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"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Relaxation...

I swear - like, totally pinkie swear - that I'm not training for anything.  Starting... today.  It's actually pretty liberating to not feel like I have any obligation to any running schedule or calendar.  Predictably, I want to run now more than I have in the past few months.  I also took a kick-ass spin class last week and started doing the Bar Method this past weekend.  But that's, like, boring and not running.  So I'll keep it to myself.  (Do you really want to read me talk about ab exercises?  Loud music in a sweaty spin studio?  Because I don't want to write about these things.  And there will not be pictures.)

FINE.  Okay.  Stop giving me that look.  YES, I did register for the Egyptian Marathon.  After that: nothing.  I swear.  How could I resist?  After filling out the online form, I received this confirmation:


I love Egypt.  And I guess I have to figure out how to do an international bank transfer before the date line passes me by.

The start and finish?  Here:

But I'm not really training for it.  I'll have to do a couple of long runs between now and my early-January departure, but it's going to be a fun run.  (Notwithstanding the dream I had the other morning wherein I floated through next year's NYCM in 3-something.  The dream only got less plausible and more pleasantly surreal from there.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Prospect Park Turkey Trot 5m

Last year, when I ran this race, I was ecstatic that I was running sub-11 minute miles.  This year, sub-10 minute miles.  If I continue to improve at this pace, I will beat the world record in only 6 short years.

Okay, maybe that's not happening.  But I'm glad to see that, although my marathon times might not be where I'd like them, at least I'm improving somewhat, somehow, at some distance.

Short recap: the race is five miles in Prospect Park.  They gave participants arm warmers (nice touch).  The course is fairly standard slightly rolling hills, with one notable exception: a giant, mile-long hill (mile 3 of the race).  The grade isn't too bad, but it just goes on and on.  It starts subtly, and (if you're me), you don't realize that you're in the middle of the hill and you can see how much it continues.  There was one point where I turned to the woman next to me and said, "I feel like I'm running in place!"  It just never seems to stop.  But then it does, there's a nice downhill, and you're almost done.

In case you're someone who's into statistics.
I'm not disappointed with my performance; in fact, I'm quite pleased.  However, I do wish that I'd warmed up some before the race.  I could tell from how sluggish I felt and how low my heart rate was for the first mile that I was working harder than I needed to (for slower return).  That first mile in particular should have been faster.

Immediately after the race, I got in a rental car to drive down to Thanksgiving in Philadelphia.  I have to say, the open road (well, the mostly open Jersey Turnpike) was the perfect complement to running hard.  I love driving and I miss being able to do it regularly.  I like to say that I'm an "assertive" driver, although I've heard at least one passenger suggest "aggressive" instead.  Whatever.  People are too passive as drivers these days.  I think it comes from everyone driving cars with automatic transmissions - what's that all about?  You don't feel like you're actually a part of the car the same way you do with a standard.  When you drive stick, it's like you and the car become one.  And it's awesome.  I could go on, but I'll save the rest for my car blog and go back to running talk.  (NB: I don't have a car blog.)

Open road tolling: Rod Blagojevich's gift to IL drivers.
The medal, and I think this is ingenious, is exactly the same medal as last year but on a different lanyard. I wore it in the car on the way down, and when I got to dinner, my host asked what I won.  I had to explain that I didn't technically win anything, besides a smug feeling.  He then asked if it was sort of like a summer day camper getting a medal for "best god's eye."  Sadly, yes.  Except it was "best" nothing.  I told the smart ass to get back in the kitchen.  (NB: No, I didn't.  I smiled and laughed politely and appreciated the delicious food and gracious hospitality.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I can't do it.

I've been trying to write a race report to cover the Flying Monkey Marathon, and I just can't.

It was just a fun race.  I loved it.  I hope to do it again next year.  Will that suffice?

Actually, I don't feel much like writing about running at all right now.  Chances are good that it'll get better over the weekend; maybe it won't.

So, instead of a race report, I offer you a picture of me holding a turkey from Thanksgiving a few years ago.  (I think it's actually a Christmas turkey.  I don't remember.)


Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No.

I chose going out for drinks and sushi with a friend I haven't seen in a while last night over writing up a race report.  So you'll have to wait until tomorrow for the stunning details of the Flying Monkey Marathon.  My report tomorrow morning can be a Thanksgiving weekend gift to you.  Until then...

One of the (many) post-marathon "congratulations now buy some stuff" emails I've gotten from the NYRR since the marathon ended:


While it's true that my riesling has to suffer the indignity of being served in a tumbler I borrowed from a monastery (instead of fine, Tiffany China), I think I'm good.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I may have kind of sort of lied to you.

Shortly after writing Friday's post, in which I said I wasn't doing the Flying Monkey Marathon (I wrote the post Thursday night), I decided to check flights just one last time.

Plane ticket, itinerary that worked for me: $230. The cheapest I'd seen it for all the months I'd been checking. Travelocity hooked me up with a cheap rental car and a cheap room at the local Hyatt and I was headed to Nashville Saturday afternoon. After all, as my sister told me (several times), "You should be spending your money on experiences, not objects." It's like she knew about the Anthropologie jacket I bought last week that I was feeling kind of guilty about (it's cute, though, right?).

So I ran the race.

Let me start with this:

There are things I read in running blogs so often that I've started to see them as almost cliche.  These include:
-"I dug deep"
-"I gutted it out"
-"I checked in with my body to see if I could hold this pace" (when one's body responds ("my legs said yes, or I think so") is when I convulse in a fit of giggles)

I find these things to be cliche mostly because I don't do them. I have none of what you might call "grit." I have a tenacity that defies all logic and a dogged persistence, but I AM NOT A TALENTED  RUNNER.

And, I was in a rut. If you read my Chicago report, you know where this origins of this rut started.  New York was a high point, but I underperformed - or, more accurately, I performed exactly where my training would put me, which is not where I want to be. I'm disappointed with my running lately.

So why did I do this race? Well, like the race director said when I emailed him (on Wednesday), explaining my rut and bowing out of the race, "I have always found Monkey to break the funk.  Criminy :("

And it did end my rut. It was beautiful. It was torturous. It was a race you run not for time, but for the pure and unadulterated love of running. It's just you, a gorgeous park, other like-minded people running for the joy of it, and beer at the end.  A race you run to remember how good it feels when it's just you and the road, even if the road beats you up a little (or a lot). A race... I'll stop now, before I devolve into cliche (too late?).  But it was amazing and awesome and satisfying and well worth the trip.

So, marathon #8 is done.  And I'm technically qualified to join the Marathon Maniacs at the bronze level if I'm so inclined.

Tomorrow: the race itself.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I'm not in Nashville right now...

Yep, still in NYC.  (Did you hear that, potential blog stalkers?  You will not find my apartment empty this weekend.)  I'm disappointed that I'm not running the Flying Monkey, but I made the decision weeks ago without admitting it when I didn't buy a plane ticket in a timely manner.  I was so burnt out after Chicago that the thought of a third fall marathon was deathly.  Now that I feel like I'm actually physically up to it, the logical part of my brain has pointed out that $400 for a plane ticket, $100 for a car rental, and $200 for a hotel room may not be the best way to spend my meager earnings.

Plus, I can't afford the time spent at a weekend away right now.  Work has kicked into high gear and I've been averaging about 5-6 hours of sleep a night since the marathon.  Even with some sad attempts to catch up on sleep on the weekends, I'm still feeling rather First Fig.

So... what to do with myself, now that I'm not training?  Well, there are several other "marathons" I've decided I will participate in:

1.  Marathon eating.  I can become a stunt eater.  You know, someone who eats really gross stuff just to get attention.  Who am I kidding?  I really just want an excuse to eat a McRushmore.

What is wrong with me that this looks good to me?
2.  Jersey Shore marathon.  Time to catch up on all of the delicious antics of those crazy gorilla juiceheads.
I kind of think Pauly D is hot.
Sad, but true.
3.  Marathon Grill at 17th & Sansom, my old favorite restaurant.  I'll be back in Philly next week and I'll have to go there.  Might I recommend you try one of their salads, if you're ever in Philly?


4.  Four Loko Marathon.  I'm thinking some sort of hour-of-power, but with Four Loko.  Who's in?
That's my Senator! Quick, drink up, before it's banned!
5.  Oh, who are we kidding.  I might run the Egyptian Marathon in January, or I might join my friend Aron and train for the Ocean Drive Marathon in March, and I've already staked my reputation (ahem, for what it's worth) on a fresh new bet against my friend Ian for next year's Flying Monkey in November.  And while we're at it, I do have guaranteed entry in the NYCM for next year.

And the cycle of marathons continues.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Skyrise Chicago Sears or Willis or Something Tower Climb

On Sunday of this past weekend, I climbed the Sears Willis Tower.  I have trouble calling it by its new name.  
Let's pretend it says "Sears Tower," okay?
As you remember... because I keep repeating myself over and over again... because I'm proud of my little brother, I was doing this stair climb to accompany my brother.  He's recently lost 80lbs (HOLLA!) in large part due to some serious hours spent on the stairmill.  He flew to New York to stand in Brooklyn and hold a sign while I ran the marathon and we didn't even make it to Shake Shack after; I can climb the Sears Tower with him.
Who's Doug?
Somehow he conned me and two of his closest friends into doing it with him.
We bought a copy of this picture.
It's so delightfully fake.
I didn't train, at all.  My office is on the 4th floor at work, and I haven't taken the stairs in months.  I haven't been to the gym since the summer, and I don't even do any non-running cross-training.  Heck, I haven't even run up a hill since Mt. Washington.  I wasn't prepared.  Oh, sure, I told myself.  Your marathon glory will carry you up 103 flights of stairs.  Because that's how these things work, obviously.
Where is that glory? This is how I looked
from flights 2-103.
It was hard.  Like, really hard. I don't know how else to describe it.  A hot stairwell, full of sweaty people, and it just goes up and up and up.  I was dizzy and tired and I held my brother back.  He had trained to rock this race, and instead he had to give me 2100 stairs' worth of pep talks to coax me up another flight.

Of course, the reason to make it up to the top is for The Ledge.  The Ledge: a terrifying glass box that juts out from the side of the building and purports to be structurally sound and weight bearing, against all visual odds.  It's just freaky.  Seriously freaky.


First, I tried to scoot out on my butt.  That was scary.  Okay, what about on my back?

Still kind of scary.  I don't like to fly, though, either.  

I never got comfortable with it, but I did get to the point where I could stand out there, for team photos at least:

This is a real photo.  Not edited.
I wish I had more adjectives to use to describe this one, but (like Sarah pointed out), I'm over-raced right now and it's all a blur.  This race was disturbing.  But worth it.  That said, this is a race that will not make it onto my calendar again next year.  Let the more intrepid have it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It Gets Better

Tomorrow I'll bring you a recap of my latest, ridiculous stair climbing adventure, but in the meantime watch this video.

I know that the whole "It gets better" campaign is starting to feel like an inundation, but when you watch a touching video like this it really hits home.  Put together by the Front Runners New York.



And then go donate your time or money to the Trevor Project, if you're so inclined.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Post marathon running notes

Although I didn't really feel like my body needed it (or deserved it), I took four days off from running after that marathon.  On Friday, in Chicago, I did a quick 3m with my dad.  At least it felt quick; I'm not wearing my Garmin for the next few months, so I can't say for sure.  It actually felt kind of like I was floating.  Very, very easy miles.

On Saturday, I did just over 6m with my sister.  On Sunday she and I did 5m.  (Yes, with my sister.  Even though she's almost twice as fast as I am, she's big into doubles these days, so she squeezed in a recovery run with me.)  Those two runs were a little harder, but still nice.  It started raining about 4m into our Saturday run, which was refreshing (although cold).

My sister stopped to use the "bathroom" three times during that run.  We were on a well-traveled multi-use path in a very suburban area (the Prairie Path, if you're in/near Chitown) - she was mere feet from people's backyards.  Pretty weird.  The third time, just as she was about to drop her Nike shorts, I pointed out to her that she was quite literally in front of the door to the local Historical Museum.  With a bathroom inside.  Fewer than 10ft away.

She did take my suggestion of using the public bathroom, but the last thing she said as she ran through the door was, "Well, at least this gives you something to put in your blog!"

I would rather be able to report that my sister had learned sphincter control.  She wants me to share this (very disturbing) article about what the author calls "The Tao of Poo."  You've been warned.  NB: my sister was not about to win an Ironman during our 6m jaunt.  If there's cash on the line, I'm much more likely to say anything goes.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Totally self-serving bonus post

Kelly tagged me in some sort of thing in which people who have blogs cajole other people who have blogs into answering questions.  I don't really understand these things, but it's 2am and my cab to the airport will be here in 4 hours - so I'm not sleeping tonight, anyway.

Kelly, I'll answer your questions because I'm totally flattered to have been invited (and I'm also vain and narcissistic), but I have to warn you: I am where memes go to die.  I don't tag people.  So anyone who might be reading this, if you want to do something like it, pretend I tagged you.

Her questions and my answers:

1.  Favorite restaurant and why?  Lately my favorite restaurant is Ricardo Steakhouse in East Harlem because it's not very expensive, it's absolutely delicious, and they used to have a painting - an OIL PAINTING - of a na'vi on the wall.  It's like the artist said to himself, "I have this great idea for a painting, but I can't decide if it belongs on the side of a van or on a canvas.  Wait... I don't have a van."


Runner-up: the revolving restaurant at the top of the Grand Hyatt in Cairo.  Yum.

2.  What's at the top of your Christmas/Hanukkah list?  An 11" Macbook Air.  No contest.  That bitch is hot.  Are you paying attention, Santa?

3.  If you were given a free trip to anywhere in the world, where would you go?  Well, let's see now.  This question is tricky.  Just as some people try to run marathons in every state, I'm angling to join the traveler's century club.  Actually I'd probably not join, but I'd love to qualify.  I think I'm at 19 countries, some of which were just layovers (they count); I have my work cut out for me.  So, you see, there are lots of places I'd like to visit but haven't yet: southeast Asia, Finland, India, China.  I could go with a cop-out and say something like, "I'd get an around the world ticket!", but truthfully, I don't want that.  I could also say Egypt or Sweden (my two favorite countries, places I've been multiple times, and places I'm less inclined to use my limited travel budget toward since they don't get me an additional country).
Read this book!  It's really good!
But, if it's a free trip, I'd have to go with an atoll of some sort, either the Maldives or maybe Kiribati.  1) I can't afford to go there with my current salary, so free is good, and 2) there's a substantial chance that global warming will wipe them both off the map, and soon.  Maybe Kiribati, since they have cargo cults and that's awesome.  Anyone up for taking an imaginary free trip with me?

4.  Who is your favorite person in the whole world?  Ah-ha!  She didn't specify dead or alive, so I get to cheat and name Franklin Pierce.  My favorite president.

5.  What do you like most about blogging?  As dorky as this is, I've actually met a few seriously cool people through twitter and my blog (like Kelly, for instance!).  Other than that, I like procrastinating?  Sad but true.

Any other questions for me while I'm completely off-topic?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What's next?

YES, YES, YES there is a good and proper break in my future, one in which I will not only take time off from running, but I will feel no guilt about it.  In other words: my proposed trip to Egypt for the month of January is looking more and more likely.  That's three weeks without gym access.  I will use this time to think about what I get out of running, what I want out of running, and how I can make these two mesh.  

Hint: fewer races, and actually racing the ones I sign up for.

I'm also going to consider the marathon itself, and whether it's something I should continue to do or not.  I love running marathons.  I love identifying as a marathoner, and I love long distances.  But, let's face facts here: I suck at them.  I'm really, really truly not a good marathon runner.  Not right now, anyway.

I might consider focusing more on the Fun Size Marathon - you might know it by its old name, the "half marathon."  It's easier to fit a 10 or 13m long run into my schedule and I want to stick to a distance where I can have a strategy that moves beyond "just finish the race."

Because that's the thing, ultimately: seven marathons in, it's no longer enough to just finish.  Before I got sick, I was to the point where I could race the marathon.  Yes, this is only my third post-sickness marathon (and only the second one I've been remotely prepared for), but mentally I want to be racing and not just finishing.  I want to be walking backwards down stairs the next day instead of feeling, you know, a touch sore but nothing too bad.

I'm still registered for that small race in Tennessee, the Flying Monkey.  I still haven't officially taken it off the table.  I am prepared for it and registered for it, and eeking it out would earn me marathon maniac status (at the bronze level) - although at this point, I'm not sure that's something I even want anymore.  The Flying Monkey, though, is out of my hands: right now, direct flights are prohibitively expensive (upwards of $400) and connecting flights are terribly inconvenient (no affordable options leave Sunday evening, and the Monday morning options don't get me back to NYC in time for work).

Also?  This totally happened in front of my office yesterday.  An ambulance blew up and they evacuated our building because of it.


I'm on hiatus tomorrow, traveling to Chicago to climb the Sears Tower with my brother.  Maybe Monday, too.  I'll be back soon.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jesus Take the Wheel

Ryan Hall is now being coached by G-d.  Or something.  The language is a little awkward.

Seriously; read that.  What does it even mean?

I'm not knocking religion, but it sounds from his blog like Ryan Hall doesn't have a training plan any more.  He's letting the lord tell him what to do.

On a second read, it sounds more like what he's saying is that he's not going to commit his training plan to paper.  He'll still have a training plan (and he is a world-class athlete; I'm sure he could create a world-class training plan with no problem).  But he'll take it day-by-day, which allows flexibility.  Honestly, that doesn't sound unreasonable.

But I'll be very curious to see if this works for him or not.  Maybe I'm just jealous - I do a version of this training plan every day, wherein I listen to my instinct tell me what I should run that day.  My instinct isn't exactly what you would call "tough."

Also?  What a surprise.  I'm rethinking my marathon retirement, already.  And so is Haile Gebrselassie!  From twitter:


I'm still game for that reality show, though.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NYCM 2010 race report: are YOU faster than a Chilean miner?

The short version: I finished and I finished with a smile on my face.

Some people can do back-to-back marathons in short time frames with no problem.  These people also can measure their finish time with a watch and don't need the sundial like I do (seriously: one of my goals on Sunday was to finish before it got dark).

Chicago was a trainwreck.  After Chicago, I needed a break both emotionally and physically.  Ah, but I didn't have time for a break: Chicago was but a training run for NYCM four weeks later.  Ah ha ha, though: I took that break anyway, recording a record three runs in three weeks leading up to the NYCM.

My training for New York started strong.  But, as is wont to happen, as summer passed into early fall, I was forced to re-evaluate my goals.  Originally, I was aiming for sub-5 hours, thinking that maybe 4:45 was possible on a good day.  By the end, I had downgraded my goals to "have a better time than I did in Chicago."  Given that, I met my goal.

This girl is actually enjoying herself.
She is also dressed like Rainbow Brite, inexplicably,
minus horse and thing-on-back-of-horse.
I'll cut to the chase: I finished in 5:40:xx, beating the Chilean miner by a matter of seconds but getting whooped by Jared from Subway.  (My brother says that he cheated, though, because he took the Subway.  Get it?  Get it?  It's a pun.)

I started the day meeting up with Sara to share a cab down to the Staten Island ferry.  The cab driver asked me, genuinely, if I was going to win, and insisted that I might surprise myself when I told him emphatically no.  I offered to split the prize money with him if I won.  Needless to say, neither of us is any richer today.

Sara and I were early, so we camped out at the ferry dock before taking a 7am ferry.  We were herded onto buses once we got to SI and then funneled into Ft. Wadsworth.  I know it's a logistical nightmare to get 45,000 runners to Staten Island by 9am, but I felt like this part of the morning was a little stressful.  I was prepared for the cold with a Snuggie, courtesy of my friend Kate.  I got a whole bunch of encouraging text messages from my friends Ian and Mike and Nicole and David, which just served to make me more excited.  If that was possible.

6:30am and the Staten Island ferry - not
my best look.
Miraculously, I even found Christel at Ft. Wadsworth.  She was all smiles and excitement and looked like she was ready for the catwalk, whereas I was wearing a pink Snuggie.  We chatted, used the port-a-potties, ate our breakfasts, compared our fashion plate outfits, and hustled to our corral (we were in the same one).  Again, I'm not sure how this system could have been improved, but it was a frustrating game of hurry-up-and-wait.  There was a constant cacophony of instructions in several different languages, making it all confusing and meaningless.

This was funny: Christel is Dutch.  She said that people would recognize that and cheer for her.  I said, "How will they know you're Dutch?"  She said, "I'm wearing an orange shirt!"  I said, "But ING's colors are orange, and thus the marathon's colors are orange!  Fred's Team wears orange!  Even I'm wearing an orange shirt!"  Moments later, a guy approached her and began speaking Dutch to her.  She was right; somehow he knew.  It's like they could smell Holland on each other.  Not sure what that would smell like and I'm going to avoid stereotyping (marijuana and the red-light district?).

At 9:40, we watched the first wave begin to stream over the bridge.  The bridge looked really, really high, but the excitement in the air was palpable.  10:10am, the gun went off and we were headed onto the Verrazano.  And it began!  I was meeting up with my brother at mile 8 - I've never, ever, ever had a sign made for me for a race, but my friend Renee rectified that with a kick-ass sign.

My brother anxiously awaiting my arrival.
People talk about the cheering at NYCM, and I had scoffed off their comments.  I mean, I've run Chicago three times; I get the idea of crowd support.  HOLY CRAP WAS I WRONG.  I have never seen anything like this.  The crowds were insane.  Miles 0-8 seriously flew by.  I was carrying my beloved Kona cola flavored Nuun in a throwaway bottle so I barely stopped for water and otherwise just enjoyed myself.  Perfect weather, great day, amazing crowds.  I was meeting Renee and Poochie (my brother) in Brooklyn - and yet somehow we missed each other.  I turned around when I realized that and double-backed for a bit before finding them.  Good thing, as Renee jumped in the course and ran a few miles with me. (I know, I know, I know; I have the same conflicted feeling about bandits that you do.  She didn't take any aid and was extremely conscientious of other people's races.)

Queensborough Bridge. I highly recommend
this locale if you're into badly lit photos.
From that point on, I realized that I was, miraculously, having a good time, despite my ambivalence toward running since the Chicago Marathon.  So I went with it.  We ran, albeit slowly.  We walked some, especially the hills.  We planned for next year, when Renee will run her first marathon.  I was taking it easy and I knew it, but all of my time goals were out the window and I really just needed to enjoy it.

I had a few other friends on the course at different points in Manhattan and the Bronx - I only saw one of them, but it was perfectly timed.  I'd just started getting cranky at mile 20 when I saw David, in the Bronx.  He brought me pretzels and a banana and just overall rocked.

I made it up Fifth Avenue, running some and walking some, and into the park.  My friend Ian texted me at some point, and I answered with one poignant word: "suck."  Sure, the last two miles were hard, but that's a marathon, folks.  I finished, got my medal, got my mylar, got my Gatorade Recovery Drink (I call this beverage "miracle"), and... stalled.  What a terrible, terrible finish chute.  There was no way to exit the park without walking past the UPS trucks/baggage pick up, and the crowd of thousands of runners was not moving.  It took me 30 minutes to walk less than half a mile.  30 painful, cold, claustrophobic, intense minutes of tensing up.  That was a mess-up.

A short subway ride later I was home and happy.  An hour or so after that, I was at the Upright Citizens Brigade with a Heineken in hand to watch Horatio Sanz and several stars of 30 Rock do improv.  The guy sitting behind me was a Britisher who had also run the marathon.  He said that, by virtue of finishing, we'd both beaten Haile Gebrselassie (a world record holder!) since Gebrselassie didn't finish.

So many of my friends ran this race (and also, in our own way, beat a world record holder).  In particular, be sure to congratulate Kelly on her awesome race - such a long time coming - and my blogless training friend Mike on his excellent debut marathon!

Monday, November 8, 2010

To be continued...

I'll have a full and proper report tomorrow, once I've seen my brother off onto the airplane, eaten both of my Crumbs cupcakes, and gotten through the backlog of work I've built up over the last eight weeks (or so) that I haven't been able to do because of the mental energies used in marathon training.

Suffice it (for now) to say that I earned marathon medal #7, the hard way (aka the usual way, by running the whole damn thing).  This was my 4th best marathon, of 7 marathons.  Incidentally, this was my 4th worst marathon.  Glass is half-empty, or half full?

In the meantime, while you wait anxiously for my race report, I have an announcement:

I, like Haile Gebrselassie, am taking this opportunity to declare my retirement from the marathon.

One of us is arguably the best distance runner in the world, both middle and long distance.  The other of us is inarguably of mediocre abilities.  Both of us have expressed our frustration with the marathon.  Gebrselassie said today, in the NYTimes, "I never think about retiring.  For the first time, this is the day.  Let me stop and do other work after this.  Let me do other jobs."  I emailed a friend after the race with, "I think I'm retiring from marathoning to find something I'm actually competent at."  I hadn't yet heard about Gebrselassie's announcement, and yet we were already living parallel lives.  I would at this point suggest a reality show starring the two of us as we try to find other things to do with our free time.  We could live in a house on the beach somewhere.  It would be zany.


Of course, just as I hope that Gebrselassie changes his mind about his retirement, I, too, reserve the right to change my mind.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The haul: NYCM 2010 edition

My mood picked up slightly yesterday afternoon, after I came into contact with this:


I know, I know, I've sworn that I wouldn't bog you down with pictures of food.

But this - this! - this isn't food.  That's not to say that it's so divine that it transcends food.  No.  Quite literally, I'm not sure that this is actually food.  NPR called it particlemeat.

This, in case you didn't recognize it, is a McRib.  Deliciousness.  The stuff of legend.  And now available at every McDonald's, nation-wide, for a limited time only.  Judging from the fact that literally every person I heard order or saw eating during my 10 minutes at McDonald's ordered a McRib, it's a hit.

So, post-lunch, I hit up the expo.

Myself and Majo at the expo. With a ramotaur.
I don't get it either.
What did I get?

Free stuff, from my race packet, first.  Well, almost free stuff.  Sort of free stuff that I paid $135 for the privilege of receiving.


Contents, in sort of clockwise from upper left:
-bib (GO GREEN WAVE #2!!!)
-magazine (still working on the official handbook... hopefully I can get to this one before next year's race)
-Timex fridge magnet (to record my crummy time)
-one bottle Poland Spring, one bottle Gatorade (I was like, "Awesome! This bag is so heavy and full of great stuff!!... oh, wait, that's all just water and gatorade...")
-crummy bag from the Hospital for Special Surgery (that I will be throwing out promptly)
-pamphlets and other advertising (that I will be throwing out promptly)
-long sleeved race shirt (not too sure on the design - not the ugliest, not the prettiest)
-neon slap bracelet-cum-ruler
-an inexplicably large number of nasal strips (12 of them)
-potato chips and "breakfast on the go" (packaged by someone who thinks that breakfast can fit into a mini-pack - silly, silly)
-all on top of a gear check bag.  That I won't be using, because that's not how I roll.  NO BAG CHECK FOR ME, SUCKERS!!!  Slow your roll, peeps, I'm headed RIGHT to Shake Shack when I finish my race.  No UPS trucks for me.

Next, things I purchased with my own hard-earned money.  Roughly as expensive.


-NYCM 2010 pint glass
-Asics ridiculously expensive "Hell & Back" t-shirt
-two pairs of 5-borough gloves, in black and mauve (very tempted to go back for the other two colors...)
-Brooks Nightlife reflective headband, so no cars will hit me if I run in the dark

Now I'm totally ready, right?

If you're looking to cyberstalk me, it's bib #40728.  Settle in for a long day at your computer, though, because I intend to be slooooow.

If you're looking to real-life stalk me, I start in wave 2 (sometime after 10:10am) and I'm aiming for somewhere in between a 5 hour and a 6 hour marathon.  That's real specific, no?  I'm trying to be realistic here.  I'll be wearing a purple skirt, an orange t-shirt, hot pink arm warmers, a white baseball cap, black compression socks, and a pained expression, not unlike this get up:


Minus the water bottle and the iphone on my arm.  I might add a bright blue vest if I'm feeling chilly that morning.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

IT'S ALMOST SHOWTIME!!!

My enthusiasm is not where it should be for this race.

When I got my Official Race Program, I shoved it into the bathroom with the other magazines and barely looked at it.  (Oh, like you don't have magazines in your bathroom, riiiiiiight.)  I still haven't decided what to wear race day, and part of the reason I haven't decided is due to the fact that I haven't consulted the weather.

If you're hoping to see me on the course?  I also can't give you a reasonable approximation of when I expect to be where.  Because I haven't done any of the calculations.  Let me know, though, and I'll totally get on that.  Yep.  Totally.  One of these days.

My brother's coming in town tonight to watch me run.  I haven't even given any thought to where he should wait to see me.  I told him to not bother with the finish; I'd meet him back at my apartment.  I'm more excited about ASSSSCAT 3000 and Ricardo Steak House than I am about seeing the finish line in Central Park.

The expo?  Yeah, I'll go this afternoon.  I'll probably spend too much money.  And if that doesn't help, I don't know what will.

What is wrong with me?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cheating.

What's cheating, and what's not cheating?  Who decides?

Hellebuyck on the right, his alleged
dealer (Leonid Shvetsov) on the left.
Not an optical illusion - EH is short.
By now, if you follow running news, you've surely heard the tale of Eddy Hellebuyck.  Through the '80s and into the '90s, Hellebuyck was a consistent (if not world record setting) marathoner.  By the time he hit the masters level, his times - and his motivation - had slowed some.  Accused of using performance enhancing drugs after a test came back positive, he denied the allegations for years.  He maintained his innocence until recently, when he finally confessed to a journalist that he had indeed illegally injected himself with synthetic EPO.

I took a few things from this story: one, Eddy Hellebuyck doesn't seem like a very nice person; two, the lack of publicity to blood doping in distance running (unlike in cycling) does not mean that it doesn't happen; three, if you're hiring the same lawyer that defended Floyd Landis and Marion Jones, you're probably guilty; and four, athletes will do anything to get an edge in terms of performance.

There's no way to inject a syringe full of god-knows-what into your arm without knowing you're cheating. That's a certainty.  But for most of us, the stakes are lower and so are the performance-enhancing methods we would be willing to try.

When I was home in May, ready to race against my dad in the Soldier Field 10m run, my dad was seriously afraid of losing to me.  As such, he swallowed down a 5-Hour Energy drink right before the race start and had his best run in ages.  Now, he takes a 5-hour energy drink before almost any run.  It's not illegal at all (it's mostly caffeine), but it's still a substance taken solely for the purpose of giving my dad an edge: a benefit he ideally could have gotten from consistent training.  A cheat, if you will.

I'm not trying to accuse my dad of cheating through a passive-aggressive blog (that he doesn't even read).  I'm just wondering, what else fits into this nebulous category of things we non-elites do to improve our performance when our physical training has failed.  Any thoughts?

Also, today is election day.  Don't forget to vote!  (If you are eligible to vote and are so inclined, that is.)

Monday, November 1, 2010

White Mountain Milers Half Marathon race report

I'll keep this one short, and illustrated.

Me at the Pierce Manse, in Concord
I love New Hampshire.  I love the White Mountains, I love Concord, I love Franklin Pierce.  The weather in New Hampshire in the fall, while cause for consternation if you're me and haven't run in the cold in months and you didn't pack appropriate clothing, is gorgeous and crisp and the leaves are orange and beautiful and the people are nice.

Believe it or not, that's a cat I'm holding. My friend
Adrienne travels with her giant cat. What of it?
The course?  If the group hosting the race is called the "White Mountain Milers," their idea of a "flat and fast" course might be different from your idea.  I would have called the course "mostly flat," or "flat with a few gentle hills."  It was an out-and-back on a country road with horses and woods.  The roads weren't closed, but the police and the race organizers kept the cars from interfering.

This was an out and back course. Intriguing then that
the second half was hillier. Hm.
How did I do, given that I'm in a pretty bad rut?  I had a little bit of an epiphany while I was out there.  One of those moments you get every now and then, when you're reminded of why you run.  Running up there was so different, and calm, and peaceful, and serene.

I don't feel this same sort of relaxation running in New York, or at least not often.  A lot of it is in my head, but running in New York to me feels competitive instead of relaxed.  Point in case: each of the water stops at this race was manned by a dozen or so volunteers: adults handing out water, making eye contact, and giving us motivation ("Dig deep, you've got this, you're doing an amazing job").  Also at each water stop were high school kids shaking milk jugs stuffed with rocks while yelling their fool heads off.  There was more crowd noise and enthusiasm at this local, 500 person rural race than I've ever experienced in a New York race (I know the marathon will be an exception).

Walkers started before the runners. That's totally why the
guy behind me is walking. Not because I was slow. Right.
That said, it was physically hard.  Very hard.  From my really whiny post last week about my running rut, two particular comments caught my eye: Judy suggested it could be my anemia (I've struggled with low ferritin in the past, and at my last doctor's visit she confirmed that this has led to anemia) and Sarah suggested that I'm doing too many meaningless races and need to scale it back a bit.  The former I can fix with a cast-iron skillet and some iron pills.  The latter is a deeper and more personal issue that I've realized my blog is not going to cure.  I love every single one of you, my five or six readers, but you're way too positive!  I need to have some harsh and honest words with myself about why I run/race, what I expect to get out of it, and what's realistic for me as I finish up this "racing" cycle and move into the new year.

All photos courtesy of my friend Adrienne, who is (as of yesterday) awaiting being sworn in to not one but TWO states' bars.