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, December 28, 2010

Snowpocalypse 2010

I'm alive, I'm tired, and I'm not in New York.  And I won't be in New York until Thursday.  It's a veritable snowsaster.

O'Hare was more calm than I expected when I got there at 8am this morning.  It was beginning to get rowdy around 3pm when I left.  I had been waiting to try to get onto a 2pm flight standby (I was 54th in the standby line - yes, you read that right).  They canceled the 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, and 5pm flights simultaneously, and I took that as my cue to leave the airport.  And buy myself some bubble bath.

December 2010 Blizzard Timelapse from Michael Black on Vimeo.

Before she got on her evening flight to Philly, I was seriously considering driving back with Susan today.

I actually saw a woman running in the airport.  Just as I thought to myself, "Good idea? or terrible idea?" I realized that she was racing to catch a flight.

And you know what the worst part is?  I can't even do Mark Remy's Chicago run because I'm at the airport.  LAME.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Do you know what it's like to be tortured?

I don't, not really.  Not like these wax figures at the Museum of the Inquisition in Lima.

But still, I feel like I'm being tortured right now.  I haven't run this entire Christmas holiday.

Just maybe a week or so ago, I got an email from a friend asking if I knew anything about stabilicers.  Ha ha ha! I said.  I've never been in a position where I couldn't run because of snow or ice!

Serves you right, Tracy.  Idiot.

Promptly thereafter, I left for my Christmas holiday with my family in Chicago.  Wouldn't you know, I didn't even bring any indoor running clothes - that's how confident I was that I would be running outside every day while I was home.  I mean, I love cold weather running!  It's Chicago! In December! What could possibly go wrong?  And then, this whole weekend, a combination of snow, ice, sickness, and family parties have conspired to keep me indoors.

I did run.  Once this weekend.  I ran on the treadmill.  It was miserable.  I hated every second of it.  I emailed a friend afterwards and said, "Given the choice of running on a treadmill or not running, I should skip the run - every time."  It was that bad.

And then, to add insult to injury, Snowmageddon 2010 hit the east coast and I got trapped in Chicago.  I'm still here right now, losing faith that my plane will be taking off as scheduled.  I should have been back in New York a full day ago.  And counting....

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy holidays!

It's Christmas Eve!!  And you're reading a running blog?  Go out, take advantage of last minute sales, eat some more holiday cookies, spend time with your family!  Actually, given that list of choices, I think I will go read some running blogs, too.  I'm over the shopping, the excessive food, and (frankly) some members of my family already.  (Just kidding, family!)  I think I'll go running instead.

I'm celebrating and traveling over the next few days - and, of course, running (it's basically a holiday tradition around here).  In the meantime, I'd suggest you check out Sara's blog, in which she is spending the next few days (the last days of the year) counting down the top 10 moments in running this year.  Sara is a journalist.  She recently wrote this article, in fact, as part of a series for Smart Money (the article is intended for lay people, so chance are good it won't tell you anything you don't already know - but it's interesting nonetheless).

Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to head out for a run.  Watch for black ice if you're about to do the same.

And - happy holidays.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ted Corbitt 15k race report

Yeah, I did it.  I ran another race this weekend.  After swearing them off, I spontaneously registered on Saturday for Sunday's 15k.  For a few reasons: a bunch of people were going out to brunch after, and I wanted to; I was afraid I would sleep in this weekend instead of running; and I wanted to see where my fitness was.  I had no real goals for the race besides some vague notion of "giving it my all," whatever that means.

But first, a midnight freak out.  What to wear to the race?  The weather was predicted to be 30-32, overcast, with little to no wind.  I've been running for more than a decade, but all of a sudden my mind went blank.  I know my cut-off for shorts is ~40 degrees, but what happens below that?  That's freezing!  I should be wearing pants.  And a jacket.  And a long sleeved shirt.  And a buff.  And gloves.  And an ear cover.  And... and... and...  Runner's World's Dress the Runner site wasn't helping at all.  I realized: it was anxiety!  Good old fashioned race anxiety!

There has never, ever been a good picture
of me in running clothes.
As you can see, I decided on: a hat, ear coverings, a buff around my neck, a long sleeved t-shirt, a short sleeved t-shirt, a jacket, and my skapri (skirt over capris).  I lost the gloves, the ear covering, and the buff about a mile in.  Otherwise I was fine - like I knew I would be.

These two women, on the other hand, are lovely.
At the start, I met up with my friends Sara and Lauren.  It was good company at the start.

How did the race itself go?  A few things:

  • I hate Central Park.  Seriously.  I'm bored of it, and the hills are okay in training and sucky in races.  My splits were uneven - go figure, the slower splits corresponded with the miles with the worst hills.
  • A 15k is 9.3m, not 9.6m.  I don't need to tell you this, because you know this.  So do I.  However, at about mile 8, shortly after I'd given up on any time goal, I realized that my addled mind had decided that the race was 9.6m.  This was annoying, because...
  • I came amazingly, painfully, desperately close to a sub-10 minute mile.  My official finish was 1:34:01, for a 10:06 average.  I could easily have taken a minute off my time by not walking Cat Hill th second time around.

OMG was the race actually 9.42m??  Call the USATF!
Just kidding.
I know I should be happy, and ultimately I am.  But so close.  It's one thing if you take a race easy and aren't satisfied with how you did.  But I was trying this time.  Just not hard enough.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I have a race report from the 15k I did on Sunday almost ready, but in the meantime, here is a follow-up to the Hellebuyck doping scandal that you should read if you haven't already.  Is that messed up, or what?

Or how about Boston maybe adjusting their qualifying standards in wake of this year's registration nuttiness?

And then, after you've read that, do me a favor and go over to Sarah's blog and leave a comment.  She has offered to donate $1 per comment to charity.

And now, since I'm traveling home for the holidays today and can't be bothered to write anything of substance, I offer instead a random picture of me with Ice-T on the day they filmed Law & Order: SVU on my block.

He's obviously done this before. I look way too excited.
And also like I'd just spent the past 36 hours chained to my
desk, writing a conference paper.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Je tiens l'affaire!*

I've discovered the secret to running faster!

Would you like to know it?  I'll share it with you!

Here it is:


Yeah.  After a decade of running, it turns out that the key to running faster is, well, running faster.

I know I don't push myself hard enough when it comes to running.  I like to run for the sake of running.  I like to be outside and to break a sweat and to, well, run.  But I'd like to run faster.  Over the past couple of weeks I've discovered that I could run faster by just doing it.

Yeah.  For me, it's that simple.  You see, I'm slow - but I'm also lazy.

I've been reading too many race reports where people fought actual physical symptoms like wanting to vomit during their races.  I don't have that.  Instead, I have feelings like tired, whiny-tired, and I-really-want-to-stop-waaaah-whiny-tired.

That no longer goes.  I will push myself from now on.  I will try harder.  No more long walk breaks mid-run.  No more holding onto the pace in my pace runs for a mile and pretending like that's something.  No more making excuses to avoid speedwork ("but it's so pretty out! why stay at the track when I can run along a river").  There's a time and a place for an easy run, but that's not every day, week-in and week-out.

Sometimes, the most obvious solution is the best solution.  Tomorrow I'll show you how I put this into action.

*For those of you non-Egyptophiles, "je tiens l'affaire" is what Jean-François Champollion said on 14 September 1822 when he discovered the missing key to the decipherment of hieroglyphs.  The French Champollion was in a race against a Britisher, Thomas Young, to become the first to translate the ancient Egyptian language.  The legend is that he stayed up all hours, for weeks on end, attempting to crack the code and to understand the language.  When he finally put it together, he rushed into his brother's office, shouted, "Je tiens l'affaire!" (roughly, "I've got it!") and promptly passed out, spending the next several days in bed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'd like to thank the Academy...

It's an honor to just be tagged!  The Angry Runner is doing one of those question things.  She tagged me.  I'm so flattered.  Without further ado, the LONGEST POST EVER:

1.  Name one movie you'd never watch again even if someone paid you.
Here's the thing: I have a crummy memory, especially for bad movies.  There are some that I'd prefer not to see again: like the Blair Witch Project, because it made me motion sick.  Or Maid in Manhattan, which I've seen way too many times thanks to repetitive cable.

However, I have a memory somewhere between that of a goldfish and a gnat, so I'm going to say "(500) Days of Summer" since I just saw a preview for it that reminded me how much I hated it.  I know that most of you are going to say "Oh, I thought it was so cute!" but you're wrong.  It was overly twee, super cliché, and most of all hugely problematic, even down to the stupid parentheses in the title.  The one promising, strong female lead in a romantic comedy turned out the same as all other women at the end: of course all she wanted out of life was to be married!  What else might a woman want out of life?

While I'm telling you how much I hated movies you liked, I also thought Juno was stupid.  Because real teen pregnancy doesn't involve looking adorable the whole time, having the support of your family and friends (minus one 2-minute scene where you complain, for like a second), and then heading off into the sunset with your babydaddy-cum-boyfriend once the birth and adoption have become nothing more than a fond memory for you.

Either one of those movies or "2 Girls 1 Cup."  Do viral internet videos count?  (NB: if you are not already familiar with this internet "sensation," do NOT I repeat DO NOT watch it.  Seriously.  I am NOT joking.  Do NOT watch it. And don't be mad at me if you do watch it and are upset after.)

2.  Name 5 fictional characters you want to have dinner with.  And TELL ME WHY.
I had a lot of trouble with this question, and I don't stand behind my answers entirely.

     1.  The Angry Runner herself.  Because I don't believe she actually exists in real life, and she seems supercool.
     2.  Sebastian Valmont in Cruel Intentions.  Because he's played by Ryan Phillippe, and his character is a total cad so he'd probably try to sleep with me, and Ryan Phillippe's superhot.  Actually, I'm kind of tempted to name Ryan Phillippe's characters in other movies as my #3-5.  Come on - he was hot in Gosford Park, right? And Stop-Loss?  Did I mention Stop-Loss?
     3.  Ed Harris' character in the Third Miracle (movie, not book).  Because he had such an interesting job. And seemed like an interesting person, too.
     4.  Nemtynakht, the protagonist from the ancient Egyptian tale of the Eloquent Peasant.  The story is boring as all get-out, but I love the bad-guy way that Nemtynakht rolls.
     5.  Good King Wenceslas.  For his funny name and the fact that he seems like a nice guy.  And also, he talks funny, so it would be nice to have someone there to say things like, "Hither page and stand by me, if thou knowst be telling/yonder peasant who is he" when he means "Come here/give me the 411 on that dude."  Plus, he could bring the flesh and the wine.

3.  Give me a race on your "must do" list.
Pikes Peak.  I don't really have any desire to do the full - the downhill sounds like sheer hell.  But I want to do the Ascent, badly.

4.  Any races you've done that you will never ever do again?  Why?
I'm still not over this year's Chicago Marathon.  There are other fall races with better courses, better corral organization, and less volatile weather.  But I wouldn't say never.  Honestly, there haven't been any races yet that I would absolutely say I wouldn't do ever again.  There have been a bunch that I'm indifferent toward.  Maybe the NYC Half Marathon, because $90 is too high of a price to pay to run around Central Park and anyway, I did it last year.

5.  Cake vs. Pie: Your pick?

I'm what some would call a glutton.  I like food, and lots of it.  This is part of the reason why I run - because I would be a crazy fatty if I didn't.  (Oh, also I love it, but I would be crazy fat if I didn't run.)  I'm not as keen on desserts as I am on meat, so understand that while I'm eating the cake-pie I'm secretly wishing I had a giant steak in front of me instead.  I don't like pecan pie, but other than that, bring it on.

6.  Last meal - what would it be? AND YOU ARE ON DEATH ROW SO MAKE IT CREATIVE.
This is tricky.  As you probably know, you can request whatever you want, but you'll get what they have on hand.  You ask for crab legs; you get fish sticks.  Etcetera.  But I would guess that the gist of the question is what I would want, not what I would get.  I'm in a raunchy mood and I'm kind of tempted to say something gross like asparagus and beets in case it ends up being true that one does, um, void themselves upon being electrocuted.

Honestly, I'm more wondering what I did to end up on death row.

But, I would want barbecue ribs (WET not dry), macaroni bechamel (as in, the Egyptian street food - macaroni, bechamel, and ground water buffalo), freshly made guacamole, McDonald's cheeseburgers, some charcuterie, a bottle of Moscato, and some Dairy Queen blizzards: banana split, french silk pie, and banana cream pie.  And also thin mint.  Never mind that thin mint is a seasonal flavor - I'm on death row, they can make a thin mint blizzard for me, dammit.

7.  Favorite book to movie adaptation ever? Least favorite?
Okay, this is a tough one.  On one hand, I'm a huge fan of the movie Rules of Attraction, and the book is terrible terrible terrible.  I also really love Cruel Intentions (although, if you haven't read Les Liasons Dangereuses, GO and read it NOW - epistolary fiction at its finest).  But, that said, Silence of the Lambs is my favorite movie of all time, and the book isn't very good.  So, best book to movie adaptation.

Btw: I have it on good authority (from someone who's been there) that there is a REAL LIFE ANIMATRONIC Anthony Hopkins/Hannibal Lecter mannequin that SPEAKS in the Behavioral Sciences section of the FBI headquarters at Quantico.  And they actually did film the movie largely at Quantico.  I must see that someday.

Worst?  Too many to choose from.

Are you seriously still reading?  You're almost at the end.  Unfortunately, as we've gone over before, I am where memes go to die.  So I'm not going to tag anyone. Plus, the Angry Runner tagged my current favorite running bloggers.  If you have a burning desire to answer questions I put forth, let me know and I'll write questions for you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I don't have anything to say.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that those of you who know me in real life will find that absolutely impossible to believe.

But it's true.

I'm completely inundated at work; truly one of those hellish periods that luckily only come around, oh, once a semester.  I'm having enough trouble keeping on top of my work and running.  I absolutely can't come up with anything interesting to say about running for the time being.

Let me put it this way: my last issue of Running Times has been sitting, untouched and unread, in a stack of magazines and unimportant junk mail for more than two weeks.  And you know how much I love me some Running Times.

Point being: I'll be back in a few days when I have something to say again.

I'm okay.

But until then, you'll have to keep waiting.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blah blah blah, yeah it's cold or something

I showed this cartoon to my friend Wendy and she didn't think it was funny. I explained to her: it's about sleeping
inside a dead deer for warmth, which is inherently funny, and then it also involves a dance-off: also funny.
She still didn't get it, and I'm forced to concede that one of my closest friends has no sense of humor.  Source.

About a week or so ago, as most of you know, the east coast was hit with a cold front.  Nothing inappropriate for December, but it felt much worse than it was after a relatively mild fall.  Today's supposed to be in the 20s.  It even snowed a little last night.

Suddenly last week, my twitter feed was on high alert.  Everyone and their mother had some comment on running tights, on long socks that would keep your ankles warm, on fleecy hats that could accommodate headphones.

I don't know; maybe I naturally run hotter than most people, but I don't really make that big of a deal of cold weather clothes.  I can't stand to have my head fully covered by a hat in the winter, for instance (odd, since I wear hats all summer).  Usually the most clothing I'll wear is a lightweight long sleeved t-shirt under a running jacket.  When I first started running, cold weather meant an extra cotton sweatshirt.  Slowly I transitioned to expensive technical gear.  It was huge for me when I bought my very first pair of running tights.  Ten years later, I still have them.  I just wore them Saturday, in fact.  They're Asics.

Running in the cold is awesome because you can't lollygag.  Stop for more than a moment to walk and you'll be cold.  You have to keep running to keep warm.  Plus, the runner's smug is in full effect.  Running in the cold is just badass.  "Yeah, it's cold out," you can tell your coworkers.  "I cut my 7m run down to 5m because the wind kept blasting the snow into my face."

Speaking of feeling smug, I'm going to go out running now.  This is the worst time of year at work, and I need at least that little bit of my day to go right.

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Jersey?

When I lived in Philly a few years ago, I had an amazing apartment in an excellent location right near Rittenhouse Square.  How I loved that apartment!  Until - until - they put in a new bar on my block and simultaneously banned smoking in bars.  Suddenly, every weekend, I would sit in my living room and hear the sounds of drunken idiots yelling at each other as they overtook the sidewalk to smoke.  Invariably these drunken idiots all had south Jersey accents.

Moving to New York didn't do anything to help my feelings for people from New Jersey.  However, I had an experience this weekend that may have.

On Saturday, I was due for a longer run.  It'd been three weeks since I last ran a marathon - time to get myself in gear.  Somehow, unbelievably, I managed to con a friend into taking the train down from Connecticut to run in the city with me.  (Okay, it's not really a con so much as a promise that I'll go up to Stamford later to do a long run or two with him as he prepares for his first marathon.)

I had canceled plans at the last minute last weekend to run over the GWB with my friend Mike, so this weekend, I suggested that Aron and I do the same.  We were aiming for about 10m, so we figured we'd cross over, see what was in New Jersey, and then turn around and make up mileage along the Hudson River if we needed to.
Aron with the GWB in the background
Well.  Well.  Well.  We didn't need to make up any miles in Manhattan at the end of the run.  In fact, as it turns out, we could have run for miles and miles.  Those of you who already know that I ended up in the Palisades are probably laughing at my naivete.

How gorgeous!  How lovely!  Running downhill from the GWB, we followed a road down to a park at the base of the river.  From there, we admired the view for a bit, and then we found some stairs.  What else to do besides climb them?

Between stopping to take photographs, stairs,
and the fact that I'm lazy, one of our miles
took us a whopping 28 minutes.

Let me tell you the best part of the run: Aron asked me if I'd lost weight since the last time he saw me, over the summer.  I don't really have any idea if I have or not, but I do know that Aron is now my new best friend for saying that, and also I will never wear any other pants to run besides the ones I was wearing today.

Friday, December 10, 2010

WARNING: Viewer discretion advised

I told you I would and I did: I ran yesterday.  And it was amazing.  In fact, I just might do it again today and tomorrow, it was so nice.

The part of Manhattan where I run (just south of the George Washington Bridge along the Hudson River) is lovely.  Because my schedule has some flexibility, I tend not to run during times of day when it's crowded with commuters or other exercisers, so it's a very peaceful and serene place to run.

My running path yesterday afternoon.
Inviting, don't you think?
Except for one thing: Rats.  Literal rats.

Usually this is no big deal.  It's hard to tell a scurrying squirrel apart from a rat in the bushes.  However, there is one thing that sets the squirrels apart from the rats, and that is that rats are evidently stupid.  I'm basing that on the sheer number of rats I see looking something like this:

If you think this rat is gross, you should see the ones
in the subway.
Squirrels know how to cross the path.  Squirrels instinctively avoid people.  Rats, they'll cross in front of you.  And - worse for them - they don't seem to get that bike wheels will kill them.

There are fewer of them, now that the weather has turned cold (and also now that there are fewer bikes out on the path - which reminds me: cyclists, seriously? Man up. Get some cold weather gear, a balaclava, some good gloves, and keep on riding).  During the summer, I'm not sure there was a single run wherein I didn't see at least one dead rat.  To the credit of the park service, often the dead rats I see when I head out on my run are gone by the time I head back.  I think they have a group of employees whose sole job it must be to pick up dead rats.

Pretty gross, no?  Still, I'd take a rat any day over a roach.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I haven't run in two weeks.

I could give you all sorts of excuses: I'm getting over the marathons! It's that point in the semester where I'm not even sleeping, let alone eating!  It's too cold for shorts, but I couldn't find my tights!

Truth be told, I've wanted to run, but I just haven't.  And I've been okay with that.

But that ends today.  Today, I'm going running.  I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Now it's officially Christmas time

A friend of mine asked me the other day what my Christmas traditions were.

I realized: I have none.  Literally none.  My family has some, but me, the adult Tracy, has no traditions that are independent of my childhood.

So I got a Christmas tree.  And I decorated it.  With race medals.  It still needs lights, but it's a start.  And it's something to do with all of my medals!

Don't make fun of me.  I happen to know for fact that I am not the only Christmas running dork out there.

I might have been raised in the UCC, but I'm equal opportunity when it comes to celebrating holidays, especially those associated with food.  Here's a photo from a latke party I went to over the weekend.  Would you believe that I'd never had a latke before?

I didn't run this past weekend.  That may - MAY - have been related to the fact that I left Brooklyn (where the latke party was being held) at a reasonable hour Saturday night.  I remember dozing off on the subway, but I don't remember how I got my sleeping bag down from a high shelf before collapsing into it on the couch.  I'm sure I was just tired and not drunk, but the bottles of wine on the table suggest that the two aren't mutually exclusive.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Is your partner a runner? Does it matter?

Yesterday morning, I was indulging one of my favorite Sunday/Monday traditions and was reading the NYTimes' wedding announcements.  As someone who really doesn't care for marriage or weddings, I have no idea why I do this.  A few times I've seen people I know (that's what happens when you go to a snooty college for undergrad), but mostly it's just voyeuristic pleasure.

The lead story this week caught my attention: it celebrated the marriage of two competitive runners.  He was All-American at Stanford; she was All-American at Yale, an Olympian (10k in Athens), and took 3rd in Chicago in 2007.

This got me thinking: Is it important to you that you date/marry a runner?  Or is it enough that they just understand that you run?  Would you want your partner to be someone that you could actually run with?  Lots of questions, I know, but I'm genuinely curious.

For the most part, the men I've dated have been supportive non-runners.  One boyfriend ran a marathon, sort of.  He did all of his training on the treadmill at the gym after work and had a miserable race.  Another boyfriend was actively not supportive, cajoling me to turn my alarm off in the mornings and skip my runs (that wasn't the only way in which he was annoying, and how that lasted four years is one of life's mysteries).  One of my good friends/training partners often runs with her husband - in fact, I've run with her husband a few times.  None of my boyfriends have ever been that supportive.

So I guess, for me, I would say that it's important that my partner be supportive.  I'd love someone that I could run with, but day-in/day-out that might get kind of old.  Or worse: competitive.

Of course, I'm still looking forward to the Times' announcement that features one of these:

Actually, no, I'm not.  I don't see the appeal to getting married mid-race. At all.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Also? You look really weird.

I've decided to take a stand on barefoot running.

I think barefoot runners are largely self-righteous douchebags.  Not all of them by any means, but many of them.  I'm basing that mostly on my understanding of the Runner's World web forum on barefoot running - clearly a representative sample.  Also?  The Springsteen song (Born to Run) gets on my nerves, and it reminds me of barefoot runners because of the book of the same name and all.

That's my stand on barefoot runners.  What's my stance on barefoot running itself?

Now, for the record, I'm sort of the Brian Fellow of running physiology.  In other words, I have no educated basis at all for what I'm about to say.  Remember: I didn't even learn how to stretch until a few months ago.

I read Born to Run and I bought it, hook line and sinker.  I was moved.  I imagined myself as a persistence hunter, running and running and running.  I bored my friends with TOTALLY AWESOME facts about how our lungs don't get compressed as we run, you see, so we can breathe independently of our footstrike and run forever if we need to.  I own Vibrams, Nike Frees, MBTs, Vivo Barefoot, Kigos.  I get the barefoot thing and I think there's something to it.

I also believe that it is possible to be injured by too much shoe.  Getting fitted for running shoes isn't rocket science, but there is something to it.  I tried to push my beloved Asics on to a running friend years ago, and she started getting cramps in her side - above the waist - every time she wore them.  Something was pulling on something and it gave her an abdominal muscle cramp.  So shoe fit isn't rocket science - worse, it's magic.

Personally, I'm enough of a conspiracy theorist to even see Nike as basically a big drug company, luring us in with more and more expensive shoes and convincing us we need the best there is.  "Oh, you like that offering?  We have this other shoe, over here... even softer... yet more stable... and in better colors... only $20 more...  Just follow me into this dark, loud store over here under the 'Niketown' sign..."

Now.  That said.  We're starting to see an anti-barefoot backlash.  People are getting injured from doing too much too soon.  People are getting injured from not paying attention and switching from one form to the other - barefoot shoes today, cushioned tomorrow, etc.  Your form is different from barefoot to shod. Go back and forth and you're confusing yourself.

Running is the stuff of repetition.  It's inherently monotonous.  We learn muscle memory through running, again and again.  One foot in front of the other until it becomes rote.

I probably have at least a dozen pictures of me at DQ.
Also?  I might have millions of years of evolution suggesting that I should be running barefoot, but I have hundred of years of devolution suggesting that I should sit my butt down in a nice cushy chair and eat Dairy Queen.  A million years ago, a runner wouldn't have carried around the extra pounds I have going on.  Or the lethargy.  Or the sedentary desk job.  Or the red meat whenever I want it which is frankly too often.  A million years ago, a runner wouldn't have gotten massively peeved if she couldn't get a seat on the subway for TWO WHOLE stops of her commute - that's like 6 minutes of standing!

What's next in the back-to-nature movement?  I really hope it's the squat toilet.  I cannot tell you how much I would love to see the Turkish Toilet installed throughout America.

Friday, December 3, 2010

True Facts about Tracy

True Facts for your Friday:

  • I don't eat olives, sauerkraut, white chocolate, or sweet potatoes;
  • I have my wisdom teeth in a plastic jar on a bookshelf in my living room (near my medals, actually);
  • I spent one of the best summers of my life working as a cocktail waitress at a Hawaiian bar;
  • I'm addicted to my iPhone - or to a smart phone, anyway (I'm considering abandoning crappy AT&T to get a Droid);
  • I'm afraid of the dark.

What what, you say?  You don't eat olives, Tracy?

Yeah, it's true: I'm scared of the dark.  I'm okay in very well lit areas or when I'm with other people, but on my own - pretty much terrified.  So I don't run in the dark.  That works well all summer, when I can go running at 7pm and be fine.  But yesterday, I put my running clothes on and went outside.  Between taking out the garbage and a short phone call, it was dark before I could run.  And it was only 5pm.

One of the greatest things about running in my neighborhood is that it's empty.  Not congested.
One of the worst thing about running in my neighborhood is that it's empty.  Desolate.

How worried should I be?  Years of working as a rape crisis advocate and buying into the whole Katie Roiphe, blue-light argument have convinced me that I am at risk when I do something stupid like run in a lightly trafficked area by myself in the dark.

But what about when that means that I'm not going running?

How worried should I be?  I'm not worried about cars.  The path I run on is car-free.  I'm worried about my safety.  Running with my phone visible means that I'm a target; having my phone put away means I can't access it in a rush if something happens.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Flying Monkey Marathon redux

I'm back to it.  This race is still on my mind.
Specifically: how I was weaseled by a weasel.

As you may remember, ages ago I made a bet with a friend of mine.  I wanted to do the Flying Monkey Marathon but, with a race this small, I was concerned about being last.  Ian bet me that he would be last.  I was game.

But then, my plans changed and I was out.  Ian was out, too (because he's a wuss), so the bet was just off and I wouldn't be doing the race and that was that.  Right?  Well...  No.  Of course, as you know,  I got a last minute ticket and was good to go race morning.

Ian, his brother, and I all lined up at the start.  Ian's plan was to run the first 7 or so with his brother and then meet up with him for the last 7 or 8.  If I could stay with his brother, then I'd get Ian's company, too.  I didn't think I'd be able to keep up with him, but once we started running we fell into a pleasant camaraderie and were fairly well matched.  Ian's brother was undertrained (by a lot) whereas I was experienced - but slow and tired.

For a while we rolled along (and that's all you can do on a course this hilly, just go with it).  I was in good spirits - we were going slowly enough that I could just talk... and talk... and talk..., and Ian's brother is interesting and engaging and (most importantly) was willing to listen to me blather on.  We hit a few rough spots, and his knee started bothering him pretty badly.  I was happy to take it easy for him.  I could have maybe picked it up a little bit in there, but I wanted the company more than I wanted to finish a few minutes faster.

We met up with Ian again around 18 and our party kept moving on.  I hadn't been watching the time, but when we hit the 23m marker, I looked down at my watch: 5:30.  Drat.  I'd been hoping to break 6 hours (and I think I would have with no problem if I'd left Ian's brother behind).  I said something aloud, jokingly, about how we needed sub-10 minute miles for the last few to break 6 hours.

Well.  With that, Ian's brother took off.  I don't know how else to describe it.  He just took off.  No real warning, just a massive burst of speed.  And he kept it up!  He dropped his pace by nearly 4 minutes per mile for the last 3.2 and finished in 6:02.

On one hand: seriously, you weasel. For real? After we all just went through, you ditch me?

On the other hand: it's a race. As in, every man for himself.  And he rocked the finish.

On the (hm, okay, go with it) third hand: I was jealous. That kind of mind-over-body determination? I don't have it. Can it be learned? I sure hope.

Honestly? I was just impressed.  This was a bastard of a first marathon, and to do it undertrained? Insane. To do it undertrained and blast out sub-10 minute miles on crazy hills for your last 3 miles after averaging closer to 14 for the rest of the race and dealing with debilitating knee pain?  DUDE.

Still, I feel like I have unfinished business with this race.  Partly because I was definitely holding myself back at points for Ian's brother, partly because I had such a rough go of it between Chicago and NYCM and I wasn't prepared to do this race except as a lark.  Like I tweeted my imaginary friend Angry, "there's no glory in a 6 hour marathon finish, even if there is a 3500 ft elevation change."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Do you save your medals?
Your bibs?
Your mylar blankets?

Why or why not?

I've recently come to the conclusion that I have too much crap from races, crap that doesn't really mean anything to me.  I don't save bibs, except for special races (I have Mt. Washington and the ESBRU on my wall at work).  I don't save blankets, unless I'm planning a Halloween costume and need them for that.
The medals from my first five marathons are stuck in this tin.

My favorite bibs are taped to a bookshelf
in my office. Right above a shirtless picture
of Frank Shorter. So I like me some eye
candy, you have a problem with that?
Okay, so I came to this conclusion abruptly when the coat rack I'd been sticking my medals on sort of maybe started coming out of the wall from the weight.  I didn't know that you couldn't just slap one of those up anywhere into the drywall and expect it to hold pounds and pounds of weight.  I've since learned that the word "studs" can mean more than just my mother's passe way of referring to hot guys.

My last few medals are stuck on the rack
where I hang my keys next to the door.
So I moved my medals to hang on a bookshelf.  It's a cheap bookshelf that I got from IKEA, and in addition to books and medals it also houses my printer.  Every time I print anything the bookshelf jiggles a little, which rattles the medals and freaks out my cat and dog.

Here are all the rest. On a corner of a bookshelf.
The best medal I ever got was years ago from the Philly Distance Run, and I don't have it any more.  The medal came off of its lanyard and could be used as a keyring; how ingenious is that?

I'm considering getting rid of some medals.  None of the marathon medals, mind you, but maybe some of the medals for lesser races?  On one hand, each represents an accomplishment of some sort.  But on the other hand, I'm not at the point where I really need a reminder that I finished a 5m race.  I think running is cool, but I don't think that I'm a winner just for getting to the finish line.