On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stay tuned for weather updates...

There is a small but realistic chance that the half-marathon may be a no-go.  Getting to Hyannis involves a 4 hour bus ride, then spending the night in Boston, then waking up at the crack of dawn to drive another couple of hours to Hyannis before running, driving back to Boston, and taking another bus back here before I'm back at work Monday morning.  The calendar is tight; if anything goes wrong, the centre cannot hold.  Things fall apart.  Maybe Yeats is a tad melodramatic here, but 14+ hours of travel and 8 hours of sleep in 36 hours - for a 2.5 hour race - is a lot.

Also, racing in the snow/rain sucks.  Hell, walking in the snain sucks.  Sitting on the couch listening to the wind whip past is even a little madcap.

I'll keep you informed.

McMillan, or musings on an upcoming half

Yeah, I'm not even going to pretend like I have a run to discuss.  I left for work a few minutes before 8am yesterday and got home about 8:30pm.  And then, after I got home, I spent over an hour catching up on work emails that I hadn't been able to answer while at work.

Instead, I want to talk about the magical, mystical prognostication machine that is the McMillan Running Calculator.  You tell this internet daemon a recent race time - say, 1:46 in a 10m race - and it predicts what a comparable time for different race distances would be.  Thus my earlier contention that I might, maybe, possibly, if things go well run a 2:20 at the half this weekend.  (A Boston 2:20, ahem, or 2:20:53 per McMillan.)

Runners know: McMillan's right, or at least he's pretty darn close.  I love it.

Except... I have a question: how good is it on paces for non-races?  Of the many calculations it gives you, it offers an assessment of what paces you should be running for your every day runs to maintain your race pace.  For me, using the above example, I should be running 11:51-12:21 for my everyday runs, 11:51-12:51 for my long runs, and 12:51-13:21 for my recovery runs.  But that's slow, even for me.

Do I just not do enough non-average running?  Should I be incorporating tempo runs and steady state runs and fartleks and speed work, etc?  Or should I stick with what's working?  (It's sort of rhetorical.  I think rather obviously the latter.)

Anyway, the weather this weekend has changed from perfect (40 degrees and sunny) to miserable (30 and "wintry mix", with winds).  With it, my outlook on this race has changed from "2:20 or BUST" to "finish, and don't forget to bring warm, dry clothes with you for the ride home."  What can I say?  I'm a fair weather racer...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This is why I'm fat

So, during a lunch break from work today, I got to thinking about why I haven't lost any weight lately.

My fitness level has been improving; that I can tell through any number of assessments.  But my weight has plateaud.  Why is that?

I'm not proud to admit that I'm carrying around extra weight.  A fair bit of it - not enough to get me a spot on next season's The Biggest Loser, but more than I'd like to admit.  That was one of the impetuses for starting this blog, in fact: helping me to get fit and lose weight.

And I'm down with the whole fat acceptance thing.  I truly am.  I know that weight isn't a gauge of one's fitness.  I know that some people can't help it.  But I also know that I can.  Before my first blood clot, I weighed around 25lbs less than I do right now.  Maybe closer to 30lbs.  I was a faster runner, I was a happier person, and I just in general felt better about myself.

After pulmonary embolism one and especially embolism two, I became sedentary.  This was not entirely by choice - breathing hurt.  Like, really hurt.  I was reduced to tears often, and then I couldn't cry, because the desperate breathing of a crying jag set off more intense pain.

And of course, the lovely kicker that is coumadin: not only are there very, very few painkillers that I'm allowed to take, but I had to limit my green vegetables.  At the time of embolism two, I was a vegetarian who doesn't like to cook, living in a small town.  This meant brown meals, every meal: fried foods and pastas and breads.  My weight crept up.

So, I was asking myself today, why is my weight not falling now?  What am I doing wrong, and what can I change?

Then, I looked down, and this is what I saw in front of me.  My lunch:

Yes.  Greasy chicken on top of greasy pasta.  In the cafeteria today, I walked past the salad line, past the fruit, past the sandwiches/wraps, past the yogurt, past the Muscle Milk/meal replacement drinks, and stopped at the hot food chicken/pasta station.

This is why I'm fat.

I'm asking my blog readers (the handful of you out there!) to keep me accountable: I can't keep going like this anymore.  As I try to improve my health, I can't ignore my diet.  I'm poisoning myself with crap food and undoing all the good I do with exercise.

First start: vegetarianism.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Scratch that post from yesterday about getting up at 6am this morning to go meet my running partner - it's raining today, sort of.  "Severe weather" was what the Weather Channel was predicting last night before bed.  I'll run in the rain, but I won't travel to Central Park to run in the rain. This may mean a gym trip or even a spin class to get my heart rate up today.

Or it might mean nothing.  Honestly, I'm pretty much swamped at work right now.  It's the beginning-of-the-semester rush and I've had meetings to attend and lectures to write and deadlines to meet and now already papers to grade.  I got home from an 11 hour day at the office yesterday and nearly crumpled into a little ball on the couch, stuffing myself with chicken fingers and watching crap tv because I couldn't think to do anything else.  Things calm down some next week, but in the meantime I'm using next weekend's half as an excuse to taper this week.

(But, Tracy, you say, you used last weekend's 10m race as an excuse to taper last week!)
(Shut up, I say.  Then I mumble something annoyed under my breath because you totally called me out on it.)

Drat.  I'm going to have to go to the gym later tonight just to show you, aren't I?  Drat.

Monday, February 22, 2010

How can I top yesterday's excellent race?

The more I reflect on yesterday's PPTC Cherry Tree 10 Miler, the happier I am about it.  The race was a perfect size, it was well organized, the weather was awesome, I felt good the whole time, and I even got a super-duper Sugoi tech hat!  (Way better than a cotton tee - yes, I'm talking to you, NYRR.)

I can't top it.  Full day of work ahead of me today, with meetings taking up my every free moment and drinks with coworkers scheduled after work, so I'm taking today off of running.  I'm scheduled to meet my running partner again Tuesday morning.  (I've been... flaky... about meeting her lately.  Can't motivate to get up at 6am.)  Look for an update then.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Prospect Park Track Club (PPTC) Cherry Tree 10 Miler: "A race for the hardcore"

...at least that's what my bib said.  Hardcore?  Me?  Ha ha ha ha ha.
I'm softcore, if that!  Or at least that's what I said to a woman on the course when I noticed the tag line of the race.  She responded with, "I'm not even softcore.  I don't have a core!  I'm coreless!"

I didn't really have any expectations for this race.  Prospect Park was the scene of my glorious Turkey Trot back in November - a hilly course that somehow is fast at the same time.  It was a plum of a day, with the weather up into the 40s by the end and the sun making it seem even warmer.  With my last two long runs having been on the dreadmill, I was just hoping to run anything under two hours.  But I had no idea how realistic that was, even.  I figured, if I kept my pace in the 11s, I'd be golden.

Early on I glanced at my watch and it said that I was doing 11:44.  That seemed a tad slow, but it was still in my target, so I moved on.  A half mile later, in the midst of the park's big hill, it said I was at 10:08.  I pulled my jacket over my watch and moved on.

The next time I saw a clock was the 5m mark, and it read 52:xx.  What?  How could that be?  That's faster than my recent 4m race pace!  And it felt fine!  So fine, in fact, that I was able to keep the pace up for the rest of the race and finish in 1:46!  The course was three laps of the park, which meant doing the ginormous hill three times.  I had promised myself that I could walk up the hill on the third time, but when I slowed to a walk I found it felt worse than running.  So I started up running again.  Did you read that?  Walking was no break. That, my friends, is what they call "the zone."  I was IN IT.

Not much else was notable.  My superfeets (green) gave me an obnoxious blister on the inner arch of my right foot - about an inch long and narrow.  Luckily I didn't notice it until mile 8, and then I ad other things on my mind.  Like my competition.

My race was not at all marred by the man who finished mere seconds behind me.  The older man.  The older man who racewalked the whole race.  I get it!  I'm not that fast!  But I didn't let him beat me, even though we were neck-and-neck for nearly a mile.  It's heartening to hear that his 5k PR - walking - is 26:58.**

My race was not at all marred by the fact that they ran out of water mere minutes before I finished.  It's kind of funny - when I'm superslow and a waterstation runs out of water, I'm annoyed but I just move on.  This I was more annoyed by, precisely because I wasn't as slow as I've been in the past.  There were still a fair number of runners out there behind me.

My race was marred by the fact that the F-train was running via shuttle bus service.  A jerky, cramped, smelly shuttle bus full of runners.  In the bright sun.  I'm not sure how I escaped without either a migraine or throwing up.  Ugh.

Also: it's an automatic PR if you've never finished a race of that distance before.  So today was a 10m PR!*  Half-marathon next weekend.  My goal for the half has been to finish feeling strong, but McMillan predicts a 2:20.  Oddly enough, I've only run a few halfs in my lifetime and I can say with some certainty that I haven't run that in years.  Dare I dream?

*I'm choosing to trust the good folks of the PPTC and ignore the fact that my Garmin said it was only 9.9m.  Surely if there is a mistake, it came from satellite data and not human error.  [Someone at the Runner's World forum came up with 9.97, so it seems like it depended on where in the race lanes you were at.  Figures I cut all the tangents.  The human error is mine.]
**I just checked the results, and it appears that the walking man actually beat me.  My clock time was a few seconds faster, but he had me on the chip time by a full minute.  Bravo to him!  And a thank you, as he kept me moving for the better part of the final lap.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Update on my crow's feet

My sister, a way more avid runner than I am (and someone remarkably wrinkle free, despite being older than me), called me the other day to say that she knows why I'm getting crow's feet.  She did preface it by saying that probably I wasn't, that probably it was just the lighting or the mirror or I had slept funny (because she's a good sister).  Then she said, and this cracks me up, "Probably you don't need more sunblock because probably it's not the sun that's giving you the wrinkles if you have them, but that thing, what's the word? That thing people do with their eyes when they look up at the sun?  Oh, man, I don't remember what it's called, but it's when people are like looking at the sun and their eyes go funny because it's bright?"

Um... squinting?  I swear, she is a native English speaker.  (And a librarian, which doesn't explain why she couldn't figure out how to leave a comment herself on the blog.)

She suggested sunglasses.  I ran with a pair for a few weeks one summer ages ago and didn't like it - that's when I discovered the baseball hat, which has been my warm weather go to ever since.  But I don't wear one in the winter: could she be on to something?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Recommended: The Captain's Chair

No, this is not some sort of creepy insight into my personal life that you wish you'd never seen.

Instead, it's an ab exercise.

Now, why the captain would want to sit in a chair that didn't have a seat, I can't tell you.  That seems a bit beyond the pale:* like a phone that doesn't make calls, a candle with no wick, a book with no pages.

And yet, there it is in the gym.  Move beyond the user-friendly machines with the instructions placed just-so on the side, where you can surreptitiously look up how to use the machine while pretending to adjust the settings.  Beyond the assisted pull-up machine, where you can set it to 125 and pretend like that means that you're lifting HUGE amounts of weight instead of it meaning that you can barely lift a bag of potatoes.  Beyond the treadmills, the ellipticals, the ergs.  Back in the corner with the other scary things that have no instructions on them.

I was introduced to this a few weeks ago, and it's actually surprisingly easy and effective at isolating one's abs and making you feel like a bad ass.  I highly recommend it.  I do NOT highly recommend it after a long run on a treadmill, as you (if you are anything like me) will likely be so ready to leave the $!#@% gym that you will not want to stop to do ab work.

*Did you know that "The Pale" is a literal place, a borderline in Ireland demarcating the land that was controlled by the British during the Middle Ages?  Fascinating!  Assuming it's true - wikipedia wouldn't lie, would it?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

2010: The Year of the Medal?

2010 medals to date: 2 (ALA Fight for Air Climb and the ESBRU)

It all started back in October when I finished the Chicago Marathon.  I was motivated in the last 10 or so miles solely by the desire to feel the weight of the medal around my back.  And I wasn't disappointed.

But then... it seemed like every race I registered for after that gave me a medal.  The Damon Runyon Yankee Stadium 5k.  The Prospect Park Turkey Trot.  The 5k in Somerville.

And that got me thinking: how many can I get in 2010, without going overboard?  I'm not planning my race calendar solely around the idea of obtaining medals, but I am trying to find medal-friendly (non NYRR) races. 

Also?  I'm totally doing this.  Check out the medals that I can earn that way!  In fact, I'm a quarter of the way to a bronze.  [Harsh language alert!  Ahead!]  Suck it, WBHS gym teachers.  [/Harsh language]  But one of them - he knows who he is - almost kept me from graduating high school by threatening to fail me in gym class.  True story.  If they could see me now...

I know that Fred Lebow said that runners will do anything for a t-shirt, but I have enough t-shirts.  Medals, those I can never have enough of.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I only went running yesterday because I knew you'd be reading this.

Things I did yesterday morning to procrastinate:
-caught up on facebook, twitter; contemplated logging into myspace and friendster, even;
-answered most of my work emails, including setting up Apple's Mail program to check my office mail;
-filed my income tax;
-read almost all of the stories on CNN and the NYTimes;
-prepared dinner for tonight;
-officially registered for the NYCM ("Congratulations! You have received guaranteed entry to the ING New York City Marathon 2010");
-officially registered for the 2010 Broad Street Run;
-completed the Moscow job tier on Mafia Wars via facebook;
-and so on.

Partly I'm tired and lethargic - if I don't get out the door early for a run, the chances of me doing it decrease through the day.  Partly I'm overwhelmed with work and don't even know where to begin.  My day seems to begin with a run, so if I put off the run... my day hasn't started yet, in a perverse mind trick.

Partly I had a rough week, training-wise, last week, and I needed a rest day - but I can't run today (teaching from 9am-6:45pm, which means being at the office from about 8-7:30), so I had to get something in yesterday.  That something was a miserable 3.5m on the treadmill, made miserable less by my body's lack of cooperation or any physical problems than by my own inability to just concentrate and pound it out.  I walked more than I'd care to admit, checking my email and catching up on a few personal emails while on the treadmill.  (I'm sorry, Dr. Drew, you know I love you, but if you can read while on the treadmill, you're not exercising hard enough.)

Today's rest is lovely.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Sign seen at my sister's gym on Saturday.  Because truly, who goes to the gym to do arm exercises?

(And yes, I get that it's referring specifically to the apparatus it's next to.  But it's not a clear sign at all.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Stair Climb Part Deux: Way easier this time

I'm not sure if it was the slower pace, the fact that I'd had the practice a few weeks before, the break in the middle, the staggered start and overall chill nature of the event, or the layout of the stairs, but this event was a total piece of cake.  My brother and I both agreed that we could have easily done a third time up the staircase with no problem.

It started a little badly, though.  They had assigned us a 10am start and told us to arrive 45 minutes ahead of time.  We got there at 9:15 on the dot, and the only t-shirt sizes they had left were men's L-XXL.  This made me irate.  With fundraising, this race cost me well over $100, and I had even told them in advance that I wanted a size small - and yet they couldn't get the sizes correct?

Calmed down, I ate a cupcake from the pre-breakfast buffet and we got ready.  Our team uniforms were grey shirts, black shorts, and black sweatbands.  Ready to go.  The lobby was milling with dozens upon dozens of firemen in full gear, waiting to do the climb - in full gear.  (Our father later informed us that technically it wasn't actually full gear, as the heaviest part of their uniform is the undercoat that many of them were not wearing.)

The start was kind of funny.  We had chips on our shoes and they had chip mats set up at the stairwell.  They were spacing everyone out arbitrarily, though - like, "Okay, you can go at 29:30, you can go at 29:40, you can go at 29:55."  They said, "Okay, go!" and my brother and I both crossed the start line.  The woman - it was a man and woman working the start - turned to the man and said, "What did you just do?!?" and he said, "I let them both go at once.  They're together.  Isn't that alright?" She was furious and said, "NO THAT IS MOST CERTAINLY NOT ALRIGHT!"  It seemed like... an overreaction, especially considering that these were the same chip mats that are able to manage 40,000 participants at the start of the Chicago Marathon without needing to space them out.

On the second go up (we staggered), we realized that they were husband and wife - that goes far in explaining her freak out.

Honestly, there's not too much to say about the climb itself.  It was desolate and lonely because of the staggering of the starts.  It was quiet.  We chatted and paced ourselves by my brother's heart rate monitor, which was a good gauge for us and set a nice pace.  We breaked for water as it was available but we never felt like we had to stop.  Honestly, it felt easy.  The steps were low enough and the staircase just simply circled up, two flights to one story, the entire way.  At the top we took the elevator down and repeated.  Same thing.  Easy.  No cough, no soreness, no nothing.

At the end I fell for what my brother referred to as "snake oil," which is to say that there was a chiropractic clinic's table set up and I let them do a simple diagnostic of me.  Basically I just wanted to hear what their spiel was, knowing that I would never be able to use their services anyway (I'll travel 900 miles for a race, but not so much for a doctor).  Sure enough, I'm in dire need of chiropractic care, they say, because of my forward head carriage.  She was also concerned because of my pulmonary embolism, and how that was centered in the back area and she thinks that it could all be connected.  Oh, dear.  I don't quite think that I got a PE from leaning my shoulders too far forward!

Another cupcake and we were out of there.  No times posted yet, but that wasn't really the point, was it?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Quick check-in

10m on the treadmill today.  Somehow it was MUCH easier than last week's torturous 9, but I still wouldn't call it fun.  My sister told me we couldn't go running outside today because of the cold, but (shhhhh! don't tell her!) I totally think it wasn't even that cold.

While on the 'mill I re-watched My Best Friend's Wedding.  UGH.  What a terrible film.  I remember the first time I watched it, I thought it was just an okay, maybe kinda cute movie, but I was feeling some irrational anger at Julia Roberts' character having allegedly gone to my alma mater.  It wasn't because I don't like JR (I don't) or because I think she's not smart enough (she's not), it's because the character was just not the sort of person who could have graduated from there.  A sportswriter?  Maybe a peace corps volunteer or a grad student, more like.

Anyway, this time around I had a different thought watching it, which is that I am SO GLAD that the archetype of the single gay guy who rescues his doting female friends is essentially over.  JR's 2nd best friend in the movie, and occasional fake fiance, is a beautiful, wonderful gay man who seems to exist only to play the harmless role of neutered husband while helping her search for love.  I mean, it's unthinkable that this educated, dashing, British gay man would ever find someone, right?  Or at least that's what the movie seemed to say.  I immediately recognized that archetype and also realized I hadn't seen it in any movies in a few years - thank goodness.

Also, I hope to never be on a treadmill long enough to watch an entire movie again.

Race tomorrow - more soon.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Stair Climb Part Deux

I'm off to Chicago for the weekend to do the ALA's Fight for Air Climb.  It's not as hard of a climb as the ESBRU, and I anticipate it will take me longer to finish (even though it's a shorter climb), but it's kind of an exciting deal anyway.  It's my little brother's first race.

I have two siblings: an older sister, who's an avid (and sponsored) athlete, and a younger brother, who up until recently has been an overweight fast-food lover.  I'm somewhere in the middle: an avid (but mediocre) athlete who also loves fast-food.  I'm now being left behind in my brother's dust.  He hired a trainer early last year and has gotten his act together.  It's been an amazing - and inspiring - transition.  He's really turned his entire lifestyle on its head and has kept it up and is seeing amazing results.

So, next step: his first race.  He's not (yet) a runner, but he regularly does the stairmill at the gym and chose this stair climb as his racing debut.  We're doing it together, hopefully, as in literally step by step together.  I'm kind of afraid he's going to blow me away!

Wish me luck.  Back on Monday for regularly scheduled running.

Oakbrook Terrace Tower: It's not quite the ESB!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snowpocalypse! Snowmageddon! SnOwMG 2010!

Well, as you probably know, nearly a foot of snow hit NYC yesterday.  And, as you can probably guess, this meant that I did not go out and run on the streets.  I wanted to go in the morning, but I got up late and got caught up in work drama (is the school closed? are classes being held? - multiply that times 107 student emails).  By the time I was ready to go, the streets were in the process of becoming unnavigable.  I don't have yaktrax or, um, dedication, so I bailed on running outside.

I did go to the gym, though.  Whew!  The MTA was reporting that ridership was down by 40% today, and let me tell you where those people were: my gym.  Busy busy busy.

I didn't want to dreadmill it two days in a row, so I did 45 minutes on the elliptical.  I'm not a fan of that machine.  It takes the repetitive boredom of a treadmill and makes it even more like a hamster wheel.  I'm not sure what the next step in gym tedium is, but nothing screams "I'm just getting my 20 minutes at the gym in so I can look good at the club, not because I'm concerned about my health or enjoy the way my body moves" more to me than the elliptical.  Not even the recumbent bike - or the lazy person's bike, as my brother's trainer referred to it.

To add insult to injury, no matter how hard I ellipticalled it, I couldn't get my heart rate above 140.  It was trying to hover around 115.  I mean, seriously!  I could have just watched a scary movie and been better off!

Also: you know you've been to the gym too frequently when you find yourself recognizing all of the songs on the "Latin Hits" video station on the built-in tvs.  And you don't speak Spanish or have any other exposure to Latino culture.

Now, excuse me while I go back to staring out my window at the dirty snow-laden wonderland that is this fair city.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Not my best angle, but you get the drift

Yesterday was three lovely miles on the treadmill after some light ab work.  I actually mean that!  Lovely lovely!  I could have kept going if I didn't have barbecue and Edy's Light (Samoas flavored) at home and a snow day to plan for.  Why is it that 9 on Sunday was torturous from the very first footfall, but 3 today was quick and lively and light as air?

Seen below: my first-ever pair of running tights, purchased at Marathon Sports in Cambridge in 1998? 1999?  A long time ago.  They were quite a splurge back then.  I'm happy to report back to my undergraduate self that she got her money's worth out of them.  I'd also like to tell her that she doesn't actually need to hand wash them, no matter what the instructions say.  All that the washer/dryer combo has done to them is to wear off the reflective dots, but I just don't go running in them at night and it's all good.  I have other messages for her, but they're not blog appropriate.  And they would have to read like old school newspaper advice columns: "Confidential to College Tracy in PVD: Don't be that guy.  Don't ever be that guy."
Anyway... the tights have held up in other ways, too.  On our most recent run together last Friday, compliments I got included two "God bless you"s, one "Hallelujah!", one wide-eyed, smiling "Wow!", one "She's really cute," several men offering to come and run with me, two men faking that they were going to run with me for ca. half a block, three instances of unintelligible and/or Spanish statements that ended with "yeah, mami", and more lecherous looks than I could count.  Trust me - TRUST ME - I don't deserve such lavish praise.  I thank the tights for it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sleep and me, we're a little too chummy these days.

I'm going to blame classes having started up again (and with it, my work responsibilities - in terms of needing to be places to do things - have increased from 0% to 100%) for my incredible sleepiness these days.  Also probably my age: in my head, I'm a perky college student who can sustain herself on 4 hours of sleep a night and still be energetic and alert.  In reality, I'm a 30-something grad student who needs much, much closer to 8-9 hours, even though I get ca. 6-7.  At some point I crash.  That point has been this week.

Thursday morning I heard my alarm go off, twice, before realizing I was supposed to have left for my run twenty minutes before.  Luckily it takes me nearly 30 mins to get to Central Park to meet my running partner, so I still had time to jot off a (nearly incomprehensible, when I later looked) text saying that I wouldn't be able to make it.  (I later got an email from her asking if I meant that I never wanted to run with her again.  Oops, no, I was just really tired.)  I went back to sleep and slept through my alarm going off for 90 minutes.

Friday morning, I got up, got dressed, and was in my elevator when she texted to say she wouldn't be able to make it.  I could have just left then and there for my run, but it was still dark out, so I decided to reward myself by waiting a bit for the sun to come up.  (This way I could also reward the dog with a walk.)

Yeah, you can see where this is going: 9am and I dragged myself out of bed again.  I had gone back to bed FULLY DRESSED to run, including gloves, ear warmers, and my shoes.  It was a great run (eventually), but by the time I got back, half the day was shot.

Sunday morning?  I went to bed late Saturday night - around 1am - and had no alarm set for the morning.  I woke up at 9:45.  So much for a 9am long run...  11am is basically still morning, right?

I guess I'm ready for the long days of summer to come back.  Either that or my ferritin is wonky again...  I have a doctor's appointment for later this week to have it checked out, but I have been taking my iron pills.  I am such an old person sometimes.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Yesterday, my schedule called for a long run of 9m.  Not that bad, right?  I did 8.25 two weeks ago and it was as easy as anything.  I did (almost) 6 on Friday and it, too, was easy.

I woke up Sunday morning - well, sort of morning, it was almost 10am.  That was not according to plan.  Then I checked the weather.  Not too bad, 25 degrees.  Wait - wind chill 10, gusts of wind up to 25mph.  I have had enough with the cold, so I decided to do my run on a treadmill.  Sort of just to see if I could do it, I think.  I mean, 9m isn't even a double-digit run; how bad could it be?

I hate the treadmill.  I know this is a common refrain amongst runners, and I'm no different.  It's boring.  It's tedious.  It makes even an easy run feel hard.  Now, I limit myself to 3-4m if I have to use the thing, and I mostly try to avoid it.  I remember a day, vaguely, when I would do runs of 5-6m on it, but even that felt like torture by the end.

But, see, I promised myself I couldn't eat any chicken fingers for dinner unless I finished my 9m on the treadmill.  And I really wanted chicken fingers.

What to say about the run?  I did it, I made it through, it was miserable.  There were parts that seemed to go by pretty quickly; there were times when I was literally counting my footfalls to mete out the mileage and get it through faster.  I watched several episodes of a Jersey Shore marathon and came to the conclusion, based on videos I saw, that recent Madonna is creepy and getting creepier and Kevin Bacon wore really high-waisted jeans in Footloose.

Oh, yeah, continuing on my rant from earlier this week: other gym patrons are funny.  One guy held on to the top console of the treadmill for dear life for a full 5m.  Another woman was singing, LOUDLY, along with the music.  I just kept to myself.   (Except I think I kind of smelled.  Actually I'm pretty sure I kind of smelled.  Sorry, NYSC.)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I need a new training plan!

Any suggestions?

I want it to give me near magical power on hills.  I want it to make me much, much faster, both at short distances and up to the marathon.  Also, I'll probably start biking to work this spring, so I need it to give me more power on my bike.

But I don't want to do any speedwork, hill repeats/workouts, fartleks, cross training, midweek long runs, strides, pace runs, or any other real pushing myself.  I also don't want to have to wake up early or change my lifestyle in any way.

Oh, and also?  I want to lose weight with this training plan.  But not if it involves interval training; I don't like that!

Any suggestions?

Disclaimer: I may be kidding above (most of it).

Friday, February 5, 2010

New Year's resolutionists, and who am I to complain about them?

I put off my run for too long yesterday, and I ended up unable to get a treadmill at the gym. I did score one small victory over myself, in that I (mostly) silenced the petty, bitchy thoughts I had when I saw how many people were walking... slowly... on the treadmills.  Why is my workout more important than theirs? Obviously it's not, but that didn't keep my irritation completely at bay. Instead, I sucked it up and did my 'run' on an elliptical. To add insult to injury, the only thing on tv was 'Keeping up with the Kardashians.' Ugh.

But... But... The New Year's Resolutionists. The gym picked up in popularity, massively, on 1 Jan. And it hasn't slowed down! Even more inexplicable, the new people we see there are crazy fitness buffs, not just newcomers trying to keep to their weight loss resolutions. There are a lot of unemployed actors in my neighborhood, so it's also consistently busy: if there's a down time, I haven't found it.

There are only 2 stairmills and 10 treadmills. I think I was spoiled by my first year at the gym, when the machines were typically empty and the classes underpopulated (don't even try to get into Thursday's spin class).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Oh, no! Say it isn't so: CROW'S FEET

So, this morning as I was putting on some make-up, I noticed some fine lines extending out from my eyes.  Wrinkles.  Crow's feet.

Yeah, yeah, I know that to some extent it's inevitable.  I'm in my 30s (no shame!) and, although I wear sunblock every day and a hat when I run, I don't put on sunblock before I run.  A lot of it that I've tried runs into my eyes when I sweat, and then it stings.

But this has been one of my fears.  For a while, it seemed like every time I opened Runner's World I would see another picture of an older runner holding a baby, likely her granddaughter.  Then the caption would say something like, "Mary Smith, 34, holds her 2 year old daughter."  Or two runners, one male and youthful, the other female and wizened, with a caption: "John Doe, 38, with his wife Jane, 37"... Running ages women.  It's good for your waistline, but not for your wrinkles.

Ahhh!  I thought I was still too young for anti-aging creams.  And yet...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ode to the Garmin Forerunner 305. With love, Tracy

I'm standing outside;
it's cold.
"Locating satellites...

"Locating satellites..."

I'm standing outside;
it's still cold.
I push you away from me -
I pull you in near me.
"Locating satellites..."

I'm still standing outside;
it's still cold.
I'm waiting.
"Are you indoors?"

I'm still standing outside;
it's still cold.
I'm still waiting.
"Have you moved hundreds of miles/km since the last use?"

I'm still standing outside;
it's still cold.
I'm still waiting;
I'm growing impatient.
"Is today 28 Jan 2010?"

"Locating satellites...
"Locating satellites..."

Still not dead last... but getting closer...

Remember a few days ago when I said that "not being dead last" was my motto?
And remember how my plan involved the Empire State Building Run Up today?

Imagine the range of emotions I felt when I looked at the posted results and saw myself there, dead last for my heat.  It was a little weird - I knew I was slow, but I also knew that there were still people behind me (there were only maybe 80 people in my heat).

Then, a few moments later, I thought to check the age group results to see what the winning times were, and it turns out I was third in my age group!  A meaningless piece of information, since I was running the non-competitive preliminary race (no awards given out).  But still, I take what I can get.  And it soothed the "dead last" sting.  As did the cluster of women next to me who saw the list and started chirping about not seeing their names - because they'd been slower than me.

Huzzah!  Not dead last!

But back it up, to give a more full race report.

For most of the second half of last night, I was having anxiety dreams.  In my dreams, I was at the top of the building but had no recollection of how I got there.  I had finished the race - I assumed - but I didn't remember it.  When I woke up I found I was actually quite nervous about the race, and (sadly) was not actually done with it despite my vivid dreams.

I got there, got my t-shirt and bib, and checked my bag.  Very chill.  I had struck up a conversation with another woman in the lobby, and we met a friend of hers who turned out to be quite competitive - a Canadian who regularly conquers the CN Tower in around 11 minutes.  That's fast, peeps.

Eventually they corralled us all over to the start, which was kind of confusing.  There wasn't much explanation of where we were going, except that we were moving as a herd.  Everyone was quite friendly.  One man at the start, an older guy, got to telling me about his training plan.  He was really pushing lunges, to the point where I kind of wanted to just say, "Listen.  Stop.  Training is done. It's too late."  To be polite, I asked him if he'd ever done a climb like this before.  "Well, once I did one, but that was downstairs," he said.  "Was that safe?" I asked.  Running downstairs seems very, very dangerous to me.  "Well," he said, "It was the World Trade Center on September 11th."

The gun went off, and our crowd of about 100 people all crammed through one small door.  The stairwell was narrow and very industrial, as I figured it would be.  I had a good idea of what to expect: people going too fast from the get-go, crowds, dry air, heat, dust, etc.  Still, like they say, it was no preparation.  I was swept up in the crowd and was on the 8th floor before I felt like I had any control over my pace.

Even though I'd done some practicing with a metronome, I didn't really know what to anticipate in terms of my finish time.  I secretly hoped for 20 minutes, but I knew that I could only hold the 20 minute pace on a very, very good day - which today wasn't.  Also, I thought it was chip time being counted when it was actually net time.  On top of that, the stairs weren't straight up.  It's hard to describe, but if you picture how most flights of stairs rise in one direction about 9 steps and then double back in the opposite direction 9 steps?  These flights went straight up all 18 steps per flight, followed by a long landing to the next set.  Good in terms of rest in between, but terrible in terms of pacing.  It essentially doubled the area being covered.

Other highlights...  the ESB staff must have all thought we were nuts.  Then again, I thought they were nuts: the first (of many) times I heard "Almost there!!!" was on the 20th floor.  Twenty.  Not even 25% done.  Then, I got "Congratulations!!!" after I'd barely crested the 80th floor - 6 more floors to go!  At the end, there were mini-pastries and bagels and assorted juices.  I was mad psyched, as that's a much better spread than the usual NYRR boxes of bagels.  But my excitement was nearly ruined by a gaggle of women saying things like, "Geez, we didn't even burn enough calories during the race to justify eating one of those things!"

Overall, I finished in about 26 minutes.  Slow, slow, slow, but I did it, I never contemplated stopping, and it was harder than I expected.  Much harder than I expected.  Even though I'd paid some lip service (and 'mill service) to training, I felt unprepared.  Also, I got dizzy and developed a nasty cough.  And yet, I'm not at all sore - I feel like I could give it another go.

Which I hope to, next February.  NYRR, you can expect to see my application coming through next December!
Three spellings of preliminary.  Only one of them is correct.  I expect more from runners!  (Not sure why, but I do.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

It's cold out

Yesterday morning was a bitter one.
14 degrees, felt like 4.

Now, I'm not a wuss.  I grew up in the midwest, where school wasn't canceled for cold weather.  Well, except for once when it was a high of -15 and the pipes froze.  We had a weather day that day.  But some of the earliest pictures my parents have of me are me standing outside around age 2, with snow that's over my head.  I'm not a wuss.

But today was rough.  I was underdressed, for one thing, but not too badly (fleece hat, fleece ear band, Buff for the neck, thin jacket, long sleeve shirt, Moeben sleeves, light gloves, and yoga pants.  Yoga pants!   That are too short!  And to think, I had warm tights and even extra-thick running pants I could have pulled out if I'd been paying attention).  And I was underprepared, mentally. It was only 5m, but I've spent the rest of the day exhausted from it.

At 9:30 I headed to bed.  It was cold out.

Also, tomorrow is my crazy stairclimb.  I've so far wowed two classes of undergrads with the fact that I'll be running up all 86 flights of the Empire State Building tomorrow.  I wouldn't say I'm nervous, as it's hard to train for something like this, but I also wouldn't say I feel fully prepared.  I wish I'd gotten another dry run in.  And I'm kind of sore from this weekend (inexplicable, given that it was 9 easy miles over 2 days and shouldn't have had any effect on me).  I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow...