Category Archives: General Running Chatter

A rundown of recent first-world problems

1. The ants. I guess, technically, they won. I called mercy and brought in reinforcements.

The exterminator arrived on a muggy morning and circled the outside of my house. After commenting on the truly “incredible” number of ants treading on and around its foundation, he scattered little trails of what looked like potato chip crumbs. I squinted at the tiny little assholes – a bit smugly, I’m sure, as these were the outside ants – as they immediately seized the poisonous flakes and began to carry them back to…uh, “where, exactly?”

“Their nests are probably underground,” the exterminator said. “Sometimes they make colonies inside structures, but…well, let’s just assume they’re underground.”

Yes, let’s. I’d prefer not to think of my walls as mass insect graves, thousands of tiny arthropods entombed with their deadly potato chip scraps.

2. The bangs. Surprise: I’m growing them out.

What on earth was I smoking when I decided it would be a good idea to cut a thick fringe of hair atop one of the sweatiest parts of my body on the cusp of the hot/humid season? Why did none of you stop me from doing this? (Oh right…infrequent posting….)

Here’s the thing: they’re quite cute for about an hour after I’ve freshly shampooed and blow-dried them.

bangs3

Then my forehead starts sweating. Just glistening, just a little bit, but it’s a downward spiral because my then the bangs make my forehead hotter and then my forehead gets even more sweaty. And then this happens.

bangs4

At which point I locate the nearest pair of bobby pins, which is usually easy because ever since I got these bangs, I’ve noticed, there are little piles of bobby pins stashed all over my house. Clusters of bobby pins constantly poke me from inside my jeans pockets. The bottom of my purse is lined with bobby pins the way a forest floor is lined with pine needles. I would probably die without bobby pins.

So, yeah. They’re pinned back all of the time anyway, so I’m growing them out. High-maintenance hair is too…well, high maintenance.

3. The new toy. In the couple of weeks after the Boston thing, I was without my computer, and therefore I convinced myself that I needed an iPad.

ipad

(I just took a picture of my iPad with my iPhone. iHate myself a little bit.)

I got the iPad Mini because it was significantly cheaper and seemed easier to haul around. I also got a little bluetooth keyboard and this combo worked surprisingly well as an interim computer. (I even did a significant amount of writing on it, including that really long Boston post.)

But now I have my computer back and do you want to know what I mostly use my iPad for now? Candy Crush Saga.

I seriously don’t know how I previously managed to clear all of the jelly and bring all of the ingredients* to the bottom on my tiny little phone screen. And thus, I suppose my life has been improved in one miniscule way by this tragedy.

But here’s the issue: I cannot seem to get my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook on the same page. I add things to my calendar on the iPad and they show up on the phone but not the computer. I save a picture on my phone and it shows up on my computer but not the iPad. I feel like my “cloud” has problems and I’m not sure how to fix them, short of hauling all of my devices to the Apple store. Which I could certainly do, but…ugh, the mall.

I know, woe is me. This might be the FWP to end all FWP.

4. The fitness plan. I’ve run a handful of times since the marathon. Mostly easy 3-5 milers, although I did attempt one track workout. We did 400s and it was, um, unpleasant…but I was surprised to consistently come in around 1:33-1:35, which is only about 5-10 seconds off of my “in shape” pace. My confidence swelled.

Then there was last Friday. We were out of town attending a wedding. Right after a late lunch, I tried to squeeze in a quick run before I had to get all prettied up, and…hurk. Three miles felt like six. Eight minute pace felt like an all-out sprint. As I hauled ass back toward our hotel, with turkey club sandwich and kettle chips churning in my belly, I marveled at the fact that I ran a marathon a month ago.

A month ago. How did I get so out of shape so quickly?

No matter, though. I’m not trying to get back in top running shape right now. I have no races** on my calendar. I’d like to burn off a little bit of the weight I’ve gained, and I’m basically going to follow the same formula that I used last summer for the same purpose: a couple of days of boot camp, a couple of days of yoga, and a couple of days of running, maybe one of them at the track.

(And also limiting junk carbs and booze. Which is challenging when we’re in the middle of Wedding Season 2013, and gosh, it’s really impolite to refuse cake and champagne, right?)

5. The house. Okay, let me just say at the outset that I am beyond thankful to have a house that is fucking standing in light of the tornado that tore through OKC this afternoon. What a horrible tradgedy. Tornadoes. They are literally the stuff of nightmares.

I grew up in the mountainous Pacific Northwest in a volatile earthquake zone, and also in a city that sits right in the flow path of an active volcano that most experts think will blow sooner or later. But, to me, for some reason, tornadoes are far more terrifying and surreal than earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.  Even now that I’m a Southerner, living in an area that could theoretically get a twister, it’s still the sort of cinematic thing that I primarily associate with wicked witches and flying monkeys.

And then I watch the news on days like today and that shit is all too real.

Anyway. Our house. It’s not currently under tornado threat, but this thing is a goddamn colander.

When we bought the place a year ago, we knew there were water issues. We had the entire roof drainage system evaluated and reconfigured by a commercial roofing company (we have a flat roof). I have diligently wielded my caulk gun, loaded with a silicon sealant, upon the cracks and crevices that naturally emerge. For a few months, it seemed we’d fixed things. But then, a couple of weeks ago, it rained hard for a couple of days and we ended up with a mixing bowl full of coffee-colored drippings in our dining room. Which is not anywhere near the roof.

dining room

I love our house for so many reasons, but this is aggravating. I’ve had three contractors out so far and have stumped all of them as to the cause of the water intrusion. I suppose there is a reason that flat-roofed, stucco-coated homes are common in places like arid Palm Springs and less so in soggy Northern Georgia.

Anyway. Life could certainly be worse if these are the things that plague me: non-poisonous insects, hair frizz, calendar syncing, occasional ceiling leaks.

Le sigh.

—————-

*What the fuck are these “ingredients” anyway? Acorns and cherries, always acorns and cherries. Either we are squirrels or this is the worst pie ever.

**Well, I have Peachtree on July 4. But I’m not actually racing it. Last year’s Peachtree 10K consisted of 47 minutes of “racing” followed by three hours of drinking beer in Piedmont Park. That ratio seems about right.

The long version

Preface: I didn’t plan on writing about this again. Many of you are probably ready to move on; I am too. And as the days pass, I feel a dwindling sense of ownership of this story, as I get back to my normal life while others remain in hospitals or worse.

But I guess I needed to write it. I am taking a fiction workshop right now and each day, as I sat down to prepare my pages for this week’s meeting, I found that I just…couldn’t. I needed to get this story out first before I could return my attention to the trials of my created characters. So this is what I wrote and presented instead.

I’m not sure what to do with it: I’m certainly not going to put it in my in-progress folder to come back to later, but it feels bigger than a journal entry, and too important to be tucked away in a private place and forgotten about. So I’m posting it here, in all of its long, rambly, navel-gazey, photo-and-MSPaint-lacking glory:

My feet had failed me.

And holy shit do they hurt, I thought as I eased my butt down onto the low curb. The cement was cold. I pulled the space blanket tighter across my chest and it crinkled as it curled around me like a giant piece of aluminum foil. My fingers were shaky, but I worked laces loose and pulled my feet out of the shoes that I’d spent the last four hours and seven minutes cursing. I pressed my feet into the cool pavement and wiggled my toes. It felt amazing.

But after a couple of minutes, I put the dreaded shoes back on. Impatience took over and I hauled myself up and continued my shuffle down Newbury Street, then cut back over to Boylston, toward my friend’s apartment. I’d actually just been there; I passed it during the last tenth of a mile of the race, grinning as I veered over to the edge of the crowd to slap Drew’s outstretched hand before making a final push across the finish line.

I was annoyed at how slowly I was walking. All I could think about was sinking my rear into the couch and crossing my ankles on the coffee table. Someone would bring me a beer. And then another beer. I’d be showered with hugs and congratulations – I’d just run the Boston Marathon! – and would do nothing for the rest of the day but sit on my ass. I couldn’t wait. And this walk was taking ages.

Four more blocks.

Three more.

Two more.

The bleachers at the finish line were just ahead of me and I paused for a moment to consider how I was going to navigate around them.

And then, the bleachers were gone, replaced with a plume of white smoke.

Next came the sound, which was deafening, sidewalk-shaking. For a couple of seconds, I saw an ambiguous series of images in my head that involved a piece of elecrical equipment spontaneously combusting. Then the smell came. And although I’ve never (to my knowledge) smelled a bomb before, I knew that’s exactly what this was.

I had barely peeled my feet from the pavement when the second one went off.

Which of course pointed to the very real possibility that there would be a third.

Volunteers from the medical tent, who wore white jackets, were rushing toward the finish; a volunteer in a yellow jacket, just like the ones I’d taken water and Gatorade from on the race course, was running in the opposite direction and telling everyone to follow.

I followed for a block and then ducked in to the doorway of a restaurant where a cluster of young women had gathered. I dont think they were runners; they looked like they’d just been having brunch.

“Can I use your phone to call my husband?” I croaked. Without hesitation, she obliged. My fingers were trembling so hard that I had to have her punch in Drew’s number. Of course, I couldn’t get through. I asked her to send a brief text (“its shelby, im ok”) and then decided to move along, back around to Newbury Street, where hopefully I could walk down past the finish and then cut over to get back to the apartment. Because my husband and friends were all inside that apartment, safe and probably scared but SAFE. They had to be.

I didn’t know at the time that the second bomb has actually gone off on their doorstep. Thank God I didn’t know that at the time.

For the second time that afternoon, I walked down Newbury Street. It was so different the second time. Clusters of people whispering and crying. Cell phones pressed anxiously to ears. Police cars and fire engines screaming through the neighborhood.

Finally, I thought I’d walked far enough to clear the finish area, and I tried to cut back over to Boylston. A policeman told me no way.

“But my friends live right there,” I pleaded.

“Your friends are probably far away by now,” he said.

I shook my head, not understanding. “No, they live right there.”

The cop swallowed, his eyes softening a bit, and said he was sorry.
I forced myself to consider, for the first time, that Drew and our friends might not be curled up safely in that apartment waiting for me to return.

* * *

I had started to walk back the way I’d come when a young girl, barefoot in yoga pants and clutching a coffee mug, stepped down from the stoop of a nearby brownstone and asked me if I knew what had happened.

“I’m pretty sure it was a bomb,” I heard myself say. I choked on an inappropriate laugh. It sounded absurd.

She asked if I wanted to come in, if I needed a bathroom, water, or food.

A stupidly obvious idea hurled itself at me. “Do you have internet?” I asked.

Of course she did, and minutes later, I made my safe status Facebook official.

But I still didn’t know where my husband and friends were. A wad of nausea bounced around my gut.

We stood by her front window and she tried to reassure me: “I’m sure they’re fine.” I tried to agree: “I mean, they were two blocks away from it. They’re fine.”

Below, an officer paced the sidewalk, trying to get people to leave the area. “If I were you,” he bellowed in his Boston accent, “I’d be far away from here.”

My hostess cast me a nervous glance and I knew she wanted to leave. I didn’t blame her. So I excused myself and, fighting back the urge to vomit, headed back outside.

I hadn’t been out there for a minute when a group of a dozen or so runners passed by, led by a guy in jeans and a sweater who introduced himself as Luke. He seemed to be rounding up runners who needed a place to go. I didn’t know what else to do, so I followed.

I could tell right away that he was a glass-half-full kind of guy. “My money’s on a transformer,” he nodded with authority as he herded us down Commonwealth Avenue, its stately green median crowded with ambulances and pop-up tents and what looked like armored tanks. Where did all of this stuff come from? How had it gotten here so quickly? Nothing about this made sense.

Our little group didn’t converse much while we walked, leaving the rustling of space blankets to fill the silence between whispered curses at non-functioning cell phones. My finisher’s medal thumped uselessly on my chest with each footfall. The pukey feeling continued to gnaw at my insides. My mind, however, had taken on the wrenching task of analyzing every minute between slapping Drew’s hand in front of the apartment just before the finish line and the disappearance of the bleachers into a cloud of acrid smoke. Would he have walked that direction, maybe trying to come find me at the finish? If so, where would he have been? Was he okay? He had to be okay.

I could tell I wasn’t the only one whose brain was weaving through this maze of potential nightmares. We exchanged anxious looks and gently laid our hands on each others’ backs. Everyone would be okay. They had to be okay.

* * *

At Luke’s apartment, I learned two things in quick succession:

(1) From the TV, I saw that the second explosion was not in the same place as the first one, at the finish line bleachers, as I’d assumed. Instead, it was right in front of my friend’s front door, which was right where Drew had been standing when we exhcanged our victory hand slap.

(2) From logging in to my email, I found out that everyone was safe and evacuated, but that Drew was not with them.

As a writer, I try to avoid trite metaphors. Things like my blood ran cold. Or my heart dropped into the pit of my stomach. Or I felt like all of the breath had been knocked out of me. But I can tell you that all of those things happened to me when I read that email, adressed to both Drew and me, asking if “we” were okay. I sat down on the floor, my hands steepled over my nose and mouth, breathing with effort as someone grabbed my hand and someone else squeezed my shoulder, repeating our mantra from the walk over: everything will be okay.

I don’t know how long I sat there in this weird catatonic state paralyzed by these shock-and-grief metaphors which were surprisingly real, but I’m sure it was several minutes, at least. Finally I pulled the computer back on to my lap and began to sort through my email inbox and Facebook notifications for any other scraps of information, and to start the process of trying to figure out where exactly Drew was, if he wasn’t with me and he wasn’t with them.

* * *

In the end, everything was okay. At least for me, my husband, our friends. We were lucky.

They had all been in the apartment when the first bomb exploded. The party had hit its stride; platters of hamburger patties and shrimp skewers were prepped and headed toward the grill, friends who were running had finished the race, others had taken the afternoon off of work and were trickling in from offices to catch the last bit of the action.

Naturally, if naively, they all ran to the front window. They got there just in time to watch the second one fill the space right in front of them.

Drew had been down on the sidewalk in front of the building, cheering on me and the other racers. He had returned to the party less than five minutes before it happened. Within five more, he was gone again, looking for me.

They evacuated the building shortly thereafter. Firefighters escorted them out their front door and across Boylston Street, instructing them to keep their eyes forward and not look down or around. It’s horrible to think about what they would’ve seen if they hadn’t.

The group headed to another friend’s house a few blocks away; meanwhile, Drew, having received that first frantic text I sent from the stranger’s phone in the foyer of the restaurant, combed the neighborhood for me. In hindsight, we probably were never more than a block or two apart, but we never crossed paths. Eventually, via a complicated series of third-party emails and Facebook comments, we connected; his phone battery dead, he’d been hunkered down in the home of another generous stranger just a few blocks away. Two hours after the first explosion, I gave my husband the tightest hug I’ve ever given.

I’m not much of an emotional person, but I’ve felt many things in the aftermath of this.

Guilt: over being one of the lucky ones. Over running away from the cloud of smoke rather than toward it. Over living in a place in the world and a time in history where something like this is the big huge deal that it is.

Confusion: over why. Even though in the most basic sense, the rational part of me understands why (it was a big group of people at a huge sporting event with zero real-time security). But still: why?

Gratitude: to the brave officers, race volunteers, EMTs, doctors, and everyone else that risked their own safety to deal with this mess – both the immediate aftermath and the violent manhunt that followed. To yoga pants girl and Luke and the other strangers who opened their homes and offered cell phones and computers and comfort to those who needed it.

Sadness: above all, that four people lost their lives and hundreds suffered injuries, many of them life-altering.

Relief: that I didn’t. It really could have been me. (And then we cycle back to guilt again…)

I saw so many people cry that day and the next. But for some reason, I couldn’t. In fact, a week and a half later, I still haven’t. The ball of nausea in my stomach, however, and the inability to sleep, and the constant exploration of what-ifs…this isn’t over yet, I know. Everyone deals with this stuff differently.

* * *

I think often of the moment that the bomb went off. Although I know that it all happened at once, it’s always sight that dominates the memory: sight, then sound, then smell, these three in a tidy row. Perhaps oddly, it makes me think of working track meets in high school, our fingers hovering over stopwatch start buttons, squinting across the field at the tip of the starter’s gun and waiting to see the little puff of white smoke a split second before we heard the bang. It didn’t seem like much of a difference, but if you started your watch on sound instead of sight, you’d throw off the results of the race.

Sometimes, timing is everything.

* * *

After a marathon, runners tend to overanalyze every moment of the race and think about whether there’s something they could have done differently to improve the outcome. You know, things like: did I really need that extra walk break? Could I have done without that stop to adjust my shoelace tension? What if I’d stuck with that chatty chick in the zebra skirt – what was her time? If I hadn’t blown off my last long training run would I have finished a few minutes faster?

I can’t count how many times I’ve gone down this path and ended up in a labyrinth of dark hypotheticals. Four hours and seven minutes may be one of my slowest marathon performances ever, but it was the perfect time for me to run last Monday.

If I’d had known that as I crossed the finish line, collected my space blanket and medal, and began that first walk down Newbury, I wouldn’t have cursed my aching feet at all. My feet didn’t fail me. Somehow, they did exactly what they needed to do.

If you want to follow along

…with my 9-minute miles and every-water-stop walk breaks:

boston bib

Should be a thrilling ride. See you on the other side.

Avoidable mistakes

A couple of weeks ago, I rolled my lawnmower out of my garage for the first time since last November.

lawnmower1

Out of necessity. I recently hired a weed-control service to apply noxious pesticides to my yard because, while I would love for my lawn to be all organic and shit, there are some big nasty weeds that grow here in Georgia.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t tried. These weeds laughed at my applications of “natural” weed killer. They spat in my face when I attempted to gouge out their grippy roots. I’d slice them with my scythe, and they’d grow back knee-high overnight. At some point, it became clear that they were aiming to swallow whole the lot of expensive sod we laid down last fall. Something had to be done.

So the lawn service came, and they tucked an invoice rolled like scroll behind my front doorknob, along with a nastygram:

“Please mow your lawn before your next scheduled application. Our services will be less effective at the treatment of weeds this large.”

Ugh.

That afternoon, even though the grass was still brown and dormant, I dragged out my mower. The one I’d purchased less than a year ago. It was still fairly shiny and new. I yanked the ignition-string thingy. Several times. Finally, the beast rumbled and awoke…and started spewing stinky bluish smoke.

lawnmower2

I yelped and  jumped back, releasing the safety handle. The mower shuddered and stopped. I watched, horrified, as the smelly plume drifted across the street and dissipated over my neighbors’ yards and houses. For sure, someone was going to pop out of their front door and give me a what-the-hell-are-you-doing-over-there look.

But no one did. Feeling weirdly ashamed, I ducked my head and rolled the mower back in to the garage.

In the days the followed, the weeds continued to grow. I tried to run the mower again, and again I got a face full of blue smoke. And then it stopped starting altogether. So I loaded it into the back of my car and drove it to the local hardware store, which has an in-house repair shop.

The guy there took one look at my shiny-new mower, and then one look at me, and asked:

lawnmower4

But this guy was a master of the skeptically-arched eyebrow, and I knew what he was really asking.

lawnmower3

Because, no. I had not drained my lawnmower before storing it for the winter. In fact, I had not even considered that I was storing it for the winter. I simply stopped using it and assumed it would work again the next time I fired it up.

So, yes. I was probably a damn fool.

$75 later, I have a fully functioning machine with a clear fuel line and carborator.  From what I can gather, they gave my poor mower the equivalent of a colon cleanse. But it works now. It irks me that I could have avoided all of this if I’d been a little more attentive and responsible, but…oh well. At least I was able to mow over my massive weeds today, leaving their juicy roots exposed for the pesticide peoples’ next visit.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, of course, it’s an awkward metaphor for my marathon situation.

As you know if you read my last post, I’m not exactly well-prepared for Boston.

I could have been well-prepared if I’d done some simple things. Like actually running. Or planning race logistics more than a few days out.

Such as: yesterday, it occurred to me that my shoes were shot. I only get ~300 miles on my PureFlows and although I haven’t been tracking my mileage, my current pair was definitely over that. On a five-miler last Sunday, I felt the concrete on every footfall.

So I bought a new pair today.

pureflows

I will run in them twice, probably, before Monday’s race. Definitely not recommended. Although at least they are the same model I had before, just a different color (which I am kind of digging! ninja shoes! they are like the anti-neon).

So the shoes are an oversight…really, a symptom of a broader apathy. There is no reason I couldn’t have trained for this race. I just didn’t do it. I’m a damn fool. And at this point, no $75 repair is going to change that.

Hopefully I won’t be blowing smoke at mile three on Monday.

Boston expectations

So. This Boston Marathon thing is happening in ten days.

People keep asking me if I’m excited (only for it to be over) and whether I am enjoying my taper (well, you need a peak in order to have a taper, sooo…). This whole so-called “training cycle” has been a taper. I am comically underprepared for this race.

Nonetheless, I will be at the starting line in Hopkinton a week from Monday. Is this a good idea? No, probably not. I haven’t run more than 40 MPW in months. I did do a slow twenty-miler…in February. My heart just hasn’t been in it. If this were any race other than OMG Boston, I’d have bowed out weeks ago.

I’ve done this before (suffered through a marathon with inadequate prep) and I’ll be fine. But I am not endorsing this style of training. Do as I say, not as I do. (Well, probably don’t do as I say either most of the time. Occasionally I pop a kernel of brilliance like taking the Color Run concept and turning it into a Vodka Squirt Gun Extravaganza, but usually my judgement is, at best, clouded by the wine.)

Anyway. Here are the things that I am not expecting from this Boston Marathon experience:

NOT EXPECTING #1: A PR.

Obviously. At this point, I’d consider a sub-4 finish a victory.

This might be attainable.

Case in point: Back in 2009, I ran the NYC marathon on seven weeks of questionable training after spending an entire summer traveling in Asia. During that trip I spent lots of time scarfing noodles and drinking cheap beer and did not run a single step from July to September. Upon my return to the US, I was chubby and flabby and worked my way up to about 40 MPW with one twenty-miler before it was time to “taper” for the race. I finished in 3:58.

There are certain similarities between then and now. Mostly the chubby-and-flabby part; also, the low-mileage part and the single-twenty-miler part. (There are also certain differences, like the three year age difference between then-me and now-me. Three years may not sound like much, but tell that to my ever-slowing metabolism.)

So: sub-4 or bust. Or not. I don’t really care. Normally I’m not one to run races “just for the FUNSIES!” but in this case, it’s my best option. Since I have no chance of being anywhere near PR range, I may as well run easy and try to enjoy it, right?

(There will be no sparkle skirts involved though. Trust.)

NOT EXPECTING #2: Good race pictures. 

Okay, so no one ever expects good race pictures. Raise your hand if you’ve never gasped in horror at the way your mouth looks like a drooly amoeba, or cursed your thigh (which is all muscle! WTF!) for resembling a drumstick made of Jell-O. Generally speaking, running is not a flattering activity.

Race pics make me cringe when I’m in good shape. And right now? I am not in good shape.

I’ll be honest here. I have gained some weight. About 10-15 pounds from my low point last summer. I’m not going to go in to the reasons for this, and I’m not going to complain about it, but I will say that while I am at peace with my clothed self in the mirror, I do not need to see this shit half naked and in motion.

I have considered making a diva-esque sign to hang around on my neck: “NO PHOTOS PLEASE.”

no photos please

But really…I am not a celebrity ducking the paparazzi. These MarathonFoto people mean me no harm. I just wish they would stick to pictures of, like…my ankles. Or my nose. Yes, ankles and nose photos only, please, MarathonFoto. If we could just avoid the thighs and the midsection and the double-chin danger zone, that would be great.

NOT EXPECTING #3: To ever return.

Mark my words: I am not doing this again. This as in Boston or this as in marathons generally. I’ve marathoned every year for the last 13 years. I am done.

I’ve always enjoyed running but I have not enjoyed it recently. There is nothing fun about feeling daily guilt over not running enough because you have an upcoming race that you’re dreading.

Lately, it’s been hard for me to read running blogs where people are all like, “OMG! I love running so much!” I wonder why I don’t feel that way. But then I remind myself that I’ve been doing this for almost twenty years. Seriously. The travel break that I mentioned earlier? That was the only significant break I’ve taken from running since I was 13. I’m burned out. And it’s okay to feel burned out.

I cannot wait until after this race when I can just, like, go to yoga or whatever. Yes, I am excited about going to goddamn yoga. The times, they change.

I promise, I’m not all negative about Boston, though. There are a few things that I am happily expecting from this experience.

EXPECTING #1: Friends food beer friends food beer!

Our good friends Chris and Annie live on the finish line of the marathon. Literally. I took this picture last year, while spectating Boston Inferno 2012 from their rooftop.

boston finish line

(That white tent is the finish line.)

Being the best hosts ever, they have offered to house us again this year, and after finishing this damn thing, I will be heading straight back down Boylston Street for a shower, a cold beer, and shenanigans.

EXPECTING #2: Decent weather.

Probably jumping the gun, but unless there’s a dramatic change, it looks like highs in the 50s right now. Fucking rad.

boston weather

(I’m sure I’m jinxing it by writing this. Sorry, everyone.)

EXPECTING #3: To go out on a high note.

Over the last sixteen weeks, as I’ve beat myself up for ditching my training plan, wallowed in self-loathing over my lack of motivation, and bemoaned my body-fat percentage, I’ve also entertained kind of a nice thought: after thirteen years of running marathons, Boston could be my last, and that would be kind of nice. I could just do it for the high-fives. A twenty-six mile victory lap.

I won’t lie and say that Boston was never on my mind during the decade that I marathoned annually and failed to qualify. On my very first try, at age 20, I came within three minutes of the standard. That 3:42:XX was my PR until age 31. During the ten races between, while I was never obsessed with Boston…it was there, in the back of my mind. I guess I assumed that I’d qualify eventually. Fortunately, I was right.

In some ways, my current situation reminds me of track season my senior year of high school. I’d worked all season to qualify for a spot in the 3200M at the state championships. Which I did. But I was seeded tenth in a field of sixteen, and the top three girls were, like, a full minute (or more) ahead of me. I had zero shot at a podium. Did it really matter whether I finished sixth or sixteenth? Was it worth sacrificing the end of my senior year (missing parties and, uh, other important stuff) for this race?

(It didn’t end up mattering, as I got mono and finished second to last. Yay.)

But the point remains: I made it to the big dance. The making it was what mattered. Everything else was icing on the cake.

If Boston is my icing, then I intend to just enjoy it for what it is: that last bite of sugar when the plate is empty. As I said earlier, I really think I’m done with marathons after this. It would be lovely to end the era by floating happily over the finish line with a smile on my face.

I know. Good luck, right? It’s still a marathon. Even at an easy pace, it’s hard. I know this. I’ll get through it, and I’m looking forward to closing this chapter and moving in to other things.

End note to an already long post: I know I should be happy to be running Boston. I know there are lots of people who would gladly take my place. I feel like an ungrateful shithead for being so negative. I do think that qualifying for and running Boston is an achievement, and I wish I were as stoked about it as I should be! But I won’t fake it…and honestly, this is one of many reasons that I haven’t posted much recently. (So if you’re still here reading…well, thank you.)

Year of the funjury

I’m thinking that 2012 is gonna go down as the year of the funjury.

(That is a word I just made up to describe injuries that you get from doing fun things. And by “fun things” I don’t mean running.)

Having finally recovered from that camping-induced bout of bug bites or sumac or whatever (<—don’t click on that if you’re eating lunch), I find myself once again on the injured list after a weekend of shenanigans.

But first: I’m not sure if I could have asked for a better weekend.

Things that were excellent about Music Midtown:

  • The weather
  • The venue (stumbling distance from home! city life for the MFW.)
  • The people watching
  • The funnel cake
  • The music
Things that were not excellent:
  • The bathroom line
  • Um…that’s it.

The party started on Friday afternoon with a striptease from TI. Seriously…he started out fully clothed and over the course of his hourlong set removed a vest, tee shirt, and belt (why?). Not that I was complaining.

I don’t think I’d ever seen live rap or hip-hop before and it was awesome.

Our group had set up right between the two stages so we didn’t even have to pick up and move when The Avett Brothers came on next. The sun was setting, the wine was flowing, and the crowd had chilled out enough that was could lay back on our blankets and still have a line of sight to the stage in the distance. We bought a box of barbecue and a carton of fries. Bliss.

We stuck around for a few songs of the evening’s last act, the Foo Fighters, but ended up heading out early. I love 90s music, but Saturday was going to be a big day. So we folded up our blanket and started the two-mile walk home. I was wearing these super squishy new flip-flops and they felt great on my feet.

(That’s foreshadowing, there.)

Saturday afternoon, I squishy-flip-flopped my way back to the park for round two. We arrived right in the middle of Adam Ant‘s set, which was predictably weird. (He was wearing some bizarre Sgt. Pepper getup that must have been horribly hot. It was in the upper 80s and I was all swamp-assed in my jeans and tank top.)

Next up: LUDA! The crowd swelled and seemed to double in size. There was no more lazy lounging on the blanket. We were up on our feet and packed in shoulder to shoulder for the rest of the day.

Ludacris was fun, but if we’re comparing the festival’s two hometown rappers, TI gets the win. Ludacris seemed a little rushed (which makes sense, I suppose, trying to cram a ton of must-do hits into an hour set) and kept stopping to ask the crowd if we were LUDA FANS (um, obviously…we are standing in a hot, dirty field waving our arms around like idiots and screaming).

Then Neon Trees played and were kinda forgettable (I don’t mind them, but they sound the same live as on the radio, which was a little boring) and then Florence and the Machine, whose set I mostly missed because I was waiting in a 30-minute bathroom line, but people seemed to dig them.

After picking up a funnel cake for fuel, I headed back out just in time for Girl Talk, which was unequivocally the most fun hour of the entire weekend.

I don’t even care that it’s not “real” live music or whatever. I’m not a music snob. I like to dance. And I bounced around like a little jumping bean for every second that Girl Talk played. It was a blast.

We stuck around for a few Pearl Jam songs, but honestly, we were all exhausted and as hard as I crushed on Eddie Vedder when I was in middle school, beating the end-of-the-night gate rush was, again, more appealing than staying.

So that was my super-awesome-fun weekend.

And…I woke up on Sunday morning with shin splints.

SHIN SPINTS. From walking, standing, jumping, dancing, whatever for hours upon hours in those stupid squishy sandals.

I haven’t had shin splits since my freshman year of high school cross country, but I remember exactly what they feel like. And, if I’m remembering correctly, there is not a whole lot you can do but rest, RICE, and wait them out. Ugh.

You’ll find me in the pool and the weight room this week, I guess.

Being funjured sucks…but at least I had a damn good weekend.

Patience is not my strongest virtue

“Please allow sufficient time to process your registration,” they said.

“When you are accepted, your name will be posted,” they said.

It’s been almost a week, B.A.A. Most people I know who qualified in my bracket have been formally accepted. Get on it.

Please stop making me think that I spelled my name wrong or something.

Don’t even make me beg.

Signed,

Just Wants To Know If She’s Doing A Marathon In April Or Not

EDIT: Friday morning, I’m in! 

Helping me help you

Like most bloggers, when I’m feeling particularly hard up for content, I wander over to my stats page and examine the list of search terms that have brought people here.

And then I feel a surge of pity for those who, having trusted Google to lead them in their quest to answer their (often weird and obtuse but probably somehow important in a way I cannot fathom) questions, ended up on this site.

And THEN, I start to ponder these people, and the situations they’ve gotten themselves in to. I create little drama-filled backstories for them. I wonder if they ever figured things out. (Yes, I have too much time on my hands)

So, if any of you random Googlers are still hanging around here, give me another shot. Maybe I can help.

1) The feline and the specter

It sounds like this person believes his bedroom is haunted, which is causing his cat to stay away from the room.

Guy, you are in luck. I have an easy solution: SEND ME YOUR GHOST.

Because I have the opposite problem. My bedroom attracts my cat like a magnet, especially when the door is closed. Bonus points if your supernatural being is most active between the hours of 3 AM and 5 AM, because this is when my cat is least likely to avoid my bedroom.

Problem solved.

2) The ass chafers

I think the real question here is: what CAN’T you put in your butt crack during a long run? The world is your oyster!

(Oyster! There’s one answer for ya!)

Okay, but seriously: I get lots of search hits about running and butt chafing (and also, of course, chaffing). Is this because people are too embarrassed to ask their running buddies for advice about that searing strip of raw skin down in the crack, so they turn to Dr. Google?

Butt chafing happens, y’all. To lots of runners, including me. Do not be ashamed. You can put Body Glide down there just as you’d put it on any other part of your body. Or, there are specific products made just for ye olde arse. Hell, you can even use regular old vaseline.

Here’s a related question that I see sometimes:

Honestly? While exercising? Probably none.

There is no evidence that this person is asking about running-specific underwear applications, though. I will say for everyday use, I think Hanky Pankys are pretty damn great. And I actually do wear them running sometimes, especially with thinner tights/capris/booty shorts. I don’t even notice that I’m wearing them, and they’ve never caused a chafing issue.

And I can’t believe I just blogged about that.

Moving on…

3) Le supermarché français

Just like it sounds, yo. PUB-licks.

At first I thought this was a really stupid question, but then I thought that maybe this person thought it was, like, French or something with a silent -x?

poob-LEE?

Yeah, no.

And for what it’s worth, I still don’t think it’s such an amazing store, although the rotisserie chicken has grown on me.

4) The person who doesn’t want to invest in a sixpack and be inevitably disappointed

That is easy. THIS ONE.

5) The hapless motorist

Here ya go:

HTH!

(No, but really…what does it look like when a tire needs air? It looks flatter than normal. And if you’re not sure, take two quarters to your nearest gas station, check the pressure, and top off if necessary. Filed under: Things I’m Glad My Dad Taught Me When I Was 16.)

6) The redneck pervert

It’s a good bet that this is happening, somewhere, right here in the state of Georgia right now! If not, almost certainly in neighboring Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Florida.

Or is it, like: to where do they drive? To Wal-Mart? To the local landfill with a bed full of trash? To the police station because they’ve just been robbed of their clothing? To your house to appease your girl-on-F150 fantasy, Mr. Googler? So many possibilities.

If this is too complicated for you, I’d suggest checking out your local adult video store. There’s a niche for everything, right?

7) The baker with jaws of steel

Good lord, are you trying to be the least popular parent at the bake sale?

Here’s my tip: stop by your local poob-LEE and pick up some macarons instead.

8) The organized entertainer

YES. I must admit that I feel validated every time someone lands on my blog after searching for this because I’m pretty sure you all thought I was crazy after that post.

This is probably the only arena in which I will ever exhibit that level of planning and organization. And I do it, like, twice a year.

Bring on Thanksgiving…this year is going to be even more complicated since I’m running a half marathon in the morning. Post-race shower beer will definitely be a milestone on that critical path.

9) The person who thinks the Google box is her sassy pants, straight-talkin’ BFF

Probably.

10) The person who actually might have found what they were looking for

I gotcha covered.

(No makeup. SO BRAVE!)

And with that, I’m back to…whatever it was I was doing before I went down the search-term rabbit hole. I can’t even remember.

Maybe Google can help.

Time to start running again…like, for real

Someone else is going to have to deal with getting the turkey in the oven this year. On Thanksgiving morning, I’ll be running the Atlanta Half Marathon.

Lots of hills, lots of turns, lots of Jelly Bellys (?). This definitely not a PR course, but it runs through my neighborhood and it looks like fun. I’m going to train hard and give it my best shot.

Last week was pretty light, running-wise: I bailed on both my track workout and my long run and ended up only running 20 miles. So let’s call that my last week of mellow summer training. Atlanta Half training starts this week.

I don’t do detailed training plans, but over the next three months I’m planning to:

  • Bring mileage up to the 40-50 MPW range
  • Continue cranking hard at the track on Tuesdays
  • Add a second hard workout each week in the form of hill repeats or a longer tempo run
  • Increase weekly long run from 9-10 miles to 14-15 miles
  • Continue to strength train or boot camp 2-3 times a week
  • Yoga once a week (or at least every other week)

Pretty standard stuff. I’m determined to keep the weekly mileage relatively moderate so that I’m not tempted to skip out on the strength training. I’m still making progress in that department and I’m not ready to back off yet!

Anyway. I am about to delve in to how fantastic last night’s track workout was, but first I’ll be honest and talk a little about how not fantastic last week’s track attempt was.

In fact, it was so awful that I quit.

We were assigned this weird 400-400-200-200 thing, four sets in total. I made it though the first set and was struggling to hit 90 on the quarters. My 200s were around 42-43 (when just a couple of weeks ago, I was doing 37s). I did the first 400 of the second set and came in at 95 and felt like I was doing to die. So I called it a day and jogged around the outer lane for the rest of the session.

I feel like there are always two sides to a DNF:

On one hand, if I’m miserable and struggling and not hitting anything close to my normal pace, what’s the point of continuing? I come to the track to do quality work, so if can’t do that, I’m better off saving my energy for another day.

But on the other hand, running is hard and sometimes workouts suck. Sometimes, for whatever reason, your pace is slower than it was last week. Sometimes you feel like shit. Is that really an excuse to just throw in the towel?

Eh. Still not sure I made the right call on that one last week, but oh well. It was just one workout.

And I made up for it with a good set last night: 3X800, 6X400. The weather was lovely and breezy and relatively cool. There was only one stroller on the track and it stayed in the outer lanes – thank you, people who understand track etiquette! (The guy walking his dog in lane one was another story, but I think he got the hint after our pack barreled by him a couple of times.)

Anyway. On my warm-up, I was definitely feeling the hundreds (literally) of double lunges we did at yesterday’s boot camp. With a sore butt and quads, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get a decent turnover going, but I finished the 800s in 3:05, 3:02, 3:02 and the 400s in 86, 88, 87, 87, 86, 85.

Compared to the last time we did this workout, back in June:

And apparently I was running really hard when we did this one the first time. I was super stoked about that 3:03! Getting faster, even by just a few seconds, is so satisfying.

I feel like running a workout like this at entirely sub-6 pace would not be out of the question. And it’s been a long time since I was in good enough shape to bust out sub-3 800s in a workout.

It is still kind of amazing to me that I’ve been able to increase my speed this summer while running such low mileage.

I hope it’s a trend that can continue while I build the miles back up!

An eventful night in my bedroom

It’s Friday night. I have the house to myself and plans to attend a 12-mile run with a slightly-faster-than-me group on Saturday morning.

7:30 PM: I eat a delicious yet responsible dinner involving a juicy beef burger patty and lots of sweet potato fries. And I haven’t had a beer all week, so hot damn it’s about time.

[Meh. Avery Brewing’s White Rascal is a Belgian-style white (think Blue Moon). It’s the perfect thing to sip on a hot August night, but I was underwhelmed. It tasted kind of like an Arnold Palmer. 5.6% ABV.]

9:00 PM: I’ve burned through four of my expensive (but worth it, because they actually work) mosquito cones.

Also, there are probably cats in the kitchen agitating for dinner. Time to head inside.

9:15 PM: Beer number two is a Brooklyn Lager rummaged from the depths of the fridge. I sip it slowly while working on a new writing project that’s been banging around in my skull all week. I write almost 2,000 words, which makes me happy.

10:30 PM: Big glass of water. Teeth brushed, face washed, lights out. I congratulate myself for being a paragon of maturity and responsibility: sober, well-fed, plenty hydrated, and about to get a solid 8 hours of sleep before my morning run alarm.

11:30 PM: I am still awake.

12:30 AM: I am…still fucking awake.

12:45 AM: Just drifting off when I hear a thump. I mean…a THUMP. Wide awake again, with irrational visions of robbers and serial killers dancing in my head. Probably, it was one of the fat cats jumping down from a nocturnal romp on a banned countertop or something like that, but…

…OMG SERIAL KILLERS.

Wide, wide awake.

1:00 AM: I consider turning on the TV but the remote is out of reach. I grab my phone instead and spend the next 45 minutes reading the entire internet.

1:45 AM: I pop a melatonin, turn on the Pandora sleep station, and set the my sleep timer app for 30 minutes. Roll over and finally….

2:45 AM: There’s a baby crying in the hallway and it wakes me up. WTF?

Wait, it’s just the cat and her Baby Wail.

A couple of years ago, Emmy started doing this super creepy thing where she meows and it sounds just like a human baby crying. We have no idea where she picked it up. Apparently it’s an actual thing and it’s called a “manipulative meow” (charming), but I avoid crying human babies at all costs so I don’t know how she learned it. Unless imitating a dying infant is, like, embedded in her genetic code or something. Which I would have to admit is pretty badass.

Emmy only does the Baby Wail in one specific circumstance: at night, outside our bedroom door, when it is closed. And come to think of it, I’ve never actually seen her do it. (She’s just…there when one of us inevitably open the door.) So it’s possible she’s a supernatural shape-shifter of some sort.

In either case: you win, cat. 

2:50 AM: I get up to open the bedroom door.

To my surprise and relief, Emmy immediately curls up beside me and goes to sleep instead of prancing on my bladder or kneading my face or drinking out of my water glass or finding a plastic bag to lick compulsively.

3:00 AM: Emmy’s supernatural powers apparently extend into the thermonuclear realm. In just a few minutes, she’s managed to raise the temperature in the bed by about seven hundred degrees. I get up and switch on the ceiling fan.

3:15 AM: Still awake.

I consider wine. Or vodka. Or NyQuil. This is miserable.

I’m still thinking that I might actually get up for that 7 AM run, though. I mutter a complaint to the snoring cat (bitch), reach for my phone, and punch the icon for this white noise app that I downloaded a long time ago but have rarely used.

3:45 AM: White noises are obnoxious. I turn the app off. I give up on running and deactivate my alarm. It ain’t gonna happen on fewer than three hours of sleep.

[insert long pause here]

10:05 AM: I wake up, fully rested and refreshed.

My running group has been done for 90 minutes now.

FML. Glad I got some sleep, though.

[insert dramatic pause before postscript here]

Yes, I know I’m being whiny. Yes, I know I could’ve sucked it up and gone to run anyway. Yes, I know that my anxiety about running farther and faster than I have in months is probably what kept me up in the first place. Yes, I know your small infant kept you up all night and you can just-wait-until-you-have-kids me all you want but I already have a fucking cat that meows like a baby which is way creepier so there.

Basically, what I’ve taken away from this is that being reasonable and responsible doesn’t pay.

Remind me of that next weekend when I’m attempting a Saturday morning run after an indulgent dinner and a bottle of wine.

At the very least, being in a drunken food coma is a good way to guarantee sleep.