clothes, he didn’t think about packing pants, just shorts.  Those of you who live or have lived in New England know how strange the weather can be here around this time of year. I ran in shorts on Tuesday morning, but on Thanksgiving, it was long tights, winter hat, gloves, and two-layers-on-top weather, with temps in the 20s, and some pretty good winds. So yeah, he was a **wee** bit cold that morning!

Anyway, we got our bibs, kept warm in the car as long as we could, and visited the porta pottie lines (which were surprisingly not bad…) For the race start, it was just, well, as my brother called it, a “moving herd.”  No gun or anything.  We had the disposable ChronoTrack timing chips, but there was no mat at the beginning, so we had no idea where the actual start line was. But hey, it was only $20, and we were just there to enjoy ourselves. As my brother said, we were like a “moving herd” – we all just kind of started moving forward, even without any gun or horn that we could hear, to get us started.

That was literally our only plan – to just have fun and talk the whole way. Imagine, then, my surprise when I realized we did an awesome progression run.

Stats:

  • First mile: 8:35
  • Second mile: 8:15
  • Third mile: 7:55
  • Last .13: 7:05 pace
  • Overall time on Garmin: 25:39 (again, didn’t know when to start it!)
  • Overall official time: 25:59
  • Place overall: 312/1181 (Top 26%)
  • Place in sex: 98/658 (Top 15%)
  • Place in division, F30-39: 31/196 (Top 16%)

There were definitely a few hills in this course, especially during the first mile. My brother said his legs felt a bit tight, so I really didn’t want him to hurt himself any further. It’s funny but toward the end of mile 3, he said “you want to kick it in?”  And then in a few seconds, “you want to sprint to the end?”  To which my answer was, “I am sprinting already! That last mile was under 8!” It might have just been the cold, but I could definitely feel my lungs getting ready for an asthma attack at the end, but I didn’t want to slow down to take out the inhaler (which I usually run with nowadays.)

Anyway, it felt awesome to run with my brother again. He’s been a role model to me when it comes to running, and now with his redesigned blog, I hope, to many more.  Please check out his blog, it’s called “Coaching, Training and Motivation.”

Reservoir at night, loved the colors and way the clouds looked on Saturday

My friend Sarah came over on Saturday to hang out, and help me put things together. (Seriously, I have a problem with reading directions and putting things together. It’s like my brain doesn’t know how to make sense of the pictures unless someone reads them out loud to, or with, me.) THANK YOU SARAH! We went for a walk that night to check out the neighborhood and walk around the reservoir, which is when I took the picture to the left.

My younger brother, the crazy long-distance runner, and running coach, was in town this weekend for a very quick overnight visit. With everything that’s been going on, he’s wanted to come up and visit so we could have a good talk, and we definitely did have several while he was here.  He’s 15 months younger than me, and growing up we fought like “cats and dogs.”  Mom always said that we’d fight each other to the death, but let someone else pick on one of us, and we’d turn on that other person with an equal vengeance to protect each other. So if your kids are like that now, take heart, they can grow up to be pretty close, as we are.

Whenever my brother comes for a visit, it’s always short. Sometimes he arrives on a Wednesday night, and then we run the Feaster Five on Thanksgiving morning, getting into a car a few hours later to drive to my mom in upstate NY.  Sometimes it’s at Christmas, again, a short visit.  Sometimes I’m able to go to NYC for work and I stay with him for a weekend.

View of large pond in Blue Hills. Someone said today it was Houghton's Pond, but I don't think that's the right shape. Think it might be Ponkapog (sp?) Pond.

He’s never been able to really see Boston on his visits, so this morning, I took him down to the Blue Hills area which is located south of the city. It’s where they hold the 13.1 Marathon Boston (yes, it was a running joke that the Boston race was not really  in Boston but a decent drive south of the city.) Definitely not a race whose course had you running around downtown’s skyscrapers, like my first half marathon of the year, which was the Run to Remember on Memorial Day. 

Tiny buildings way off in the distance is skyline of Boston, from the Blue Hills observation tower (looks like a "castle.")

While I was training down there this summer, I found out that there are some pretty easy trails that lead to the top of the largest blue hill, and you can look out over Boston from an observation tower. My friend Lis calls it Great Blue Hill. So, that’s where I took my brother today. I apologize for the quality of this photo and how small the city looks in the distance (everyone, get out your magnifying glasses) but just take it from me, the view is amazing.

By the way, this photo is of Great Bue Hill  but I took the photo at 5 a.m. on the morning of the half-marathon. You can’t see the “castle” from where we took the other pictures posted here, but it gives you an idea of its size anyway. It only took us about 15 minutes to hike to the top. Lots of kids were doing it too, albeit at a slower pace.

the large hill that we climbed today, which I learned while training was called Big Blue, by hikers

 I then drove my brother over most of the course that I had run in June. He said that a few of the folks he coaches in NYC also ran it, and complained a lot about the lack of cups, as well as the mile+ long hill that basically killed everyone. I said now he could go back home and tell them he really understood. He couldn’t believe we had run such a hill and then still had about 1-2 miles to go!   We also hiked up the first “summit” hill that we ran in the race.

Well, maybe walked is a better word than “hiked” since our walk was up a road, not a trail (they close it off on Sundays during the summer.) He thought that hill was pretty steep, about a 10% grade. I said “yeah, that wasn’t the hard one for me, once I did it once in training.” Felt damn good to say that! I believe the road is called Chicktawbut, but I always pronounced it as chick-too-a-butt. I know, I’m an idiot. Once it got into my brain that way, it got stuck.

Last but not least, I just had to show my brother the hill in Newton that I’ve been running up and down to confirm that it really is Heartbreak Hill. I’d say the involuntarily twitching of his fingers confirmed it.  He was like “OH NO, OH NO” when we drove down it. “This hill comes at the absolute worst spot in a marathon,” I believe were his exact words.

Lucky for him, I didn’t make him run it….:-)

Anyway, I’ve mapped out a new route that has me running down and up it, and I can’t wait to make that a part of my normal training.  “Oh yeah, Heartbreak Hill? I run that all the time…” LOL

Ah Dad, not this again?! (Sigh. Ok.)

Ruthie seems to be a big hit whenever I post pictures of her here or on Twitter, so I thought her fans might enjoy reading some observations her dad (Bill) and I have made over the course of the last 9 months.  Who knows, maybe some of these can even be applied to our human lives!

  1. 1.  If anyone in the house is getting a treat, be it the cats, or Mommy sneaking cookies, we should all get a treat. Everybody wins!
  2. 2.  If you take a walk, or go outside to pee, you get a treat for doing as expected.
  3. 3.  If it’s a weekend, I expect and demand  a long walk, at minimum 2-3 times per day. Followed by a treat.
  4. 4.  When taking a poop while outside on a walk, you need to leave the scene of the crime immediately after trying to cover it up by kicking dirt in Mommy or Daddy’s face.
  5. Mommy and Daddy love me a lot, even if they do make me look kind of silly in all these pictures. I put up with it because this is the best house I’ve ever lived in, and I never want to leave. 🙂
  6. If you’re a human and on the floor, there can only be one reason why, and that’s to pet me and show me love.
  7. Every day I get up, no matter how early Mommy gets up, it’s the BEST DAY EVER! With the BEST MEALS EVER! With the BEST WALKS EVER! 🙂 
  8. By the way, it’s “Miss Ruthie” to you!
     

    Dear God, I look like Yoda.

My race report from yesterday’s 4.2 miler will be coming – all I can say is this: running in heat SUCKS and running in heat and humidity, especially when not acclimated to it, REALLY SUCKS!

With these words of Ruthie playing in your head,  I will leave you to marvel at her intelligence and sheer cuteness.

That's It. I. Submit.

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